2017 First Quarter Blog Income Report For Paper Thin Personas

I am interrupting the regular paper doll content to share some numbers in the first ever Paper Thin Personas Blog Income Report. Paper dolls will resume tomorrow.

I went back and forth and back and forth about today’s post. I was raised in a family where you do not talk about money, so talking about money and business openly is pretty counter intuitive for me. However, when I first started blogging I saw some really distorted income reports and I wanted to share one that wasn’t from someone who was trying to quit their day job. (Seriously, I adore my day job, why would I want to quit it?)

Let’s start with expenses.

Expenses for Paper Thin Personas

The blog income report expenses chart for the First Quarter of 2017 for PTP.

The PTP’s expenses I keep in three categories- fees, advertising and blog expenses.

Fees are the costs Etsy and Patreon both charge for processing payment. Fees cost me about 72 dollars this month.

I chose to try out Pinterest advertising for the first time this quarter. It was most a bust with a click-through rate (how many people who saw it and then clicked) of less then 1%. I also promote the Etsy Store and that costs a little too.

Total expenses for advertising were 43 dollars.

Blog expenses include the server hosting costs, paying for social media management tools, security and backups. My hosting is super cheap and very bare bones, but I really should switch companies and/or upgrade. Once I do that, my hosting costs will jump from about 12.00 per month up to the 30 to 40 dollar range.

I also pay about 21 dollars a month for a security company to monitor the blog (it was hacked last year), provide a firewall, cacheing and daily backups. All things I really need.

Blog expenses cost me about 144 dollars this last quarter and this will increase if I change hosts.

You will note I don’t have supplies in this pie-chart. I am horrible at tracking my supplies, but my resolution for next quarter is to get better at it.

Income For Paper Thin Personas

The blog income report income chart for the First Quarter of 2017 for PTP.

My income was a little odd this quarter. I got my last payout from a licensing deal with HP Printers, which was for 497 dollars. I also got a deposit for a commission which I’ll be finishing up this April. That was 100 dollars.

The Etsy store debuted and actually did better than I expected. I made 12 sales and a total of about 88 dollars.

The most important income piece is Patreon. Patrons donated 290.00 dollars this quarter. They paid for the blog to stay on the internet and there was a little left over to do some ads. In short, I am very grateful to all of them. You guys rock!

If you want to join… here’s the link to do that.

To sum up all the numbers, it cost me 258 to run the site. I made about 948. The net income is 690.

However, this includes 497 dollars from HP which will not happen again, plus commission funds, if you take out the one-time payments, the net income becomes 93 dollars.

A slightly less impressive number for sure.

Paper Thin Personas Sales Data

The blog income report sales chart for the First Quarter of 2017 for PTP. The most popular clothing sets have been the black and white Steampunk clothing set, the black and white Medieval Princess Gowns set, the color Medieval Gowns Set (red & blue color scheme), all having sold three copies.

The most popular dolls have been the redhead with the orange base and the blond with the orange base. None of the black and white dolls have sold more than one copy. I think it is interesting that the clothing sells in black and white, but the dolls don’t seem to move much.

As you can see from the chart above, clothing sales far out pace doll sales.

Paper Thin Personas Site Stats

The blog income report stats chart for the First Quarter of 2017 for PTP.

I am averaged 36,000 views per month, 5368 users per month and 9,000 sessions per month. These numbers aren’t bad, per say, but they haven’t changed a great deal in the last few years. Last year, for example, I averaged 5,018 users per month and in 2015, I averaged 4750 users per month.

Not bad numbers, per say, just not great numbers. If I want to grow PTP, I need to get more eyes on the blog.

I have 3462 Pinterest followers which is steadily growing and remains my highest social media referral site. The Facebook page had 46 likes at the start of April. The twitter feed is… well, it remains pretty unpopular, but I am trying to not totally give up on it.

Where to Go from Here?

I’ll admit the math has made me do some thinking. I swore long ago that I wouldn’t put advertising on the site and I still don’t want to do that. I stand by my belief that keeping the site ad free is important, but it massively reduces sources of income.

Affiliate programs are another option for income streams, but I need to discuss that with a lawyer. The blog is in a strange position as far as the Child’s Online Privacy Protection Act is concerned. I need to make sure I am not running afoul of that law.

It is my belief that the only way to really increase my income is to get more eyes on the blog and that means gritting my teeth and paying something for advertising, even though I hate doing it. I just need to decide what the best form that would take.

Pinterest remains my top referrer with Facebook coming in close behind. The possibility of a Facebook ad has occurred to me, but I’m not sure if I want to spend the money. I have heard mixed things about Facebook ads.

So, I think that’s everything. Regular paper dolls with resume tomorrow. 🙂

Thoughts? Questions? Let me know in a comment. This is my first ever year to track all this stuff. I don’t know if I’ll do a report like this every quarter, but it was a really healthy exercise I think.


  1. I actually don’t object to ads on a site — folks do have to make money — but am not sure how much revenue they create. Perhaps some kind of book? Craft books don’t make money proportionate to the effort they require but they do get attention and create a kind of legitimacy. (Not that you need it, but you know what I mean.) I know other artists/writers who attend cons, make podcasts, do interviews, get their names out there as much as possible for as little expenditure as possible.

    But. They do that full-time (plus some) which means it costs time. I don’t know what the answer is, short of creating a paper doll that becomes a meme, gets upvoted on Reddit or whatever, and finally earns its own agent and a movie deal. It could happen, you never know.

    In the meantime, I’m grateful that you do this.

    1. Yeah, one of my struggles when I first started monetizing the blog was that everything was written as though the goal was to quit your day job. I happen to super like my day job, so that has never been my goal. It’s a matter of time and what you can afford to spend your time doing. I know of no one who is successfully running a blog business that doesn’t have five or six different income streams.

  2. i’m glad your income pays your expenses and you have some net left over ~ that’s a nice thing!

    i’m a hardcore believer in free and ad-free internet, but like Annemarie said, i also appreciate that some people want to be paid for their work. it’s a tough balance.

    i was hacked last month. very irritating and violating. i installed a free watchdog ap after changing all my passwords, doing a cleanse, all that (let’s see how it goes). $21 a month for security feels like a lot, but it’s all about what will give you peace of mind.

    last thought on the dolls vs. clothes in b&w ~ makes total sense that people might love your color schemes for the characters you have created, but want to put their own stamp on the fashions they wear.

    1. It is a nice thing. I have to confess, I had to promise myself that no matter how the numbers came out, I was going to post this post- even if it was a bust.

      You’re right. 21 dollars isn’t cheap, but after my Hack and the month I spent trying to fix it, I realized that it was worth paying a reliable company to take care of the problem and then to keep monitoring the site. If I paid more for my hosting then I perhaps could get rid of the security company, but I’m not sure that would save me money. 🙂

      Math is hard.

  3. Thank you for posting this. This is excellent information for bloggers and it helps us understand how important Patreon is.
    Advertising on the site is understandable but worrying about ad content is as well. Would there be a way for you to age-gate your ads?
    Thanks for posting.

    1. The Patreon page is critical to the solvency of the blog. Absolutely.

      As for age-gating ads, that’s part of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) stuff that I would need to consult with a lawyer about, should I decide to go that route. The blog is not a kids site, but it does contain content appealing to youth under the age of 13.

      Some Ad companies won’t even work with sites that are under the umbrella of COPPA, others have other rules.

      I certainly wouldn’t want Ads on the site that are, for example, Adult in nature. That would be… weird and kind of creepy.

      And, at this point, Ads are not my preferred route. I really don’t like the idea of them.

  4. Thank you for this. It’s hard to share information like this and I’m glad you did. It’s amazing how much it costs to create free art, isn’t it?!

    I have ads set up on my blog and I’ve never met the threshold to receive a payout. I feel pretty ambivalent about ads. The games I play have ads, the videos I watch have ads — it seems like ads are everywhere and I just don’t think about it much.

    When I started doing this, I set up a free blog separate from my portfolio website (which I pay for with other design & art gigs). I always assumed paper dolls would just be a fun hobby, but they’ve turned into more. I never thought of paper dolls as a professional thing and didn’t want the to be an “official” part of my art career. Boy was I wrong about that!!

    It’s nice to see that you’re selling your art, on your own terms. I like Etsy because it’s somewhat passive. Patreon seems to be semi-passive, too. I have had mixed success with Facebook ads for a client of mine. Seemed like the people who already knew about the business (it’s a local farm) saw the ads and that kind of defeated the purpose. There was some new business as a result of the ads, but more was generated organically overall.

    Your record keeping skills are impressive! I wish I was half this organized!

  5. I really hope you don’t do adds though I certainly understand why if you do them. I find adds really annoying and there is a risk they will be inappropriate or offensive or make the website almost unusable, like when I’m browsing on my mobile and a full screen add pops up that wants to take me to the App Store and I can’t click the back button to go to the page I was on. I’ve had to mostly quit using some websites because of adds like those. If you can possibly get some other bloggers or websites to link to your website that could be a good source of traffic. Like a “here is a fun activity for your kids” post on a Mom blog. There probably is lots of advice out there on how to either do a guest post, an exclusive outfit, or just ask nicely. Or you could submit a paperdoll to the paperdoll studio magazine with your website listed and probably you would get some more visitors from that. And I can kind of see on the black and white dolls why you would sell just one because you can color the doll as many ways as you want but with the color dolls if you want variety you get more dolls.

    1. Ads are, as I said, not something I like. Affliate programs are a much more likely route, but again, something that COPPA might impact, so I need to look into the legal aspects of all of this.

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