“Christa Knits - fresh patterns for delightful knitting” is the phrase I have been using in my ads that have been appearing on Ravelry.
(Assuming that you’ve seen one of the ads) hopefully this made you curious: Who is Christa? Let me see some of these so-called “fresh” patterns! How do they make knitting “delightful” anyway?
I’ll address some of those questions further down the post. First, I want to share the story of getting into Ravelry advertising, how I came to create this tagline, and then provide any of you who are emerging designers with a tool for developing your own.
Oh, you’re not a designer? Just a knitter interested in buying patterns? Well, if you’re like me, then perhaps you’ll find this look-behind-the-scenes intriguing. I always enjoy reading the beautiful, glossy books in the design section of my favourite bookstores, and checking out the section where they show the first concept sketches and talk about the original vision and pitch to the client, then share the in-progress tweaks and final version.
Back to our story:
In December or January, I was toying with the idea of designing a hat that would be suitable for Valentine’s Day gifting. February 14th is still chilly enough in most parts of Canada that the gift of a new knitted hat would be appreciated. I didn’t want to cover it with red hearts though, because I thought that might limit its everyday wearability.
Heartbeat was the answer that finally came up: a simple beanie shaped hat, with beading or duplicate stitch in the classic rhythmic wave that we always see in TV shows on the little beeping machine hooked up to hospital patients. A bit of research in the medical sites online helped me get the chart right, and soon the knitting was done.
Next step: let people know about it!
I was looking at the Advertisers Caboodle group on Ravelry, checking out the pages with all the information on deadlines, pricing, and image requirements. Featured Pattern ads were listed for a half-month for $40, and one was available starting in mid-January. $40 for two weeks of exposure? That’s just eight patterns at $5.00 each to break even. I can do this! (A side note: I’m not really sure how I lucked into snagging that one so easily… I was more recently trying to get a Featured Pattern ad for April 1, and between getting in and out of the bathtub one morning, they had opened for sale and then sold out!)
Writing the copy (words that go in an ad) was easy for the Featured Pattern ad: Ravelry’s design guidelines stated that it could only contain the name of the designer, and the name of the pattern. “Christa Giles. Heartbeat.” Done.
Designing the layout (arranging the words and pictures within the given ad space) took longer. Ravelry supplied the required size (225×175 pixels), so I created a blank canvas in Photoshop and started playing. Out came the photos that my sweetie had snapped of me wearing the hat, cropping and colour tweaking occurred, and a picture was selected.
The words needed to be plugged in next, and colour and font selection were easy, too: I love Mixage, a font that I purchased a few years ago when I was getting started in my self-employment as a hooping instructor. It has good readability and still looks interesting when blown up to a larger size for titles. The words for this ad would be red, to match the hat in the photo and to reference Valentine’s Day.
Layout? The photo I selected has a bit of a ‘peeking’ effect: my head is tilted forward to show off most of the hat, and I had cropped out most of my body. I placed the photo so that its bottom edge was at the bottom of the ad (no floating half-bodies for me!) and aligned it to the right side of the space. Aside: did you know that when people view paintings (or ads), their eyes tend to travel in a clockwise direction as they take in the details? Second aside: does anyone know if this is still true in places where people read from right to left? The photo placement then dictated where my words could live: I wanted to leave a lot of white space for a clean look, and I wanted the shape of the words to relate to the shape of the image. The name of the pattern was most important (I don’t have much name recognition yet) so I made it the right size to fit the space, then made my name small enough to line up the first letters and still tuck into the space without overlapping the image.
End result? As of today, it has been favourited by 182 people, queued by 51, and there are 9 projects in the works. 12 people have bought the pattern so far, and I had more sales of other patterns while the ad was up than in an average month. Does the $20 profit cover the amount of time it spent putting the ad together? Not quite. Will those other 30+ people with it queued come back to purchase it? Hopefully, yes. Will I place more ads? You betcha!
Next up was something cheaper: $5 Marketplace ads that would go up in the Ravelry shop area for a whole month. The twist? There were less restrictions on what the ad could contain! I didn’t want to go overboard with “Sale!” “New!” “Check me out!”, but I did want to add something beyond the picture that would tell people what I was about, and what they could expect to find if they followed the link.
I needed help, in the form of a giant list of words that might be suitable. Something called “The Happiness Show” turned out to be an amazing resource: it offers an enormous list of positive adjectives! Click that link, then scroll down to check it out. See any words that resonate with you?
“Delightful” came out of that list, and I started playing around with ‘delightful patterns’… but it didn’t feel right, so I kept looking around for a better fit. “Fresh” may actually have come out of one of the many Project Runway shows that I watch while knitting - I can picture Rita Silvan, one of the judges on PR Canada, using it to describe one of the designers’ pieces. So, wording now in hand, I tried it on: Do I feel comfortable saying that my patterns are fresh? I don’t see a lot of ‘classic’ or ‘inspired by history’ in my work, and when I look at my designs I do see clean, modern styling that is in line with current knitting trends, so yes, ‘fresh’ fits.
What about ‘delightful’? This one was easier to answer, as I continually get feedback from my customers about how much they enjoy following my patterns, how pleased they are with the finished result, and that they really were tickled by a new technique that they learned while working through the project. “Fresh patterns for delightful knitting” worked.
(That Marketplace Ad? 1,767 people saw it, and 67 clicked through to visit my site!)
There is my latest, a finished Forum Banner ad, a bit smaller than real life to fit into a centre-column blog page instead of a full-width Ravelry page, but you get the idea. For $10 a month, it will rotate with others into the space at the bottom of each page when members read the forums in the top 6 boards. Some of the discussion in the Advertisers Caboodle group seems to say that these ads get a great response, as do the Notebook ads (I’m doing one of those in April, too), better than the Featured Pattern. Since I wasn’t able to get a Featured Pattern this time, I thought I’d spread the same $40 budget around into other ads, and see what winds up being the most effective way of bringing knitters to my patterns, and to this website.
Advertising through Ravelry feels good for a number of reasons: this is the place where my target market goes pattern shopping, the ad rates are good, the statistics they provide in terms of sales and clickthroughs vs impressions are helpful, AND I get to support Casey and Jess and the rest of the Ravelry gang so they can continue providing this amazing service without having to hold down other full-time jobs to cover their costs.
Interested in design and layout for producing your own ads? (and patterns, for that matter?) The reference book that I read years ago, and stuck with me, is The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice by Robin Williams (I’m guessing NOT the comedian). I dug out my copy when I was making the latest batch of ads, to see how well I was doing at following her basic guidelines. While I’m still not fully happy with my designs (better photos would go a long way), I think they do look decent, and are hopefully eye-catching enough to garner a second look.
Do you have feedback for me about my design and layout of these ads? I’d love to hear it! Questions about some specific details about their production? Bring it on! First-hand experience with successful ad campaigns? Please share! I would particularly be interested to hear from those of you who are NOT on the seller’s side of things: as a consumer, what sort of advertising do you want to see? What will attract your interest, and earn a few moments of your time for a second look or a click? Thanks in advance for your input, I really appreciate hearing from you!