How we Sell

Working primarily in an online world is like working on shifting sand. Every week/day/hour there is something new that demands attention. The good part about this is that you have to push yourself to be open to new ideas and regularly shift your point of view. The downside is that it lacks stability and you never have a sense of setting something in motion and being able to work within that framework.

New pattern sales models keep popping up all the time; we all act as though Ravelry has been around forever but it’s really a relatively short period of time (it started some time in the mid-2000’s, I don’t know the exact date!) Some are free platforms such as online knitting magazines (Knitty, Knotions, Olann and) and others are variations on ravelry such as Patternfish. Many individual yarn stores now try to do some portion of their sales as digital downloads, giving knitters the ability to get started on their project immediately.

As a designer all of these platforms, new and old, are a good thing. They open up the potential for us to reach new markets and be promoted by new voices. The big downside is the volume of time and trust that it involves. I’m very time poor, I never have enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do. I’m always rushing out the door at the last minute, desperate not to be late for my sons’ pickup. Every new platform that opens up requires work.

The general process is as follows:

  1. Spend some time with the platform to see how it works, both as a designer and as a knitter.
  2. Investigate the back end to see how designers are compensated and how often you would be paid and what the terms and conditions are.
  3. If I opt to go ahead and use the platform there is now DAYS of work uploading patterns and photos and inputting information.
  4. Promotion of the new platform so that I can appeal to new knitters.

Now all of this of course requires a huge amount of trust. As a designer, when I use a new platform I’m uploading all, or most, of my work and trusting that it won’t be abused, and I will get paid for what sells. This means that the more transparent sales and figures are on the back end the more comfortable I will feel with the whole process. When all I get is a check or email at the end of a month or quarter it’s very, very hard to feel trust.

As you can imagine what started off this whole post was the new pattern app that launched this week that is subscription based. I’m very slow to take on new platforms due to lack of time (plus I’m a very cautious person by nature) but I was especially wary of a subscription model operated by someone else. Last year Craftsy moved to a subscription model for our classes that then became Bluprint.* I’ve still got a lot of classes up there but most instructors have seen a very considerable drop in revenue when the models changed. We also have no insight until the end of the quarter into what our income is going to be. Being self-employed it’s really nice to know what income to expect at the end of a quarter. As it’s become so unpredictable it means that I can’t count on it and anything that does come in is a bonus rather that a fixed, steady stream that I can rely on.

As you can see from all this, I love control. I also think that knitters like control and choice. Personally, subscriptions can be a really nice way of having a steady stream of something I love in my life. I use Audible and Spotify all the time and love that I get to listen (as well as download) what I want to use.

I’m currently trying to figure out a way of connecting on a regular basis with you wonderful knitters on a regular basis. Thoughts going through my head are a subscription club; maybe something that involves early access patterns with yarn, or exclusive webinars, regular pattern coupons?

What sort of subscription would you like to see from me and Stolen Stitches?


*Note: The Bluprint link shown above is an affiliate link so I will get a % of any sales though that link.

6 thoughts on “How we Sell

  1. Early access & pattern coupons are fun for me as I’m focused on going deep with my knowledge of processes. Plus I have something on the needles at all times that pushes me to think about my thinking. Even if it’s just my study on one, knitting holds promise for building new brain pathways as we age so I’m in this for the long haul. Thanks

  2. Personally I love your way of teaching and the quickness of your response to questions. Your patterns are very well written (given the chart and written instructions) makes for easier understanding. I am working on the Tabouli Sweater after purchasing the Nua at the Woollin Festival in May. The lace patterns and the Nua yarn is perfect for the East Tennessee climate.
    Having owned a business I know about the income from your wares being sold. Life is a juggling act, which ball will you toss next? Your boys are growing up so fast take the time (which only you can give) and your designs and yarn will sell because of who you are, a Mum. A Mum is the hardest job on earth, it is 24/7 with no sick days or vacation. These are just my thoughts for you to ponder.

  3. Hi Carol, as consumers, we don’t think of the complexities that are involved from your end as a provider. My knitting knowledge is at a basic level at the moment however after participating in your Sneem workshops in October, I realised I wanted to continue learning ‘the language’ and in particular, follow your teachings. For me, a subscription club would be ideal. I would far prefer to have direct access to your patterns, tutorials and the time you generously give for answering queries rather than navigating other sites or apps to find your work. Yes, we would pay a fee but the benefits of quality control and knowing you receive your dues without the ‘middle man’ and for us, special offers etc., would be enough for me. I guess there would be the downside for you of less exposure by not being as involved in other sites. Maybe not? For us, the thought of multiple subscriptions if other designers take your lead, could prove to be cost prohibitive. However it is about choice and I personally would welcome the idea.

  4. Hi Carol
    As one of my favourite designers I would be interested in a subscription club with you. There are many models for subscription clubs, as you would know, some involve something sent to the club member at specified times, some others might involve a KAL, but all I think do involve something that is special for the club members that is not immediately available to others. If club members were to get early access to some special patterns perhaps with some targeted tutorials and perhaps a discount on sales from the website, then I think you would have a good takeup.
    I am a subscriber with blueprint and did wonder about how it would impact on the teachers, it is interesting to hear your feedback on it.

  5. Bluprint was disabled in my computer by uBlock Origin. FYI.
    I design and spin my own yarns and always check your sites to see what’s new that I can use my yarns for. I don’t buy commercial but am tempted to buy Nua for its flax interest as it’s one fiber I probably will never use and am intrigued by its composition. In your patterns I would like to see some of the ancient Celtic symbols integrated. Alice Starmore has done some of this and I actually knitted some of them. I’ve never been the same since.
    I would pay into a subscription club like what Nola Warren talks about–something that will condense the wonderful things you create. But I will support anything and everything that will become regular income for you.

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