Natalia of realisationcreations has successfully been running her online jewelry business since quitting her previous full-time job of running and managing a car detailing business in Australia. While she admits the money currently coming in doesn’t allow her to spend as frivolously as in the past, she couldn’t be happier. Keep reading to find out how this night owl manages to turn her hobby into a full time business, all the while proving to her loved ones that making and selling jewelry full time IS a real job.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
It has been my dream over the last few years to successfully make jewelery my full time job, and a recent year-long foray into a quite profitable — but very stressful — car detailing business proved the turning point for me. I felt frustrated and depressed the entire time I owned and ran the business, and decided I would have a short break once I sold the business to decide whether I would give Etsy 100% or seek employment. It seemed like the moment I made the decision to take the plunge with Etsy as my full time job, things just started falling into place, and I felt more fulfilled and happier as a result.
What was the deciding factor resulting in pursuing Etsy as your full time job?
As I mentioned earlier, it was while I owned the detailing business, that I started exploring what I really wanted to do with my life, and thought about what might work for myself and my family. The detailing business was one of the most stressful periods of time I have ever experienced, but it was the catalyst to start taking Etsy seriously. While I had already been selling here on Etsy with some degree of success, I had always thought of this venue as supplementing what I sell locally in galleries; and my family — while they love me dearly — have always seen my jewelery as a hobby, not a career choice, and I suppose I was thinking along those lines too. I’ve really worked hard at making this a job that I love to do, not a hobby that I yearn to get to in the in between times. Since I have been more consistent with new designs, keeping my store looking fresh and offering a broader range of items, I have seen my views, hearts, and sales increase in direct proportion to the effort I have put in. As anyone who has run their own business will tell you, it’s very long hours — but when you are fortunate enough to do what you live and breathe, it’s so rewarding. My family has really noticed how much calmer and more centered I am.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
I had already registered as a business in 2004. Then I had a logo and business cards made up and decided that while I owned the detailing business and a large amount of money was coming in I would make some more extravagant purchases – which I enjoyed! In hindsight, I would have benefited greatly from planning ahead more, especially in terms of a safety blanket, as I have expenses that I need to cover each month regardless of what money is coming in.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
I suspect I am like many artists and crafters — I quite dislike promoting! I do have some online presence in the form of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and also a blog, but I am a little sporadic in updating these. I am also a member of some fantastic street teams -— DUST (Down Under Street Team), the Freethinker Team, the Wire Artisans Guild, and SASsy (Sellers Assisting Sellers team). I have bought Showcases often, and have had mixed results — always lot of views and hearts, but only sales directly from this a couple of times. I try to create Treasuries as often as I can, and participate in the Forums as well — although this can be a trap, as I often end up spending too much time there! I think all of the above add to create name recognition, which is incredibly important in marketing yourself. I am investigating advertising outside of Etsy currently.
What have you found to be unsuccessful promotion or something that’s just not working for your shop?
For me, the promotion section of the Forums has never worked — it’s just too fast moving! I tend to not use that anymore, as I’ve personally not seen results with it.
Would you walk us through what a typical workday might entail?
- I usually get up 6:30-7am and am straight on the computer to check for sales, convos…and hearts!
- After this it’s a mad rush to get my husband and two boys ready, beds made, lunches packed, and off to work/school by 8:30.
- I’m usually home by 9:15am, and after letting our chickens out to scratch around for the day, I make a cup of tea and back onto the computer. I try to get all the promotional stuff out of the way first – like Twitter, visiting the threads I have contributed to in the Forums etc, answering convos and emails.
- Then I get stuck into making jewelery for a few hours, with a break for lunch, and/or a quick walk with the dog.
- The early afternoon is usually when I take photographs, package items, and visit the post office before I pick my boys up from school.
- The rest of the afternoon is then spent with their various activities (at the moment we only have gymnastics and rugby tag booked in after school), homework, cooking, housework, and if I get a chance I’ll edit the photos I took earlier that day.
- Once Leon (my husband) is home, we try and spend a little time together talking about the day — at the moment coming into summer, we sit out on the veranda and have a glass of wine — lovely!
- After we’ve had dinner, and the boys are off to bed, Leon and I will spend time talking, or watching the idiot box, and usually when Leon goes to bed I spend some time online and/or making jewellery again for a few hours.
- Bed is about midnight usually, although if I get “into the zone” — as Leon and I call it — it can be much, much later.
What do you enjoy most about having both a day job and working on Etsy? Is there anything that’s difficult?
I do miss some of the day-to-day banter that I enjoyed when in the workforce, and I also miss being able to predict when the money is coming in! Apart from that however, I love my own company, I love being able to listen to whatever music I want, and being able to spend the day creating in old jeans and a sadly ripped t-shirt, if I so desire! I love being able to take my boys to school each day, picking them up each afternoon, and spending time with them. I love being able to make meals from scratch, and being able to pop outside for a walk with the dog, or indulge in a spot of gardening if I need to clear my head. I don’t miss running a business that I’m not passionate about, and where I have to depend on other people – who in the main I found unreliable and energy leaching. And I truly love being able to make my job doing what makes me happy and fulfilled.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?
Owning the detailing business was a real trial by fire for me, and was a valuable lesson in budgeting. As I had up to 8 people on my staff at any given time, it was crucial that I could pay them each week, and that I could pay the suppliers each month. Cash flow was a top priority, and this is a lesson I have carried over to my jewellery business. I now use an accounting software to record expenses and sales, and this is invaluable for spotting trends, and ensuring that I pay myself.
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year?
A steady increase in sales would be fabulous!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Even though I have a wonderfully supportive family, it has been really hard to convince them that this is my chosen career path. At this stage, I do feel a little guilty as it does not bring in anywhere near the amount my previous business brought in – yet! – and obviously that’s incredibly important. However, apart from the argument that I do believe I save money being home – no childcare fees, minimal takeaway (I do like cooking!), less petrol used, etc, I am also much happier, which in turn makes the whole family happier. Its part of a whole life change that I truly believe in.
Thanks to Natalia 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.