This week I'm talking about how to turn your craft projects into
pattern instructions that you can package, market, and sell online. Whether you
sew softies or do another type of craft, creating patterns is a great way to
add an income stream to your handmade business. Pattern sales produce small
bits of income that can flow in while you are in your studio being creative.
In this series I’m focusing on creating patterns to
distribute digitally as PDFs. On Monday we talked about how to choose a good
project to turn into a pattern. Tuesday we explored breaking the project
instructions down into manageable steps. Wednesday was all about layout and beauty shots and yesterday I conducted a video workshop on the "whys" and "what ifs" of pattern selling.
Today we wrap up Pattern Design Week by talking about pricing, marketing, and customer support. Here we go!
Putting Your Pattern Up For Sale: Pricing, Marketing, and
My brand new Cute Critters pattern launches today! My favorite? The koala.
Pricing for Patterns
Putting together a pattern is a
lot of work and you want to feel fairly compensated each time one sells. Before you can choose the right price for your patterns do some research. Go online to Etsy and Craftsy and look at the
prices of patterns that are similar to to the one you've made.
began selling patterns in March I bought two patterns from two different
pattern sellers on Etsy whom I admired. One pattern was $10 and the other was
$12. I bought the patterns because I felt like I needed to see the experience
of buying a PDF pattern from start to finish before I could begin selling them
myself. I wanted to see how the pattern was delivered to me, what language the
seller used, what the pattern instructions and template looked like, and how
the sellers’ copyright policies were worded. Buying patterns for research
purposes was really helpful. I got to see what $10 or $12 got you when it came
When I initially put my patterns up for sale I priced them at
$6.50. I knew that they were underpriced, but self-publishing was new territory for
me and just wasn’t sure what to expect. I raised my prices a few months later
so that now all patterns are $9.00. It was a scary move, but sales didn’t drop off as I had
feared and I knew that the content of my patterns was worth that price.
Marketing Your Patterns
Setting up a mailing list is one of my goals for 2013
because I think sending out an email newsletter is probably the best marketing
tool for online sellers generally. (Hold me to this, okay! I’m going to do
Shortly after I began selling patterns I set up an Abby Glassenberg
Design Facebook page geared toward my pattern customers. Each time I email a
pattern to a new customer I invite them to join the page and they almost always
do. On Facebook I work to build excitement and anticipation by posting updates
on what I’m working on, give the heads up on release dates for new patterns,
and soliciting suggestions for new pattern ideas. I also tweet 2-3 times, at
different times of the day, when I release a new pattern and I post about it
here on my blog. Clearly there's a fine line between marketing and being overbearing so I try to not overdo it.
Sending out review copies of your pattern to other bloggers
can be a good marketing tool, especially if that blogger has credibility when
it comes to your particular type of craft. Reach out to bloggers that have broad
reach and to other bloggers that deep expertise in your niche.
And finally, I’ve
found it very helpful to create free patterns from time to time. Sometimes
these appear as guest posts on really large blogs such as Sew, Mama, Sew! and
other times they are free patterns here on my blog. When I start my newsletter
(I’m going to start a newsletter!! I really am!), I’ll give out a free pattern
to new subscribers. Free patterns give a taste of what your paid patterns will
be like. Some people who download a free pattern will turn into paying
customers right away and others will later.
Cute Critters on my ironing board. My kids like the green bird best.
As we talked about in yesterday’s video workshop, selling
patterns does provide you with passive income indefinitely. No matter how many
sell, you can sell an infinite number more without having to get back into the
studio to create anything. But I think the term “passive income” is a bit of a
misnomer. No income is truly passive, and pattern-based income is no exception.
Customer support begins when you list the pattern for sale
online. Be clear in the listing’s title and description that you are selling a digital PDF document. While most people read
listings carefully before purchasing, some will purchase
the item thinking it’s a finished piece or thinking it’s a print pattern that
will be mailed to them. You’ll need to work with these customers when they later
realize that they aren’t going to be receiving what they thought they’d
Most customers who purchase PDF patterns do know what they
are buying and are really excited to receive their pattern from you. You’ll
need to deliver it promptly. I email my patterns, but there are services you
can sign up with that will automate this process. And some pattern sellers use
digital storage and delivery services like DropBox to get their patterns to
customers. Your can send larger files this way, and easily do business
To me, customer support also involved building community. I think it’s really nice to feature customer work from time
to time, whether it’s on Facebook or on your blog. Nothing is more convincing
to prospective buyers than seeing that other people just like them are using
your patterns to create awesome things. I also try to promote the shops of customers who are selling toys made from my patterns. Dolls and Daydreams is a master of this kind of customer community building.
Responding to customer emails is, of course, a vital part of providing good customer service.
Customers sometimes need help downloading and printing patterns, choosing
fabrics, using particular tools, and following your instructions. Answering
these emails promptly, thoroughly, and with encouragement goes a long way to
building your reputation as a pattern designer.
I had so much fun talking about making patterns this week. I hope this series was helpful to you! And if it was, consider supporting my work by purchasing one of my patterns. Then you can make yourself something awesome. That would be nice. Thanks everyone!