Was it really nine months ago that I launched an Etsy shop? Hard to believe! I’ve been mulling over the subject of my shop a bit lately and thought it might be time to check back in with a post and talk about what’s going on. I suppose I should have a good outline to go over for you, but I’m going to chat away instead.
First off, I do love having a shop and I don’t regret taking the plunge! I like the creative outlet, and honestly, if I can break even and make things people enjoy and buy more fun fabric, I’m a happy girl. When I first opened up shop, it was absolutely nerve-wracking. Opening shop is one of those endeavors where you want sales, but you are terrified of them. You sort of view your notifications with one eye open, fearing the worst and hoping for the best. You hope to sell things that are already made instead of things that are “made to order” because that cuts down on your anxiety of some catastrophe happening between the time the order comes in and the time you put it in the mailbox. You get a sale and go to your stock with butterflies in your stomach — what if somehow some freak horrible thing destroyed your products while they were carefully packed away? Eventually, you don’t panic so much. I am to the point where I feel like I can handle, somewhat gracefully, normal sales. However, I confess I still live in paralyzing fear of negative feedback.
Right now I sell at a slow pace. I’ve sent out thirteen orders this year, which is a very, very modest number, but even if I did really well I’m not sure I could realistically fulfill more than maybe an order every week or two, depending on the item. I have learned that in theory creating items and processing sales does not seem like an overwhelming commitment, but in reality, selling online can be incredibly time consuming if you want to create, tag, and package things well. Since I do not have a dedicated studio, a lot of time is spent simply in getting things out and putting them away and finding that stupid hole punch. Sometimes big unexpected set-backs do occur. I once clipped slit right in the middle of a table cloth as I was preparing to send it out and I had to go out the next day and buy more fabric and remake it! Most of what I do goes somewhat smoothly, though perhaps less streamlined than it should. I have plans to become a bit more efficient over time, but I feel like I’m still in the process of figuring out how and what to sell. I have experienced how my ability to keep the shop running well depends almost entirely on how much time I have to put into it. For now, I am limited on time, so I have limited stock and sell at a slower pace than I might if my situation were different. I really wish I could dedicate more of myself, but perhaps that is the subject of another post. As it is, I’m humbled and flattered that people purchase from the few items I have available.
Otherwise, what I find most challenging, especially at the moment, is keeping things running when there is disruption behind the scenes. For example, when I go out of state, I put my shop on vacation for a few days. I worry that this is not a good thing to do, especially if I’ve had a buyer in the week before I leave. I do not want to appear to be unreliable, but it seems more irresponsible to leave the shop open and risk the possibility of getting a sale I can’t fulfill on time. This year happens to be a year when we are out of town more often than normal. Also, at one point my hard-drive crashed and my laptop had to be sent back to the manufacturer and I closed shop while it was gone. Just today I learned that I have to send it back to the manufacturer again. Apparently the reason I have to physically hold the power cord into my laptop (or prop the laptop on it’s side to hold the cord in while it charges) might be because I need a new motherboard. So tomorrow I will take it in again for an indefinite period of time. I have a couple of ideas on how to deal with this inconvenience without closing shop, but it is problematic. This is the only computer that communicates with our new printer and all of my business files (tag templates, photos, etc.) are on here. (They have back-ups but we don’t have another computer the necessary software.) Is it worth it to keep the shop open when I will have to do more work for the same narrow profit? Normally the inconvenience of broken electronics would not be a matter of any real concern, but as it is, I worry about the integrity of my shop being compromised. I feel like I am such a small operation that maybe no one will even notice, but on the other hand, maybe someone will — someone important in some way to my business.
Gosh, I feel like I’ve just been babbling for this post. It’s late and my brain is turning to mush, but I’ll post this anyway. Perhaps there are other Etsy people that can relate. I feel like selling on Etsy is very rewarding, but when it is something you do on a really small scale, it can be hard to maintain the behind-the-scenes operations, and at a reasonable cost (both financial and personal). I wonder what I can do to make my shop operate more reliably and smoothly and still make it fit into my modest little life?