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Sunday, April 10, 2011

PinkyCrafts is officially one!

Coconut birthday cupcake! YUM! 
Approximately one year ago, I had just moved across the country in search of something to make me happy.  I had found where I wanted to be geographically, but it was time to decide what I wanted to do to fill my time.  I had just experienced a messy break up - with my previous career.  I knew I didn't want to go back to it, but I didn't really know where else I could go.......after weeks of daily job-hunting, I knew I had to do something immediately to keep myself from dying of boredom.  I had a good friend who was selling on Etsy, and I thought that maybe I could list a few of my scrapbooks and scrapbook pages online.  When I asked her for advice, she made it clear: "It's hard work! Don't expect this to pay your bills!".  I thought, "Well, how hard can it be?  I like my products, I'm sure there is at least one person out there in the world who will like it too!".  All I wanted was to sell a few things, make a little spending money, and keep myself busy while I planned my next career move. 

I created a few new things, took some photos, and sat back to await my first customers.  It didn't take me long to realize there was a LOT more to selling online than I realized!  I had no idea how much competition there was just in my market.  I realized my photos weren't up to par. I realized I needed to get established so buyers would trust shopping with me. I realized I'd have to work extra hard at getting noticed by search engines.  I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

It became a goal of mine to be successful at this thing I originally thought was so easy.  I read every article about Etsy selling that I could get my hands on, I networked with other sellers, I joined the Etsy D-Listers Team. I learned everything I could about SEO.  I advertised on every free website I could find.  I started learning about my target market. I learned when my site received the most traffic, and where they were coming from.  I blogged.  I tweeted.  I Facebooked.  I held a sale and sponsored a giveaway. I studied keywords. I re-wrote my listings and re-tagged my items more times than I can count.  I attended Virtual Labs on Etsy, I took and re-took all my photos in every lighting condition imaginable (ok, I did this many, many times!).  I constantly worked on new products.  I basically threw my entire heart, soul, and all of my waking hours into my shop. 

4.10.10:  First Etsy Sale!  What a HORRID photo! EEK!!!
After a few months, I realized that I had put far too much effort into my little business to just keep it just a little business. I wanted to make it big; I wanted this to be my main thing.  I was having a great time learning about this new project!  I was feeling fulfilled, I had made a few sales, and I wanted more.  With the support of my husband, I decided to make it happen.  I was working harder and more hours doing this than I had been at my previous career, but I was happy - something I hadn't felt in a very, very long time.  There were, and still are, people in my life that don't understand what I'm doing or understand just how much effort goes into PinkyCrafts.  This is a real thing, I am a small business owner!

I had also realized that working from home was a little lonely. My husband found a job shortly after I opened my shop, so he was gone all day.  Its great to wake up and work in your PJs, but I could go days without needing to leave the house, and most of my conversations were between myself and my bunny!  I decided to take on a part-time job, and started working at a local pet hospital.  Originally, it was only a couple days per week, and easily fit into my life.  In recent months, I have struggled to balance that job and my business, but it's something I'm trying to address.  Part of PinkyCrafts is having a personal shopping experience, and I want to remain available to my customers!

In August, a friend of mine suggested I create a line of drink glass tags that party-goers could write their names on. Once I introduced my first two styles, my sales started skyrocketing, and I started creating all kinds of party accessories. Everything fit right into my shop philosophy: helping my customers celebrate the good times in life.

My party accessories put PinkyCrafts on the map!
Fast forward to today, and I've just celebrated my very first Etsy anniversary.  I made my goal of having 100 sales in the first year - something I am insanely proud of.  I've sold to over half of the states in the US, as well as several other countries.  I sold at two different holiday gift shows. I was featured on the Etsy Front Page in March, and I've received the most generous compliments on my work from my amazing customers. 

Several friends have asked me how to start selling online, and I see so many new sellers post for help with how to increase sales.  I always tell them the same thing:  it's so much more work than you think, but its worth it.  You get out of it exactly what you put into it. You need to be fully committed to what it is you're selling, and be ready to throw yourself into building this business.  You've got to check your fears at the door.  If you are, and if you do, and if you can, you've got a good shot! 

My goals for the next year: beat my first year sales number, in both number of sales and dollars made.  I also want to start approaching local boutiques about wholesale contracts.  I want to finally reach 100 item listings!   Most of all, I want to keep having fun and keep being my own boss.  This really is the very best job I've ever had. 

Cheers to my second year!!!

2 comments:

  1. hells yeah sista! here's to a rad first year :)

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  2. Congrats, PinkyCrafts! I am so happy that your business has taken off. I check your site regularly and love the new stuff you've posted! Happy Birthday!

    ReplyDelete