Tag Archive for Meylah

How to Sell Craft Patterns

How to Sell Patterns
This week, I met one of my 2012 crafting goals and released my first PDF sewing pattern. Because many of you are interested in writing and selling your sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, or other craft patterns, I thought I’d share my experiences and some tips I learned along the way!

Write

The first step to making a pattern for sale is to create a unique product. Do your research and make sure that your idea is not already out there in the creative marketplace.

Sarai Mitnick, author of The Colette Sewing Handbook, shared about her pattern-making process.

“We start with some basic ideas about an overall look, combined with requirements about what kinds of patterns we need in the overall collection. Once we have several sketches and ideas, Caitlin and I discuss them and narrow it down to the few we’ll finally release.”

Once you’ve determined that your knitted goatee or infant messenger bag, for example, is a unique design, it’s time to create your prototype. Photograph each step along the way and take notes, so you can go back and write a complete pattern later. You might want to include your photographs of each step, so make sure you take high-quality photos in good lighting. Alternately, you might turn your photographs into digital sketches using a simple graphics program.

When you are finished with your prototype, take some time to consider your process. How many skeins of yarn or rows of beads did you use for each step? Is there an easier way to complete certain steps? Take some time to consider you overall project as well as the final product before sitting down to write you pattern.

Gather all of your notes, and write down your step-by-step process for making the product. Refer to photographs you snapped earlier, and pay special attention to measurements. Don’t forget to include your list of supplies and any techniques you use that others might not find obvious, such as ironing your fabric between steps.

Design

Whether you are creating a digital pattern (PDF download) or a printed pattern, you’ll want to format the text and photos using page layout software, or a desktop publishing program. Some examples are Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign, or Quark. These programs are specially designed to create attractive and easy-to-read publications. Technically, you can make PDFs in Microsoft Word, but you’ll be severely limited as far as layout and working with graphics.

You may also wish to design a cover image for your digital or printed pattern. Make sure to include the name of your pattern, the size of the finished product, and a hiqh-quality photo of your finished item. Save both your cover image and pattern file as a PDF (Portable Document Format), that’s ready to go to your pattern testers. Save your cover image as a JPG file as well, so you can use it in online listings later.

Refine

“Pattern Testers? Why do I need a pattern tester?”

Because you will be sorry if you skip this step. Pattern testing is simply the process of refining a pattern before its release. If you have crafting friends, offer to send them a copy of your pattern in exchange for their advice. Ask your pattern testers to make the quilt top or crocheted teacup following your step-by-step instructions. They should jot down notes when they have questions, or suggest different wording to help clarify your process. Getting this outside opinion from one or more people will be invaluable, even if you have made the item several times on your own!

Incorporate your testers’ suggestions into the pattern file, and save again as a PDF. Print off a copy, and give it several more looks before the release date. Tip: You may need to lighten or darken photos so they look good on screen and when printed.

Price

“What should I charge?”

Patterns come in a whole range of prices, and some are even released for free. For example, digital sewing patterns typically range from $4 to $10, and printed sewing patterns may be a few dollars higher. When considering what to price your pattern, look around at comparable patterns and make sure you’re within that general range. You may have spent 40 hours or longer creating your crocheted wallet pattern, but the buyer is likely going to find many free patterns online and you don’t want them to pass on yours based on the price. Also, think about future patterns you’d like to release and how you might price those. Don’t sell yourself short, but do remember that the buyer will still have to spend money for supplies!

Anna Veach of Urban Stitches sells patterns by other designers in her modern fabric shop. “With digital patterns, I personally think you should price it under what a printed pattern would cost by a couple dollars,” she recommends.

Sell

If you have your own craft blog, that’s a good place to start selling your pattern. You can host a free storefront via Big Cartel or Meylah and link to it from your own blog or Facebook page. Both services offer free and paid versions, depending on how many patterns you decide to sell from your shop. Meylah is unique in that it offers buyers a free digital download of your product, so you don’t have to worry about sending them a PDF after they check out.

Two other popular craft marketplaces are Etsy and Artfire.

  • Etsy charges sellers 20 cents per listing, plus a 3.5% transaction fee, which comes out to 48 cents on an $8 pattern.
  • Artfire is a monthly fee of $12.95, so this would be the better choice if you plan to sell 27 or more patterns per month (at $8 a pattern).
  • These fees do not include PayPal merchant fees, which could be another 53 cents on an $8 sale (2.9% transaction + 30 cents).

In summary, if you sell a pattern for $8 on Etsy and use PayPal to process the funds, plan to receive $6.99. Although they take fees for selling patterns, Etsy and Artfire offer the advantage of built-in traffic and potential customers via their online marketplaces.

  • Pattern Spot is a site where designers can sell their digital sewing patterns, and the designer earns roughly half of the sales.
  • You Can Make This is another site that spans all types of crafting tutorials that may be submitted and sold through the site via a profit-sharing model (author keeps some, website keeps some).
  • Craftsy is an online community that just unveiled a pattern marketplace for all kinds of crafts, including paper crafts and jewelry. They do not charge fees to sell your patterns.

A number of online shops might be willing to sell your digital or printed pattern for a fee of around 50%. You benefit from the exposure to their customers who may find your pattern while browsing for fabric or other craft supplies. The shop owner typically sends the pattern to the customer for you, and sends you a commission on your pattern sales each month.

Printed patterns may be marketed to retail shops, and a new service called Patterns Gone Digital markets pattern cards or covers in local craft shops, which buyers can redeem online with a special code to download the actual pattern.

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

It might be worth trying more than one of these services to see which generates the most business for your patterns!

Summary

If you are meticulous and love the challenge of teaching someone your craft, pattern writing might be the business for you. It also helps to be friendly and personable with your customers, provide prompt delivery for digital and printed orders, and to be willing to market yourself a little bit.

Do you have any tips or questions about making your own patterns? Please share them in the comments!

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Winner: The winner of the Modern Fabric Studio giveaway is lucky #126, Nancy’s Couture!

Top 12 Resources for Running a Crafty Business

We are excited to have this guest post from Anna Luna of Urban Stitches! You might remember the Q&A we did with Anna back in April about running a craft retail store, online store and teaching classes.

Lucky for us, Anna is here to share with us her 12 favorite online resources for running a handmade business! Take it away, Anna!

Hi there, I’m Anna, the owner of Urban Stitches and today I’m excited to be here to offer you the top ten resources I use on a daily basis for my crafty business.

Tip: I actually run my online shop (and now brick and mortar shop too) in the evenings and on weekends after working a full time job. I find it difficult to remember (or find the time) to go and check 10 different blogs everyday that could have incredible and useful posts. My solution for this is to sign up for the e-mail feed of a blog I enjoy and find useful. That way each time they post to the blog, it comes to my e-mail inbox (which I check several times a day) and I can file it away in a folder for a specific type of tip. Maybe they sent a tip about photographing your product or easy and inexpensive advertising ideas. It’s fast and easy to create topic related folders in your inbox and file the posts away, even if you don’t get to read them right at that moment.

My 6 favorite crafty business blogs and sites

Etsy: This is one of the largest online selling communities and not only do they make it easy to sell your handmade items or supplies, they have great forums set up to help answer your questions.

Everything Etsy: Started by Kim and Tim, a cute couple with a knack for making the slightly overwhelming world of online selling (for small crafty businesses) much more easy to handle. With daily posts to feature Etsy sellers and an amazing list of their own tutorials and resources, this is a great resource to follow. I also love that this couple is so sweet when I e-mail them with a question, I know they have super busy lives, but they usually reply right away. They also offer an amazing deal on adveritising, $30 for 3 months as long as you are linking to an Etsy store. (Other pricing options available) Totally worth signing up for their e-mail feed, then all this great info comes to your e-mail inbox every day!

Meylah is an alternative to Etsy (or another place to show your stuff), their platform integrates a blog with your shop which is a unique feature. While they are growing as an online marketplace for handmade, they also write an amazing blog and have an incredible library of their posts all categorized for your viewing pleasure. This could be one of the best go-to resources out there.

Crafting an MBA is another great resource all in one place especially geared toward crafty businesses (obviously). Megan (the author) has several free eBooks for download and her posts are always helpful and inspiring.

IttyBiz (DISCLAIMER: This chick’s humor is a bit off color, if that offends you, then just skip this link! BUT she knows a lot and she’s successful, so if it doesn’t offend you, take a look) and IndieBizChicks (BONUS You get two for one here in case you didn’t want to visit the first one) Their description of their blog is “For women who’d rather work for themselves, than work for the man.” Isn’t that great? This is another great resource for social media tips and ideas, plus they offer advertising options and some online small biz classes.

Now let me pause here for a moment. I could continue to throw out a list of just crafty business blogs, but I want to offer a few more that I refer to that are related to other facets of owning a business, especially an online business.

Top 12 Crafty Business Resources

My 4 favorite resources for running any kind of business

Copy Blogger is a fantastic resource about, well, how to write great, persuasive copy about your business or product. They post almost every day (another one I’m signed up for e-mails from) and they give wonderful tips about writing. This is usually one of the hardest things people face when they start trying to figure out how to market their stuff. “How do I write about it?” and “How do I write about it so that people will BUY it?” Even if you only skim their posts and file them away, I think you’ll find something will sink in and be useful. They also have a 20 lesson auto-send mini course called Internet Marketing for Smart People which is SUPER helpful as a reference guide about marketing. The best part is, all of this amazing information is FREE!

The Psychotactics blog will give you some insight into, as they put it “Why customers buy (and why they don’t)” Which will help you figure out how to get more people to buy from you! And really, we have to admit that as much as we LOVE to make items every day, if you’re trying to make any sort of return on that work you put into it, you’ll need to sell your goods.

Seth Godin, practically the father of Internet and permission marketing, offers almost daily insight about business and marketing topics. I’ve read a couple of his books and he makes the point that once you’ve gotten a customer’s permission to market to them, especially through e-mail lists that they opt in to, you have made it through a major part of the battle to get their attention in this busy world. This is a guy who was in charge of marketing for Yahoo for awhile, so he knows a little about this topic.

Outright is an amazing accounting website. It integrates with your PayPal account and lets you run reports that PayPal makes super difficult to do (such as searching for sales within your state to track sales tax). It’s very useful for those of us who would rather do other things (i.e. clean the toilets, or maybe sew something) instead of keep track of the books.

And finally, 2 of my favorite business coaches:

There are a couple of business and life coaches who I follow through their blogs and e-mail newsletters. First is Michelle Ward (her company is called the When I Grow Up Coach, great name!) she focuses on helping you make the transition from a stable, safe career that you may not love so much, to a creative, less stable, but you love it like nothing else, kind of career. While most career coaches charge for their services, Michelle offers a lot of great tidbits through her newsletter.

Next, Alyson B. Stanfield from Art Biz Coach who has some amazing online classes about how to market your art (she especially focuses on artists but I find there is a ton of useful information that is helpful to non-artists as well). I recently completed the Blast Off! online course and just reading her daily posts was super inspiring for my business focus.

Well, there you have it folks. Those are actually 12 of the resources I use for information and inspiration with my small business. If you know of any that I left off, please feel free to share them in the comments. I’m sure there are many more that I am not aware of!

I hope you’ll come by and visit me on my Urban Stitches blog and maybe stop by and say “hi” on my Facebook page.

Start Your Crafts Business: Tips from Crafty Girls Workshop

CGW Anna Luna

Note: All links to Crafty Girls Workshop have been removed from this article as it is no longer in business. 

 

Anna Luna, owner of The Crafty Girls Workshop in San Antonio, Texas, recently shared her insights on running a handmade business. Familiar with both the brick-and-mortar and online retail venues, she’s faced the highs and lows that running a business can provide.

Anna is not just a super-cool business owner and lover of all things crafty, but she’s also recently become a Craft Buds sponsor! We are so excited to have her on board, and we know that you’ll love getting to know her around here. Crafty Girls Workshop

I recently got the chance to talk with Anna and ask her some of those things I’ve been dying to know, like . . .

 

1) How long have you been working with Crafty Girls Workshop and how did it get started?

I’ve had Crafty Girls Workshop online for 2 years and recently opened a brick and mortar shop to teach classes. It started with the love of bright fabrics and easy patterns that I sold online and I realized that I loved teaching and missed that interaction so decided to open the studio in December of 2010.

 

2) What are some of the biggest thrills associated with running a crafty business?

It’s always fun to meet new crafty people and network with people who have the same interests as me. It’s been completely awesome to meet the “celebrities” of the sewing and quilting world such as Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner. Oh, and I got to see Ty Pennington at the Houston Fall Quilt Market last year, that was quite a thrill. I especially love teaching children to sew. I’ve worked with girls who are 7, 9 and 10, and they have a desire to learn which is just so fun to experience.

Color Wheel Quilt at Crafty Girls Workshop 3) What are the greatest challenges with running CGW, and how do you work to meet them?

Balancing my urge to buy the next greatest new fabrics or notions with the reality that if I buy it I have to figure out how to make it sell and it might not be something people in my market will actually buy. I guess I’m just a shopaholic at heart (and fabric-a-holic).

 

4) Why is it important to you to give back to the community (teaching classes to non-profit groups)?

I believe that sewing and creativity is something that everyone should experience, not just those who have the financial means. I also believe that quilters and sew-ers are some of the most generous people around and we just have a natural inclination to want to give back to those in need.


5) What’s your best advice for readers who are looking to get into selling crafts supplies, running a handmade business or someday teaching classes?

The best advice is just go for it. Even if you start really small with a shop on Etsy or Meylah, both are great places to jump in or even just get your feet wet a little. Plus, be sure to have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account to be able to network yourself.

And lastly, sign up for my newsletter because I’m planning to have an online class called the Crafty Business Startup that addresses this exact question and will go into TONs of detail about marketing and other business issues. (And if you like my fabric, I send out monthly coupons for newsletter subscribers.)

Sale!

This week only, Anna is offering visitors to her shop 20% off their purchase with the discount code PILLOWCASE.

And because she is so generous, she’s also giving Craft Buds readers 10% off through June 30 with the discount code CRAFTBUDS. What are you waiting for? Check out CGW’s fabric and patterns, and be sure to leave her some nice comments here or at her blog if you learned something from this article.

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