Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tips for Etsy Success: Creating a Schedule

Every standard 40 hour a week job has a schedule; a routine, a daily list of goals and a pace that your day is set to. A successful etsy business should have the same. To run a successful business from home it is important to set a schedule just as you would in an office. If you have an etsy shop in addition to a full-time job, it is even more important to make sure that you have your day organized.

First of all, set a daily schedule. Allow a certain time of day for all of your business activities: responding to convos, creating products, shipping, blogging, etc. If you know that every morning you respond to convos, then pack and ship products and then craft for 2 hours, you will get so much more accomplished then if the tasks are scattered. Not much gets done when you are back and forth between emails and packaging all day.

When you create your daily and weekly schedule, make sure to leave some holes in it. Life happens and things get delayed or new priorities come up. Having holes in your schedule allows you to tackle these things without your entire day or week getting pushed back.

If the items in your shop are all custom orders, make sure to set a reasonable lead time for them. My shop used to be all custom work. I thought that I had to have a short lead time in order to make customers happy and get a lot of orders. Well, the orders were pouring in and I could not physically handle the work. I hesitantly changed my lead time to 2 weeks and that did not stop the orders at all. Orders kept piling up so I changed it again to 3 weeks. What I found was that as long as you are up front with customers on your lead time and you offer them the option to rush an order (for a charge of course) then they are happy. I was shocked at how many orders I was still getting with a 3 week lead time. It was nice because my business kept growing and I kept my sanity.

Working from home can be tricky since you feel like you are always at the office. Your crafts are surrounding you and it can feel like there is always something pressing to do. It is really important to allow yourself time off. Make sure to schedule down time and vacations. The great thing about etsy is that you can simply “close shop” or you can put a note in your shop announcements that informs shoppers when you will be closed. Whether it is a certain day of the week, certain hours in the day or a week every quarter, it is imperative that you allow yourself some vacation time.

Don’t forget to schedule your paycheck. Accepting payments in paypal can be tricky and many times the funds get washed away when purchasing new supplies and postage. It is really important that you make sure to pay yourself so that you can feel the benefit of your business. For my shop, I give myself a paycheck every Sunday.

Along with setting a daily schedule, it is important to set monthly and annual priorities and goals for your business. This will ensure that you are working to grow your business or try new ideas. The most successful etsy shops are those that are continually trying new things and modifying their products. Think about where you want your business to take you and what financial goals you have for it.

Don’t forget to plan ahead for craft fairs and holidays. It is inevitable. You know they are coming, you can see them on the calendar. Don’t put off getting ready for the big days. Personally, I have found that Christmas orders start coming right after Halloween. This means that you need to start preparing in August (at the latest). If your shop sells pre-made items, start making extras in January. Make a few extras each week and set them aside so that you are stocked come holiday season. If your shop is all custom work, as mine was, purchase extra supplies early and make sure to set a cutoff date for orders. It seems crazy, but I always set the first week of December as my cutoff order date. This allowed me to sew like crazy until the week before Christmas. The week before Christmas I shipped out the last of the orders and was able to enjoy the holidays with my family.

Don’t forget to read up on the past etsy success posts below:



Kristine said...

Hi Sabrina!

Would you mind sharing a sample of what your weekly schedule looks like? (Or looked like when you made custom orders in your shop?). My biggest challenge has been working around my kids!! Do you have any tips for that? I think our daughters are right around the same age.


Noodles & Milk said...

Kristine- working around kids is super hard! I had to be religious about working around my daughter's schedule. Here is what my schedule used to look like:
-30 minutes before she woke up I would wake and respond to convos/emails and re-list a few items
-naptime- I was very good about only doing shop work. I would almost always spend this entire time (3hours) sewing or prepping orders to sew
-throughout the day- around mid-morning, lunchtime, 3pm and bedtime I would take 5 minutes to re-list anything that had sold in the last few hours
-evening/after bedtime- this is when I packed up orders and got things ready to ship. If I had a really big sewing day ahead the next day then I would also do the prep work in the evening too.

The biggest thing about the schedule is that I did not let other "tasks" interfere with my business schedule. I did not clean the house, make the grocery list, fold laundry, nothing. I did all those things on the weekend or when my daughter was awake and she could "help" me. I made sure that my business hours were really used for business. Of course, during the crazy holiday season or other unusually busy times, I also did a fair amount of sewing on the weekends and let my husband help out more with the housework.

Hope that helps!--Sabrina

Ashley N said...

Sabrina - this is so timely for me, yet again! As my shop has picked up speed, I have been going a little crazy trying to get it all done. I've already bumped my turnaround to two weeks and had been considering going to three weeks, but worried about how tht would affect sales. I appreciate seeing your sample schedule in the comment above...that helps! Thanks for doing these Etsy success posts...they have been SOOOO helpful to me as I start out.

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