Ok, so I’ve run a successful business before. It was a service business and I luckily lived in an area that had plenty of people needing that service. Does that sound a bit dodgy…? It wasn’t dodgy! I ran a dog walking and doggy daycare business and at its height I was making very good money and I had some great clients who were very appreciative. I also had fabulous well behaved and well trained dogs so that made my job a gazillion times easier!
The work came in steadily and when the business was around a year old I was fully booked. The clients were regular and so in essence, the hard work was done. Simple.
When I had my son I realised that there was noway Id be able to continue at the level I had been working at, so I decided with a heavy heart that I could only take back a tiny percentage of my clients and do one walk a day. I was lucky that my husband had a great job that could support us and so going back to work was more for my own sanity than to earn money, but it was really hard to let go of the amazing business I had built up over 4 years.
As happy as I was bringing up my son and taking care of the dogs I’d taken back on, I felt as though I needed something that was just for me. I hadn’t been creative since I left my buying job at ASOS.com and so I decided to start drawing and painting whilst Freddie napped. I think by now you guys know the story of how I found the art of papercutting so I won’t bore you with it again, but finding it really did fill a hole and I felt like me again.
In June 2016 after a few months of practising I decided to open up an etsy shop. To say I was nervous about putting my art out there into the world was an understatement, I was terrified!!! I listed a couple of designs, not having a clue about the way etsy worked and just let them sit there.
A few weeks later I was designing a new piece in the garden and I felt my phone vibrate on the table next to me. I looked and was stunned to see the words, ‘new order,’ It took a few seconds to process what had just happened but it didn’t take long for me to be jumping around my house with excitement.
The order was for a wedding design and it was from America. I started making it immediately and once I’d finished it I realised I didn’t have any packaging! So I headed down to paperchase and bought some pretty tissue paper, made my husband print me off some business cards and packaged it all up beautifully. I then paid a fortune for bubble wrap and a large jiffy bag from the post office and almost fainted when they said it would be £17 to send to the US. I’d charged just £6 for delivery…
So its safe to say that my first sale was a disaster and I barely made any money but still, it was my first sale! To someone I didn’t know, in a different country. To me it was such an achievement if not a massive learning curve!
It was after that sale that I decided to offer my papercuts unframed. I jiggled about with the pricing and the postage costs to make sure I wouldn’t be out of pocket and I stocked up on cheaper packaging from ebay.
I didn’t do much else to my shop apart from list the odd new item and over the summer I sold around 1 piece a month. My son was still young at this point and still very much dependant on me so that suited me just fine.
It wasn’t until this year that I started to really focus on my store. My new years resolution was to focus on making my papercutting a success and a business that could support us (when I say that I mean support my coffee and clothes addiction and Freddie’s soft play and toy cars addiction)
I set myself a goal when I started this of selling one piece a week, which I’m very happy to say that I am now achieving after being open for 6 months, wahey! My next goal is to be selling 2 a week and to finally get up to selling 2 a day (which could take me a couple of years!) As that is the equivalent to what I was earning walking dogs before I had Freddie.
All of this sound achievable right? Well yes I think so too but the hard part is finding my target market and finding the people who are going to buy from me.
Etsy is a really great platform but it is sooooo saturated. There are a bazillion people on there selling pretty much anything you can think of and for your product to come up in the simple search ‘wedding gift’ is pretty much impossible. There is so much you have to do with tags, titles, seo, pictures, descriptions, key words… I could go on and on about this but I won’t, I’ll just say that it’s a lot of work.
Then there is finding customers outside of etsy. Social media is great for this, but I find that its easy to find lots of people who love my work and tell me how great it is, but its really really difficult to find the people who are actually going to buy it!
To help me out with this I have recently started selling on a website called allbymama its a curated site that supports mums in business. Its very new and so is nowhere near the size of etsy so I’m hoping that my products will be found easier on there. I’ve also joined up with an exciting new company called mamatribe. It is a marketing tool that supports and connects mums in business.
Have you spotted a link here…? Yes I’m going with the mum thing as my usp. I’m a mumpreneur. A mama bear trying to support her cub and his car toy and organix popcorn addiction. I think this creates a really strong story behind my brand and as my target market is mainly mums I think its speaks to them and creates a common bond and hopefully makes me and my business more relatable.
So that’s where I’m at so far. I’m slowly trying to understand etsy and alongside that I’m trying to reach out to my target market. It’s not as easy as it sounds but I’m determined to make it happen.
Anyway, I’m off now to research etsy’s new attribute lists that they’ve just added, one more thing to make my mind boggle… Oh to be technical…
Until next time.