A little bit ago, I opened this post & my inbox up for questions regarding running a handmade business and/or blog. Now it's time for those answers! There were a few more, but they all came down to the same general question.
Q: Do you involve your husband in your business? If so, how? Is it intentional or unintentional?
A: Yes and no. I've learned that he trusts me to run my business how I see fit (I'm the entrepreneurial one!) and isn't entirely interested in hearing about all the detail. However, he is good about listening & helping when I'm indecisive and need advice. Otherwise, he's super busy and has more important things to worry about :)
Q: How has running a shop full time helped your shop? Have you received more orders/ success?
A: I'm assuming you meant "running a blog full time," ...and if that's the case I feel that allowing others to see a face behind a shop makes it more personal. My blog actually came first, before the shop. When I am diligent in using my blog and all forms of social media to promote my products, as a whole, it does result in more orders/success. However, success is relative, my dear. Only you can decide what success is for you. :)
Q: What have you found is the most challenging part of running your own shop?
A: I think the most challenging part for me was preventing burn out. I'm not very good at asking for help. I tried so long to do it all on my own and I got burned out after a mere 5 months. I also didn't know how to turn my brain off. Any project or recipe somehow became a blog post. Instead of just enjoying trying new things, I felt tremendous pressure to blog about it. This fed my inner-perfectionist and also led to burnout.
Q: What's the piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you began?
1. Take weekends and don't work overtime. You wouldn't be okay with your boss at a regular 9-5 to not pay you for overtime, so why would you do that to yourself? Turn the computer off at 5 o'clock. It can wait until tomorrow.
2. Make what you love to make...not just what you think will "sell." If there are already several shops making the product you can make as well, don't do it. You're creative! You can think of something else :)
Q: Do you get tired of it?
There are times where I'd rather go for a walk or just veg on the sofa. However, I truly love being creative and blogging/sewing is a true joy & outlet for me.
Q: How do you manage your time so that you are able to be fully present with your family in the evenings and on weekends?
A: I just do. Chase is more important than the people behind the computer screen, whether they are readers, customers or both. I had to learn that the hard way....the #1 reason I took a long break with my shop is because I had stopped making Chase a priority. This is simply not okay. My marriage has to be #1 (after Jesus of course!).
If your blog and/or shop is a lucrative part-time to full-time job, you have to structure your days based upon those hours.
Q: How did you get your name out there so that people could find your products and how important was blogging, Twitter and Facebook in getting yourself out there?
A: I cannot stress enough the importance of social media. Networking is huge in any business, but it is crucial for online businesses/blogs. It wasn't overnight, but it just happened. Be friendly, leave comments on others blogs (genuine ones, not just copy & pasted ones with your blog link), make products that not everyone else is making, stand out, be positive, be real, and treat your customers REALLY well. Word of mouth is amazing marketing!
Q: How did you get inspired to start a handmade shop in the first place? Do you ever get discouraged or feel that the world is over-saturated with similar products?
A: I needed a creative outlet and when I made some owls for the kiddos I nannied, the demand started to pick up. As I made items for myself (rosette headbands, covered button earrings) people asked for them. This led me to open up shop and it all snowballed from there!
I try not to make products that are saturated. When I started making rosette headbands, there were only 2 other shops on etsy making similar items. I get discouraged when people take items I worked hard to dream up and execute as their own. Other than that, I don't care what other people do. I make what I want to make and love to make.
You have to do your own leg work. Study trends. Do customer surveys. Figure out what they want, what colors they want it in, and go for it.
Q: I just started up my little Etsy shop, which is made up of thrift finds, handmade jewelry, cute little home decor, etc...How can I get more traffic to my shop and not have to spend $$ in which I don't have?
A: You've got to spend money to make money, at some point. However, button trades are a great way to partner with other small shops, blogs, etc, make friends and get exposure at the same time! Just make sure to ask people with a similar following. It's kind of insulting for someone with 10 followers to ask for a trade with someone who has 1,000. It's got to be somewhat equal, or else it's not a trade now is it? :)
Fun & quirky marketing, social media and target marketing is a great way to do that!
Q: How do you grow followers for your blog and FB page without breaking the bank?
A: see above :)
Q: How do you know when to start offering advertising on your blog? How do you evaluate how much to charge?
A: I had some shops ask if they could advertise, which is how I knew it was time to consider that route. Blogging has to be for YOU and if you don't have time to dedicate to consistent and genuine posting, then it's not fair to ask people to pay for an ad spot. The tough thing about offering ad space is that people are dependent on you. You have to find a balance between blogging for enjoyment and blogging as a lucrative venture.
There's not a go-to sliding scale for followers/ad cost ratio, but it should be dependent on a few things:
1. Are you in this to make a lot of money, quit your day job or just to do your part in helping handmade shops & small blogs succeed? (there are many more options, but that's a few to think about!)
2. What are other blogs with similar followings charging?
3. What are you offering with a sponsorship? (giveaways, social media plugs, reviews, highlight posts, etc, or just side bar real-estate?)
4. Would you PAY to advertise on a blog with the same amount of followers as you? If so - go for it. If not - give it time and grow and make it worth while for someone's hard earned money to go to your paypal account. (( my general rule of thumb is that I don't advertise on someone's blog if they have less followers than me. I work hard for my $ and want to get the most bang for my buck ))
PHEW! Hope that helped you guys a bit!