If ever I need a reminder of how things have improved since last October, I head to just one place – my Etsy statistics. I have taken to putting some of the information into a spreadsheet format using Excel so that I have a clean quick overview of all the important numbers I need to tell me that things are going in the right direction even if I have some way to go. I need these constant reminders because no one ever said this was going to be easy.
I certainly didn’t expect any miracles. Things will take time, but I hope that a year will be sufficient for me to confidently say that Etsy is supporting me reliably in part. That deadline is October this year, so perhaps the pressure is on.
All my life I have struggled with the ‘not successful enough’ mantra. Most of it I piled on myself. As a teen, I expected to have ticked my most important achievement milestones by 21. Of course, that didn’t happen. And as the reality of adult life set in and earnings were found in more mundane jobs, so hopes and ambitions had to take a backburner. By the time I’d reached the point where I was able to quit my day job and start developing my business (I was 35), I simply didn’t care about achievement and industry success anymore. I’d had the reality check and I just wanted to enjoy what I did and balance it with a quality of life I didn’t see around me.
It’s not perfect, but it could be worse. I could still be stuck in offices dreaming of that day I jump ship. Instead, I jumped ship and, in part, hoped for the best. I had an opportunity and I knew if I didn’t take it, I might never have the balls to give it a go a second time. Let’s just be clear that this isn’t the easy road though. Being able to hear from others, even indirectly, that your choices are okay, is good to hear. Articles like this one make me feel more content. It’s called ‘It’s Okay To Be Good, And Not Great‘. I still feel like I have a life less wasted than some people around me.
This also links quite nicely with my recent reblog from Jocelyn K Glei about productivity shame. If you’re running a business and struggling in a saturated industry, these are really good reads because it gives your work more meaning than just your profit margin. Here’s another from Paul Graham in 2006 about doing what you love. It may be 13 years old but it’s as relevant as ever.
Despite the date on my Etsy store’s creation, it has been badly neglected for most of its existence. Quite simply I was making enough money elsewhere and didn’t see the value of Etsy. Whilst the sudden change meant I was put in an instantly vulnerable financial situation, I at least had the bones of a structure that I could work with. Etsy, of course, is not a final solution. The more popular it becomes, the more sellers join and the harder it is to make enough to live on. Many have second incomes or don’t need to rely on what Etsy brings in. It is also plagued by sellers who are neither handmade nor vintage. The Chinese market infiltrates everything.
Here’s my chart of how views and visits look from July, through October when I started populating my store, and up until the end of April this year.
I like looking at these graphs. They are reminders I haven’t lost yet. They also help me identify slow months caused by public holidays and better months when people aren’t financially invested elsewhere. This is important information to know and it will help me plan for subsequent years. We all have dips and trends depending on the country we are based in and these are all things to bear in mind.
Staying in touch with these milestones and incremental improvements is vital to enthusiasm and keeping the end goal in sight. I am always reminded how this business enhances my life and allows me to do things I couldn’t if I was in full-time work for someone else. Yes, it has its financial hindrances, but that comes with the territory. No one should start a business without expecting some financial hardship.