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Considering opening up an Esty shop but are looking for some advice? Sure you can review the FAQs on their website but make sure to also read the advice from Etsy shop owners to discover what they learned. Even those just starting out with their Esty shop may have discovered something you haven’t yet found so it’s worth to learn from other’s mistakes and successes. Check out 6 lessons learned in 6 months on Etsy, as shared by Laura, the owner of the digital printable Etsy shop Indigo Ink Boutique.
Lesson 1 – A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms!
Being a very organized (sometimes OCD) and strategic type of person, I made the decision that I would take a year to research what it takes to start your own business, how to run an Etsy shop and make sure it was even something doable. I read tons of books and blog articles, listened to You Tube tutorials and podcasts, and researched 40+ Etsy shops and what they did. I struggled with why should I even bother opening a shop when there was so much competition in the digital printable world on Etsy. Then I came across this quote in another Etsy shop that resonated with me. “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms!”
Yes, there are lots of shops but why couldn’t I also play in the game? I had to remind myself that I have my own style and maybe customers would like what I have to offer. I needed to stop thinking about other shops and focus on my own ideas and designs. This was proven to me watching one of my “Give a Girl the Right Shoes, She Can Conquer the World” print sell. There are over 200 designs of this quote but in less than 6 months my design has sold over 15 times! So go ahead and bloom with your own design and style!
Lesson 2 – Listen to your clients.
I opened my shop with 30 designs in my Inspirational Collection and 20 designs in my Fashionista Collection. For two weeks nothing sold, but I kept designing. I went a new direction and created a blue and a pink version of Teacher Appreciation printables, as Teacher Appreciation Week was coming up. Three days after I sold my first pink girl version, I received a custom order, asking if I could design a new version as a unisex theme.
Getting a custom order at first was scary! I hadn’t even turned on my “Custom Design” button in my shop as I was afraid of doing anything custom! But I went ahead and tweaked the design I already had and came up with a green unisex version and added it to the shop. I’m happy to say out of all the products I have in my shop, it is my #1 best seller! All because I listened to a client and gave her what she wanted! This was not the last time this happened – many of my designs in my shop are because they were custom orders and after designing them for a client I then also offered them in my store! It’s like I have my own marketing research group at my fingertips!
Lesson 3 – You will do things that are new and sometimes uncomfortable.
I knew I would be learning and doing tons of new things when starting this business but I didn’t think any of it would make me feel uncomfortable. Marketing is my background but it has changed so much in the past 5 years with social media so I knew I had to add this to my marketing plan. I was already on Pinterest (which I consider more of a search engine than social media) and I was familiar with Facebook from having a personal page. But I knew I had to get on Instagram.
Honestly, Instagram scared me. I definitely did not understand it. (PS I still don’t!) But I knew (because Tara encouraged me every day!!!) that I needed to get on it, because that is where all the “cool kids” hang out! For months I hemmed and hawed about what should I post and finally 4 months after I opened my shop I finally got up the nerve to post my first Instagram post! And then I stressed – would people see my post? Would they like my post? Would I get followers? Would I have enough to post every day? Two months after my first post I don’t stress as much as I used to as a weekly schedule helps me plan ahead.
Lesson 4 – You will second guess yourself and that’s ok!
Normally I am a pretty confident person in everything in life that I do – it was the way I was raised. So it is not easy to second guess myself. As it was getting close to the end of the school year, I looked around to see what other shops were offering for the Last Day of School Signs. Everything was black chalkboard signs but I wanted to be different!
After designing a school memory board with a faux corkboard background and having none sell in 2 weeks, I starting thinking maybe I should offer the chalkboard signs and so I did. I think my original designs are cute and fresh and I plan to leave them in my shop for 2018 as I believe in them.
Lesson 5 – Get the family involved.
It’s great to have my family’s support in my business, no matter how big or small their role is.
As most of my printables are targeted to my 7 year old daughter’s age group, I get her involved in my designs. When I first started, she gave me suggestions on designs and was also a second eye to proofread.
I started a new collection of Personalized Handwriting Worksheets, and I currently have 13 designs offered in both print and cursive, thanks to her help.
After my first month of sales I printed out a blank map of the United States and had my 7 year old daughter color in every time I got a sales from a new state. We even had to add a list for countries I sold to. I’m proud to say that In six months I have sold to every state but 2 (North Dakota and Rhode Island) and I have sold to 12 different countries!
Every time I get a sale, my cell phone makes a noise like a cash register and goes “cha-ching.” Not only does my 7 year old yell “yeah” after every cha-ching but once in a while my husband gets excited and yells “all right”.
My daughter feels like she is part of my business and she’s learning that when she grows up she can start a business of her own!
Lesson 6 – It’s OK to grow slow.
When I started my business I had no idea if my designs would sell at all and at what rate. I was use to the corporate world where everything happened at a fast pace.
I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t a race and it’s ok to grow slowly.
I designed three different Reward Charts and at first I would get only one sale a week from this collection. But after a few weeks they started selling more. Now I sell almost one a day and I get people emailing me saying they saw my Reward Charts at their friend’s house and they want to buy one for their children! So again I remind myself, slow and steady, slow and steady and that is ok!
It has been 6 full months since my store had its first sale and yes I have made mistakes, but I learn from these mistakes. And yes I am sure I will learn more in the next 6 months growing my own online shop. Is it worth all the hustle and lessons learned? Yes I believe so, I am doing what I love…finally and it is amazing!