Selling more beading tutorials: the Magic Formula


So, you’re thinking about ways for selling more beading tutorials. Maybe you’ve been selling for a while. Or maybe you’re just thinking about starting up. Now, I’ve been doing this over ten years. So, I thought it was about time I shared the magic formula for selling more beading tutorials.

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I’ve been chatting with a lot of my fellow designers this past week. And I think they would agree with my magic formula. So, you’re about to get a real insight into the world of selling beading tutorials…

The Magic Formula…

Hard work, an awesome design and a lot of luck.

Yes, that’s it! That’s all there is to selling more beading tutorials.

Treasure chest beaded box pattern, Katie Dean, BeadflowersLink to the treasure chest beaded box pattern

The truth about selling more beading tutorials

I have been taking a long, hard look at what I want to be doing with my beading at the moment. I don’t have the answers, but these are the parameters within which I’m thinking.

  • My head is overflowing with ideas and I still get pleasure from the creative process
  • Writing the instructions for a tutorial is just long, hard work. It uses skills that I’m happy using. But it is still WORK, not pleasure. And I think we all expect, or hope to be paid for carrying out work that benefits others.
  • The number of beading tutorials available on the internet is insane. A huge number of people are selling tutorials – just take a look at the number of designers in the beading directory…and that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
  • In addition to all those paid patterns, as a designer you are also competing with the free tutorials.
  • Currently, economies all over the world are struggling. That means individuals are forced to cut back on their spending. So, like every other market, the beading market is shrinking a lot because the customers just can’t afford to buy. So, when we’re talking about selling more beading tutorials, we’re talking about trying to grow in a market that is shrinking. What happens? Growth isn’t possible for everyone. So, however this ends, the market is changing all the time…and maybe in ways that we don’t all like.

So, the question I’m asking myself is this? Am I foolish to be trying to earn a living in this manner? But if I walk away from this, what else will I do? How much importance should I attach to passion versus the ability to pay the bills?

How to write a beading tutorialGet the book, ‘How to Draw Beading Diagrams in Powerpoint’

More on that magic formula

So, you probably opened this post hoping for a magic pill to make you a millionaire from selling beading tutorials…or something similar to that.

The fact is, there is no magic formula.

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that if you put a pattern on Etsy, people will buy it. Simply not true. For starters, how are they going to find it? Then, even if they do find it, will they like it enough to want to spend their valuable cash on it? Or, will there be another pattern they prefer?

So, the hard work part I talked about is called marketing. It’s all about finding original ways to let people know your pattern is available. Basically, you’re going to want to take some kind of business marketing course if you really want to understand how to do this. You’ll need to know about SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, advertising options, how to analyse the results of your marketing efforts. And you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way.

Then, I mentioned having an awesome design. So, how do you come up with one of those?

Well, that’s where the blind luck comes in. Every time you create a design, you take on a huge risk. Even after all these years, I genuinely have no way of knowing whether any new design is going to be liked or not.

Correction… ‘liked’ isn’t enough. 100 Facebook ‘likes’ don’t bring a penny into your bank account. What you want is people who like it enough to want to buy it.

Cupcake beaded box pattern and kit, Katie Dean, BeadflowersLink to the cupcake beaded box pattern

Should you be selling more beading tutorials?

I don’t have an answer to that. You need to ask yourself why you want to sell tutorials. What do you hope to achieve from it?

If you’re in the happy situation of not needing to earn money, and loving writing up good quality patterns, then why not.

However, if you want to earn a decent income from this, it’s not going to be as easy as you think.

What about giving away free tutorials?

So, should you give away your patterns for free? I see people posting free tutorials in beading groups online. We all see a ton of free tutorials coming from shops who use them to sell beads.

But what is this actually doing to the market?

It may or may not be increasing sales of beads and beading materials. If it is increasing sales, then free tutorials serve a useful purpose to those who sell beads. But what does that mean for those who create the tutorials?

I believe it is devaluing the skill that goes into creating a tutorial. This isn’t just about having the creativity to come up with an idea and execute it. Writing a tutorial also requires skill to explain instructions. Time to write, to photograph, to draw diagrams. So, if all that is being given away for free, what does it say about our respect for the people who do it?

Are we saying that tutorial writing should only be a hobby to be pursued by the wealthy who don’t need to earn a living?

Do we think that tutorial writing is a form of charitable work?

Or, is it just a pursuit that has no value to the world and, therefore, doesn’t deserve to be paid? Just an ‘add-on’ for the ‘real’ work of selling beads?

Cupcake beaded pen pattern, Katie Dean, Beadflowers

What about marketing?

Now, that’s another question entirely. Should you be giving away free tutorials to market yourself? If you’re new to this, then certainly, this will get your tutorials in front of more people.

But are they the right people? Or are they just going to move on to the next free tutorial, rather than creating a connection with you?

The other question to ask is whether there is any value in using this to build trust. If you give away the first tutorial for free, does that allow people to see you write good instructions? Will that then lead them to come back and buy from you in future?

Just to round off…

I’m not saying I have answers to any of those questions. I just wanted to write this post for all those who have been asking me for more advice and insights into selling their work, or starting out as a beading designer.

Now, I’m not telling anyone to abandon their dreams. But if this is your dream, I’m inviting you to go into it with your eyes open.

If you have no design aspirations, but you’ve read this out of curiosity, I invite you to think about the role of designers in the industry. We’re certainly going through ‘interesting’ times.

But then again, we’re running businesses here and all businesses have tough times and find themselves faced with difficult decisions. The beading world may be special in the sense of community that it brings. But it is still a business world with cut-throat competition, profit, loss and inevitable casualties.

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2 Responses

  1. LaDawna Anderson says:

    i think about this quite often. Since some of the design tools have been on the market, designs have exploded. I value (and will pay) for a design that is truly unique, and the designer has an actual sample to show. Most of the ones I would (and have) paid for seem a bit out of my experience level right now, but I am getting there. Every one of your patterns I love and know a lot of time and effort have gone into each one of them.
    As a newer beader, I appreciate the free ones and the you tube tutorials or I would have never gotten into beading in the first place. And I appreciate the free ones in my beading groups. It brought me to know you and your patterns. So free has its merits also.
    I could ramble on as I love talking about beads and beading..but know that a lot of us appreciate the real designers like you.

    • beadflowers says:

      Thank you so much, LaDawna!
      Yes, you do make a good point about the free patterns being a great way to get people started in beading. I’m sure the market will find its level and we’ll end up with a mix of everything 🙂

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