Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Work-Life-Etsy: Pick Any Two

Something that comes up again and again on the Etsy forums is how do people do it all? How do you work a full time job, treat your Etsy store professionally and still have a life?

Eternal Bliss--Close UpWell, I can't speak for everyone else, but here's what I do:

Work--just over 40 hours a week at a "9 to 5" (ha! do those exist any more?) job

Etsy--Update my etsy shop, blog, and flickr account nearly daily. Maintain the FAE street team and contribute to the VAST, EtsyGreetings, and EtsyBloggers street teams as time and interest dictate. Update a miscellany of other promotional sites: squidoo, myspace, stylefeeder, etc. Read the etsy forums for new tips and hints and look into/sign up for promising things. Make things and photograph them.

Life--Hang out with my husband and cuddle my kittens. Catch up with old friends online. Take copious amounts of photos to chronicle my life and upload the best to flickr.

OrnthAnd here's how I do it:

1. Prioritize. What MUST be done each day? What is nice if it gets done? What can be done once weekly?

For me, I make my shop, my blog, and my flickr (in that order) a daily top 3. Creating things and photographing things take top priority at least one weekend day. Surfing etsy for sellers to feature and items to add to my stylefeeder is a secondary priority, and that usually happens once every couple of weeks. Things like my squidoo, myspace, etc. wait until I'm either inspired or bored. Then I take a few hours and really do them right. This happens once every month or so, but spread over a variety of sites, each one may only get an overhaul once every few months.

Once you have your priorities set, stick to them (but not too much). I give myself a few "freebie" days every once in awhile to back away from the computer and go on a date with my husband or watch a movie. Nobody will die if you miss a blog post or your etsy shop has to miss a day, so make sure to take time off to enjoy life. At the same time, make sure those "freebie" days are the exception not the rule.

Blosoming Thank You Card2. Take Baby Steps

I did not spring fully formed from the head of Zeus with the knowledge of all things internet. I learn about new things constantly from other etsy sellers. Pick one or two sites at once to devote some time to and master before moving on. Realize that it will take patience before you start seeing results. I began this blog and my flickr account in late September. There were times when only a handful of people would look at my blog in a week. Some people may tell you that they had thousands of readers in a month or two. Realize that (while amazing for them) that may not happen for you.

Be prepared to put the effort in to learn how the site works. People know when you are a "member" and when you are just trying to hawk stuff. Each site has it's own culture and "vibe"; if you learn how that works, and what the social expectations are, you will see much greater returns on your time. You might even make some friends!

At the same time, be prepared to walk away. If you find that you a site's demographic or social customs aren't a good match for you, don't keep dumping time into a black hole.

Smootch!3. Streamline Your Processes

Most crafters already tend to create their items in small batches (if for no other reason than the crafty ADD that plauges many of us). However, there is more to streamlining your process than just the actual making of items.

Tools-- Having the right tools for the job can (and often does) make a WORLD of difference. For instance, a few weeks ago I mentioned my birthday tripod. When taking pictures this weekend, simply having that saved me literally 3 or 4 hours of labor. Pricey? Yep. And worth every penny. Often it's hard to know what will actually be worth the money, so if unsure, ask other crafters, check out reviews, or try to weasel your way into a "test drive" at the store.

Back to the Basics-- I recently decided to cut back from 5 pictures in every Etsy listing to 4. Why? Because the fifth picture was redundant. And by keeping in it (for no real reason other than to have a full five pictures) I was creating extra work for myself in taking 4-5 other pictures, cropping another picture, uploading another picture...

Look at what you do and what really needs to be done. Think about if it really matters or if it's adding value. In one of my courses in school they told us to ask "If the customer knew I was doing this, would they want to pay for it?". If the answer is no, then ask "Is it a necessary task?". If the answer to that is also no, then toss that step right out the window.

Also weigh in how long it takes. Sure, a customer may like a pretty bow, but would they still want it if they knew they were paying for 15 minutes of your time to get it "just so"?

Gratitude Card4. Recycle There are not enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want to do, so I try to make what I do do count. My squidoo lens contains an RSS feed of this blog and self-updating photos from my flickr pool. My myspace features an etsy-mini very prominently. Adding my items to stylefeeder as a way of advertising also adds flavor to my blog and myspace via a widget.

I used to manually mirror content from this blog to a livejournal community. Then I thought "WHY?", so I created an RSS Feed instead. It accomplishes the same purpose but I don't have to touch it. : )

5. Steal Time I bring my lunch to work each day and sit in our break room. That 45 min a day is my "me" time. I read my Time magazines to catch up on news, or sketch out new ideas for my shop. Last week, I folded my promo cards.

Dragonling Bookmark6. Don't Delay I am on email lists for my street teams and I have found that if I don't respond right away...I don't respond. So I try to spend some time each night reading the posts and responding. I also delete anything I'm not interested in and archive anything that I want to save for later at the same time, which helps my inbox to not become a bottomless landfill of emails.

7. Volunteer Not sure if I have time for something? I volunteer anyways. Yes, deadlines always stress me out (can we say glutton for punishment?) but it forces me to try new things and actually DO them in a timely manner. Use this sparingly though. I try not to sign up for more than one event or project per month, across all of my groups.

8. Cut Out Timewasters We all have them, things that we don't particularly enjoy, but get sucked into and before we know it, hours have passed. For me, I don't really watch TV. Sure I'll watch it with my husband, but I never turn it on just to watch because I know I'll never get back up. And since I am FAR too visually distractable to get anything done with the TV on, all that happens is I spend several hours plopped on the couch that I regret later.

Now, I don't mean to never take a break--just pick your breaks wisely to make sure that you are spending your break time doing something you actually enjoy.

(And just for the record, I may not watch TV, but I'm an internet junkie. : )


  1. Now that's a lot of good tips! I already do several of them myself, but found a few new ones too. Thanks! :) I love the orange-green combo of the first flower, by the way.

  2. I'm glad you found it useful! It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. : )

  3. Great suggestions - it is tough to figure out how to get everything done in the course of the day. I've found "batching" helps - as you do. Take all of your photos on one day for the upcoming week, etc. And prioritizing is a must! Thanks much for sharing!

  4. Bonny- I agree wholeheartedly! Batching makes great use of the momentum you get going. I try to pick something I *feel* like doing and then do a WHOLE lot of it at once. That way I (usually) enjoy whatever I'm doing, even the more "behind the scenes" grunt-work. : )

  5. What a lovely article. Soothing, sensible, encouraging. Thanks so much. Jane

  6. Glorious--I'm glad you enjoyed it! : )


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