As far as google thinks, I was the first ever blogger to publish an income report specifically for my Etsy shop. And believe me: I was scared shitless about it.
It’s creepy to share your finances online. It pretty much violates every frugal commandment handed down to me by my (stereotypically Jewish) parents…but I promise you, I have a higher purpose:
I’m sick of giving advice about Etsy success when you can’t visibly see how that advice is working for me.
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Sellers always come to me wondering why their shop isn’t selling out. And the answer is simple:
Success is like walking up stairs.
Slow, tedious… and sometimes you trip over your own knees.
On average, you will climb one step each month. You are successful if you made more money than you did last month. Even if it’s $10, every little bit helps you learn how to get up those stairs.
A staircase usually has 12-14 steps. So it can take a while. But be patient. As long as you’re making more $$ each month, you’re doing it right.
So…on that note: Not only am I going to open up the trench coat and give you a glimpse at my books for September 2016, but I’m also going to show you exactly what I made my first month in business. (And trust me, it was sad).
This way, you can see my progression up the stairs and realize that I didn’t just create an Etsy shop and watch money appear. I had to be patient just like you.
I opened my Etsy shop on March 27th, 2015. But I didn’t make any money until the following month. Here are my stats for April 2015.
April 2015 Total Income
As you can see, I made £33.92 (about $50 at that time).
BUT let’s not forget my expenses:
- Listing fees for my first 200 Etsy products (yes, I listed 200 products in 30 days): $40
- Photoshop Subscription $8/month
- Fonts from Creative Market $39
GRAND TOTAL: – $37
Ok: Fast Forward. Let’s look at September 2016.
A lot has changed in 18 months! To start, I sell on 4 different platforms, which means Etsy stats don’t cut it for me anymore.
If that wasn’t enough, I now sell a bit more than just digital download prints. I’ve learned how to create mugs, pillows, temporary tattoos and tote bags to name a few.
Because I sell various products on different platforms, I use a special spreadsheet that tracks my costs, gross profits, tax savings and tells me my personal salary. Here’s a preview:
At the bottom of my spreadsheet, there’s a monthly summary that tells me everything I need to know about each month’s income. Here’s the summary for September (all figures in £ GBP):
September 2016 Total Income
So last month, my expenses were £4482.20* ($5814.92)
*Items included in the “Cost” column:
- All supplies used to make each product
- Shipping costs
- Shipping supplies
- Equipment maintenance
- Equipment consumables (things like printer ink, paper, etc)
- Subscriptions required to run the Etsy shop (social media tools and adobe subscription)
- A 5% contingency for screw-ups and returns (calculated per product)
- Etsy (and other marketplace) fees
- Paypal fees / Credit card processing fees
- Etsy renewal costs
- My mailchimp subscription ($9/month).
Items NOT included in the “Cost” column:
- Any one-off purchases like online courses to help me build the shop
- Product development (this comes directly out of my salary)
- Anything blog related: I completely separate my blog and Etsy shop expenses/profits
Time for a dose of honesty: This was a slow month for me. August and September are notoriously slow months for retail. BUT there are things I could do to tip the scales in my favor. I DIDN’T DO THEM. (Because I’m a baaaad Etsy seller. I got distracted making this awesome Etsy Program instead).
Here’s what I SHOULD HAVE done this month:
- Revise my existing products and eliminate what’s not selling.
- Add a new autumn line of my best-selling items (mugs & prints) – I add 12-20 new products per month…I didn’t get to it this month.
- Create more digital downloads (these guys are little PROFIT NUGGETS. I should be making 10x new ones per month).
- Fix my SEO & add seasonal tags to my 10-20 most popular items.
- Post to Pinterest group boards like a maniac (I did a half-ass job this month).
- Submit my items to gift guides and bloggers in anticipation of the holiday season.
Here’s what I DID do this month:
- I revised my focus keywords (learn what this means here) for my top 5 most popular products.
- Got more exposure for the shop through my blog & guest appearances on Podcasts like this.
- I tripled my Pinterest followers by using the trick explained here…I’ll later use this following to sell more items from my Etsy shop over Xmas.
- I auto-renewed my most viewed item 2x per day at 4pm/4am UTC (my most popular times for views).
- I automated my social media to post all my latest products (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest).
- Participated in Facebook groups to get advice from other sellers and promote my items.
The bottom line is that there’s always something you can do to improve. When my schedule is crammed full of projects (aka ALL the f*cking time), I’ll just add one or two new tasks to my plate each month. Otherwise I crash and burn.
This creates a slow-burn, sustainable growth that isn’t overwhelming.
What I Learned in September:
- I’m a shitty multi-tasker. We all are, but we lie to ourselves because doing lots at once FEELS productive. It’s not. I tried to split my time evenly between my blog and Etsy shop this month, and I actually spent more like 20% of my time on Etsy (I suspect my sales will continue to lag if I don’t take action in October).
- I need to focus on one project at a time, and I need to plan them a month in advance so I don’t get distracted.
- I love Pinterest and Pinterest loves me. Leveraging Pinterest for blog and Etsy traffic has changed my business into one that makes sales effortlessly. This month, Pinterest helped sales flow on Etsy even when I didn’t get lots of traffic.
What did you learn in September? What do you want to improve next month? I want to know all about you and your shop too! Share your story in my Facebook group.
Thanks for Reading!
Hi there, my name is Jenni. You’re reading about the Etsy shop that freed me from the worst job I’ve ever had (and a lifetime of working for somebody else).
Find out what went down here.
Hey guess what? The exact tricks that got me 6-figures sales are waiting for you in the Ultimate Guide to Etsy. This is a 40-page, step-by-step MEGA tutorial that will help you strategize your way to more sales.