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One of the most intimidating things about opening an Etsy shop is figuring out how to handle shipping. If you are anything like me, I barely even sent mail prior to selling on Etsy. I knew I had products I wanted to share, but knowing all the logistics of shipping and handling almost kept me from getting started. Before I set up my shop selling stationery, I had done all the work in figuring out how to produce my product without putting together a shipping plan.
When I got my first order, my immediate thought was “how the heck am I going to ship this?” Slightly frazzled, I went to the nearest office supply store, bought a box, some bubble wrap, and figured it out!
Luckily, Etsy makes it easy with their labels so after printing it off I used Google maps to find my local post office (yes, I didn’t even know where it was – now I’m there a few times a week) and dropped it off. After fulfilling several orders, I learned a few tricks, time and money savers, and the keys to figuring out shipping on Etsy.
Like many people, I opened my Etsy shop without many expectations. In 2013 I started creating custom, printed invitations and announcements. That year, in April, I officially opened my Etsy shop and set a goal of making two sales for the month. Much to my surprise, I made my first sale within 24 hours (cha ching!). The sales kept on rolling in and by the end of April I had sold over $1,300 on Etsy. There were a few things that led to my early success.
Four years ago, I was working at an office job to pay the bills after losing my teaching position due to budget cuts. I had only been there a few months, but was lucky enough to receive a Christmas bonus (first bonus, ever) in the form of a $600 check. This was 2012 and I was struggling to find my purpose at the time, even though I didn’t realize it. I did know that I needed to find some type of hobby to occupy my free time after some negative events in my life. I took that bonus check and purchased the Adobe Creative Suite software and an online class to learn how to use it.
My first invitation designs were so, so embarrassing. Like ug-ly. Think lots of chevron (I swear it was totally in at the time) and beginner typography. I can’t believe how supportive my family and friends were, even when I was making things that wouldn’t ever be described as pretty.
I posted up a Facebook page, announced my new hobby to everyone I knew, and waited for a response. It was March 2013 and I literally had zero idea what I was doing. My sister mentioned that I should open an Etsy shop, which was a long term goal, not an immediate one. I was familiar with Etsy, had purchased a few items before, but unaware how to manage said shop and ship items. The idea of opening at Etsy shop was very intimidating.
Anyone established in the world of online business, blogging, or selling will tell you that it’s of upmost important to “find your niche”. So what the heck is a niche and how do you find yours? Think of a niche as a business’ specialty or what they’re best known for offering. By focusing on a specific market, product, or service you are able to really hone in on finding quality clients. Although it might feel limiting (I’ve been there and often struggle with it still) finding the true heart of your offerings will allow you to market as an authority figure on that subject or product.
Many claim that “getting started is the hardest part” which, let’s be honest, isn’t entirely true. With ideas swirling in your head, it can be difficult to know where to even begin.
If you search “how to start a business” online, I can guarantee you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of information being shared. Before running out and registering your business, building a brand, or worrying about taxes, I recommend starting simple. If the business is something you want to pursue after that, then you can later take the steps to make it legit.
I can’t claim to be an expert, but can share my experiences on building my own business from just an idea into a full time reality. I’m talking to the creatives, the makers, the bloggers, and the Etsy shop owners. Y’all are my people and although I would love to say this advice fits any business model, it may not.
Dreaming of opening a tanning salon or a landscape company? What I’m about to reveal is likely not going to be your best bet – there are liabilities associated with many businesses and my advice shouldn’t apply in these cases. Imagining starting your own photography business, Etsy shop, or social media management company? This advice is for you. Read on, friends.