As 2022 draws to a close, I've been doing some thinking about my little corner of the planner shop universe. While I have thoroughly enjoyed designing stickers and other stationery items, I have often found myself feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with my personal expectations of what I should be doing as a shop owner regarding release schedules and trying to stay organized without feeling burnt out. I am in no way ready to end this chapter of my life, but I do feel the need to do some restructuring and edit the way in which I present my products to the world. Therefore, I will be implementing some changes going forward in 2023 to help combat the challenges that I have faced not only this year, but in previous years as well.
Mental Health Challenges
Probably my biggest challenge overall has been my struggles with my mental health. As a homeschooling mom of two, running a small business around all the hectic scheduling that comes with kids and my own personal health struggles (Autoimmune Thyroid Disease) has been tough. I have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia, which I have not been doing well with managing in the past. This year has seen me going into remission with my Graves' Disease, undergoing several diagnostic tests including tests with a cardiologist due to lingering tachycardia, breast cancer screening due to a lump we've been watching for the past couple of years, and a thyroid biopsy due to a suspicious nodule. Thankfully, my tests so far have all come back with good news, however the stress of wondering if my luck with good news has run out has been sometimes debilitating. I have started therapy and antidepressants in the hopes that my mental health struggles will become more manageable the more I work with my mental health team. I tend to keep these things private, but as I've begun seeing a therapist to help with my mental health struggles, I've found myself more able to talk about the things that I struggle with rather than trying to pretend that everything is peachy.
Needless to say, the past couple of years have been a struggle for most, if not all, of you reading this blog in some way. The added stress that COVID has brought to the world is oftentimes immeasurable as we are still seeing new effects popping up as we go. Here's to the hope that 2023 brings us more joy and happiness than we've come to expect in the past.
Challenges with the Business side of things...
As I stated previously, I am a homeschooling mom of 2. While my oldest is able to be pretty independent as a 9th Grader, my youngest is starting Kindergarten in January (she is 4, but has already completed all of her Pre-K work and passed every test I could find with flying colors, I cannot believe how smart she already is with such a passion for learning new things). Adding a younger learner into the mix has proven to be a challenge so far this year, but with a little trial and error I believe I have found a good balance to my daily schedule that will allow for me to get done what I need to while also ensuring that I am taking time for self care and for being present with my family. I am excited to fully implement this in the new year.
What does this all have to do with the shop, you ask? Well, I will no longer be over-scheduling releases each month. 1. It stresses me out when I have back to back releases, as I really am a one woman show here at TLP, and 2. I don't want to overwhelm you all with shopping back to back releases. Therefore I will have one themed release each month with a kit, doodles, and all the other fun stuff I generally do with these releases. I will then have other releases at my discretion, which could be mini themed releases (without kits), $2 dollar Tuesday promotions, etc. to be announced ahead of time for you to plan for. These events will not be announced until I am sure that they will be completed and that the finished products are what I dreamed them up to be. I will also be more active on social media, particularly instagram, showing behind the scenes info, how I use my products (as well as some of my favorite products from fellow shop owners), and just generally attempting to connect more with those who also want to connect with me.
Digital Products are also getting an overhaul. For advertising purposes, I am not able to tag my products or advertise them on Facebook or Instagram reliably due to having digital products in the same listings as my physical products. I have also had some issue of people thinking they were purchasing a printed product when in fact they purchased the digital option instead. Furthermore, I know there are many digital planners out there who would like to use TLP stickers in their digital planners, which is not easy to accomplish with the way that I currently format my digital products for sale. Finally, there are some of you who use a Cricut or another software for printing and cutting your stickers which is not compatible with the silhouette software that my files are formatted for.
So, after thinking long and hard about the future of digital products and how to best serve more of my customer base, I have decided to implement some changes to our digital offerings.
- We will no longer be offering silhouette files with our digital items, with the exception of our weekly kits as I have not found a way to make those files usable in the Cricut software. I will continue to look in to this and hope to have a solution soon. We will still be offering the pdf of the weekly kits as well for users who cut their stickers out manually.
- We will instead be offering our digital stickers in the form of clipart packs. For example, prickles listings will include a grouping of prickles artwork to purchase. Once purchased, you can use each individual png file from the group to create stickers in whatever software you wish to use, sized to fit your planner however you need it to.
- Digital listings will be listed separately from the printed listings. You will find all digital downloads in the "digitals" dropdown on our menu bar.
- In the next few days, I will be creating a tutorial blog post that will detail how to take the clipart and turn it into a sticker using the software I am familiar with, Silhouette Studio, which also has a free version that you can download. At this time I am unable to provide tutorials for any other software as I am not proficient with any other programs used for making stickers.
- Please remember that digital downloads have always been and still remain available for personal use only. Do not share, resell, or giveaway our digital artwork.
Final Changes to be implemented
Lastly, I want to make sure that I am doing all that I can to ensure that you know that every order you place with us is truly appreciated. Each year I have struggled to have consistency in our freebies being offered with orders. In the coming year, I want to ensure that our freebies are items that are both fun and useful and I am excited to see what everyone thinks about our new packaging/freebie set up in the coming year!
Thank you to everyone for your support during these last 6 years of business, and cheers to lucky year 7 in 2023!