Why you should charge for your patterns

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It’s time for some real talk about a big problem in the knitting industry: valuing our work in a heavily free market. It’s tempting for new knitwear designers to put up all their work for free; maybe you want to get more people to knit your designs, so you hope if it’s a free pattern more people will be inspired to try out a new designer. Maybe you’re afraid that your designs aren’t good enough to charge for them.

I understand: it’s hard to fight against the complaints of knitters about the price of the patterns that are out there. All the time we hear people say that they like a pattern, but they don’t want to pay $6 for it (or whatever the price - the complaints fly in for $2 patterns and $12 patterns alike!). They want a good deal, or they want to wait for a sale, or they’ll “just find a free pattern that’s similar to it.” With all that you’re up against as a new designer, of course you’re tempted to offer free patterns, just so people won’t complain about your prices!

Besides, nobody wants to be told that their work isn’t worth what they’re charging, right? I know that can be so hard to hear, but the thing to remember is this: a complaint like that isn’t really about you or your work. It’s about the person doing the complaining: her beliefs, her limitations, her own negative thoughts. Don’t let the Negative Nancys of the world get you down!

Here are some tips to help you put a price on your patterns that is in line with what they’re worth:

See the value, not the price.

Take off your self-doubt glasses. Tell your inner critic to take a break.

Now, think about the amount of time you spent on this pattern: coming up with the idea, making initial sketches or notes, drafting, knitting a sample, re-writing, polishing, perfecting. The time you spent choosing yarn, textures, stitch patterns, and needle sizes. You know how much time and effort you put into your design!

Now think about the other people whose time and effort contributed to this pattern: tech editors, copy editors, sample knitters, test knitters, even your family and friends who gave you feedback and support while you were designing.

That’s a lot of work for one pattern! And that means it has a lot of value, so it should be priced accordingly. We underprice our work because we can’t see its value; we see our own flaws and every little mistake we made along the way. We see our work as being easy or simple, but to someone else it’s really impressive to go from a blank page to a knitwear design! Remember that the next time you’re ready to add a price to your pattern, and honor the work that went into it by pricing it well.

Put your best foot forward.

It’s easier to see the value in something if you do your best in the first place. When you create a pattern, don’t just throw some directions on the page and put it up for sale! Instead, take your time. Review it thoroughly, and get some other people to review it as well. Give it to a copy editor and a tech editor. Get some sample knitters to test it for you. Review the final copy before you publish.

If you put 100% into your work, and someone has a problem with it, then that’s usually their problem, not yours. Of course everyone makes little mistakes, but those are easy to fix if you’ve done your best to avoid big ones.

Be brave.

Sometimes the scariest thing in the world is to create something with your own hands and your own heart, and then ask someone to pay you money for it. I’m here to tell you, it is OKAY to ask for the sale! Don’t let people bully you into making your pattern free just because they don’t want to pay for your work. Don’t be afraid to put a value on your life’s work. There will be some people who don’t want to buy it, but you know what? Those aren’t your Fibre Muses. They’re going to be fine knitting other people’s patterns. The knitters who feel connected to your work will pay you for it, every time, because they honor your effort and your creativity. Those are the people who want to support your vision, so don’t be afraid to let them.

If you’re still nervous about pricing your work, I’ve created a private space in Facebook for the students of my Swatch Studio course to commiserate and communicate about all things knitwear design, including pricing your work. Your fellow designer-students and I are there to back you up and push you to price your work according to its true value. If you could use that kind of support, click the link to enroll in the course!

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