December 14, 2018

2018 in review & my plans for 2019


I haven't been writing a whole lot on my blog this year, but what I would like to continue doing is share how my year went in terms of business. It's nice to have some kind of record on how things are going and maybe it will be of some kind of help to other small online business owners. So let's get to it! What did 2018 bring for The Dutch Lady Designs and what are my hopes and plans for 2019?

Selling on Etsy in 2018

I started selling on Etsy with my two shops there in 2014 (clipart shop & blog/business shop). And it's been a learning curve ever since. From the get go there has been growth in the business, I was slowly selling more and more products each year. This year however that growth on Etsy came to a halt unfortunately. With a little more than two weeks to go in this year I will probably end up with almost the same revenue as I did last year, so it's not like my revenue fell back. It only stopped growing.

I knew there would come a day when I would hit this point. I'm only a one-woman show so to say and there are only so much new products I can create and clients I can tend to on a daily basis. But I'm sure that some circumstances on Etsy also prevented me from growing. Maybe you are selling on Etsy yourself and you've lived through all the changes they made this year, but in short I think what stopped my growth on this selling platform is this:

1. Etsy raised their seller fees in July

This meant that a bigger part of my profit needed to go to Etsy. I waited for a couple of months to see how this affected my revenue before I raised my own prices in November to make up for the raised fees. There were a lot of complaints on Etsy from sellers that were outraged about the raise in seller fees. Of course I didn't like it, but I understand it. And Etsy is still the cheapest platform for me as far as seller fees. I think on average I pay between 10-15% in fees on each transaction I make there, while on some of the platforms I sell the fees are up to 50%!

2. More competition on Etsy

Etsy is still growing. Hundreds of new shops are opened there every day. I read a post this week stating that at this moment in time there are about 1.98 million shops on Etsy. If that is true then the amount of shops almost doubled in about 18 months time. Go figure how many of those shops are selling digital and graphic design like me. It's just getting harder to get noticed in that massive amount of sellers.

3. Too many changes on Etsy

Besides raising seller fees Etsy is still rolling out changes since their new CEO started in the Spring of 2017. Some changes work out well for the visibility of my shops while others probably prohibit it from gaining more traffic. I totally understand that a large company like Etsy needs to keep up with other selling platforms. No change probably means stagnation and they want growth as well. But too much change can scare off buyers in my personal opinion. If you are constantly changing the look and functions of your platform a part of the buyers will lose interest just for the simple reason that the platform becomes less user friendly by changing every few weeks. I really hope that Etsy will reach a more stable phase in 2019. People are getting tired of all these changes.

Selling on other marketplaces in 2018

Last year, in 2017, I had already opened shops on Creative Market and The Hungry JPEG, two selling platforms for digital/graphic designers. Both these platforms take a 30% fee, so they are much more expensive for me than Etsy. But even with these high fees I'm making a nice side profit from these platforms. I added more products to these platforms this year and I managed to grow my revenue there by over 400%! That's awesome!

I also was approached by two other digital design platforms this Summer with the request to sell my products on there as well. So I have opened shops on Design/Font Bundles and on Creative Fabrica. The revenue I receive from these platforms is nowhere near what I get from Etsy on a monthly basis, and the fees on these platforms go up to 50% per transaction, but my motto is: every penny counts! And you've got to give it time to grow.

The fact that I am now selling on 4 other platforms outside of Etsy is going to result in a higher total revenue for my business this year compared to last year. Even though I did not grow on Etsy this year, I made growth elsewhere. So it's always a wise thing to not put all your eggs in one basket.

My business plans for 2019

In 2019 my business will hopefully celebrate its 5th anniversary! Who would have thought? I just started with the idea: we'll see what comes out of it. And something did come out of it! I am now making a serious monthly contribution to our family's finances and I am doing what I love to do. So all the more reason to keep growing right? Well, I might take a different approach this upcoming year...

I love my work, no doubt about it. I often have so many ideas for new products and services and I'm 'in the zone' when I open my design software and get to be creative. But, just as with everything in life, there is a downside to this as well. And that is that I spend a lot of time on my ass in a chair staring at my laptop screen. This is healthy for my wallet, my creative outlet but not so much for my body. My eyes started to deteriorate this year, probably from all that screen time, and I just came out of my first episode of the flu since over 20 years, so my immune system could use a boost as well.

That is why I decided to not make any business plans for 2019. I'm sure I will be creating some new products and helping new clients with customized items, but other than that I am going to rely on the products and services I am already offering. I have over 600 products on Etsy right now and about 275 products on each of the other platforms. That should hopefully be enough to keep selling for another year.

In 2019 the focus will not be as much on my business, but more on my personal health and growth. The plan is to have a lot more screen free time and spend more time outdoors and being active. The digital world is interesting and feeds my creative outlet, but it also sucks me in. It's time to let go more and realize that there is more to life than a screen. Hopefully in December 2019 I will be able to let you know how it all worked out!




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October 24, 2018

Adding a Pinterest Board Widget to the Blogger sidebar


I have been selling premade Blogger templates for over four years now. The templates that are currently available in my shop all have a styled Instagram feed widget, either in the sidebar or at the bottom of the layout. I often get questions from customers if I can add a styled Pinterest widget as well, but I have to disappoint them at this time.

In the past my templates did have a styled Pinterest widget, but earlier this year Google deprecated an API feed tool which was used to create these kind of custom widgets. A lot of designers saw themselves faced with a big problem: without this tool their widgets stopped working and that disappointed a lot of customers.
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September 27, 2018

Sharing is Caring - Episode 3 - Free Printable Weekday Planner


On the cork board in my kitchen I have a monthly planner so that I have an overview of all the appointments for our family in a particular month. I like monthly planners, because when I still was using a weekly planner only, I often got unpleasantly surprised when I turned the pages and found out I had more to do in the upcoming week than I thought. The monthly overview gives me a better impression of what's coming up.

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September 25, 2018

A new look for the website


Maybe you've noticed it already, especially when you visited the homepage, but The Dutch Lady Designs has a new website layout. And surprisingly enough it is not one of my own Blogger templates.

It was time for something really new and therefore I decided to go with a template from Pipdig. I worked with a template from this UK based design company before for my Wordpress blog and while I did not fall in love with the whole Wordpress thing, I got smitten with the template I was using. So I have purchased the same template I was using on Wordpress, but this one is made for Blogger.

The homepage is really the eyecatcher here and I had been looking to add some kind of a 'landing page' to my blog that would display a grid of the latest post images. With Blogger you just don't see that many well working templates that have this feature. But this one has and I'm so happy with it! The installation instructions that come with the template are very clear, but Pipdig even allows you to use their free installation service if you wish. The templates are a bit pricier than the premade Blogger templates you will find on Etsy, but sometimes it is just worth it to invest a little more in your blog and business.

Of course this new look will probably result in some emails from people with the request if I can design a similar blog for them with the landing page and photo grid. But I have to disappoint you all here. The fact that I sell premade Blogger templates does not mean that I am a brilliant web designer that can bring any idea to life in the virtual world. I am a graphic designer that knows enough about website coding that I can make a simple, basic Blogger template work.

In my premade designs the emphasis is on the (watercolor) graphics that are blended into the design to give an elegant, feminine look. The templates work very well, but are mainly targeted at women that want to write blog stories in the first place. The templates have a basic framework to which I add style features. You can see the framework of a website as a dressboy. I use the same dressboy for all my Blogger templates, but hang different clothes on each one to style them different ;-) In order to add a landing page or a slider that skeleton would have to be changed in a big way, and that is just not my forte.

So if you are looking for a Blogger template that can do a bit more than only show stories on the homepage, you might want to check out Pipdig, I highly recommend them. And welcome to the new looking The Dutch Lady Designs! It's always a pleasure to have you here.


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September 21, 2018

How to add a Goodreads widget to your Blogger sidebar


With the smell of Autumn in the air lots of people like to spend more time crawled up on their couch with a good book in hand. I love to read myself, although I'm not a very fast reader. I think my life will be too short to read every book that is on my wish-to-read list since that list keeps growing every day, especially since I signed up to Goodreads.

Through my work of selling premade Blogger templates I found out how big the book loving community amongst bloggers actually is. It is huge! And through these dedicated booklovers and bloggers I got familiar with Goodreads, a social platform for book addicts.

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September 20, 2018

How to choose the right font for your logo


I recently got a message from one of my clients that bought a premade logo design from me for her photography business. She actually bought my best selling design and was in love with the font type. But when she started to use the logo on her photos she found out that the very thin, elegant font she fell in love with was not working out for her. She asked me for advice on what to do. We looked at other font options but finally she decided she wanted to stick with the thin font because she liked it so much. I was able to give her tips on how to make the logo stand out more on her photos so that the logo wasn't only beautiful but also practical. And that got me thinking about writing a post about the subject of selecting the right font type for your logo. There are some things you want to think about before purchasing a premade or a custom made logo design.

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September 10, 2018

My personal thoughts on influencers


For a person that creates blog templates herself I'm actually quite a digital fossil. Especially when it comes to social media I'm still living under a rock. The whole thing is just not my cup of tea so to speak. It could be my age, but it's probably more a personality trait. I find social media to be really overwhelming. That's why you won't find me on Facebook or Twitter, but I have a personal account on Instagram. The account is more for myself, to play with photography, and just collect some visual memories. If people like to follow along, please feel welcome, but I personally don't care if I have 5 followers or 5000.
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September 6, 2018

Sharing is Caring - Episode 2 - Free Watercolor Dot Clipart


Time for a little sharing the love! Today I'm sharing a set of 4 watercolor circle images that can be used for all kinds of projects. Since we're heading into Fall I have given them colors that remind me of the beginning of that season. When the yellow of Summer can still be found, but when browns and purples are making their entrance.
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September 4, 2018

My struggle with custom design work


Summer was long and hot over here in the Netherlands. The heat and the enormous amounts of sunshine did great things for my tomato plants in the backyard, but they also diminished my desire to get behind the computer and write blog posts. But with Fall slowly making it's presence known I got some new inspiration again for blog articles. One thing that has been on my mind for a while is how I struggle with custom design work. While this blog post is going to be about my personal experience with it, it might help other business owners to decide whether or not they want to offer custom services or not. Here's my personal take on things.
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July 7, 2018

Is it time to refresh your blog?


About once a year, I go over all the premade Blogger templates that I sell in my Etsy shop to 'refresh' them. I decide if I want to continue selling a particular template and if it stays in the shop I make small alterations to the template to keep it up to date. Digital and electronic products change so fast these days, and while we mostly think of our smart phones, tablets and TVs, it is a good idea to check every now and then if our blogs and websites are still meeting our needs and today's requirements.
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April 2, 2018

Sharing is caring - Episode 1 - Free Daily Planner


I think the last time I shared a freebie with my readers was more than a year ago. Now, in 2018, I think it's about time to blow some new life into the freebie section, so I came up with a new blog posts series: Sharing is Caring. I am not going to use a certain day of the week for sharing a freebie, but I will share one when I feel like it and have the inspiration to create one. In this first episode of Sharing is Caring I am sharing a printable day planner.
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March 29, 2018

Branding your business - start with your wallet!


Did you know that most of the blog articles I write are inspired by every day life and business events? It's the real situations that I encounter with my business or with clients that motivate me to talk about a certain subject. And it is no different for this blog post. After offering custom designs again and working with a few clients recently I found my subject for today: where to start the branding of your business when you are just starting out. So let's find out!

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March 9, 2018

Accepting Clients For Custom Design Work Again


'Can you design a custom logo for me?' It's the question that I get most, either through this website or through my Etsy shop. And over the last year I unfortunately had to turn every request down. Due to a lack of time and just not feeling the vibe to design for other people. But times change, and with the start of a new Spring season I seem to be ready for some new adventures as well. So if you are in need of a custom design, then please continue reading!
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February 2, 2018

An understandable review on Web hosting services - a must read for the beginning blogger


Remember the short Wordpress series I wrote a while back? In this series of four blog posts I wrote about my personal experiences with starting a self hosted Wordpress blog using Bluehost as my web hosting service. I was bluntly honest in my opinion of the hosting services Bluehost provided, resulting in quitting my blog on Wordpress even before the year (that I paid for in full up front) was over. So Bluehost was out of the window, but then what? To which web hosting service do you turn when you really want a self hosted Wordpress blog or other self hosted website? The answer came in an email...
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