I know it’s been a little while since I have posted a new blog post, and I promise I am working several travel posts! I just haven’t quite had the chance to finish them all yet. I’ve had quite an exciting and busy fall season with my photography work and this new side project/blog extension I’ve been building!
Well, re-launched I guess you could say. I opened up shop in 2011 and tried to sell some digital files and it just didn’t go all that well and I lost interest. So, fast forward to summer of 2019…
(This post contains affiliate links to a few of the services that I use and love!)
Graphic Design Background
I was starting getting an itch to design stuff again. I used to be a freelance graphic designer fresh out of college, and I quit because I didn’t enjoy the process of designing something I liked when it didn’t quite resonate with my clients. Many times the end product would be something that I didn’t feel like represented me as a designer, or just didn’t make me feel as proud of my as work as I felt that I should. I think it was a combination of just not finding the right clients for myself and just not really understanding what type of design I actually wanted to do.
That’s when I turned to photography, which is one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. I am so content and confident in that career choice and I love everyday that I get to “work” because it never really feels like work! I take it very seriously, but I have a lot of fun! I was just still feeling a need and a desire to have yet another creative outlet.
Pinterest Made Me Do It
Anyway, I started making little designs again this summer, and I think I saw a cute tank top on Pinterest and a light bulb turned on. I thought, “I could totally make a design like that!” Then, I immediately felt discouraged because I thought that there was no way I could house an inventory or afford any expensive printing equipment.
I decided not to completely dismiss the idea and did some research.
So, I started a store on each site and worked really hard making new designs and making my storefronts look pretty and inviting. I shared my new designs on my social media accounts and… mostly crickets.
I love the concept of each site and really wanted it to work out, but I’ve a had really hard time making any sales on those outlets. I still have those stores open, and there are a few products I love that are offered by each of them that I’m not able to offer in my Etsy shop yet, but I’m hoping to find a way soon!
Turns out, selling stuff is really hard!
I think I knew that deep down, I just didn’t know it first hand. Other than my experience with affiliate marketing, which is a lot harder than it sounds because of the sheer volume of influencers out there these days, I have no business or sales experience outside of being a retail employee at Starbucks for nearly a decade. But let’s be real, coffee just kind of sells itself.
I kept thinking, there’s got to be a better way to do this and still not have to house an inventory. All I really want to do is make the designs and connect with my customers, at least for now. Later on, if it’s possible I would LOVE to do screen printing or vinyl cutting. It’s just not an affordable or sensible option for me right now.
Etsy + Printful
I had thought about Etsy earlier on since I already had a shop open, evne though it had been inactive for year. But, dismissed it because I thought it wasn’t possible without doing the entire process all by myself. It’s actually a lot of work just to make the designs themselves, much less printing, packaging, and shipping! I just didn’t see that as an option right now, until one day I was browsing on Pinterest (yes, again) and I came across Printful.
This was a total game changer.
Printful has an Etsy integration plugin that allows you to add your designs to their products and connect them to your shop. When a sale is made, it automatically gets forwarded to Printful and they print, package, AND ship your product directly to your customer. It’s a method called drop-shipping, and it was a totally new concept to me!
Without this method and integration, I would not have been able to start up my shop. It’s opened up a whole new world of possibility for me and I have been having so much fun running this store! I was a little nervous starting it at first, because I didn’t know what their product quality was going to be, or just how smooth everything was going to run. But I decided, this had to be worth a shot because it was just something I really wanted to do!
I ordered some samples of my designs from Printful to make sure I knew what I was selling, and I absolutely loved them. Getting that finished product was so exciting, and now I already have 4 of my own tank tops that I proudly work out in all the time now!
Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly
Another plus, actually a huge plus, is that Printful carries the apparel brands that I wanted to sell from the very beginning. I told myself from the start, that if I wanted to do this then I was going to commit to quality and sustainable brands. I wanted Bella + Canvas and Next Level in my product line and there are even specific styles that they each carry that I had in mind.
Both of those brands produce high quality products and have sustainable methods and materials to help reduce their environmental footprints.
That was a triple win for me, and I re-launched my Etsy store in September with Printful as my production partner!
Gotta Work For It
I’ll be honest, it was a lot of work in the beginning getting everything set up. Printful made it as easy as possible and even has an arsenal of tutorial videos and blog posts. Still, I had to put in a lot of time! I found some mockup images to display my designs on for my listings, which I found on Etsy and supported my fellow shop owners. I made my own sizing and color guides to add to each listing. I also created a separate Instagram account so that I could use it to focus only on my products!
Things started out very slow. I didn’t want to spend any money on advertising, but I eventually realized that it was a necessity.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s A LOT of people selling shirts on Etsy. I had to find a way to get my products seen!
So, I set a small advertising budget and over time I started getting “favorited” and then all of a sudden the sales started coming in! And by sales, I mean one at a time, a week at a time. Then around Thanksgiving, I set up a Black Friday sale and that’s when things started turning around and I started making several sales per day!
Consistency is Key
Now, just in the first week of December I’ve made more sales than all of the previous months combined. All it took was some hard work and some consistency, and now I feel like I actually have a business going here. I’m still really green on the financial side of things, but I’m reading some articles and educating myself.
I wanted to tell you my story because sometimes you may have ideas that sound impossible, but if you dig a little bit and find some breadcrumbs, it just may lead you to the feast! (that was so cheesy, I’m sorry…)
I’m a person with thousands of ideas that never amount to anything because I simply don’t have the time or the resources, and frankly the energy either. But of all of the projects and side hustles I’ve pursued, this one has been the most fruitful so far, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be with it in a year from now. Don’t worry, I’ll update you!
In the meantime, you’d be my favorite person ever if you’d check out my shop and/or my shop Instagram! Give me a follow to stay on top of newly released designs or special deals only sent to my social media friends!