Showing posts with label year in review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label year in review. Show all posts

The Chilly Dog - 2016 Highlights


I can hardly believe that it has been five years since I started my crafty, blogging, business adventure! This year has been filled with a lot of ups, downs and lessons learned.

The ups...

When I started my business in 2011, my plan was to sell handmade items that I had created. I did not envision myself as a pattern designer, but that is what I have become. I will sell my 350th knit/crochet pattern by the end of the year!

And the blog has really taken off. In July I had my 1 MILLIONTH all time pageview. This year the blog is averaging over 2000 pageviews daily and will likely top out with nearly 800,000 pageviews for the year. To me this shows that if you create quality content, readers will eventually find you. 

The downs...

Even though it was not my primary focus, the online shop where I was selling my handmade items was actually starting to take off this year. Unfortunately, in early November, my web-host discontinued service without notifying sellers and my virtual shop was simply gone. It was basically the equivalent of having a brick and mortar shop burn down. I'm trying to look on the bright side, though. This was my sign from the universe that it's time to stop selling physical items and focus completely on writing.

The lessons learned...

1. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

The online marketplace is constantly changing, so it's a good idea to sell on multiple platforms. That's why I sell patterns on Craftsy, Ravelry and Etsy.

2. Not all social media is created equal.

Since Facebook began throttling how many people see posts created by business pages, my posts there no longer drive much traffic to my blog and shops. This year I had to take a hard look at which social media platforms are used by my target audience and which platforms could be used to reach a new audience. If you want to connect with me online, you'll find me most on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, and less often on Facebook and Twitter.

3. Self-publishing a book is the easy part, selling the book is harder.

Over the summer I compiled my first 30 knitting patterns into e-book form. It took me about two months to write and edit the book and file the necessary copyright protection paperwork. The Chilly Dog's Big Book of Knit Patterns is 118 pages of knitting goodness and is available for purchase and instant downloadable on Craftsy, Ravelry and Etsy. I haven't sold a copy yet, but I am confident that it will happen.

So what's coming in 2017?

On the blog I'll be starting off the year with a new Crafty Saturday Show and Sell link-up (although it may have a new name) to support other artists, crafters and small businesses.

In January I'm collaborating with Clover USA to bring you a fun giveaway and a series of tutorials using their oval knitting loom.

And of course I have a number of knit and crochet patterns that I am currently designing which will be added to my shops throughout the year for your yarn crafting pleasure.

And finally, my guiding principle...

I love to craft and learn new skills that I can incorporate into my creations. I take great pride in my work. Crafting often requires patience and attention to detail but with practice (and maybe some guidance and encouragement) everyone has the capacity to make crafting a relaxing and enjoyable part of their life.

The Chilly Dog is my place to share my crafting experiences, expertise and inspirations and I hope to guide, encourage and promote others in their creative endeavors because happiness is handmade!




The Chilly Dog - 2015 Highlights

It's hard to believe that The Chilly Dog turned four this month. Of course, I'm not a millionaire yet, but I am finally feeling pretty comfortable navigating the world of blogging, social media and selling patterns and handmade items online.

Now that I finally have some experience on my side, this was the year to take a hard look at what's working and what's not so I can make better use of my time and money.

Let's start with the shop - When I opened my shop on Etsy in 2011, I was so excited to find a venue where I fit in. Etsy was inexpensive, easy to use and filled with other hobbyists building small businesses. Then Etsy went public, changed their policies, and welcomed manufacturers and wholesalers with open wallets arms.

While there are still many wonderful artists and vintage enthusiasts selling on Etsy, I felt the changes made my shop virtually invisible, so I decided to try a different marketplace, Storenvy. Shortly after opening my shop, Storenvy raised their commission rate from $0 to a whopping 15%. Realistically, I can't raise my prices 15% to cover that cost, so in July I took the plunge and left both marketplaces to sell patterns and physical items in my own, virtual shop, shop.thechillydog.com.

Happily, the two other places where I sell my knit and crochet patterns, Ravelry and Craftsy, have kept their commission rates remarkably low and sales there have been fairly steady all year.

On the blog I continue to share my crafting adventures and I have lots of wonderful readers. By the numbers, The Chilly Dog averages about 800 pageviews a day, topping out at over 300,000 pageviews in the last 12 months. This is my 134th post of the year with 62 of those being free tutorials and patterns and tips for bloggers and small businesses.

My followers on social media are encouraging and supportive. Earlier this year I created a plan for posting quality content on each of my social media platforms. The plan is working because I am up to 670 followers on Facebook, 480 followers on Twitter, 388 followers on Google+ and 109 followers on Instagram. Those numbers may seem low compared to similarly sized blogs, but I am very proud of the fact that my followers are very engaged and regularly like, comment and share my social media posts. You guys are awesome :)

I know that growing a small handmade business is hard work, so I continue to promote others. However, two projects that I thought would only take a few minutes each day gradually began consuming large amounts of my time.

The first project was my second blog, Create Happy Crafts. My goal was to spend 10 minutes per day writing a brief post featuring another blogger's tutorial and another 5 minutes promoting the post on social media. The plan seemed reasonable enough, but my time estimates were remarkably low. The blog wasn't growing despite the fact that I was putting a lot of time and energy into it. With a heavy heart, I decided to call it quits.

The second project was my weekly link-up, Crafty Saturday Show and Sell, where artists and crafters can share handmade items from their online shops. Again, I thought this would only take a few minutes a week to set-up and promote. Again, my time estimate was low, so I adjusted the process and made the link-up an ongoing event instead of weekly. That way I can focus my time on better promoting a few of the shared items each week.

So what's ahead for The Chilly Dog? I'm already planning for new tutorials, new crafty topics and more featured artists in 2016. I am also in the process of re-evaluating the advertising options I use to monetize my blog so they better align with my content and are more valuable to my wonderful readers.

And finally, my guiding principle... 

I love to craft and learn new skills that I can incorporate into my creations. I take great pride in my work. Crafting often requires patience and attention to detail but with practice (and maybe some guidance and encouragement) everyone has the capacity to make crafting a relaxing and enjoyable part of their life.

The Chilly Dog is my place to share my crafting experiences, expertise and inspirations and I hope to guide, encourage and promote others in their creative endeavors. Create Happiness. Expect Excellence.



The Chilly Dog - 2014 Highlights

When I started The Chilly Dog three years ago, my business plan was to start selling my handmade items on Etsy and blog occasionally to promote my shop and share some crafty inspiration. I don't know exactly how or when it happened, but during that time my focus has clearly shifted from item production and sales to blogging.

I try not to obsess over my statistics, but based on the numbers, The Chilly Dog continues to gain popularity with over 265,000 page views this year. I strive to create quality craft-related content and wrote 170 posts that included 59 original patterns and tutorials in 2014. Additionally, I have invested time in improving my social media skills to promote crafters and crafting. You can find, follow and like @thechillydog on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest and Wanelo.

Although most of my blog posts are about my experiences and projects, I enjoy sharing stories about other artists and crafters from around the world. I am inspired by the similarities between artists no matter where they are from or what they create. I try to promote one featured artist each month. This year I introduced my readers to:


I also began hosting a weekly link party called Crafty Saturday Show and Sell. It's a free place for artists to promote items from their online shops and a great place for shoppers to find one of a kind handmade gifts. I typically choose at least two favorite items from each week's link-up to promote on my Facebook, Twitter and Wanelo.


In addition to The Chilly Dog, this year I started a second blog called Create Happy Crafts. It's a collection of printables, patterns and tutorials created by other talented craft bloggers. This year I was able to feature over 180 projects from about 70 different blogs.

Of course, the next logical step was to create my own Create Happy Crafts Google+ Community. It's open to all crafters and craft lovers and you can share your crafty projects, patterns and blog posts, promote handmade items for sale, or even ask craft related questions and get help from the community's 700+ members.

One of my favorite parts about the blogosphere is collaborating with other creative people. Last summer I had the opportunity to be a Tombow Guest Designer and participate in a blog hop with their fabulous design team. In the fall I collaborated with Teena, from Serendipitini, and Sherri, from About Family Crafts, for a Paper Craft Challenge. We each created projects using repurposed paper as the primary material and came up with three very unique designs. In February 2015, I'll be sharing a Valentine project when I participate in Emma Owl's "Month of Love."

These collaborations inspired me to host a 2015 Craft-a-Month Challenge on Create Happy Crafts. Each month there will be a different theme or featured material and bloggers are welcome to link any projects that fit the monthly theme. I think it will be exciting to see all the different ideas that people come up with.

Of course, I haven't given up on my shop(s). Unfortunately, due to the many disappointing changes made by Etsy in 2014, I have decided to downsize my Etsy shop and only sell digital downloads of my knit and crochet patterns. I have moved my complete handmade inventory to my new Storenvy shop.

And finally, my guiding principle...

I love to craft and learn new skills that I can incorporate into my creations. I take great pride in my work. Crafting often requires patience and attention to detail but with practice (and maybe some guidance and encouragement) everyone has the capacity to make crafting a relaxing and enjoyable part of their life.

The Chilly Dog is my place to share my crafting experiences, expertise and inspirations and I hope to guide, encourage and promote others in their creative endeavors.

Create Happiness. Expect Excellence.




10 Sites Where You Should Submit Your Craft Projects and Tutorials

10 craft blogs and web sites where you should submit your projects, patterns, tips and tutorials to increase your audience and get more traffic and visitors for your blog.I've watched it happen to one blogger after another but have been in complete denial that it would ever happen to me...


When I started blogging, I was barely able to post once a week. I didn't really know what to write about. Taking photos and editing them took forever. I was unsure that I even had a story worth telling. Now, almost two and a half years later I am regularly posting 3-4 times a week and I have a lot more confidence in the value of my topics, photography skills and writing ability.

It's exciting to know that  thousands of readers visit The Chilly Dog every single day. That would not have happened without the help of some other blogs and websites who have featured my work. Take a look in the sidebar under the heading "I Was Featured On." I can not tell you how much I appreciate these sites for promoting my work and sending visitors my way.

What's the next step? Starting a second blog, of course.

I recognize that there are a lot of other talented craft bloggers out there and want to help promote them as their blogs grow. So, I have started a second blog. It's called Create Happy Crafts. Each day I'll be sharing clever, fun new projects, patterns, tips and tutorials that are submitted by some pretty cool crafters.

I hope you'll stop by and check out the incredible projects that have already been submitted and maybe even share one or two of your own.

10 sites where you should submit your craft tutorials 

Here are ten sites that are filled with quality crafting projects. You can look for inspiration and submit projects from your blog!



Happy crafting!





The Chilly Dog - 2013 Highlights

This was a big year for me personally because I quit my day job. Instead of just blogging for fun now and then, blogging is my primary focus. That being said, I could not have made this change without my husband's unconditional support and encouragement. I seriously can not thank him enough for this opportunity. 

The one thing I am most proud of with my blog is that I create original content. I blog about the projects that I am actually working on and the products I like to use. This year I had 186 posts including 50 tutorials, 14 patterns and even a few recipes.


I like to support and encourage other professional crafters, artists and creative people. I have featured interviews or tutorials by six other creative ladies on my blog this year. I also spotlight one Etsy treasury each week in my Fun Find Friday post. In 2014, I plan on hosting regular link parties where Etsy artisans can submit items in their shop to help gain exposure for their work.

I'm building relationships with crafters of all skill levels. I reach out to every Etsy artisan who is included in my Fun Find Friday posts. I have also decided it's important to personally respond to each comment left by others because I appreciate when people tell me they like a particular project and hope to help if someone has a question.

I had over 9 times more page views in 2013 than in 2012. My personal goal, at the beginning of the year, was a 500% increase in page views, so I am very excited that I exceeded my goal. It didn't happen by accident. I'm getting better at promoting my blog by submitting tutorials to other crafty sites and have improved my search engine optimization practices.

My top 10 referring sites were quite varied. Of course much of my traffic comes from Google, Facebook and Pinterest, but I also had a substantial number of visitors who found me through, Craftgawker, Totally Tutorials, Ravelry, Tangled Happy, Knitting Paradise, Creativita Organizzata and I Share Crafts. Thank you for sharing links to my blog!

I finally own my domain name. I made a rookie mistake when I started blogging and didn't search the availability of the domain name I wanted and it was owned by another business. When it became available a few months ago I didn't hesitate to purchase it. Now, if you look up in the address bar, you will notice it says http://www.thechillydog.com instead of http://thechillydog.blogspot.com.

My guiding principle...

I love to craft and learn new skills that I can incorporate into my creations. I take great pride in my work. Crafting often requires patience and attention to detail but with practice (and maybe some guidance and encouragement) everyone has the capacity to make crafting a relaxing and enjoyable part of their life.

The Chilly Dog is my place to share my crafting experiences, expertise and inspirations and I hope to guide, encourage and promote others in their creative endeavors.

Create Happiness. Expect Excellence.

Finally, my favorite projects from 2013.



Happy New Year!