Confessions of an Etsy Shop Owner

Shy Puppy

Photo Credit, Winsker

I have a confession to make.  A few confessions actually.  This is a long one, so bear with me.

First, I want to talk about public appearances. And no, not public speaking or going to big events.  I’m talking about online presence. You’ve probably seen the articles about social media and motivational posters saying that you shouldn’t compare your insides to other people outsides, and that everyone will always curate their life to look fantastic to the outside world. No doubt about it–we care what other people think.  We care about how society sees us.

I’m no different. I’ve had this blog almost a year now, and most of the time I try to keep my posts relevant to my main topics of knitting and being kind to the planet. I edit my social media and blog posts to act as if Knitting Naturals is my life, my full time job, and that I’m living a great waste-free, eco-friendly, sustainable life.

I’m not.  I’m trying to get to that point, but trust me, I’m far from it.

I read article after article on the perfect time to tweet or post to Facebook, what the best types of content are, how to engage followers, why I should grow an email list, and how to monetize a blog. I’ve been trying to “fake it till I make it.”

I follow other Etsy shop owners and successful bloggers and want to do what they do, I want to be successful like they are. They make it look so easy.  They have plenty of content, post on a fairly consistent schedule, and have people who actually comment on posts and participate in discussions.  I’m too scared to ask for feedback. What if no one responds?

So, if you’re a fellow Etsy shop owner who’s wondering how to keep it all together, or if you’re a customer admiring how some people can make their living selling crafts online, I have a few confessions for you.

I have a day-job. 
Yup, Knitting Naturals is not my only source of income.  In fact, it’s not even my main source of income. I worked at RadioShack selling cell phones and AA batteries to people for over a year before my current employment with the United States Postal Service.  By day, I deliver mail to hundreds of homes 6 days a week, walking on average 10-12 miles per day.  By night, I try to work on my shop before I get too exhausted.

I’m terrible at social media. 

I hardly post or share anything on my personal Facebook page, and that makes it harder for me to remember to do so for my Knitting Naturals page.  And Twitter. And Google+.  I don’t post at the best times, I don’t keep a detailed schedule of what type of content to share, and I don’t know what days of the week will yield the most effective results.  I don’t have an email list mostly because I don’t know what I’d even put in a newsletter. I forget to even check Twitter and then learn a week later that someone retweeted me or favorited a tweet and then I feel dumb for not acknowledging their support sooner.

I often feel like I choose too difficult a craft.  

Sometimes I think about completing learning a new craft that I think will be easier, or faster, or more profitable.  Knitting takes so much time, and the organic wool yarn I use is expensive. Profit margins are razor thin, and I think that this will never be more than a side project.  I have doubts, and fears, and worries.  I fluctuate between times of extreme inspiration and optimism and times when I consider just packing it all up and calling it quits.

I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing.
I know how to knit, and I take pretty OK photos. Other than that, I don’t have any answers to all the questions that keep popping up.  Should I be in more craft shows? Should I be posting in forums and participating in Etsy teams?  How do I get more blog traffic? How do I get more shop traffic? Are my prices too high? Should I be paying for any advertising? What’s the best way to track all my expenses? Any and all things related to taxes. How do I fit all the “managing a business” stuff into my day and still have time to knit?

Knit Picks Wool

My first purchase, NOT organic and certainly not good for the Earth. But it was before I knew better.

Perhaps these confessions ring true for many Etsy sellers. While we may be disillusioned by the small percentage that do make a living on their craft, the vast majority are likely just like me–working day jobs and juggling schedules.  There are plenty of Etsy sellers who have families with kids, kids that probably participate in extracurricular activities. I have great respect for them.  But I make these confessions today for anyone out there who feels like they’re failing, who thinks that they’re the only one who doesn’t have it all together.  Really no one has it all together, we just pretend we do.

Well I’m done pretending. I’m done feeling trapped by the constraints I’ve placed upon myself to look like a true professional full-time shop owner. Time to start being more transparent, more genuine, more myself.  Time to focus more on improving one small step at a time, instead of always worrying what I look like to the world.

So don’t feel like you’re alone in your worries, we all have them.  Yes, owning a business is tough, but believe in yourself and great things can happen. Go forth and spread the unique joy that is YOU.  Not everyone will like it, but that’s OK.  Just keep creating, keep sharing, keep doing what you love and above all, be happy.

P.S. I’m far from being super successful, which means you shouldn’t feel obligated to take any of my advice. These are just my thoughts and opinions, and sharing them is the whole point of my post–to be genuine and honest with yourself and others. So listen to me or don’t, either way, I’m glad I could share. 


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