This Week’s Episode
I’m continuing my Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series by talking about publishing your pattern. I’ll be exploring six different online marketplaces in depth (Craftfoxes, Craftsy, Etsy, Kollabora, Patternfish, and Ravelry), and will be briefly talking about other self-publishing options (such as your blog/website, ebook vendors, and printing patterns).
So far in this series, we’ve talked about…
- Planning Your Pattern,
- Drafting Your Pattern,
- Polishing Your Pattern,
- Photographing Your Pattern, and
- Pricing Your Pattern.
Next week, we’ll be wrapping up this series by discussing promoting your pattern once it is published.
This episode is longer than usual, so I’m including some time stamps if you need to pause in the middle of the show. You can scroll down past the time stamps for detailed show notes.
- 0:00 – 17:25
- Introduction and announcements.
- Feedback on pricing after Episode 40.
- Factors to consider when exploring different options for self-publishing.
- Marie’s thoughts on selling directly from your own site.
- The Alexa rankings of each of the six marketplaces we focus on today.
- 17:26 – 33:50
- Interview with Lisa Fulmer, Senior Editor at CraftFoxes, and overview of CraftFoxes.
- 33:51 – 52:43
- Interview with Stefanie Japel, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Craftsy, and overview of Craftsy.
- Changes to Craftsy’s affiliate program since the interview. If you sign up to be an affiliate, please let them know I referred you!
- A “work-around” for non-EU designers selling on sites that don’t collect VAT MOSS.
- 52:44 – 1:08:46
- Interview with Lindsey Ibarra, who manages Editoral, Social, and Trends at Kollabora, and overview of Kollabora.
- 1:08:47 – 1:26:09
- Interview with Julia Grunau, Prime Minister at Patternfish, and overview of Patternfish.
- 1:26:10 – 1:32:42
- An overview of selling on Etsy.
- Marie’s thoughts on patterns as passive income.
- 1:32:43 – 1:35:24
- An overview of selling on Ravelry.
- 1:35:25 – 1:45:28
- The pros and cons of selling on these six marketplaces.
- 1:45:29 – 1:48:22
- Self-publishing through mainstream ebook sites.
- 1:48:23 – 1:50:51
- Self-publishing printed patterns.
- 1:50:52- 1:56:57
- So where should YOU self-publish? and conclusion
There has been some interesting conversation in the Creative Yarn Entrepreneurs group on Facebook about pricing since the last episode in this series. Many designers noted that their more expensive patterns sell better than their less expensive patterns.
Food for thought: Does that mean you may be underpricing your patterns? Or does it mean that you have correctly gauged the demand for more popular patterns and increased their prices? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Publishing Your Patterns
We’re going to focus on six different marketplaces in this episode.
I find these four questions helpful to think about when you consider whether a marketplace is the right place (or “a right place”) to sell your patterns.
- Who is your target audience and how much does it overlap with the site’s target audience?
- What is the cost of selling on that site? Consider your own time for setting up shop and adding patterns as well as listing fees and merchant charges when sales are made.
- What kind of exposure can you get from this site? Consider both the traffic the site receives and how likely it is that your work will be seen through search or be featured by the site.
- How easy is the site to use? The ease-of-use may be higher on sites that you are already using, or sites that have a better user interface.
I also shared the current (as of mid-July, 2015) Alexa rankings for each of these sites. Alexa is a site that ranks websites based on their traffic. Please use caution when interpreting these rankings. With the exception of Patternfish, all of these sites do more than sell crochet and knitting patterns, and therefore, the overall traffic is not necessarily indicative of the popularity of pattern sales!
The sites, ranked in order, are:
- Etsy: 43 (US)/157 (Worldwide)
- Ravelry: 647 (US)/2,156 (Worldwide)
- Craftsy: 828 (US)/2,801 (Worldwide)
- Kollabora: 31,166 (US)/132,671 (Worldwide)
- Patternfish: 67,971 (US)/315,301 (Worldwide)
- Craftfoxes: 70,543 (US)/186,421 (Worldwide)
I also talked about the challenges of selling patterns directly from your own website.
Some of the key features to consider about CraftFoxes are…
- Their marketplace is oriented towards physical/tangible item sales. They do not support digital/instant downloads at this time. Pattern sellers will need to email the pattern to the buyer, or bundle patterns with a physical item (like a yarn or supply kit).
- There is a $0.10 listing fee (which lasts for 3 months), but the first 50 listings are free. CraftFoxes also deducts 4% from any items sold. Additionally, PayPal will deduct their standard fees. CraftFoxes is not involved with the collection of VAT MOSS, a tax for digital sales to buyers in European Union member countries.
- Knitting and crocheting are the most popular crafts on the site. In particular, amigurumi, wearables, and beginner-friendly projects and patterns are very popular.
- For designers without a blog (or who want to amplify their blog posts), you can also share free patterns or projects with links back to your patterns.
You can learn more about CraftFoxes in this episode of one of my favorite crafty shows, the Etsy Conversations Podcast.
I interviewed Stefanie Japel, the Senior Acquisitions Editor at Craftsy, a multi-craft site that features online courses, a craft supply marketplace, a digital pattern marketplace for independent designers, and more. You can find information about setting up a Craftsy pattern shop here.
Some of the key features to consider about Craftsy are…
- There are no fees for selling (or distributing free) patterns on Craftsy. PayPal deducts their standard fees. Craftsy is not involved in the collection of VAT MOSS.
- This is the only site of the ones profiled where crochet is more popular than knitting, with approximately 39,000 crochet patterns and 27,000 knitting patterns listed as of May, 2015.
- Multi-craft patterns can be posted.
- Customer support is available through help AT craftsy DOT com.
- Neckwear, 1-2 skein projects, and intermediate patterns are very popular on Craftsy.
Craftsy has an affiliate program, and designers can use affiliate links to promote their patterns (thereby earning a commission on the sales of their own patterns, or other items purchased by someone who enters the site through this link). If you sign up to be an affiliate, please let them know I referred you!
I interviewed Lindsey Ibarra, who manages Editoral, Social, and Trends at Kollabora, a social network and DIY/crafts community. You can find information about setting up a Kollabora pattern shop here.
Some of the key features to consider about Kollabora are…
- The marketplace is curated. Apply to be a brand here. There are no listing fees, but Kollabora collects a 20% commission on each sale. Kollabora is not involved in the collection of VAT MOSS.
- Seller support is available at partners AT kollabora DOT com.
- Sewing is the most popular craft on Kollabora and it also has a vibrant knitting community. Crochet is the third most popular craft on the site.
- Kollabora’s users are younger and aesthetic-oriented. Most are multi-craftual so beginner level patterns do well. Tops and shawls are very popular.
- Kollabora users can share tutorials and videos and host make-a-longs on the site.Kollabora likes to feature their designers in their newsletters, so if you sign up to sell patterns on their site, be sure to keep them informed of your latest activities!
You can also share pictures of your projects for patterns sold (or distributed for free) elsewhere. Kollabora projects can also include links to your blog or shop, and you don’t need to sign in to see projects.
I interviewed Julia Grunau, the Prime Minister at Patternfish, a site exclusively focused on selling crochet, knitting, and weaving patterns.
- Patternfish’s marketplace is curated. Towards the bottom of this page, you can learn more about how to apply. According to Julia, most applications are reviewed within a few days.
- Patternfish has a flexible commission structure explained here, but expect to earn somewhere between 60% to 80% of each sale. Patternfish collects and remits VAT MOSS instead of the seller.
- The minimum pattern price is $4, and the most popular pattern price is $6.
- Approximately 85% of the patterns are knitting and 15% are crochet. There are very few weaving patterns.
- Easier patterns and accessories are popular seller on Patternfish.
- Designers can upload video tutorials.
- Patterns sold on Patternfish are watermarked with the name of the buyer to reduce piracy.
Another benefit of using Patternfish is that there is no advertising on the site, so you will not have to worry about a competitors patterns or yarn being featured on your page.
Etsy declined to be interviewed, but you can learn more about opening an Etsy shop here. You may also want to listen to these previous episodes to learn more about Etsy:
- Episode 9: Selling on Etsy, an Interview with Ijeoma Eleazu from the Etsy Conversations Podcast
- Episode 28: Indie Craft Fairs, Negotiation, Freelancing, the Hazards of Etsy and more with Grace Dobush
- Episode 29: Selling on Etsy, Passive Income, and Using Trending Keywords with Alexandra Tavel of Two of Wands
Let’s talk about Etsy’s fees.
- There is a $0.20 listing fee (which lasts for 4 months). Etsy also deducts 3.5% from any items sold. Additionally, PayPal will deduct their standard fees and Etsy will deduct additional fees if the customer uses Direct Checkout instead of PayPal.
- Etsy has taken an unusual position on VAT MOSS, which you can read more about here. Essentially, they are taking legal responsibility for it, so as a seller, you do not need to worry about it.
While Etsy has a huge volume of traffic, it can be difficult for a buyer to navigate. For this reason, I’ve observed that shops with superior, staged photography and where the sellers do a lot of promotion tend to be more successful than those who assume that keyword optimization with drive all of their sales. I would also surmise that beginner-friendly patterns would do the best, as many visitors are casual crafters or DIY enthusiasts who aren’t necessarily master crocheters or knitters.
Ravelry also declined to be interviewed, but you can learn more about getting started as a Ravelry designer here. (You must be a member and logged in to view this page.)
Let’s talk about Ravelry’s fees.
- There are no Ravelry fees for pattern sales under $30/month. For sales from $30 to $1,500/month, Ravelry collects 3.5% of your sales. There is a discount for designers who sell over $1,500/month. In addition, PayPal collects their standard fees.
- Ravelry is now responsible for the collection of VAT MOSS. They previously had a partnership with Love-Knitting for VAT MOSS collection, so you can choose to sell your patterns to EU customers on both sites.
You can list all of your patterns in Ravelry’s database, whether or not you choose to sell or make them available for free on the site. You can have both free and for sale patterns available for instant download in your pattern shop on Ravelry.
Ravelry is the only site with the opportunity to easily wholesale your patterns local yarn shops. You can learn more about the In-Store Sales program here.
I suspect that Ravelry is the only one of these six sites where more complex patterns could be popular.
Mainstream ebook sites
You may also want to consider selling your patterns on mass marketplace/ebook marketplaces for use on ereaders.
You can learn more about becoming an ebook publisher on each of these sites by following the links below.
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing here.
- iBooks Author here.
- Kobo Writing Life here.
- Nook Press here.
- Smashwords here.
My assumption is most crafters are not seeking highly specialized patterns on these sites and that beginner-friendly projects would be more likely to succeed on these platforms.
These sites require different file types, and formatting images for non-PDF can be challenging. Pricing standards are also quite different for ebooks when compared to individual pattern prices on the six marketplaces discussed earlier.
I would recommend starting with the craft-focused sites using PDF patterns and later expanding into these other marketplaces after further research unless you have prior experience with formatting .mobi or .epub files.
Self-publishing print patterns
These days, it seems the demand for single, print patterns is waning. Many yarn shops are moving towards Ravelry’s In-Store Sales Program. However, if you do wish to self-publish print patterns, I know several designers use print-on-demand services like MagCloud.
So, where should I sell my patterns?
As I mention in the show, I think that most designers will have more success if they can list their patterns on multiple sites. While there is certainly overlap among the dedicated crocheters and knitters, there are many potential buyers who may use only one of the sites but not the others.
However, when you are first starting out, you may want to choose one or two sites that you seem the most suited based on the four criteria (audience, cost, exposure, ease-of-use) mentioned earlier. Once you feel more confident, you can expand into other marketplaces.
The Creative Yarn Entrepreneurs Facebook group is growing! If you are a yarn-related business owner, join us!
I will be presenting at the BlogHer ’15 Conference in New York City along with my friend and fellow solopreneur, Carlota Zimmerman from the Creativity Yenta (who was a guest on Episode 16 and Episode 22). We will be part of a workshop on Friday, July 17, 2015 called Social Media Bootcamp: Lightning Lessons in the Latest: LinkedIn, Google+ Hangouts On Air, and Twitter. If your blog is a major part of your business income (or, you’d like it to be), I hope to see you there! If you haven’t already registered, you can take advantage of our friends and family discount for 30% off the Blogger Rate by registering through this link!
Carlota and I will also be hosting our monthly G+ Hangout on Air as No Frills Small Business on Monday, July 20, 2015.
RSVP here to get a reminder before the show starts!
Where do you sell your self-published patterns? Is this working for you or are you planning to make some changes? Let me know about it in the comments here or in the Facebook group, Tweet me at@cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973.
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