Friday, October 28, 2016

5 Years Selling On Etsy

6 years ago I made an Etsy account. I was nervous and not ready. I ended up forgetting all about it until a year later. In 2011 I went to sign up and it told me I already had an account. I suddenly remembered that I tried this before. So my account says I have been selling longer than I have. Which is frustrating to me because I feel that it doesn't show accurate results of my time selling but that is just me being picky. 

When I look back at my start and first sales I am so embarrassed and mortified that I ever made or listed the items I did. My pictures were so bad! I am so grateful for the customers that took a chance on me and my items back then! I was such a newbie. I am completely self taught so there was so much trial and error! Mostly error! 

I had no job at the time so I had to buy the cheapest materials I could. My 2nd child, Serenity, was born in 2004 with mild Spina Bifida. While her defect was not as bad as a lot of other kids. It was still very hard on us in the beginning while we figured out the extent that it affected her. To make a very long story short. We did not get approved for insurance or disability for her. State insurance picked up way too late. With only 1 income now, a child who needed help caring for her bladder and bowels, we were left with over $30,000 in hospital bills and we were losing our home and everything including cars. We decided to sell our home, move away somewhere cheaper, and start over. 

Well she got the surgery she needed, we started over and I turned to jewelry and crafts with Christmas and birthday money as a means to try to help out from home. It was already a dream of mine years before to open up a shop and sell stuff. I had planned for years in a notebook but things always came up and blocked me. I know now why. 

I started taking any money I had or asking for craft supplies from family and selling my items to friends and their friends, etc. So now we are back to when I opened my Etsy. It was so slow going. It took about 4 months before friends started going to purchase on Etsy. I only had 17 sales in my first year. It was rough but I kept learning, tweaking, and doing the best I could. 

I wish I could be one of those success stories where I got seen by someone important and my shop just exploded and took off from there but the reality of it is that is was much harder than I thought. I joined teams. I promoted, I made treasuries, and joined a BNS (buy and stay treasuries) I made a Facebook page and just shared as much as I could. The next year I had 132 orders. I was getting better. I learning more and was happy with progress. The next year bumped me up to over 300 sales and now I get over 400. My prices have also increased so my yearly income has gone up. When I started I just was not giving myself very much credit and thought I was doing really good with my mark up. Then I learned about all the expenses I needed to be factoring in and realized that I had to do better. My packaging got better so that meant more expenses. My materials got better and I got more tools and better ones, etc. 

I still am not as far along as I wished to be at the end of 5 years but the fact that I am still growing is good. My shop has over 2,000 sales and I am so happy to have reached that point! I have seen so many friends start and close and give up and it makes me so sad. So many go in with such high expectations and they get defeated. I myself  have thought about giving up more than I like to admit. These last 2 months have been so bad. The problem is that the income is not steady or predictable and it has its ups and downs. So when you get used to a bigger monthly income and then it falls short it can cause panic.

The one thing I wish I would have done was promote myself more with ads. Like Facebook ads. I do have an Instagram I go on and Twitter and Pinterest all in my shops name. The problem is myself. I get in my own way. As much as I want to grow more, I get so worried I will get judged by others and they will put down my stuff and say it is not good or worth it or get really crabby customers. The truth is no matter how great you are, people will always judge and some will complain. You just can't please everyone and I have to tell myself that all the time. 

I am not sharing my struggle to get sympathy or scare others. To me it is still a success story. I kept going and kept learning and I am doing what I love. I hope others who may be struggling right now just stay strong and keep pushing through. If you are doing what you are really passionate about and you love doing it then keep it up! I can't guarantee you will succeed. I am not even sure how long I will keep going and if my shop will keep up and grow. But that is the risk I take doing what I love. All I know is that I always have more to learn no matter what stage I am in and how many years I have been doing this. I have more work to do on myself and my own confidence. I read articles, watch webinars, and try new things all the time. 

I just hope that I am still doing what I love and what makes me happy another 5 years from now whatever it be. I am excited to see where my journey takes me and what all I learn along the way. 

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