Hello and welcome to my first ever newsletter! Over the coming months, I’ll be using this page as a kind of written podcast, documenting my progress in establishing my shop, ventures in freelance illustration and life as a university graduate.
Once a month I’ll be featuring new product launches, talking about different aspects of my work and showing behind the scenes titbits. Hopefully it’s of interest to a few people, but I thought it would also be a good way to document the “start of my life” after university and maybe help a few graduates out there!
Coming up this month: making greetings cards and three tips I’ve learnt from my three years on Etsy.
I finally made some greetings cards!
This weekend sees the launch of my first ever greetings card designs over on my Etsy shop.
I opened Ginabakershop in 2016, and pretty much every year since then I’ve been planning to make some cards. Being a stationary store, it makes a lot of sense! The truth is, designing cards is pretty hard.
Or at least, I thought it was! I had put off the design process for years, thinking ‘they won’t be funny enough’ or ‘they won’t stand out in the market place’. And, quite frankly, that might be true! But impostor syndrome can be rough, so for anyone else thinking of making their own cards and unsure how to start, here is the cheeky formula I came up with when making my cards last month.
1. What occasion is the card for?
This can be something common like birthdays and Christmas – or something stupid like ‘congrats on buying a cat!’
Hey, you never know.
2. What theme/topic is the card about?
Maybe the city you live in, an interest you have, a TV show, the universe itself… something others can relate to and will want to give to their friends/family.
3. Combine the theme and occasion into something “thought provoking” or “witty”.
Aka the fun part. An example would be my ‘happy birthday your majesty’ card, which combines the occasion of 'birthday' with the topic 'Her Majesty The Queen' The thought process looked a bit like this…
4. In thoughts of failure remember sometimes the simplest drawing can have the greatest charm – you don’t have to be the greatest artist ever to spark joy at the checkout!
Three tips from my three years on Etsy
I’ve only been using Etsy for a relatively short period of time, most of that being during three hectic years of studying for a degree. I still have plenty to learn, but I’ve certainly come a long way from my days of flimsy envelopes and handwritten addresses.
I wanted to share with you a few bits of advice I’ve learnt so far, and the stuff I'll be continuing to work on in my own store.
1. Do your research!
Before I even think about designing something these days, I’ll always do a good ol’ search on Etsy/Google to see if there are any existing products of it’s type. My most successful product so far has been the How not to Kill Twenty Houseplants poster. The idea started from me seeing loads of books on the topic, but nothing (that I could find) in a poster format.
On the other hand, I have other listings which haven’t done quite so well as they are placed in a very saturated market. Sometimes (especially if you’re starting your business without much cash) it’s worth leaving an idea if you don’t think it will sell. The unsold goods can soon gather dust on your shelf!
Research also helps for things like how to photograph your products, what title to use and what to put in the description. If you’re unsure, see what successful stores are doing – in the words of Pablo Picasso, “great artists steal”.
2. Read up on SEO & how Etsy search works
Whilst marketing is important for your shop (social media posts, emails etc.), the most sales by far will come from the Etsy search: what Etsy’s customers type into Etsy in order to find your product. An important aspect of this is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation (does what it says on the tin, really). In other words, how do you title and tag your listing to get it to pop up in searches? Failing to do this can impact your stats drastically.
Fuzzy and Birch do an amazing newsletter and YouTube series which covers this topic along with many other Etsy FAQ's.
3. It’s ok to learn as you go!
When I started the shop, I didn’t know a huge amount about online retail or business. It’s been a massive learning process, but the easiest way to learn is definitely to do. Sure, you might make some mistakes along the way but it’s by far the best way to figure things out.
A good example of this is illustrator Fran Meneses, who has run a successful Etsy shop for a few years and documented her process along the way on her YouTube channel.
Some stuff I’ve been enjoying this month
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See you next month!
- Georgina :)
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