We have neared the end of the series! Thank you so much for following along with me. It’s great that we’ve learned about design inspiration, writing out your pattern, testing your pattern, and modeling your patterns (taking pictures of your finished items). Now we move on to, what is probably one of the biggest challenges of designers, marketing your work so that others will purchase and download, or visit your site to view the pattern, if it’s for free.
Let’s see what these ladies have to say about the marketing phase of their design process.
Series 5, Crochet Designing, In the end… marketing your Pattern
Welcome, designers! I want to once again thank you for sharing your time and your knowledge to help others in their journey to designing crochet patterns. Your input is valuable. 🙂
Success! You’ve completed your pattern with successful pattern testing and super fantastic pictures. Now, you’re ready to publish your pattern. But, before you publish how do you decide whether to market your pattern for free or for sale?
It seems like social media is the digital version of the best marketing strategy, “word of mouth”, and at this point, we just want to share, share, share! As we should. Without over-saturating your audience (is there really such a thing as oversaturating your audience though?), how do you market your, either free or for sale, published pattern? What tips can you share that have proven successful for you in marketing your pattern?
Historically I’ve had a battle with this in my own mind. So many people release their patterns for free and I thought I would need to do the same to compete. However, I’ve recently come to the decision that I don’t need to compete, and that offering my patterns for free to everyone doesn’t fall in line with my personal business goals. So all my patterns are now $2 with 50% of proceeds going to charity. The only people I now offer the opportunity to receive my patterns for free are those who are on my list since they are the ones who are truly supportive of my efforts.
I think it can get overwhelming to constantly be pushing patterns on my audience (mine or others’) so what I do is use several platforms not just one. Once I release a pattern I solicit the help of fellow designers to help spread the word. I pin it to several group boards on Pinterest and I schedule it to post on Twitter once a day for the thirty days following it’s initial release. Of course I write a blog post about the pattern and share that post in as many places as possible. I also share images on Instagram with a link to the blog post. As for over-saturating, I think the audience is always hungry so since I’m targeting a small segment of that audience I don’t believe they will be overstimulated with patterns.
The best way to market your pattern is by being part of a group of people who will help spread the word. Many voices is better than one so sharing of others’ patterns as they share your patterns helps make the load lighter.
Pricing a pattern can be difficult! Research may be the answer. Look at what’s out there but also be realistic about your pattern writing skills and presentation of your work. I have both free patterns and paid patterns available. Free ones allow others to get an idea or feel for your layout, how you write your patterns and an insight into what they will get if they purchase from you! Free patterns can be a fantastic advertising/promoting tool!
Facebook is my main avenue for promoting. A certain amount of interest is gained in the testing groups then there are many general crochet groups, both on Facebook and other online possibilities, to share your work with too. Promote it as you see fit! Be unique in your avenues for promotion, seek out like-minded groups and other interested parties who are happy to spread the word. And, I know it seems like a given, but be courteous and thankful to those who comment on your work. Always respond! If someone has taken the time to acknowledge your work then acknowledge the fact they took the time to comment! Lastly, don’t expect overnight success and don’t be disheartened if your first pattern sits idle for a while! Often creating a second, third and fourth pattern shows your skills and abilities and creates a design base so keep going! And remember, it’s a continual learning journey! Always have fun with it!
This is by far the hardest piece to it all. Getting your designs seen and getting people to purchase them will not be an overnight success. It takes a lot of time and hard work! Share them on your page, post in groups where it’s allowed, or even pay for advertising. Try it all and see what works for you. I don’t have any real tips here because really it’s about finding your target audience and building a relationship with them. Once they have confidence in you as a designer, it will start to get easier. But do know that even your favorite designers with tons of followers still struggle with this every day! This is why it’s important to really love what you’re doing, what you’re designing, because some days (especially when you’re first starting out) can be discouraging. If it’s something you really want, don’t give up, but do plan on putting in years of sweat and tears.
Since I don’t rely on crochet for my full time income, I’m free to experiment while designers who are full-time crocheters may not have that luxury. I’m currently experimenting with monetizing my blog (I started blogging in 2011 but didn’t starting including ads and affiliate links until last fall), and I plan to release all of my self-published patterns for free on my blog this year and monitor how that works. I also freelance and sell my designs to magazines, and some of those will be offered for free while others will remain for sale after I get my publication rights back.
I try to be fairly organized about marketing my pattern releases, but time constraints and other priorities sometimes get in the way. In a perfect world, I post my pattern to Ravelry first. I link my Ravelry project to the pattern and share it with any relevant groups. I write a blog post about it and share that through my social media accounts. I add a photo to a specific album on my Facebook page and Pin an image to relevant Pinterest boards. I share the link with the yarn company (whether or not they provided free yarn support) and, if it’s free, with free pattern directories. I also share the project on Kollabora if it’s a woman’s accessory. If I’ve used testers, I encourage them to link up their projects. I’m less good about this, but I’m trying to remember to keep talking about the pattern after it is released! Sometimes, there’s a flurry of activity and then the pattern is gathering dust J. It helps to shine a spotlight on your older patterns every once in a while since you may have new fans that weren’t around when it was released.
Sometimes it is hard to decide which patterns should be free vs paid. Since I offer a variety of both, I think it is especially hard. The way I usually determine free vs paid is if it 1) is unique 2) comes in multiple sizes. If it is either of these things than I will usually make it paid. If it is a common item or comes only in one size than I’ll typically release it for free.
I typically market my patterns on facebook, twitter, pinterest and google +. My biggest source of social media traffic bounces back and forth between facebook and pinterest. I don’t think you can oversaturate the market, but I think you need to stagger your shares. I tend to share in a few facebook groups per day. I also share my patterns on my own (business) fb page the day I release and a week later. I think the key to success with a crochet designing business is to promote along multiple media outlets, as well as publishing your pattern listings to places such as Ravelry and Craftsy. Diversify your marketing for optimal results.
Marketing my products is something I’m still learning. They say that there’s a “formula” for selling your finished objects, but not a lot of people are willing to pay that much. Some people just don’t get how much work and time and thought we crafters put in to our designs. You have to find a happy medium between your materials, time, and what your customer is willing to pay.
As for marketing your finished patterns, that’s also difficult. You want to be compensated for your hard work and imagination, but not appear greedy for it. What I’ve done is I’ve used Ravelry as my touchstone. I look at the pattern I’ve written and compare it to others similar in structure and process, and then price accordingly.
Perhaps I’ll learn more about marketing from reading my fellow crafter’s opinions!
Selling your patterns for free or paid is such a personal matter and really varies from designer to designer. I know some promote only free patterns while others only have paid patterns. Some designers even have a mix of both which is my current strategy. I feel I have patterns that are designed for the beginner which makes it easy to add it to the blog for free. Other patterns that take more time to develop get placed in the paid category. I love having the mix of paid and free because I feel like it will target two different types of crocheters and reach a broader audience.
Promote, promote, promote will be the key to your success! When I first started my blog most of my patterns were free. It gave people an idea of how I wrote my patterns and they could see my style. Through constant promotion, my paid pattern sales have increased over time, and I contribute some of that success through my free patterns on the blog. Promoting new patterns with a deep discount or even free temporarily (which is my strategy) is a great way to get your name out there and have people find you that wouldn’t otherwise. I will also pay other large crochet businesses an advertising fee to promote my patterns on their social media. The old saying, “You have to spend money to make money” is very true. You can’t expect people to just run across your blog or Facebook page. You have to get yourself in front of them and if this crochet business really is a business for you….then you must make an investment. It may take a while (like it did for me) but eventually the return you receive is worth it.
My marketing greatly varies. I have several other designers that I network with and share my items and I share theirs. My testers are some of my best marketers. Facebook groups are a big point of marketing for me but I share across all my media, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. I do occasionally share on LinkedIn as well. I don’t have a tried and true formula for how I decide whether to offer something as free or paid. It can depend on whether I need content for the blog. Sometimes I offer one size free to draw interest to the paid pattern. Promotions can help to market a pattern but the biggest thing is to get exposure. Promote your pattern and get others excited about it. I saw a great quote the other day that I think applies to this: “A lot of business owners fall in love with their own product and forget that others need to be romanced by a story. A brand should make you feel something when you say the name. Without context, it’s just stuff.” – Mike Bisceglia, president of Stauer
Before you publish how do you decide whether to market your pattern for free or for sale?
I think this depends on your business model. For me, free patterns are my default. If it’s a paid pattern, it’s something more complex than usual, or something that was published previously in a magazine. But it just depends on how you want to run your business – there’s no “right” or “wrong” to this!
Without oversaturating your audience (is there really such a thing as oversaturating your audience though?), how do you market your, either free or for sale, published pattern?
Social media is absolutely the basis. Newsfeeds and twitter feeds move fast – odds are most of your audience aren’t going to see any given post. So mixing it up, and scheduling any repeats for different times of the day, are a good way to keep it fresh.
What tips can you share that have proven successful for you in marketing your pattern?
Those photos are key! And overall, just stay positive – happiness is contagious, and that’s the feeling you want to be spreading and connecting to your business.
This was fantastic to read. It seems that the overall basis to marketing is using social media, the digital version to one of the best marketing strategies, word of mouth.
I love how there is no right or wrong answer to determining whether your designed pattern should be free or paid. I love what Sedie from Yarn Obsession said “..offering my patterns for free to everyone doesn’t fall in line with my personal business goals.” She’s right, if offering free pattern is not with your personal business goals, then offer them paid. There’s nothing wrong with that. In the end, we have to do what we are comfortable with but also keep our target audience in mind.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series as much as I have. I know I’ve learned some valuable information that I will begin to implement as I continue on my designing journey.
As always, thanks for reading, happy hooking and much love,