Every new venture is full of trial and error. There are many lessons a new new designer needs to learn as they grow their portfolio. Three years after I started freelancing, I’m still learning every day. In an attempt to help other new designers avoid the mistakes I made when I was brand new, I’m going to offer up the 5 Mistakes Made by New Crochet Designers.
This article is for those who are just starting out self-publishing their designs. There are different steps for starting out freelancing for magazines. I’ll address that in the next post.
Starting out as a new designer is a bit scary, but it is also a fun adventure. Avoiding these 5 mistakes will help make the adventure a little less scary and a lot more satisfying.
In no particular order, here are
5 Mistakes Made By New Designers
1. The pattern is too simple.
This can be a tempting place to start for a new designer. You are confident in a new stitch and you create yourself some fingerless gloves or a scarf that is a perfect rectangle. But charging for something that is easily found for free is a beginner mistake as a designer.
A pattern worth buying needs to be something someone can’t get anywhere else. If you want to share a simple pattern and grow your design portfolio, publish your ideas as free patterns on Ravelry.
2. Not reading crochet patterns.
If you don’t like crochet magazines or you have trouble reading patterns, I would highly recommend picking up a few at the bookstore. Make some items from written patterns in variety of difficulties.
You need to write in the standardized format because you want your pattern to be easily read by everyone; it is why there is a standardized format in the first place. So become familiar with it by reading more magazines.
Another great reason to buy crochet magazines is to have as a reference for formatting while you write. It’s very helpful to look at a professional magazine when you can’t figure out a way to write a stitch description.
3. Not tech editing.
Any writer will tell you that editing is as important as writing. An error can destroy the flow of a great pattern. A math mistake forces an artist to improvise, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid by buying a pattern.
Paying money for a pattern should get you a superior product, free from errors and easy to read that will create a wonderful product as long as it is followed to the letter.
And think back — If you found a pattern full of errors that you had to work around, did you buy another pattern from that designer? Are the patterns you love the most the ones that you only had to do once in order to get right? That is because a clear, correct pattern is a joy to read.
If you have no experience with tech editing, I would suggest you find a freelance editor for your first few patterns, at the very least. Yes, it will cost a little money up front — but if your design business develops a reputation as having error-filled patterns, then your long term income will be non-existent.
4. Taking bad pictures.
I know, it sounds cheesy, but a picture really is worth 1000 words. The quality of your pictures can make a huge difference in whether or not someone chooses your pattern to buy over the one next to it on the database.
This is common practice for those with Etsy shops, but photography is just as important on any other platform, especially one like Ravelry where the search results are based almost exclusively on photos.
Be sure to use natural or white light and a white background (or at least a quiet background). Also, remember to use more than one light source to minimize or completely negate shadows. The difference is astounding.
The difference in professionalism could be the determining factor if whether or not your pattern sells.
5. Not letting go.
I know I said there wasn’t an order to these tips, but I really saved the most important for last.
A lot of new designers posting things on their patterns like, “For personal use only. Do not sell finished products made from this pattern.”
To the chagrin of many new designers, there is no copyright protection for a finished product. This is often an emotional grab at control for a new designer. It’s hard to think of your pattern being made into something for which you are not getting credit.
I get it. I was there! But when you decide to sell your pattern, you also sell the rights to care what happens to it. You exchange a product for money. And because you were paid for it, you need to remember that When you decide to sell patterns, you have to understand that the pattern belongs to you, but the work belongs to the artist whose hands do the work.
You have to choose to let it go.
As you grow in your design career, you will learn many things. What are some things you have already learned? What are some things you have done well?
Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.