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10 from 09

Monday, January 11, 2010

As part of my New Year's reflection, I looked back on '09 and considered what went well for my little Etsy shop (hours of cutting fabric allows for loads of deep thought...
Anyhow, the list seemed like an important exercise, to help guide where Quiltish will go...and hopefully can be useful to others on this journey!

Image Credit Letter C Design

Bread & Butter Plus the Jelly- I suppose it's not really a profound concept really- but it definitely has paid off for me. Including "bread & butter" items in my inventory that is....Now, I'm not totally sure of the MBA definition, but I've determined there are items that can be considered to be the good 'ol standby in my shop. Items I can be counted on to make. Items that can be seen again & again in my shop. They are the ones customers return to order.... as certain as well, bread & butter. From a businessy stand point - they are safe, they have a higher profit margin because I know how to make them in my sleep. For me these are the zipper pouches & baby sets.

And then you've got the jelly- this of course, is the extras. The ruffles, the glam, the shine, the experiments, the novel ideas. These are the items that might get my shop noticed, make me stand out a bit. The jelly is what might attract a new customer or be an add-on for those buying the bread :)

You can see the jelly in my shop with the ruffle clutches, the new tote bag, the holiday pillows.

Coming to see my inventory in this way helped shape how & what & when I decided to craft items.....it also proved helpful when going through a few sales slumps (I could count on people buying the baby sets & pouches...this helped me- financially- make it through to the holiday season where my Christmas Tree pillow & ornaments were flying off my virtual shelves!)

7. Connect the Dots- Making connections proved to be one of the most beneficial and rewarding steps I've taken to strengthen my business. Admittedly, I was timid to put myself out there, partly because I didn't have confidence in my shop. That changed though when my photos improved & the ball started rolling. (would it have have rolled sooner, faster had I hopped on the social connection boat without good photos? not sure...think my photos were a necessary factor in this equation....)

Connecting with other crafters, moms, & entrepreneurs has become a vital aspect of my business....a quirky mix of professional & personal support. My blog allows me to share a more personal side to my creations & celebrate exciting milestones- and getting to know my readers has given me mounds of confidence & happiness. By using twitter, I'm able to learn more about fabrics, techniques, & website/Etsy/blog maintenance but can also share aspects of shop, find support from my twitter group ( I still cringe at the word "follow") , and have seen exposure to my shop increase dramatically. Additionally, I'm branching out & hoping to contribute to articles, my local community & other crafting networks.

Initially, I had to get over the idea of the number of followers- I saw countless mentions of 'how to get more followers' in the Etsy forums....but I've seen people with thousands of followers & that didn't seem to translate into success for them (# of sales, strong image, loyal support...). So, instead, I've concentrated on the quality (common interest, valuable input, sincere posts) of people I look to make connections with. I mean, no offense, but I'd much rather have one loyal & fabulous crafter follow me on twitter than five guys named dave trying to sell me their gizmos.....

8. You just never know.... I've tried to make this my business mantra. Because, it just seems to be true! There have been so many happy surprises & bits of luck, I never imagined could be happen....but they did! From features on Etsy to the Dooce Baby Gift Guide to my sets being sold at the best children's stores in Portland, to an exciting (secret!) opportunity coming up. It's easier to think "no, not me" - but, you just never know!

9. Figure It Out-
It's a pain. But in the end it's worth it. Kind of like going to the gym I guess. But putting in the time, effort, & research to get a handle on all things technical has had major payoffs for me. For one thing, reading my camera manual is one instance I can attribute to nearly overnight transformation. Knowing what all those little buttons do is actual power....

This also includes understanding postage, Blogger, Google Analytics, and the ins & outs of Etsy.

I've come to embrace this aspect and I can say that one of my favorite magazines is "Inc." - a very technical & businessy mag, full of ideas & inspiration & tips! who would've ever guessed?!

10. Wide Open - One of the most amazing experiences I had this year was opening our house & sharing my items with friends & family for a pre-holiday selling event. (you can read about the whole thing here) Not only did I invite my close friends & family members but also neighbors & people I hoped to know better. One of my main goals was really just sharing what I do with others. I remember how great it felt when, as a teacher, I had people visit my classroom- it was like, "Hi, welcome to my little section of this world." And that's how I felt again. I really appreciate people who came & showed interest in what I've carved out. Many of my guests purchased Christmas gifts & items for themselves but it was more of a chance to just share myself. And since most of my work is done at 4am- people don't often get to see what it's all about. (plus, the neighbors probably had their questions answered about, just what exactly is going on so early at this house....)

Additionally, I was able to show & teach about Etsy & my blog- something I can take for granted...it's easy to be in a happy Etsy/Quiltish/Twitter bubble & forget that these fabulous little places aren't common to everyone.

It was so rewarding & successful, I'm already thinking ahead for next year (or perhaps a mini-event for mother's day?)


Anyhow, there it is! There's my list of things that had great rewards for me & my shop. I hope they're useful to other sellers too. Do share any bits that you've found successful!

Now.....Cheers to Twenty Ten!


markjacobs said...

:) xo

Mary said...

thank you so much for your sincere and inspirational posts on your little business. you have given me much hope and direction for the future, if i were to start something up. i happened upon your blog and while ago and just love reading it! :) cheers to twenty ten!

live a colorful life said...

Awesome and inspiring. Thanks so much!

Julie said...

Love it and can't wait to hear what the secret is!

Jen @ The Itty Bitty Bag Company said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I have been so happy with my Etsy family and wish you all the success you deserve in 2010. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

your thoughts are very helpful for me, i was looking for that for a while. i really want to learn more to grow my etsy shop a bit and i say it really is not that easy! :D thanks