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I think one of the hardest parts of design work has to be getting the word out to your audience. Making sure they know about your new designs and reminding them about your existing catalogue. After all, if they don't know it exists, they can't buy it.

There are various ways of communicating this information - social media is a popular one, but the algorithms take a lot of work to stay on top of and you can often share posts that feel like they fall off into the ether. We will come back to this one another day.

For today, lets talk newsletters. It is definitely worth having one, even if you only send out occasional messages. There are loads of how to guides on building your newsletter, getting sign ups and what to send, but you can keep it as simple as you like, in fact simple is often better.

If you don't have a system for running a newsletter start there. There are free options available. I have used Mailerlite and Mailchimp, both are fine, others exist, see which free plan suits you to start with. The system you use should have "how to" guides to talk you through setting up your mailing list.

Once you have set up the list you need to get people onto it. You might think "what is the point of a newsletter if you only get five, or ten people to sign up", but those people are ones you can talk to directly, without social media algorithms hiding your posts, and they are likely to be at least somewhat interested in what you are telling them.

Places to advertise your list:

  • any social media you use

  • forums/websites that you go on to chat about related topics

  • on your website

  • at the bottom of your patterns

Your posts can be as simple as "Join my newsletter to hear about my newest patterns and offers", try to avoid it feeling spammy, but remember- if you don't tell people, they don't know.

You might choose to add an incentive, often a free pattern or a discount code, when people sign up to the list. These can be sent manually or automated in your newsletter system (recommended to save you admin time).

Building up numbers on mailing lists takes time, start small and don't stress the numbers.

Once you have a list, and some people to message, you need something to send. Again, keep this simple to start with - you don't have to start with an automated welcome sequence and weekly posts!

You can absolutely just send an email when you have something to say, even if that makes the emails irregular. But maybe challenge yourself to hit a schedule, one post a month on the first Sunday of the month for example, or whatever feels doable for you, whether that is weekly, monthly or every other month. For those that need deadlines to motivate their design work this can help (hi me!), plan to talk about a design one month- so you need to get it published, and that can be the shove you need to get the work done.

Keep your emails simple as well, talk about one thing, two maximum, it does not need to be an essay. Photos are good, everyone loves a picture.

Newsletter ideas:

  • New pattern release, include a photo and links for purchasing

  • Testers needed for an upcoming pattern

  • Special offers, for example, if you are running a discount code or taking part in an event

  • Revisit an older pattern- tell people why it is great. Is it seasonal? Or you have revamped it?

  • Guest spot for dyers you have done a collaboration with, recently or in the past, include a picture and link for your pattern

  • Yarn review for something you have used in a design, as with dyers this can be recently or in the past, include a picture and link for your pattern

  • Subscriber only offers - discounts or early pattern access, can be used in your newsletter promotion as an attractive incentive.

Keep your topics relevant and try to focus on your work in some way, even when you are cross-promoting with others.

So, the challenge, in several parts:

  • Set up a newsletter contact list if you don't already have one.

  • Advertise your list at least four times in July, then at least twice a month.

  • Plan to send out one email each month - choose a date to send it and put it in your diary to make yourself accountable. Maybe sketch out the topics for the year if you feel like it.

I know my designer newsletter needs a dust off, so I am going to be doing this too. My aim is to have sent 12 design newsletters by July 2024.

My sketch plan - 3 x new patterns, 4 x pattern revisits, 2 x yarn reviews, 1 x event article, 2 x testers needed - that sounds do-able :)

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  • ALittleBitSheepish

A hugely useful addition to your skill set when typing up documents, is the use of keyboard shortcuts. It can help so much with your pattern write ups, making them faster and easier.

The shortcuts are similar for most programs, but worth checking what works with your system/word processing program.

Ones I use most often are cut (ctrl+x), copy (ctrl+c) and paste (ctrl+v) to move chunks of text around patterns.

For formatting bold (ctrl+B), underline (ctrl+u) and italics (ctrl+i) are handy to know.

There are also lots of lesser known shortcuts, if you are wondering if there is a shortcut for an action you do a lot it is worth having a look, because the answer is probably. My favourite lesser known shortcut is the non-breaking space (ctrl+shift+space) which will stop part of the text moving to the next line on its own, for example between a number and unit (and if you are wondering what type of people become editors, its ones with favourite keyboard shortcuts :D )

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  • ALittleBitSheepish

Write it down!

Because no matter how convinced you are you will remember, you probably won't.

Brought to you by me scrabbling around trying to work out what needle size I had used on a pattern.

I have picked a shiny new notebook (because we all love stationery) to have as my "sits next to the sofa for making design scribbles" book. Because writing random notes on post-its is only marginally more successful than not writing it down at all.

Let's see if I can take my own advice.

A long wool sheep looks towards the camera, it is in a pen with straw on the floor and a blue water bucket
Random sheep that has nothing to do with the topic, but does have a beautiful fleece.

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