|A new place to sell PDF patterns...|
In brief, Makerist is the brainchild of a couple of people in Berlin, Axel Heinz and Amber Reidl. Founded in 2013, Makerist's mission is to "bring more joy to crafting — by making traditional crafts more modern, accessible, simple and fun."
Unlike the relatively simple process of selling patterns on Craftsy, Makerist makes you jump through many hoops before you can upload a single pattern for sale. This is because after the initial approval, you have to enter into a contract with them, a multi-page "document" that is not insignificant, with wording that requires serious consideration.
Let's put it this way: I received confirmation of my contract acceptance on April 6 and two months and ten days later, I still have not uploaded a single pattern to Makerist. Instead, I'm finding the time to write this post.
Not So Simple for Designers
Purchasing from Makerist was indeed painless and simple. The Makerist Ts&Cs for designers, however, are not so simple.
The following is taken directly from their designer contract:
The Designer may promote their own brand on their Makerist profile. They may also mention their brand or website in their Products. However, for aesthetic reasons, URL addresses, email addresses, copyright, names or logos should not appear on the first picture of the Product.This is reinforced by a bullet point that says that the designer will provide "at least two photos of the Product with at least one for the finished Product, without text or logo on the picture for communication reasons".
|Logo branded |
From the very beginning, I didn't like the idea of having the first page of my PDF being "hijacked". (I was able to see an example of it for myself, of course, when I purchased the Fritz Frog pattern.) As a document designer long before I became a sewing pattern designer, I am quite picky about the "look and feel" of my documents and prefer them to be consistent... and mine.
Moreover, when I browse their site, I see some brands that are clearly identified. Right here and above, are two examples of listings that show logos.
Are exceptions being made for some designers?
The Financial Nuts and Bolts
The big benefit is that there'll be no accounting headaches if you work with Makerist. Everything is handled by them (including that European VAT tax that most of us totally ignore) and payment is made to the designer's PayPal account mid-month for the past month's sales. Currently, they take a 15% commission on all sales, which by all accounts, is more than fair for this kind of setup.
However, as with all startups, this may — will — change in the future. This is from their current agreement:
This 15% commission rate is a launching rate and thereby subject to change at any point. In the case of a rise or fall in the commission rate, Makerist will provide a 4 week notice period before the change is implemented.The boldface print is theirs.
Given my current procrastination and indecision, I suspect that if I ever do get on board with them, the 15% commission will probably have changed.
But on the whole, the entire transaction process of selling patterns and getting paid should be simple.
Sales and Promos
Makerist seems to be big on sales and promotions, which is mostly a good thing. I have a standing offer to pick a weekend where they will promote my patterns (via all of their social media platforms and newsletter) by offering them at 40% off and run a feature on me on their blog. Yes, that sounds like a big deal and it's probably more notoriety than I can handle. ;-)
Here's the thing: I am loathe to offer sales on my patterns apart from special pricing at initial launch. (I'm pretty sure I've only done a "sale" twice, involving three of my patterns.) To me, relying on sales means my regular price is a bogus price. It's like Craftsy and their class sales... why would anyone ever pay regular price for a Craftsy class?
For my own patterns, I'd just mostly feel bad for those people who purchased at regular price, to see something they bought go on sale.
That said, there are probably a lot of people who would love the opportunity to be featured as a Makerist designer, so that is another definite advantage to being a part of their marketplace.
Having been employed in the tech field, I am perhaps overly nit-picky about small "irregularities" that I encounter on websites and on communications from online companies. So let me admit that up front. Certainly your mileage may vary in that these things may not tweak you at all.
For example, I find it mildly irritating that so many links on Makerist open up a new tab. See this?
|Many, many tabs result from browsing Makerist's site...|
That's just not great web design.
Then there is the — should I call it "interesting"? — way in which they provide documentation to their designers. You'd think since their whole business is about PDFs that they would "PDF" all of their own documentation. But no; I received instructions on how to upload patterns via a couple of .JPG files. That's right, they took a virtual snapshot of a list of instructions and saved it as an image file. (And I have to tell you, it's cumbersome to scroll through an image file to read something.)
It's almost like they feel overly protective about their words and descriptions, which leads me to another oddity from their website. On their About Us page, the text cannot be selected (i.e., copied). I was going to snip some for the purpose of my introduction for this post and found that I had no way of doing so (short of taking a picture).
Finally, as a proof reader and editor, I have a hard time with what I call "lazy" mistakes. Below is a screenshot of the third page in a row that asks me to validate having read "the third article" when in fact, this is now the fifth article. (This is from their contract; that whole Validation section was cut and pasted from the third screen onto the fourth and fifth screens.)
Don't get me wrong, I'm quite big on CTRL-X and CTRL-V. Love cut and paste. But the number one rule of using cut and paste is never to leave behind evidence that you've used cut and paste.
Then there's that "Makerist'rights and mine" bit of wording. No one noticed that on multiple screens?
Some may call these petty criticisms that have nothing to do with the actual business of Makerist. And that may be a fair statement. Or maybe not.
The thing is, a business encompasses everything that it does from A to Z, whether or not the public can see it. While I fully acknowledge that my reluctance to commit to the designer Ts&Cs has made the above distractions more significant in my eyes, I always wonder when I encounter these kinds of issues: is there something that I don't see that's even worse? It's why I'm iffy about letting Makerist into my PDFs... I won't be able to see what they do to them, so how do I know they'll be "good"?
The thing is, while I've been looking for an option beyond Craftsy for selling my patterns, I have to go back to the fact that this is not my career. I'm not looking to strike it big and make a lot of money. It may seem somewhat disingenuous to say that it's not my goal to sell more patterns, but perhaps doing so via Makerist just isn't right for me.
I'm conflicted... therefore, the conundrum.