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May 29, 2020

AD | Things I've Learnt so Far From my Etsy Small Business

*sponsored post in collaboration with Lil Packaging.
all views are my own.*

I really didn't mean to take a month away from here but, if you follow me on any of my socials, you may know that I have an Etsy shop and a recent embroidery project that have been stealing a lot of my time away!

I've been loving embroidering and creating fibre art pieces for my shop for the last few months and feel like even in that short time, there's some things I've learned that has helped me improve my work ethic, my attitude to small businesses, and also my creativity. As so many people are taking up new creative hobbies and considering starting up their own new ventures during lockdown, I thought I'd share some things I've learned over these months - from one novice seller and creator to another!

Everything comes in waves
How many orders you get, interest in your shop/social media pages, even how you feel about your business... It's a complete rollercoaster and still not something I've got a total grasp on. I find that I can feel in a massive self-critical slump whilst also sewing 10 orders. I can be feeling really great about what I create when I haven't had any orders. It's a whole mixed bag and completely unpredictable. As someone who works quite well under pressure and likes to feel busy, I try to just fill my time with creating - regardless of if someone is buying it or not!

People will want something for nothing
Wow, okay. Sometimes things happen and it helps me understand why bloggers and influencers get the stereotyped, completely ill-informed and frankly wrong reputation that they do. Despite still being a very small business, I have had my fair share of people messaging, asking for free products to "review" to their couple of thousand followers. Often, these people don't even follow the shop's social media or have even liked the Etsy shop on facebook or Etsy itself.

Individuals who do that totally devalue your shop and products by suggesting that the one grid post they might do on IG (and let's face it, I wouldn't trust any of them to actually do it) is going to boost your sales despite their audience often not being remotely interested in what you're selling in the first place. You absolutely have the right to be quite abrupt with these requests because often, they've shown no politeness in messaging you in the first place and you are too busy to be worrying about what one person who's out for freebies thinks of you on the internet.

Sourcing eco-packaging is important
Not something that might apply to everyone but, something that was very important to me when my shop first gained some traction was making sure that what I packaged my items in was as eco-friendly as possible. Over time, I think I've managed to make each piece of packaging as eco-friendly as I can and it's thanks to great companies out there who realise that packaging can become incredibly wasteful.

One of these great companies is Lil Packaging who offer sustainably sourced, biodegradable, and plastic-free packaging options from boxes to bags to tape! They're also incredibly affordable making it not-so taxing to source eco-friendly packaging. Allowing you to purchase packaging in larger quantities also helps you cut down on your carbon footprint as you can make one large order at once, rather than multiple smaller ones.

People will undercut and copy
An unfortunate thing that happens - particularly on Etsy - is other similar shops undercutting each other and copying ideas. It's really hard to know how to price your items, even when there's a general "rule of thumb" formula because more often than not, if you actually use that formula, no one would buy your products because they'd be so expensive!

Of course, there's the battle of knowing your worth but also wanting to be affordable for your customers so it can be tricky to navigate. But, when you know the rough price of materials/labour/shipping etc. and similar shops to yours are selling things much much cheaper, it's unfair not only for you but it's also sad to see someone else be that motivated to make such little profit. It makes things harder for every small business and can cause customers to feel like small business prices should be competing with high street big corporations and that will never be possible - nor should it happen because a lot of love hasn't gone into those high street cheaply made knock offs!

Support for small business comes in all shapes and sizes
Nowadays - especially with social media - supporting small businesses has become a lot easier but a small business staying afloat also relies on it so much more. Simple things like people sharing posts, interacting with them, giving discount codes and business cards to friends and family after you've purchased something, leaving a review of a product... All of this really helps support someone immeasurably!

There's so many positives
I promise it's not all doom and gloom. Starting this small business has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not only does it push my creativity and help me keep that side of my hobbies active, it gives me a chance to give back to people and I've discovered so many fellow creators and friends through it. It's hard, it's time consuming, and it's full of continuous trial and error lessons but, if you've been thinking of starting something up - don't be intimidated! You'll find your own groove and balance with whatever it is you're creating and/or selling and you'll reap the benefits.

Seeing people receive my products and be happy with them and come back to order more is such a wonderful indescribable feeling. Whenever I'm full of self-doubt or feeling a bit low, I take a step back from everything and remind myself that my artwork is out there, in people's homes, bought for themselves or even given as gifts and that is so so heartwarming. That's why I'll continue sewing and making.

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