The First Four Months: Adventures of an Etsy Seller

Flower Face, Blodeuwedd Rosary Necklace by Feral Strumpet on Etsy

I found myself in a little village in North Yorkshire, after living in London for six years. My fledgling career as a massage therapist suddenly stalled as all my clients were still in London and I knew no one and had no way to build up the business again through word-of-mouth. After working for myself as a therapist I knew I couldn’t work in an office again. Could I start another business and would it be viable? What lessons could I bring from my massage practice to a new venture?

I had long been an Etsy shopper. Whenever I needed anything I would check Etsy first, preferring to buy from an individual maker. Plus, artisans on Etsy usually had unique and wonderful solutions and options. I began to think, what if I sold things I made on Etsy? Friends had often commented that I should sell the jewelry made, but I thought no one would pay me for such things.

I was wrong! It is four months into this journey and already Etsy has helped me make my first mortgage payment. I have found not only a wonderful customer base of friends, internet acquaintances and most amazingly, strangers who have found my shop. But I have also been surrounded by supportive fellow-makers and shop owners. When you wake up in the morning and set up your tasks for they day, they form a kind of virtual team, giving you high fives and thumbs up with messages and “likes” as well as team discussions. They also pose a constant source of inspiration when you see what they’ve been up to. Working alone in my little studio can get lonely and isolating, so having these creative fellows about has made a huge difference.

Four months is a bit of an arbitrary anniversary, except that listings on Etsy go in four month cycles. Everything I listed from that first cycle, save one necklace, has sold. I’ve celebrated by reassessing my business plan and goals for the shop. I’ve gotten serious and invested in branded packaging as well as rethinking things like sales and ongoing promotions (Look for a brand new sale section in the shop coming soon!) Also, I bought a new tool– a Xuron needle nose pliers to replace my little pliers I’ve had for the last quarter of a century. My old pliers were giving out, giving me blisters and the spring was totally gone.

But they had sentimental value. I bought them at the Laguna Beach Bead shop, back in high school. The shop owner (I believe her name is Peggy) was the first person to teach me how to make jewelry. She did it for free, and always took an interest in what I was making. My teen years were difficult– I don’t know if she knew how much she helped me by giving me these skills and being present in my life in that way. This is another reason why local businesses are worth supporting over mega stores! Would I have known someone like her if the only shops left where Michaels and HobbyCraft? I like to think I’m keeping the cycle going on Etsy, building the micro economy and making beautiful things.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me thus far– here’s to the next leg of the adventure!

8 thoughts on “The First Four Months: Adventures of an Etsy Seller

  1. LAGUNA BEACH BEAD SHOP!! My mom and I used to go there all the time when I was a kid. We took a beading class together and used to shop there for our supplies and for inspiration. That just brought back some memories….

  2. Hi Morgan! I keep forgetting you grew up in Cali! I love that shop. I went back a few years ago, and she totally remembered me, even though I hadn’t been in 10 years or so. It’s such a great place.

  3. I’ve been contemplating setting up an Etsy shop, and reading this has made me think I should take the plunge. I think fate must be helping today , 1st I get a pair of earrings I was not expecting and now this . You may be my ‘LAGUNA BEACH BEAD SHOP !!! thanks 🙂

  4. Jane, you should totally do it! I would love to see what you fill your shop with. I find that there is a lot of support on Etsy– not just with the seller tools but from other sellers & teams. It’s been a very positive experience for me!

  5. I am so happy for your resounding success on Etsy! I find arts fairs more useful–you obviously have hit on something that makes Etsy work really well–keep on doing it!

    Love to hear success stories like this. Keep on truckin’ with your beautiful jewelry, feralstrumpet 🙂

  6. Thanks, Kara. There’s been a lot of trial and error these first four months. My biggest challenge now is finding supplies! Sadly, most of the things I use I have to get from the US and the shipping and customs is something that makes that difficult. I would like to try fairs– how do you merchandise your baskets at craft fairs? Do you have a banner, etc? That part of the whole non-internet sales overwhelms me. Also, running the booth by myself seems tricky. I should look into it though.

  7. It is easy! If you don’t want to start out with a big investment of tables and tent, just try out a small indoor festival and see how it goes. That’s what I did — start small, with fairs or festivals that do not require a big setup (maybe at schools, clubs, etc) and have small fees. Just assume that the first few times you won’t sell a lot, you are just trying to get experience and figure out what setup works well for you. Once you have a little success at those, take your earnings and invest in a tent and tables and sign up for bigger festivals with higher attendance. Unless it is a really cheap booth fee, I like to work things that have at least several thousand in attendance or its not worth your time. Also, try to figure out which market fits your product. For instance, I went to a flea market type thing once and this was really foolish & depressing — that is not the market for handcrafted gemstone stuff. So now I try to only do juried arts and crafts fairs. If you can get in them I suggest juried, but they often have stringent requirements for level of craftsmanship.

    I do not do baskets at festivals yet– only jewelry.I do not have a banner or signs. Just tables, nice tablecloth, attractive but clean setup. Just my opinions, hope it was helpful 🙂

  8. Thanks- i will have to research a bit more, as I don’t know of any craft fairs here inYork. There are Goth events with markets but people I know who sell there aren’t selling much at those. They just aren’t that well attended given how much the pitches cost. I was even thinking selling at Fantasy con might work. Thanks for your advice.

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