Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What my Etsy Shop has taught me

Well folks, I have officially hit 60 orders on etsy! Whoo hoo! It may not sound like that many orders to you, but to me, it's a lot and I am proud! You see, I just have my little shop as a hobby and not as a source of income. So, any extra time I have outside of work (when I am not completely exhausted of...well, working, goes to my little shop)

I started Design Gem on a whim. I was sad that my boyfriend was leaving for Australia for three weeks and I knew I needed something more than my occasional girls night, working out, gardening and cooking hobbies to fill my time. So, Design Gem was born. But why the name Design Gem? I thought long and hard about my shop name. I wanted something fun, catchy but broad so I could eventually expand into other gift products if I desired. Though I am only selling paper products in my shop at this time, I hope to expand in the future. So, no "paper gem" or "paper pretties" or any kind of "paper" shop name for this blooming entrepreneur. After making list after list, I chose Design Gem because I wanted customers to stumble upon my Etsy shop like a treasure and perhaps find a little paper treasure for themselves or their loved ones! The tagline of the shop is "paper treasures and gifts". And so the adventures of Design Gem began...

My etsy shop has been in business for nearly right at 8 months. It look me about 3.5 weeks to get my first order. Other than a blog post, I did not do any kind of paid advertising through Etsy, though in hind sight, that probably would have been beneficial. Anyway, let me tell you, those three weeks were nearly agonizing as I waited for my first order. I checked etsy probably 20 times each day (I still do!) in hopes of my first order. At this point I only had about 5 or 6 items for sale in my shop, Etsy recommends 7 items. So, I kept designing and adding products and finally, FINALLY in mid-March, I got my first order for a little boy birth announcement print. My boyfriend and I happened to be driving on a mini road trip to go hiking and I happened to check Etsy while in the car and good gracious, that was one exciting moment for me as I thought to myself excitedly, "someone other than me likes my designs!!!!!!!". And the rest is history. Just kidding. This story wouldn't be nearly as interesting if I ended here. Other than exciting sales and extra perks like a little extra money earned from my shop, having Design Gem has taught me some very rewarding and valuable lessons that I am very appreciative of. So, here are just a few:

1: Customer Service is top priority. There is a reason people shop on etsy: for unique, custom or handmade gifts that they can't find just anywhere. If someone is buying an item from you--it means they like it your style, they LIKE YOUR SHOP! That should bring you a ton of joy! Always thank them immediately via Etsy convo or email for their order and do whatever it takes to make them happy! If they have any requests, questions or concerns, answer them asap! There is a sense of relief for the buyer when the seller responds to quickly and kindly to the buyers questions! Also, up until the customer receives and opens their package, you should go the extra mile for a great customer experience. Cough up the extra cents and make the packaging pretty, add a sweet note and keep them in the loop by letting them know their package has shipped!

2: Being organized is a must! Though I like to think of myself as fairly organized, my etsy shop has really helped me get a hold of my organizational skills and my time management skills. Also, planning ahead and ordering those little things like envelopes, ink... has helped me find myself in stressful "out of supplies and I have to run to Office Max" situations a lot less often.

3:  Don't compare your style of work, number of orders, etsy "success" to other etsy sellers. Comparing your shop to someone else's shop, especially someone who has done 14,000 orders in 5 years, is discouraging, destructive and a waste of your time. Nothing positive will ever come from this. Take my advice, this will only bring thoughts of "quitting" and "giving up" on something that makes you happy all because someone else is 5 years ahead of you. Who knows where you will be in 5 years...maybe you'll be at 20,000 orders! Just sell etsy items that you are proud of and make items that are genuine to you--customers can see that and that is what sells!

4: Don't be scared to get your name out there. I have been afraid to share my etsy shop on facebook for a long time for various reasons but one day I decided to just make a little album and you know what? The first day I posted about Design Gem, I got 2 orders from FB friends, a party sign design order and an invitation design order!

5. Work doesn't feel like work when you are passionate and loving what you are doing. It's true! I find myself working on the weekends but I love it and it really does bring a rewarding sense of joy to my heart.

6: Lastly, I have learned that my etsy shop brings a deep creative/entrepreneurial fulfillment like I have never had before. I have always had a dream of being an entrepreneur and I really love getting a taste of it through my etsy shop--I am the creative director, the boss, the designer, the owner, the packager and shipper etc. There is risk with all of these titles but I think the over-all reward far out ways the risk. 

I have no idea what the future holds for little ol' Design Gem but I have a feeling it'll be good, real good. Thus far, Design Gem has been featured on the Disney Baby blog for an Ombre themed post (slide 3). Our views sky rocketed for about a week and have remained at a steady high which is wonderful. Small but exciting steps like being featured on Disney Baby really fire me up and keep me motivated!

Lastly, I suppose I should thank my sweetie boyfriend, Blake, for going to Australia (even though I wanted to go ;)). I might not have started this wonderful adventure if it hadn't been for those three very long and slow weeks last February. Blake has been the most supportive and encouraging fan of my etsy shop and I have been so thankful for that, especially during the times that I just want to give up! Anyway, when I get a sell, I think he is just as excited as I am. It's great. Thanks Blake!

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