In October of 2012, I left nursing school as well as my job as a grocery clerk (a few months prior) to be a stay at home mom and work on my Etsy shop Love Sparkle Pretty. Not only has that craving to be in my craft room been fulfilled almost each and every day, but, I have been able to create treasures that I had never thought I would before and have worked with some of my favorite photographers, stylists, bloggers and such wonderful clients!
I am still learning and there is so much more in store for my little shop but I am loving each step of the way.
I wanted to share a few things from my experience that I have learned so far with the handmade business world. If you are in the indie/handmade biz as well, especially if you are new to it, I hope this sheds some light and/or gives encouragement.
1. Quick responses are very important. I try my best to reply to any email/convo within 24 hours. This is a part of also portraying organization and responsibility. If I emailed someone, I expect to hear back within a short period of time so, I do the same. Obviously, life happens and it isn't always possible to get back to someone right away but just make sure, when possible, responses are given.
2. Be personal. With each response and shipping notification that goes out, I include the customer's name (unless I can't seem to find it for various reasons) within my reply. I also include a hand written thank you card in every order that goes out. Customers really notice things like that and I get a lot of positive feedback in return because of it.
People that buy handmade items are purchasing because there is a story behind each piece. That story comes from the person creating it. I think it's important for them to know a bit about you (which is included in the About Me section, blog, etc.) and know that there is a person who actually cares about what they are creating and selling to others to love as well. I absolutely treasure every single person who has purchased from my shop and I want them to know that.
3. Invest in a scale asap when shipping out orders. I was told that scales could be expensive and for the longest time, I drove back and forth to the post office almost every day-mind you, it wasn't super close either. Once I realized that I could just buy a scale from Target, in the kitchen section none the less, I was kicking myself that I hadn't done it sooner! Not only do I save money printing labels from home, but I can now just drive to a closer post office (most of the time) to just drop off packages and invest more money in the packaging itself.
4. June brides are procrastinators. Ha! Ok, not all June brides are but most of my rushed orders are for weddings in June. Of course, I appreciate each and every inquiry I get, I have learned to prepare myself in the years to come for a bit of a crazy month.
This busy month(s) may be different for others but for most businesses, there is a time of higher volume of sales &/or rushed orders so preparing yourself beforehand will certainly help.
5. Keep an agenda and write things down. I seriously can't remember half the things I "need to do" unless it's written down. It just makes life easier-like Post-its!
6. Don't sell yourself short. You are your brand and you know the hard work that goes into each and every piece. For a while, I created various pieces as a hobby but when I left nursing school and my job to be a stay at home mom (with lots of support from my husband), the "business side" of things became an important role. Of course it isn't the MOST important because I believe I should love what I do first and foremost but making a profit came to light as well.
The profit I make is able to help with taking family trips, going to a dinner with the husband, attending conferences to learn and network, buying things like a blow up swimming pool for my son and even help with the bills when need be.
There was a time when I didn't think I was "good enough" to charge higher prices to really make any money back. I would feel bad when I would hear "why are you selling it for so much?" or "I could make that for less than the cost." I had to realize who my target market really is and if something costs too much, then they can put the time into making it themselves if they wanted.
I have learned and I am still learning to value my time and put priorities in place.
7. Priorities. You know what's ultimately important to you. Write those things down and rank them. If you are doing too much at once (which is easy to do at times), you will get burnt out. It's ok to scratch things off the list and if you find yourself stressed out to the max, it may be time to hire help or trim down your priorities (hopefully keeping your family time on it)! Remember, you are only one person and not a person with crazy super powers! God created each of us to be able to REST-it's not a sin. ;)
For example, I would try to get all made to order purchases out within less than a week. This became too hectic and I had to adjust my shipping times to up to 2 weeks and even as much as 3 weeks on some custom orders. This change made a HUGE positive difference in my schedule at home.
There's a lot to learn each and every day but those are some of my main tips. I hope this helped and I would LOVE to hear anything else that you have learned from your experiences.
Have a beautiful day!