The Etsy Blog

Quit Your Day Job: Ashley Percival handmade and vintage goods

Tell us about your shop and the idea behind it.

Hello! My name is Ashley Percival and I’m a freelance illustrator. I have been making a living from selling my artwork since I opened my Etsy shop. I get most of my inspiration from wildlife and nature; my work reflects my interests, personality and imagination. My unique and quirky art prints make great wall decor for nursery rooms, children’s bedrooms, a teen’s room or any other room of your home. Most of the art prints I make are limited edition and are suitable for all ages.

Tell us about your previous working situation and how you discovered Etsy.

I have always loved to draw. I can remember wanting to sell my artwork as cards when I was a teenager. My other main interest has always been wildlife and nature — when I’m not making new artwork, I love to go out walking with my camera. After studying art and design in college, I went on to study natural history photography at the University College Falmouth. When I graduated in 2010, I was worried that I would have to get a normal day job — I was unemployed for a year. During my period of unemployment I carried on making artwork and photographing wildlife, but I never thought for one second I could make a living from doing it. It all started when my girlfriend told me to make a Tumblr blog for artwork. I started to upload new illustrations every day and soon gained hundreds of followers. Many of the illustrators and artists I found on Tumblr were selling their work on Etsy, so I decided to check it out. I thought it looked really cool and decided to give it a go. I was very excited when I opened my Etsy shop and uploaded my art prints for sale — I didn’t expect to sell six prints on the first day! I went from unemployed to self-employed in less than a week. Etsy was definitely my greatest discovery yet.

What do you enjoy most about not having a day job?

Being free to do what you want is the best feeling ever. I can go out and get inspired by long walks, museums and galleries. I can focus on my art and really experiment and set myself challenges. The other amazing thing is being able to work from anywhere in the world. I think everyone should have the opportunity to do what they love, and Etsy has made this a reality for me.

What are your best marketing tips?

  • For me, the most effective marketing has been getting featured on popular blogs. I occasionally email bloggers asking if they would be interested in featuring my artwork. Some blogs like to do giveaways — this is a great way to gain interest and drive people to your Etsy shop. I also have people who contact me through my Etsy shop asking if I would be happy for my work to be featured on their blog.
  • Contacting magazines is worth it. I have been featured in a few magazines including Uppercase and Lamono.
  • I recommend making your own blog or website. My Tumblr blog is a good place to upload new work and link to my Etsy shop, and I recently began a Facebook fan page.

What tool or technique has been the most effective in getting buyers to your shop?

I find that having well-chosen tags and good descriptions really helps people find my shop. Spending more time and effort with the Seller’s Handbook information pays off. Not only is it useful for the Etsy search, it helps people find you on other search engines like Google.

How do you think you stand out on Etsy and online?

People have described my artwork as quirky and whimsical. I think my style and subjects are unique and different. I try to make my work fun and cool, yet suitable for everyone.

Where does most of your traffic come from?

Most of my traffic comes from here on Etsy — people find my shop through treasuries, circles, and the Etsy search. Listing items regularly is a good way of getting traffic to your shop. I also use Etsy Search Ads.

Do you have any selling tips specifically for UK-based Etsy sellers?

  • Most of my sales come from the U.S., so I always list my items before I go to bed, knowing that buyers in America are 5 hours behind and will be online.
  • I recommend doing a test with listing your items — you will discover the best times of day or night for you.
  • Making a Tumblr blog is an amazing way to connect with people all over the world.

Have you ever pitched your products to the media?

I have pitched my products to magazines and have gotten my work in a few local galleries in the UK. I have also had luck with people contacting me. For example, some of my designs were recently licensed by Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 for T-shirts. I am getting my work on a series of cards for a new card company, and my work has been licensed by iPhone for a new app called artogram.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar path?

  • If you are thinking about quitting your day job and becoming self employed, just go for it!
  • Make sure your products are good quality and unique.
  • Make the most out of all the marketing tools out there.
  • Don’t expect to sell loads of your products straight away.
  • It’s all about enjoying what you do and being creative.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to say a huge thank you to the Etsy team! Without Etsy, I wouldn’t be able to live the dream. I still can’t believe the success I have had since joining 15 months ago. I recommend Etsy to everyone; it’s the best place to sell and buy products.

Thanks for sharing your story, Ashley. Check out his work in the Seller’s Items below.

Seller Handbook | Quit Your Day Job Series