In order to bring you several different viewpoints on running a machine quilting business, I have teamed up with some great guest bloggers to help share their tips and experiences. This is a guest post courtesy of Gina Allen.
One of my most valuable resources to help build my client list is the relationship I have with the teachers at my local quilt shop (LQS). When I first decided to stop longarm quilting as a hobby and start it as a business, I knew I was going to need clients to make it all work.
The teachers at the LQS are whom I give credit to for helping me to build my client list. I offered to quilt the tops that they would be using as shop/class samples in exchange for their referrals. By quilting their class sample, the teachers were able to present students with my work. Students rely on the teachers for guidance, and you want them to guide them to you. Teachers often refer to their longarm quilter in their class description and always on the label on the back of their quilt. As an added bonus, most class samples hang in the shop, so people visiting the store are able to see my work as well. Instant free advertising!
If you want to take this one step further, you may consider taking on teaching some classes yourself. Occasionally I teach quilt classes. Teaching helps me to step out from behind the longarm machine and interact with current and potential clients. By teaching classes I am able to build a more personal relationship with my current clients, and bring in new clients in myself.
One of the classes that offers a great opportunity for new clients is a Beginning Quilting class. Whether I teach it, or one of my fellow LQS teachers does, new sewers who get the quilting bug will keep you busy with quilt top after quilt top for years to come. If you are their first experience with a longarm quilter, and that experience is great, chances are they will stick with you as their quilter.
A perfect example of how teaching classes has worked for me is when I teamed up with a LQS teacher and friend, Kathleen Baden, to teach a class together. We taught a Block of the Month that lasted 6 months, and we limited the class to 15 students. The class filled up, and before we were in our second month of that session, we already had a second session on the schedule. We are now teaching our third session together. When it came time for many of the ladies to have their quilt tops quilted, they called me! By team teaching I was getting exposure to the students, they had the opportunity to get to know me, and my co-teacher, Kathleen, helped promote my longarm quilting business.
It worked out so well, I am teaming up with Kathleen at one of our local shops again. The shop owner has started a Fat Quarter Bundle Program. Kathleen teaches a class that meets once a month at the LQS in conjunction with the program and I quilt Kathleen’s samples for the class. I attend the class to support Kathleen and interact with the ladies in the class. I always leave the class with a stack of quilt tops ready to be quilted and some great new client relationships. So remember that teaching an occasional class, and teaming up with LQS teachers is great for your longarm business!
To learn more about Gina, check out her blog.