Publishing & Selling Knitting Patterns – for Beginners
Welcome to the last day of Shawl Design for Beginners! Today we’re finishing our quick online course with lots of useful information about selling knitting patterns on the internet.
After following my shawl design course (or reading one of my books, like Shawl Design in Plain English or the Complete Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns) you want to go further and publish and eventually sell the knitting pattern you just created. But where to start?
Step 1: Writing and Finishing the Pattern
I wrote a comprehensive article about writing knitting patterns earlier as part of this series about shawl design, so if you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and do so now.
Step 2: Creating the Pattern PDF
As soon as your pattern is ready, you need to create a PDF file from it. You can create PDF files easily by using a text editor of your choice (e.g. MS Word or Apple’s Pages program) or use a free online editor (like Google Docs for instance) and choosing the PDF file format when exporting or saving your work.
Personally, I do not use a text editor for this purpose but a professional layout program: Adobe InDesign. If you want your patterns to have a professional look & feel you’ll not be happy with a simple text editor in the end, but if you’re just starting out (as I was many years ago) any free alternative will do just fine.
The finished pattern PDF should include not only the pattern but also information about the designer (you!), the pattern title, a link to your website or blog if applicable, details about the yarn, needle size and gauge used, pictures of the finished item, and some details about yourself.
Below I included some pictures of the first pattern I ever published: My Salis Socks pattern. The first two shows the version I published in 2008 using a simple text editor without any formatting or layout, and without a style guide. The second two (below) shows the current version with professional layout using my 2017 style guide.
I guess you can see – and judge! – the difference in its appearance.
Step 3: Choosing Your Platform
You can sell your knitting patterns on several websites (platforms) dedicated to selling patterns of others, or you can choose to create and use your own web based shop.
If you’re just starting out and want to get out your patterns as soon as possible and without much work upfront, choosing one of the dedicated platforms like Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy are the best choice.
Ravelry is the number one website for knitters out there. Even if you choose to use your own website sooner or later, getting a Ravelry account is a must! Go there and create an account if you on’t have one already and start by checking out their Pattern Seller Quick Start Guide. It’s completely free and listing your patterns doesn’t cost anything neither, so I strongly recommend starting with Ravelry if in doubt.
Etsy is a website dedicated to sell hand made goods as well as digital files (like knitting and sewing patterns). Listing items cost a small fee ($0.20 as last checked) so you’ll have to invest some money upfront.
Craftsy is a service similar to Etsy. Personally, I haven’t used it yet so I can’t tell you if it’s any better or worse than Etsy or Ravelry. You’ll have to check it out yourself I’m sorry, but I’m sure you can do that! If you use Craftsy as a selling platform feel free to drop me a line or two in the comments telling me about your experience with it. Thanks!
Running Your Own
If you’re serious about the whole thing and really want to get tarted as a knitwear designer you’ll want to use your own shop sooner or later.
Pros: You are your own boss, don’t have to pay fees to others when selling a pattern, you choose the look& feel and you can combine it with a blog and additional marketing material and list building (more on this below) to increase your visibility and boost your sales.
Cons: It’s time consuming, has some kind of a learning curve as you have to set up and run your own shop, but there are solutions out there for people who don’t want to learn how to code or run a website.
My favourite solution is running WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin. Both come in a dedicated (wordpress.com) and a self-hosted version (wordpress.org), and both are free.
I’m running WordPress and WooCommerce on my own server, but that’s not for everyone I understand. Have a look, and if you’re experienced with web development and know some code, the self-hosted version is the number one solution.
Step 4: Publishing & Selling
Whatever platform you choose you’ll need the following: Your patterns in the PDF file format, and a Paypal account. Payments can be received using other services too (I process credit card payments using both Paypal and Stripe) but all platforms (including self hosted WordPress) offer Paypal as payment gateway.
Once you created your account on your chosen platform you upload the pattern PDF, provide additional information and pictures and choose your payment settings according to the platform chosen. Every platform comes with instructions how to list patterns, so start there depending on the platform chosen.
Step 5: Marketing (Or How to Make People Buy Your Patterns)
Marketing knitting patterns (which translates to how to make people buy your patterns) is a topic of its own. I could write whole books on this subject (actually, writing a book on marketing for knitters is on my list!).
You can get started with internet marketing for knitters by reading my article Internet Marketing for Knitters (And Other Arts & Crafts) on my other blog, knittingforaliving.com.
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