At the end of every year, I post graphs of my income sources (check out the posts for 2012, 2011 and . I do these analyses for myself, since knowing where your business is getting its money from is key to figuring out where to go in the future! I figure that since I’m already crunching the numbers, I may as well share, right?
Since it’s (almost) the middle of 2013, let’s take a look how how the year is going!
FreshStitches Pattern Sales
As most of you probably know, my main business is pattern sales. Here’s a breakdown of the sources of pattern sales:
Because I run a Ravelry shopping cart on my site (and so sales from both my website and Ravelry go into the same ‘pot’), I haven’t done the calculations to separate them.
If you glance at past years, you’ll notice that the percentage of my sales coming from Etsy has continued to decline. On one hand, I think it represents the fact that I’m putting less effort into keeping up with the changing search criteria and features on Etsy (which is a bad thing). On the other hand, it could reflect that the sales on my website and Ravelry are just accelerating faster (which is a good thing).
You’ll also notice that this year, there are more sources of sales, including Craftsy, Ravelry LYS sales and a myriad of other sites/ways that I sell my patterns. While none of these constitute a huge percentage yet, I think they’re an important component of my business plan.
While pattern sales are my ‘main’ gig, I also sell kits, teach, write books and do other stuff to earn an income. Here’s the graph of my income sources:
I actually haven’t done this graph before, because in previous years, my income streams have been much less diverse! This year (and well, the last 1/2 of 2012), I’ve been focusing on offering fun & exciting kits, as well as getting myself into the teaching universe.
You can tell by the graph that these non-pattern income streams are making a sizable part of my income. I think what can’t be represented by a graph is the way that these alternate tasks help my pattern sales, as well. For example, someone takes my class and then buys one of my patterns as a result.
I think that this diversification is key, and I expect it to continue in the future!
Lessons for Designers
The main reason I share these graphs is because when I began designing, information about designing as a small business was scarce. I make a living from my design work, and although it certainly takes time to build a business, I want others to know that it’s possible!
In some ways, the graph is misleading. It’s tempting to think that in January, I got a check for 11% of my income from Craftsy, and another check for 11% from Martingale… but it doesn’t really work that way. The income stream for a small business owner has ups and downs.
I might get a nice fat check the quarter after my book comes out, but it dwindles after. And I might finish a freelance project one month, but that same payment won’t be repeated the next month. Even pattern sales might be booming one month (usually around the holidays!) and less booming another. These graphs are averages over months.
And… every business is different! What works for me might not be what works for you. But, here are a few lessons that my graphs tell me… and maybe they’ll be helpful for you!
- Show your work on different sites. Four years ago, I thought Etsy was just a ‘starter’ until I got my own website together. However, today, it still provides a solid chunk of my pattern sales. If I had shut down my Etsy shop, I wouldn’t get those sales!
- Diversification is important. Sure, if I didn’t teach, I’d have more time for pattern-writing. But would that extra pattern writing provide the same income? Probably not. Because by diversifying what I do, I reach different people. And that’s important!
- Social media is key. If I wrote great patterns and then didn’t tell anyone, I wouldn’t sell very many. I have no doubt that my sales are directly related to the effort I spend telling people about what I’m up to.
- Do what you love. When I started, people told me that I couldn’t make a living selling stuffed animal patterns (and that I should do knitted garments, instead). But I LOVE stuffed animals, so that’s what I did. And it’s working. Because people can tell when you love your product.
Was this helpful? Even if it wasn’t, I hope it was fun!
You’ll get an update in 7 months… gasp, I still can’t believe the year is nearly halfway done!