I look at broad sales figures every month, but I only break things down item by item twice a year. I’d love to do it more often, but the only way I can run a sales report is to get every single transaction item by item and then compile the numbers. It takes a TON of time. As in – I ran that Paypal report on July 1 and I’m just now finished breaking it all down. Sheesh! It’s been a busy summer, but still.
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the results with you. I love charts and graphs and spreadsheets. For this information and the way I want to look at it, a pie chart is the best.
I use this free graph-creator I found online. It’s for kids and it’s the best one I’ve found.
That number in parentheses after each category tells you how many patterns I have in that category.
I have multiple sketchbooks full of ideas for things I want to make. I’m never stumped for an idea. For me the challenge is deciding which idea is best for me and my business.
I’ve also been feeling like my shop is a little cluttered lately. Like maybe I have too many patterns, and some of the best ones are being overshadowed by some that are much slower sellers.
So I wanted to look at a couple of things with this information. Which categories sell best? Which specific patterns sell best? I also want to know which categories and patterns aren’t “pulling their weight.”
Obviously my bestselling category. And when I look at the specifics, the applique patterns are outselling the pieced patterns by a HUGE margin. Yay! Those are my favorites to create.
I have 19 total patterns (that sold at least one copy) in this category, but a lot of those are applique patterns for individual blocks which sell almost not at all. I really only have 11 quilt patterns – so this is a place I might do some trimming.
This one is my second best, with about 20% of my sales. But it takes 51 patterns to get there!
50% of the sales in this category come from the top 10 patterns. Of those. . .
- 4 are fat fleece Cuddle-Club-style softies
- 5 are Dress Up Bunch patterns
- the last is the Mischief of Mice pattern.
The bestseller was Bertie Bunny. That makes sense since Easter fell in this time period and he’s new and has incredibly cute, kissable toes.
All of the bestsellers are toys. (Yay again! Those are my favorites!) You have to get down to #26 in the list before you hit the first non-toy pattern (the Get to Work Apron). I decided last year I would pretty much stop designing any non-toy sewing patterns (unless it’s something I’m really excited about), and that decision definitely stands.
I combined these here because they’re the only physical products I sell and that makes me have to look at them a different way. Tools & Supplies account for about 18% of my sales, with Kits (a new category) accounting for another 4%.
I had barely gotten started with kits at this point (I’ve added several new ones since June) and they’re off to a strong start. Strong enough that I’m continuing to add more.
One thing I always have to remember with this category is that it costs me a lot. I have to buy the materials, packing and shipping supplies, and it takes me time to prepare the kits, pack the orders, print postage and run to the post office.
This is also a category where I never go looking for new items. I only sell items that I actually use in my own work, and I decide to add new items when I hear from you all that you can’t find a certain tool or supply that I recommend.
These two clubs are the most exciting additions to my shop this year, and I’m thrilled that they’re doing so well! They’re so much fun! The Cuddle Club accounts for about 10% of sales, and Party Animals for about 8%.
Like the last categories, these cost a lot of money for me. But the way I have the ordering set up (with a window of time after sign-ups cut off so I can order just the supplies I need) helps keep that under control. I love packing up the kits and sending them out, knowing that soon a BUNCH of people are going to get a surprise in their mailboxes.
I’ll definitely be continuing these next year. I’m already planning a new Cuddle Club body type for the next Cuddle Club mailing, and I’m starting to brainstorm themes for a new batch of Party Animals next year. Jo suggested a play date instead of a party, with mama and baby animals. We’ll see!
I’m also planning to add an applique quilt block-of-the month next year, with kit materials available. (I have SO MANY REQUESTS about where I buy my fabric!) and I’m thinking of adding a Dress Up Bunch Club too. More on that as the end of the year approaches.
Felt Patterns and Embroidery Patterns
Here’s another interesting pair of categories. I’m including them here together for a reason – because I think felt patterns are what my embroidery patterns are morphing into.
Felt patterns account for about 5% of sales, with just 11 patterns available. Embroidery patterns account for 4% of sales, with a whopping 41 patterns!
My #1 bestselling embroidery pattern (Rainbow Girls) earned a measly $115 in the first half of the year. Maybe this is a category that isn’t “pulling its weight.”
I’ve given this a lot of thought. It isn’t that you all don’t like to embroider. You do! That shows in the felt patterns and the response to free patterns like the coasters this week.
And I don’t think it’s so much that people especially like embroidering on felt (though it’s delightful). I think it’s that all the felt embroidery patterns are for specific projects. It’s not just a design, it’s a THING.
So – more felt embroidery! And when I do non-felt embroidery, it will be for a specific thing. Maybe some designs that coordinate with the applique quilts? Those could be used on quilt labels, coordinating PJs, etc. Or some holiday designs that can be framed in small hoops and hung on your tree?
Putting It to Use
Every time I crunch numbers like this, I make a list of what I’ve learned and how I’m going to use that info going forward. After all – running reports and crunching numbers is only worth my time if I actually do something with that information, right?
1. Clubs are awesome! Do more!
2. No more pieced quilts. The applique designs are my favorites anyway. I’m officially letting go of the pressure to be a “real” quilt designer and make more pieced quilts.
3. No more embroidery patterns unless they are for a specific project.
4. No more single-animal applique patterns. In fact – that’s the first section of my shop I’m going to declutter. I’m going to remove all of the existing ones from my shop on September 2. If you want just a single puppy, or one of the safari animals – get it now.
So that’s it! A not-so-quick look at one of the way I look at my sales numbers and use that info to help me make netter decisions going forward.