In the last couple weeks in the forums and in the Virtual Labs, I discovered that one of Etsy’s famous soap makers, DennisAnderson, had very recently quit his day job to sell full time on Etsy! I was very excited to hear this news and proceeded to ask him tons of questions and wish him the best of luck when I thought, “this would make a great article for those thinking about taking the plunge themselves or for those that already have and want to compare notes!”
Dennis graciously accepted my proposal for an interview to find out exactly what allowed him to take the plunge from working a full time day job to becoming a full time Etsy seller. Keep reading to learn how he is taking the plunge.
When you first started selling on Etsy did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
The first day I started selling on Etsy was on May 13, 2007. I had signed up about a month earlier and was getting a feel for the site. My girlfriend opened a jewelry shop a few months before I did. I worked for a lawn care company fertilizing lawns in over 100 degree temperatures, so I would have to say that after last summer, quitting my day job was a goal I wanted to meet.
How long were you selling on Etsy and working your day job before deciding you were ready to switch over to Etsy full time?
I quit my day-job on April 7, 2008 so it was a little under 11 months selling here on Etsy. I did want to wait another month or two to quit, but circumstances came up which I did not agree with, so I decided to take the plunge.
What made you decide to quit your day job?
Well, it’s been a dream of mine for the last 6 months. I worried about financial stability and think I hesitated longer then I should have. When I decided to leave my day-job, it was a spur of the moment decision that scared me to death but it has been a blessing. I’m learning new things about business everyday and love my new found freedom.
How did you know you were ready to take the plunge?
Last October my sales were not too great. Then November and December hit and I got swamped (with the holiday rush). I loved it! Since then sales have been constant, so I just had to do it.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time before taking the plunge?
Yes I did. First, you have to make an inventory list and a costs list (for your business materials). A costs list is basically how much money in supplies and personal labor. Figure out how much it costs you per item (to make). I figure that after the costs I needed to take x amount of dollars a week to pay the bills and rent for the month and at least 100 dollars a week for supplies (although lately I’m spending a lot more) the rest gets put into an emergency account in case I need to order something in bulk or if I just need some rainy day money.
What goals have you set for your Etsy business in the next few months and year?
I definitely want to grow; doesn’t everyone want that for their business? I want to be able to compare last year’s financial statements to this year’s and see an improvement, and I want to see that every year. I haven’t yet decided on what kind of percentage of improvement but most likely it will be between 10 and 25 percent depending on the month.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business?
I use other sites to promote my Etsy shop. You was surprised at how inexpensive it can be to put up a banner on their sites. Also, word of mouth is HUGE. I am a member of the CCCOE (California Crafters Club of Etsy) and there have been so many wonderful people who have tried my products and refer customers who want a wholesale account with me. I also effectively use the Promotions section in the Etsy forums. Many sales have generated from there. Hasn’t everyone seen my “I want a sale” threads every day?
How’s it going so far, are you getting by?
So far in 3 weeks it’s been going great. I have met all of my quotas financially and have had more time to produce more and new items. I am getting by, but at some points of the week after I make an order or have to spend money, I get uptight a little but it’s all good!
What piece of advice would you give someone thinking about quitting her/his day-job to sell full time on Etsy?
If you have constant sales and you are making enough after expenses to live free and independent, I’d say do it. The only person looking over you is yourself. You will be like “there is no way I can afford that,” but I will tell you, the three weeks after I left work, I only used 1 tank of gas, so I saved between 60 – 75 dollars that way. I’m kinda happy I don’t have to look at 4+ dollars a gallon gas prices every week anymore.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m so happy that I found this site. It has changed my life. There is a kid’s song from a show my daughter watches, I believe the show is “Yo-Gaba-Gaba” and they have this song and it’s stuck to my head permanently. It’s basically a song that tells you to keep trying and too not give up, because you will make it right. If you keep plugging away, have great pictures with natural light, an avatar that shows off one of your popular items you sell, there is no reason why someone wouldn’t be interested in purchasing from you. Sometimes it takes a while to get noticed. I am a seller, but also a buyer on Etsy…. I bought all of the gifts I gave away this last holiday season and any special occasions from Etsy…except for a video game.
Thank you so much Dennis for sharing your story with us! You are an inspiration to many and we wish you the best of luck making it full time selling on Etsy! Did you recently quit your day job or are you thinking about it to sell full time on Etsy? We’d love to hear your story and how it’s working out for you. Please send me an email to email@example.com and let’s chat!