Hello everyone, and happy May! I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the warming weather. The spring and summer months can mean slowing pattern sales, but it's a great time of the year to get a head start on your big fall and winter releases!

With that in mind, this month I thought I would talk about how to diversify your income as a knitwear designer. Developing multiple income streams is important year round, but can be especially helpful when one stream experiences a seasonal slowdown.

And as always, I've included my tech editing availability for the coming month. I'll be out of town for 10 days near the end of May, so be sure to get in touch soon if you've got a pattern nearly ready for editing!

Diversifying Your Income

Diversifying your income simply means earning money from more than one source. It not only allows you to endure the ebb and flow of your main income source by supplementing it with other sources, but it also increases your overall earning potential. I know of very few designers who are able to make a living on pattern sales alone. 

1. Self-publish AND submit patterns to third party publications

Self-publishing is a great way to sell patterns. It's flexible, allows you to strike when the creative iron is hot, and you can often make more money over the life of a self-published pattern than you would get from a book or magazine.

However, receiving lump sum payments from third parties can be very helpful. If you can fit a few third party submissions into your monthly schedule, and some of those submissions get accepted, those large sums can almost seem like a bonus when they finally pay out (mine seem to come through the same week my car's brakes need to be done). Or, if you're more of a planner, you could schedule your work around those lump sums when you know they are coming. Then if you want to spend a week catching up on some non-billable tasks that won't make you money right away, you can do so knowing that your income for that week is already on its way. 

2. Sell your self-published patterns in multiple places

Most designers I know use Ravelry as their main pattern marketplace. But there are lots of other sites where you can sell your patterns (believe it or not, not everyone lives on Ravelry - hard to believe, I know). This is great because it allows you to take the work you've already done and expose it to a different audience. The extra work is minimal - just a few minutes per pattern release for each additional site.

I list my patterns on Ravelry, LoveKnitting, Craft Foxes, PatternfishEtsy, and Kollabora (ordered in decreasing level of success). Oh, and if you know of any others, hit reply to this email and let me know! I'm always looking for more.

3. Offer design-related services

Think about all the different elements of publishing a knitting pattern. You write the pattern, knit the sample, do the layout, take and edit the photos, plan the marketing, etc. Now think of all of the parts that you actually enjoy/are especially good at. We all have different strengths and skill-sets, so why not make the most of the skills you have? If you are a fast knitter, you might consider doing sample-knitting. Some designers provide VA (virtual assistant) services, marketing and graphic design services, photography, etc. If you have a skill that designers might find useful, it could be a great opportunity to make some extra money, while providing a needed service and making contacts in the industry.

In addition to leveraging existing skills, many of us technical-minded designers have taken courses to become tech editors. There's no way I would be able to spend so much of my time developing patterns if I didn't also work as a tech editor.

4. Sell resources you've developed.

One great way to create some passive income is to use your skills and knowledge to develop and sell digital resources and other content. In many internet marketing circles, creating a course is the be all and end all, but your resource doesn't have to be that big (at least not to start). Some examples:

  • Francoise Danoy has written an eBook on designing and charting shawl patterns: Forming Shawls and Their Charts
  • Joeli Kelly has created a mini course, including a bundle of Inkscape schematics and tutorials on how to customize them: Mini Course: Making Schematics in Inkscape
  • Dana Gervais has created BizKnit Systems, where she provides bundles of her own proven resources, systems, and workflows (checklists, spreadsheets, Trello boards, etc.) that have enabled her to automate and grow her business.

Again, and this is related to point 3, you have valuable skills and knowledge that you have developed through your growth as a knitwear designer. Why not share them?

5. Get a part time job

This one is controversial, but there is absolutely no shame in picking up a part time job, even if your goal is to be fully self-employed. This can feel like a step in the wrong direction, but the regular income of a part time job can give you peace of mind. Having all your income tied to production (releasing new patterns, completing tech editing jobs, etc.) can be stressful, and stress can actually hinder your productivity. Sometimes it's nice to know that at the end of the day, when the new pattern you're working on isn't behaving, or when you've got 5 outstanding invoices waiting to be paid, that every two weeks, you still have a paycheck to rely on.

6. Join Patreon

Patreon is a subscription service that allows fans to support their favourite creators and help them make a living doing what they do best. For a small monthly fee, patrons receive exclusive content and build relationships with the artists they support. 

I have done quite a bit of research on Patreon, having just recently joined myself. From what I've read, the key with Patreon is to leverage the work you are already doing. In the beginning, you won't be making much money from it, so it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time and effort on Patreon-specific content (although it can be tempting). Also, the people who are going to support you on Patreon already love what you do. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, just show up consistently and deliver what you promise.

For example, if you have fans who regularly purchase your new pattern releases, they might jump at the chance to get a free pattern every month. You receive a regular, monthly subscription fee, and your fans receive a pattern they might purchase anyway. They also get the satisfaction of knowing they are helping you be able to create more of those patterns they love (in a seemingly more direct way than simply buying a pattern).

There are lots of knitwear designers on Patreon, meaning there are lots of knitters willing to support them with a monthly subscription.

7. Dye and Sell Yarn

Ok, I can't pretend to know anything about dying. But what I do know is that some of my tech editing clients write patterns to go with their hand dyed yarns. I'm not saying that dying yarn is easy (or cheap) to get into (I am almost certain it is not), just that yarn and patterns go well together. If you enjoy dying, or think you might be good at it, it might be worth a try. When I see design samples knit up in beautiful hand-dyed yarn, it makes me interested in both the pattern AND the yarn.

Do you have other interesting ways of diversifying your income? Hit reply and let me know!

Tech Editing Availability

I have the following tech editing spaces remaining for May (please note that I will be out of town from May 18th - 28th):

April 30th - May 6th: full!
May 7th - 13th: 4 spaces
May 14th - 20th: 5 spaces
May 21st - 27th: Unavailable
May 28th - June 3rd: 6 spaces

Reply to this email if you'd like to reserve a spot!

- Allison 

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