This business is constantly changing. Social media shifts, tastes shift, technology shifts. I'm constantly having to re-evaluate what needs to be done to keep you all buying my patterns and to keep the pennies rolling in. I'm not the most business minded of people; I find that side of things stressful and difficult, and I'm rather cynical of certain business practices. That said, I have to work at it. There's been a lot of talk through various blogs and forums of late, discussing pattern prices and designer wages, and it's no secret that none of us in this business are getting rich.
Whilst I'm only a one-person business and don't have wages to pay, this income is my family's only income, and as I've hinted at before, that responsibility weighs heavily. There's no security net from a partner's wage, or any other financial support. Whilst we haven't been flat broke this summer, we have been living pretty much hand to mouth. I know why business has been slower, or at least how life over the last 18 months has impacted business, and I'm keen to pick things up and get designing again and sharing more positive news. The harsh reality that if I don't earn we don't eat means I have to, but I do also want to, for my own self worth - I have to climb out of my black hole somehow. It's a bit of a vicious circle, really.
When you absolutely rely on your income to feed your family you find that you have to make different choices, especially when there's only one of you running the business. Simplicity is key for me, rather than lots of fingers in lots of pies. I don't work well by spreading myself too thinly or by having too many different aspects to focus on. Diversification is good, but only if you can manage it, in terms of time, health and personality.
The pattern and book reformatting isn't going as quickly as I'd hoped, but that's not really surprising given that mine and Aran's health this year has been so poor. But it's getting there, and that's one big change that I think will have many benefits all round. Streamlining has become essential, as there's only so much I can manage and there just isn't the budget to out source many of these things. I'm looking forward to the freedom this leaner business model will give me, creatively, and getting the reformatting finished is top of my list this season.
The next step is pattern prices. Your support on this is greatly appreciated, and patterns will go up once the new website is launched, which I expect will happen in the next couple of months. The eBooks will go up to, but that won't be a big jump, just a reflection of the overall pattern increases. People have been suggesting to me for some time to put my prices up and I've been reluctant to, for many reasons. I had a long ramble about it on a previous blog post, but needless to say I think if I want to move forward and continue to earn something close to a living wage, and keep my business afloat, I have to. In terms of the industry, I think it's important that knitting patterns are seen as something viable in themselves, and not just as a tool to sell yarn, and price is one way to reflect that. At the end of the day, the cost of editing and photography and general pattern production costs have gone up, and swallowing those costs isn't possible any more.
With the new website, we've the chance to implement certain features, and this is something I'd like your feedback on, if that's OK. What sort of things do you feel are missing from my current site? What would you like to see change?
The things we're currently aiming for are:
- Mobile friendly layout. Squarespace 6 has this inbuilt, which is the main reason we're rebuilding and moving from SS5!
- Ability to link to other social network sites, specifically Pinterest and Facebook. I've buttons in the sidebar here, but they don't seem to be sufficient?
- Photo galleries - we're working on slideshow options on the pattern page(s) so that you can see all images more clearly, including the pattern cover. That's one thing that I'm keen to change, as the photography side of things has become such a big part of it all, and having the extra photos, especially on different models, makes a difference.
- Prices in ££ here and $$ on Ravelry. This is easily done with the publisher account set up, and it won't affect your ability to save to your Rav library or receive updates. It's a bit of a hassle this end, as each new pattern or update will need to be done twice, but I think having the option to buy in more than one currency is a benefit.
- Sorting out the tutorials into technique groups. Not a biggy, but those pages do need tidying. They will remain as PDFs, but should our internet ever improve, I'd like to add some additional video support (but that's an IF... we just don't have the bandwidth right now)
- There has always been a plan to move the print side of things over to Magcloud, but as print provides only 5%, it's at the bottom of the list. It's not possible to add a Magcloud cart to the site in the same way you can a digital Rav cart, but the plan is to link to where you can buy the patterns and books. The print side of things is also for wholesale, which is something I'll cover more another time.
Can you think of anything else to add to this list? This is what we'll be focusing our efforts on over the coming weeks, alternating it with pattern reformatting. I'm keen to get going and get all of this out there!
Currently I'm feeling a mix of excitement at the new season, and getting all of these changes implemented, but also panic, as the season is slow to start, and worry inevitably takes over. It's back to that responsibility thing, and my black dog knocking me, but I'm hoping to overcome that by looking forward and talking things through. I've got to keep looking ahead.