Paper Thin Personas Product Survey Results!

This is a LONG post. Just as a warning, you know, before you get started. 🙂

So, a few weeks ago I did a survey of my readers. I asked a bunch of questions and I got some great feedback. Today I am going to show some of the data that I am comfortable sharing that came out from my survey results.

I’ll be honest- I’ve never tried to write up something like this. I want to be transparent as I go out into this world, but there are also things I’ve not yet fully processed and things that I feel like aren’t really anyone’s business but mine. Despite running a blog for the last five years, I am actually rather private by nature.

So, I’ve done by best to summarize some stuff and write about it. It’s long and has graphs and there are no paper dolls, so proceed knowing all that.

Why do a survey at all?

Well, I’m a librarian and being a librarian I like research. I want to try to sell my paper dolls to people and to do that I need to know what people want and what people are interested in. I’d like to off set the costs of running this blog (server space, my scanner, notebooks… that stuff costs money) and to do that I need to ask for donations, because I won’t charge people. I don’t want to.

I work full time. I can’t afford to waste energy on things that won’t actually have the outcome I need. So, I thought and thought and thought about my readers and what they might want. Then I realized, “Duh, I can ask them.”

So, I did.

Here’s what I learned….

One of the things I was curious about was how long my readers had followed the blog. My logic was that knowing how “loyal” readers were might effect their decisions about supporting the blog somehow. I didn’t actually see any correlation here, but I thought there might be one.


Most of my readers have been with me for more than two years and most visit the blog once a week or every day. I wonder if this is self selecting though. Would you really fill out a long survey for a blog you didn’t visit regularly? I’m trying to decide how much I can trust that particular piece of information. After all, the survey was only up for a few weeks. If you were a “Once a Month” visitor than it would have been easy to miss.


I wanted to know how much people actually print off the paper dolls on the blog, so I was fascinated to discover that most of you actually do print things out sometimes. I never print things from the paper doll blogs I follow, so this surprised me.

Since the primary purpose of the survey was to discover what sorts of products people would find most appealing, I asked about digital, print and magnetic paper dolls. Considering you can print basically anything you want from here and there’s enough paper doll content on the blog to keep people busy for a long time, I was shocked to discover that most people would still be interested in purchasing print products. I have already started on my first print paper doll set to be offered next year. I have about nine million ideas, so I have to slow down and just work away.


The other idea I’d had was to sell digital downloads of paper dolls. I asked, “Would you be interested in purchasing digital downloads from Paper Thin Personas?” and 48% of respondents said Yes and 52% said No. Based on the comments I got from some readers, I think people may have interpreted this question to suggest that I was planning on charging for the paper doll content already on the blog.

I think of Paper Thin Personas as an over arching term for my paper doll drawing side-work. I realize now that my readers think of it as the name of the blog, because they have never signed a contract with the phrase, “entity known as Paper Thin Personas” in it. Anyway, I’d like to reiterate here and now that I have no intention of charging for the blog.

Begging for donations- absolutely.

Charging- absolutely not.

Speaking of donations, 14% of people would donate through Patreon while 35% might, depending on the rewards. (I would totally fall into that category if I was voting.) Meanwhile, I appreciated the honesty of those of you who gave a flat out No (that was 21%) and some people (8%) would consider a one-time donation. I haven’t yet figured out how to do that logistically, but once I do, I will let you know.


The most appealing Patreon reward was the chance for a customized paper doll. I totally get that and when my Patreon goes live next month, it will be an option along with a fun paper doll project I am going to share next Wednesday. It is not a low level reward though, because it will be time consuming for me to customized paper dolls for people.

The most interesting part of the Survey for me had to do with what sorts of products people would be interested in. After all, that was the primary point of the whole thing. More specifically than just “digital” or “print” or “magnetic.”

The big idea that has been rolling around in my head for a long time has been to do a paper doll subscription club. Sort of like a magazine subscription where I would send out a paper doll set every month based on a central theme. I love email newsletters and things like that, so I thought it would be a fun thing to share.


Of course, I had to know if I was the only person on the planet who thought this was a good idea. (Sometimes I have ideas and I am the only person on the planet who thinks they are a good idea.) A historical digital club blew every other option away, but the idea of that makes me nervous.

You see, if I fail to do something successfully for the blog than it doesn’t matter, because I’m not being paid for it. If I have people paying me, than I have to do my best work. I think people like my historical stuff because it is so carefully researched and created. I can’t imagine trying to commit to one historical set a month for a whole year.

That’s why the first subscription club I am going to try is going to be the Princess Club. I’ve already got the January paper doll drawn and am working on the February and March sets. Since each paper doll will have five gowns, it is practically a “weekly” set, though the emails will go out once a month. Anyway, as I said, I’ll share more about that in the middle of November.


Okay, so the other style of paper dolls I asked about were magnetic paper dolls. Everytime I give a magnetic paper doll set to someone as a gift, they always tell me, “You should sell these.”

I thought this would be an overwhelming success. Interestingly, I think it was a more mixed bag. Magnetic sets are extremely expensive to produce which makes me a little nervous about offering them for sale. If you have ever priced magnetic paper than you know what I mean. Still, I think they are really fun to play with and offer a great chance for kids (and adults) to play.

So, I will offer them for sale I think. I just need to decide what themes would be most appealing to people. A problem for another survey, perhaps?

And those are my numbers.

The truth is that I learned a lot. I learned that my readers are willing to give me their time. I learned a lot of you come by every day, even though I only update three times a week. I learned that people are generous with their thoughts and I learned how much people do love what I do.

Since I promised the survey would be anonymous, I’m not comfortable sharing any of the specific comments that I received, but I wanted to say that some of them really touched me very deeply. A few actually made me cry. As PTP moves into this new phase, I just want everyone to know that I am listening. I do care what you think and what you want.

Every comment, every email, every survey response matters to me. I am grateful for all of them.

You guys rock!

Got questions? The comments are open for them.

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  1. A princess club sounds really nice! I probably picked “historical” in my survey but princess is probably nicer because some dresses can be historically inspired but there is more room for imagination and fantasy. And maybe one month a Steampunk Princess:) Thanks for sharing the survey results, I was curious about what would be happening and what other people thought.

    1. You’re welcome. I had a few people express interest in the survey results. I am very excited about the Princess Club. I think it’s going to be fun.

  2. I find your survey results very interesting. If you’re looking to do a paper doll club/subscription, look at Lily & Thistle: The blog seems to be defunct now, but it may give you some inspiration. She has an Etsy store, too.

    My experience with selling paper dolls has been mixed. I tried too soon and did a poor job of using Etsy. My books do better than Etsy ever did and I’ve often thought a self-published book of your dolls would work really well. I like one-and-done projects that continue to have a life long after I complete them. I finished painting my Goddess paper doll almost ten years ago and it still sells regularly. Just another idea for you to ruminate over!

    I can see the difficulty of magnetic dolls. Would you sell sheets uncut or cut each set? That might make a difference. I would love to find a way to economically cut magnet dolls out.

    As lovely as your paper dolls are (and really, they are!!), the real strength of your blog is you. I love the time you put into research and writing. Your blog is a constant conversation with readers and I come back three times a week for that as much as for anything else.

    I admit, I’ll be watching for which route you’ll take to sell your dolls. Whatever you choose, I suspect that your legion of adoring fans will make it a success 🙂

    1. There isn’t an economical way to cut paper dolls out for sale. To cut magnet, you need to get custom dies made for die cutting, unless you want to do it all by hand.

      So, the idea would be to sell the sheets for people to cut themselves. It’s fairly thin magnet, so a pair of scissors can take care of it without a problem.

  3. PLEASE! A place to make donations to you. My love is for Marisol and friends. Have never had a pd that I liked as much. And I doubt if you are going to charge for her, so please make a way on your blog to accept donations. I would love to make a donation.

  4. So I never saw the survey. I use a feed reader to let me know when the blogs I follow post new content. I then get a “preview” screen–where I can usually see a picture of that posts doll. I admire the picture but don’t always read the content or click through to the actual post. That said, and without addressing any of the other questions, I’d pay for paper dolls (even those avail. for free on the blog) that came with perforations and on quality paper! I quit printing the offerings when I got tired of cutting them out for my daughter (she’s 6). Now I only print and cut out clothing sets that really get my attention, like the band/color guard set!

    1. Custom perforation, like you see in some of the Barbie paper doll books made today, is something I’ve not really investigated. I know you can get stuff perforated at print shops, but the places I have spoken too only do straight lines. I would need a lot of curves to do a paper doll book. So, it’s something I’ve thought about, but honestly haven’t done a lot of research into. I’ll have to look into it.

  5. if you have a paypal account, you can put a “feed me” button on your website for one-time donations and people can give as they want.

    also, consider whether you want to sell books through something like CreateSpace, where you can direct traffic and the beast that is Amazon does all the work for you (it’s free!).

    i know i have been MIA for a long while, but even though i haven’t been commenting regularly, i do visit and share your blog often ~ because it really is the gold standard. your care for your work shows.

    like Julie said, i visit for the dolls, but also mostly just to see your whole body of work and your process as it unfolds. that’s something that can’t be bottled and sold, but you should give your readers a means to show their appreciation outside of a patreon subscription, if possible.

    1. Paypal requires that the site be a registered non-profit before you can use their donation buttons. So, there are work arounds and I’m trying to decide if it is worth and it what the taxation implications would be. I need to talk to an accountant, since I think it would be considered as tip income and that’s a whole quagmire.

      (Patreon gets around this by asking for a W9 and then issuing a 1099, so you’re sort of getting paid by Patreon. It’s one of the things I like about it.)

  6. Like I said in the survey, I enjoy seeing the breakdown afterwards because it is rather interesting.

    Whenever you’re up for a historical doll of the month, OR an ebook of some sort, I’ll get that in a heartbeat, ESPECIALLY if there’s male figures (they’re very hard to find and show for my kids as we reach different eras).

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