Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I am Eliza, and I sell original watercolor paintings and prints on Etsy. I finished Art Academy in 2016 but didn’t think of turning any of my work into the business until I was expecting my 1st baby. In school I always painted with oil colors, in fact, I had never tried watercolor painting… until I was worried about paint thinner fumes affecting my unborn baby. So I tried watercolor painting and fell in love with it right away. Making an online business started as a hobby I could do from home while being a stay at home mum but it has grown into a more serious business now.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I do everything in my business. From painting, creating products, prints to selling, and marketing. My husband’s part in my business is to babysit so that I can work in my shop.
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?
I mainly focus on nature painting, I have a little selection of nursery theme prints as well. I use high-quality watercolor paper (140 lb) that I order from UK and professional paints (White nights) to create my products.
I try to find a unique look for my paintings to make them stand out. There is a lot of painting sellers on Etsy so it can be hard at times to get your listings noticed.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love making all the decisions for my business and not needing to depend on anyone else, and I like working from home while I raise my children.
There is a lot of different spheres that are important in selling products online successfully. I am an artist so I like creating, but marketing is something I am not so familiar with so it can be overwhelming and frustrating to learn that side of the business.
There are a lot of online classes about marketing strategies that have helped me move forward with that side of my business.
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?
What I use for marketing is trying different social media platforms, offering discounts, free shipping, and improving the look of my shop. My niche is home decor, so it is for anyone who is looking for wall art for their home.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I don’t believe there is one winning formula for success. It depends on what your business is really. Success usually doesn’t come right away. What has helped me to move forward with my business is learning and improving daily.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The beginning is the hardest part of selling on Etsy. There is a big competition so it can be hard to make your products appear on the first pages of the search. People don’t trust shops that have zero sales or reviews. But really all it takes is those couple of first sales and reviews for your shop to get more interest.
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 inspiration for my paintings depends on the day. Sometimes I get inspired by nature around me, other times from my older works, or even at times, I have random ideas that pop in my head that I really want to try. My latest is doing prints of my art on T-shirts.
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?
Yes, I ship my products internationally, but I offer free shipping only for the US. I ship original paintings myself and prints through 3rd party service so the delivery times differ for each product. Generally, a customer gets their purchase from 3-7 days after placing an order.
I spent a long time creating a packaging design for my paintings as it is the packaging that leaves the first impression of your product. I wanted the packaging to look fun but also be sturdy and safe.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Research, work, and patience. Having a good product or content is also very important.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Don’t be discouraged from all the unknown in the beginning. Try hard, do research and it can be really fun!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For me, I want to be able to have an income while I raise my kids. The freedom that comes with doing what you love (painting for me) and working from home is a huge bonus.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I need to plan out my days before. Usually, my husband and I need to come to an agreement of when and how much time I will have for my business that week. I used to be really bad with time management with little children at home but have gotten better at it.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I see that my business has potential so I plan to keep learning and growing it. I hope to make my own website soon.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I learn all the time and feel like there is always room for growth and improvement. One thing that has helped me is to be actively putting new items in my shop. A month-long trip to Europe made me try out the vacation mode on Etsy. I do not recommend it, it killed the traffic and I felt like I had to start from the beginning.