February photo collage with LOVE bunting, macarons and cup of espresso

I’m sure you’ve all seen them. Income reports. They have become a trend lately with blogs.

If you’re late to the party (no worries if you are), an income report is a blog post that announces how much money a blog has made during that month and how.

I’ve read them for years and they can be quite awe inspiring when you see the numbers. These types of blog posts also tend to spark my anxiety and make me feel like I’ll never get there. If I can even remember where there was.

It’s amazing to think that someone is making that kind of money online. And would even want to share that fact publicly on an online forum for thousands of strangers to read. Personally, I like to keep business matters more private than that.

So, this is not quite an income report. It turns out, as I just learned from Jen Sincero’s book I’m a Badass at Making Money, talking about money isn’t something I’m very good at.

I also don’t intend to share my income from my online shop. As interesting as that could possibly be, I’m not really in a place to let in to those trade secrets quite yet.

No, I am attempting to write a post that’s not quite an income report. I will include similar things to an income report, but no financial matters will be discussed.

It’s mostly to hold myself more accountable to accomplishing my monthly goals and reflect about the things that I learned. Something where I review the things that I actually followed through on last month. You’ll also find the books I read, resources I found and conversations I had. Positivity leads to more action, right?

In general, Katarina’s Paperie had a good month as a shop in February. We helped a lot of people with their Valentine’s Day needs.

My goals – on the other hand – got placed on the back burner. We dealt with a lot of snow around here and that means snow days. 

I did finally open up the website version of our shop on Shopify. But, I’m still working on ways to drive traffic over there. I’ve also decided to make some major changes with the products we are selling, so I don’t want to start marketing it until the updates are made. More on that in a few minutes.

Here’s what I set out to accomplish in February. As you’ll see, some areas had more positive results than others.

Two felt red hearts with rustic background and text overlay "Monthly Reflections - What I learned in February"

Create a new opt-in for my online shop

I noticed at the beginning of January that my newsletter subscribers were not signing up as quickly as they used to. I was offering a 10% discount from our shop and the promise of free printables to follow.

My target audience was the customers on Etsy. The goal was to give them a discount and keep them around beyond their initial purchase.

This worked for a very long time. I’ve noticed lately, though, that the Etsy customer is fiercely loyal. They aren’t as interested on being lured to your main website. They are happy being Etsy cheerleaders.

It’s hard to convince an Etsy customer to come back and support your other online shop. They’re just different. (If you are thinking this is a problem for long term shop growth, you are right.)

Usually when a customer made a big order, they were more than happy to sign up for the discount. Unfortunately, since their main purpose was just a discount, the customer turned out to not be a very good newsletter subscriber.

I want to start building my list again. We have plenty of website visitors, but aren’t capturing them. Most don’t want to buy something from our shop the first couple of visits, so a 10% discount doesn’t really mean anything to them.

So, this month I created a new opt-in for our shop. Our Awesome Kids Birthday Bundle. It is a set of over 30 pages of party printables generic enough for any birthday celebration. There are both boy and girl versions.

You get cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, favor tags, banners, planning sheets and a 10% off coupon.  In case that entices the Etsy shopper to stop by.

So far, our mailing list subscribers have tripled this month. I am excited to finally have something big, awesome and free to offer my potential customers. Remember, the newsletter’s where it’s at. Focus on building and maintaining that over all other marketing options.

Start using Pinterest again

Oh, Pinterest, how I love thee. During certain seasons that is. Since I create a lot of holiday themed blog posts for our shop’s blog, Pinterest is really good to us. Usually during Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and Halloween.

It doesn’t actually take a lot to drive loads of traffic from Pinterest. You just need some really good blog posts to go viral.

But as a curator of holiday blog posts, it’s hard to have continuous traffic when there aren’t evergreen posts on the blog. These are posts that our audience is interested in all year round. The result would be more consistent traffic from Pinterest. But, that’s for next month.

This month, my goal was to just start using this social media marketing tool again. And use it again I did. I signed up for Tailwind, joined some tribes, added a few group boards and started sharing out pins.

I now have a Tailwind scheduling plan and my followers have been growing consistently. The clicks from Pinterest have also increased significantly, although a lot of this traffic was because of Valentine’s Day.

I was humbly reminded about our lack of evergreen posts two days after Valentine’s Day when my traffic plummeted. Without the holiday posts drawing traffic, there isn’t a lot on our business blog to click through too. It’s probably time that I start working on this problem. Next month.

Begin building my shop’s newsletter list again

If you remember back to December, I am celebrating the year of email marketing in 2019. Sadly, this celebration has come to a screeching halt.

Turns out that it’s a lot more work than I thought to maintain a mailing list and write weekly newsletters. You need to create the copy, add something useful or beneficial and get it sent. It’s almost like writing an extra blog post.

I don’t mind the writing part or content creation at all, but I haven’t developed a schedule yet. And I was working pretty hard on my opt-in and Valentine’s Day orders.

So, my goal this month is to launch our new opt-in and send it to our newsletter list. After that initial email, I want to send emails weekly. Supposedly, the reason people sign up for your newsletter is to get emailed. It’s really important that you follow through or you’ll lose your audience quickly.

I am sure this has already happened to my list since it’s so old. But, that doesn’t mean I should just start from scratch. I just cleaned it up this month to make sure I have active participants on it. Mailchimp is really good about showing you this information in stats.

Now, that my list is fresh and ready for mailing, it’s time to get to it. I think next month I will try to send out a couple of emails and see how it goes.

Open my Shopify shop

Yeah, I can officially say this one was completed at the beginning of January. After months of back and forth banter with my web design team (one of the more frustrating experiences I’ve had in life), we opened our doors.

The problem is that a couple weeks after we opened, I started having second thoughts. Like major second thoughts.

When I designed our Shopify shop, I created a website very similar to our Etsy shop. Although I love our Etsy shop, I want my Shopify shop to be different. It’s needs to be a place where there are different kinds of designs that are more digitally based.

The problem is that my brand new Shopify shop doesn’t support these changes. It’s just the same concept as Etsy. I’m pretty disappointed in myself to not have the foresight to do it better.

So, I’m in the process of updating my Shopify shop’s categories to reflect the designs that I actually want to sell. Once these are created, I will start working on designing new products for them.

I’m excited to create a more modern stationery shop with paper goods beyond just parties. Designing invitations was fun, but I think it’s time to try some other things. I’m sure I’ll be back to invites eventually, but I want somewhere I can feature all of my design work. And our Shopify shop should be the space.

Publish on our shop’s blog

This goal is something I’ve been working towards for awhile. I used to publish on our shop’s blog weekly and eventually moved to monthly. I LOVED writing those posts. It was a chance to craft and get creative with our designs.

Then, something convinced me that it was a waste of time. I had littles to raise and orders to handcraft. There’s only so many hours in the day.

When I reflect on these thoughts, they sadden me. My blog was the place where I connected with my audience. Although it didn’t bring me much monetary results from the blog itself, it did drive traffic to my shop and create sales from that.

So, this month I wanted to rediscover the joy of craft blogging again. I created a Valentine’s Day cookie jar recipe and free printables. I even baked the cookies and took beautiful photos.

It felt so great to be back to craft blogging again. I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed it. My goal is to start working on a craft blog post once a month. And to stop calculating how many hours it takes me to complete it.

These blog posts build and strengthen my audience – for free. Nothing beats organic marketing.

Two hands making a heart with the text overlay "Monthly Reflections - What I learned in February"

What I read

This month was a really successful reading month. Probably because we were stuck inside with the snow and cold. I’m well on my way to reading my goal of 40 books for the year.

Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Williard Thames

I just love her… and it’s not because she’s living my dream life on a homestead in Vermont. My favorite part about her story is how she adopted simplicity while living in the city. We tried doing that for years and always ran into stumbling blocks. If you like frugality and minimalism, it’s a great read.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

I’ve been slowly working my way through Pop Sugar’s 2019 Reading Challenge. My checklist item was to finish a series (although this one might have been an item from the 2018 Reading Challenge). I read Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend last year, so I was excited to complete the trilogy. Next up is the movie. (Yes, I am that behind.)

A Badass with Making Money by Jen Sincero

After completing her first book – You are a Badass – last year, I decided to pick up her second book. To be honest, I thought this book had more ideas about cultivating a business. Instead, it’s about your money mindset. That’s not a bad thing. I need some help in that area too. I find her anecdotal stories the best (especially the one about the goats) and it has changed my view on making money. At least a little bit.

Sadly, I didn’t get a ton of time to listen to Podcasts or watch Ted videos this month. I did discover a wealth of information in Melyssa Griffin’s podcasts, though. I am looking forward to warmer days to spend walking and listening to her wisdom.

Climbing Dad also showed me a new app to download and save Podcasts to my phone. Now I can listen to them whenever I want – doing tedious work, chores around the house and when I’m working out. Progress.

Happenings on Honestly Nat

As much as I love talking about everything that’s been going on with my online shop, I’ve also been enjoying writing for my new blog. This past month I published eight blog posts. My favorites were:

How to become a more well rounded mom

How to love your business even when it’s difficult

Tips for making your first business networking meeting successful

Although I was reluctant to write it, my very favorite post was talking about finding love for my business again. This isn’t always easy. Building a business is a marathon and lately I’ve begun falling out of love with Katarina’s Paperie.

By changing what I’m designing, I am slowly finding new love for it. Finding that love has taken a long time, though. 

My other big accomplishment on the blog this month was creating my first business printable. As an invitation designer, it’s sometimes hard to design something different. So this month, I published my first free printable – a printable To Do list. It was fun creating something with a more sophisticated business feel. I’m looking forward to making even more of these types of printables in the future.

What I’ll work on next month

Goodbye, February. Hello, spring. March is a long month. Am I the only one that noticed that?

I will continue working on finishing my quarter 1 goals. The main goal is to complete my free mini-course for Honestly Nat.  The class will be about how to make your marketing time effective.

I’ve spent so much time during my business growth just staring at a computer screen not sure how to “market”. This course should save you that time and frustration. It hopefully will be available by the middle of March.

My other goal is to get back to more designing. I’ve missed creating new things since I’ve been so caught up with writing and website set up. I want to make new designs and printables before summertime comes.

The last area of focus this month is to start optimizing my blog posts on Katarina’s Paperie. Many of my older blog posts aren’t set up for Pinterest sharing and mailing list sign ups.  It’s hard to share these posts when they don’t have the right graphics or capture visitors when they stop by.  

As I learned this past month, you can breathe new life into a blog post and make it popular again with a few simple changes. Creating new images, adding better alt descriptions and placing affiliate links can make a post go from dormant to converting in weeks.  And what’s the purpose of spending so much time creating amazing blog posts in the first place if you’re just going to let them wither away.

Final Thoughts…

Overall, I think it was a good month. One filled with growth and exploration. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’m excited to tackle March and see what new things abound. Don’t forget to look out for the leprechauns!

 

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