Starting A Small Scale Creative Business: The Basics

Hey there!

You haven’t heard from me since the “Big News” post and it’s high time I gave you a little update of what I ‘ve been busy with. I ‘ve been doing two things basically: creating and learning. Oh, and raising the kids, since there is no autopilot for that and we are back to autumn rhythm, which means N. is gone at work till around 19:30.

What have I been creating? Here is a sample.

And what have I been learning? Oh God, where do I even start?

video

If you are not the reading type, you can watch all I have to say about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnoGV_Ow0dQ

I ‘ve been learning tons of things about setting up and promoting a small, creative business. I ‘ve decided to use Etsy as my selling platform, because:

  • the clients are already there, browsing for art and unique, hand-made objects
  • Etsy offers great support for sellers, including their starter’s manual, that I haven’t yet dived into properly. But I do know it is loaded with tons of information.
  • The fees you pay to Etsy for every listing and sale are pretty low, if you take into account what you get in return, belonging to this creative community.

Now, as I don’t want to spend my time reading the Etsy manual or the great book my friend Pauline got me, what I do is this: I make the things I want to make (sew, draw, sketch, you name it) and I listen to youtube videos about Etsy at the same time. I ‘ve found a few channels I like and I binge-watch while I do my thing. Here is what I ‘ve learned so far and thought might be interesting for some of you:

  • you can’t and shouldn’t rush business growth. You just have to work freaking hard on it, on many levels and you need to give people time to discover you.
  • Trying to use ads to get sales when you don’t have sales already is pretty useless. They are great though for when you start having sales and people know your product and want it. Then you can use ads to boost sales occasionally.
  • Bringing traffic to your Etsy site on your own helps a ton to make sales. This means that you need to promote your work via social media on all sorts of ways. Facebook and instagram seem to work best but pinterest won’t hurt either, though people usually go there for ideas rather than products. Blogs and vlogs are also helpful.
  • A mailing list is a great way to keep contact with your community and remind them when you have sales, new products or a special offer just for them.
  • Selling physical objects has something very fulfilling. Someone else out there is enjoying something you created and poured so much love and energy into. However (!) it might not be the most sustainable way to go business-wise. For example if I started selling 20 Waldorf dolls per week, there is no way I would manage to make them on my own with the time I have now in my hands. But a print of an artwork? You make it once, it sells forever, no extra work needed.
  • That said, physical objects come usually at a higher price, so it’s a bit a matter of seeking the balance, especially if -like me- you do enjoy making things with your hands.
  • Joining art/ craft markets is a great way to build your client base/ audience. People love to connect with the creators and you can get first hand feedback from the users of your products or services. You also connect with other artists and can form valuable relationships (personal or for future collaborations).
  • Joining a craft market with a full stall is important. Allow people to see the variety of products and services that you offer, print explanation / vision flyers and don’t forget your business cards. That way people are more likely to join your mailing list too.
  • Having low cost products on your website is a good way to attract clients, who might then look around and see something they like on the higher end.
  • Having between 40-100 products on your Etsy store is a good start. It shows both your clients and the platform that you take your business seriously. With less products you are practically invisible. Don’t forget that Etsy is a search engine. Keep your inventory stocked up.
  • SEO. Do your research, use the right keywords, use special SEO analyzing programs if you must (I don’t, yet) to find which keywords relevant to your product score higher on searches.
  • Link your face to your product and be present. Sure, obscure artists hidden in the shadows might be good novel material, but people want to connect. They want to know who will be answering their questions, if they send an e-mail for a custom order. They want to know they can trust you if a damage occurs or a shipping hiccup happens.
  • Reward your clients. Package with care. Package with love. Put that little extra in. Put a discount code. Make them feel special, because they are, since they chose to support YOU from that sea of creatives out there.

And as my friend Stamatis from Steehos pointed out during a catch-up call, make sure to listen to your gut feeling and do your own thing. Ideas coming from others might be great, but if they are not yours and you don’t feel you can stand behind them 100%, they won’t work out and you will end up frustrated.

Obviously there are many more things to consider, like taxes. But they vary from country to country and even from one creative field to the other, so there is no point in going into details about that aspect. Not in that first post on that topic anyway (can you tell I hate finances?).

Obviously this blog will continue having its random posts under the wider umbrella of love for nature, parenting, sustainability and so on, but you might see a bit more on entrepreneurship from now on. As you know by now, I love sharing my journeys with you and that’s an exiting one!

chat soon peeps!

xx

Alexia

Yours truly, totally in control of everything! 🙂 ❤

 

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