Where should I sell my patterns?
If you're reading this blog today, you likely fall into one of 2 categories;
1. You have some published patterns but you are not getting any sales.
2. You have a few ideas in your head and want to try publishing patterns but you're not sure where to start.
This post is going to be the first in a series covering what I have learnt over the last 5 years building my business. What works for me and what doesn't. I'll be covering topics such as product photography, testing, how to create a professional pattern PDF, marketing, blogging and more.
I am by no means the one and only expert on this topic, but I can share what works for me and how I have built up a solid and profitable little business. Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below.
So, today's topic - 'Where should I sell my patterns?'
I had someone message me the other day asking if they should start a website and what do I recommend. When starting to text back a response, I realised just how in depth this question really is. Even after all these years, I'm constantly tweaking and adding to my sales channels to see what and where sells best.
I am a big advocate for making sure not to put all my eggs in one basket; I sell on this website, Etsy, Ravelry and offer free patterns.
Do I need a website?
In a nutshell - if you have a small handful of patterns and you are wanting to set up your own website to just to avoid Etsy fee's - don't bother!! But let me explain why.
This is the biggest challenge you will come across using your own website. Unlike marketplaces like Etsy and Ravelry, you have to drive 100% of your own traffic. The main ways to do this is via organic social media traffic or paid advertising. (I'll cover these topics in more detail on another blog post)
Even to this day, I get far more listing views on Etsy than I do my own website. (e.g 100 daily listing views on my website vs 300+ on Etsy). Which is why I still, and always will, offer Etsy patterns.
If someone googles 'crochet patterns' I would pop up on about page 10 of the search results!
2. Customer Behavior
People stick with what they know!! There is a buyers protection and advantages for the consumer when purchasing on Etsy and Ravelry.
Customers have often bought from these platforms before, they know it works, that is it legit and they know that if you do not receive your goods, you have Etsy or Ravelry to support you in your complaints. You also have the added bonus of being able to have all your purchases in 1 place. Even now I will often go through by previous Etsy purchases to find a pattern because I cannot remember where I saved the PDF!
When I'm posting up details for a pattern on Facebook or Instagram, I will usually provide all 3 channels (Website, Etsy and Ravelry) and I will get far more people clicking on the Ravelry or Etsy links.
3. Ease of use
Unless you are a web designer or pay for one, setting up a website is not a simple process! Sure you can use the built in templates, but if you want your Website to really stand out and look legit/professional you need to spend the time getting it that way. I couldn't even tell you the hours I have spent working on my site and I'm still constantly tweaking it.
The basic template will often not include many of the features you need as well, so you need to download plugins/app's which often cost additional fee's. Pop up forms, contact forms, programs to attach digital downloads, Stock inventory etc.
Etsy and Ravelry are super quick, super simple and all the hard work is done for you.
As I mentioned before, one of the reasons that designers look towards a website is to avoid fees. But is it really cheaper?
I'm not going to go into the finer details of the Raverly and Etsy fees but to give you an idea;
My website costs $41 USD ($55 AUD) a month to run.
On Etsy I would need to sell $500 worth of patterns a month to be charged more than this in fee's. While I sell well above this now, when I was starting out I would be luckily to sell a few $100 a month, so Etsy would be a cheaper option.
Don't forget, you will also likely need to invest some money into advertising and marketing in order to drive traffic to your website as well!
So, why would I still consider a website?
There is 2 main reasons I would still consider a website.
1. Brand Consistency
One of the reasons I set up a website was so I could have everything in one place. I could include a blog, links to YouTube videos, forms to sign up as a tester, sign up for newsletters, etc.
So while my website was initially costing me more money than it was generating, it was important to have it as a one stop shop for my customers and it created a professional vision behind my brand.
2. Generating money from 'Free' Patterns
Selling PDF's is not the only way to make money from patterns. I now have a number of free blog patterns on my website, and while they might be free, they contain those pesky Ad's like this one here...
By signing up to programs such as Adsence, I can pop these Ad's in my website and get paid per click (even if most clicks are probably accidental!). Its not a lot but I get around $1 per 100 views *usually about 4 clicks* So not only am I building up more trust and awareness in my brand but I'm covering the costs of my website as well. And people love free patterns, so the traffic is quite easy to drive from Pinterest and other Social Media.
So I want a website, what one should I choose?
The 2 main website builders you will come across in this business is Shopify and WordPress.
I'm not an expert of Wordpress so I will leave it to you to decide which is best for you, but in summary;
Shopify - Best for e-commerce (selling stuff) with a solid but simple blog format.
Wordpress - Best as a blogging website with a basic e-commerce format.
If you start out with Wordpress and decided that Shopify would be better for you, you can apparently transfer your website to Shopify, however at this time, there is no programming which allows you to go the other way from Shopify to Wordpress.
Some people do have both a Shopify and Wordpress, however the logistics for linking these up so you don't have 2 website addresses is quite complex and involves third party domain hosts etc.
With these website builders, you can purchase a domain name (e.g www.peachandpaige.com) which costs about $15 a year and link it to the site.
At the end of the day, it is your business you are building and you should do what you think will be best for you in the long run, but starting a website just to try avoid Etsy fee's is likely to just be a whole lot of work for very little (if any) gain.