Why go to the effort of writing, testing, tech editing, and charting a pattern if you aren't going to make some money from the pattern? Of course you're going to sell the pattern! But where?
There are many locations where you can sell your knitting patterns, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be selling them in more than one location. Here's a summary of the main platforms knitting pattern designers are using to sell their patterns, including a pros and cons comparison and a fee comparison between Etsy, Ravelry, LoveCrafts, Payhip, Ribblr, and using your own website.
Selling Knitting Patterns on Etsy
Etsy is a great location for selling knitting patterns. They make it easy to set up a shop, create a listing, and have it available for the world to purchase. Another great advantage to using Etsy is that you get to tap into their (very large) audience, some of which are already searching for knitting patterns!
The main disadvantage to using Etsy is that there are a lot of other sellers also on Etsy, which means you have to get good with your SEO (search engine optimization) and photography. Etsy also doesn't have the same filter capabilities that a platform specifically created for patterns has. The other disadvantage to Etsy is that, even if your patterns aren't selling, you'll have to pay $0.20 USD every three months, or every time you sell the pattern, for every listing you have just to keep it listed on their website.
Fees: Their fee structure changes periodically, but currently they charge a listing fee, a transaction fee, and a payment processing fee
The listing fee is $0.20 every time a listing is published. If you have multiple of one item available, you will be charged the listing fee every time that item is purchased, since there's now another of that listing available for someone to purchase. Your listings expire every three months, at which time you will have to pay $0.20 for the listing to renew again.
The transaction fee is 5% of the listing price, shipping, and gift wrapping, and is charged after your item is purchased. Of course, if you're selling digital patterns, you won't have any shipping or gift wrapping fees!
If you choose to have your payment processed through Etsy, the fee varies by country, but the United States payment processing fee is 3% of the order amount plus $0.25 per order.
Selling Knitting Patterns on Ravelry
Ravelry is another great platform for selling your knitting patterns. They also have a large audience, and this audience is specifically looking for knitting and crochet patterns. And since the website was created for knitting and crochet patterns, it has a lot of really great filter options that make it easier for a knitter to find your pattern when it's exactly what they're wanting to knit. Unlike Etsy, it is completely free to list your patterns for sale; instead, you only pay fees on the purchases that you receive.
One of the big disadvantages to Ravelry is that there are a lot of free knitting patterns available on the website, and not every visitor on the site will be willing to pay you for the hard work you put into your knitting pattern design. Another big disadvantage to Ravelry is that, since their website updates in 2020, many folks aren't able to use the website due to headaches, migraines, seizures, and more. Because of the way Ravelry responded to the situation, there were many crafters that left the platform in 2020 and 2021.
I also find that Ravelry's process for listing a new pattern for sale is a bit confusing, especially the first time you try it. Unlike LoveCrafts, Ravelry does allow you to create several coupon and sale options for your marketing, but I don't find it quite as easy as setting up a promotional discount on Etsy.
Fees: Ravelry charges a transaction fee, plus you will be charged a payment processing fee by PayPal.
Ravelry's transaction fee is 3.5% of your sales each month if you make between $30 USD and $1500 USD. Below $30, there is no fee. Above $1500, the fee is reduced.
PayPal's payment processing fees have just restructured. Now they charge 3.49% of the order price plus $0.49 USD per order that is processed using PayPal's payment options, or 2.59% of the order price plus $0.49 USD per order that is processed using a credit or debit card.
Selling Knitting Patterns on LoveCrafts
LoveCrafts is also a platform that was created specifically for crafters, so it has done a great job of gathering a large audience that may be interested in knitting pattern designs. They do also allow for some filtering of the search results, but it isn't nearly as robust as Ravelry's filter options. Like Ravelry, LoveCrafts doesn't charge you to put your knitting patterns on their website. Unlike Ravelry, you don't have to pay them every month for the fees that you owe; instead, they take the fees out of your payment before sending the money to you. As a new knitting pattern designer, it's also really nice that LoveCrafts has lower fees if you sell less than $40 USD in a given month.
However, LoveCrafts isn't a favorite platform among most knitting pattern designers. For one, it can be a bit annoying to upload a pattern, and then you have to wait for them to approve and publish the pattern before it will be available for purchase. And even then, it takes a little while for it to show up in your design profile. This is especially annoying when you're trying to push a brand new launch.
If you're tight on money, another disadvantage to selling through LoveCrafts is that you can wait over a month to receive payment for a pattern that you sold, because they send all payments out on the 20th of the month following the purchase. And lastly, although LoveCrafts caters to crafters, they sell a lot of different supplies for knitters, crocheters, cross stitchers, embroiderers, paper crafters, and more; so selling knitting patterns isn't their top priority.
Fees: LoveCrafts makes their fee structure pretty simple. They charge a transaction fee of 2% of the pattern cost plus $0.20. If you make more than $40 USD in a given month, they will charge an additional 3.5% selling fee on your month's total sales.
Selling Your Knitting Patterns on Payhip
As there has been an influx of knitters and designers leaving Ravelry, Payhip has become a relatively popular option among knitwear designers. Essentially, Payhip is a free website shop. For the most part, you aren't going to be getting traffic from Payhip, and knitters aren't going to Payhip to search for knitting patterns. Instead, you'll need to drive the traffic to the website. This is an especially great option if you already have a following of knitters interested in your patterns, but you don't want to create a website of your own.
While it is free to list your patterns on Payhip, it isn't my favorite option. From my experience, knitters aren't as familiar yet with Payhip, so they're more likely to go through Ravelry or LoveCrafts to make a purchase. And after I launched my shop on my own website, I immediately received several more sales on my website than I ever did on Payhip. The other thing that I don't love about Payhip is that, while they allow for some customization of your shop aesthetics, it can be very frustrating to adjust.
All of that said, if you want to implement a "pay-what-works" option, Payhip may be a great place to test it out! You can set a minimum purchase limit, and customers can pay that price or any amount above that price.
Fees: Payhip charges a 5% transaction fee if you use the free plan, a 2% transaction fee if you use the plus plan (which costs $29 USD per month), and no transaction fee if you use the pro plan (which costs $99 USD per month). Plus, you will be charged a payment processing fee by PayPal, which is 3.49% of the order price plus $0.49 USD per order that is processed using PayPal's payment options, or 2.59% of the order price plus $0.49 USD per order that is processed using a credit or debit card.
Selling Your Knitting Patterns on Ribblr
Ribblr is a relatively new knitting pattern platform on the scene. The website was created for knitting, sewing, and crochet patterns, so it's definitely a great place to find knitters. Of course, their audience base isn't nearly as large as Ravelry or LoveCrafts, but it is growing. While they don't have the filter options that Ravelry and LoveCrafts have, they do allow you to filter by the techniques used in the pattern. Ribblr also does not make you pay a fee for listing patterns on the website.
The part that makes Ribblr unique from other knitting pattern platforms is that it's an interactive tool for knitters that will give knitters only the instructions for the size they are working. It also allows you to link videos throughout the pattern so knitters can easily watch tutorials as they work through the pattern, and link yarns within the materials section so knitters don't have to go searching for the yarn you recommend. As knitters work through the pattern, they can easily track where they are in the pattern by marking a section as complete.
While I think this technology is really neat, and a great method of modernizing knitting patterns, it does require a lot more work from you as the designer to add your patterns to their system, because you have to follow their formatting and manually input information rather than just uploading the PDF of your knitting pattern. If you include charts within your patterns, you will also need to completely recreate the chart within Ribblr. The other main disadvantage, in my opinion, is that you can't lay out a pattern how you'd like to aesthetically.
Fees: Ribblr currently only charges a sale fee of 4%, or $0.25 USD, whichever is greater. Plus, you will be required to pay Stripe's payment processing fee of 2.9% of the order plus $0.30.
Your Own Website
Last, but definitely not least, you can set up your own shop on your own website to sell your knitting patterns. This scenario is a lot like selling your patterns on Payhip (you have to direct your own traffic), but you're able to completely customize the way your shop is set up and how your customers experience it. You will likely have to pay an annual fee, in addition to your general website fees, for hosting this shop, but the fees you pay for each transaction should be less than any other platform you use.
Fees: Fees will vary a lot depending on the website you are using. You may have to pay for an upgrade on your website annual fee, or you may have to pay for a transaction fee to the website host. You will also likely pay the payment processing fee to the website host, PayPal, or Stripe.
I use Wix. While it requires an upgrade to collect money on my website, I had to make that upgrade for my membership plans as well. Then Wix only charges a payment processing fee; the customer can choose to pay through Wix (payment processing fee is the same as Stripe) or PayPal.
Alright, so those are the main platforms that knitting pattern designers are using to sell their patterns. Let's talk a bit about comparing each of the platforms.
A Comparison of Platform Features
Below is my summary, in table form, of everything I've talked about so far, with exception to fees.
A Comparison of Fees
Ok, so what do all of the fees end up meaning as a business owner selling your knitting patterns? It's hard to compare when each one uses a different structure. So here is a graph comparing the total fee based on pattern price, assuming each order only includes one pattern. It uses Ravelry's mid-range fee, assumes you live within the US, assumes anyone using PayPal uses a debit or credit card, assumes you use the free Payhip plan, and doesn't include any additional website costs you may have to pay for your website. It also includes two lines for LoveCrafts: one before reaching the $40 threshold, and one after.
Ultimately, this graph shows us that LoveCrafts fees and website fees (assuming you're only paying the payment processing fee and not additional website fees) will be the cheapest options, and Etsy and Payhip will almost always be the most expensive. It also shows how, as pattern price increases, the fee difference between platforms also gets larger.
Making Your Pattern Platform(s) Choice
Now that you know about the different platform options, it's time to just getting started. Since LoveCrafts and Ravelry can run on autopilot once they're set up, I recommend starting with those platforms. Then I recommend testing a few patterns on Etsy to see if it's a platform that will work well for you. If you're interested in riding with the flow of a new platform (and its technology for reading knitting patterns), go ahead and test out Ribblr. And once you're ready to send your own traffic to your shop, check out Payhip or create your own website shop.
But remember, you don't have to do all of this overnight. It can take you several years to try out the different platforms and decide on what's best for you. It's much more important for you to focus and get good at one platform than to try all of the things, get stressed out about all of them, and never establish yourself well on any of them.
So where will you be starting today?
If you love receiving these helpful tips and resources around running a knitting pattern design business, you'll love the Design Circle, a community of knitting pattern designers asking questions, sharing their tricks and trips, and discussing the ins and outs of running a knitting pattern design business -- plus there's monthly guest speakers talking about business, designing, and more.