As a teacher and designer mentor, one of the most frequently-asked questions I get is: How do I sell my designs? Crafts blogger Marie Segares, of Underground Crafter and the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show fame, offers targeted tips to knit and crochet designers in her newest book: Design It, Promote It, Sell It.
Read on to see what she has to say about promoting your patterns, and to see how you can get your own copy.
Marie Segares provided a copy of Design It, Promote It, Sell It for this article. This post contains affiliate links.
Edie: You offer a crash course in marketing and introduce a number of important concepts. For those designers whose eyes glaze over when you start using marketing terms, can you give us a one sentence explanation of why Design It, Promote It, Sell It is worth a look?
Marie: If you struggle with getting more eyes on your patterns, or have lots of people looking but not buying, this book has some actionable ideas to help you change that situation.
Edie: How is your book different from all the other marketing books on the market?
Marie: Most marketing books are very general. This one is specifically about marketing crochet and knitting patterns online. It’s shorter than many marketing books and it’s more focused on the specific challenges of crochet and knitting pattern designers.
For New Designers
Edie: I’m often asked “What do you have to do to become a designer?” My answer is, “Design something,” but the deeper question being asked is really “How do I get my designs discovered?” Would you agree?
Marie: Designing isn’t a career that most people know about from their everyday life experiences, like being a teacher or doctor, so often people are just trying to uncover what is involved. I agree that designers do need to design, though!
Edie: For a brand-new designer with only a design or two in the bag, the amount of promotional work you set forth is pretty overwhelming. What are the first two steps they should take?
Marie: I think new designers should add their patterns to the Ravelry pattern database and find one other online place that their ideal customer is likely to be hanging out to start establishing a presence there.
(Edie has collected some knit & crochet design resources.)
What About the Money?
Edie: One thing I didn’t really see discussed in the book is realistic expectations. What advice would you give knit and crochet designers about what the level of sales and revenue they can expect?
Marie: Are you asking if I think folks can “live off designing alone”? I personally don’t know anyone who earns a full time living ONLY as a crochet or knitting designer. I discuss this more in my other book, Make Money Teaching Crochet, but most everyone I know in the industry blends several income streams. You can listen to my podcast episode about this (or read the show notes) at 6 Income Streams for Your Yarn-Related Business.
About Doing It All
Edie: ‘Fess up, do really do all these things for every pattern you release? In other words, do you practice what you preach?
Marie: I definitely don’t, and I mention that in the introduction. I’m also not saying that everyone SHOULD do all of the things I list in the book with every pattern release. If your audience isn’t on Facebook, for example, what benefit is there in posting each pattern there and doing Facebook Lives for each pattern release? This is why I wrote a book instead of selling a checklist for marketing patterns. It’s really important for each designer to customize the checklist based on their audience AND on their own capacity.
As an example, I don’t rely on my crochet and knitting business for my full income because I have a full time job. However, it is a growing and significant part of my household income, and I do need it. If I didn’t have this income, I’d be working part time somewhere to earn the money. I have more time constraints than some designers who do this for a full time living, but in exchange, I have more financial security. Some designers have more time and can “do more” to promote their businesses, while others are balancing jobs, family life, or other responsibilities, too.
Edie: You talk about measuring your marketing efforts to understand what tactics are working. If you have things set up right, it’s pretty easy to get the numbers on impressions and engagement. It’s harder to measure conversions to sales, especially when the marketing is taking place on Facebook or Instagram but the actual sale may happen on Ravelry or somewhere other than your own website. How do you analyze that?
Marie: It’s definitely a challenge. Etsy gives you a pretty good idea where your sales are coming from, but other sites like Ravelry and Craftsy don’t have as many analytic tools. Some designers use tracking links, like the ones from bit.ly or by using a plugin on your WordPress site like Pretty Links. If you went this route, you would set up different links for each place where you promote your patterns, but you’d still probably be estimating the percentage of sales come through the the clicks to that link. Another way to track is to offer different discount codes on different sites. As an example, many designers offer patterns at a discounted rate for the first days or week after the pattern is released. Offer the same discount, but use different codes through your various social media outlets. You can track how many sales were made using that code.
Working with a Virtual Assistant
Edie: The Online Profile Audit Checklist and Pattern Promotion Checklist are very useful. Some of those tasks seem ideally suited to be delegated a virtual assistant (VA) or other helper. VAs can save you time and effort, especially with streamlined tasks like uploading patterns and tagging and notifying collaborators. Have you worked with a VA, and do you recommend them?
Marie: I haven’t worked with a VA, though I know many designers do. I’ve tried to build my business organically, which means I don’t take on any expenses that the business can’t already pay for. While, in theory, a VA could free up time for me to produce more patterns, I don’t currently earn enough of a profit to feel comfortable hiring someone else. I also don’t have the time to train anyone else to do it “my way.”
I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable assigning a VA the role of writing my social media posts or tagging my collaborators until I had worked with them for a long time. I have seen many designers with VAs that don’t “sound” like them, and that impacts your brand in a negative way. I would be more comfortable delegating tasks that don’t relate to my (potential) customers, like submitting patterns to craft directories or uploading patterns to secondary marketplaces.
In any case, I would never recommend allowing a VA (or any other delegate) to set your marketing strategy. Instead, allow them to perform your marketing tactics. This is an important distinction and I’ve seen many designers who are uncomfortable with marketing hoping that some other person can magically solve their “marketing problem.” It’s like allowing someone else to design all the patterns and you will just make type up their ideas or make the samples. The concepts and the intellectual property should come from the designer, not the VA.
About Design It, Promote It, Sell It
Design It, Promote It, Sell It is available in three editions so you can choose the format that suits you best. It’s available as a 69-page PDF e-book that includes 3 printable questionnaires and 3 printable checklists. You can get it as a Kindle ebook, or as a paperback print edition (coming soon).
Thanks to the generosity of the author, I’m able to give away one copy of the PDF e-book.
The giveaway period has ended.
About Marie Segares
Marie Segares is a crochet and knitting designer, crafts blogger, teacher, podcaster, college professor, and small business consultant. She hosted the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show, a podcast for yarn industry indies, for two years and 71 episodes. She is also the author of Make Money Teaching Crochet: Launch Your Business, Increase Your Side Income, Reach More Students.
Marie shares crochet and knitting patterns, crafts projects and tutorials, and recipes on her blog, Underground Crafter. Marie’s patterns, tutorials, and articles have been published in a number of publications.
In addition to teaching crochet and knitting classes locally, Marie has also taught or presented at BlogHer, Creativation, and other professional blogging conferences. Marie is a graduate of Barnard College. She earned her MPH at Columbia University and her MBA at New York University. She is currently enrolled in the EdD program in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.