7 Things I've Learned In My First 7 Months of Business
Well... here we are. My first blog post* – finally. I've been wanting to start a blog ever since I first launched my Etsy shop, but I wanted to wait until I had a website of my own. Which, if you're reading this, we've officially reached that point!
*this is really my second blog post, as I amazingly managed to delete the first one I wrote. But since this post has the same ideas as the original one... we'll just call it the first and move on.
Trying to decide what I wanted my first blog post to be about was no easy feat; I've never been good at decision making, so choosing a topic for a blog was no different. However, I'm writing this in early October. And folks, that means my business has been up and running for a whole seven months. That's 214 days, which is just crazy to me. I felt it was only appropriate that my first blog post be a reflection of the past 7 months. So without further ado, here's seven things I've learned in my first seven months of business.
1. People care more than you're willing to believe.
If you're reading this, you probably know my story. But here's the Sparknotes version of how we got here, just in case:
When I launched my shop, I had convinced myself that no one would care. I was certain people were thinking "wow, she really just threw her whole life away, huh?" (Looking back, I now know those thoughts manifested from the fact that I wasn’t following the typical path of “go to college, graduate, get a big kid job,” but I didn’t recognize that at the time.)
I announced the launching of my shop mainly because I felt like I had to. Dropping my teaching program had been such a big shift, so of course I felt like I needed to explain myself. I announced the opening of my small biz on my birthday - February 20. I had my grand opening (complete with a ribbon cutting and all) a mere 9 days later on March 1.
I’m not kidding when I say this: the orders just came rolling in. And of course: *cue the tears rolling down my cheeks*
People who I hadn’t talked to in years were placing orders left and right, sending messages of love and support, and generally just making me feel like I hadn’t f**ked up my life. And I needed that. Like A LOT. It helped me realize a) that I was in the right place, and b) I needed to chill out, because no one really cared what I did, so long as I was happy. (Which, btw, I am.) If you were one of those first customers: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ILY.
Okay, this one was long. Promise I’ll keep the rest short.
2. Product photography is hard AF.
Lighting, ISO, aperture, white balance, shutter speed…. what does it all mean!?
Oh, and don’t even get me started on props, branding, styled scenes, and backgrounds.
I’m slowly learning all these things (and certainly improving as I go along) but it is seriously so hard. I recently invested in a course on product photography and ohmygosh it has been my saving grace.
3. Community over competition!
Real talk: the online biz world can be a lonely place. Literally the only reason I socialize with humans IRL is because I have a job other than my biz. But once I quit there… I’ll probs just be a hermit. (It sounds pretty fun, IMO.)
But really, it’s SO important to connect with other creatives, whether it be online or off. Once I started doing that, it honestly felt like my life had changed! Instagram wasn’t a place I dreaded being on, I had people to chat with about my struggles (and found out I wasn’t the only one facing those struggles!), and, suddenly, the online biz world wasn’t such a lonely place.
Like, I get that we were taught specifically not to connect with randoms on the internet, but it’s life-changing in the best way. Truly. Even if you don’t have a biz / aren’t a creative, just connecting with people who have the same interests as you is such a fun thing. Try it some time.
4. There’s never enough time.
Ah, the one condition of being human that we can all relate to. There will never be enough time to do everything you want to do. This is where priorities and a good planner come in handy, whether you’re a creative or not.
5. It is SO easy to forget about yourself.
If you know me personally, you know that I rarely slow down. I’ve literally been “full speed ahead” as long as I can remember. Examples include:
- In second grade, I won an X-Box because I had sold 1,000 of the World’s Finest chocolate bars in a fundraiser for cheer. How? I spent every weekend outside of Hastings asking every stranger if they wanted to buy a chocolate bar.
- In sixth (maybe seventh?) grade, I got in trouble for selling duct tape flower pens. I literally had an entire suitcase filled with different kinds of duct tape and pens, and every night, after I finished my homework, I sat down to fulfill orders of 10-20 pens every night. I made some serious bank for a sixth grader. You can imagine why I was so mad when I got in trouble for it (SMH).
- This past May, I graduated from UT with high honors - something I couldn’t have done if I hadn’t hustled hard. (I also had two part time jobs most of my college career. BIG YIKES.)
- And of course, I now run my biz and work a full time job. Managing everything is still a #stuggle, but I’m getting better at it every day.
ANYWAYS, you get it. I don’t know how to slow down. But I don’t take on a million things at once to torture myself. I do it because I like being busy, and I recognize that fact. So I intentionally keep my plate pretty full.
But within all this hustle, I still forget to take care of myself more often than not, so I worked in small ways to make time for myself throughout the week:
- Every Monday, I force myself to go to trivia, even though I never know any answers.
- I drink my coffee every morning with my phone all the way across the room. No scrolling and sipping allowed.
- Every Thursday night, I spend the evening in front of the TV, mindlessly doing nothing except taking in the jokes from a good comedy (or rom-com).
6. Mistakes will happen.
And you’ll get over it. I’ve made SO many mistakes and errors since opening my biz, but I’ve learned to laugh at them, learn from them and move on.
Some mistakes are harder than others (looking at you, past-Kyndra-who-sent-a-customer-the-wrong-item), but here’s the thing: NONE of them are the end of the world.
7. Etsy is confusing as heck and ever-changing.
So welcome to my website. I’m so excited you’re here.