It is, somehow, impossibly, the final quarter of 2017.
Where has the year gone? October is my favorite month, so I'm not complaining, but time seems to be getting away from me.
In January, I set my watchword for 2017: Nourish. I also set some fairly ambitious goals for myself, and with the year rapidly winding down, I've had mixed results.
In terms of tangible goals:
· Knit 4 sweaters for myself. Not even close. 2 half-finished sweaters. Pitiful.
· Start teaching. So far no classes at LYSs lined up, but to be fair, I mailed out a few flyers and that was it. Reaching out to shops is scary, and I haven't put myself out there.
· Take at least 3 classes/workshops. 2 out of 3 done.
· Collaborate. The Urban Creative Exploration and my sweater for Neighborhood Fiber Co's Outerloop Sweater Club will both be revealed this month!
I think I've done a good job of nourishing my business this year--but unfortunately it has largely come at the expense of nourishing myself and my relationships. My anxiety has kicked into high gear, I've been feeling overwhelmed by work (which is pretty ridiculous because I write knitting patterns, I don't do brain surgery or try to cure cancer!), and while my business has grown, it's mostly because I've spent my weekends holed up in my studio working instead of spending time with my family (of course, I'm with my kids 5 days a week, but my husband is at work then, so when I work through the weekend, it means little time for the four of us, or seeing my dad and sister, and don't even ask about seeing my friends . . . I've forgotten what they look like.)
So I've come to the conclusion that I have to make some changes for 2018--and sooner.
This year I am on pace to publish 19 patterns and it is just too much. Not only in terms of the sheer effort, but also when viewed in light of my income. (While, on the plus side, I have already surpassed last year's income with my typical best quarter still to come, the income-to work-hours ratio is still, frankly, terrible--and once I take out all my business expenses, it's . . . ugh.) I need to scale back next year, focus on quality over quantity, and bringing more attention to my existing catalog. My goal for 2018 will be 10 - 12 new patterns.
I also need to develop a more realistic work schedule--and set aside time where I am not working. It's so tempting to squeeze in some Instagramming here, newsletter writing there, a little Ravelry chatter over here--but the result is that I'm always thinking about work and not really being present with my kids. (Are there apps that will lock down other apps on your phone? I might need that!)
My goal for the rest of this year and until summer break in 2018 will be to schedule myself 15-20 hours of work each week and stick to it. Fortunately, both of my boys are now going to pre-K in the mornings, so that's about 2 hours of work time for me each day. I also have a little time in the evenings. Some weekend work will be inevitable, but I don't want to be shut in my studio every Saturday and Sunday, or begrudgingly accept social invitations, grumbling about missing out on work time.
I also need to give myself time for personal knitting. I will be setting aside (at least) 1 day each week that is solely for personal knitting, no work knitting. I want those sweaters!
And time off--I need more of that! With 2 kids, there's no real time off, but I need to create blocks of time away from work. This is difficult for me because the pattern design marketplace is crowded, and consistent engagement with my customers and frequent pattern launches are the best way to stay relevant--disappearing for even a few days means losing followers, reduced reach on social media, and fewer eyes on my work. Regardless, I will be taking time off in December and in 2018 hope to schedule time off at least once a quarter.
More relevant for customers, perhaps, pattern prices will be going up--so here's an early warning! Beginning January 1, accessory patterns (socks, shawls, mitts etc.) will increase to $6, and garments (adults and kids) will increase to $7. This is in line with average pattern prices and will help to better cover the fees and expenses that take a large chunk of my "paycheck." (If you're interested in learning more about what goes into pattern design--in terms of both work and money--check out this post and this post.)
I will also be focusing some energy and time on developing e-courses--this may seem counter-intuitive, if I'm already feeling overwhelmed, but once developed, e-courses can be offered to new customers over and over, with minimal additional time or effort on my part--ie, largely passive income. They also give me an opportunity to share what I've learned, interact directly with my community, and step back from some of the more monotonous parts of pattern design (grading, pattern layout, drafting schematics, etc).
My first e-course, Swatch Master, will open for sign-ups this week, with a 2nd course potentially to launch in 2018. My hope is to offer each course twice per year, and build on that if they are successful--time will tell!
How is 2017 treating you--having a great year, or ready to ring in 2018 already?
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