“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.” – Carrie Fisher
Starting an Etsy store has been on my goals list for a good two years now, so why did it take me until a few months ago to bite the bullet and actually open my store, Tiding of Magpies? I mean, there are obviously a ton of different factors, but if I was going to boil it down into one reason, it would be this: anxiety.
Now, my mental health isn’t the best; but I’m talking creative anxiety, not diagnosable anxiety issues. It’s something that affects even the most ambitious and confident creatives from time to time, and never more so than when we’re starting out. Because, let’s face it, starting something new is scary. Putting yourself and your work out there is no small ask, and it’s so tempting to immerse yourself in market research and procrastinate by tinkering with your products, your brand, and a million and one other things. I feel you. But if, like me, you’re struggling to get started, here are a couple of things that might help.
There are a few things you need in order to be ‘ready’ to start selling: a name, some products you’re proud of, a sales platform, a way of getting products to your customers, a working brand identity, realistic prices, an idea of the market you want to enter, and an online presence. Sound intimidating? That’s where the preparation comes in. Being prepared is crucial for success, but, more to the point, it’s crucial for actually starting the thing which could be a success. Feeling like you know something about your area and your business is an essential part of overcoming creative anxiety and putting yourself out there.
…but know when to stop preparing
That said, there’s no such thing as having every possible duck in a row with this sort of business. Honestly, you’ll never feel ready. The closest you can get is to have the key details in place and a decent idea of the market you’re about to enter. It’s mostly the practicalities which will trip you up in the early days, so once you’ve got the details sorted, you’re ready to go. You can tweak your brand and everything else once you know what works and what doesn’t, and the only way you can know that is to just take the leap. If you sit around forever trying to know ‘everything’ before you start, you risk never actually doing it. Plus, online platforms like Etsy make it so easy and so cheap to start selling your handmade goods that you basically get a free pass to try things out. Still need a push? Consider relinquishing a bit of that control (easier said than done when it’s your ‘business baby’, I know, but bear with me).
My dad, who is a wonderful human (but always right and, my God, he knows it) was actually the catalyst for the “grand launch” of my store. We were on the phone last November when he came straight out with it: ‘So, when are you opening your shop? It’s nearly Christmas, just pop some things online and see what happens. You might not sell anything but you’ll get your jewelry out there.’ In his annoyingly-right way, he had given me the shove I needed. I stopped fussing over every word on my Twitter bio and obsessively polishing the various pieces of jewelry that were mounting up on my workbench, and decided to open my shop by the start of December.
My dad had given me the encouragement, but it was setting the target and telling people about it that finally got my store open. I fixed a firm opening date and started telling everyone who’d listen what date my stuff would be on sale – partner, friends, family, Instagram followers, both of my parents’ dogs… Once the outside world was ‘holding me accountable’, I felt a real obligation to get my shit together. Of course, nobody would have been upset or angry with me if I hadn’t met my target, but I knew I would, and that everyone else would know I’d failed. That turned out to be enough.
Look for some inspiration
This helps before, during and after you start out, in my experience. These are a few podcasts, blogs and Instagram accounts that help me if I’m feeling negative about my business.
Being Boss – These ladies never fail to get me motivated to work hard and aim high, plus they do it all in a chatty, entertaining way.
Create and Cultivate – A ton of inspirational women doing feminist crafting and sharing ideas. Discourse + inspiration + creativity = my dream! Their Instagram is pretty fab, too.
Rising Tide Society – Gorgeous, motivational images and advice, and a collaboration-over-competition focus. Need something to kick off a business brainstorm? Look no further.
Think Creative Collective – An absolute fountain of advice, and their Insta story is full of cute dogs to boot!
Quick disclaimer: Inspiration is great, but if, like me, you’re prone to perfectionism and self-criticism remember that your success and someone else’s success aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s easy to scroll through Instagram for a bit and become paralyzed with the thought that you’ll ‘never be as successful as x, y or z, so why bother?’, but that’s bullshit. Inspiration, not comparison, is the way forward.
Look, I know “just do it” is basically a crap piece of advice unless you’re selling sportswear, so…
…do your homework, make things you’re proud of, and then kick anxiety in the face and go out and start your business! It’s hard and it takes time but it’s so incredibly exciting to do something you really love and to discover that people outside of your immediate circle actually value your work (literally and figuratively). I know anxiety deals in “what ifs,” but what if you get an order, or two orders, or even just someone “favoriting” a product? The emotional boost that gives you alone will be worth it, and, frankly, anxiety can do one.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and show the world your creations!
Author: Florence Sturt-Joy
Author Bio: Jeweler and freelance copywriter with a day job in Arts marketing. I’m passionate about creating beautiful jewelry which can become staple pieces that – in their small and sparkly way – improve people’s lives. Find me online to hear more on jewelry-making, historical jewelery, mental health, feminism, and dogs, and check out my Etsy store to see my work.
Link to website: http://www.tidingofmagpies.com