Today we will be inspired by a lovely shop Beadup and it's owner Christyn. Opened in Aug 2008, Bead up has made 60 sales so far. Besides this Esty business, Christyn is employed fulltime at an LA Studio. For all of you who are questioning your abilities as you need to divide time and attention between yout Etsy shop and a full time job, read on!
RROF - Firstly tell us something about your shop, how you got started and why you wanted to start an online business?
Beadup - It all started with my own wedding, actually (a year ago this Sunday!). I will admit, I am a little OCD, and couldn’t find any jewelry that I thought best suited my dress and that of my bridesmaids. I found myself investigating a piece of jewelry posted online that was wicked expensive and thought to myself “Dude. I could make that.” I went to Chinatown in San Francisco, bought a bunch of pearls, crystals, and findings, and got to work. Not only was I thrilled with how it all turned out, but my bridesmaids and attendants were grateful for the homemade effect of their jewelry. “Why aren’t you selling this stuff, Christyn?” I did a double take and realized, “Yeah, why AREN’T I selling it?” I knew that I didn’t want to make things merely to sell them, but rather to share the joy of affordable, homemade, unique jewelry creations. I chose Etsy as a venue because it’s very user friendly and is such a gift to all artisans out there. I am honored to be considered part of the Etsy family.
RRoF - Is your Etsy Business your full time job? Or what or who does your Etsy shop shares your time with?
Beadup - Etsy is my full time passion, though not my full time job. I actually work a 9-6 job at a movie studio in Los Angeles. I get a lot of my inspiration from the fashion I see walking around the lot!
RRoF - When you started listing your first few items, was the response what you expected?
Beadup - When I posted my first (and for awhile only) item, I sat back thinking “Ok, everyone, come and get it!” And no one did. I think I checked the “item views” at least a dozen times in the first hour. Nothing. I was totally bummed, and thought that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for this whole Etsy thing or that my item was not Etsy-worthy. Come to think of it, that one item has NEVER sold! Maybe it’s been in the cards all along!
RRoF - Looking back, what are some of the mistakes you think you've made when you just got started, and how you overcome them.
Beadup - I think I expected to a.) get featured on the front page right away, because I had seen some sellers get their start there, and b.) get all sorts of people to “heart” my shop immediately. When neither happened, these two disappointments and my self-expectation of initial interest and success really got in the way of allowing myself to slowly launch and bloom in due time. I still get hard on myself sometimes when I don’t make a sale for awhile, but take delight in the sales and feedback I have received thus far and allow that to motivate me to create more.
RRoF - Have you ever felt like giving up? What made you stay?
Beadup - So many times I just stare at my work space blankly and think “What have I gotten myself into?” Sometimes I get in a creative black hole and for the life of me can’t produce a new item, or have no energy to take the picture of or post an item I may not be 100% proud of. Comparing myself to other Etsy sellers who do this full time and thus have thousands of sales doesn't help either. In these times one of two things works - either to avoid Etsy for a few days and allow my creativity to come back naturally, or to explore some of the amazing things other sellers have created and find your inspiration in them. In all honesty, I keep creating because I find real joy in the creative process, not because I make any profit (in fact, I am still in the stages of only making back fractions of what I have spent at large - it may be awhile until I start profiting off of my sales in total). Besides, if I ever did want to give up, my husband would remind me that I have invested way too much money in this and that failure is not an option!
RRoF - Share with us some of the things you do daily, weekly and monthly, with regards to your Etsy business.
Rather than paying for promotional ads in print, I instead have taken full advantage of all that the internet offers for free :) I never really considered myself a bloggin’ kind of girl, but I have really found tangible success in tapping into the blogging and social networking world. I first created a Facebook fan page for my Etsy site and sent an invitation to all my female (and some male!) Facebook friends. Within a week I had almost 100 “fans” and several sales! I also post photo albums of pictures of my recent work and status updates of my Etsy progress on the fan page, which comes up in people’s news feeds and reminds them of what my Etsy shop is up to. After much hesitation, I finally started a Twitter account for my site. Though I am not sure if I have made any sales directly from Twitter, it has been a great way to network with fellow Etsy sellers and at least get my name out there. Finally, and most successfully, I started a blog about my “journey of homemade jewelry.” Here I have posted photos of inspiration, steps behind certain pieces of jewelry, pictures of people wearing my jewelry, and even a giveaway or two! After announcing my blog on Etsy, Facebook, and Twitter, I have at current about 70 blog followers. To further promote my blog, I make sure I visit whatever other Etsy or interesting blogs I can find and comment on posts there, which includes a link to my shop. I track all my site visits with a widget and thus can see that many of my blog visitors have come from other blogs and websites! It’s been like a domino effect and has been unexpectedly fun and rewarding.
RRoF - What is your largest hurdle with your shop?
Beadup - Finding my “voice” has been a challenge. A co-worker asked me recently, “What is your trademark?” I was embarrassingly left speechless. So many things inspire my work - art, photos, fashion, nature, culture, etc. But let’s be honest - I am limited by what kinds of supplies I can find and how much money I am willing to invest. Thus I sometimes make things that surprise even me, and wonder if they indeed have a place in my shop and fit into the sense of coherency I am trying to achieve. Maybe I will soon just allow eclecticism be my trademark and call it a day!
RRoF - How do you promote? And in your opinion, which works best for you?
Beadup - One of the best kept secrets I have discovered in terms of promotion is Vistaprint.com.
When I “launched” my site in April (i.e. when I started confidently telling others about my site!), I sent out 100 postcards to my family and friends with the announcement and shop address. I got them for free at Vistaprint and only paid for shipping! Vistaprint also offers whole design lines, which I have taken advantage of in order to creative a cohesive look to my Etsy mailing and promotional products. I have mailing labels, business cards, return address labels, stationary, and even cards with the same logo and design (and, again, I only paid for shipping! Vistaprint offers sales daily and mad discounts for their returning customers!). That way when people get my products in the mail they know it’s from me and where they can find my site again. I also include a hand written thank you note in every package I send and have had so many compliments on this simple gesture of gratitude.
RRoF - If you knew then (when you started) what you know now, what would you have done differently?
Beadup - I would have given myself more grace to let things happen in due time. If I allowed money and dollar signs to dictate my creative process and shop, I never would have made a sale. Instead, my attitude of creating for the sake of creating has allowed all subsequent sales be the icing on the cake.
RRoF - Any other thing, thoughts, advice, links,... etc you would like to share with the Newbies?
Beadup - If you don’t love what you are doing, don’t do it. To me, Etsy is the celebration of creativity, not of profit. When it feels like a chore rather than a pleasure, step back and reevaluate why you are selling in the first place. If you love what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life! :)
Thank you Christyn! Wishing you every success!