How to make your creative work accessible to all
How much can you actually ask customers to pay for your creative work?
When I launched my first website a few years ago with the strategy of selling my knitting patterns online, I struggled a lot with the basic yet quite existential question of “How much should I ask people to pay for a knitting pattern?” I searched around the web for guidelines, did some benchmark research, then compared the pricing schemes of all the knitting wizards that I admire and ended up with some idea of a price.
Then, as bills started coming in for website hosting and fees, translations, tech editing and of course, yarn(!), I started getting quite nervous that this was really a deep rabbit hole I was getting myself into. Quite a financially bottomless rabbit hole.
So I increased the price a tiny little bit. Then I thought : What if this is just too much of a price to ask for someone who is as new and fresh in the business as myself and clearly has no credentials to show? Maybe the price is what keeps knitters from buying my patterns? Who am I to ask the same price as someone who has been doing this for years? And what about those that really like my patterns but already have a hard time paying for quality yarn? And so, off I went and lowered the price again.
I imagine you start getting the picture… setting a price on creative work such as pattern writing is really a tough nut to crack. No one (apart from designers of course) can imagine how many hours go into crafting the simplest of patterns. Even if it looks easy and straightforward, somehow there are still hours and hours that go into the drafting of the pattern, the first, second and third (if you’re like me) testknit, then typing it down, making some sort of layout and proofreading it. And when you think you’re done, you send it off to the tech editor, who luckily finds all the tiny errors, and you spend another entire work week on the editing. Then the test knitting process, which can be a great experience, especially when I get to meet (virtually) knitters from all over the world, but also, a little bit complicated to manage next to a full day-time job (which luckily pays for this crazy project in the first place).
I’ve had the price stable for some time now, but always with a small knot in my stomach, because I know that only a few years ago, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my savings on a pattern, but would do anything to try and find something more or less likable through a free pattern. Websites such as Drops Design have made my knitting journey possible in the first place and most of the garments I made for my kids when they were small, were all done thanks to their free patterns.
Pay what works
Then, by accident, while scrolling through patterns on Ravelry, I came across a wonderful Designer, AhoraKnits. She is a Franco-Maori, American-Australian knitwear designer and coach who previously lived in Osaka (Japan) and now in Texas. I came across her pricing scheme called “Pay What Works” and instantly thought “This is it!” I asked her if she was ok with me doing something similar for my patterns – which are not quite as gorgeous as hers I might add – and she immediately agreed.
Along came Covid-19 and months passed where everything was turned upside down… and up to this day, I had quite forgotten about this little project of mine, until my social media started overflowing with Black Friday promotions. I’m usually not that sensitive to these commercial techniques, but that year, it simply felt quite off and in a way: wrong. In a context where I’m very much aware that we are among the lucky ones, the ones that have a safe job, that have health insurance, who don’t have to struggle to get to the end of the month as so many people had to at that moment and still today, after so many different crises, it all felt a little bit like a very bad joke.
So I thought : Now is the right time to do things right and make my little contribution to making knitting more accessible to everyone. Knitting can be your downtime at the end of the day. It can be your therapy session, where you’re just sitting with your own thoughts and go through the issues of the day. It can be that moment of the week where you meet other knitters (virtually or in real life) and enjoy a really nice time, and make new acquaintances. Knitting connects people all over the world, and it can help make your day just a tiny little bit better.
Which is why I think it should be accessible for everyone, no matter their financial situation and wherever they’re at in their lives right now. And if you can maybe save a little bit on a pattern you’ll be able to buy that yarn that you really like (and not the one that was on sale and isn’t exactly your style, but hey, it was marked down).
Read more about my “pay what works” accessible pricing scheme and help spread the knitting love!