Etsy Entrepreneurial Tips

ETSY IS A ‘REAL’ BUSINESS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY ARTISAN

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I consider myself very lucky because I am one of a few who get to do their passion in life as a full-time job.  All I ever wanted to do was design, create, craft, and paint.  I was hooked on art and graphic design since middle school.  I knew instantly, after the first art class I took, that the only thing I wanted to do with the rest of my life was create with my hands.

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I went on to college to pursue this dream and took every art and graphic design class that I could enroll in for my electives.  While that dream was side-barred for about 20 years, while I worked a boring corporate J-O-B, that I had to, in order to pay the bills. I finally got back to what was vital in my life in 2010; designing and creating art and handmade goods.  I ignored everyone and took the risk and dove into the deep end and started my own business by opening my first Etsy shop.  Soon after, 3 more Etsy shops followed, all specializing in custom designs.

I am happy to say, I am doing it!  I am making a decent living and loving every day of MY business.   Of course in all honesty, it was not without the help and support of my sweet husband. . . because he was my life jacket, in that dark, deep end of the pool! I did not make a whole heck of a lot of money the first year, it was a struggle, I made all the mistakes that successful entrepreneurs will tell you not to do and it took me a while just to figure out how the heck to get traffic and shoppers to my online Etsy shops.  Yes, there are ways to do it and it requires work!

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Here’s the thing- when you are an artist and you have suppressed that need to create for years, it is like having an elephant on your chest- not having art in my life was like not having air. Seriously. Any artist will tell you this is what it feels like.  Don’t get me wrong, I love elephants- but not while they are getting in the way of my success!

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Whether pursuing a creative field or entrepreneurship in general, here are a few tips that neither art school nor business school will teach you about reaching for your dreams – and how to turn your passion into a business that pays more than just the bills:

  1. Ignore the naysayers. You know exactly who I’m talking about – the ones who are always saying, “You’re only going to be starving,” “Etsy is not a ‘REAL’ job or business??” or “Who would buy art (or THAT??) in this economy?” The truth is, there is always going to be someone trying to bring you down.  In my case, it was actually a few friends that I thought would support me and instead insulted me all along the way.  Some of them patronized me to my face and others just made negative comments behind my back- that got back to me one way or another. Most of these naysayers are no longer my current friends.  Whether they think they are looking out for your best interest or they are totally jealous of you going after your dreams, just concentrate on moving forward. Try politely asking them to respect your goals and business model and kindly refrain from saying anything negative, if they can’t be supportive.  If that doesn’t work, then remove them from your immediate circle of contacts and friends- this may be what is needed to succeed.
  2. Find your niche. Just like any good product, your artwork or designs need their own identity. Something you can be known for so that you can become the expert at. If you enjoy putting blue elephants on yellow T-shirts, make sure you are the best darn blue-elephant-shirt-maker out there so that people come to you when there’s a need. Once you’ve become known for your niche, it will be a whole lot easier to diversify into other subject matter. If you are in the beginning stages of your art, play around with a couple of different things before committing to your niche. You may surprise yourself.

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  1. Don’t change for others. Art or otherwise, people will always have their own opinions about a product. Again, you have to learn how to let their negative comments roll off your back. Instead of accepting the negativity, ask them what they like about the piece or product or ask for suggestions on how to make it better. Art is your personal interpretation of how you experience the world. Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard and trust your instinct.
  2. B2B is realistic business. It takes just as much effort to market to individual consumers as it does to a business, but businesses have the big bucks, connections and resources to finance your passion. If you’re pursuing art, then interior designers, art consultants and art galleries are just a few places to start. If you are a graphic designer, consider approaching a candle company or any company that manufactures one product to see if they would like to revamp their logo and product designs.  Brainstorm a list of people you may already know in these fields and ask them out to coffee immediately.
  3. Local networking is NOT for every entrepreneur.  I can tell you this from experience.  I am strictly an online eCommerce business and that is my model.  A few years ago, I decided to go the route of the 10 networking meetings a week with other local businesses.  What I found out was that most of them were a pyramid type of scheme where they wanted you to sign a year long contract and pay a bunch of money for what they said were ‘guaranteed’ referrals.  Of course you had to consistently bring new people to these meetings- which meant you were out marketing THEIR business and not your business.  I also worked in sales and actually learned everything I know about direct marketing and sales from a few top sales people in the nation and Ivy League graduates that always told me NEVER PAY FOR REFERRALS.  It will never pan out and you will have wasted your money.  I never bought into any of the paid networking groups, however, I quickly realized even the free networking meetings and organized groups were a waste of my time, since I could simply work more effectively and efficiently by networking online through writing on my blog, business facebook pages, Twitter, and other social media and by purchasing paid Google and Facebook advertisements.  After all, my target market is online shoppers and not the insurance salesman down the street from me.  My advice- work smarter not harder and determine the best, direct way to reach your target buyers.

Now, when you are ready to make that jump from hobby to professional, always remember why you wanted to do it in the first place. Discovering your passion in life is a gift that many people don’t have, so don’t be afraid to let yourself shine. With these tips, hard work, and persistence, turning your art into a business still won’t be a piece of cake, but you will get there a whole lot faster.

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I hope these tips have helped you on the path to success for turning your art into a business.  Thanks for stopping by The Party Fetti Blog today!

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