Friday, March 18, 2011

etsy lazy

I've written in the past about my struggles to keep track of my money like a responsible business owner. Like many artists and freelancers, I've been guilty of "intuitive banking"-- as long as the bank balance seems about right, everything is fine. I've mastered keeping track of my expenditures and incoming money, but my piece of shit accounting program (First Edge-- do NOT buy) is so sprawling and non-user friendly that being able to analyze this information in a useful way has been eluding me. I finally jettisoned it for Outright, an online accounting program that is basic and simple, perfect for a business like mine. It pulls information from my PayPal account, which is where most of my sales flow through, as well as my business credit card and bank account. When I sign in, it gives me a visual graph to show me exactly how much money I'm making, and how much I'm spending. Which has been very. Very. Disturbing.

All last week I was obsessed with Outright, continually signing in and going over my numbers again and again, trying to figure out what is up. How is it possible I made almost twice as much money in 2009 than I did the next year? And now 2011 is starting to look remarkably identical to 2010. I've sensed with my "intuitive banking" nose that I'm not making as much money, since my savings account has not been growing, which I attributed to the trip to Belgium and a king sized bed purchase. But no, that's not it.

The problem is something I'm calling "Etsy Lazy". Back in 2008-2009 I was still working the wholesale game, pushing my own website, doing some shows, open studios, anything to sell work. And then Etsy came along, giving me a whole new revenue stream. For me, the best thing about Etsy is how reliable it is. So reliable I started treating it like a monogamous relationship, only going out with Etsy and forgetting about other selling venues. I've stopped doing the wholesale shows, I didn't even bother with a holiday Open Studio last year, and my own website is the last thing on my list. I basically live on Etsy, and I've gotten lazy. Ver-y lazy.

I got depressed, thinking my business was dead in the water and I was going to have to become a slave to wholesale again. That lasted about a day. Then, I realized I can come up with a new plan for myself, one that makes me happy and works for me. That will require some thinking, and I'm not sure what to do yet, but I want to see those little green columns growing and the red ones shrinking.

11 comments:

  1. great post whitney! i love your products as do my customers - i think we can all get lazy about our business. sometimes we need a kick in the a**! have a great day!

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  2. I don't want to read into this the wrong way. So just to clarify, your Etsy sales are still great right? (looks like it) You're just saying you feel like you need to get back into some other venues of selling to increase the income. ?
    I would never use your name and the word lazy in the same sentence by the way.

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  3. Thanks Jennifer!

    Ron, to clarify the picture-- my etsy sales ARE very steady, which is good. What I'm trying to say is Etsy is not enough by itself to support me in the style to which I've become accustomed-- For instance, the fact I'm not saving as much money is a bit alarming. So yes, need some new venues for selling!

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  4. I think Ron is right-you certainly could not be called lazy by any means; but I definitely think it makes sense to have diverse income
    streams; you are in an area that certainly should be good for direct sales; and you seem to still list retail outlets on your website-some of them are probably worth "cultivating"; having done a few wholesale shows myself, I know that
    I want to try to stay away from all the hassle that includes, but I think the internet is making them less and less necessary.

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  5. So glad you found Outright! I use it too and it's so freakin' easy to use, it's crazy. Well worth the $10/month.

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  6. Oh boy, I needed this post. Thank-You!

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  7. Something else to take into consideration is the gradually rising cost of living between years. Its not a great economic climate at the moment...

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  8. this is so interesting to read as we (terra cottage ceramics) don't do any website sales to speak of and do most of our sales with wholesale and retail shows... we have been toying with the idea of Etsy and have been skitish because of the time for all of the posting and maintenece that people seem to think is needed... I wonder if I could stay home for a minute more and start up that old Esty income stream?

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  9. It's true that Etsy takes a lot of time to get up and running: the photography, the item descriptions, figuring out shipping profiles, etc. But once you get it going, the maintenance is easier to manage and when you consider the cost of maintaining wholesale accounts versus selling retail out your own door, I think it's TOTALLY worth it.

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  10. This post is exactly what i needed. I have been considering Etsy for a couple years but figuring out how the shipping costs work etc had been enough for me to shelf the idea many times. I am currently selling my pottery through wholesale for about 10 shops, consignment at 2 shops and having a couple open studio sales per year. This week making 100 mugs for a wholesale order makes me think, there has to be a better way.....

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