Before you read this and think, this has nothing to do with me. Let me tell you it does. Maybe arts and crafts aren’t your thing and you don’t want to start an Etsy shop. This isn’t actually about Etsy. It’s about why you should start the thing you really want to do that scares you. Okay, now please proceed.
I’ve loved making art and doing arts and crafts for as long as I can remember. I am one of those people that looks at something and says, “I can make that” and then actually try it. I love taking on the challenge to figure it out.
In college I led my roomies in a crusade to DIY our apartment including repainting our goodwill dining room table and chairs bright blue and making our own wall art. When I’m helping with a baby shower I make a diaper cake and any number of perfectly themed crafts. I’ve DIY’d everything from bracelets to curtains. You name it, I think I can make it.
And with the completion of any successful project comes the chorus of “You should sell that” from impressed friends and family. After hearing that one too many times I thought, “Well, I guess I could.” I guess I could turned into “Maybe I should.” And then finally, “Here we go.” I’m still shocked every time someone buys something from my shop. I’m even more shocked that opening the shop has taught me huge lessons about myself and taking chances. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
You don’t have to know everything to do something.
One of the things that scared me most about starting the shop was that I had no idea what I was doing. I had five ideas for listings not 500. I didn’t know how I was going to ship things or what they should cost. I didn’t have all the answers. I decided to just turn the shop on and figure things out as I went along. And so far that’s worked. I still don’t know everything but I know a lot more than when I started.
Everyone you know is not lying to you. Your work is good.
I am at times beyond insecure to the point where I annoy even myself. And for some reason I thought everyone I know and have ever met must be lying that my art was good and should sell it. That doesn’t make sense, like at all. To this day I still worry when someone emails me after they receive their order that they got the package and hate it. That hasn’t happened yet. Your art is good. You are good. And though not everyone will appreciate what you’re making, those that do will be the ones to purchase from you.
Creativity builds creativity.
The more I create, the better I get at it. And the more ideas I have. And the more opportunities that come my way. When I opened my shop I had just a few listings. The more I sold, the more ideas that popped up in my head. And as people found my shop they’d email me with requests for custom work that sometimes I could take the finished product and add it to the shop. Suddenly five listings became 30. Last year as local workshops started becoming more popular, I thought “I could do that!” and came up with an idea for a papercraft workshop. I pitched the idea to West Elm and wound up having a sold out workshop in store. I had no idea when I started that was a thing that could ever happen.
You can say no.
This tends to go against most advice I read on how to be successful which is tells you to say yes to all opportunities that come your way. And saying yes to as much as possible is something I do believe and follow in my life. But the flip side is, you have to know your boundaries of what to take on. Once I started selling I got worried if I put the shop on vacation (Etsy’s option for closing your store temporarily) or turned down a request from a coworker or friend that they’d be mad or that I’d never sell another thing. But this isn’t true. Saying no helps avoid frustration and burnout and makes me happier to return to crafting on my terms.
Not every idea is a good idea.
One of the first listings I had on my shop was really cute but a pain to make. Every time it sold I wound up frustrated and it took me at least three drafts before I was satisfied with the final product. Then one day it occurred to me, I could just take it off the shop and then I wouldn’t have to make it anymore. Sometimes the simplest answers take way too long for us to realize. After that epiphany, I made sure to pull the plug on anything that I wasn’t exceptionally proud of or didn’t bring me joy when I made it.
I’ve gained immeasurable confidence in my art since I opened my shop. It has been an incredible creative outlet and connected me to so many new people. Recently, I’ve started thinking of new ideas to reinvent the shop. I’m so excited to take a new leap. I still don’t know everything and have no idea where my creative future lies. But if my history has taught me anything it’s that I should just do it and see what amazing things happen.
You can check out my Etsy shop here.
What have you taken a chance on that taught you about yourself? Tell me about it in the comments!