One of the easiest ways to start selling your creative work online is with the Etsy.com marketplace. Set up your account, upload your product photos, and voila: instant shop. Being an Etsy store owner can be a great opportunity for a creative and crafty mom to earn cash while keeping flexible hours to care for children. But promoting and maintaining a store is not as easy as setup! Once your store is up, the real work comes in; getting your products seen and if you’re fortunate, keeping up with the high demand for your amazing items requires serious dedication and time (for moms, there’s always a shortage!). Whether you’re interested in starting up a shop as a primary source of income or a side business to make some extra money, we have some advice and tips from successful shop owners to help you sell on Etsy and build your business!
From Kate Lassila, Rootiebirds
Working on the business is how my son and I often spend time together. Creating stationary, cutting cords, making bubble envelopes…etc…he’s basically the iron fist of this shop (he gripes at me when I have a give away) We sacrificed so much to get this off the ground and television was one of those things we got rid of…now we spend more time ‘doing’ things together…two birds, one stone
From Brandi, PuurBody
I could write a book about this subject (maybe I will!) but for me I had to throw out all the notions of balance, balance doesn’t exist for entrepreneurs. It’s really a family affair and effort because for me, having a business that was a sideline or a compliment to my household income was never the goal, the goal was to have complete freedom and financial stability for my family, and that’s required a lot of sacrifices and an insane amount of work. Get help, I could not do this alone (and I don’t), help with household chores so that I can focus on my building my business is something that is key, I don’t care who cleans my bathrooms as long as they’re clean, but nobody else can do the parts that I do. Having a one year and a five year plan is also crucial, that way you make every decision with that in mind.
From Janet Quinlan, embroideredheirlooms
It is important to remember that there are many chapters in our lives – the “have it all, all at the same time” idea sets all of us up for failure. I have 7 children that I homeschooled. As they began moving into high school, I began developing this business. Now, I have one left at home, which gives me more time to work. I have moved into the next chapter of my life, and am scaling my business accordingly.
You can have it all….just at different times of your life.
From Tory, TORYmakes
I have an amazingly supportive husband and older child, who help as much as possible (helping package and putting them in the mail), but I have found that planning my day is what works best. I have to have time to turn it all off, as if it were a real job, otherwise I never get that mental break with my family. Since I don’t get to leave the office, I have to force myself mentally to STOP working and focus on other aspects of my life. It was a game changer!
Don’t flit from one job to another, going from order to order. See if you can group activities together to make yourself more time efficient. I print all my cards for the days orders together in one go. Then I go onto printing address labels and then I carefully assemble my wish bracelet cards. It is at this point that I start going through each order and package into envelopes as I go. As each package is addressed and ready to go, I hit the dispatch button and the package gets popped into the days post bag ready for the post office trip later in the day.
During the Christmas season make sure you have lots of quick meals which don’t take a lot of preparation so when you’ve had a hard day making lots of orders you’ve got a meal for the family ready to go. Plan you own Christmas shopping early and get presents wrapped and put away carefully even if this happens to be in August! Also, when things get really hectic, don’t be afraid to turn off the wireless for a few hours in the evening so you have quality time with your family and really be present. You’ll work better coming back refreshed to your shop!
You HAVE to have a very set routine for every day. Also be sure you include your kids into your routine. Have your kids help you out in any way possible (even getting papers or picking up with you), it helps them feel important too, make sure your job doesn’t take priority over them. Kids thrive off of a normal daily routine, it makes them feel comfortable when they know what to expect at certain times of the day, and they always know what is coming up next.
Always plan plenty of “extra time” in your routine for “unexpected kid emergencies”, trust me, they happen every single day. I think it is a great way to teach kids hard work, when they get to watch mom or dad hard at work everyday, they naturally want to help out.
From Sweet Bauer, SweetBauerKnits
In many ways, having a business is like having a child – many sleepless nights, lots of chores, so much joy. And the minute you feel like you know what you’re doing, everything changes.
From Kelly Barth. Cabooties
I have to constantly remind myself that I am in charge of my business, it is not in charge of me. I live to create things for my customers and I enjoy doing whatever I can to make a product that they will love, but sometimes I find myself missing my husband and son while I’m stuck in my craft room sewing non stop. I recently placed a fairly low limit on the amount of orders that I will take each week so that I can reclaim quality time with my family and really focus on putting out great, high quality pieces that in know my customers and their children will enjoy
My Etsy shop is right where I want it for the stage of life that I’m in. I’m a mom first and foremost, to a 3.5-year-old and a 20-month-old, so my crafting time comes only when they are down for naps and after bedtime. I opened my shop back in May of last year, turned my first profit right at six months, and have hit my monthly goal (and then some) last month and this month. I consider myself successful, on my own terms.
1) Set reasonable expectations. This is true for any new shop owner–building a shop takes hard work and patience–but doubly so for moms, who need to remember to prioritize our kids over our shops. There are only so many hours in a day, and my kids are young enough that they monopolize most of them, but being able to give them my time is a privilege. As they grow more independent, I will find more time to grow my shop, but growing my kids is the most important thing I can do with my time right now, so it’s just not reasonable to hope/try to turn my Etsy business into a full-time venture at this point.
2)Avoid offering custom and made-to-order items, if you can. I only offer ready-to-ship, already-made items. That way, the only crafting expectations I have to keep up with are my own. If I don’t have time to sew on a given day (because my kids are sick, or we have a playdate or an appointment, or I just need a break because they kept waking me up all night), there’s no customer breathing down my neck, waiting on me to finish their item. I try to sew my products in batches and keep a fair amount of backstock on hand, so I’m ready to mail packages out as soon as orders come in, and have another ready to relist as soon as I have time to take photos. I don’t think that, at this point in my life, I have the flexibility to commit to getting custom orders finished as quickly as I would like, so I try to avoid them, and it keeps my stress level down!
3) Get organized. Even if that’s not your strength. For example, I find I waste a LOT more time scrambling to figure out dinner every night, than I spend making dinner if I’ve invested 15 minutes at the start of the week to plan meals and add what’s needed to the grocery list ahead of time. There may be tasks that you need to schedule for yourself to stay on top of, so as you begin your Etsy venture, figure out what things you feel like keep catching you unawares every day/week, and start building them into your schedule in advance.
Being a mom requires flexibility. It means changing your expectations and goals for your business when your kids/family need you to. If you find yourself in a place where you have to choose between being a successful shop owner and being a successful mom, choose mom, and change your definition of “successful” for your shop to something more attainable, so you can find a balance to be successful at both. Never forget that your kids are more important than any customer will ever be.