I cringe when I read my interview from my Etsy feature last fall. I was still such a fledgeling little shop owner and crafter back then, I wish I had had more time to grow as an artist and crafter before I was chosen to be featured. Since that time I've grown and developed so much and it hasn't even been a year. I still don't concider myself an expert or seasoned shop owner, more of a crafter in her teenage state, but still so much has changed and I wish I could re-do my interview. Had I the opportunity, I would most like to change my answers for Advice to other Etsy shop owners:
1. Turn the flash off your cameras. You may have to best item, but if you have that flash turned on, it makes it look plain homemade and cheap.
2. Don't be afraid to be original and take risks! Discover who you are, and BE yourself, confidently. That's what makes Etsy shops successful.
3. Don't imitate other shops. If there's something you like, use it as inspiration and make it your own, rather than copying it. When you are a copier, you'll always be at least one step behind someone else. And you just won't flourish.
4. In my particular area of crafting, expect to spend a minimum of $10K before making a profit. I'm still not making a profit from my shop. Everything I make, I put back into my shop to improve my products and packaging. I'm not willing to make that type of investment, so I'm happy with my shop in it's current state, but I can only go so far until I make that investment. Mothering my children is far more important in my life than expanding my business right now. Making that type of investment, for me, would mean being less of a Mother.
5. Unless you make that $10K investment, don't expect to make a living off Etsy.
6. Find your marketing niche. What's comfortable for you? What's easy for you? I have two areas of comfort that have added great richness to my life, and in turn have helped me grow as a shop owner. First, I LOVE giving things away! And I don't just give things away in hopes that it will bring a sale. I just really love giving things away! Even to people I know will never buy my products. There's just something so rewarding with being generous with the small luxuries I create. And it may eventually bring business my way, which is always nice, but I cerainly don't expect it. If you give things away with the expectation of making money, it isn't sincere and just won't be received the same way. Sort of like a cheesy cars salesman trying to push something on you. Secondly, developing friendships online has added greatly to the quality of my life. It's been a wonderful thing for me to find kindred spirits online, and develop friendships with other artists and crafters via Etsy, Flickr, Big Cartel, etc. Pen-pals have been awesome! My friends support my work, and I support their work. And we all recommend and refer each other, it's a great circle of friendship that we all benefit from.
7. Start a blog. This has been (and still is) an area where I need development. I'm not confident in my writing skills, which keeps me from blogging more often. But the longer and more often I blog, the more confident I feel. It's also much easier for me to open up online. In person, I tend to be quiet and shy. A lot of people I know in person still have no idea that I run a successful Etsy shop.
Really, out of all of these words of advie, finding and being myself has been the most rewarding and beneficial aspects of my life, and in turn my shop. I'm still discovering who I am, and I hope I never stop finding out what my potential is.