“”Stay in your lane" is one of the best pieces of advice I could give to someone wanting to transition from hobby to business. This phrase doesn't mean to stick with what you're good at and don't try anything new. This phrase means to do absolutely whatever you want to do and just be authentically you, without worrying what everyone else is doing. Do your own thing. Put those blinders on and just do your own thing.
Flashback to January 2016 - I was so new and inexperienced in the early stages of my business that I made a real effort to appear the same as other knitters I saw on Instagram. I styled my photos like theirs, and I used the same yarn brands. I so desperately wanted to be accepted in the knitting community even though I honestly had no idea what I was doing. This was a terrible idea for a lot of reasons. 1) the knitting community wasn't even my target audience and 2) I wasn't creating out of a place of inspiration, - it was more desperation to fit in and seem legitimate. I wanted to be just like everybody else. I felt kind of like a phony in the beginning because I didn't understand knitting or crochet terms, I didn't know what a pattern was, I didn't know how to do most stitches (hell I didn't know much..) but yet I had a knitting business.
Thankfully, this unhealthy mindset is long gone and has been gone for a while. But.. I remember what it feels like in the beginning - wanting to be accepted. Let me just tell you, the best way to be accepted is to do your own thing and let your talent shine through. Be yourself. Use whatever yarns, colours, tones, materials, styles, photo editing, models, words you want that speak to you. Build a brand that is authentically your voice and your vibe. With proper marketing, you will attract your tribe. Do your thing and own it. You're in a creative industry where there is no right or wrong way to do something. Don't worry about whether or not you're doing things the way you think you're supposed to.. because there is no one way you're supposed to do anything. Dance to the beat of your own drum. You're doing this business for you - so make sure you love it. You're a creative entrepreneur, so don't feel like you're limited by whatever standards you think you must adhere to. There are no limits! Welcome to creative entrepreneurship!
"look how fun entrepreneurship is!"
Another piece of advice is: don't let your main source of product inspo be from other entrepreneurs doing the same thing as you. For me personally, the last place I want my inspiration to come from is another knitter. I don't want to get caught in that comparison trap and I don't want to be influenced by what anyone else in my industry is doing because I want my designs to be my own. Especially since there are a bajillion knitters on Instagram, I don't want to look like everybody else, and neither should you. Just because an influencer in your field does something doesn’t mean that’s what you should do too. Don’t let others in your industry be the only reason you choose to do what you do. Do you know why those influencers do so well? Because they’re leaders in their industry and they do what’s right for their business - and you should do the same. If you have a new idea but you’re afraid to post it because nobody else has produced work like that.. don’t let that be what’s stopping you from doing it. Make that the reason you actually do it. I promise, you are interesting and you have a lot to offer the world. Even if you have trouble finding your vibe, that's okay - it takes time. Do some experimenting and see what speaks to you. Put your heart and personality into your brand and just own it! You can always pivot and change your trajectory if it's not what you want. You will gain praise and recognition from being yourself and people will appreciate the fact that you are original.
Building a brand that is "you" will feel so much better than trying to follow somebody else's business model. Everything else will come more naturally. When people meet you, they won't be shocked because you kept it real with your online presence. Remember that childhood quote that says to 'be yourself because everybody else is taken'? Apply that to your business, and remember that, always.
Just a little reminder to be yourself and give yourself the grace to pursue your passions without restraint because people crave honesty and originality. Be yourself and your tribe will find and follow you in whichever direction you choose to go!