This year I kept comprehensive financial records for the first time. Every Friday morning I sat down and entered every pattern sale, every bit of revenue, and every single expense into a spreadsheet. Out of everything I’ve done since 2005, when I began selling what I sew, this was the best move I’ve made. Seeing financial data every week transformed how I approach my work. And now that the year is complete, I have the benefit of being able to look at my business as a whole and do some real analysis for the very first time.
Abby Glassenberg Design Gross Revenue for 2013
In 2013 I made $25,243.26. On the one hand I feel like, “Wow, that’s amazing! This is a job you invented at a desk in the corner of your bedroom. A job you fit in around everyone else’s schedules. A job you do while also being a stay-at-home mom of three kids, which is really a full-time job in and of itself.” On the other hand, I could cry looking at that number. I work so incredibly hard. Twice as hard as I did at an office job that paid twice this amount and included health insurance. I love being my own boss, but it isn’t easy by any means.
Here’s a breakdown of my income sources this year, and a few things that jump out at me:
Pattern sales make up 50% of my income. Combine them with ebooks, and we’re closer to 60%. Self-publishing is by far the most lucrative thing I do, especially in a year in which I was still working off the advance from a new book. The royalties you see are from The Artful Bird, which came out a long while ago (Jan. 2011). The great thing about this breakdown is that I’m totally in control of my largest income source. I’m not dependent on a publisher or an employer of any kind. Looking forward to this year, you can bet that patterns and ebooks are on my agenda.
Abby Glassenberg Design Expenses for 2013
My total expenses for 2013 were $8,500.06.
One of the biggest benefits of weekly bookkeeping has been the way it’s helped me control my spending. I spent $546.83 this year on art supplies, for example. This includes all fabric, thread, interfacing, marking pens, pins, needles, bobbins, freezer paper, and anything else I might have used to sew something. That’s $45.57 each month and represents serious restraint! Even so, I know I could use more of what I already have and spend less on art supplies in 2014.
Here’s a breakdown of my expenses this year:
I incorporated my business (Abby Glassenberg Design is now an S-Corporation) and that meant some significant legal fees. These made up 17.1% of my expenses this year, but are a one-time thing and won’t occur again.
The “Other Expense” category is primarily the cost of producing the video trailer for my new book, for which I paid $900. I paid for the trailer myself (Lark doesn’t produce video trailers for authors. In fact, as far as I can tell, only Melanie Falick does. Smart woman, that Melanie Falick.)
Here’s the thing: the legal expenses and the video were worth every penny. I am confident that my corporate structure is set up correctly and is the best choice for my family and me legally and financially. And everyone who visits While She Naps can immediately get a sense of who I am and what I do by watching the 2.5-minute trailer. As of today it’s been viewed 2,838 times on Vimeo.
My only other comment about the expense chart is that it’s not cheap to run an online business and earn “passive” income. I have three shops (Etsy, Craftsy, and Big Cartel) and a blog, which means I pay Etsy, PayPal, Big Cartel, Pulley, Stripe, Typepad, Go-Daddy, A-Plus, Podbean, and E-junkie. I couldn’t do it without them, but it gets expensive. If I had a WordPress.org blog I’d save a bundle of money, but to move my blog from Typepad to WordPress is beyond my capability and would be incredibly expensive to hire someone to do. So I’m a bit stuck.
Breakdown of Abby Glassenberg Design Patterns Sold in 2013
I’ll end with this chart. Here you can see a breakdown of how many copies of each of my 35 patterns I sold this year. Keep in mind that some patterns were released mid-year so they haven’t had the same airtime as others. Still, though, there are some great insights to be gleaned.
By far the Lovey Dovey is my best seller, selling more than double the next best-selling pattern. Looking at the top five together, we have Lovey Dovey, Baby Bear, and Animal Rattles (which are all patterns to make baby gifts) and the Caterpillar/Butterfly and the Chick/Egg (which are both reversible toys). Beastie Bags (designed for toddlers), Shark (aimed at boys), Emma the Doll (a machine washable modern doll), and the Octopus (trendy) are all strong sellers. Looking forward, these are the attributes I can aim for when I decide what to design: for babies and toddlers, clever, trendy, and aimed at boys.
I’ll also mention that when I work with Simplicity I show a portfolio of recent work and they select which patterns to license. Thus far they’ve chosen my #1, #2, #4, and #6 best sellers (the Beastie Bags will be released as Simplicty pattern soon). Clearly they know what sells, perhaps better than I do.
Abby Glassenberg Design Net Income for 2013
Let’s do some math!
$16,743.20 Net Income
A final thought looking at all of this data: I will continue to do what I love most. For example, I love to write this blog, but it produces almost no direct income even though it takes up more than half of my work hours. The Rabbit in a Magic Hat puppet is one of my favorite patterns even though it only sold 13 copies this year. I will continue to create what I love because that’s what gives me joy. It takes years to build a business and this is my first real year. I have faith that over time my joy, coupled with this sort of insight, will lead to a bottom line that won’t make me cry.
One of the biggest changes I’ve already made for 2014 is to switch my bookkeeping method from Excel spreadsheets to Outright. I’m hoping to run reports and create graphs like these on a more regular basis, perhaps monthly, this year.
If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment and I’ll try to shed some more light on what all these numbers mean.
Thank you so much for your support!