When I started out and wanted to know how to make and sell crochet patterns, I had a hard time finding some answers to the questions I had. A lot of this was learned through observation, trial and error, and the experience of others. And I kind of feel that having crochet patterns for sale is a little like pregnancy or having kids... you just don't really know what it is like until you do. So hopefully I can share some of my advice and you can decide if it is for you, and better yet, how to do it if you decide it is!
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Let's start with some of the benefits of selling a crochet pattern. It takes a lot of work in the beginning, but once you list it and reach the amount of time and materials it took to make it in the first place, everything after that is income, even if you never make it again! I enjoyed this part because I loved the creating process and I was getting tired of making the same thing over and over. It was extremely nice when I made more on the pattern of this doll then when I sold the actual doll itself. And it kept going! I was like the cartoons with dollar signs in their eyes!
But there are a few negatives... A pattern takes a lot of work. Like, lots and lots! And if I am going to ask people to give me money for something I want them to be happy with it! So that means thorough pattern testing, double checking the numbers, TONS of counting and recounting, and learning how to take awesome pictures. That means stopping my crochet time for picture time at every new step! It is very time consuming. It is a good thing I enjoy it;)
And once I was done I thought I was golden! Just publish and have the money start pouring in! But people started having questions or were very beginners and needed some hand holding through every step. Some people were struggling with the digital side of it and could not down load the pattern. I began receiving A LOT of emails. I tried to be very timely and get back to them right away. But I am a stay at home mom and my work hours are nap time or very early in the morning, or very late at night! It is still a balancing act, and now I am better prepared for most questions people have. I began including extra things in the patterns that people asked more than once. I also include a lot more in the description on Etsy or Ravelry (where I sell my patterns!) That has been the biggest part of my learning process. But answering emails concerning those patterns still takes a good portion of my work hours. I am so grateful for everyone that purchases a pattern and have no problem with helping those that do! I just want you to realize that the work is not done once you hit publish.
Along with that, I still do A LOT of marketing. Like half of my work hours go into Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Email... and making the best searchable listing that I can!
If you still feel that creative bug and want to learn about the process, here are the best tips I have for writing a pattern:
1. Test, Test, Test! then do it again.
Like writing an essay in high school, I totally knew what I was trying to say because it was my words and my ideas. But to get the teacher to realize how brilliant my words and ideas were, she needed to understand them! You are writing a pattern for a lot of different people. Beginners, advanced crocheters, first time pattern readers, people from the South, people from Alaska... and all of them just have a different kind of life. All of these incredible and incredibly diverse people need to be able to make that scarf so it turns out the same way every time. So you need to make sure that a pattern is completely fool proof. No pressure, right?
The best life saver for me has been pattern testers. I usually pick people who are familiar with patterns and have made stuff from patterns repeatedly. They have a fresh set of eyes and can help me when I know what I am saying, but maybe haven't written it as clearly as I should have.
2. Be Familiar with Patterns
This seems super obvious. But sometimes it is not. There are tons of really talented crocheters out there that make AWESOME things but have never used a pattern. Then they want to write it down... and it can be kind of a mess. That doesn't mean it isn't possible!! I suggest going to others patterns that are making the same kind of thing. What terms and abbreviations do they use? How do they set it up? What is their style? And then start to become critical... What would you change? Is there a part that you think you would do differently? Start from there, and keep learning!
3. Pictures are your friend.
You know how I talked about all those different people? Well they may have different languages or phrases but will probably see the same thing if you include a good picture! Seriously, the patterns I have with the most pictures, I get the least amount of questions. We like to see what we should be doing! They can read the text and then look at the picture and have a light bulb moment! "Oh that is how it goes!" So take a lot of good step by step pictures and include them.
4. You just can't beat quality.
A lot of people are selling patterns and a lot are sharing them for "free" (I'll talk about that in part 4!). So you need to be sure that what you are creating is worth someone's hard earned money. The biggest part of that is making sure that there are no mistakes (test, test, test!) but also that is unique/creative/different enough that someone will be drawn to it. People tell me about once a week that they will never pay for a pattern... And I get it. There are a lot of awesome patterns out there for free (I offer a lot of them myself!) but I also feel like a couple of dollars are worth it to me to not waste my time. Usually people will buy from trusted people that have great reviews. So make sure you get the great reviews. Make sure from the beginning that you are there and answering questions. People LOVE great customer service. It will make all the difference in the world.
5. Learn what to include.
You can see what most of my premium patterns include on my free mermaid crochet doll pattern. All the materials that you need, including the amount of yarn. What size is it? What stitches do I need to know? What extra things should I know before I begin?
I also feel it is really helpful to include all of that in the description on your listing. That is one of those things that people will email you for! And every time I get a question more than once, I try to include the answer in the pattern or the description.
6. What do I do once it is written??
Now it is time to save it as a PDF and upload! You save it as a PDF so people can't change your words (or copy and paste!) and so that it is easily accessible! Most people know what to do with a PDF, or it they don't I tell them in the description. Now you need to choose where you are going to sell it and upload!
7. How to Price
This is a super hard one. It depends on so many things... What kind of project, how unique it is, how long it took... But look at what other similar items are selling. I always try to price in between the mid to high range. Keep in mind you don't keep to keep all of that. I always pay a percentage to Etsy or Ravelry, and also to Paypal or the credit card company. That part is really easy- they just take it. But remember at the end of the day you are making a little less than it looks!
So where can you sell patterns? I only use Ravelry and Etsy, but you can do craftsy as well. I think Ravelry would be the easiest to start out on but both have their plus and minuses. Like I said, Ravelry is already targeting your target audience so that makes it a little easier. I don't feel like pictures are quite as important so that is helpful if you are an amateur photographer. And I also appreciate that you can send an updated copy to everyone that has bought your pattern if you make any changes. That is the only thing I like better on Ravelry, though.
I feel like Etsy is a lot easier to use. But you have to work really hard on a good listing like using great key words and awesome pictures. I like the layout a lot better and enjoy have the Etsy Sellers app so I can see how I am doing daily. And I make a lot more on Etsy than Ravelry, although I am not sure why. I wish I could make it easier and just do one platform, but there are a lot of people that only do one or the other so I will keep doing both!
(Use this link to sign up with Etsy and we can both get some free listings!)
There may be a lot more, but like I said, you kind of have to just get started! It also takes a lot of finding what works best for you!
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