07 February 2011

Etsy Monday: Change and Growth

Since I've taken on the challenge of pursuing joy wholeheartedly this year, I've been doing a lot of reflecting about aspects of my approach to life that are calling out for positive change.  I'd like to spend this week addressing a few of those, from spirituality and prayer life to friendships to school, but since it's Etsy Monday, I'll start with growth and change in my business.

Challenge #1: Taking myself seriously
As a full-time student, part-time teacher, and knitter on-the-side, I have a hard time taking myself seriously as a woman running a small business for profit.  Maintaining my shop up to this point has definitely been a hobby, and when I describe it to people, I tend to downplay the whole prospect of selling my wares.  I've found myself saying, "Well, it just makes me a little bit of money so that I can buy more yarn," and "I knit so that I can feel productive while I'm watching tv or movies, and then I need to get rid of the items somehow."  That second statement is a flat out lie! I love knitting things that I think people will wear, and I like to try out new designs because I hope that people will like them enough to buy them.  And the first statement might be true right now, but I have bigger aspirations for my knitting business than "making a little money to buy yarn."  Let's face it: a student income is just enough to live on, and my quality of life could really be improved if my shop actually helps me turn a profit.  I think that taking myself and my business seriously would go a long way towards turning Perknitious into a more cohesive, well-known brand.

Challenge #2: Quality of experience 
I'm not the kind of person who likes to half-*ss things.  That's not to say I don't do it regularly; I just don't like it :) I want my product photo shoots to result in well-lit, pretty pictures that allow customers to really see the items and how they're made and that also convey a little bit of the sweet and sassy spirit that goes into creating each item.  The details of the shop page and of my blog layout matter, because they contribute to the overall feeling a customer or a reader takes away from their visit.  One friend of mine is an excellent photographer, and he's agreed to give me some coaching for product shots.  Another friend, a graphic designer, is meeting with me this week to work on designing a logo for the blog and shop.  I'm really excited about working more intentionally on creating a quality experience for everyone who stops by my online space.

So what can I do to meet these two challenges?  This month I'm committing myself to growing my business, a process that I know will take a lot of thought and a lot of time, but which I think will be 100% worth it.  By setting aside time for learning new skills and solidifying my own business vision, I think I'll be pushed to take myself and my business seriously and to improve the way people feel when the visit the shop, read my blog, or buy and use a Perknitious item, whether it's a pattern or a knitted object.

And now my questions for you, dear readers!

  • Do you have any advice?  
  • Any books I should read or blog posts I should check out to learn more about running a business?  
  • Any wisdom you've gained as a small business owner or someone who does a craft for profit?  
  • Anything you'd like to read/see more of on the blog, or any thoughts about what kinds of products I ought to be making more of?  

This online community is a constant source of inspiration, so I'd like to harness your collective awesome brainpower! I really look forward to your feedback :)


Nicole said...

Great post! You should definitely take yourself seriously because you are incredibly talented in everything, and especially knitting.

My advice is to make lots of different products or variations on your products and see what people are buying. Then make more of it! You know that's been working for me :)

Also, have you looked into consignment? The downside is that I don't make as much per item as I do in my shop, but the upside makes it worth while because I sell a lot more through the real-life store. I found my consignment store by searching the promotion forum on Etsy. It's always good to branch out!

Your blog is always a wonderful read. I like how you mix in your projects, your life events, and promoting other sellers. It might be fun to bring some of it together more, like (for example) post about the socks you were knitting while watching a movie and give a movie review!

NotABlogger said...

Lovely post. I have no advice, but can completely relate to your challenge to take yourself seriously. It has something to do with making the story match the reality - and realizing you get to tell the story! Good luck and I'll be watching/reading...

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