At the end of 2020, I quit my tech job to pursue illustration full time. It wasn’t until mid-2021 that I committed myself to my small business, so 2022 was the first full year I’ve spent running my business. My sales have increased nearly 10 fold from 2021 to 2022. While much of this comes from spending more time working on my business in general, there are a few key changes I made this year that have helped my success.
- Quit Etsy for My Own Online Shop
- Connected with My Customers
- Grew My Product Catalog
In 2021, I brought in over $10,000 in revenue. In 2022, my business made nearly $99,000 in revenue. Keep reading to see what I did to make these changes and how they impacted my business!
Quit Etsy for My Own Online Shop
At the start of the year, I had just about had it with Etsy already. When they announced the fee increases, I decided it was the last straw. I have received a mild number of sales from Etsy over the years, with the more significant purchases coming from marketing I’ve done myself. This combined with all the bureaucracy gave me the motivation to leave Etsy and open my own online shop using Shopify.
While I have much less traffic to my online business without Etsy’s customer base, I find that my customers are much more dedicated. They are people who have discovered my art when meeting me, through social media, or by accident, and have chosen to learn more by going to my website. Sales from Etsy customers were mostly people who were interested in an individual sticker design and never looked at anything else in my product catalog because of the way Etsy’s platform is designed.
I want to compare for you my 2022 sales figures between my Etsy and Shopify shops but unfortunately the numbers aren’t very helpful. When I decided to quit Etsy in March, I put my shop on Vacation Mode, something I haven’t done in 4 years because of exactly what followed. When I returned to Etsy about a month later, my listings had basically been thrown from the algorithm and I had to start getting discovered from scratch. I received significantly less views and sales this year on my Etsy shop than I have in previous years. The best comparison I can give you is this: In 2021, my Etsy sales totaled about $2700. In 2022, my Shopify online sales totaled about $5100.
With my own website, I’ve been able to customize my shop’s look, create collections and stories around products, and offer additional content to my audience such as blogs. I’m also able to collect emails and have direct correspondence with customers via my own website, so I can foster better relationships with them and keep in touch for future marketing.
Connected with My Customers
My biggest reason for leaving Etsy was the lack of support in building a customer base. I started to combat this in 2021 by starting a newsletter and collecting email addresses. This year, I increased my efforts to grow my email list and connect more personally with my customers. By June, I had set a goal to send a newsletter every 2 weeks with updates on my business and life as an artist.
Last year I was forthcoming to my Instagram audience about my struggles with mental health, my Asian-American identity, and running a small business. I continued my transparency on Instagram this year, expanding on it in newsletters and blog posts. I intended to create realistic and relatable content for others going through the same struggles as me. I’ve been so grateful for the warm reception by artists and small business owners that relate as well as those that are just curious about and supportive of my journey.
In the fall, I realized that I have a lot of craft fair knowledge that I enjoy sharing and relating to others with. I started to have a real sense for the first time that I am actually a professional doing this job full-time, not just some person pretending and getting by. I’m looking forward to sharing more about my experiences and lessons I’ve learned in blog posts like this one in 2023.
If you’d like to learn more about craft fairs and art markets, check out these blog posts:
Grew My Product Catalog
At the start of the year, I theorized that the more choices I could offer my customers, the more likely they would be to find something they wanted to purchase, so I set about expanding my product catalog. Below is a chart of what I offered in 2021 compared to 2022.
You can see that I increased the number of choices in existing product categories like stickers, cards, pins, and prints. I also ventured into new product categories with hats, t-shirts, washi tape, magnets, and holiday ornaments.
Based on my sales this year, I will continue to grow (and curate) my offerings for stickers, pins, prints, cards, and earrings. I have loved designing and selling apparel and am excited to continue making new products. However, because of the large upfront cost and storage space required, I might not be able to offer a wide selection at once. I’m aspiring for the day when my business is big enough to have the space and money to carry a range of apparel! In the meantime, I am ditching magnets for good and am on the fence about washi tape. My biggest question about my catalog strategy at the moment is for how long to stock a particular design and how often I come out with new designs.
I hope this helped provide some insight into how I grew my business this year and inspired some ideas on how you’d like to grow yours. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs recapping my craft fairs this year as well as showing some actual numbers that my business achieved this year.
If you have any questions about these changes, I'd love to hear them! And if you liked this post, you can support me by:
👩🏻🎨 Checking out my art on Instagram @madebychanamon
🧋 Giving a tip on BuyMeACoffee
✏️ Support me on Patreon
👩🏻💻 Visiting my website www.chanamon.com
💌 Sharing this post with your friends and fellow makers
Thanks for reading!