Hiatus Until June 25th

All right, I thought I would clear the end of the fiscal year without too much trouble, but travel and work has reared it’s head, so I am pausing things here to build up a strong buffer of content to coast (I hope) though the rest of the year.

There will be updates on my Patreon page while I work on this. Some public, some Patrons only.

As always, thank you so much for all your support.

– Rachel

The Future… Meet the New Series

In 2009, something horrible and magnificent happened- I crashed my entire blog.

I didn’t have a great backup and I didn’t know that I had a friend (he was just an acquaintance then) who could have probably fixed it.

It was simitaniously horrible and completely liberating. Freed of the constraints of what I had done before, I started fresh with a new format, new layouts, new everything.

Lately, I have felt a great deal of blog ennui. Since I haven’t crashed the entire site (thank goodness), I don’t have any kick in the pants to change things.

A week ago, a dear friend said to me: If you could do anything with the blog, what would you do?

It took only an instant to know the answer: Update daily and only have one paper doll series.

And then I gave all the reasons I couldn’t do that: Marisole Monday is my most popular series. B&B is my only curvy series… I have a million reasons.

But the reason I should do it was also utterly clear- It excited me.

Ever since I made the decision, I have been working with the sort of manic delight that I haven’t felt about creating paper dolls in at least a year or more. Last time I really remember feeling it was when I was researching vikings for my Viking paper doll.

I spent all of Saturday sketching and erasing and scanning and fixing. I called my mom and asked what she thought of various names for the new series.

I lost track of time and stayed up far to late working on shoes and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu.

In short, I felt delight and delight is why I have this hobby to begin with.

Every Thursday until the end of the year, I will share updates about where and how this is going. I will keep you all as much in the loop as I can. Until then, I hope you can share my excitement as I close the door on one period of the blog’s life and open it to another one.

Here’s the two previews to share:

The templates I sketched in my notepad. On the left, many many drafts of the guys. I confess I am still not great at drawing guys. On the right are the ladies.

The base dolls of the new series whose name will probably be Dames and Dandies. The gents on the left and the two lady poses on the right. I will share more next week.

Let me know what you think in a comment.

P.S: I am currently working on updating my theme. Please forgive me while things look a little messy and strange around here. 🙂

Hiatus Until December 11th

Hello all. So, I will be on a break until December 11th when my semester ends. AsS some of you might remember, along with being a full time librarian, I am also getting an additional Master’s Degree in Education.

It’s final project crunch time at my school and so I am focusing on school work right now.

(Plus, Wednesday’s paper doll was literally the LAST thing I had finished and ready to go.)

I shall return on the 11th, full of vim, vigor and paper dolls I hope.

Until then, I hope everyone has a great first week of December.

Best,

– Rachel

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

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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.

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