Free crochet pattern… for sale?

You may have noticed that some of my recent free patterns contain a link to purchase a copy on Ravelry. It’s possible you wondered why someone would buy a free pattern, or even why I some of my patterns are free.

I want to explain how I got to this point, and to help you understand how designers come to decide on a business model or change it as they go.

You may want to read this complementary article by Akroche Tatuk about the reasons why some patterns are free. It’s in French, but you can have the Chrome browser or Google Translate translate the page for you. 

From passion to business

Internet had opened publishing to pretty much everyone. All you need to share your wisdom with the world is to know a thing and to have an Internet connection. We all know that’s not always great, but that’s a topic for another day.

This makes it so that people who are passionate about any given subject can share their knowledge on the web, including people who are passionate about crochet. Eventually, some of these people move from passion to business, or to at least wanting to make their passion cost-efficient. These people then have to choose how they will get paid.

Two main business models exist in the world of crochet design: paid patterns and advertising on a website where the patterns are available for free.

Business model #1 : paid patterns

This is the model I chose because I wanted to make it very clear that this work, generally done by women, has value.

Here, after you’ve written your pattern, you save it as a PDF and add it to sales platforms (such as Ravelry and Etsy). Those who like it purchase a copy they can download and save to their devices for future use (or not; as we know, buying patterns and crocheting are 2 different hobbies).

A lot of designers who sell their patterns also offer some for free, or for less, to attract customers. A free patterns allows potential clients to see your style and the quality of your products.

Business model #2: advertising on a website

A lot of American designers are on this business model.

Here, after you’ve written your pattern, you add it to your website. Before doing this, you’ve joined an ad network whose criteria you meet (most importantly, the number of monthly visitors to your website). Here, crocheters follow the pattern online. It is not downloadable.

A lot of designers using this model have started to offer paid PDFs to their website visitors.

Hybrid or complementary model

In both cases, you’ll note that designers offer the alternative to their business model in at least some cases. This isn’t contradictory, it’s complementary. What I’ve seen over and over is that their is little overlap between the two clientèles.

People who prefer free patterns rarely pay for them. Even if it slightly less practical, they follow the pattern on the website. Those who pay for patterns will usually buy a pattern even if a free option is available.

By offering some of my patterns here, with ads throughout, as well as paid on sales platforms, I’ve increased the number of people using my patterns, of course, but also my classes, my affiliates, and my services.

Coming up

In the future, I aim to publish more of my patterns using both models, and to go into my existing patterns and add some here. You should know that I am paid better by pattern sales than by advertising on my website, which is why I still prefer paid patterns.

Let’s say it’s possible for you to choose how you support my business, this information can help you make a decision.

You’ll find my patterns on these websites:

xo, Julie