It seemed at the time to be magical sign that I had given birth to our last little vintage baby and on the same day my Etsy store gave birth to it's first sale. I look back now and think about all the effort that went into preparing my store and setting up my business. Taking on building my dream was not a project I had intended on doing deliberately while I was pregnant. But I simply just did, because no matter what I said or did I could not tell myself to wait to work on my dream any longer. My dream had an energy of it's own and simply propelled me forwarded to launching my Etsy Store only a few weeks before Fraser was born. It's not been easy with a young family with three children now five and under.
Many lessons and insights have been learnt through this process of the last year.
1. I've learnt that despite perceived or actual life challenges, there is always time and space to honor your dream. I want to inspire others to see and believe this too in their own dreams.
2. Having an Etsy store totally rocks and suits my lifestyle and business model for now. There is so much support in the Etsy community and opportunities are abound if you're ready to chase them and receive them.
3. If you're an Australian Etsy seller it's absolutely worth shipping internationally. It might seem like a weird point to single out, but it's true. I've heard so many Australian Etsy and other online sellers from other sites talk about shipping and postage rates overseas being prohibitive. My biggest tip is: don't make decisions for people about shipping rates and what they'll pay. Half of my sales have been and continue to be outside of Australia. If you have awesome products and it moves people in some way, where they are saying to themselves they need it, want it and can't live without it, they will pay the shipping. Extra tip: be fair don't charge extra on shipping, charge actual cost no more and if you do over estimate on shipping/postage be generous and refund the difference to your customer or offer them a store credit. Trust me people will be impressed with your ethics and integrity, they'll be back.
4. Managing a business and a young family is a juggle, it's best to be flexible about these commitments. Family is always first, without family what do you have? Getting your home life and children into a routine that allows you to be flexible to their every changing needs, will bring calm to your business goals and expectations and of yourself.
5. If you're setting up an Etsy store aim to have a minimum of two full pages of your store stocked. The more items you have listed the more chances people have of seeing your items or store. A pretty basic point that most Etsy sellers will tell you, but it's true and I've walked the path.
6. Listing new items regularly is great and if you're on top of this your items will appear in recent feeds and searches more often, and once again giving you more chances of your products being seen.
7. Product photographs are everything, take the best pictures you can with the equipment you have. Be flexible to supplying interested buyers with more photographs. I've improved my photos already this year and it made a difference and I'm just about to move forward with this again, with a studio lighting set up.
8. Finally customer service has been everything. Going above and beyond to make customers feel special about their purchase has been everything. My very first sale came when I was in hospital after giving birth to Fraser. I simply and honestly contacted my customer and explained there would be a delay and why. She also had a request for packaging and it to not giveaway whether the item was for a boy or girl. These were small matters dealt with simply (despite having a newborn) but made such a difference to their experience. The review I received for my customer service on my very first sale was glowing and set a standard. Believe me, going the extra mile in a simple way pays dividends with people's confidence in buying from you.
I'm excited to reach this milestone in my dreams, it's been a long time coming after many years selling "unoffically" in different forms and collecting for even longer. What has been achieved in one year and the opportunities that have risen have surprised me, when I'm still finding my way in the overall scheme of things. I guess it goes to show that caging our dreams for what we think might be a better time in our lives is a crazy thing.
I want to say to others, let the beast out, let your dreams run and see where they go, I truly believe that life, if you listen to the signs will ALWAYS provide you with answers of how YOU can have time and energy to answer your calling.