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.

Haitus Until October 17th

Haitus Until October 17th Banner

I don’t like working up against a deadline. Sometimes, deadlines are liberating, but feeling like you “HAVE” to do something isn’t really a great way for me to work creatively.

Having said that, I have had a flea bombing, a washer overflow and a lot of things in my life last week. I decided the best thing I could do both for the blog and for my mental health was to take some time off.

So, this is me taking a week off.

Now, I’ll still be active on Twitter @paperpersonas if you’d like to say Hi or see what I am up too.

See you all in a week!

Going Back to My Roots…

roots Lately, I have been loathing the blog.

Okay, okay. I know that sounds a little melodramatic- cue the violins, but seriously, it has been a slog for me for the last year.

I’ve been trying to sort out why.

I started this whirly-gig of fun back in 2008. I had just graduated college. I was single, living alone in Alaska, and working two jobs to make ends meet. In the evenings, I came home to my apartment (which was one of the nicest apartments I have ever had) and drew paper dolls.

I’ve been trying to sort out why I did that. Why I started this.

Here’s the story I normally tell people:

In 2008, during a long cold Alaskan winter, I got addicted to a blog called Liana’s Paper Doll Blog and I decided to start my own blog inspired by hers. It was a way of passing the time in the cold and dark.

There’s the problem with that story. It doesn’t address the “why” I did it.

Because it sure as heck wasn’t to make fame and fortune.

For nearly three hours last Saturday, my boyfriend and I discussed the blog. He asked me tons of great questions about why I started and what I liked. The whole conversation started with me stating, “I’m going to delete the blog.”

And him saying, “I don’t think you really want to do that.”

Why I Got into this Blog in the First Place…

  1.  I have a compulsive need to finish my work. Just drawing is not enough. I need to feel like I have “completed” something and the blog closes that loop for me
  2. In an effort to be more mainstream, I have diversified my content; however, I really didn’t get into this to write tutorials on how to draw or to talk about historical costume (though I love those things), I got into it to draw paper dolls.
  3. My readers don’t get to dictate what I do, so I should so what I want to do and if it pleases or displeases people, they can get over it.

So, things are going to change on Monday.

The New Plan Is….

Each Monday there will be a doll posted from one of my series and an outfit. Every day for the rest of the week, there will be another outfit or accessories. On Friday, I’ll post a round-up with another outfit and links to all the proceeding outfits.

The next week, I’ll do it all over again.

I hoping this new format will get me excited again about doing what I made the blog to do: Draw paper dolls.

It also removes the pressure of layout work which is actually one of the most time consuming parts of the paper doll process.

Process posts will continue, but they’ll be posted on my Patreon page. If you love the blog, than please consider supporting it. Shocking as this may sound, there are quite a lot of expenses involved in running this site.

And while I don’t know for certain that this new plan will cure my ennui about the blog, I can say this: I have been excited to draw for the first time in what feels like a long time and that has to be a good sign.

This is actually the format I had for the first two years of the blog, before the crash in 2009. It feels both good and a little strange to be returning to my roots like this, but I’m excited.

I hope y’all are excited, too.

4th of July Paper Dolls!

It’s nearly the 4th of July! One of my favorite holidays. In Alaska, where I grew up, the 4th was a big deal. Among our close knit group of friends, there was always a huge bonfire on the 3rd (usually with a theme- one year a t-rex, another year, the iron throne) and at midnight the fireworks would go off, calling in the 4th of July. This might seen an odd choice, but remember, that the sun didn’t set until about 10 pm, so it took a while to get completely dark.

I remember one of our hosts, spraying down their house with water to make sure it was safe from the very high bonfire raging on the beach.

Over the years, I have done a few different 4th of July paper dolls and I wanted to share them here.

Four 4th of July Themed Paper Dolls

Now, I’ve also done a lot of paper dolls which that are not specifically “4th of July” themed, but could be used that way if you wanted too. So, here are some paper dolls with red, white and blue color schemes and one Majorette, because that screams parades to me.

Red White & Blue Paper Dolls


Or, if you would rather, get your paper dolls all dressed up for the holiday, here a few outfit sets that could be wonderfully patriotic. Perhaps the Poppets are going to be in the local parade? Or maybe Ms. Mannequin is planning a barbecue and needs to look fantastic.

Red White & Blue Paper Doll Outfits

There MIGHT be a 4th of July paper doll on the actual 4th. She’s inked, but I don’t know if I’ll get her done. Fingers crossed!

In the mean time, I think there’s enough 4th of July content to keep people busy over the holiday.

(Also, I have been told paper dolls are a great coloring activity to keep kids occupied. I can’t promise it’s possible, but I’ve heard rumors. Sadly, I don’t have any kids around top “test” my work much.)

Lastly, I noticed in Monday’s poll that Mini-Maidens did a last minute surge into the lead which makes me wonder about the voting. Anyway, since I already had my 4th paper doll figured out, I’m reopening the poll, below.

What series should I post next week?

  • Mini-Maiden (51%, 59 Votes)
  • Sprites (23%, 26 Votes)
  • Buxom & Bodacious (13%, 15 Votes)
  • Poppet (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Ms. Mannequin (6%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 115

Loading ... Loading ...

A Pair of Lovey-Doveys: Thought’s on Sewing Up These Baby Gifts

So, in my last pattern review, I made a teddy bear for my sister. I also whipped up two of these little Lovey-Doveys, also designed by Abby Glassenberg.

(I swear I sew patterns other than hers, but I have been in full on ‘baby gift’ mode.)

While I made these on Sunday after making my Teddy Bear, I wanted to post about them separately, because they are a totally different pattern.

And now, onto the review…

bear-bunny-lovey-dovey

All the pieces cut out and waiting on the table to be sewn up.

Time to Complete: About 2.5 hours (I made two and did them over three days, so I’m not positive on the time investment.)

Number of times I pulled out “Jack the Seam Ripper”: 2

I made a bunny and a bear “Lovey-Dovey” or “Blanket Animals”. I bought a set of Lovey Dovey patterns from Abby Glassenberg Designs like last year in the deluded belief I would make them for a co-worker’s grandchild. Obviously that didn’t happen.

When I was at Hancocks for their clearance sale, the pattern (Simplicity 1681) was on-sale (Abby licenses some of her designs to them) for a very reasonable price. So, I picked it up for the bear pattern and also used it for the blanket animals rather than printing out my pattern, because I am lazy and was out of printer ink.

Clear as mud? Lovely.

lovey-dovey-collage-2

Picking out fabrics and cutting out an ear. I live dangerously and cut out my tissue paper patterns.

So, anyway, since the parents have decided not to know the gender of the baby, I picked up neutral fabrics for the ear linings. I probably could have raided  my stash, but why waste a good excuse to buy fabric, especially sale fabric?

I didn’t want to do a classic white bunny, since that seems like a bad idea given that babies are messy little creatures, so I instead I went with some grey fleece for the bunny and light brown fleece for the bear. I didn’t want to make both critters out of the same color fleece.

I love how the bunny and the bear turned out. 

lovey-dovey-collage

The back of one bear showing off his tail and my bunny with his adapted tail.

When with cutting the back of my first teddy bear and then inserting the tail, I somehow didn’t catch all the layers when I sewed it up again afterwards and had to fix it by hand. However, it worked much better the second time I tried (practice works!) and so the Lovey-Dovey bear tail came out well. The pattern called for using pom-pom for the bunny tail, but since I don’t like pom-poms, I gathered a circle to make the tail.

Uses of Jack:

Jack came out twice for this set. First, I attached one of the bunny ears to the wrong side of one of the head pieces and it had be to removed to re-attached. I also messed up while hand sewing on the bears ears and out came Jack once more.

He’s a good little seam ripper.

But, all things considered, Jack hasn’t gotten to spend much time out of his box this time. I say this, but I know that soon enough Jack with make a reappearance. (He always does.)

Final Thoughts:

According to Abby’s blog, While She Naps, her Lovey-Dovey patterns are her best sellers. I can see why.

They are fast and so cute. I want to make more of them. I want to make a whole menagerie of little blanket animals for every baby I know and possibly for babies I don’t know.

And I love that by just switching out the head and the tail, you can make a new creature. Once you figure out the process, it’s pretty fast.

I did all the machine sewing for both creatures and then sat down with some Netflix to embroider the faces and attach the the heads to the bodies. I tend to work tyhis way, doing the machine work and then in the evening or the next day, doing the handwork. It’s funny, when I create paper dolls I work the same way. I ink a bunch, than I scan and bunch, than I color a bunch. I guess I just like working in batches. 

So, I highly recommend this pattern, but I would buy it direct from Abby Glassenberg Designs (unless you too have a Hancock that is closing near you), because I think her photo instructions are SO much better than the ones in the Simplicity package which confused me in a few places. (Ear attachment, for one.)

bear-bunny-lovey-dovey-5

My finished bear and bunny. By the time I got this photo, it had gotten dark.

She also has this great video on how to ladder stitch that I watched before I started. Technically, I have ladder stitched before, but it was a nice reminder and I think I did better after watching and it was linked in her pattern, or I wouldn’t have known it existed.

Has anyone else made a Lovey-Dovey?

Next, I’m working on some cloth dolls by Jess Brown. Also a gift, so taking notes while I sew and I will share them once they have been mailed off.

And after that… Well, I haven’t decided, though there is a replacement bear to be made.

Paper Doll Studio Issue 114

So, kinda a belated review of the latest issue of Paper Doll Studio. It arrived in April while I was on my Hiatus, but I knew I wanted to talk about it upon my return. For those of you who don’t know, Paper Doll Studio is the magazine of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild (OPDAG) and comes out four times a year. Each issue has a theme and artists submit paper dolls relating to that theme for the issue. For example, Issue 114’s theme was “Holidays.”

review-pd-1

Once I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio, I immediately read it.

I really enjoyed it, of course, I always do. I mean, it’s like getting a surprise in my mail box when it arrives. I don’t usually check the mail (mail-checking and garbage are my boyfriend’s jobs), but I always get so excited when he comes up the stairs and hands me the distinctive package from Paper Doll Studio Press.

review-pd-3

The featured artist for Paper Doll Studio was Cory Jensen.

Each issue has a featured artist and this time it was Cory Jensen. While I very much enjoyed Mr. Jensen’s article on his work (and his art is quite compelling), the amateur copyright scholar in me wondered about the legal ramifications of drawing paper dolls of other’s intellectual property and the ethical ramifications, as well. Not something he touched on in his article, but I rather wish he had. I think its a serious question that anyone who draws fan-art should be considering.

Along with Jensen’s article, there was a fun piece by David Wolfe on his tradition of creating paper doll cards for Christmas, but I’d have liked some more advice on how someone could do a similar project, rather than just a recap of what he’d done. My favorite articles are always the ones that talk about process and are a little practical, so I enjoyed very much Judy M Johnson’s article on Paper Doll Methods and Materials. (Judy is a dear woman who, after I cold called her once while I was working on a conference paper on World War 1 and 2 paper dolls, talked to me for over two hours on the telephone.)

Julie’s St. Patrick’s Day paper doll got a full page spread which made me cheer for her. She deserves it and you can print out her paper doll here. I always try to pick a favorite paper doll from each issue. This time I struggled a little, but I settled on two. Karen Hunter, an artist I was not familiar with, did a fantastic Halloween paper doll and Larry Bassin had four paper dolls in the magazine. I have always, and probably will always, love Bassin’s work and he was a big influence on the flat color style I use in my own paper dolls. I mean look out at that fantastic line-work.

pd-review-collage

Karen Hunter’s paper doll is on the right. Larry Bassin’s work is on the left.

Every time I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine, I swear that “next time” I’ll get my act together and submit something. Well, menswear is up next and I am going do it this time! I just… you know… need to get my act together.

Jenny, editor of the Magazine, was interviewed on this blog a few months ago. By the way, if you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves paper dolls. It’s under 30 dollars a year and you get four issues of fun paper doll content. Here’s the link to subscribe.

My First Teddy Bear: A Review of Simplicity 1681

Time to Complete: 3 hours

Number of times I pulled out “Jack the Seam Ripper”: One

I wanted to make a quick fun baby gift for my Sister and Hancocks was closing. So, I popped in to check out the sale and picked up Simplicity 1681, designed by Abby Glassenberg, at a pretty good discount. I’ve always admired her soft toy design and her blog, “While She Naps.” So, I was really pleased to get the pattern and get to try it out. Plus, I wanted to see the differences in directions between her self published work and her licensed work. That way I would know in the future if I wanted to buy the Simplicity versions or directly from Abby.

Confession- I finished this guy in April, but didn’t want to post about him until he was in the hands of my Sister. Nothing worse than your sibling learning about her baby gift from a blog before the gift arrives.

I’ve never made a bear before, so I was pretty nervous. I think the small size was particularly challenging. Somehow, I didn’t notice that the pattern said the bear was only 12 inches tall. Tiny little guy.

I picked up some dark brown fleece and some quilting cotton to line the ears with. Since my Sister has decided not know the gender of her baby, I picked out fun striped fabric that could be for a boy or a girl.

Brown and colorful striped quilting cottons for the teddy bear I made from Simplicity 1681.

Picking out gender neutral baby fabrics is actually pretty tough.

There’s a step in the pattern where you fold in all the limbs and sew on the back of the body. That would have been easier if I had noticed that the directions said to “lightly stuff” the limbs. Opps.

After that, you tuck the head into the neck-hole and sew around the neck to attach the head. I looked at that and thought, there is no freaking way I am managing to sew that on my machine. I am just not that good.

So, I hand back-stitched the head to the body instead. I hope it’s secure enough. This is for a baby after all… but my sister can sew so I’m sure she can fix it if there is a head related mishap. Teddy bear decapitations ruin everyone’s day. (I wrote this before I found out what eventually happened to the bear… I can proudly say the head did not come off.)

Also, working with polar fleece is a dream. I’d never done it before, but it has no grain. It doesn’t ravel and it is pretty resilient to seam ripping. The only problem is that Hancock had a 2 yard minimum on their fabric cuts (since they were closing). Now, I’ve got A LOT of brown fleece. So, much that I could make an army of bears. Since I mostly sew doll clothes and dolls, I don’t know what I’ll do with 1.5 yards of left-over fleece.

Occurrences Of Jack the Seam Ripper:

Just one actually, which was kinda shocking. The first time I tried to embroider the face, I was copying the design on the envelop. It’s cute, but I wasn’t keen on how it looked when I did it.

I am not a smiling stuffed toy kinda girl. (Not shocking to anyone whose seen my paper dolls…)

 

A photograph of the embroidery on the face of my teddy bear head.

My redone face and my messy dining room table where I sew.

So, I tried to take out the embroidery with Jack, but ended up cutting a hole in the fleece. It wasn’t hard to stitch up a new face and try again though.

While I didn’t use Jack much, I did have to actually secure a fair number of things by hand. So, I used my sewing needles and thread more than Jack this time.

A back and front views of Simplicity 1681, a teddy bear pattern designed by Abby Glassenberg.

Here’s my finished bear and look, he has a cute tail. And I really should have given him a once over with the lint roller before photographing him.

Final Thoughts:

Pretty much all my problems came from the small size and my errors- not issues with the pattern design. Despite a few struggles I still ended up with a pretty darn cute bear!

I’d recommend this pattern to others who have never made a bear before. It was a bit more complex than I was expecting, but not absurdly so. That head attachment though… you gotta be kidding me.

I’ll also admit that I judge a good pattern by how much I want to make it again. I don’t think I’m desperate to make another bear, but if there’s a baby shower I need a gift for, a bear would be an easy one. I’m pleased with the results (though he is a little wonky) and I am so glad to get to send him off too my Sister.

You can pick up the pattern direct from Abby Glassenberg or from anywhere Simplicity patterns are sold. I would buy it from Abby, since I did decide I liked her photo directions better than the Simplicity directions.

An Epilogue:

teddy-bear-dog-attack

Poor bear.

So, I wrote up this post, scheduled it and then got a phone call from sister informing me of “horrible news.”

My mind immediately went to family disaster of some sort. Fortunately, no one human was in the hospital.  It turned out that her Sweet Dog and the Other Dog she was house sitting got their paws (or teeth, really) on the bear while she was showering. When she emerged, the dogs had torn up the teddy bear beyond repair.

After I finished laughing at the image of Sweet Dog enjoying the bear and she finished blaming it all on the Other Dog, I promised I would make another bear for her as soon as I could.

So, I guess I’ll be making my second teddy bear much sooner than I thought. Time to go cut some more fleece.

Also, I can safely add to my review that while the teddy bear was enjoyed by the dogs, it did not fair very well structurally, so I would not recommend it as a chew toy.

And Then Everything Changed….

Having run the blog for six years, the time has come for some changes. So, things are going to be shifting around here. Please be patient while I get it all sorted.

Here’s a few things you can expect:

1. Monday’s are now paper doll days!

Every Monday, there will be a free paper doll. Sometimes, it’ll be a Marisole Monday & Friends paper doll. Sometimes it won’t, but every Monday there will be a free paper doll. 

The truth is that the current schedule is NOT sustainable. I have come to realize that. So, I have deciding that going from 76 paper dolls a year to 52 is a logical first step in lowering my stress and maintaining my sanity. 

2. More Diverse Content

One of the things my month long break taught me was that I am simply getting a bit bored with paper dolls.

Now, I want to return to another passion- sewing dolls & doll clothes. So, I am going to use this blog as I used it many years ago to hold myself accountable to my art, I am going to use it to hold myself accountable again to my sewing. 

This  is a strange new journey I’m heading out on. I hope you’ll join me. 

meet_jack

As sewing will be coming to the blog, allow me to introduce: Jack the Seam Ripper. A good friend of mine who will, I suspect, make a lot of appearances here.

3. A New Patreon Scheme

The Patreon system is undergoing some changes. I haven’t got all that sorted, but “watch this space” as they say. 

4. A Continued Commitment to Regular Posting

I have learned so much from running a blog. I have learned, not just about drawing, but about SEO and Social Media and engagement. I have learned wonderful things. I am committed to keeping the blog updating regularly. And that isn’t going to change. 

I am happy to answer questions about these changes if anyone has one.

Hiatus for April

haitus-april-2016

So, as you might have guessed from the graphic, the blog will be in haitus from April 1st until March 2nd. I’m making this annoucement today, not tomorrow (the last day in March), because I know people expect a Wenesday post and I thought more people would see it.

Why a Haitus? You ask.

Well, I’ve been struggling to build up the sort of backlog of paper dolls I really need to maintain the schedule I want to maintain. Futhermore, there’s some complicated things going on in my life both personally and professionally. This will give me a month to work on backlog without having to worry about how I don’t have something ready for Monday or Friday.

It is my hope that the mental space will allow me to experiment with some new things.

When Will I return?

I’ll be back on Monday the 2nd of May with the usual Marisole Monday post.

Any questions or thoughts? Let me know.

You can still, of course, contact me via email at paperthinpersonas@gmail.com.

While you’re waiting for my return, why not check out some of the archives? There’s over 500 pages of paper dolls on the site, so there should be some you’re never seen. The Magnetic & Printable Paper Doll Index breaks them down by subject and theme, or you can just work through the monthly archives. Though the archives start with December 2009, there was no paper doll that month, so might I advise starting with January 2010.