Let’s talk about Comparisonitis. You know, that feeling when you look around, and it feels like everyone has more followers on Instagram, all their patterns are on Ravelry’s HRN list, and they just seem to be rocking everything, and it makes you feel inadequate? Yeah, that one.
It feels like they just plain came out of nowhere, a “nobody” became a “somebody” -- and it most definitely wasn't not you.
It’s real, and it sucks… at first. Especially when it feels like no one seems to care about your latest pattern, despite the fact that you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into it.
Yes, success overnight is sometimes possible, but I guarantee most successful people in our industry didn’t simply publish their first pattern and then find instant stardom -- rather they slogged through tough years, learned how to create a brand for themselves, possibly hired a virtual assistant, professional photographers, and sample knitters… they had growing pains just like the rest of us, and some struck it big, and others faded into obscurity -- that’s how it is in every industry.
Not everyone can be successful in their industry, it’s just not possible. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how talented you are, making an actual living out of pattern design IS FREAKING HARD.
Tough love, yes, but also the truth.
But, you can do a bit of research, turn some of your frustrated feelings into productive energy, and try to learn from the success of others. By going through this exercise, you’ll likely have several actionable insights that you can use TODAY to start growing your business and hopefully kickstart the learning curve and help you achieve your goals.
Let’s get started!
I challenge you to identify five designers that you feel this feeling of “Comparisonitis” towards -- yes, you can choose one of the “Big Names” out there -- you know who I’m talking about, but you might learn a lot more from this exercise if leave the other four spots for designers that are a just a couple years ahead of you in the game.
Now, here comes the fun. Pretend you’re back in high school or college and you’re doing a research project. Learn everything you can about this person’s business and take notes (just don't be creepy about it).
Here are some things you can look at to get you started:
- Check out their Ravelry designer page for the following things:
- What does their “about me” section look like?
- Do they use a logo for their Avatar, a picture of their cat, a professional headshot, or a casual shot?
- How long have they been a designer?
- Take a look at their first designs compared to their most current design. How has their style changed over time? If you saw a picture of one of their designs out of context, would you be able to tell that they designed it? Are the photos all warm tones/cool tones, outside/inside, using a model/using a mannequin?
- Where do they sell their patterns and what information do they provide?
- Do they ONLY sell patterns on Ravelry, or have they taken the time to sell on multiple platforms? Etsy? Personal Website? Payhip? ILoveKnitting?
- What does the pattern description look like? Is there a long/short romance section? Do they include specific yarn to use? Needle/hook size? Do they reference a blog post?
- How much do they charge for their patterns? Is it a set price across all patterns? Are the prices based upon difficulty or pattern type? Do they use a variable pricing structure? Do they offer any free patterns?
- Do they have a mailing list?
- Sign up for their mailing lists! Take note of the places where they advertise their mailing list -- can you access it from their social media accounts? Their webpage? Ravelry Designer Page?
- How do they entice you to sign up for the mailing list? A free pattern? A coupon code? A digital guide to something?
- What kind of content do they send you? Do they introduce themselves and their business in the first email you receive from them? Or do you hear nothing from them until they publish a pattern?
- How often do you receive content from them? What is the content like? Do they only talk about their own work in the e-mail, or do they promote others too?
- Do they have a blog?
- What content do they share on the blog?
- Is the content focused just on patterns? Or do they have content for other topics as well?
- Do a Google search for their name.
- Can you find blog posts/podcasts referencing the designer?
- Are there yarn companies that advertise for the designer?
- What other content do you see that promotes their business?
- Have they designed for publications? Self-published books? Magazines? Physical books? Digital books?
- Do they teach? Online? In person?
- Head on over to their social media!
- How many social media accounts do they have? IG? FB? Pinterest? Tik Tok? Twitter? Pinterest? Club House? YouTube?
- Are they active on all their accounts, or does it look like they specialize in one or two accounts?
- What username do they use? Is it their actual name? A nickname? Their business name? Are there numbers in their username?
- Do they use the same username/photo across all their accounts?
- Is their content primarily video based, or photo based?
- How often do they post? Daily? A couple times a week?
- Does their content look “curated” or is it more natural everyday content?
- Scroll through a month of content and make tick marks on your sheet of paper for how many posts promote their content vs. provide tips/tricks vs. establish themselves as an expert in their industry vs. share about their personal life vs. another category of content.
- How many times do they promote themselves? How do they do the promotion? Does their promotional content feel natural?
That is probably enough questions for now (but feel free to keep going if you want!).
Now that you have a bunch of notes about several designers you admire, compare the designers against one another. Are there any commonalities? Is there something that one designer does really well that the others don’t seem to do? What makes each one stand out from the rest?
Now, take a couple of those commonalities and I double-dog-dare you to start incorporating some of those practices into your business. They can be small improvements, but over time, I promise they will help jump start your business. Kiss those feelings of comparisonitis goodbye, and see if you can take some lessons learned from those who might be a few chapters ahead of you in the game!
Comment below anything you noticed, or come on over to our Unraveled Creative Facebook Page and share your insights! We are a small group of aspiring designers that are trying to crush the learning curve of pattern design and support each other while we learn to wear (or knit!) all the “hats” a solopreneur needs to grow their small business!