1. Tell us about your creative business and the story of how you started making and selling.
I’ve always made things. Selling them for myself, rather than designing them someone else to sell, is relatively new for me, and just started with Etsy a few years ago. I had started a practice of making a drawing every evening and posting it online in order to create an “evergreen” portfolio for drumming up freelance and licensing projects. Which worked, but also created a huge archive of work that was kind of begging me to print it and sell it. So I gave Etsy a try, kind of on a whim. It worked well, and has continued to grow for me as I’ve put more energy into it.
2. 3 tips for sellers who are just starting out selling on Etsy.
Tip 1: Regardless of what your business goals are, really think through your shipping workflow and supplies before you put up listings. Have your packaging ready — the cardboard, the plastic, the branded materials, the labels, the bubble wrap, the tape, the shipping labels, everything. I am still kind of floored by how much of my business is devoted to packing / shipping / tracking packages.
Tip 2: If you want to grow your business beyond a hobby that earns a little money for a while, really figure our how much it would cost to pay someone to do certain parts of your process if/when that time comes. Research what established independent brands are charging, and try not price below that from the beginning. The kind of manufacturing help that meets Etsy’s guidelines (and that will produce the small-ish quantities you would likely be ordering) is not cheap. And if you want to find a production partner down the road you will need room in your pricing for that.
Tip 3: Don’t nickel and dime people about customer service stuff. You might lost some money replacing something that you really weren’t obligated to replace but you never, ever want to risk getting that one star review.
3. What is your largest source of traffic for your shop?
Occasionally I get a print media or blog mention that causes a surge in traffic (and sometimes sales — the two aren’t always correlated). But in general, my Stats data show that my main source of traffic is people who are already browsing around on Etsy.
4. list 4 of your favorite items and tell us why you LOVE to make them!
I love to make drawings that have a meditative element to the process — like a large area of a repeating pattern or organic pattern. It’s just so relaxing to do. And I love to add some other element so the abstract-ish background also becomes a landscape or a setting:
5. How has your success selling on Etsy changed your life?
I’m not naturally an entrepreneur and I never expected to run a shop, so that was kind of a surprise. I always assumed that my design career would be behind the scenes working for a big company, and I still enjoy those projects. But it’s really wonderful to have a personal connection to people all over the world, and it’s surprisingly enjoyable to figure out solutions to the many little problems that come up in running a business day to day.