How it all started.....
So you will have to bare with me, as this is my first ever blog post and i'm not really one for words and not sure if i'm doing this right at all. It's approaching 12 p.m. i'm completely wired (stupidly had a coffee at 8 p.m.) and totally resisting the urge to step my toes into the craft room to reach for the bucket of clay.
I've been wanting to do this post since April when my website launched, but i'm sure as my fellow small business friends know, the trials and tribulations that have arisen over what has been the most craziness of times being lockdown, time has appeared to have dwindled down to nothing and I cant believe we have fast tracked to nearly August, seriously how has that happened!
I really could be typing here all night to describe what a complete rollercoaster of a ride, running a small business through lockdown has been. Not wanting to admit but there has been a lot of tears of sadness, followed by tears of joy, feelings of disappointment followed by moments of pure elevation. Then to add to the mix the total utter stomach wrenching feelings of stress, anxiety and total panic, mixed in with "is this good enough" a majority of the time. Sorry I told you I could be here all night!
Recently I've been contacted by several Instagram followers asking for advice, tips and basically a guide on how to run a small business and how have I made it grow. Honestly receiving these messages is so overwhelming and beyond kind as I genuinely find it hard still to this day, to believe that I am where I am and that it started from nothing.
So I wanted to write this first blog to give an insight for similar small businesses or for anyone who is thinking of starting a small business to read what it's like and basically how it all started..... I'm really not a pro and I genuinely feel like i'm winging it every day, i'm like a headless chicken just managing to do basics but somehow just muddling through it all.
Since becoming a mum in 2011, life as you know completely changes (understatement). Oscar my first born bless him, putting it lightly wasn't the easiest of babies or toddlers come to think of it, basically it was a bit of a tough time. As he got a bit bigger and school started, the second pickle arrived and life changed again. With my husband and I making the decision for me being a full time mummy, which I absolutely loved and still love (both babies are now at school) it was bloody hard work!! Not going to go into the ins and outs with feelings, emotions etc..... since being a full time mummy I felt like I lost part of my own identity which I'm sure most new parents can relate to. Turning to crafting and regaining a part of "me" back was the start of it all and gave me the boost I needed to feel more like me again.
Having always had a crafty mind and enjoying arts/crafts along with DIY projects around the home, I discovered instagram in late Autumn 2018 and decided to share some of my makes. I'm really not one for social media privately so call me crazy, when first posting on instagram total panic sets in, tummy churns, overthinking every little thing, you name it i felt it. So when people were interested in what I was posting I was flabbergasted beyond belief!!
This then turned into the most crazy spiral of a time, where I was up all hours of the night making Christmas decorations, selling to just local people, family and friends. I really couldn't believe it, when it all calmed down I just sat back and thought oh my days how did that happen. It was just what I needed to give me some confidence back and I then started to plan what I could to do, to turn it into a small hobby business.
At the start of 2019 I started a business FB page not knowing what on earth I was doing. I was gradually making items and attempting to share them across social media. I really didn't know what I was doing, how to do a story, how to tag another business, how to share a post, I was seriously that clueless, filters was just mind blowing! That was the level I was at!
Little by little and spending alot of time, time and more time getting to grips with it all, I then decided to branch out to the world of ETSY in the May 2019. This was another mind field, confusion after confusion, how to do I charge for postage, what packaging to use, how do I word descriptions. My mind was an utter mess!!
I just wanted someone to step in and help me with what I needed to do, from little things from messages, shop layout, editing pictures, I just wanted to scream!! Looking back now, doing it on my own and learning how to do it was by far the best thing and I would say that is my biggest advice for any new crafter who wants to start an online business. Don't get me wrong asking for help isn't a bad thing, but researching GOOGLE is amazing for this along with basic trial and error, is the best way to develop and grow. It makes you stronger and when you face an issue or problem you can deal with it so much better having developed the skills to problem solve, as you will face this throughout your small business.
Now lets talk Etsy (briefly) as I will be writing pages beyond pages, so I'll try and do another blog post on this as I'll be here forever. So for those who use Etsy, how many of you thought I'll upload my product and magically the little "ping" sale noise will just come rolling in. YEP i was one of those people!! Having successfully just sold to local people and being busy with Easter before joining Etsy, it was just going to be a no brainer selling on there. I couldn't be more wrong!
So having set up my Etsy shop, titivated to the point where I was telling myself off to just stop and get on with it, it was all finished and live. A few days passed, no sales, a week, no sales, 3 weeks, no sales, I didn't know what to do and thinking I would just give up with Etsy. It wasn't going to beat me, I did some research, made sure my descriptions and listing names were the best they could be and that i was driving all traffic from my social media platforms to my etsy shop.
It started to work! Hearing that first sale noise was the best feeling and all that hard work, investigating and all the added networking across social media started to pay off. Please take note of this, it does take time and it does take hard work, you mustn't get disheartened and give up straight away, you have to put in the hours and work extremely hard at the start to make the system of Etsy to work.
I'm now 2.5 years in and now have my own website, plus using Esty too! Etsy is a great way to get seen and noticed but don't forget the fees they charge so don't forget to take this into account. I have loved etsy with it's highs and lows. The biggest tip of Etsy is to be open and honest about your products. Make sure you put down every detail and for me my biggest issue I have faced is "making times". That's another story for another time where I'll go into the depths of Etsy!
Utilise social media to it's maximum. Before starting my small business I really wasn't a big social media fan, just because I was totally clueless. For me using the big three, Instagram, Facebook and surprisingly Pinterest being my biggest traffic maker. Spend the time getting to grips with them, use FB groups to share your page, add a shop section to your store , make sure you have prices and all the information visible for your items. People are hesitant to direct message for product information especially when there isn's a shop link to Etsy, Ebay or a website, so be as honest and informative about your products as you can possibly be.
Probably my post biggest tip for social media working for your small business is, BE KIND! If you want people to like your posts and share them, you have to give it back, it is an absolute MUST! Make friends with other small businesses, help each other out, this then grows and potentially your page will get seen further. Share others pages to your stories, like their post and even better comment on it. It will take time and don't expect to magic followers and traffic over night, my first year was really slow in growing so you really have to keep at it. Again I'll do another blog post on this as there are so many things to do with terms to social media.
I've gone on far too much now, but I really am so, so grateful for the support and encouragement, from an order, to sharing a post, to even just hitting the like button on a post, it all goes such a long way in helping my small business grow!! I wouldn't be where I am today without you all!! It really does mean so much! So to any small businesses who are just starting up, everything does take time and it wont happen just overnight. I've put my heart and soul into this and through the busy times staying up to 2 p.m. most nights to get things done, but thats how much I wanted to make it work.
Thank you all, it really has been the most craziness of time and here's hopefully to a calmer rest of 2021 and life getting back to some normality.
Love to you all!