While I was sick with West Nile virus, I had a lot of time on my hands.
I thought about what’s going to happen to this website when I retire from my full-time job as a school librarian. I worried that retirement would bring everything to a dead stop because I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for things like the software I use to make my videos, the storage space fees for storing all my free patterns, and then, of course, the cost of fabric and other sewing supplies.
The thought also crossed my mind that I could actually die from West Nile virus. I’m over 55. It’s not unheard of…
And I asked myself, “What have I not yet done, that I really want to accomplish in my lifetime?”
The answer came easily… I want to write a book!
In fact, I’ll be perfectly honest with you… I first created this website to help build what’s called a “platform” for the manuscripts I had been writing.
In the early days of this blog, it was really a “personal journey” blog. I posted blog articles about the book publishing industry, about my family, and about me as a writer.
And of course, sewing is a big part of my life!
When my two daughters were in middle school and high school (see image above), I could see that their cell phones were replacing “quality time with Mom,” and I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like it at all!
So with one of my girls in Freshman English, and the other in Drama class, I asked the girls to help me produce a stop-motion video of Romeo and Juliet with Dolls.
My oldest daughter was in Advanced Art class, and she re-painted all the dolls’ faces, taking off the excessive make-up and re-painting the dolls to look more natural for the Renaissance time period.
My youngest daughter helped me create all the sets.
And, of course, I designed all the doll clothes. I would post these patterns on my website, really just to record what I was doing. That’s why so many of my older, Renaissance costumes for fashion dolls, look like they were hand-drawn, using just an ordinary ink pen.
When the girls were sleeping, I would wander off to a little nook at one end of the master bedroom to type my YA novel manuscripts. I wrote seven YA manuscripts between 2007, the year my mom died, and 2014.
That’s a novel a year!
As my daughters grew older, I was busy taking them to Driver’s Ed classes, dance recitals, and swim meets. I’d been teaching 7th grade English/language arts, but I went back to college to become a school librarian. Our lives got really busy!
But Romeo and Juliet took a whopping 4 years to film! And clear through Act IV, the girls helped me along the way.
Instead of blogging about my writing experiences, this website gradually became a place to post “free doll clothes patterns,” and I learned how to turn my sewing experiences into tutorial videos that I could post on YouTube.
But designing the costumes for Romeo and Juliet with Dolls had replaced the early morning and late night hours I’d spent typing book manuscripts. And yet, at about this time, I got a literary agent, Liz Kracht, who is still with me today.
Then the Lammily LLC doll company approached me and asked if I could design some doll clothes for their new doll, “The Traveler,” which my agent helped me negotiate. I guess those patterns are still among the most popular on the Lammily website, even today.
And fan mail started to roll in… I had to get a P.O. box, because I was getting fan mail from all over the world!
My daughters went off to college, but by this time, I had left my goal of authoring a book on the backburner; instead, I spent all of my weekend time designing and posting new patterns on this website, and building tutorial videos to post on YouTube.
When one of my daughters graduated from college with a degree in marketing, she redesigned my “company logo” in turquoise blue and purple. She also helped me rebuild my website for easier access to all the patterns, as you can see in the image below:
And then Creative Spark offered to let me teach a course in doll pattern alterations. It was fun making this class, and it brought in a little extra income, which I shared with my agent, who gets 16% of my Creative Spark class royalties.
My agent truly earns her 16% too! She’s the negotiator, making sure I’m treated fairly by third parties. To no one’s surprise, I have a personality that tends to give things away for free. My agent keeps me from doing that!
And the classes I’m teaching on Creative Spark are really helping to support this website. People who take these classes learn techniques that really take their doll clothes sewing skills to the next level. At the same time, the royalties that I earn from these class fees are keeping ChellyWood.com afloat.
You see, it takes a lot of money to store the hundreds of free doll clothes patterns, and all the images, that are on this website. In 2019, I had to increase my blog status to “business,” just to pay for the amount of online storage I was using to house all my free patterns.
I had maxed out my blog space! But I was earning very little income from the website itself. So I had to start looking for ways to pay for this website.
With a business-status website, I had free access to WooCommerce, which gave me the opportunity to create an online store. But I had no idea how to create one.
And then I got sick.
Sometimes God puts roadblocks in front of you, so you can stop, take a look around, and realize that you’ve changed your path.
Originally, I started this website to catalog my journey as a writer. I wanted to write children’s books, or young adult books, or…
Well, there’s a muse inside me, waiting to get out. She has been trapped in there for a long, long time, and I need to get back to writing.
But how do I also continue to fund this website, which people have come to love and follow?
I decided to open a store.
While I was sick, I researched how to build an online store, using my business account together with WooCommerce.
I mean, heck, I have GOBS of stuff in my fabric stash! More than I’ll ever use! Why not sell some of it?
And maybe this online store will keep the website afloat while I take some time off to get back to writing books!
That’s the plan, anyway.
If the online store doesn’t earn any more money than the other stuff I do, and if it takes more time away from writing, I’ll just close the store.
But for now, I have this wild idea that I can keep all the balls in the air at once: writing books, getting my books formally published, designing new patterns, teaching online courses, making tutorial videos for my YouTube channel, and crazy as this sounds… running an online store too!
Wish me luck everyone!
At the time of this blog post, there are only 6 items available for sale in my online store. I do plan to post more, including some of my own, handmade doll clothing. But for now, I’m going to see how this goes…
And as always, feel free to to share any of the images from today’s blog post on social media. The more you help promote this website, the easier it is to pay for pattern storage and other costs associated with running this website.
To read more about my free sewing patterns and tutorials, please visit the “Helpful Tips” page.
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