Choosing Your Product – My Etsy Business Adventure

it's Monday // September 19th, 2016

A couple weeks ago I announced a new post series I’ll be writing called, My Etsy Business Adventure. BUT, before I can truly dig into the ins and outs of Etsy, we really have to get down to basic business. First things first: what’s your product going to be? Without a product, there is no shop. This post is relevant for my creative friends who are wishing to sell a product somewhere, whether it be on Etsy, their own website or in a physical shop some day.

Let me leave you with a little disclaimer first and foremost – if you’re interested in creating a product line solely for the money, stop reading now. And honestly, I wouldn’t recommend you read anything I write. I’m a prettttttty passionate person when it comes to this topic. You shouldn’t be doing “something you love” to make money. You should be doing it BECAUSE you love it. Passion should always be at the forefront of what you do, not how rich you could be because of it.

If you set high monetary goals to meet right away, and can’t meet those goals, what are you going to do? Give up on what you love because you can’t “afford” to do it? Give up on what you “love” because you can’t make a quick buck doing it?

If you set realistic tangible goals like – making x amount of products, launching a new product, creating a new solution to a problem – you will meet those goals. Because you are passionately working towards them, not focused on the fact you aren’t making money doing so.

This is my labor of love and yes I’d love to get my product into as many hands as possible – but I know that takes time and a whole lot of work.

My Product Choice

Back to my own Etsy business adventure! I’ve known what I wanted my product focus to be for awhile now, I’ve just been slowly building the inventory and waiting for the “right time” to launch. Unfortunately, there is no magical “right time”. You just gotta do it. Keep your head down and make, make, make.

My product line isn’t completely finished – nor will it ever be. I want to keep evolving, creating, and adding more renditions as I think of them.

So what is my product? Handmade journals. ✨ (I’m sure many of you already knew this.)

Here’s a detailed description:

Curio Paper is crafting rare, intriguing and handmade coptic stitch journals. The coptic stitch creates an exposed binding and allows the book to lay completely flat, making it a perfect journal or sketchbook. The covers are made with thick kraft board and feature screen printed quotes and patterns or other hand painted designs. Available in two sizes with lined or unlined thick, quality paper.

It’s good to know exactly what you are selling. I’ll be talking more about the exact materials I chose and why in the next My Etsy Business Adventure post.

Choosing your product

There are a couple ways of choosing exactly what you want to sell. I would recommend keeping it simple. Don’t get caught up in all of the products you COULD make. That’s a deep scary pit you could get sucked into. You can always add on down the road, after your first couple of sales or so.

I’m sticking to just journals right now, despite wanting to do stationery like greeting cards and prints, because it’s simple and A LOT of people are already doing the whole card and print thing. Not saying you shouldn’t, that just wasn’t the route for me. You should want to stand out from the crowd.

Have the passion factor

I love making journals. I’ve been hand binding books for over 4 years now and I feel like I’ve finally reached a level of quality that I’m satisfied with. And just knowing someone else will write their story, take notes or doodle on the pages of something I made, is super encouraging to me.

Learn your craft, love your craft, and perfect your craft.

Again, don’t do what everyone else is doing. If you love making greeting cards – that’s great, do it! But don’t copy Rifle Paper Co’s style because their business is the most successful in the industry. Create your own path and find your own style.

Side note / tangent: When I started getting “serious” about this whole book making thing I went out and bought an intense paper cutter that can cut through 500 sheets of paper. Like it’s really intense. It can probably cut through an arm if it really wanted to, so I would recommend never breaking into a book binders house.

Do your research

I did a lot of research / deep soul searching before beginning to create actual product inventory. I’d been making one off books as gifts, for myself, etc. just to test the waters.

Some questions I asked myself:

  • Are there other people making a similar product to mine?
  • If so, what’s their quality / quantities look like?
  • Are people actually interested in the product?
  • What problem am I solving for those people?

I found that there are a decent amount of other binders creating similar coptic stitched books, however you can totally tell which ones are crafting quality products that they love and which ones are doing it to make a quick buck.

A lot of book binders aren’t creating multiple quantities of each book – which is something I want to do in order to be able to wholesale (this will be a whole nother post). And the ones that are quality crafters, are selling a good amount of books which is encouraging to me.

The problem I’m solving? I’m creating an inspirational, quality space for people to write or draw.

Ask yourself questions like the ones above and do the research before jumping in.

Build Inventory

You can go the whole made-to-order route on Etsy if you so choose. I’m going with an already built inventory route to make it a little easier on myself and a little quicker for my customers. A made-to-order book could take me up to a week to create, especially if multiple orders are rolling in. I have to allot myself that time, just in case any missteps happen along the way. Missteps as in screen print issues, running out of paper, or just getting to busy with my client work; all of which I have experienced.

You can slowly build inventory. That’s the magic part about Etsy AND about just starting out. I don’t have 100 quantities ready of each journal. But that’s the beauty of small-batch. I have 5 of each ready, and am going to continue to build the inventory as those sell. If I run out, it’s no biggy. I make more.

Price Accordingly

There are a couple pitfalls when it comes to pricing. One, will my products sell at my suggested price-point and two, am I covering my own expenses to make this actually sustainable? You must have a plan in action when it comes to pricing. Don’t just shoot in the dark, be precise and do the math.

I’m going to help you with that in the next post of this series. I’ll lay out for you my own prices, how I figured out those prices with a magical easy-to-use mathematical equation ✨ and why you should never feel like you have to justify your prices.

So, what’s your product going to be? Are you passionately creating it out of joy to share it with others?

The most important take away I have to offer is this:

Don’t give up on your product. Keep your head down and do the work. If you are passionately putting everything you have into it, I promise it’ll be totally worthwhile. Growth takes time, remember?

Happy Monday, friends! Let’s make this week awesome.

And thanks to all of you who subscribed to weekly posts being sent straight to your inbox! ✨


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2 comments on “Choosing Your Product – My Etsy Business Adventure

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