Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I have been a Baby-Sitters Club collector for many years. The read the series during most of my entire childhood. I know every book title and character in the series. My 9-year-old daughter has gotten into the series and I put together her very own set. This motivated me to create sets for others, who do not want to purchase each book individually.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Etsy has been one of my favorite platforms to shop vintage items. I chose Etsy because I saw that I can list books much easier with the custom variation selections they offer. Other platforms do not have the ability to set-up your own variations. I have not had any previous experience in selling handmade products. I’ve worked in customer service for very many years and have made great connections with my clients.
What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
I sell Baby-Sitters Club books (individual & sets) and hard to find collectible Baby-Sitters items like bookmarks & dolls.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations
I take a lot of time packaging each of my pieces. My 9 y/o daughter created my logo (her initials are DJB) and used her two favorite colors, purple & teal. I’ve always have had a crafty side but this is the first time I get to utilize them and share this experience with my daughter.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
My original goal was to help BSC collectors finish their sets. If they need #3, #7, #11, #19, #25, #54, they can message me and I can help them complete their sets at a reasonable cost instead of them having to buy lots of books that include ones they don’t need. I already have a full-time job. This is a side-job. I work my shipments from 6 am to 8 am and then from 6pm to 12 am daily. Weekends and evenings I am able to post new items.
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
I did not have any fears opening my Etsy Shop. This is something I really love to do. I would do this completely for free if I could. =)
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
I opened my shop about 3 weeks ago. My first ten sales were in the very first day. I am almost at 350 sales. Remember, 1 sale could be a custom set of 20 books or one individual book. My goal is to complete as many sets as I can for others and having them receive good quality books in beautiful packaging.
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
Yes, I have a full-time job in accounting, have two kids, and a house that needs to be cleaned 24/7. I just have always had the natural superpower to juggle a lot. Mornings include cleaning the house, feeding kids breakfast, and ship orders. Then I work my 8-hour job. On my lunch breaks, I ship orders. After I get off work, I take everything to the post office, prepare dinner, and take pictures of more items and post them. The last 3 weeks have been the busiest I’ve ever been.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
I’ve had many people message me for custom sets. If you take a look at my sold orders, you can see some I have sold. These are my favorite to do. I create them as they are ordered and then do the packaging.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I spent quite a bit upfront to the start this. From office supplies like tape, tissue paper, different sized boxes, custom stickers, scale, etc. I check other sites pretty frequently when pricing my products. I know which items are getting more scarce. Those are priced a little higher. Most of my individual books are priced way under market. Others BSC postings of books are terrible looking and at a higher cost (tears, missing pages, ripped, no cover, etc.) This breaks my heart. My books are loved & cared for. The goal of most of my clients is to share the experience of the books they had with their own children now. They want to keep the sets to eventually hand down.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
My daughter has given a lot of ideas and inspiration for my sets. She wants me to make a special Kristy set with a Kristy doll, stickers & books. I loved putting the super special, mystery, super mystery & portrait sets up. These are books that are collected together, so why not buy them together|
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
I do use free shipping orders over $35. Yes, I have done international. I don’t mind covering the shipping costs for a couple books, just would not be financially worth it for each individual book. I would if I could.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own standout?
Yes, I have seen very many competitors copy some of my pictures and set up their posts to exactly how I have started it. Their prices are much higher for books is not as good condition. Truly, I am flattered. If they have the same passion for this as much as I do, they should be successful. I have an eye and the knowledge of how to put these sets together and market them because I’ve read the book. They’ve needed to get inspiration from somewhere. No, I am not worried. I have so many great clients who re-buy their books from me, it is not a concern.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I have had not had a bad rating to date. I’ve had 5 stars every time. I’ve had a small handful of people contact me that they have not yet received their package, but I stay in constant contact with them. Eventually, the next day or two they receive it. Once they open the package, they are delighted.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
This has changed my life drastically. I have gone from 1 full-time job to 2 full-time jobs and managing a household. I love every moment and wouldn’t change a thing. My clients are all wonderful and I love messaging with them. I hope to stay open for a few more weeks/months. I don’t see this as a long term thing for me, but you never know. =)
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
I use Etsy’s marketing and off site ads to promote my posts. It has worked very well for me. Yes, I do spend quite a bit to market my items but so far has been worth it. I generate excitement/hype by posting rare items not available elsewhere.
What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
I absolutely love Etsy and don’t have anything I don’t like about them.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
When I set up my shop, I reached out to a couple BSC groups and messaged my items along with my neighborhood group. I’m a natural people person which helps communicating with clients. I have not had any negative experiences. Everyone who has contact me has been delightful to talk to.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Your up front costs are going to be overhead, marketing and Etsy costs. If you don’t make enough to cover these, stop now.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
This has been such a dream come true to be able to complete so many BSC sets for others and my daughter =)