Madelynn, a.k.a. onegarnetgirl, started out selling on Etsy with dreams of the possibility of making one sale per month in addition to her regular day job. Madelynn’s sales began to pick up soon after setting up her shop. The demand for her products came very quickly, and Madelynn began to realize her jewelry making business just might be a bigger opportunity than she originally thought. Over time, Madelynn transitioned into fewer and fewer hours at her regular day job as she began taking in enough money from her Etsy sales to pay the household bills. She’s now successfully quit her job and runs her jewelry business full time; keep reading to find out her 10 tips for someone who might be thinking of doing the same.
How did you originally get into the business of making things?
My drive to create changed into a bonafide big-girl business when I started selling here. Like so many of us, I had been quilting, knitting and making jewelry for my friends and family. I hadn’t tried to pursue selling work until about two years ago.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Yessir! But it’s the road less traveled, and I had no idea how to make it happen. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter one night and telling my husband that I may even be able to sell one piece a month! *Sigh* After about 2 months I began to consider, fleetingly, the possibilities of what my business could become. I was able to slowly cut back on working overnights during the first year.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
After a few months of selling, I realized I could start paying household bills with my Etsy income. I could justify cutting back my hours at work, so I got rid of my cell phone, my YMCA membership and started running outdoors instead, and looked for other ways to get rid of expenses. Get rid of your anchors so you can move forward — otherwise the stress of paying creditors will outweigh the joy of running your own ship.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
- Locally, I made up business cards and put them on every corkboard in town. I did home jewelry parties, advertised in three states on Craigslist. I advertised in the mini ads in our local paper. I bought from Etsy sellers and could tell anyone where to get the awesome candles (AuntieDis), kids wooden toys (WoodToyShop), and hand-painted portraits of my kids (christydekoning).
- Online, I read TONS of the advice and information available in the Forums. I am part of the Jewelry on Etsy Team (JETTEAM), and we do tons of promotion for each other on and offline. I also give a 10% off coupon to returning buyers every once in a while. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Craigslist, Trunkt — I’ve done all of those. I have advertised on websites dedicated to jewelry and blogs, too.
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
The Promotions section in the Forums has been great for Team promotions because there are many hands keeping a thread alive. I haven’t had as much luck doing a solo promotion in the Promotions forum.
Walk us through your typical workday.
- I respond to convos first thing in the morning, around 6:30.
- After a few cups of coffee and getting the kids off to preschool, I make a list of what I need to create for the day. I also have a running list of inventory and supplies to see if I need anything immediately. I renew something.
- Around 8:30 I start work and blast Motown on Pandora radio (it’s free!). In the morning it’s all Motown. I work, order supplies, answer convos, relist a second item around lunchtime. I solder, form, saw, file, polish, set stones, and clean, dry, package, write out mailing labels, stamp, write some thank yous and drive/walk/ride my bike to the post office by 5:30 p.m.
- My kids get home around 5 p.m. with my husband and they have dinner and then play for a little bit.
- On busy days I may be back out in the studio until 10 p.m., on a good day I am done at 5 and spend the rest of the night with my WONDERFUL (read: patient and understanding) husband and kids.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
Who doesn’t want to set their own schedule? Not having to primp in the morning is really nice, and I get to spend more time with my kids. Gabriel (three years old) and and Violet (one and a half years old) are home with me three weekdays, so I feel lucky to have that time with them to do fun things and go berry picking when we feel like it. I don’t have to drive my car to work, I don’t have to spend time commuting, and I get to be in my nest and get dinner started at 3 p.m. if need be. That said…I miss leaving my house. I’m not so housebound that we need to worry about territorial barking if people walk by, but… the simple act of leaving the stress of kids/cleaning/yard work behind is nice. At work, I never had to walk by a pile of clothes that needed to be folded. Some days are easier to strike a balance between work/home than others. This is probably my biggest struggle as a mother/businesswoman.
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
To succeed, you really have to be everything and everyone. Designer, craftsman, salesman, office manager, shipping department, accounts payable, receivable, marketing and advertising, you name it.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else?
- Don’t become too inventory heavy. Make sure to have your capital available and not tied up in materials (I opened a supply shop for my purchasing indiscretions).
- BUDGET. Time, money.
- RENEW! Even if you relist an item a day for a month you are talking about $6.00 a month and heightened visibility.
- Only make what you would buy.
- Don’t cut corners and use the best materials.
- Clean shop. Every three months, go through and get rid of what isn’t selling. If you don’t want to continue making something, don’t. Get rid of it.
- Evaluate your pricing, make sure you can pay yourself + taxes + household bills. Don’t undersell your work.
- Keep on learning: take classes, try new techniques, and have fun!
- Connect with other sellers. Send them a convo. Ask questions. Make friends. Align yourself with good people!
- Exercise. It reduces stress.
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
I would like to continue to make jewelry that I love, working on new designs and meeting new people. I look forward to growing my brand, developing new styles. Professional pictures would be great.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just a big thank you to the buyers and sellers who have helped me develop my business to this point. Thank you to the JETTEAM‘s support and friendship, and to my dear friend and jooray guru Metalicious, as well as Lori, Nicole, Tiffany, and the brilliant artists who fill the pages here. And thank you to ETSY for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Have your own questions to ask? Come on by and chat with her Monday, August 24th at 5 p.m. ET in Etsy’s Virtual Labs.
You can see some of Madelynn’s gorgeous jewelry in the Related Items below. Check out previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.