Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I’ve been a “planner girl” for as long as I can remember. From a very young age, there are memories of me decorating various diaries and making pages look pretty and functional. I bought my first ring binder in early university and the collection just grew. I realized that I wanted specific inserts to be able to plan various things, but couldn’t find what I wanted online, so I began to create my own. From there people started asking me where my inserts were from and I began to offer my designs for sale. That was the birth of Aussie Planner Chick!
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I’m in charge of every aspect of my online store. From designing, to listing images, to processing the actual orders, and customer service, plus the bookkeeping. I even cut my own paper! My partner jumps in and assists when needed but essentially I do it all! It’s a 24/7 job, I’m always thinking about some aspect of it but I love being able to control everything myself.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My best selling products are my weekly inserts that work in conjunction with popular sticker kits that are available online from other sellers. My layouts are typically simple and minimal to allow people to use their creativity and keep them as basic as they want or to accentuate them with their own style! All my inserts are printed on premium, buttery smooth 120gsm paper that is just divine to write on! I design my products using a range of software – different programs work better for various inserts. I think my products stand out because they are simple yet high quality and I pride myself on being able to customize items to suit different individuals. There is never a one size fits all planning style so I like to be able to reach out to a range of people!
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The hardest thing is time management and making sure to allow yourself time to get everything done as well as having some downtime. Working from home means that it’s really tough to switch off and not think about the shop. On the plus side, it means I can spend a day working in my pajamas if I feel like it! There are no defined breaks and if I need to take a day to spend with my kids or have a day off, I don’t have to answer to anyone other than myself.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
I sell to anyone and everyone! Most customers tend to be female (but definitely not all) in the 20 – 50 age range but that is by no means the only group of people I sell to! I get a majority of my customers through word of mouth. I feel like my product speaks for itself. I post to Instagram and multiple planner pages and find that I tend to boost sales mostly through interactions. I don’t tend to spend a lot of time on marketing because I’m happy with my sales level without needing more business. New releases and the occasional sale tend to bring in new customers when I ever feel sales are low!
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
The most important thing to me is customer service. If you make a mistake, own it, do what you can to rectify it, and learn from it. Never be rude, no matter what!
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Watching shops who were in the same position as me progress faster than I did. I learned to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and just do my own thing. It’s not necessary to compare your journey to anyone else.
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?
I plan my inserts around things that I need for myself. I also get ideas from planner friends who have special requests for designs and I have so much fun making things that will suit individuals. Bullet journal spreads on Instagram and Pinterest are great if I’m feeling a creative slump! I also love watching Plan with Mes on YouTube and taking inspiration from people’s train of thought when they’re planning.
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 ship internationally. Unfortunately, postage pricing is out of my control but I try and keep my prices as low as possible. I don’t charge more than it costs me for postage + materials and I try and keep my packaging to a minimum, for both environmental and economical reasons. If shipping charges are less than what has been paid I’ll always refund the gap! By keeping things simple I am able to keep costs as low as I can. I don’t offer free shipping at this stage because I feel like product prices would have to increase to cover the gap and I’d prefer to keep prices low.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Pride in your product and customer service! Don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Try and set yourself apart. Know what makes you different and play to your strengths.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Business Success to me is the ability to take something that you love and that makes you happy and sharing that with other people. Seeing other people use my product makes me so proud and that is a success for me.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I’m a mum of 2 who works part-time on top of running my business. Support from my partner definitely plays a role in allowing me to do what I do for the shop. I try and work on custom designs in the evenings when the kids are in bed as often as I can. When I’m processing orders I write myself a list – there is nothing better than ticking things off a to-do list! Using my own inserts definitely helps me to plan out my days and manage what I have to get done in a week. I’m also generous with my listed processing time. I’d much prefer customers are surprised by a faster shipping time and I’ve never had an order ship late!
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I’m looking to finding a local business to support purchasing some of my materials to be able to keep money local. Also hoping to upgrade some equipment to be able to speed up the time it takes me to process orders! Quicker processing would mean more time for designing! My biggest impact is the cost of materials though, so hopefully finding someone local may assist in bringing that cost down!
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Not being afraid to change things that don’t work is important to set up for success. Adding as much detail to listings as possible and being willing to work with customers to customize things makes for happy shoppers!
The hardest thing for me is valuing my time and charging accordingly. Early on I’d spend hours on custom designs and not charge anything for that time. I ended up exhausted and stressed trying to manage big customs that weren’t bringing in a profit. Charging a small fee allowed me to weed out people who didn’t end up making purchases and stopped wasting valuable design time.