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How much should I sell my crochet patterns for?

by Laura Eccleston

23 Sep 2022


How much should I sell my crochet patterns for?
How much should I sell my crochet patterns for?

This question is so often asked on the internet, that Google even recommends it as a question you might be interested in asking and rightly so. For any new crochet designer out there, it can often seem like a minefield when it comes to pricing your patterns and should you even price them at all? Well, I'm here to offer some advice on my thirteen years of being in the crochet "business". I use that term lightly because I have never considered myself in the business of crochet even though I am, but I am a designer foremost.

So, the three main business models are this; 1. Sell all your patterns, 2. Sell some and give away some, or 3. Give them all away for free, but which is the best? Sometimes it may seem obvious to sell everything you do and give nothing away for free, but not always and here's why. We shall also be expelling some myths along the way.

The Sales Only Crochet Pattern Business Model
Many designers choose this model and it is fine to do so, however it's probably the hardest model to get started with. The argument of course is usually, "I put so much work into this, shouldn't I be making money from what I do?" Ideally yes and especially if you have costs, but the problem is you are new, no-one knows your work and you don't have a name for yourself yet. 

There is a saying in business that you need to spend money to make money and it's true. This will also include your time. You will have to invest in your business before you start making money. No business makes any money in the first year or two of starting out as you will be getting your name out there, either through building a website, working on craft stalls or simply buying materials. It will all cost at least some money. You can of course start selling your patterns immediately and it is possible to make some money, but you will need to really stand out above the rest.

Some good options are...

Get some professional photos taken of your work.
This is absolutely key to really selling your work. You don't want to spend hours on a beautiful design only for it to be let down by bad lighting and poor photos, but a simple point and shoot camera and natural light from a nearby window is easily enough. You don't need to spend thousands on fancy equipment or hiring people. It can also be beneficial to team up with some models, especially if you are crocheting clothes. Think about any willing volunteers in your family that you can call upon to help. And lastly, research photos that stand out to you online, what do you find pleasing to the eye and think about why this is. It can really help you when thinking about putting together your own photos.

Team up with magazines and craft websites
Although I personally don't work with magazines due to time, and I host everything on my own website, if you don't have access to such things it can be a good idea to promote your work and your website/blog through websites like LoveCrafts or Craftsy and design for crochet magazines. It's a great way to get your name out there when starting out and was something I did in the early days. It is also a good way to start connecting with people in the industry. A lot of crochet magazines actually discovered me and went on to advertise my website free of charge in their magazines, just because they were enjoying what I was doing and I was new on the scene. It was content for them and fun for me (sometimes I didn't even know until someone told me!) so don't be afraid to reach out to magazines to say "hello! look at what I'm doing" if they haven't found you yet.

Avoid Etsy
It may seem obvious to set up on Etsy, but sadly the days of getting noticed on Etsy are long over. There are just too many sellers on there to stand out and it can be very depressing setting everything up and looking forward to an influx of sales, but only for zero sales to come through. You can of course give it a test to see if it works for you as they will cover a lot of the technical things you will need in selling digital products, but although I tried it, it was not something that worked for me long term as it wasn't niche enough and it seemed expensive for a small business.

The Mixed Crochet Pattern Business Model
This is the business model I now use and in my opinion is the best. It's a tried and tested business model in general. You sell some things and you give away some others for free and what this does is brings people's interest to you much more quickly and gives them a chance to get to know who you are and what you're all about. We've all experienced those free tasters outside stores and then been tempted in to buy something. It works! If the product is good. This method, most importantly, allows crocheters to test your patterns before investing in buying something. There is nothing worse than buying a pattern and not being able to understand any of it because the designer has zero skills in writing up patterns so offer your visitors a way to see how you work. Let them see how professional you are and to learn how you write your patterns, how easy they are for them and who you are as a designer. I offer a mix of free patterns with adverts for most of my patterns, but alongside that I offer a printable PDF download that they can purchase. PDFs take more work so this is a fair way of them being able to support HappyBerry and the costs in running a website, with the option to just view the pattern online for free if they can't afford it. This system does require a rather technical website, but there are also ways for completely non technical people to achieve the same results.

If you have a simple blog, you could offer a mix of free patterns written on your blog but also blog articles that link to where you sell your patterns. If people start to enjoy your free content and how you work they are very likely to snap up your other designs too. This leads on to some myths about offering free content in my last business model.

The FREE Crochet Pattern Business Model
Personally, I never saw HappyBerry as a business and to an extent I still don't so in the early days my mission was not to make any money, but rather to simply share my love of crochet with the world. I was busy being a mum and working as a freelance web designer so for me, the free crochet pattern model not only worked for me, but became my whole ethos in that crochet should be accessible to everyone. Indirectly, me giving everything away for free had a rather unforeseen positive effect on my future.

I shared my designs on social media and various websites, linking back in those days to my social channels and a simple blog. I used nice photos and high quality pattern layouts, I may have had an advantage here as I was a graphic web designer, but this was back then. There are even more apps and websites to help you with good design these days. People came to my channels and my audience grew. I accepted donations and got them, this helped with buying yarn, but as I grew I also became sponsored by some yarn companies who sent me free yarn to show case and use in my work. This was a huge help and still is! 

This unplanned business model really helped get my name out there and to get noticed. It may have been by chance and not planned, but it was a great way for people to see how I worked, what my patterns were like and they've stuck around to hear about new projects I am working on. HappyBerry now has a beautiful community of its own with loyal customers and valued friends. Most importantly, this business model as it were, allowing HappyBerry time to grow without making any money, means I now have the opportunity to turn it into a real business because people know who I am and what my designs are all about.

The one bad side, I got a lot of hate for this model as my website grew in popularity. Why? because here was this new designer coming along, giving everything away for free and under-minding what all other crochet designers were trying to achieve and that was to make money, but this is a myth. 

Dispelling myths
The types of myths you will often here are:
- You won't be able to sell anything in the future because people will complain or always expect things for free
- It makes you look cheap and your work rubbish
- It ruins other designers ability to make money so you're negatively impacting the "community"
- Your time is valuable to simply just give stuff away!

But none of these are true. In fact, in my decade of giving away patterns for free I have never once had a complaint if I "asked for money" because I always offered options. If you are authentic and good at what you do, people will appreciate your hard work and understand the realities of running a website. If they don't then you probably don't want them as a customer anyway! So let's break down these myths...

You won't be able to sell in the future ?
Not true. As costs began to increase due to the volume of visitors to my website, such as website maintenance, upgrades, security, legal requirements, hosting and domain names to name a few costs (honestly, it's scary sometimes and that's before we even get to buying yarn!), I had to add a cost somewhere on my website to cover these costs so I added it to my PDF downloads, but I was still offering the pattern for free (in most cases). This was a good strategy because more work is involved in producing PDFs that people can print so it made sense to attached the cost here to help with these emerging costs, but people could still view a free version with adverts. Even then I have never swamped my website with adverts like some websites because it is just so annoying and I don't want to annoy my visitors so I don't make much from adverts. It should be easy to find the content they want to view. I also ask for donations in a fun way so over-all each month I make just enough to cover my costs and a little extra to invest back into the business. I have also recently launched a membership plus area where I charge a monthly fee for exclusive content, which is growing beautifully and in the past I use to even sell crochet kits, but that actually grew too quickly and I had to stop. If people really love what you do then they understand the benefits of supporting you!

It makes you look cheap and your work rubbish!
Not true. What makes your work look cheap is poor quality materials and bad photography, not if you give away from a place of love. If your work is unique and of high quality, it won't matter if it costs or is available for free because all the customer will see is a really cute project they want to crochet. This is their main focus before any thoughts about money come into the picture. When we visit an art gallery and we see a beautiful painting, our first thought isn't "how much is it?" It's actually, "Wow, what a beautiful picture!". From that point on, the customer will do whatever suits their needs. You can think of it as like visiting a cake shop and being offered a free taster, you will either love it or hate it at first, you may enjoy the freebie and walk away or enjoy the freebie and go on to buy the whole cake, but never do we think the free taster must be cheap rubbish just because it's free!

So anyone who says this is a bad strategy, remind them of the cake shop example. It's all about context. A cake shop.. an art gallery.. an online designer. What we are not as artists is a battered washing machine being given away from the back of someone's garage by a very scruffy and very dodgy looking geezer.. that probably is cheap and rubbish! but hey.. it still might work!

It ruins other designers ability to make money so you're negatively impacting the community!
The most important thing to remember is just to focus on your creativity, not other designers. You will never be them and they will never be you so your designs will never be theirs and theirs will never be yours so if you decide to give away your work for free this should never impact on another designer's work because they simply are not you. They are also not your customer base so what they think really shouldn't affect you. 

The myth that just because you give away your designs for free, will somehow mean they will have to give their designs away for free is silly. I don't know any customer who goes around thinking this either. If we go back to the cake shop analogy, if we get a free taster from one cake shop, we don't go into another cake shop and complain their cakes are not free or they're not offering free tasters. Some designers charge, some designers do not, some do a mix of the two like myself. A customer will just negotiate the crochet pattern world around them and decide what fits their needs based on what is available. And to be honest most customers EXPECT a price, so if it's available for free, they just go away thinking how lucky they are having found you.

As for negatively impacting the "community", you have to think about how you perceive your community, not an imposed community that has been placed on you. If someone accuses you of negatively impacting their business, then that's their problem, not yours and their business could be failing for many other reasons not even associated with what you're doing such as a bad attitude, low quality designs and poor website experience with too many adverts! So ignore the negative voices and just focus on your business.

Your time is valuable to simply just give stuff away!
Yes your time is valuable, but so is your business and it's only your perception holding you to ransom with this myth. You need to invest in a business and that means time and money. Nothing happens immediately and for nothing. When your business grows your investment of time and money will be rewarded so it's a false illusion if you think giving away something now for free is somehow letting your worth down as a designer. It is not. Give your business time to grow. Just keep focusing on your love of crochet design and how you want to make your customers happy. You don't have time to be selfish. Your business needs you! That said, I do believe there is a limit. A crochet design that involves a lot of work, and I mean a lot of work such as sizing, chart diagrams and schematics then you really do want to be putting a price on that because that is simply an incredible amount of work. These types of designs I often submitted to magazines who would pay me, this way it paid for my time but also had the benefit of getting my name out there so it had a duel purpose.

If you are starting out in the world of crochet design and pattern selling I really hope this information was useful to you. Most of all, just have fun, enjoy the process, be professional and be patient. If you can do that then you're on to a winner!

This article has been taken from my eBook How to Start a Crochet Business, which you can download here >>

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