Pattern Design Series-The Great Debate Free VS Paid Patterns
This is the last part of my series on Pattern Writing and Designing. In case you missed some of our other topics like Construction and Sizing, The Building Blocks of a Great Pattern and Inspiration, Imitation and Copyright you can find them all here.
When I first started out designing crochet patterns, I was a bit confused if I should offer them for free or only as paid. I figured those that offered them for free were making money some how, but wasn’t exactly sure what the difference was between what they were doing versus those designers that only offered paid patterns.
Today I hope to clear up any confusion you may have on this topic. I know it can be a bit of a hot button topic in the maker community, but I want you to know that both ways are beneficial and neither way is the “right” way. First let’s take a look at some of the differences between Free Vs Paid patterns and how each way makes you money.
pattern is usually posted on a blog.
a PDF version is sold on your website, Ravelry, Etsy, etc.
Money is generated from ads and affiliate links that are included in the blog post.
Pattern is available for free because it has been sponsored by a larger company (ie. A company pays you a flat rate to develop a pattern using their yarn and you in return promote that company in your blog post)
Money is made from pattern sales only.
typically cost a bit more than PDF versions of free patterns.
Can submit these patterns to magazines. Most magazines pay a flat rate for the rights to your patterns and typically after a certain amount of time has passed the rights are given back to you and you can then sell the pattern individually in your shop.
Now that we know the basic differences between the two, let’s dive in a bit deeper. When it comes to writing patterns, either free or paid, they both require the same amount of time and energy to produce. You should still write the pattern, have it tested, make a sample and take good quality photos. Then it’s up to you to decided what to do with it from that point on.
If you want to offer patterns for free you may still want to provide a PDF version in your shop which means you will still need to create a PDF. You will also need to invest in creating a website and blog so you have a way of sharing your free patterns with the world. This can take time to build up so you may not see an immediate return when you release a pattern. Over time as you grow your blog you will be able to monetize it to include ads and affiliate links. The nice thing about offering free patterns on a blog is that they all work together to help you make money. The more patterns you have available the more pageviews you will get and hopefully the more money you will make.
If you decided to go with the paid pattern option then once your PDF is made and listed in your shop you don’t have much work to do after unless you need to fix any error that may arise. Again, you may not see an immediate return once you release it, but you’ll be able to make money off of it right away if it people buy it. You can also submit them to magazines, but just be aware that many magazine work months in advance so you will need to make sure to find their submission call outs early on. It also means that once you agree to have your pattern in their magazine you won’t be able to sell it in your shop until the rights have reverted back to you. In most cases it is a few months, but some publications can have the rights for a year or more.
How to decide which way is right for you?
Remember that there is no “right” way to publish your crochet or knit patterns. Both ways have pros and cons. Some good things to keep in mind when decided which you want to do are:
Do you have the time and energy to invest in a blog?
Do you want an instant payout or are you okay with building your revenue over time?
How well do you work with set deadlines?
Are you okay with giving the rights to your pattern up for a set amount of time or forever?
For me, I started out doing just paid patterns, but then decided to try out having them for free on my blog. I noticed right away that I was getting more pageviews and was still making sales of the PDF versions too. Now I do a bit of both depending on what the pattern is for. If it is a collaboration or going to be submitted to a magazine then I usually keep it as just a paid pattern. In general all other patterns are free on my blog and also sold as a PDF in all my shops. It took me about a year to start seeing some regular income come in from the ads and affiliate links on my site, but I’ve noticed that the more free patterns I add the higher my income goes. You just have to do what works best for you and your business.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on Pattern Writing and Designing. You can check out all the previous posts below. If you have any questions about Free vs Paid patterns feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org