If you’re a pattern designer you’ve likely created a free pattern or tutorial at some point. Generously sharing your knowledge and skills by explaining how to make a particular project, or even how to do a certain stitch or technique, proves to your audience that you have expertise and are a trustworthy source of information. For many designers sharing some free content is an important step towards building a business.
But how can you make the most of your free content?
Changes at Craftsy
As I’m sure most of you have heard, this past week Craftsy dramatically pared down its pattern marketplace, going from 220,000+ patterns to approximately 13,500. Crafty’s marketplace was free for designers to use and was devoted exclusively to patterns so it was a popular place for many designers to upload their free patterns.
But here’s something important to realize about Craftsy’s pattern marketplace: it functioned as a giant lead magnet for Craftsy.
What’s a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is an incentive offered to potential customers in exchange for their email address. In order for someone to download a pattern from Craftsy, paid or free, they had to register for a Craftsy account and hand over their email address. So although designers weren’t charged a fee to sell patterns on Craftsy, the company was benefiting from those patterns being sold on their platform.
Now that Craftsy is no longer an option this is a perfect opportunity to take one of the free patterns you had listed there and turn into a lead magnet to build your own email list.
What should I offer?
A lead magnet doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. If you’d rather not offer a full pattern for free, consider putting together a tutorial for a specific technique that’s often used in your patterns.
Don’t get too bogged down in this step. Remember that this is free content so it doesn’t need to be overly complex. Other ideas include a:
- desktop wallpaper
- resource list (top 5 resources)
- short video tutorial
- Facebook group membership
Essentially, all you need to create a lead magnet is a PDF document with content that your audience would find valuable. But if you’ve already got a free pattern on hand, perfect!
Create a welcome message
Now it’s time to go into your email service provider and set up an automated welcome message that will go out to new subscribers offering them your lead magnet. I use MailChimp and highly recommend it, but most email service providers have this capability. (My instructions in this post will reference MailChimp.)
Use the same template you use for your regular email newsletter. (If you don’t yet have a template set up, I would recommend taking some time to set one up. It makes writing your newsletter much easier!)
Set up a welcome message that goes out to your new subscribers within an hour after they sign up for your list. Tell them a little about you and your business. Consider including:
- A picture of you in your studio
- A brief story about how you got started
- Information about your favorite tools and materials
- Links to your most popular/useful blog posts
- Where to find you on Instagram or Facebook
Thank them for joining your community and offer them the free pattern (here’s how to upload a lead magnet to MailChimp).
If you have an active email list already you likely want to also offer your new lead magnet to your current subscribers. The next time you send out a newsletter upload the pattern and give it to them as well. (Some bloggers offer their subscribers a library of freebies on a password protected page on their blog. That’s another option as well.)
Change your opt-in message
Remember to update your opt-in message. Use positive, affirmative language that explains exactly what subscribers can expect to receive. Here’s an example:
Subscribe to my newsletter and get weekly updates plus a free exclusive pattern!
Make sure your opt-in is “above the fold” on your website. What does that mean? Above the fold is an old-school term from the days of newspapers and refers to the top portion of the front page, above the fold of newspaper. On a website, above the fold means the part of the site you see before you need to scroll down.
Add a popup
I know it’s controversial and you may vehemently disagree with me (that’s okay!), but I would strongly encourage you to at least experiment with installing a popup on your site. To run an experiment, record how many signups you’re getting on average in a week without the popup. Then install it and see how many you get.
Popups work! And they’re especially effective at converting Pinterest visitors. Pinterest traffic is very “bouncy,” meaning visitors from Pinterest come to your site very briefly and then click away. Grab them before they go with a popup! Enticed by the promise of a free pattern they will likely enter their email address and, once they do, you can begin to build a relationship with them, eventually turning them into a paying customer.
There are “polite” popups out there. By polite I mean they slide in from the side, they don’t cover the entire page, and they are easy to close. Check out the MailMuch Slide Box as an example.
Make the most of your growing list
Now that you’ve got a great lead magnet in place and your list is growing more rapidly, make sure you’re really using it. If you’re not sure what to send, I suggest subscribing to a bunch of email newsletters from other designers to get some ideas (or grab my ebook which is jampacked full of newsletter content ideas). And start sending! Email your list at least twice a month.
There’s a reason why big businesses like Craftsy use lead magnets to build their lists. Email marketing is totally worth the effort you put into it. No algorithm control email. It’s an incredibly effective way to reach your audience directly. Your email list is one of your business’s most valuable assets and now is a great time to really invest in it.