Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Running an Etsy Shop while Dealing with a Chronic Illness



When I started my Etsy shop I never wanted to become famous or even so popular that I would need to hire employees.  And I haven't.  This post is not about my Etsy story; it is about how my celiac disease has affected the way I run my Etsy shop.  Most of you who are regular readers here know that I was diagnosed with celiac disease 3 years ago.  Celiac disease is a chronic illness and it's an autoimmune disease.  I haven't had enough energy to work a "real job" since September 2015, and I've accidentally ingested gluten twice in the past two months.  For me that means not being able to keep most food down, insomnia, sleeping for 12+ hours when I do sleep, brain fog, and constant fever, among other symptoms.  To really complicate things I haven't been able to walk since the beginning of September 2016, probably due to gluten ataxia.  All of these things combined mean that I'm really tired all of the time and my muscles are very sore as well.  Luckily for me I rarely get more than two orders a month and I always manage to fill and ship them on time.  Sometimes I send my fiancee to the post office if I can't do it but I always stick to my commitments.  If you also have a chronic/invisible illness I have some tips that might help you run your Etsy shop with less stress.

1. When you set your shipping windows make sure you give yourself enough time to definitely get it done.  You never want to ship orders late (and if you ever do have to ship late make sure you let the customer know why!)  I used to have mine set to ship in 1-3 business days but last year I switched it to ship in 3-5 business days.  That time works for me because it gives me a full week to pack and ship orders.  I can space it out through that week if I'm sick and not get stressed about missing the deadline.

2. Don't do custom made-to-order items.  I only sell ready-to-ship products.  I added a custom made-to-order item which was a $7 beaded dragonfly suncatcher during the Summer and I sold so many!  People were ordering as many as 6 to 12 suncatchers in each order.  Then I had to make each one according to their custom choices and I was struggling to get them all done and packed in time.  It really stressed me out and I removed them from my shop.

Add either custom or made-to-order items to your shop but once again make the shipping time longer than you think you will need to fulfill the order.  Keep in mind that sometimes you will have multiple orders to make at the same time.  If you do ever have more orders than you can fill in a time frame communicate it to the customers who have ordered from you.  If they aren't willing to wait longer they can cancel their order and if they're willing to wait the extra stress is off of you.

3. If your shop starts getting more sales than you can handle, increase your shipping times.  People tend to buy less often when shipping times are longer but it should help you get through all of those orders without getting completely overwhelmed.

4. If you ever get too sick to be able to fulfill any orders turn on vacation mode until you feel better.

5. This is one that I haven't done yet but super need to: come up with a low-price item that's super quick and easy to make and make them in a variety of colors and designs.  That way you'll get at least a little bit of money from the low-price items in between sales of higher priced items in your shop.

So that's obviously not an all-inclusive list but these are things that really help me.  Clearly my biggest Etsy stress is shipping, so I tried to make it as stress-free as possible for myself.  If you have any questions about running an Etsy shop with a chronic illness ask me in the comments and I'll try my best to answer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What I'm Loving: Weaving

Everywhere I look lately there are amazing weavings.  I've found some really cool ones on Etsy and it made me want to try weaving.  Thanks to The Weaving Loom I could learn everything I needed to know to get started.  (The Weaving Loom is a really helpful resource for weavers of all skill levels, not just beginners.)  I'll share my first ever weaving at the end of this post but first let's look at some of my beautiful inspirations.  Click the big pictures to go to the listing.  I'll list shop links under the grid photos at the end.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/267940213
This one is gorgeous and I love the unique style of embroidering on top of the weaving.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/257713890
I love the eclectic bohemian style of this one.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/466825325
I super love the look of driftwood at the top but this one also has driftwood woven into it, which I love!
I love love love the antler at the top of the upper right weave.

I'm also loving the idea of weaving in feathers.
gatherhandwoven | UnrulyEdges | Lepetitmoose | PineapplePhi | midgins | amandajfrench | FirandField | krystleweaves | lightsofeden | BarefootDrifter | LittleWeavebird | CakeSpun | byheartmade | TheWeavingLoomShop | ilLOOMiKNOTiWeavings


And here is my first weaving, not the colors I would have chosen but they came with my loom and then I bought the off-white.

 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Silly Spooky Skeleton

I got this amazing skeleton dress from Hot Topic clearance and the bones glow in the dark, so obviously every night when we're about to go to sleep I take advantage of the lights being off to dance around in my dress singing "spooky scary skeleton".  (Although I've actually been getting it wrong and singing spooky ooky skeleton because my brain got it mixed up with The Addams Family)  This is what I'm referencing, in case you don't know about spooky scary skeletons.  Anyway I've been being really silly because my options are pretty much to be silly or be frustrated and depressed so I try to be silly and I was pretending to be a spooky scary chicken skeleton flapping my arms like chicken wings.  I tried to make a joke about Jordan not being scared by it so he must have nerves of steel, but my brain couldn't think of the phrase nerves of steel so I said iron lungs.  Because even through the brain fog my brain knew the phrase involved a body part and metal.  Sometimes brain fog can make things funny.


It has rib cage bones and arm bones.  I don't think I knew that they glow in the dark when I bought it (or if I did I can't remember) but I love it even more because they do.  I got it because Fall weather is here and I only have two long sleeved dresses which is NOT ENOUGH because dresses are the easiest clothes to put on when you can't lift your feet off the floor.  Plus Hot Topic was having a buy one get one for $1 sale on clearance and that is too good of a deal to ignore!

By the way, I hope this is actually funny to other people and not just a you had to be there sort of funny story.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Favorites: Etsy Wishlist + Youtubers + Instagram

I love Etsy forever.  I have a shop there but I'm also on Etsy every single day looking at the amazing things that other people make.  Here are some of my recent favorites that are definitely on my wishlist.  This week's theme is things that I want in my future jewelry studio.  Click the photo to go to the product listing on Etsy.


https://www.etsy.com/listing/387394504
I always love everything that has butterflies or moths on it and this vibrant butterfly painting on wood will fit wonderfully in my future jewelry studio.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/209902542
My grandpa was a hunter and his family of many kids were poor so deer and bear were common meals for them.  They would mount the antlers and have them around the house.  My grandma used one set to hang her necklaces from and I always loved how they looked.  These faux antlers are made of resin and look just like the real thing, but I don't have to wonder if a deer was killed for them or not.  I'm fine with people shooting deer for food, but never with animals being killed just to harvest parts of them to sell, whether it's antlers, fur, or bones.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/113179771
I intend to have a wall full of different art prints that inspire me.  This one is stunning and perfect for my wall.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/128277146
Another thing that I am forever in love with is beautiful dreamcatcher art.  I would absolutely put this one on my wall.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/235848049
I love actual dreamcatchers even more than dreamcatcher art.  This one is lovely.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/222020989
I make jewelry faster than I sell it so I am always looking for new jewelry displays.  I love this customizable driftwood one.  I would like them in a few different sizes.  They really go well with my branding.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/172165484
How lovely is this tambourine?!  I would hang it on my art wall and then I could take it down and dance around playing it when I need some inspiration :)
I've also been discovering some cool Youtubers lately.  I've been watching at least as much Youtube as Netflix lately.  Here are some of my new favorites:

Twiggy Vittoria is my new favorite.  She's down-to-earth and nice and amazing and I trust every single one of her product recommendations.  Her purple hair is the best and she doesn't have nearly as many subscribers as she should!  She makes a lot of beauty videos and also vlogs and I just love listening to her talk.  I discovered her the night that I had a seizure in the bathroom and fell and hit my head really hard on the floor and had to stay awake as long as possible because of my concussion.  She kept me awake all night and even took my mind off my head pain.

Tommy Edison is hilarious.  He makes me laugh so hard watching all of his videos and I love it.  He makes videos about being blind, comedy videos, and film critic videos.  If you're having a bad day just go watch any of his videos and you'll be cheered up.

Claire Wineland really puts my life in perspective.  She has cystic fibrosis and I discovered her through her video on what it's like to be in a coma (and being in a coma and waking up as an old lady is my greatest fear).  She's sick but doesn't let that get her down.  She's sweet and has a great perspective on life.  Her videos make me feel happy too.

And last but not least my favorite Instagrammers.  I know that I once made a post about how I hate Instagram, but that was when Instagram was a little baby and nobody really knew how to use it well.  Sure there are still the people who just share photos of food forever but there are so many wonderful photographers and creatives on there these days that I kind of love Instagram now.  Follow me if you want.  These are just a few of my recent favorites on Instagram:

Witchy Stitching is so nice and creative.  She makes cool crochet stuff and I kind of just want all of it, especially the web dress.  Not only does she make amazing things but she's also the must social person I follow on Instagram, which is really nice.  Obviously any comments are cool but a comment that's more than an emoji or a Nice pic is just way better to get.  You should follow her if you like unique handmade products and actually social Instagrammers.

I discovered Midgins when I was researching my newest obsession, which I'll tell you guys about pretty soon.  She makes cool handmade products and also shares other people's handmade products and I love literally every product she shares!  That's super rare because I have some very specific tastes.  You should follow her if you like handmade products and discovering new handmade artisans.

I found melmadedooks in my recommended pictures feed (or whatever it's called).  He has a ton of followers and rightly so because he draws amazing pictures of real people of all shapes and sizes.  His art is just so good!  Follow him if you like art and appreciate diversity and real people of all sorts.

So those are some of my recent favorites.  Which one is your favorite?