Jul 14, 2010

Selling Patterns On Ravelry: My Beginner ’s Story

Most of us look around at knitting patterns being sold on Ravelry, and we quickly notice a lot of the big names. Ysolda sells her patterns and books exclusively through Ravelry, and helped raise thousands for the massive Haitian earthquake a few months ago. Melissa LeBarre sells her patterns through Ravelry and earns a nice little side income.

And even though there are thousands more successful micro-business sellers on Ravelry than there are visible big-name pattern writers, it can be daunting for a first-time designer to write up a pattern and list it for sale. I know because I’ve done it.

The reality of my tiny pattern-writing business is that I haven’t sold thousands – I haven’t even sold hundreds. To date I have sold exactly 71 patterns, earning me less than $400. To me, this is totally rock star – that’s $400 I’ve been able to use for presents for family, on knitting patterns for charity donations, and so much more!

I may not be one of the big-name pattern designers, but 71 is a lot of people who have wanted to knit something I designed! Listing patterns on Ravelry, whether for free or for purchase, can be extremely daunting at first. They have great help centers to talk you through all the technical stuff, so I’m not going to touch on that in this article. What I will share are a few tips and tricks I’ve figured out along the way – some insights to help make your first pattern sales come a bit faster.

List your pattern between 9am and 5pm CST on a Monday through Friday. If you live anywhere in the United States or Canada, as long as you list it during daytime hours during the work-week, you’ve got a better chance of more people buying. If you’re outside of those countries, figure out the time difference and post during those times.

Per Ravelry threads, there are more people on during American work-hours than any other time of the week. There’s actually a noticeable dip in traffic both to the site and for purchases on the weekends, so to get the most initial sales, list it during business hours, during the week.

Add as many photos as you have of the item, and from many different angles. I’ve noticed that the patterns I’ve written that have more photos sell more frequently than the ones with only one photo. This is also the case with downloads for free patterns I’ve written!

Grab a model (or a photographer if you’re modeling the item yourself) and take as many shots as you can get. I don’t think it matters how professional the images are – just be sure they’re well-lit and you can see the pattern clearly.

With that in mind, when at all possible model the item on or with a human. If it’s a hat, model it on a real live head rather than on a dummy or just flat. Sweaters and shawls do better on human shoulders than on laundry lines or dress forms. The more people can see your pattern at work in the “real world” the more likely they are to buy it.

If you’ve got a blog, as soon as you post the pattern to Ravelry, post about it on your blog. Let those who read your blog know there’s a new pattern available! Include a direct purchase link {Ravelry gives them to you for free!} so that if a reader isn’t a Raveler, they can still purchase your pattern. Include photos and share as much as you can about the pattern, without giving it away for free.

Hold a contest for free copies! What better way to get people excited about your pattern than to hold a contest on your blog for free copies! I like to do this anytime I list a new pattern, and I’ve found that those who don’t win are always more likely to purchase the pattern anyhow.

While you’re holding your contest, offer up free prize patterns to other bloggers who want to hold contests as well. I always love holding contests for new patterns that other people have created, and I know there’s tons of other bloggers who do as well. By letting your circle know about this, you increase the chances that new knitters will find your blog and your patterns, and make a purchase.

Don’t forget to tell those you know about the pattern via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and more. Don’t count out social networking and your “real life” friends – there’s tons of potential buyers in those groups! I make sure to hit Twitter and Facebook, as well as send an e-mail to a group I’ve got set up in my e-mail specifically for new pattern notices. What are some of your tips and tricks for successful posting patterns to Ravelry that I may have missed? Share them in the comments!

{featured photo: the worsted weight version of Red Velvet, my newest pattern - which will be available on Monday morning!}


  1. Great tips! thanks for your help

  2. Why do you think the time you post makes a difference? I always buy patterns when I am looking for something specific which more likely than not is on the weekend as during the week. I am just curious.