January 2, 2020

The Dutch Lady Designs - Business Happenings 2019

A happy New Year to all my readers! I hope that 2020 will be filled with joy, love, laughter and health for you and your loved ones and that it will also be a year full of creative inspiration! I usually look back on another year in business in December, but as it happens, I did not have time for it then so I thought I would kick of the new year on my blog The Dutch Lady business happenings 2019. So let's see what it brought me, which decisions I took and what the plans for 2020 will be.


After being in business as a small graphic design company since February 2014 I can definitely say that as far as revenue goes, 2019 was the bomb! My business was still growing this year and it showed in the financial numbers. Of course that is very exciting and I am ever so grateful for it, but I have to say that the biggest part of that revenue was made in the first half year. This means that in the last six month something happened that stopped that growth. More on that in the next paragraph. Despite the decline in growth in the second half, I am still very happy with the results and I will do my best to keep it up in 2020.


As many of you know I started out selling my products first on Etsy, opening both my Etsy stores in 2014. One store was dedicated to clipart and printable papers and the other one started out as a blog and logo store. While my clipart shop did very well in 2019, the other one was giving me a hard time. Visits and views were down resulting in less sales and revenue and customers seemed to be getting more demanding.

From what I understood from Etsy's company results the platform itself was making a bigger profit and attracting more buyers, but the competition on Etsy also went up. I heard there are now around 2.5 million Etsy shops, so it gets harder to stand out in the crowd. Other complaints amongst Etsy sellers were the pushing of free shipping of products, allowing shops with mass produced items from Asia and introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their search system.

While the free shipping subject does not affect me since I sell digital items I can see how the other two do. With introducing mass produced items on their site Etsy is becoming more like Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay. It's not the platform it used to be where artists and creatives could sell their own handmade (physical or digital) products. A platform where one could find one-of-a-kind items made with love. Sellers that still offer these kind of products have a hard time competing with sellers that sell a similar mass produced product for a much lower price. While I do not have to compete with mass produce item shops I think that the direction Etsy is going in is starting to attract another kind of customer, and that is definitely affecting me as well.

In an effort to improve their search system, Etsy introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their search algorithm. You would think that would improve things, but so far it has done the opposite. They did admit that things were not working perfect and they are still working on it, but these kind of changes have an affect on business, and for a lot of sellers that meant less views and visits from potential customers.


To be honest, Etsy was not entirely to blame for the lack of revenue growth in the second half of the year. I myself made a decision that immediately had an impact on my revenue. After thinking long and hard about it I decided halfway through the year to stop selling my Blogger Templates and just this last November I also stopped selling logo designs. It were hard decisions, since both products were selling really well and I knew I would disappoint a lot of my clients, but it's not only revenue that creates business success and joy for me. So let me explain my decisions.

When you sell blog or website layouts people automatically assume that you know every in and out of web design and coding. I am first and foremost a graphic designer, not a web designer. The features that clients were asking to have incorporated in my premade templates were just too much for me to create. Couple that with some big changes that Google was making that directly affected my Blogger templates and my mind was made up. In my opinion I was no longer able to give my clients the kind of product and advice to deliver a superb service. So in June I took all Blogger templates out of the shop and continued selling logos and Adobe Photoshop templates.

In November I had to make another big decision. I decided it was time to let go of logo design. The competition for logo design on Etsy is huge, resulting in designers selling their designs for only a few dollars just to get a sale or be noticed. I sold my premade logo designs for 15 Euros (around 16/17 US Dollars) and I still was able to attract quite a bit of clients, but people were becoming more and more demanding. Maybe due to the fact that nowadays you can find almost anything on Etsy for a couple of bucks.

Customers were often expecting me to customize my premade designs for them without paying extra for the customizations. In the end it just wasn't worth my time and energy anymore. I really felt bad for the nice customers that did respect my time and effort and came back time and time again for all kinds of design projects, but I just had to pull the plug. So with pulling the plug my logo revenue also went down the drain. But for me, happiness and joy in what I do is more important than revenue. Sometimes you just have to take decisions that drain the bank just to stop yourself from getting drained.


Luckily for me I also got the opportunity to expand my business on other selling platforms. I was already selling on Etsy, Creative Market, The Hungry JPEG, Design Bundles & Creative Fabrica, but in 2019 I started shops on three other venues as well:


These platforms are all pretty new, so the revenue from them is not that much yet, but things need time to grow. So I see my contribution to these platforms as an investment for the future. And speaking about investments: Lady Boss Biz Boutique donates 5% of every sale to Women's Charities. Giving girls and women in all parts of this world a chance to grow. I think that's just awesome!


With pulling the plug on Blogger templates and logo design the main focus for my business this year will be clipart, paper & background design and Adobe Photoshop templates for photographers and other creatives. I will be working on a lot of new designs and I hope to join at least one new platform in 2020 to sell my products. All my products will be premade designs and instant download items, I will no longer be available for custom design projects. But even with these changes I hope to make a lot of people happy with my designs!

Have a crazy creative 2020 and thanks for being a reader of my blog, it is much appreciated!

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