Time for a shop update!
I know alot of you out there are following along my “growing my handmade biz” journey.
Watching and wondering “did that work?”.
Working from home and growing a craft biz is hard…don’t let anyone tell you that working for yourself is some easy peezy adventure.
All those lovely little images over on Pinterest with quotes like “Follow your bliss“…”Do what you love and you never work a day” …come on guys you know those quotes are all crap.
I mean really…they are selling you a life of living on the other side of some fence looking over into someone else’s yard. Convincing you that someone else is living some magical dream because they are doing something they love while you trudge off to a 9 to 5 doing something not fun…instead of screen printing little boy tee shirts all day.
I have known that tidbit for years thankfully.
Having run the photography studio for all these years I know that even if you choose to do something I love every single day of my life it STILL becomes a J.O.B.
Actually the only difference between leaving your home to go to a job doing something you don’t love doing every day is that when you take your hobby and turn it into a job you lose your hobby.
I tell you all this not to scare you off from starting your dream biz but because I know that when you guys see me posting all the fun crafts and things I am making or a photography assignment I am loving that it looks like it is all fun and exciting…I so get that!
Those are the days I love my job too!
Who wouldn’t want to make pretty things all day and get paid? Duh!
Truth though…there is a TON of work on the back end.
You have to figure out not only what you are going to sell but where to sell it?
Craft fairs, online, Etsy, Amazon etc…
I have been trying out Shopfiy, Etsy and Amazon this last month. I have literally watched 1 million YouTube videos on how to build your online craft biz over the last year.
I am probably not supposed to admit that but I really hate the idea of leading someone down the rosey path of “starting a craft biz is soooo easy!“.
Let me save you sometime…shall I?
Let me do a fast review of my experiences:
Favorite Crafty Biz YouTube watches and iTunes podcasters…let me put a disclaimer in here that there needs to be MORE woman doing business channels. Feels like there are a million (often kindof shady) men doing these channels for running businesses and you just know their only business is teaching folks how to start a business. That’s their only biz.
Cherry pick the info those folks give…they aren’t running a craft business which is a very different thing most days.
Granted none of these folks will fit your own biz perfectly but they all have bits and pieces of useful information you maybe able to put to good use in your business.
A few of my faves:
TGIM (best podcast out there but sadly they haven’t made a new one since August…boo)
Shopify Masters (Granted I am about to tell ya Shopify really isn’t working for me much…the podcasts are good)
The Side Hustle Show (A bit “man heavy“…typically has a feel of an old boys club BUT that doesn’t mean they don’t have bits and pieces of useful info that woman can use too.)
Girlboss Radio (Yeah finally some girl power…but they haven’t been updating much lately)
Shall I go a bit more into men and Youtube/podcast channels and business teaching?
It does get frustrating when you are searching out knowledge if you are a woman.
Women have a totally different set of needs. We have to juggle a home, kids, laundry, dinner and working as a minority (Sorry folks this really does play into being a small biz owner when you are a woman…any gal who hasn’t ran into not being taken seriously because they are a woman is just plain lucky. The struggle is real.)
While men deal with many of issues that are unique to man world….women have a higher level of expectations placed upon them outside of work that they have to maintain on a daily.
Just the reality of it for most of us. Not complaining…just being real. It is what it is.
That being said…good Lord I would love for more business woman to start podcasts and YouTube videos and share some knowledge. Part of me wonders if the lack of woman in the business education market is more from women being afraid to share their knowledge with other women OR if there really just aren’t as many women willing to take the risk of starting their own business? Hmmmm
I really don’t know the answer….just one of those questions I ponder from time to time after listening to the millionth podcast with business men bantering and dreaming of a world where woman have equal numbers of “sharers” and can banter along with the men on business podcasts and videos.
Probably why I share my experiences so openly…because we gals need to be more open with cheering each other on and lifting each other up.
No really. We do.
*First note…I will be closing my Shopify apparel shop this week and merging the tees over to Etsy 😉
First let me say…I love the platform. I do.
Super easy. You can have a quality website up in like 5 seconds.
I love the whole concept of plugins to add to your shop.
I love the e-mail list integration! Super easy.
I like being able to sync it with my Amazon sellers account but it can be super confusing for sure.
If you want to be successful on the platform you need to spend money. Lots of money.
Let me lay it out so you can see all the costs:
Standard Site $29 (a month)
Weighted shipping $20 (a month) basically if you want your clients to not pay an arm and a leg in shipping from your print shop.
Kit App $10-$25 (a month…PLUS the advertisement fees for FB/Instagram etc. This adds up FAST but was really awesome. But the cost is a huge hurdle.)
Plug in SEO $0-$25 (the zero account doesn’t really do much)
The one week that was successful with high traffic I used Kit BUT it cost like $40 bucks between advertising and the Kit fees. I can’t imagine spending that much every week as a small craft business owner on a single app.
Especially when I am still paying Etsy and Amazon fees as well.
I wish it integrated with Etsy. That would be a dream.
I wish that they offered more FREE apps to help grow my biz.
I wish that I had a gazillion dollars to keep my Shopify shop.
But alas…Shopify is great for business owners who have the capital and revenue to pay for the extras needed to grow your shop.
I am not there…yet. Oh I will be one day (fingers crossed) and when I am I will gladly go right back to shopify. It really is a great platform.
Financially though I make most of my sales from Etsy.
So moving onto Etsy…
Oh how easy it is to just make something and post it up there…but time. You WILL need the time to do so. I spend many a late night adding lovelies.
I have had the best luck over there.
Even if I don’t actually make the sale from the actual platform my local folks contact me often to purchase items or custom items they have watched on my Etsy shop.
Traffic. No matter where I attempt selling items I always get the most traffic to my lovelies on Etsy.
My skill with a camera plays in nicely to getting my items pinned often and recirculated which does end in sales and convo’s often. I love that!
I love the community. There is something lovely with connecting with other folks.
When you send your customers to your Etsy shop you are also running the risk that they will venture down the rabbit hole and end up purchasing another sellers item that they liked better.
My biggest concern with both Etsy and Amazon is I feel like I am “putting all my eggs in one basket” with companies that can decide at anytime to pull my store down. Literally these big companies could decide at anytime for any reason to take my little lively hood away.
Hence why I will probably always be striving for my own shop on my website…probably trying Woocommerce next. (free)
But I will always keep an Etsy as long as they will have me…because it really is my biggest traffic source.
Others ripping off your ideas…ok this is NOTHING new to me. I have been a photographer for 15 years. I can’t even count how many times my work, locations, website etc… have been ripped off over the years. How many friends, clients etc… have decided “Oh I love what she does I want to do that too!”
When it comes to what you sell though the product itself is what matters…just know that there will always be a million other photographers, jewelry makers, sticker makers, tee shirt makers…my goal is always to attempt to do my own thing.
I don’t mind that there are 8 million sticker makers…60 million photographers and 200 million jewelry makers etc….
I try to attempt to brand myself differently than others doing the same….
I have always done that with every art form/job I take on. Trying to do your own thing within any given medium can be a full time job but it can be done!
If you find you are taking on someone else’s style and just copying exactly what they do you are NOT an artist…you are a copycat.
Will copycats make money?
Not gonna lie.
Yes. Especially if they have more money for advertising…lol.
BUT that is where truly sharing your story and who you are for realz comes into play in your marketing and social media.
You do you…Attempt to not worry about the others.
There is enough market share in most cases for those who truly put the effort in.
Costs. Yes even with Etsy the costs can add up fast. My bill was $35 last month BUT the difference between this and Shopify was that I made more than enough to make that cost worth it. That $35 included shipping fees and advertising. Actually just had my phone chime again with another new sale…it’s worth it to me.
Shipping fees via Etsy….well they aren’t exactly right (If I use their shipping platform I tend to over pay) BUT I think this is a problem on my end not theirs. I may add in Shipstation but that would be an extra $25 a month and I am not there yet.
Disclaimer…I am super new to selling over there. Not even close to an expert.
Cost…again. $39 a month…plus advertising. It can add up.
When you first start selling you have to “earn” your buy button.
Uhmmm WTH? I just paid you $39 bucks and I don’t even get a “buy button”….lol! Seems a bit odd.
It is SUPER complicated to learn…like CRAZY ridiculous over the top complicated. Like I felt like I needed a college degree complicated. BUT in full disclosure I do very little half way.
I want to do things “right” from the beginning. At least I try too.
Again they can decide at anytime to just take down your livelyhood. They are a buyers bestie not a sellers bestie. I get it. I am at peace with that. I am on their playground.
I will probably be just taking my account down a selling level to a regular sellers account though later this month and not the $39 version because I just don’t see that I am getting my money’s worth just yet. I think where I am at in my business right now…I just need the free account.
I have made a few sales on there but I find that customers don’t respond to e-mails or correspondence and I am a custom creation kindof gal. I like giving my customers that extra bit of love.
Think “boutique” shopping.
Did I mention you aren’t allowed to brand your products for the most part with Amazon. Do you know how badly it kills me to not add my branded little “thank you” notes and cute packaging?
I could break the rules and do that BUT I have no desire for Amazon to take down my little store.
So no “cuteness” for my Amazon folks sadly.
I am not giving up on Amazon….I just think I need to do some tweaking.
I need to add more of my products but adding new products that have yet to be in the system is time consuming because you have to add SKU’s and such.
I plan to try my hand at Prime in the coming months…that should be an adventure for sure!
Boy that post got long!
Hopefully it helped a few of you guys who want to have a go at starting a handmade biz.
Remember that your handmade journey is going to be unique to you! Take from this what is helpful to you and leave the rest.
If you have any suggestions on what works for you or want to share your story I would LOVE LOVE LOVE any advice or knowledge. I am a knowledge seeker. Always have been.
I have never, a day in my life, been the gal who “knows it all“.
I am the first to ask “How did you do that!!!?”
There are soooo many options out there these days to help us grow our businesses that it makes starting a little biz a doable adventure!
My mother made a living back in her day off of craft fairs and selling to those who did country wide craft shows. One day I am going to try my hand at a craft show myself.
I like people too much not to give it a try!
I can’t imagine how much fun I would have talking to people all day long and actually hearing which of my products they like and which ones are not favorites.
I think there is a huge value in that alone. The joy of immediate feedback!
That and talking to actual humans and not just the shop cat 😉
Happy crafting my friends!