Happy new year friends :) I really hope all your wishes and dreams come true in the new year. Let's all join hands and make this the best year yet - so here's to a wonderful and happy 2016.
An year ago, around the same time, I was writing my blog as a hobby and I was hoping to start an Etsy shop to pursue my passion for web design. Even though I was dreaming of running my blog and business full time in the future, I honestly didn't think I was anywhere close to making it happen. But in the past 12 months I have been able to quit my job to run a full time business online which I am insanely grateful for. Was it hard? You bet! Would I trade it for anything else in this world? Hell, No!
When I started my Etsy shop last February, I didn't know the A-B-C of business, let alone having the experience of running one before. Honestly, I was scared. Today, I want to recap - the things I did, the mistakes I made and the lessons I learnt in 2015. If you are looking to start an online business in 2016, I hope this will be a fun and helpful read for you! Grab a coffee, quick!
My intention behind writing this post is not to highlight what I have done in this past year, but to highlight and tell you that if you want to start an online business, you can do it too!
Exactly an year ago, while working full time as a computer engineer, I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell Blogger design templates. I created 5 pre-made templates and opened shop in February. The shop took off instantly (thanks to my blog) and I worked on growing the shop further by adding new products. This was my first time in life ever doing something business-y, and I learnt all about interacting with clients, providing excellent customer service, promoting my shop, managing finances and everything in between through first hand experience. Although I wasn't sure at the beginning, I realized that I was onto something when I hit a 100 sales in less than 4 months. Now, after an year, I can say that if not for my Etsy shop, my business wouldn't be where it is today. If you are in a place where you can not quit your full time job to pursue your business full time, I’d totally recommend starting an Etsy shop on the side, the effort is worth every bit.
But after a few months, I made a mistake with my Etsy shop - I ll tell you , keep reading!
Once I started seeing results with my Etsy shop, I felt more confident to pursue my business full-time. No, I wasn’t making anywhere close to a full time income at this point; I had made $1560 from my Etsy shop in July. But I saw the potential and I believed that if I invested more time and energy into growing my business, I could make it work. So even before I was really prepared, I took the leap and quit my job in August to pursue my business full time. It felt strange, but it felt right.
After I quit my job in August, you would have expected me to jump right into it and start working on my business. But I didn’t. I took a break for almost a month and a half. I wanted to relax. Between my job and my business, I did not want to forget the small joys that life has in store for us. I am all for hustling, but I absolutely believe in the power of relaxing and rejuvenating and just living life the way you want. During this break, I invited my grandma (It was a long time dream to spend time with her) to stay with us and had a wonderful time with her. I travelled (I love to explore new places) with my friends and just had a LOT of fun.
Mid-September, it was time to get back to work. I worked on rebranding and designing my new website and officially launched my design services in October. I created a full roster of branding and design services to help bloggers and creative entrepreneurs build an effective online presence. In the past 3 months of launching my design business, I have had 8 clients book my design services. I am not saying this to highlight what I have done - but to highlight and tell you what you can do too!
Along with my website, I also launched Creative Convex, a photography resource designed specifically for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs. I created this for creatives so they can enjoy doing what they do the best - Creating - without having to worry about finding photography that works for their brand and their business. Since October, three photo packs have been released and I have been blown away with the response and the love it has received. I am looking forward to the exciting things in store for Creative Convex as I work towards making this a bigger and better resource for creatives.
While relaunching my new website, an important thing that I wanted to focus on was building an email list. At this point, I had an email list with less than a 100 subscribers and had never sent an email to the list before, so my email marketing was basically non-existent. I started putting in the work and my email list has grown from a 100 to 3000 since October, which is unbelievable for me. Watch out for a detailed post on how you can grow your email list, I ll be writing one soon!
The best part of it all? Collaborations. Starting from being a guest writer to working on design projects, I had opportunities of working with some brilliant people in the creative community. Collaborations are beautiful as it opens doors to learning from others, sharing knowledge and gives you this immense sense of community. To know that you are not alone in this and there are some wonderful people looking out for you is immensely helpful! The one thing that I definitely want to do more of in 2016 is to collaborate. If you are ever interested in having a virtual cup of coffee with me over Skype, feel free to send me an email - I'd love to chat with you!
Okay, let’s talk about my biggest mistake of 2015 - the Etsy shop blunder - as I’d like to call it! So after starting my Etsy shop in February, all was well. It was bringing me a consistent income each month and had brought in about $9000 in sales within the first six months. And then it stopped. Sales declined and the traffic to my shop slowed down drastically. Why? Because I stopped focussing on the shop. With the break and the new design services, I did not have the time to add new products to my Etsy shop. Not just that, I couldn't execute a ton of ideas for improving customer experience on my shop due to the lack of time. Better planning and time management would have kept my Etsy growth consistent and I learnt (the hard way) that its important to not lose focus on even a single part of your business, ever. It may be hard, but its important to keep going.
I have had my blog for around an year and a half now, and one of my biggest regrets is not starting an email list sooner! Building your audience on social media platforms is all good, but something that you can call yours is only your website and your email list. If you haven’t started an email list yet, stop everything and do that right now! :)
Although I did write an average of 6 posts every month on my blog, I was not regular and consistent about it. Blogging is the heart of my business and I definitely know there is more potential in this area. I hope to pump up the frequency as well as stay consistent in publishing new content on my blog in 2016.
Again, for most part of the year, I was playing hide and seek on social media. I was not consistent with sharing content and being present on social media as I'd like to be. I really want to be more active on social media and engage more with my community and I will in 2016!
Like with most things in life, we only regret the things we didn't do rather than the things we did. From starting a Facebook page to an email list to launching my services, my only regret is that I didn't start sooner.
Ha :) I wish I could say yes, but no! Running a business is hard, really hard. I have felt like giving up many times. If you let it, it can be emotionally and mentally draining. But between the hard work and long hours, there are a lot of small wins and smiles which make everything, well, worth it! I ll say it again, if you are enjoying your work - that's all matters!
If you are on the fence about starting an online business, I want to say just one thing - do it, and do it quickly. Don't worry about success or failure, they are a part of life - what matters is that you enjoy every bit of what you do. And if you already are running a business - I hope you had fun reading about my journey and could relate to few things I spoke about!
You are the main reason I write this blog - You read it, so I write it. Thank you a million times for every. little. thing. It means much more to me than you can imagine!