So you wanna turn your brilliant crochet and knitting designs into a little business? That's amazing! Selling digital, PDF patterns online is such a wonderful combo of rewarding, convenient, motivating and easy (I've been doing it for 5 years!)! To make passive income from your passion, all you need is the design ideas, and I can help you with the who, what, where, when and how.
And for a quick, video version of this blog post, check out this video!
Now, when I talk about selling crochet patterns or knitting patterns online, I don't mean just spamming Facebook groups or begging for DM's on social media. This article is specifically for people who want to set up their own online store (or something like it) where you can post your digital files for sale so they can be purchased 24/7 (yes, you can make money while sleeping!).
Here's a list of the three best sites where you can do just that today with no upfront costs, risk free, so you can get started today!
Of course it wouldn't be an article about handmade business without Etsy! Although it has the highest fees of the bunch, there's a lot that makes Etsy worth it and you can get started without paying a dime. When I say "highest fees," I'm mostly referring to Etsy's 5% commission on every sale. But Etsy does their part to earn that 5%.
When you become an Etsy seller, you get the trusted Etsy branding, a cute little customizable storefront, and (unless you're already a little famous in your niche) Etsy is a great place to get eyes on your patterns from day one because the marketplace is so huge! Etsy gets the most traffic of the sites listed here (44.8 million shoppers last year).
Now let's break down all of those Etsy fees! In addition to the 5% commission on each sale, there's also a 3% payment processing fee, $0.25 flat payment processing fee, and $0.20 listing fee. This means you'll take home about $4.15 from a $5 pattern sale.
A big chunk of the sale, yes...but! That's $4.15 more than you had before and you can make sure you don't pay Etsy anything until you make a sale.
The key to making sure there are no upfront or surprise costs when starting out on Etsy is to keep track of those listing fees. First, be sure to sign up through a referral link (ask a friend or use mine here) and they'll waive 40 of those $0.20 listing fees. Then, when creating your first listings, make sure to select "Manual" renewal. That way you won't be charged $0.20 when/if an unsold listing expires after 3 months.
This way you can create up to 40 listings totally for free and if they don't sell, you don't lose anything other than your time. Also, resist the temptation to buy Etsy ads or a Plus subscription. They're totally not essential if you're just starting out. These tips are just insurance to you as a newbie yarntrepreneur so you can be 100% secure you won't be getting any surprise charges on your card and can give selling on Etsy a try, risk free.
The numbers I gave above are for North American sellers and can vary by country. It's a bit more detail than the scope of this post but here is some further reading if you're all about them numbers: Etsy payments, State where Etsy collects sales tax, Countries where Etsy collects VAT
I would love to do more in-dept posts about selling on Etsy from sales tax to SEO, so let me know if you'd be interested in that! When available, I'll update this post here with a link to those posts.
Ravelry is a selling platform, forum, and social media site all rolled into one just for yarn enthusiasts. You can upload your patterns to sell directly on Ravelry or use it to promote patterns you have available on other sites (like Etsy).
If you do choose to sell directly on Ravelry, they have a cool fee structure to encourage new designers to try it out. It's always free to post a pattern, and for the first $30 of pattern sales you make, there's no commission! You'll only pay the 2.9%+$0.30 PayPal payment processing fee which will just come off the top of your sale. There are truly no upfront costs.
Their lower-than-Etsy 3.5% commission only kicks in once you sell more than $30 of patterns in one month until $1500/mo in sales. Then the commission goes away for sales above that! This means it's great for newbies and great for the big guys too.
And without listing fees like Etsy, you can start to get your name out there as a designer by offering free patterns on Ravelry. Free patterns often get more attention than paid ones so a great way to stir up some interest is to list your pattern for free for a limited time.
There's also so much social functionality to Ravelry with busy forums, groups, ways to share projects, yarn stashes...but that all leads me to my biggest, somewhat personal complaint about Ravelry: I've never found it very user friendly. The interface has an antiquated feel and navigating all the different tabs and drop down menus is a bit counter-intuitive and clunky.
While I always post my patterns on Ravelry, I haven't had them for sale directly from the site (always from external sites). But I'm also still learning and I hope to have my Ravelry shop up and running soon so I can give you even more of the low-down on selling patterns on Ravelry!
There's a lot to LOVE about Lovecrafts. For one, they always have great deals on amazing yarn but it's also a wonderful platform for selling patterns.
I think lovecrafts is the most user friendly of all three and they also have the lowest fees. Their fee structure is similar to Ravelry in that there's no commission until you make over a certain amount in sales per month. For Lovecrafts that threshold is even higher at $40. So until you sell $40 in patterns in one month, all you pay is 2% and $0.20 flat fee which is very low by industry standards, even lower than PayPal!
You can also promote your budding brand on Lovecrafts by listing free patterns which, as I mentioned, get loads more downloads than paid ones.
The only downside is that Lovecrafts.com gets the least traffic of all three sites and you have the least amount of profile/storefront customization. But it's still an active and growing platform made specifically for yarnies which is free to start and could not be simpler to use!
To sum it up, here's a cute little info-graphic of the fee breakdown by platform (because who doesn't love an info-graphic?).
So now that you know WHERE you can get started selling your knitting and crochet patterns for free, you might still need help with the WHAT and HOW. In my next post, I'll do a deep dive into exactly how to make a digital pattern so you can sell with confidence knowing your customers will be able to download and print a high quality and beautiful file.
Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to check out my video on this topic and let me know what you think or if there's anything else you want to know about getting started selling knitting and crochet patterns online!