How Can I Balance My Time Between An Etsy Shop & A Full Time Job?

I think for almost all Etsy Sellers, you should expect your Etsy Shop to be a part-time, on-the-side gig. I don't see a ton of Shops on Etsy that are likely full time, unless you are living on a very modest income. 

Melinda and I work from home. We have 2 kids, age 3 months and 2 years, and we also live in California. So we can't live on Etsy income alone. My full time job is web designing for my own clients. My portfolio is www.jpwdesignstudio.com - and that is where most of my income comes from. Melinda also sells other kinds of artwork live woven wall hangings, but with 2 kids at home, we can't be working all the time. So we have to go with what pays the bills. 

Melinda Wood Designs and building Etsy Shops is a part time thing for us. We spend usually 1 hour per day, and maybe 2 hours maximum.  I think that doing the Etsy Shop part time has been helpful to not stress out too much over building the Etsy Shop, and allowing it to grow slowly over time. I would love for it to be my Full Time job, but right now it doesn't bring in enough income to pay all of our bills. So having the expectation that it is only a Part Time gig has been helpful to not expect it to be wildly successful, but only account for a portion of our income.

So for anyone with a full time job, I do think it is good to only allocate about 1-2 hours per day of working on your Etsy Shop, and set your expectations to be realistic that your Etsy Shop will not grow exponentially, but will instead grow slowly over time. That way, each day you can make a few realistic goals and push yourself just a little further each month in trying to grow more and more sales. 

I have heard of some Etsy Sellers treating their Etsy Shop has a full time project. They only have 200 Sales, and they work on it 8 hours a day. I really, really encourage no one to do this. When you are first starting an Etsy Shop, there is no way to make a full-time living on it. You need to have some sort of income coming from somewhere else that is stable. And then, over time, build your Etsy Shop a little bit each day, in hopes that maybe one day you can transition to do your Etsy Shop more and more. 

But we've been doing Melinda Wood Designs, and 2 other Etsy Shops for 3 years now. And it accounts for 30 to 40 percent of our income. So for us, there is no way we can just jump right into Full Time work on Etsy, without putting a huge financial strain on our family. So, Etsy is still a part time thing for us. We only allocate 1-2 hours per day, and one day - if it makes enough money - I'd love to switch over and just do Etsy selling. But we're not there yet. And my guess is that you are not there yet either. So I highly recommend that you set the expectation that Etsy should be a long term, slow paced thing for you that you will grow a little bit each month, more and more, and continue to learn from it. 

4 Strategies To Have Success On Etsy

Probably the most important concept in business, and to have success with your Etsy Shop, is to always push yourself just a little bit more each month to reach a new milestone. It's nice to imagine what your Etsy Shop could be like many years from now. But the only way to get there is to take small, realistic steps every day, and plan your goals for the next month. 

1. Focus on your Etsy Shop & don't compare yourself to others
It's important to not get caught up in what everyone else is doing, or how successful some other Etsy Shop is right now. Instead, compare your own success over time, month over month, and grow slowly. 

2. Stay focused & on a single path
If you don't set a monthly goal that you can easily achieve in the next 30 days, you're going to get distracted with things that simply are not going to work. And at the end of the day, even if you are doing something you love with your Etsy Shop, it really has to be amount making a profit and paying your bills. Otherwise, you're really just doing charity work & you may as well not even worry about making sales. Ultimately, your good creative, artistic decisions have to come out of a place where you can make a profit, pay your bills, and be a creative artist all at the same time. 

3. Set a monthly revenue goal
Let's say your goal is to always improve your Etsy Shop Revenue by 20% each month. 20% growth does not sound like a ton of improvement when you look at it month-over-month. But within 12 months, the difference between your 1st month and 12th month is actually going to be quite a big difference. If you made $100 last month on Etsy, work really hard to hit $120 this month, and then $144 next month, and so on. This slow steady growth can become quite a larger number over time if you keep working at it.

4. Look at your sales and stats to help you move forward this month
When you choose to keep growing your Etsy shop every month, and you put together a plan on how to do that, you need make those growth decisions based off of what is actually working - not off of brand new ideas that have no basis for them. Your growth must be small. It must be based on what you have seen work on your own Etsy Shop, and it should not be based on mere guesses. Here are some things to look at:

  • What are your Etsy Stats telling you?
  • What are your best selling items of all time?
  • What are your best selling / trending items in the last 30 days?
  • What are customers asking for that you are not offering right now?

3 Steps For Starting An Etsy Shop

Just getting started on Etsy? The worst thing you can do is wait until that "Perfect" time to get started. The best time to get started in right now, right away. Here are 3 steps you can take right now to kickstart your Etsy Shop and get moving today. 

 

Step 1 - Make 1 Product
If you have not started your Etsy Shop yet, get on it today, even if it is just 1 item. I have managed and worked with over 400 clients in the past 6 years. One of the biggest set backs that most business owners have is that they are afraid to put out their products early. They want everything to be as perfect as possible before anyone sees the items.

The problem with being a perfectionist is that your business never grows, and your ideas just stay in your head. The most important thing you can do to grow your business is to get customer feedback as soon as possible, so that you can develop your products into something that people want to buy. And the only way to do that is to get your products visible in the market place as soon as possible. 

So just start out with 1 product as soon as possible, and get it live on your Etsy shop. Most likely, no one will buy that product. But you need to take that first step.

 

Step 2 - Make 24 Products, Build Keywords, Talk to Customers
Once you have gotten past setting up your Etsy Shop and getting one item up, it's time to start building your shop to somewhere between 24 and 48 products. You don't want to make more than 48 items when you are first starting out, because you need to test your ideas and products before making too much. You also want to test your keywords, your shipping prices, shopping polices, and Item Details to make sure everything is working.  Spend the time each day to make 1 new product, if possible, so that you have at least 24 Items. Don't rush it. Take the time to think it through and watch your Etsy Stats, Keywords, Favorites, and Etsy Conversations.

 

Step 3 - Try to get Sales
Do not wait until you have 24 products to make a sale. Try to get a sale immediately. There are many ways to get a Sale on Etsy early, and you have to be willing to build up sales to 200 Sales about 20 five-star reviews to establish yourself as a credible Etsy Shop. Here are ways to help kickstart your shop:

  • Adjust your prices temporarily for new products, to see if price effects your sales
  • Offer coupon code incentives
  • Get your shipping costs as low as possible
  • Offer "free returns and free shipping" to lower the risk your customers are taking
  • Improve your keywords so that you get more shop visibility
  • Improve your item descriptions and photography
  • Always get back to customer inquiries as soon as possible
  • Always take great care of your customers - you absolutely must have five-star reviews
  • Offer free customizations or alterations to see if you can get more interactions with customers

Focus on these three steps for several months. Keep your products at or under 48 items until you get 200 sales, and get as many five-star reviews as possible. Once you reach that goal, you can start to relax a bit and grow into the next phase of your shop.

5 Mentalities To Avoid For Making A Successful Etsy Shop

I've spoken with hundreds of Etsy Shop owners, and helped them with easy ways on how to improve their shop. After reviewing many of their stores, there are 5 common issues I am seeing with Etsy Sellers right now that you ought to address with your own Etsy Shop immediately:

1. Stop using the same keywords over and over
It seems like most Etsy Shops use the same keywords over and over.  I have had numerous Etsy Sellers come to me and say "I am not seeing an increase in sales!" Then, I look at their Etsy Shop and they are using the same words on every single product. You must, must, must use new and different keywords and keyword combinations on your products. Stop getting stuck on using the same words!

For instance, I see Etsy Shops using the same word, like "Blue Dress"  "Blue Dress"  "Blue Dress" over and over. But there are so many other things you could do, like "Navy Dress"  "Blue Skirt"  "Turquoise Dresses" "Dress Blue" "Blue Evening Dress" and so on. These are subtle differences, but it makes a huge impact on helping Etsy Customers find your Etsy Listings faster through Keywords. 

2. Don't create a ton of products when you have very few sales
In the early stages of your Etsy Shop, it can be very tempting to make a billion Etsy Items. If you spend too much time on Product Development, you are neglecting other areas of your shop, such as: Shop Optimization, better Product Descriptions, analyzing your Stats, improving your Keywords, providing good Customer Service. You must balance your time between each of these things.  If You have 800 Items, but only 100 Sales, you have too many items! People will look at your shop, and say "Why are you making so many designs that no one buys?"  And then they will leave your Etsy Shop and find a different shop that is more successful. So you need to grow slowly. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 Sale for every Item you have.  For instance, 50 Sales and 50 Items is perfect.  At that point, you know you can make a couple new items based off of your best sellers.  In the very beginning, it is okay to have 50 Items and no Sales, but don't keep making more items. If you are not getting sales, you need to focus your time on other areas of your Etsy Shop, and not just keep pounding out new designs that no one will buy. 

3. Don't expect overnight success
You may have been working hard on your Etsy Shop for the last 1 or 2 months and say, "I haven't seen a big increase in View or Sales."  And that is okay. Your Etsy Shop is going to take time, and you are going to learn for many years to come. However, you should set your expectations to be realistic.  If you implement changes over time, and do it intelligently, with a plan, you should expect to see a realistic growth of maybe 10-20% each month, but not overnight success.  We have seen some Etsy Shops that have had wild success after using our Guide, which is great. But our Etsy Guide is a tool for good information, and it does not replace the need for you to critically think and analyze your own Etsy Shop. You must have a plan, and you must write out your own plan, and expect to see slow, steady growth each month.  It is not going to happen overnight. 

4. Make your product descriptions easier to understand
This is an easy one, but with lots of Etsy Shops, I am seeing big blocks of tons of text in their Etsy Listings. Here is a news flash: No one is going to read it!  You need to make it easy for someone to read, and to be able to read it very quickly. People need to understand what your item is within 5 seconds or less. Which means, use less text, use bullet points, and use the most simple language you can possibly use. Keep it simple! Help your customers understand what they are buying! 

5. Learn from your past mistakes and past successes
This one is really important, and is a concept you must use for any business. When you are successful and make a sale, you need to use that information to tell you: "You Are Doing The Right Thing - Keep Doing More of This".  If something you are doing is not working, Stop Doing It! For instance, we get featured in a Treasury probably 10 Times per day.  I look at that person's Etsy Shop (because everyone who has a Treasury has an Etsy Shop) and they have maybe 50 Sales in the last 2 years.  These people keep doing Treasuries over and over. I think they are trying to get Sales from it or something. NEWS FLASH: It's not working! They need to stop doing treasuries and do something else. But it seems like in their mind they are thinking, "If I just do 1,000 Treasuries, then that will be enough."  No!  If it doesn't work within a few days or even in a few weeks, stop doing it. Try something else. Build off of your successes. Stop doing the same things over and over that are not working. Keep learning something new every day. And write those things down so you don't forget! 

How To Start An Etsy Shop While Working At a Full Time Job

I think for almost all Etsy Sellers, you should expect your Etsy Shop to be a part-time, on-the-side gig. I don't see a ton of Shops on Etsy that are likely full time, unless you are living on a very modest income. 

Melinda and I work from home. We have 2 kids, age 3 months and 2 years, and we also live in California. So we can't live on Etsy income alone. My full time job is web designing for my own clients. My portfolio is www.jpwdesignstudio.com - and that is where most of my income comes from. Melinda also sells other kinds of artwork like woven wall hangings, but with 2 kids at home, we can't be working all the time. So we have to go with what pays the bills. 

Melinda Wood Designs and building other Etsy Shops is a part time thing for us. We spend usually 1 hour per day, and maybe 2 hours maximum.  I think that doing the Etsy Shop part time has been helpful to not stress out too much over building the Etsy Shop, and allowing it to grow slowly over time. I would love for it to be my Full Time job, but right now it doesn't bring in enough income to pay all of our bills. So having the expectation that it is only a Part Time gig has been helpful to not expect it to be wildly successful, but only account for a portion of our income.

So for anyone with a full time job, I do think it is good to only allocate about 1-2 hours per day of working on your Etsy Shop, and set your expectations to be realistic that your Etsy Shop will not grow exponentially, but will instead grow slowly over time. That way, each day you can make a few realistic goals and push yourself just a little further each month in trying to grow more and more sales. 

I have heard of some Etsy Sellers treating their Etsy Shop has a full time project. They only have 200 Sales, and they work on it 8 hours a day. I really, really encourage no one to do this. When you are first starting an Etsy Shop, there is no way to make a full-time living on it. You need to have some sort of income coming from somewhere else that is stable. And then, over time, build your Etsy Shop a little bit each day, in hopes that maybe one day you can transition to do your Etsy Shop more and more. 

But we've been doing Melinda Wood Designs, and 2 other Etsy Shops for 3 years now. And it accounts for 30 to 40 percent of our income. So for us, there is no way we can just jump right into Full Time work on Etsy, without putting a huge financial strain on our family. So, Etsy is still a part time thing for us. We only allocate 1-2 hours per day, and one day - if it makes enough money - I'd love to switch over and just do Etsy selling. But we're not there yet. And my guess is that you are not there yet either. So I highly recommend that you set the expectation that Etsy should be a long term, slow paced thing for you that you will grow a little bit each month, more and more, and continue to learn from it.