Consider this a cozy coffee date conversation that gives you the update on what TPK is about right now. Among other things, we’ll talk about who keeps it going, how the website generates income, and what’s in store for the future! Thanks for being a part of this wonderful rabbit hole.
People are naturally curious, and it’s satisfying to understand how things work. So, today, I’m taking some time to chat with you about what TPK looks like in 2023. It’s like a self-interview with eight questions, and if you finish up the article wondering about anything else, you can ask in the comments!
1. How Did The Postman’s Knock (TPK) Start?
Before we launch into what TPK is up to this year, let’s do a quick recap of how TPK got started. Basically, I created an Etsy shop in 2011 selling design and lettering services. I called it “The Postman’s Knock” because I wanted to make the sound of “the postman’s knock” exciting with beautiful mail! I had learned from an internship at Mother Earth News that blogging is a great way to boost your visibility, so I wrote random blog posts when I had time. Eventually, the TPK Blog morphed into its own beast, and I found that I enjoyed coming up with tutorials for it.
Eventually, I designed a printable calligraphy worksheet, and that was the catalyst for the TPK site as we know it today. (Read more about the invention of calligraphy worksheet printables here.) Now, the TPK Blog is the lifeblood of the site, and I dedicate my time to writing tutorials, putting together online courses, and making lettering and calligraphy worksheets. So, that’s The Postman’s Knock in a nutshell!
For quite a few years, TPK was very pointed pen calligraphy-focused. While you’ll still find a lot of that here, the site has morphed into a holistically artistic rabbit hole. There’s a little bit of something for everyone! My main goal is for people to come to the site and get that giddy “Hey, I want to try that!” feeling. I want to introduce readers to techniques they’ve never heard of or might have been too afraid to try – crosshatching, pointed pen calligraphy, watercolor painting – and walk them through those techniques.
3. Who is Behind TPK?
I — Lindsey Bugbee — am the main person behind TPK. When I started this business, I was in my early 20s; now I’m a mother in my mid-30s. I’ve got an English degree and am a lifelong artist and lettering enthusiast. My husband, Hernán, also pours a lot of energy into making this site possible. While he was completing his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at CU-Boulder, he became fluent in WordPress and coded this site for me. He also taught me enough that I’m mostly self-sufficient when it comes to designing courses, writing blog posts, and doing general troubleshooting.
We have two CTOs (Chief Time Officers): Remy and Pia. Remy is four years old, and Pia turns one in a couple of weeks. Before I had children, I could easily work 14-hour days on TPK. I’d play around with designing a worksheet, pivot to write a blog post, then schedule social media posts. I loved every second of it, but I didn’t have great work-life balance. My kids ensure that I stay on-task when I do have the time to work!
We also have a trio of CU students who package up Supply Shop orders: Truman, McKenzie, and Katie. The typical packager stays with me for 2-3 years (until graduation). It’s a great job because it’s flexible. The “kids” get to set their own hours and listen to music or podcasts while they work. Each packager has a particular strength: Truman is good at fitting oblique pen flanges, McKenzie makes a mean calligraphy kit, and Katie tends to put together packages that are especially pretty.
The website has a few income avenues, but by and large, it makes money by selling digital products and (tangible) art and calligraphy supplies. We also make a very small amount of income from affiliate links — mainly Amazon — and a few dollars a month from YouTube.
Anytime you purchase something from TPK, you’re adding fuel to the website’s engine. At the same time, there are a ton of free resources available on the site, and I don’t begrudge anyone who can only enjoy the free stuff! I believe that art and creativity should be savored by anyone, anywhere, regardless of budget size. I am always grateful to those who have purchased materials; but if you can’t do that, I’m just glad to have you here, joining the creativity-fueled party.
5. What’s the Best Part of Running TPK?
I like most things about running this website, truly. There’s a reason I’ve been doing it for over a decade. I love coming up with tutorials and working on worksheets.
Even the customer service piece is pleasant, which I still marvel at after waitressing my way through high school. Since most people who come to the site quickly understand that TPK is run by real people – well, mostly me – anytime they have an order problem or question, the tone of the email is astonishingly kind. The site seems to bring out the best in people, myself included, and I’m so grateful for that. I think there’s just something about art and creativity that puts people in a good mood!
6. What’s the worst part of running TPK?
I really can’t complain, but sometimes I do grumble about the difficulty of keeping up with social media. Don’t get me wrong: I love connecting with my TPK tribe. Love it. But ever since I had kids, I find it really difficult to stay glued to my phone to appease the Metaverse (Facebook, Instagram) algorithms.
It’s frustrating to spend half an hour designing a video that no one ends up seeing unless I pay to promote it. I’ve been trying to post to YouTube more because I feel like it’s much more fair and my content gets appreciated. I still post to Facebook and Instagram when I can, but my heart is really in designing quality content for the Blog (and, a couple of times a month, YouTube).
I have a forthcoming offer from a major publishing company to write a book about pointed pen calligraphy, so books are definitely in the future! It’s just a natural progression. I’ve been creating tutorials and writing articles for years, so books are the next logical step.
I’m also considering making a “TPK Premium” platform later this year (or maybe once I finish the book). I think that would take the form of paid tutorials – maybe you pay $5 per month and you receive four detailed tutorials that live in your email inbox and your TPK account. I’m still mulling over the details, but I like the idea of getting paid for writing content. Don’t worry: there will always be free, quality content available on the TPK Blog. But I’m starting to think about other ways to ensure that TPK considers to experience healthy growth.
8. Friends of TPK in 2023
Even though I don’t really have coworkers, I think it’s important to have coworker-like support and supportive relationships. This year, I’m grateful to:
Jess of Greenleaf & Blueberry – My former university roommate and current longtime bosom buddy, Jess is always up for a brainstorm session and/or offering support.
Nico Ng – Nico and I established a relationship last year, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed posting his tutorials and using his composition ruler.
Phyllis Macaluso – Phyllis has been taking some time off to re-center lately, but I have always been able to count on her for inspiration, kind words, and beautiful work in my (snail mail) mailbox. She’s amazing.
I can’t, of course, name everyone who helps make TPK incredible, but others I can think of include: Samantha Dion Baker, Karla Lim, and — honorable mention for cheering me through being a mother and an entrepreneur — Barbara Richards.
I hope that you enjoyed getting to know TPK a little better! If this article brought up more questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks so much for reading, and have a fabulous weekend!