Thoughts on the Road to Independence:
The more work I do regarding my endeavours on Etsy, the more I realise just how complex it can be starting your own business. Here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way so far that I need to keep in mind. I’m sure they’ll help others who find themselves travelling on a similar path;
1) Set Time Aside
It’s all well and good to do things when you have the time but far better to set time aside for the things that are important. I find that I should set more time aside for things like ID design and book keeping, as much as I set aside for actually making products. Without doing so, I run the risk of losing track of my spending and losing customers.
2) Plan Ahead
Perceive what your needs will be in the future and act accordingly. Don’t just figure out what needs to be done but what the flow on effects will be. The more effort I put into setting myself up properly now the better the outcome later.
3) Emulate, Appropriate, Assimilate
Look at Etsy sellers, craft stalls and your favourite online retailers for inspiration, not just in terms of the look and feel of your identity and products but also in the ways in which they do business. I’m a big fan of ASOS so looking at their business model online and their customer service helps me pinpoint what I look for in an online retailer and configure such service accordingly for my own customers.
4) Do Your Research
I’ll admit, I didn’t do enough research into the products that others were selling before I jumped in. I thought I was unique in creating earrings with a tea theme but discovered that my products weren’t that special. If I had checked out more of the competition I could have made tweaks to my products and purchased different supplies that would have helped my items stand out from the crowd.
5) Make Friends
I’m lucky enough to have a day job that gives me exposure to other incredibly creative people, some of whom have become customers, and some, like -sanmiguel , will soon be business partners. Use them to critique what you do, everything from design to packaging, pricing to shipping. Treat them as you would a customer and treat customers as you would your friends.
6) Surround Yourself With Inspiration
Like I said, I’m lucky enough to work with a bunch of creative and intriguing people. Not only does the work of people such as (ros)ology and caralopezdesigns, their love of life and all things beautiful does as well. Participate in creative communities, like Flickr, Instagram and Behance and use the creative energy of others to inform your own creative practice.
I like lots of different things, as do most people. In order to ensure I can serve as many customers as possible, and get as much of my own work out into the world as possible, I’ll have to resign myself to the fact that dealing solely in earrings will not work. I plan on moving onto other jewellery and maybe even tea cosys, tablecloths, mug warmers, coasters and other crocheted pieces to expand my customer base whilst keeping myself entertained.
8) Spend Money to Make Money
We all know this, right? Well sometimes we may not live by this rule. I’ve been tempted to pay for cheap items before, cutting corners on printing, packaging and supplies. Never underestimate the power of that extra dollar. Don’t be afraid to spend money on promoting yourself, via advertising or promoted listings. Keep track of spending, by all means, but sometimes if your spend just that little bit extra it helps out in the long run.
9) Set Your Expectations
Understand that what you do may not catch on immediately. Don’t get discouraged when those new listings don’t net you 100 shop views every day. Be willing to concede that, for now, this is just a hobby and you’ll still have to have a day job to pay the bills in the mean time.
10) Enjoy What You Do
Never stop when someone tells you to. Only stop when the task of creation is no longer fun. Never stop learning and finding new ways to do things. It is sometimes when we enjoy ourselves and experiment that we gain the most success.
I’m hoping that these ten simples rules will help me through the time ahead, both the good and the bad. I love what I do. I’m just hoping to share it with the world.