Thursday, September 10, 2009

Full Time Crafting Six Months In

Two months before I "Quit My Day Job" in March 2009, piddix had its biggest sales month ever. At the time I had lunch with an etsy friend and told her my goal was to double those sales within a year, and I had enough savings to act as a safety net during the growth period. She commented that it might take the full year to reach my goal; but I inwardly scoffed that it would take that long. After-all, my sales had been climbing steadily for a while, I had taken classes, I was prepared (or so I thought)...

Then "Wham!;" I ran into four months of fairly low sales, which were both scary and depressing. To top if off, my husband was laid off from his job at the beginning of June. It was looking bleak for piddix. I immediately went to my old non-profit organization, one that I sill love and admire, to see if they had any work for me. See, they still had my old position open, and I always had it in the back of my mind that until they hired someone new, I could always go back, with hat in hand, and help out there. Fortunately for both of us (and you'll see why in a minute), they were in the middle of a hiring freeze. They could offer some contract work, which would help me pay the bills for a bit, but nothing permanent.

Rather than be sad or stressed at the news, I found myself rather relieved. At that moment I realized that I truly loved working on piddix. I loved working from home. I loved being able to scan books and play trains with Declan at the same time. Every aspect of the business--from marketing to designing new products--still fascinated me. While I had left a very nice job with wonderful people and benefits, rather than the traditional mind-numbing cubicle work that is easier to leave, I was still having more fun working for myself, on my own terms.

So I intensified my efforts with piddix (thanks Mom and Dad for the extra babysitting) and thankfully, this past August was a new record for piddix sales, and September looks good so far.

I've learned a million things in the process. The two that stand out at the moment are:

1. Know your sales trends. If I had paid much closer attention to my sales trends over the past several years, and done some additional research, I would have noticed that the February through May are traditionally a very slow time for selling supplies, since everyone has already finished up their holiday craft fairs but hasn't yet started on their summer activities. That knowledge would not only have factored into my plans of when to leave my "day" job, but also cushioned my ego, too. Now that I'm tracking the ups and downs better, I can be financially and emotionally prepared for both.

2. Try Everything. A friend of mine calls this the "shotgun approach," since I'm basically shooting a bunch of ideas out and hoping one of them will hit its mark. Or, as a member of my board of directors puts it, I'm wandering around in the dark hoping for brief moments of illumination. I may at some point write an entire post on the 243 things that I have tried in the last seven months--from the hand-letterpressed thank you cards I made to send with my packages (which are still sitting unused on my shelf), to the four different collaborations I've tried (two great, one so-so, and one still in the works). Needless to say I wouldn't suggest this for anyone else. A more surgical, practiced approach would save a bunch of time. But it actually worked well for me. Of the 243 ideas that I tried, about five worked very, very well and are responsible for my current sales record. I would never have found them without the other 238.

So, as always, wish me luck. It's been very nice to have a bit of an emotional and financial boost this past month or so. And looking forward I'm hoping that the "ups" outnumber the "downs."


15 comments:

Lara said...

Congratulations! That's wonderful to hear. Emily and I were just admiring about your resilience and positive attitude. And your courage. Lots of courage.

piddix said...

Lara, you and Emily continually amaze me as well.

Lesley Bruce said...

So, so pleased I was a teeny tiny part of your record breaking August. But I just found you by putting in a search for 'bees' on etsy, when I was looking for jewellery for a friend, so the other thing you have to factor in is the just plain unforseable!

piddix said...

Lesley you're the best. Thanks so much. And it's always so good to know how people find me on etsy. Which reminds me, I have some more bees I need to scan in, too.

rebecca woodward said...

Oh I just love how you open us to us - your faithful followers and biggest fans. Thank you for taking the time to find and scan your awesome images, and for your artful presentations. But most of all, thank you for being you! I have no doubt you will always succeed at whatever you pursue.
rebecca ~ justgiddy

Gretchen said...

I too found you on etsy. I ordered for the first time in August and love the Paris themed images I bought online.
I sell at a French inspired shop, so anything French is a win-win for me. I'm using the images in vintage jewelry redesign.
Gretchen

piddix said...

Thank you Rebecca. You are too, too kind. I appreciate your kind words.

And thanks to you Gretchen, too. Those French images have been crazy-popular. They were so much fun to make. I'll have to see what's next that may be similar. Perhaps some French fashions?

Paper Chipmunk said...

Corinna, I continue to be impressed with your willingness to share the non-sugarcoated business side of things with us. May you continue to have success—I know you've worked very hard for it.

piddix said...

Paper Chipmunk, I am sooooo still crossing my fingers. The ups and downs are tricky for me. So the last several weeks of good sales have been so nice. I'm hoping they'll continue for a bit. We'll see...

Susan said...

I love your newsletter! I read through every word and try to assimilate all of it!

Originally I quit my "day" job to raise my children and worked part-time around their schedules. Now I'm finding that my business is at crossroads and I need to re-evaluate to make it work as a full time venture. (ugh!) The thing that really got me was your SWOT post, something I still need to complete for myself. (plus all the marketing advice, etc...your a great role model!)

So, your business tips are being applied to other businesses as your blog gives us all these great tips. Thanks! And thanks for all the fun, tempting images. Love the Owl face, can't wait to see them.

Sincerely,
Susan

piddix said...

Thanks Susan. That "crossroads" is such a difficult decision. So many people who have made the leap to full-time crafting say that they wish they had done it sooner, but at the same time, it can be soooo scary. I'm not sure if I can recommend it to others or not. But I'm happy.

Seize The Night said...

You should definitely keep your head up! I love reading your blog. It's so inspiring that this is now your "day job" and hearing about your experiences only continues to give me the motivation to keep my own business going. And I LOVE your images. I've been trying to talk myself out of buying one of your cd's all day... and I think I might buckle and buy one... now. :)

Colliebox said...

You always have such great advice Corinna. It's always a pleasure reading your blog/newsletter.

FashionTouch.etsy.com said...

Wishing you luck and thank you so much for all of your great tips and articles! You are my inspiration on a rainy day:)

FashionTouch
Unique and Affordable accessories at http://fashiontouch.etsy.com
Useful Tips, Showcases, Reviews and many more at http://fashiontouchme.blogspot.com

piddix said...

Colliebox, FashionTouch & Seize The Night, you are all totally awesome! Thanks so much. Absolutely no way would I be able to do this at all without you.