Corrina of Piddix has been selling on Etsy for just over two and half years. What started as a innocent creative outlet turned into a full time job through the many hours of trial and error required to find what system worked best for her Etsy success. With Piddix quickly growing into the work of one full time job in itself, Corrina and her husband got creative with their own schedules. Their Etsy store now allows both to work only part time; this way they can both have equal time at home with their little one, hence making Piddix one full time job and their other part time work an equivalent. Keep reading to find out how this creative couple came up with their system.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Not at all. When our son, Declan, was born in December 2006, my husband and I both took some time off from working full-time at our non-profit jobs to be with him. We lived off of vacation-time and savings, and I started selling on Etsy during Declan’s naps. Three months later we both went back to work part-time, still supplementing our wages with savings with no concrete plan in place for once the savings ran out. Luckily, within a couple of months my sales on Etsy really picked up, especially once I started selling digital collage sheets. By January 2007, piddix had become a major part of our income—allowing both Brian and I to work part-time at jobs that we love, while also swapping days that we stayed home with Declan. I feel incredibly fortunate that we are both able to get out of the house for our “real jobs” a couple days per week, and that we both are able to be at home with Declan as well. It’s a great balance.
What was the deciding factor resulting in pursuing Etsy as your full time job?
It was very important to Brian and I that at least one of us stay home with Declan. But I also worried that if I quit working outside of the home and focused solely on etsy, I might go a little stir-crazy. Brian is also an amazing father, and if he worked full-time while I stayed home with Declan, I feared he’d miss out on all of the one-on-one time they were able to spend together. By more-or-less splitting one full-time regular job while also working on etsy, we get the best of both worlds.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
We definitely had a small nest egg saved up, but no concrete plan at first for what to do once that money ran out. As piddix has grown during the past two years I’ve registered as an LLC, taken an entrepreneurial business class, and created a business plan.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
- If you read the “success stories” and “quit your day job” series on the Storque (and I must admit I’m quite addicted to them), one of the major themes that comes through is that word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. For example, piddix was mentioned on modish and in the Storque “How-to-handbook” and sales definitely shot up.
- Partnering with another etsy seller turned out to be a great marketing strategy. I created a custom collage sheet for littleputbook’s scrabble tile tutorial and that resulted in a ton of new sales and customers.
- I’ve found that having a high quality product with great customer service is essential. Probably half of my sales are repeat customers. Every once in a while I’m correcting individual pixels until my eyes are blurry, I am tempted to cut corners. But then I’ll get some kind comment out of the blue from a customer and it motivates me to continue to work hard to create a high-quality product, which definitely pays off in the long run.
- And perhaps one of my best marketing strategies was a total accident. Early on I created a how-to website for selling on Etsy. It wasn’t meant to be promotional for piddix at all, just something I wanted to try out. But as more and more people have found it, many readers have come over to my Etsy shop as well.
What have you found to be unsuccessful promotion or something that’s just not working for your shop?
- My blog is sad and lonely. I was never good at keeping a journal or diary and I think blogging is just not for me.
- I’m also not a big “Sale! Sale! Sale!” person, so that’s a bit of a mixed bag. I offer treats to readers of my newsletter, but in general I like to let the quality of my work speak for itself rather than offering super-sale prices all the time.
- I’ve tried selling about 20 different types of items through piddix—from rings, to necklaces, to hats, to collage packs and so on. Some items definitely worked better than others (my “inspiration kits” in vintage glass jars were heavy, a pain to pack and ship, and I couldn’t give them away!). I think the process of trying things out on Etsy and then getting feedback and learning from it has been part of the fun.
Would you walk us through what a typical workday might entail?
I am not a morning person, so while Declan and Brian get up around 7:20 am to get their day going…
- I pull myself out of bed around 8:45, turn on my computer, quickly send out and re-list any collage sheets I sold the night before, and get ready for the day.
- At 9 Brian heads off to the bus and I get to play with Declan. Often Declan and I will spend our mornings at a “book babies” class at the library or at the zoo.
- Around noon Declan and I grab lunch. While driving home Declan falls asleep (or at least that’s the plan), and then I carry him to his bed and get to work.
- Nap-time is crunch time. With luck, I’ll have from 1-4 pm to fulfill new orders from that morning, sending out the collage sheets via email and re-listing items. I then answer convos, work on new sheets, and scan new items. I often check my email remotely at The ReBuilding Center, just to see if anything needs my immediate attention. Then, depending on how quickly I finish up, I may even have time for a quick nap myself.
- Once Declan is up we’ll grab a snack and head out of the house again to run errands (the term “stay-at-home mother” has never quite fit). I may take Declan to an antique store or Powell’s Books—looking for new images to scan.
- At 5:30 we pick Brian up from work and usually head off to dinner. We know all the good happy-hour specials and dinner deals. Afterwards, we all go home to hang out.
- Declan’s bath time starts at 7:45 pm, and Brian puts him to bed around 8:15 or so.
- From 8:15 to midnight is when I get most of my Etsy work done. Evenings are definitely when I feel the most creative, so I save most of my graphic design work for then. Even though I’ve worked on Etsy pretty much every single day for the past two years, it’s still exciting.
What do you enjoy most about having both a day job and working on Etsy? Is there anything that’s difficult?
Ummm. Can I say traveling to Hawaii? It’s pretty amazing, but my whole family has been able to travel around the country visiting different archives. I spend a day or two scanning away or taking photographs, and then the rest of the time I can enjoy a vacation and work on my Etsy shop remotely.
But truly the best part has been being able to hold on to a day-job that I love with wonderful people. I’ve been at The ReBuilding Center six years and it’s an absolutely amazing group of folks. Most of my income is from Etsy, and I know that some day in the future I may have to leave TRC to focus on piddix full time, but I’m hoping to prolong that change as long as possible.
Time management has been huge to be able to balance both jobs. I have to plug the book, The 4-Hour Work Week here (by Timothy Ferriss). I’ve gotten it to the point where I can send out a person’s order within a minute. Without all of the time-saving devices that I’ve built into my day—even little things like having my most-used programs automatically launch when I start my computer—there’s no way that I could make it all work.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?
I highly recommend the business class I took. It was through Mercy Corps Northwest and was part of an “individual development class” program. In addition to a very-helpful six-week course, they offer a three-to-one match for capital expenses. Basically, if I save $900, they’ll give me an additional $2700 to spend on piddix. Many states have similar programs that you can find by searching for “IDA programs” and the name of your area. Mine was specifically for entrepreneurs but there are lots of other options as well.
And I don’t know if I’d do anything differently if I could go back in time or even give myself any advice. Being the nerd that I am, learning and trying to figure things out is part of the fun.
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year?
It’s a long list:
1. Create and list more new digital collage sheets and more new sizes (Christmas, Wizard of Oz, mermaids, and underwater creatures are probably next).
2. Several new CDs, both collections of collage sheets but also compilations of larger, full-sized images.
3. Put together more physical collage packs of original images, grouped by theme (such as birds or anatomy).
4. Start going to craft fairs again. I miss that interaction. Now just to figure out what to make….
5. Stabilize sales to a level similar as last summer (some of my best months ever).
6. Be featured in a How-To Photoshop book this coming spring (yea!).
7. Take several new graphic design classes plus purchase a new camera, scanner and other capital expenses, all paid for through the small-business class I took.
8. Continue to build out my how-to website and flickr pages to show what can be made from my images.
9. Be taken on as a pro-bono client of a local law-firm. Researching copyrights for all of my images is incredibly important to me and it would be nice to have an entire law firm to work with in addition to my current East coast lawyer.
10. Have fun.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It may sound cheesy, but I have the best customers on Etsy. Hands-down. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about people who purchase collage sheets—perhaps because they’re crafters themselves—that makes them kind and thoughtful. And I love seeing the creative items they all make. Thanks to them, and to Etsy, for letting this all work out.
Thanks to Corrina for sharing her story and business with us! Check out the related items below to see some of her work.
You can find some of our previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.