Should you sell patterns & tutorials for your handmade products?

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I did not start selling tutorials to make my ornaments for a long time…I was afraid to.

I was afraid that it would kill my business.

I was afraid that no one would want to buy my finished ornaments anymore.

I was afraid all my ideas would get taken.

I was afraid I’d create a zillion new competitors on Etsy and eBay.

Plus, I didn’t really know how to create or sell a tutorial, and didn’t know where to go to figure it out.

It just seemed way too risky, and so, I remained in what IĀ thought was my comfort zone…even though I knew that I couldn’t really increase my income beyond what I was physically able to produce.

My fear of selling my skills ended up costing me tens of thousands of dollars.

How do I figure that? Well, my income TRIPLED when I finally bit the bullet and did it. And so, those few years of hesitation cost me dearly. And, not only in the form of moola.

I’ve been selling my patterns now for about 2 years, and what it has done for my business is immeasurable. If you’ve been thinking about taking the leap into selling your own crafty skill-set, here are just a few ways that big step can benefit your business.

1. It gives you a passive stream of income.

Creating a great tutorial or pattern takes a lot of work, there’s no doubt.

But, it’s work you do once…and then you get paid for it over and over and over again.

Etsy, Indiemade, and many other shopping cart platforms let you sell digital items now, automatically – so the moment someone buys, your tutorial is delivered straight to them. You don’t have to lift a finger.

I will tell you straight up… there’s nothing quite as amazing as seeing a payment notification pop up on my phone, and knowing I don’t have to rush off to my office to ship anything.

Not only that, but you can sell unlimited copies of your pattern, with no further work for you. Imagine seeing 20 of those payment notifications pop up in a day…and no on-set of panic to accompany it.

Imagine 50! Imagine as many as you can possibly conceive, because that is truly the only thing that can limit your digital opportunity in our lovely World of Online.

2. It adds value to the time you spend coming up with new ideas & creating new designs.

I always get so excited every time I think up a brand new product idea. I love the brainstorming, the experimenting, the designing and creating. I love putting that new idea out there and sharing it to my Facebook page and my email list, and I love when there is a great reaction to it from my audience.

But then it’s time to hustle and make more of it. And more. It’s time to become a human machine and PRODUCE.

And after a little while, that new design isn’t so new and exciting anymore. I’m ready to move on to the next thing!

Do you ever feel like that?

When you’re a creative type, most of the joy is in the creation, not the production. At least, not once that production starts heading down Mundane Boulevard.

But, after putting so much time and effort into a new design…to only make and sell a few of that design does NOT make sense for your bottom line. This is where so many of us crafters meet our glass ceiling.

Unless… you package that design up into a new tutorial. Then, you can sell that baby over and over, forever…and meanwhile, you’ve moved on to your next big idea.

3. It opens up a whole new world of possibility for your business.

Around the time I began selling a few of my patterns, I also started writing little short and sweet tutorials for my blog, for free. I’d never given away my ornament ideas like before that, but I figured those tutorials would help to attract people who might be interested in the patterns I was trying to sell.

Those little tutorials started attracting more traffic than I had ever seen on my site before…ever. When I realized that, I started writing free tutorials for some of the ornaments I was actually selling in my shop. And you know what? I started selling more of those ornaments. Even though I was flat out telling everyone exactly how I made them!

When I stopped being afraid to freely share my ideas and designs, I started attracting SO MUCH MORE to my business. More everything…visitors, followers, sales. The more I gave, the better my business did.

I’m honestly not sure if I’d have ever learned this enormous lesson had I not begun trying to sell my patterns in the first place. And over time, creating patterns (both free and paid) has grown into a huge part of my overall online presence… it is even how I’ve been able to build up a large email list and social following.

And what’s funny is that it has never hurt the sales of my finished products (which was one of my biggest fears).

People who have no desire to make something themselves, aren’t going to bother trying. And the people who DO want to make something themselves, are going to try and figure out how, anyway…whether you help them or not.

May as well help them, right?

Have you considered (or are you already) selling patterns or tutorials for your designs? If not, what’s kept you from doing it?

16 Responses
  • Olivia Thompson
    May 6, 2014

    Awesome article! I’ve been putting this off for years. I think I’m going to finally move forward and release the fear

  • Abby
    May 9, 2014

    How do you know where to set your prices for digital downloads??

    • Staci Ann Lowry
      May 12, 2014

      Hi Abby. That is really going to depend on what you are selling… how in-depth your download is, how much competition you have (though competition isn’t something I put TOO much emphasis on), and how in-demand the skills you are teaching are. I charge $10 for each of my tutorials, and that’s high compared to what some of my competition charges, but I do it because my PDFs are very in-depth, have lots of detail, and because I get a good amount of traffic to my website. Just be sure to take those factors into account when considering pricing. (Oh, and remember too, it’s easier to start lower and go up in price, then to start higher and then reduce.)

      Hope that helps!

  • Jo Schreibeis
    May 11, 2014

    I was given a message when submitting my info to get your free ebony and the message said the mailing list was inactive and to notify owner.
    Bummer! Would love to receive your ebook!

    • Staci Ann Lowry
      May 12, 2014

      Hi Jo! I’m so sorry about that. I’m not sure why it sent you that error message, but things seem to be working again now, if you want to re-try. If it still doesn’t work, please send me your email address (you can send it to me privately through my contact form at the top of this page), and I’ll email the e-book directly to you. And again, I’m sorry for the trouble!

  • Leslie C.
    August 14, 2014

    Great article and good advice. Are you on YouTube?

    • Staci Ann Lowry
      August 17, 2014

      Thanks for reading! No, not on YouTube. (not yet, anyway :D)

      • Leslie C.
        August 20, 2014

        What is your opinion about creating how to’s on YouTube? Good idea? Good for marketing? Curious what you think. Thank you.

        • Staci Ann Lowry
          August 25, 2014

          Leslie, I definitely think it’s a good idea. I don’t know a whole lot specifically about YouTube marketing, but I do know that you can get TONS of exposure from it, and that you should try to optimize your videos/channel to get any visitors back to your own site, and on to your email list. You’d want to make that a very enticing offer to anyone watching your video, or they will end up just leaving once they’ve finished watching. For example, at the end of your video, tell the viewers what your site offers, and what other tutorials/ideas/etc they can get by going there. (And include a link in the description under the video as well.)

          Like I said, I don’t know a whole lot specifically about YouTube, but just like with any other platform, I’d recommend that you ultimately focus on getting the views you get from it, back to your own site, where you’ll be able to get them on to your email list, and where they’ll have a chance to see the rest of what you offer.

  • Ajay Pratap Singh
    April 16, 2015

    Like

  • Sara
    March 5, 2016

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with digital goods. I run a scrapbooking business and have put off digital downloads of our designs for almost 2 years. I am finally at the point of wanting / needing that passive income. Reading this article really made me see that I was missing a lot by not offering them. I have plans to launch my digital segment this month and now I am so excited to see where it takes me.

    • Staci Ann Lowry
      March 25, 2016

      I’m so glad to hear it Sara. Good luck, and let me know how it works out for you. šŸ™‚

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