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.