Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I've Learned...

Starting an Etsy store was scary. I didn't know if people would like what I was selling or if I would ever sell anything.  I had an assortment of goodies that I had invested time and money into, and I didn't know if they would collect dust or income!  It's been about 6 months since I "opened the doors" so I'd like to reflect a bit on what I've learned.

1. Start small.  I now average about 30-40 items in the store, but when I began, I had around twenty.  It's good to have a variety, but also have some items that are easy to repeat or re-create.  When you sell something, take that money and invest it again. Do your best to avoid debt! Don't be discouraged if you simply break even!  I've been working hard for the last few months, but I'm far from bringing home a new car!

2. Costumer service. I write notes to those who buy from me. I respond to conversations/e-mails regarding items as soon as I can.  Be approachable, flexible, and kind!

3. Find your "seller." I've learned (through trial and error) what tends to sell best.  During the summer, I'm planning on zoning in and simplifying the store.  I want to try to keep it to about 5 main categories: home decor, gift accessories, love birds, book bundles, and coasters.  Because of this, I'm going to try and clearance out the items that are extras.

4. Keep track of your expenses. I've been horrible at keeping receipts (which I should do!), but I do write down every purchase and sale, categorize it, and then do a monthly budget.  Doing these things helps me see what I can cut down and what I'm spending money on.

5. Take good pictures.  Better pictures look more appealing to a costumer and give a clear image of the product.  I still have a lot of learning to do in this category, but I've seen a lot of improvement since I first started!

6. Advertise.  There are free outlets like Facebook, your blog, and twitter--I try not to bombard people, but I do try to get the word out.  I've also enjoyed advertising with blogs that I like and also have a strong following.  Advertising with blogs is a great way to host giveaways and spread the word!

7. Have a "feel." Think about it: stores and products have a "feel." Marketing, sales, and production all work together to create unity within a store or with a line of products.  I'm still "feeling out the 'feel'" of Dulcitas. Right now, I focus on creating a cottage-inspired look that is soft and colorful.

8. Have fun! Sometimes I need a "breather" week and I stop painting, thrifting, photographing, and listing.  These weeks are important to sustaining a happy and healthy business.  If you are burnt out, it will reflect in your products!  After a week (or even a few days), I start itching to hit up the thrift store or whip out the glue!

9. Be patient. Some people hit it big and sell 100 things in two months. Most people don't.  If you aren't willing to give your business time to grow, I'm not sure that I would start one!

10. Always be willing to learn and work hard.  I learn something each day about running this very small corner in Etsy's storefront.  I've had to make difficult decisions. I've had to accept that my  "bestseller" wasn't really as successful as I had anticipated. I've worked hours on things that didn't create the reward I had anticipated. Yet, I love this!  I have loved stretching my brain, learning a little about business, and being creative.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it!

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