It’s time for another In Their Words feature on Cutting for Business! Today, I’ve invited Amy from Adorably Amy Designs to share her small business story in her words. Amy’s Etsy shop has been open less than a year and she has over 12,000 sales! Here’s what Amy has to say:
Like so many other people, I used to have a nine-to-five job. I was good at office-type stuff, so that is what I did. But in my heart, I longed to do something more creative. For a long time, I channeled that creativity into making websites, scrapbooking, and I even ran a photography business on the side for awhile. Then, I had my son. My husband and I decided pretty quickly I would stay at home to raise Lucas, and I gladly left behind the office environment. Though my days were filled with diapers, tears, first smiles and steps, and a whole lot of love, I still yearned to let my creativity run free. Sadly, time just didn’t allow for the pursuits I had loved in the past.
Fast forward five years. Life with a rambunctious five year old was more challenging than ever. School, appointments, errands, family time. Everything was happening at once, and I struggled to keep up.
On a whim, I picked up a planner, because I needed to organize our life better, and the calendar on my phone was just not cutting it. I quickly became obsessed with all things planner related, but most especially stickers! I started out just buying stickers, because man, there were so many out there! Almost anything you could want to decorate and organize!
But after a while, I looked around and saw how much I was spending and thought, “why don’t you make these for yourself?” It could save money, and allow me the creative outlet I so desperately needed. An idea was born, and pretty soon I couldn’t get it out of my head. I picked up a Cameo and started designing and making stickers. After a month or so of using them myself, as well as sharing them with my friends, I had so many people asking me to offer my designs that I decided to give selling them a try. I didn’t rush right in, since I knew the planner sticker market was saturated, with a lot of people offering a lot of the same things. Since drawing is not my strong suit, I knew I’d need to rely on clipart for my designs, and a lot of sticker makers seemed to be getting clipart from the same places. I knew if I was going to set up a shop of my own, I needed to have something different, something not a lot of shops had.
After a lot of thought, and some trial and error, I opened shop, and in the eight months I’ve been in business, my shop has grown to over twelve thousand sales. In that time, I’ve followed a few simple steps that have enabled me to be successful and stand out in a crowded market, and I’m pleased to share them with you. I hope you’ll get some inspiration from them!
Step 1 – Find a unique product and market the heck out of it!
For me, that unique product was stickers for personal size planners. Most shops at that time were pretty much exclusively carrying stickers for Erin Condren or A5 planners. I had friends that had small personal planners and could never find nice products. From the beginning, I decided to carry all of my designs in both full size and personal size stickers (which I call “Teenies”). I advertised those Teenies anywhere and everywhere I could, and people bought them in droves. In my first six months Teenies were the bulk of my orders. They kept business flowing in while I heavily marketed my shop and drummed up interest in my other products. At this point, my business is split about 50/50 between full size and Teenies.
Step 2 – Network, Network, Network!
Networking with other shops really helped me when I first started out and still continues to. Connecting with other shops via swaps can be great advertising for them and for you. I love getting to try products from other shops, and it also gets my products out there! We each post pics on our Facebook and/or Instagram, so we can tap into each other’s customer bases. This especially works if you pick shops that have a slightly different style than your own, since you’re showing their customers something they haven’t seen before. Networking also lets me make friends in my seller community. Support from people who have been where you are is key to succeeding in a tough market.
Step 3 – Giveaways!
Giveaways go hand in hand with networking with other shops. I have joined a few groups on Facebook made especially for planner sticker sellers, and through these groups I join up with other shops to be part of loop giveaways on Instagram. You earn followers for your Instagram, thereby increasing your potential customer base. I have also done giveaways of my own when my shop hits milestones. Whether you go it alone or join up with a collective, letting people try your product for free is a great way to spread the word about your shop.
Step 4 – Excel in Customer Service
I never forget that without my customers, my shop is just a place filled with pretty pictures of pretty products. I strive to make sure every order is perfect every time, but in a crowded market, that’s not always enough. Going above and beyond can make a huge difference in whether or not the customer comes back, leaves a good review, or recommends you to their friends. I include little extras in orders, offer discount codes for repeat customers, jot notes on orders if time allows, and interact with my customers in any way I can via my Instagram and my Facebook group. The bottom line is that keeping a customer is easier than finding a new one. By always making it a priority to make my customers happy, I’ve gained a lot of loyal customers that shop with me over and over again. Without them, I’d be nothing!
Step 5 – Keep evolving!
The planner market is ever-changing. What’s popular today is different than what was popular a year or even even six months ago. This is the case for all markets, but it seems especially true in the planner market. People are always looking for something new and different. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to keep in touch with the trends in your market, to find out what is popular, and do it. If my customers can’t find something with me, they will shop elsewhere, so I make it a point to try to anticipate what they might want. For example, the “doodle” (or hand drawn) style is very popular in stickers right now. Since I can’t draw a lick, I search out clipart that is drawn in that style, and have even contracted an artist to “doodle” exclusively for my shop. But when the market changes, I’ll be ready for it, because I’m flexible enough to give my customers what they want.
It’s crazy to realize I haven’t even been open a year. While I don’t consider my shop to be huge (yet), I keep very busy and I love what I do. I get to make my own hours, work from home, wear pajamas whenever I want, and be around for my kiddo. Still, it’s not all fun and games. I work a lot more hours than I would at a normal job. I am always connected to my phone or computer, serving my customers, or thinking of ways to innovate and improve my products. But I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Owning my own Etsy shop is the dream job I never knew I wanted!
I hope you find motivation in Amy’s story. It takes a lot of guts to write your story from your heart to be shared with thousands of online readers. Stop by Amy’s Etsy shop, favorite a few products, shop, or connect on social media to say thanks for sharing:
Do you have a great story based around your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut based business? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see your story featured here.
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Wishing you many sales,
If you found this information helpful, pass it to another crafty business owner or business owner-to-be by sharing it on your favorite social media. Sharing it is also a great way to find it when you need it again!