Alina of alinahayes spent seven years in the medical billing and collections field before getting married and moving cross-country. Alina decided to take a pottery class to get back in touch with her creative side and make new friends. She soon realized she wanted to take the plunge into selling her wares full time via Etsy. Alina now successfully supports herself making and selling pottery, loves her newfound freedom, is expecting a child, and is reaching for goals such as a guest feature on the Martha Stewart Show.
How did you originally get into the business of making things?
I always loved making things. What still amazes me is that it’s possible to create something out of nothing. While attending The School of Visual Arts in New York, drawing and painting was a huge part of my life, until I discovered pottery and the beauty of three-dimensional objects. Clay had completely won me over.
Tell us about your previous working situation.
As a single girl in New York City, I needed a day job. Somehow I managed to get into the Medical Billing/Collections profession. Yikes! I was very good at it, so one job led to another, a promotion, a bigger pay check. Before I knew it, this “career” was going on for seven years. When I got married, my new husband had a job opportunity that would require us to move to Los Angeles, and we jumped on it! Sticking to what I knew best, I got yet another job in an office as a medical collector. I knew I was sinking. I was newly married to an incredible man, living in a fabulous city, and yet I was miserable. I decided to take some pottery classes to release some creative juices and make some friends, and so here I am!
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Yes! As soon as I saw how well some of Etsy’s sellers were doing, I realized that quitting my day job was a real possibility. I plunged into making as much pottery as I could in my spare time to fill up my Etsy shop.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time? Feel free to give us the nitty gritty business details!
I am not much of a planner, and I tend to second-guess myself, so I decided to jump in with both feet before I changed my mind.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
- Consistently listing new items kept me more visible and active in the Etsy community. Joining the Etsy Mud Team was great and helped me get into some of my first Treasuries.
- Treasuries are a great way to get to the elusive home page! Creating Treasury lists and including your favorite sellers likely ensures they will return the favor.
- Participating in Etsy-wide promotional sales is always helpful and will direct extra traffic to your shop.
- My blog, which I started because all I wanted to do was talk about clay and pottery, has helped in my marketing efforts.
- Facebook and Twitter are great networking sites to consider if you don‘t have time to devote to a blog.
- I also think it’s important to go beyond the Internet to grow your business. Doing local shows and sales as well as swinging by gift boutiques with your product will ensure that more people know you exist. The more people know you’re out there, the better your chances are for a sale.
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
Discounting work for the sake of doing so. Knowing what your work is worth is important, and just because it’s cheaper, does not mean you will sell more any faster.
Walk us through your typical workday.
- I wake up, walk over to my laptop to check for Etsy sales and Convos (even before I make the coffee…just can’t help it).
- I like to pack up my orders first and get them ready for the post office.
- I then make my way to the garage where, depending on what pottery making phase I am in, I will either throw, trim or glaze pottery. I like to spend at least four hours a day “making” pottery, otherwise I don’t feel productive.
- Often times I will be so caught up in it all, I’ll forget to eat lunch. However, I am pregnant at the moment, so that is not a possibility. Gotta make time for lunch!
- When I feel I need a break, I’ll make a trip to the post office and answer daily email.
- I don’t really keep a constant daily work schedule.
- Some days I will work well into the evenings. Others, I will end around 4 p.m. The same goes for weekends.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
I enjoy the freedom! The fact that I do not have to be in an office for a given number of hours every day. I love working in my pajamas! I love that I do not have a supervisor watching over my shoulder. I love that I get to do what I actually LOVE. I miss absolutely nothing, and that is how I know I have made the right decision.
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Separating my personal and professional life. Working and living at home sometimes makes it difficult to stop doing one and start doing the other.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else?
Have confidence and take the leap.
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
To maintain a steady and flowing production schedule. At the end of my first year on Etsy, I wanted to double my sales the next year and it was something I was able to accomplish. Now that my Etsy shop is my full-time job, I would like to double (if not triple) this year’s sales. I would like to keep increasing traffic to my store and continue to create quality product people will enjoy. Oh, and I’d also like to be a guest on the Martha Stewart Show. Hi, Martha!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Your Etsy shop will only be as good as the amount of time you’re willing to devote to it. Take great dynamic photos and sell quality products. Do not be discouraged. It takes time and a lot of effort, but I assure you it is possible to succeed.
Thanks to Alina for sharing her story. You can see some of Alina‘s beautiful work in the Related Items. Check out previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.