(Guest post by Helen – as part of our Side Hustle Series)
I’m a married college student who is about to graduate, and though I already work nearly full time by way of several jobs, there are some months when there is barely enough to cover the bills from life and school. I knew we needed to do something else if we wanted to have any extra spending money (or money for our savings and/or emergency fund).
I’ve been making jewelry since I was in high school – for both myself and as gifts for others. We started an Etsy shop last winter, but never really developed it at all, or listed anything we’d actually made (Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, btw). My partner and I have done other things on the side before – I’ve cleaned houses, and we started a photography business together in 2008 that also brings in some extra money – but when I lost one of my part-time jobs back in January, I decided to put more effort into the Etsy business.
Starting the Etsy Business
I took stock of our crafting supplies and we went to work making jewelry, paper goods and accessories, as well as choosing a few of our photographs to sell as prints. I make earrings, necklaces and accessories out of glass beads, gemstones, metal, crystal beads and fabric, while my partner prefers to work with paper and vintage stamps. We made a good-sized selection of items, and then I photographed and listed them in our shop. At the same time, I also started a blog.
I then set some goals for myself: I wanted to list at least 5-10 items every week, make at least two blog posts a week, and advertise as much as possible. We do one giveaway a month with other bloggers, we submit regularly to the craft site, craftgawker, and we make coupon codes as a promotion to give out to anyone who favorites our Etsy shop. I even made a Facebook fan page where we upload everything we put into the shop to a photo album. We also print postcards and business cards from Vistaprint, and then put them around our city, as well as including business cards with each sale we make.
Our Progress so Far
Things were slow at first, (I was still doing the initial work on advertising, building up stock, adjusting to blogging, learning how to take better photos with our tele-macro lens, etc.) and I was spending about two hours a day on a business that was not generating any income However, then we made our first sale! It was to someone we knew, but it was still money in the bank. Then a few more people we knew started ordering things, and a few weeks later we made our first sale to someone NEITHER of us knew! It was a very exciting day.
In the first three months of our shop being open, we made 29 sales online and about a dozen offline. I was even commissioned to make some custom pieces for a photographer in Colorado for a themed group photo shoot!
I definitely have the weakness of wanting to give away the stuff we make, or do giveaways on blogs all the time, or give out coupon codes to everyone we know because I LOVE making pretty stuff and would love for everyone to own/wear it! However, no matter how many things we’ve given away, we’ve still made sales and it is working out well. Luckily, this is a hobby that the both of us love, and it’s easy for us to do while sitting in our pajamas, watching “The X-Files” and “Law & Order: SVU.”
Even if we only bring in an extra $50-100 a month from this, we’re still making money from a hobby, which is fantastic.
Helen blogs over at Bettencourt Chase: things we make, bake and photograph, and sells her crafty wares with her partner at their Etsy shop, Bloom and Thistle. *If YOU have a side hustle you’d like to share, give J$ a shout.