How do knit and crochet designers make money with free patterns
How do knit and crochet designers make money with free patterns? Do I have to buy a pattern to show my support for a designer? Why do some designers have ads on their website? Let me clear the air and talk about a touchy subject, the topic of free knitting and crochet patterns on blogs and websites and how they help a designer make money.
I will attempt to answer the top questions I get all the time. Let me break down how it works from the designer’s side so that you understand why we do what we do.
What I will answer
Often I hear (or see on Social Media) people complain that not all designers offer free patterns. People also complain that the patterns that are free aren’t really free because there are so many ads on the site. To that I say, YOU ARE RIGHT. No pattern is really free!
Yes, you may get the pattern for free on a website and have to look at a few ads, but it wasn’t free for the designer to design, publish, test, sample, source, advertise, support and so much more for that pattern.
So let’s delve into this topic more. I hope you will take a minute to read this post and understand all of the HARD work that goes into each pattern, blog post, email and social media post.
- Marly, why do you have ads?
- Marly, why is clicking a link so important?
- Marly, why not just give me a downloadable PDF of the pattern for free?
- Marly, why should I sign up to your newsletter?
Before we go any farther I want to also address the fact that I am NOT complaining. I LOVE what I do and hope that I never have to work another job in my life.
I often say that you don’t know what you don’t know you do or until you’ve been taught. Therefore, in an effort to teach you, let me explain how I make money with free patterns on my website. At that point, I hope will better understand how much work went into that “free” pattern.
These are my truths and the way I run my business. Everything I write below is my opinion, my experiences and my process. Not all designers are exactly the same but overall we share many similarities.
Free Knit and Crochet Patterns: Free for who?
Here we go, I guess I will start by explaining how I am able to provide free knit and free crochet patterns (and video tutorials but I’m not going to talk about those here) to you and still pay my own bills.
Here is a rough explanation using round numbers for ease.
First, we have to have a common understanding that when a pattern is posted for FREE on my website you pay NOTHING! There is no money exchanged between you and me to get that free pattern.
Secondly, it’s important to understand that you didn’t have to pay for that pattern but it wasn’t free for me to make and publish.
8 Most Common Costs of a FREE Knit and Crochet Pattern
- $$ of materials
- $$ for contractor to make it
- $$ for tech editor to make sure pattern is correct
- $$ for shipping
- $$ for hosting the website etc.
- $$ for promoting the pattern on social platforms
- $$ for newsletter shoutouts
- let’s not forget about the cost of my time to do everything
I’m not exaggerating when I say that once everything is added up, some patterns can cost over $1000 (and that is conservative). Which brings us back to the title of this blog post: How do knit and crochet designers make money with free patterns?
How do knit and crochet designers make money with free patterns?
Of course, a designer can make money from a knit or crochet pattern by posting it for sale on Ravelry (🔗check out my pattern store), ETSY, Lovecrafts.com, or on their own website. The fee is set by the designer to help cover the costs listed above.
But this post isn’t about how to sell a pattern, it’s about how to make money with free patterns.
QUICK NOTE: check out my FREE knit and crochet patterns and see if there is something you like!
To make money from free patterns, designers add advertisements to the blog or website as a way to make revenue. Yes, those ads that are on that pattern you love are there to help the designer actually make money from that pattern. Get it?
Even the ones you’ve scrolled past on this post help me make $ to pay for this website.
Seems GREAT and an easy GET RICH QUICK process if a designer has a lot of free patterns, right? Well, what you might not know is that it takes a TON of visitors on a blog to actually pay off.
Let’s break this down a little bit more. 👇
How does a pattern make money with advertisements?
Simply put, the way google adsense (or for me Adthrive is the ad agency I use) works is like this: when a person comes to my website via a google search, another website, clicking a link on fb or insta or pinterest, or by typing in marlybird.com they are counted as a new user, a pageview and a session.
Google adsense will pay $ per 1000 pageviews and 1000 sessions. That amount depends on the advertiser and the time of year but as of today, for every 1000 pageviews I get on my site I will make $13.08. [update June 16, 2020…the money per 1000 pageviews is $9.38…the number fluctuates]
So think of it this way…if 1000 people go to one of my free patterns, I will make $13.00 on that free pattern. ONLY $13.00, compare that to how much work went into that pattern! 👀
SIDE NOTE: that is why some designers only sell patterns because if I sell a pattern for $3 I only need to sell 4 to make as much as I would if I gave the same pattern away for free with ads on my site. But selling patterns is harder than it might seem.
So, if I give the pattern away on my website, with ads in place, I will only make $13 per 1000 pageviews to that page! If we assume the pattern cost $1000 to make, I need 77,000 pageviews on that page to breakeven for that pattern!!!!!
Luckily, advertisers do not only pay per 1000 pageviews per single page but overall pageviews on the site. Therefore, if a particular pattern only gets in 500 pageviews, and another pattern gets 100 pageviews, and another gets 400 pageviews, I still make $13. But it took 3 free patterns to make that $13.
Now, do you understand why designers ask you to please share the link to the patterns you like? Because we make our money back and hopefully make more money to live if you share the link and a person comes and visits our website.
Sessions, Pageviews, now you are talking Greek
Okay, let’s take this a little further. While on my website should you decide to stay a while and surf, when you click on a link that takes you to another page on my site…you just did another pageview. GREAT! That adds to the overall goal of getting at least 1000 on my site to make $13. However, you are still in the same session.
What is the difference between User and Session and Pageviews?
- Users represent individuals that visit your site. If that same User leaves your site and comes back later, Google Analytics will remember them, and their second visit won’t increase the number of Users (since they have already been accounted for in the past).
- Sessions represent a single visit to your website. Whether a User lands on one of your web pages and leaves a few seconds later, or spends an hour reading every blog post on your site, it still counts as a single Session. If that User leaves and then comes back later, it wouldn’t count as a new User, but it would count as a new Session.
- Pageviews represent each individual time a page on your website is loaded by a User. A single Session can include many Pageviews, if a User navigates to any other web pages on your website without leaving.
So, a user is each individual person that visits my site, a session is each time you visit my site, and a pageview is each page you visit while on my site. To the ad companies, it is more valuable for multiple sessions to visit a site, vs having them visit a ton of pages.
Right now, 1000 sessions pays approximately $21.00 [update June 16, 2020…the money per 1000 sessions is $15.66…thanks Covid] so the more visits to my site the better. Hence, the need to always reach more and new people.
Knowing all of that, do you still think this is a GREAT and GET RICH QUICK formula?
Why a Newsletter
Besides social media, a newsletter is the best way for a designer to have direct contact with his/her fans. But there is a cost to doing a newsletter (sign up for the Marly Bird Newsletter).
[Update June 16, 2020: I work with a company named Prime to publish my newsletter to help offset the cost of publishing] I use Mailchimp and I pay $75 a month to send out a newsletter and that will be going up to $100 with just a few more subscribers (the cost is based on the size of the newsletter list; I know people who pay $1000 a month!). That is just out of pocket money that I have to spend to send out any sort of correspondence to subscribers.
My goal with the Marly Bird Newsletter is to not only let my subscribers know about new patterns (free and paid for), what I have happening, and to ultimately get more pageviews and sessions to my website and to my friends’ website (yes, I share links to my friends patterns because SHARING IS CARING 🥰).
GET A FULL LIST OF DESIGNERS TO FOLLOW AT THE END OF THIS POST
‼️Remember: PAGEVIEWS = MONEY 💰
So, using the pay listed above of $13 for 1000 pageviews, I need to get at least 6000 pageviews JUST from the newsletter to breakeven (not even counting the money spent on time to do the newsletter). That means it isn’t until I get more than 6000 pageviews total that I start to make money from the newsletter and I only make $13 per 1000 pageviews at that.
Now that you know all of that, I bet you will never look at that free pattern as something as simple as just a free pattern.
But how can you help support your favorite designers?
Show Designer L❤️VE
To make sure the designers you love can continue to do business and offer you those free or paid for patterns is simple. CLICK, VISIT, SHARE your favorite designers facebook posts, pinterest pins, blog posts and patterns. If you love a pattern so much you want to have a paper copy, purchase the pdf if it is available. Be sure to Like and Follow the designers FB Page and FB Group (click the blue words to join mine), follow them on Instagram and on Pinterest, and if they have a YouTube Channel Subscribe!
There you have it, hopefully the next time you are on a website with ads, links instead of pictures, or a pattern pdf is for sale and not for free you will remember, the only way these designers are able to provide you with the free content is by placing those ads on their site and/or charging you for that pattern pdf without ads.
I appreciate and love each and every one of you Minions. Your love and support allow me to do what I love and I want to thank you. xoxo Marly
5 FREE Crochet Patterns by Marly Bird
- Special Shawl with Red Heart It’s A Wrap Sprinkles
- The Marly Bird Version of a Crochet Log Cabin Throw
- Super Simple Shawl-Make it in a night
- Ivy’s Poppy Blanket
- Light weight spring shawl
5 FREE Knit Patterns by Marly Bird
- Lace Shawl
- Chic Sheep Day Dream Blanket
- Beginner Garter Stitch Shawl
- Lace Cowl
- Snowboarder Chunky Hat-a fan favorite
23 of my Designer Friends with FREE Patterns
- American Crochet
- Beatrice Ryan Designs
- Cre8tion Crochet
- ELK Studio
- Fiber Flux
- Good Knit Kisses
- Heart Hook Home
- Jessie at Home
- Kristen Holloway Designs
- Moogly Blog
- My Hobby is Crochet
- Oombawka Design Crochet
- Pattern Paradise
- The Purple Poncho
- See Love Share
- Snappy Tots
- Stitch 11
- Underground Crafter
- Whistle & Ivy
- TL Yarn Crafts
Elena Lewis says:
Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed and providing insight into your world. I very much appreciate you and have learned so much from you and all for free.
Sheila Miller says:
Love this, wish so many others would realize what the costs are for a free pattern. Keep up the amazing work that you do Marly. From one of your Minions.
Chris Lopez says:
Glad you broke it down so people can understand what goes into getting a free pattern. People routinely complain about ads but don’t want to pay for a pattern. They don’t get how lucky they are to get your time and talent and not have to pay. Everyone wants something for nothing, like you’re obligated to give it to them. I honestly don’t know how you do what you do but I’m extremely grateful that you do.
Kim Ladouceur says:
Ads don’t bother me. In fact, I often click through links in emails even if I’m not interested in the topic just so the designer will get something out of it.
I just love your patterns. Ads don’t bother me.
Thank you for sharing and your honesty. As a new designer myself, I wondered what to do about ads. I definitely wanted some patterns to be available for free because when I just started crocheting I benefited a lot from free patterns and tutorials so I wanted to give something back. In the end I decided to add (hopefully unobstrusitve) advertising and charge for more complex patterns because our time and work are valuable and it is a recognition of that. Thank you again for highlighting this.
Marly Bird says:
It is all about the balance and having people understand why there is a charge or why there are ads. It isn’t done to be mean and by no means a get rick quick business. We love what we do and want to share it with others but need to pay for our essentials as well. Best of luck as you continue to design!!!
Meggan Lloyd says:
Thanks Marly! I don’t mind ads either but now I’ll think about how I tend to just stay on the pattern page when I’m making something and get a couple of steps down, close the site and come back.
Thanks so much for this article, Marly. I’m a budding crochet designer and am well aware of how much work is involved in producing patterns. I was not aware, however, of the costs and tiny payoffs of offering free patterns. It’s daunting! Of my 27 patterns, only two are free. I’m retired and receive a tiny pension, but it’s enough to allow me to stay home and design patterns. I make just enough on my pattern sales to cover my yarn and tech editing costs, so I barely break even, with little to no profit at all. I can’t afford the time, effort, money, or anxiety of offering free patterns. Thankfully, there are enough crocheters out there who are willing to pay for a well-written pattern that I stay motivated to keep going.
Marly Bird says:
That is awesome to hear! So many times you hear the people complaining that a pattern isn’t free that it is good to know that you found a strong pool out there that purchase from you.
Kim Latshaw says:
Wonderful, well written article that I have shared on my page as well. Thank you!
Marly Bird says:
Thank you for sharing! Education is the best way to help others know how to support their favorite designers!
Kate Farrell says:
I like free patterns…. not because they are free, but it gives a good example how a designer writes there pattern and if it suits me. I have bought several patterns and not used them as the way the designer writes a pattern is terrible, or the font they think is pretty but distracts from the content. So if I love that free pattern…then I buy more of the designers work. Loved your blog post.
Marly Bird says:
That is a great way to gauge how the designer writes. There is nothing wrong with a free pattern. I just want people to see what goes into a free pattern and why designers need people to click on links when the pattern is free to help them cover their costs. Hope you keep finding new designers that you love!!!