How We Make Money
Hi lovelies, it’s Hanna Lisa here again, for our second part of my “Behind the Scenes” series. (If you missed part one on working with us as a designer, give it a read here.) Today, I’d love to talk about something that is very rarely talked about publicly in our knitting community, and that is how we as an independent business make money. If you have any questions, thoughts or comments on this, we’d love to hear them in the comments down below!
From the very start of Making Stories, our desire was to not take on outside funding in the form of venture capital or seed / angel funding rounds where smaller funds or individuals get shares of the company in exchange for money, but to finance our company through the sales we’d be making directly to you. How this looks like has changed little over the past two years, with the exception of our big crowdfunding campaign we did for WOODS, and so this is how we’re making money today:
Our biggest revenue driver to date are our three print publications, WOODS, BREEZE and JEWELS. We sell them through three different channels:
Directly to you: Usually, about half of the orders for our print books go through our webshop directly to you, our lovely knitters.
To yarn shops (stockists): The other half of the orders we get for a print publication comes from our wonderful stockists all over the world who then pass the books on to you.
To distributors (new!): We recently started working with two fantastic distributors for the US (The Woolly Thistle) and Canadian (Julie Asselin) market who are buying our print publications in large quantities so that our US and Canadian stockists can purchase their copies through them at lower shipping costs and with the benefit of bundling their order with other products our distributors offer.
With our print books, we’re only making money through the sale of a book - not through ads. To our knowledge, we’re the only ad-free knitting publisher in the entire industry, and we strive to stay that way. This means foregoing quite huge potential ad revenue with each publication we bring out and also has implications for our pricing: We’re not able to subsidise our print publications through ad revenue, which is one reason our prices are slightly higher than the rest of the market.
We chose to not include ads in any of our publications as we want to keep our independence in voicing opinions, featuring businesses and makers and keep the playing field as level and fair for all our contributors as possible. All our processes are designed to be fair and equitable, so taking money from someone to place them in a publication, be it directly through accepting ads or indirectly through exchanging ad-space against patterns, for example, has never felt right to us.
2. Digital publications
Our second-biggest revenue stream are digital publications like SOCKS 2018, TRAVEL, STRIPES and Making Stories & Friends Winter 2018. These we sell both through our webshop and through Ravelry, with Ravelry being the larger sales channel for us.
Interestingly enough, digital publications are not significantly less expensive in the making compared to print publications. The only significant difference is print cost. Hence, we’ve realised that digital publications alone are a lot less profitable than print publications and we’ll be taking that into account when planning our future releases.
All our digital publications are ad-free as well, by the way!
One way we see going forward with digital publications is to combine them with selling …
3. Individual patterns
Depending on the publication and contract conditions, we publish some of the patterns from our collections individually through our Ravelry shop as well for a limited period of time before they revert back to the designer. This is something we were very excited about, but that sadly didn’t lead to a lot of sales just yet. Maybe there’s a bit of rethinking necessary (bundles anyone?), and we’re excited to publish our first stand-alone individual patterns this year.
These are the three ways we make money right now: Through selling print publications, through selling digital publications, and through selling individual patterns. No ads, no sponsorships, not even free yarn for us (disclaimer: we do have team discount agreements with some yarn partners). This is how we started, and this is what still feels very true to us.
Over the last year, though, we’ve realized that some of our products are selling significantly better than others, and that we have to take into account revenue that we intentionally forego (see ads again) when we plan our finances. I think we’re all really excited to try some of the ideas we have when it comes to combining and packaging our products so that they’re attractive to more knitters, to see our new distributor partnerships come to life, and to experiment with a few additional revenue streams we’re developing for this year that might help us take a bit of the seasonal ups and downs out of our revenue cycle. We hope you’re excited about seeing all of this come to life as well!