Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Quandary

Everything you see on my Ravelry designer page that says "journalgazette.net" is a free pattern. Come July or August, the Journal Gazette is changing over how it does its website, so all of those links might (or might not) stop working. There are ways to archive a website and keep old links working, but I'm not sure that a newspaper will want to do that. After all, yesterday's news is, well, old.

That's over 150 patterns. You can kind of tell which ones were from my really early days. A few are, frankly, embarrassing.

I was able to make them, and provide them for free, because my employer allowed me to use work time to write, format and post them. (They asked me to do all of the knitting at home, and I did. I also paid for my own yarn.)

I'll admit: some of them aren't great patterns. Even the ones that produce great finished products aren't written in the most standard ways. Only a few have sizing of any kind. Most of them don't even have page numbers. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it can be if you're a little tired and don't want to think more than you have to. Many of them use handspun yarn or yarn that is discontinued.

I don't want the patterns to just go away. But...

To justify spending time reformatting, rewriting (using a real, live style sheet!) and suggesting alternative yarns, I would have to charge for the patterns.

I love the thought of updating things, and maybe offering them in collections.

But, will people hate me for what might look like charging for patterns that used to be free?


JoVE said...

You are not charging for what used to be free. You are charging for much better quality patterns.

Also, I find myself skipping over free patterns these days because they are often poorly written, not tech edited, and possibly not even test knit. Unless I'm looking for some guidelines for a very simple thing I could design myself, I'm happy to pay someone to do all the math, test the concept, and so on.

The work you will put in to those patterns you want to continue to offer is worth something. It takes skill, effort, and time for which you are not unreasonable to ask compensation.

BeckyinVT said...

Do it! Plenty of other designers have updated patterns just because - and you have a pretty solid reason to need to. Not to mention you'll be charging for a much nicer version than what's available for free.

If they want the free version they can always resort to web archives to try and find them...

Anonymous said...

I would be very turned off if, when I was ready to get a free pattern, discovered that it now had a price attached. Fine if you indicated that a pattern would be free for a limited time, but if it was initially offered as free, it should remain free. Should I expect that a pattern listed as $5.00 will jump to $25? If you've created interest in the product as free, it seems exploitive to later charge for it. Be fair, and readers/customers will expect you continue to be fair. Not fair once, forever seen in a negative light. If you want to justify your 'reworking' of a pattern, then offer the revised edition at a price, and let the earlier edition remain free. I would certainly have more respect for your business integrity and your designing abilities if this were the case.

Lara Neel said...

Anonymous, I think you may have missed some important information in the post. I was able to offer the patterns for free because my former employer was hosting the patterns on their website and let me use my time at work to write them up. If they chose to no longer host the pattern, then the pattern would simply stop being available.

Rather than just let the patterns stop existing altogether, I would prefer to rework them and host them on my site. This would take both my time and money to make possible.

As long as my former employer leaves the patterns up on their website, they will be free to all. If they take them down, I have to choose between letting them disappear or investing my time and money into making sure they don't. In order to be able to do that, I would have to charge for them.