Saturday, 3 January 2015

Patterns and PDFs

My first foray into pattern writing was with this crochet bunting about eighteen months ago. I sold a few patterns, not really enough to make it worthwhile I suppose but enough for me to know I quite enjoyed the process of writing out and photographing the different stages of a tutorial.
 
 
Then last year, I ventured into more familiar teaching territory... machine embroidery. I wrote a tutorial for a freestyle appliqued fabric which I sold together with a pattern for making the fabric into a bag. Popped it onto Etsy and they sold like hotcakes. I was more than a little bit amazed and very excited! And I started to devise a business plan for the future, where I would put more and more tutorials into downloadable PDFs.
 
 
It was while I was in the process of writing my pattern for my Christmas crackers that I started to get wind of changes to the VAT rules on the sale of digital downloads. New EU rules state that as of 1st January, all businesses selling digital downloads to EU customers must pay VAT at the rate of tax of the country where the customer is located. This would be an absolute nightmare to try to implement and so many small sellers like myself have been forced to withdraw such downloads from Etsy shops.

 
However, in the UK, PDFs that are emailed to customers manually are not covered by this new ruling. So should you fancy buying any of my patterns... they are now back in my Etsy shop where I will be selling them as physical items. As soon as payment is received I will email them directly to buyers. Thank you to everyone who left a comment with advice on the first version of this blogpost which I've now updated!
 
Also worth a mention is that the crackers above were made by Carol for her Christmas table, using my pattern. Aren't they gorgeous! And of course... a cracker is not just for Christmas. They are a  fun way to package gifts or to liven up any party table at any time of year... and Valentine's day is just a few weeks away!



17 comments:

  1. They really do try to make things difficult for small businesses!!
    V x

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  2. Hi Gina, I don't know if this will be any use to you but just a thought; before Etsy started to offer automatic downloads of PDFs for digital items, I saw several listings where people were selling digital items, suggesting that the buyer should purchase and pay for them in the normal way and add their email address into the 'notes for seller' box, so the seller could them email the files to them. You may've thought of this already and but I just thought I'd mention it in case it was a way for you to still utilise Etsy whilst fitting in with the new VAT rules :)

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  3. It's a pity that the EU can't be more creative with it's red tape. Strangling itself would be a good start. I do hope you find that your pdf tutorials and patterns can still be bought online.
    Those crackers are stunning.

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  4. Another bonkers ruling from the EU. It's going to make it difficult for so many small businesses Gina. I like Heather's comment!

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  5. Carols crackers are beautiful aren't they! She had a great teacher! I think this download vat thing is very confusing for sellers and customers and must be making for a lot of work and how on earth it is going to be tracked down to make sure that the forms and money etc are all being done properly I have no idea! I hope that the e-mail sales continue well for you though! xx

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  6. EU rules and regulations make me despair, have they nothing else to do than make thinkgs difficult for people? Bah!
    I hope you can work something out.

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  7. I have no business sense whatsoever but maybe it is for the better, it seems awfully complicated. Could you place a link for buying your patterns in your sidebar? Maybe next to your Etsy link? x

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  8. This is such a pn administrative nightmare! I've heard rumours the rules will be extended in 2016 to non-digital items sold online, I do hope not! Just when my online shop is doing nicely and I get lots of international customers.
    After years of filling out VAT returns I de-registered when I gave up just working for large companies and started selling mainly to non VAT registered customers. I do hope I don't have to start again to continue selling online.
    C xx

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  9. Have to say, this was exactly where I was heading having seen you and Angie Hughes doing so well with it. Can't really believe they've gone and done it, and it WILL extend to physical goods. It's complete madness and will be the death of entrepreneurship in the arts. I also can't believe nobody "higher up" has realised this yet. On a more positive note, I echo Chloe's comment - list the patterns as physical products then you can email them. Human intervention makes it VAT exempt, and it's not a download.

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  10. Happy New year Gina. Does this VAT thing even affect you if you are not VAT registered? It sounds like yet more red tape doesn't it. x Jo

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  11. Hello Gina and HUGE thanks for your comment on my blog. I'm so relieved that there's a way for you to still sell these beautiful patterns. Your crackers! What a load of cobblers these rules are.

    Happy New Year to you. One of my resolutions is to blog a little more. SOmetimes it's easier said than done though

    Emma
    x

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  12. sual the powers that be use a sledgehammer to cracking a nut! They are trying to stop the Costa's and the Amazon's of this world getting out of paying tax. All they need to do is have an income threshold so we small businesses aren't adversely affected!

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  13. Gina, your post and the prior comments are very educational. What a tangle.

    On a brighter note, I also must say what a fine collection of crackers Carol made using your instructions. Fantastic!

    Hoping that some sense is brought into the VAT tangle to resolve it...and soon.

    xo

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  14. Such a shame when EU legislation stifles small businesses and that Etsy doesn't appear to have done much to help the situation. I would love to have a go at making your crackers but fear/know they would turn out the exact opposite of those made by Carol.

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  15. What a headache for all you pdf sellers - makes me quite relieved that I'm to lazy/unskilled to contemplate such a thing!

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  16. Ah yes. The old VAT thing. I just don't get it. How on earth would they enforce it for all the little etsy sellers that live outside of the EU? Another goofy law that someone didn't think through before they put it in place! Anyway, congrats on finding a solution!!!

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  17. Oh, the EU!!!!! bleep bleep bleep! Glad you've found a way around this. Suzy x

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