We know how important it is to support our favorite fiber arts businesses (pattern designers, yarn dyers, LYSs, teachers, etc.), but how can you continue to support them when your stash bins are overflowing and your pattern library rivals the library at Alexandria?
For those times when cash is scarce or you fear you might actually be crushed by your stash, I've put together some ideas for supporting your favorite knitting (and crochet!) related businesses without spending a dime.
- SHARE SHARE SHARE. Tell people about the businesses you love. Your favorite indie dyer is planning a shop update? Tweet it out. Your favorite designer released an amazing new pattern? Repost a photo (with permission!) on Instagram. An amazing teacher is offering workshops at your LYS? Tell all your Facebook friends. Even when you aren't in a position to spend, someone else might be--helping your favorites get seen is an amazing way to support them. Just be sure to tag or link to them so potential customers know where to find them.
- Use what you've got. This is sort of a funny suggestion because it seems so obvious, but I think we all know how easy it is to accumulate yarn, patterns and notions, and not actually use them. The designer or dyer gets the sale, which is great, but putting your purchases into action is also valuable. You can share your WIP photos, participate in KALs, and chime in on forum discussions, and all of which can drive other customers to the business.
- Leave reviews. If you've purchased something from a fiber artist in the past, you can help others be confident in the quality of their work by sharing your experiences. On Ravelry, you can rate both patterns and yarn. You can review businesses on Facebook, Google and Yelp, and pattern books on Amazon. If you maintain a blog, you can post a review there. Or you can shoot your favorite fiber artists an email just to tell them how much you like their work--they might want to excerpt some quotes and post them on their own websites. All businesses depend on building confidence among potential customers, and your reviews help do that.
- Be a Raveler. Even if you're not active in the forums, creating project pages for your knits is another way to help dyers and designers get seen. When you start a new project page, include a photo and make sure you link to the pattern and the yarn--this shows other Ravelers how the yarn and pattern are being used, and increases the likelihood of both turning up in search results.
- Show off. I probably don't have to tell you this, but if you're attending a fiber event (Rhinebeck, Vogue Knitting Live, Maryland Sheep and Wool, etc), wear those knits! Be sure you know what yarn and pattern you used so you can tell everyone who compliments you where to get the goods to make their own amazing sweater/shawl/socks.
- Interact online. Social media is all about the algorithm these days, for better or for worse. That means that the more you interact with your favorite dyers, designers, teachers, etc., the more of their posts you'll see--and the more they'll be seen by other users too. "Liking" and leaving comments on their posts gives them a visibility boost, so they can reach more customers--and it's easy to do too.
- Subscribe. Many fiber artists have YouTube channels for podcasts or tutorials. Once they've reached a certain threshold of subscribers, they can monetize their channels, which, yes, means you'll see some advertising, but it also means they'll get some ad revenue! Easy peasy.
- Test and Sample Knit. Many designers and dyers rely on knitters to test patterns or knit samples for them. Test knitting is generally not compensated monetarily (most designers offer free patterns in return) and sample knitters are usually paid by the yard. Both test and sample knitters play important roles in supporting these small businesses, so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities from your favorite fiber artists.
Have any suggestions for cost-free ways to support fiber artists? Share in the comments!
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