2015 is drawing to a close and it’s time to review the year. My business grew this year in a way that I feel good about. I work about 25 hours a week now – 4 hours in the morning while the kids are at school and another hour at night.
Some weeks felt awesome and some weeks felt overwhelming and had me dreaming of hiring someone to work on the business with me. I’m still mulling over what that might look like and figuring out whether I can afford it. I think I’ll be ready fairly soon.
Overall I feel good about my accomplishments this year.
Ready to take a look back?
I wrote 134 blog posts this year. These three posts generated the most comments:
- Three Bird Nest: The Etsy Success Story Redefined
- What Makes a Local Quilt Shop Great
- Craftsy Potentially to Launch Fabric and Yarn Lines
In some cases the content of those posts and the discussion they provoked made real change and those are the moments I’m most proud of, even if the change was indirect or incremental. The post I felt was most important was this one exposing that nearly 100% of the designers at RJR (including Cotton+Steel) and 80-90% of designers at Moda do not have written contracts.
Some posts generated less discussion, but I still feel they were important this year including:
- The Etsy IPO Explained
- The Fabric Economy of Facebook Groups
- Why “Where’s Your Inspiration” Isn’t a Good Question
My free pattern for the Josephine Doll got the most pageviews this year. Free patterns are like the anchors that continually bring in new visitors. By installing the HelloBar slider on my site I’m able to immediately invite those first-time visitors to sign up for my mailing list so that I can reach out to them again. Together it’s been an effective strategy for building my customer base.
This year Kristin Link and I launched Craft Industry Alliance, a trade organization for craft industry professionals, and some of my reporting has moved to our digital trade journal. In November I wrote about how the teacher pay at International Quilt Festival hasn’t been raised since 1998. The article generated a tremendous amount of discussion both on the site and on Facebook and I’m hopeful that Quilts, Inc. will consider giving Quilt Festival teachers a raise in the years to come.
I produced 24 episodes of the While She Naps podcast this year. I’m most proud of the episode I recorded with executives from Etsy because I feel that it helped to open the lines of communication between Etsy and it’s seller community. There’s still more work to be done to restore trust and establish mutual understanding, but I feel lucky to have been able to contribute toward that effort.
I sent out my newsletter on Wednesday morning at 10:00 am every week this year. I nearly doubled my newsletter subscriber list to 9,100 while keeping the open rate above 45%. Writing my newsletter is incredibly fun and I love the email conversations it sparks with readers. It’s one of my favorite things every week.
My shop here on my site generated $17,146 in sales. My Etsy shop generated $11,770.22 in sales. Two things strike me about these numbers. First, the power of a weekly newsletter. Without fail sales spike on Wednesdays when my newsletter goes out. And second, it’s amazing that my Etsy shop does so well considering I don’t promote it. Etsy is a well-oiled machine and it’s worth it to stay there for sure.
I released two free patterns, Ferdinand the Frog and the Circle Bird, and three patterns for my shop, Unicorn and Horse Puzzle Ball, Patchwork Elephant, and Harper the Owl. Harper is my first print pattern and kit. Having a print pattern allowed me to work with distributors (Checker and Brewer) to get the pattern into local quilt shops. I also spent a lot of time with Lindsie Bergevin, a graphic designer I hired to reformat all of my current patterns. We’re almost halfway through so this project will continue into the new year. I love how they look and I’m really glad I invested in this.
In February I turned in the manuscript for Sew and Play Puzzle Ball Animals, a book I wrote for Annie’s. I wrote the whole thing in three weeks. It’s a smaller book with only six patterns and it’s selling nicely. I’ve already earned back my advance ($1,000) so in 2016 I’ll being getting royalties on this title.
After two years my second book, Stuffed Animals, finally earned out it’s advance ($7,000)! So in 2016 I’ll get some royalties from this title as well.
My first book, The Artful Bird, went out of print this year. I’m hoping to get the ebook rights back from Interweave as soon as all of the stock is sold so that I can offer it for sale here on my site going forward.
I’m also still earning royalties from my five Simplicity patterns.
In July I flew out to Annie’s headquarters in Berne, Indiana to film an online class to accompany the puzzle ball book. That class was released in September (watch the preview here).
In August I flew to San Francisco to film a class on email marketing for CreativeLive (watch the preview here).
Both experiences were tremendously fun and interesting and I feel lucky to have an inside perspective on what it’s like to film an online class (and get my makeup done by a professional).
This year I took two other trips. I taught at Craftcation in March and I went to Quilt Market for the first time. I visited Spoonflower’s headquarters while on a family vacation in Durham visiting my sister.
In February my husband went away on business trip to Florida while we had a huge blizzard in Boston. The kids were home from school. I had no pressure to cook or keep the house tidy and nowhere to go so I wrote an ebook about email marketing! It’s been fantastic to see so many people use it to revamp their email newsletter strategy. The ebook has earned $3,402 to date.
2015 was the year I started doing freelance writing. I wrote articles for Modern Patchwork, Generation Q, the SAQA Journal, FabShop News, Crafter’s Market, and Mollie Makes, plus I wrote a series of articles for the Spoonflower blog. It’s been really satisfying to get paid to write.
Goals for 2016
Part of what I love about this job is piecing everything together. My income comes from a lot of different sources and I enjoy and learn from each experience. For example, I have two paid speaking gigs coming up in early 2016 which is totally new for me. I’m excited to bring public speaking into the fold.
Thank you for visiting me online this year. Thank you for your comments and questions and for pushing me to think about things in a new way. Thank you to everyone who brought me stories or were sources for my reporting. You guys are the best. It’s been a great year.