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Side Hustle Series: I’m an Etsy Seller

by J. Money on Thursday, April 14, 2011

blue flower earings
(Guest post by Helen – as part of our Side Hustle Series)

I’m a married college student who is about to graduate, and though I already work nearly full time by way of several jobs, there are some months when there is barely enough to cover the bills from life and school. I knew we needed to do something else if we wanted to have any extra spending money (or money for our savings and/or emergency fund).

I’ve been making jewelry since I was in high school – for both myself and as gifts for others. We started an Etsy shop last winter, but never really developed it at all, or listed anything we’d actually made (Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, btw). My partner and I have done other things on the side before – I’ve cleaned houses, and we started a photography business together in 2008 that also brings in some extra money – but when I lost one of my part-time jobs back in January, I decided to put more effort into the Etsy business.

Starting the Etsy Business

I took stock of our crafting supplies and we went to work making jewelry, paper goods and accessories, as well as choosing a few of our photographs to sell as prints. I make earrings, necklaces and accessories out of glass beads, gemstones, metal, crystal beads and fabric, while my partner prefers to work with paper and vintage stamps. We made a good-sized selection of items, and then I photographed and listed them in our shop. At the same time, I also started a blog.

I then set some goals for myself: I wanted to list at least 5-10 items every week, make at least two blog posts a week, and advertise as much as possible. We do one giveaway a month with other bloggers, we submit regularly to the craft site, craftgawker, and we make coupon codes as a promotion to give out to anyone who favorites our Etsy shop. I even made a Facebook fan page where we upload everything we put into the shop to a photo album. We also print postcards and business cards from Vistaprint, and then put them around our city, as well as including business cards with each sale we make.

Our Progress so Far

Things were slow at first, (I was still doing the initial work on advertising, building up stock, adjusting to blogging, learning how to take better photos with our tele-macro lens, etc.) and I was spending about two hours a day on a business that was not generating any income  However, then we made our first sale! It was to someone we knew, but it was still money in the bank. Then a few more people we knew started ordering things, and a few weeks later we made our first sale to someone NEITHER of us knew! It was a very exciting day.

In the first three months of our shop being open, we made 29 sales online and about a dozen offline. I was even commissioned to make some custom pieces for a photographer in Colorado for a themed group photo shoot!

Final Thoughts

I definitely have the weakness of wanting to give away the stuff we make, or do giveaways on blogs all the time, or give out coupon codes to everyone we know because I LOVE making pretty stuff and would love for everyone to own/wear it! However, no matter how many things we’ve given away, we’ve still made sales and it is working out well. Luckily, this is a hobby that the both of us love, and it’s easy for us to do while sitting in our pajamas, watching “The X-Files” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

Even if we only bring in an extra $50-100 a month from this, we’re still making money from a hobby, which is fantastic.

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Helen blogs over at Bettencourt Chase: things we make, bake and photograph, and sells her crafty wares with her partner at their Etsy shop, Operation Petticoat. *If YOU have a side hustle you’d like to share, give J$ a shout.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marilyn April 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

Congatulations on your success so far! As you learn more about marketing and phtography I’m sure more opputunities will come your way.

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2 JuicyG April 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

Jewelry. There`s an idea. :)

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3 Laura April 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

Yay for another fellow Etsyian! I loved reading your story. It sounds like you have a great plan in place!

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4 Clare - Never Niche April 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

Kudos to this lady – success on Etsy is a lot of hard work.

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5 Jon | Free Money Wisdom April 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

Wow, who knew you could make money from this! That’s pretty sweet. $100/month is so worth it in my book.

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6 Kaye April 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I too have an etsy shop (shamless plug here) and while I’m just getting started, I am really looking forward to really getting profits. Right now I am starting with minimal start up costs, so the business cards are currently waiting until I get 3 more sales.I’m trying to do this as debt-free as possible and I’ve only invested $70 into it so far and made $58 after fees. So just a few more sales and I’ll be able to pay off that $70 investment and start buying more supplies (like those cards).

I’m taking it slowly, but hopefully it will work out and be a legitimate side hustle. =)

Thanks for featuring etsy as a real way to make money on the side and congrats to Helen for making it work for her and her husband!

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7 Katia April 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

How wonderful to see this article. I was considering starting up on Etsy selling bags/clutches/etc because I would love to earn a little bit extra while also doing a hobby I love. You’ve done an amazing job, and your story is pretty inspirational.

Thanks.

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8 J. Money April 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Thanks again for sharing your story w/ us Helen! Was fun for me to read (and learn) too ;) Work it, girl.

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9 Helen April 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and encouragement!

Kaye: I think it totally sounds like you’re going about it the right way! I try to keep our costs below our profits, even if it’s just barely, some months. I would definitely recommend buying whatever you can in bulk- packaging, etc.- to cut down on costs. Your stuff in your shop looks delicious!

Katia: You should definitely give it a shot! The great thing about Etsy is that there is no start-up cost, the fees are minimal ($.20/item to list, plus a small percentage if you sell something) and you can really put as little or as much time into it that you want! Go for it! :)

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10 Amy Saves April 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Great story! I love hearing about people who pursue their hobbies, set goals and reach them. Very inspiring.

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