[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Personalized Design
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/RisforRobo
Pinterest : https://www.pinterest.com/RisforRobo[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
My name is Robyn and I opened my R is for Robo Etsy Shop in August 2019. I had just finished planning my wedding and needed a new hobby. I really enjoyed planning my wedding so I started out thinking I would see all passive income, printable items. I wanted to make a wedding planner guide and other wedding printables. I did some research on Etsy’s passive income and learned about digital wallpaper. I started out making those too. These were not super profitable and there was a lot of competition in the digital wallpaper market. I stumbled across a greeting card print at the home set and decided to give greeting cards a try. They were super-profitable and that became my niche! The cost is extremely low and the return is high. That model has worked for me so far!
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
I sell greeting cards, an assortment of printables, and I have recently started experimenting with drop shipping for apparel and Christmas ornaments. I print my own greeting cards at home and ship them out daily. The rest of my items take care of themselves. The printable files are instant downloads and the printing companies take care of the orders and ship them out, so I never touch the products. The more passive the products can be the better!
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
Some issues that I have run into have been caused by Covid. I have had issues with shipping and issues replenishing my stock. I had a lot of orders getting lost in the mail, saying they were delivered when they weren’t, etc. Luckily my costs are low, so it wasn’t an issue to reship cards when they were lost. Another issue I had at the start of the pandemic was low inventory on items I needed to run my business. The cardstock I use had a limit on how many could be ordered and I had reached my max. I ended up driving all over town trying to find the two stores in my city that had the cardstock I needed. I am still having issues with lost orders, but the yardstick issue has gotten much better!!
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What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I enjoy the instant gratification that happens daily when I make a sale that pushes me to keep working hard! I especially enjoy being my own boss and working solo. It is satisfying to know that you are the sole reason your business is successful. It is your baby and you want to see it do well! The hardest part is being on your own to figure out everything. Everything from SEO, self-teaching Photoshop and Illustrator or learning how the drop shipping integrations work with Etsy, you are on your own. Thankfully there are amazing Etsy Facebook groups and amazing customer service at places like Printful and Printify to help you along the way!
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
My Etsy shop has evolved a lot in the last year. When I started my Etsy shop I started out as a digital wallpaper store. I had created about 300 files for the same patterns in different colors. After working on these for quite a while, I realized that I had formatted all of them in the wrong size. I had to go through each one, edit, and resave. That was super time consuming and I think I only made 1 sale off of those 12 listings, but that was my starting point. It got the ball rolling, and even though it was a complete fail, it helped me launch my Etsy Store and keep trying different items until I found what works and sells. Don’t be discouraged and give up. It was a long road. I was in the negative for most of 2019 (due to running Etsy ads), but this year I will come close to making what I make at my salaried job! It has completely turned around, and I NEVER could have guessed it!
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
I draw inspiration from things that are trending, pop culture, and anything else that pops into my mind!
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I went to school for Marketing and I worked as a manager at the retail store Belk for the first 5 years after college. I got a lot of experience with customer service and I have adopted the attitude that the customer is always right. I bend over backward to make sure my customers are happy and taken care of. As far as the design part, I have taught myself along the way. I use a mix of adobe products, but I also love Canva. Don’t judge me. 🙂
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
I am still learning and experimenting. I try to use Pinterest but haven’t had a lot of luck with that yet. I am also experimenting with Etsy ads, but haven’t seen a great return on that either. I focus mostly on SEO and creating trending items or items that are doing well but don’t have a lot of competition. Research is key!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Passion, drive, customer service focused, and being a bit OCD. I am obsessed with my business. I spend all of my spare time working on it. I enjoy doing it which makes it not feel like work. I think it takes a special personality type, one who can hyper-focus on their brand. As I mentioned before, customer service is also key! I talk to all of my customers like they are my friends. I am honest, kind, friendly, and overly apologetic when issues arise. I truly think you can turn around an upset customer 95% of the time. I see so many people complaining about customers in Etsy Facebook groups and I think they could fix the situation easily if they were a little nicer and more flexible with the situation and their policies. A bad review is never worth it!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I think it is a little bit of all of them! I must admit, the original driving force is money! I have always loved a good side hustle! I have done everything selling study guides in college, making art for families I babysat for, and I have been selling on eBay since I graduated high school. I love being able to earn extra money on the side through an unconventional job where I call the shots, work my own hours, and do jobs I enjoy. Having a creative outlet is very important to me, so Etsy has really embodied everything I have ever wanted in a side hustle!
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Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I obsessively spend my waking hours working on Etsy. I don’t think it is necessary for an online business, but it is something I choose to do because I am obsessed with my Etsy shop! I prepare my greeting card orders before I go to work. I update my listing’s SEO while I walk my dog before work. I go to my regular 9-5 job and then come home and repeat the process. I try to work on new designs in the evening, as well as packaging my greeting card orders. I am checking my phone constantly and answer messages from customers as soon as they come in and I text myself ideas for my cards and t-shirts as they come to me. It is an all-day thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Since I have only had my store for 1 year I still have a lot to learn. I plan to continually educate myself on SEO so I can improve my discoverability and rely less on Etsy Ads. I would like to explore more with drop shipping since that is something I have started using in the last couple of months. Greetings Cards have been my bread and butter and they have the highest margins of any of my physical items, so I would like to really niche down on this. The biggest impact on my profitability would definitely be Advertisements. I have not gotten the return in investment that I would have liked to receive.