Some knitters can teach, some can create fabulous knitwear designs. But few have parlayed their flair for instruction, talent for design, and penchant for entrepreneurship into a successful Internet business like Staci Perry of verypink.com.
As a knitter for more than 35 years and knitting teacher in local yarn shops, Perry now uses YouTube to share her charming instructional videos and cool knitwear patterns with needlecraft enthusiasts around the world. She publishes a new video every week – a discipline that keeps verypink.com at the top of natural search results on YouTube.
“Video is the ideal medium for knitting lessons, especially for visual learners who can replay the content as often as they need to,” Perry said. Not surprisingly, the knitwear pattern that has the best sales stats, “Learn to Knit Socks part 1 - Getting Started,” is also the most popular video on her branded YouTube channel with more than 175,000 views.
Perry and her business partner A. Parker Severson, who is also a video producer, have produced close to 200 video knitting lessons that have been viewed more than 3.3 million times on the VeryPink Knits channel.
YouTube has transformed Perry’s business from a tiny local effort into a global company.
“My mantra is give a lot, take only a little,” she said.
Her upbeat, professional personality is definitely a competitive advantage, augmenting her freemium business concept featuring free, entertaining, clear, concise video instruction thanks to YouTube.
If the viewer is interested in getting the pattern to complement the video instruction, they can download the pattern for $4-$12 from VeryPink.com.
What sets VeryPink apart from other knitting channels is instant gratification. Perry’s competition mostly sells instructional DVDs, which can be a barrier to easy entry for knitters eager to get started on projects right away. But the immediacy of YouTube video, the constantly refreshed content and clear messaging is what keeps viewers coming back for more instruction, and the needed materials.
Most uptake happens organically and by word of mouth, but VeryPink also uses YouTube TrueView in-search and in-display ads to get their videos at the top of search queries. Perry and Severson bid on keywords common to all knitters for about 3 cents a view.
“It’s totally worth it,” Perry said. “To bring in a new subscriber who doesn’t have to buy anything, and opts to watch the entire lesson for just a few pennies – that’s an amazingly low cost of acquisition.”
When Perry notices popular search terms for certain topics, like “how to knit a spiral scarf,” and she has no lesson about that, she will create one, effectively using search as a market research tool. Being so tuned in to customer demand via search helps her build community and sell more patterns.
VeryPink boasts an average 10 percent view-through rate of people clicking on her TrueView in-search ads to view the video. Heavy social engagement and viral reposts add even further value to the effectiveness of the ad buy. She has been able to control her spend at a modest level that’s below $100 a month.
Perry’s views are not limited to North America. She takes the time to transcribe each video so that captions can be accurately translated using Google Translate. Since her tutorial videos are closed-captioned in multiple languages, knitters everywhere can watch her lessons. Her videos are most popular in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, but customers also hail from Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Italy, India, and Syria.
Being a YouTube partner allows Perry to enable ads from other advertisers to appear on her YouTube channel – advertisers that sell complementary products likely appeal to the same profile as a VeryPink knitter.
“At first we were unsure about turning on this functionality on YouTube, but it is already adding a lot of value to our already effective YouTube advertising campaigns,” she said.
“We did dip our toe into spending money on ads, and we continue to build these ads because they are so cost-effective. If we get a subscriber from ten views it’s well worth it. That subscriber might one day become a customer,” echoes Severson.
Perry would advise her fellow entrepreneurs to “test, test, test, and don’t think you’re too small to make an impact.”
By posting great educational content on YouTube, establishing a look and style, and focusing primarily on relationships versus sales, small businesses can build and monetize audiences.
“I’m here to tell you it works,” Perry said.
Image Credit: Bryan Davis