Those who are following the progress of my small business will know that last week I had perhaps the most significant product launch I’ve done to date. 12 new listings went up on my Etsy store and my own online shop. I’m going to share with you a few of the things I learnt in the process.
I wholeheartedly believe in the work I make. I don’t ever try to sell pieces that I do not love. People can tell when you’ve made something you don’t really like.
I often make things I don’t love at first, but they become part of the experiment. Eventually, the more you play with the idea, the closer you get to it being right. I don’t expect anyone to buy anything that I don’t think beautiful!
These new ideas have been sitting in my mind for a while. I’d been making ongoing samples and sifting through materials. When making any kind of stationery, it is essential to me that the materials feel pleasant to hold and the paper is beautiful to print and write on. A journal or notebook should be tactile in your hands and make you yearn to write inside.
I spent more money on the raw materials than I have ever forked out for in one go! That was a little bit scary! But, I had done all my research, and I bought from excellent suppliers, ensuring the high quality I was looking for. I also bought a new printer so I could print the bespoke diaries I wanted. This also means I can now make to order, giving me much more freedom when designing the next thing!
I had set myself a date for the launch as I knew if I left it open-ended, I wouldn’t have worked so hard! And since one of my products is a Mid-Year Calendar, starting in July, I really couldn’t afford to wait!
Being much more of a designer and maker than a salesperson, I enjoyed every second of planning out the internals of notebooks. I liked experimenting with size and colour and making the actual products. What was more challenging to get through was the technical aspect of selling everything online.
I launched on time – hooray!
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t several times in the week prior that I thought it would never happen! I think and work best in the morning, but there were a few later nights than I care for during the launch process! But, last Thursday at 12 noon everything went live. Another email was sent to my mailing list, and I posted on all my social media channels.
I have had my online shop for a while, so adding to that should have been easy – it wasn’t! There was a coding issue somewhere on my pages which was causing the layout to re-jig itself when making listings live. I cobbled together my own workaround as there was no way I was delaying the launch date I’d set for myself. After online chatting with the site which hosts my website, the issue has finally been resolved, several days after the launch! Luckily with my own makeshift fix, it didn’t hinder folk being able to buy in the first couple of days.
The Etsy listings were more comfortable to work with. With selling anywhere online, images are essential. I spent a whole day photographing and editing the photos of my new work to show buyers every aspect of the items. Such a time-consuming part of the process but one of the most important!
All in I think it took 3 days of work to get everything ready for the launch online.
I knew I wouldn’t be leaving myself enough time to really hype up the launch. There was about a week to promote it on my Instagram and Facebook pages. I also sent out a special offer to my mailing list to encourage them to buy in the opening weekend.
In the past, I have been a little scared to hype up my wares online, but this is getting easier the more I do it. I know they are high quality, and all I am doing is showing people how lovely the things I make are. I don’t like any kind of hard-sell tactics, and so I don’t feel like I’m putting pressure on people to buy from me. Sometimes a few “likes” and “shares” on Instagram provides enough gratification!
I think I will always be learning the value in what I do. And I think it is great that other people see it too. Nowadays, people appreciate the effort that goes into making items by hand and thankfully is willing to pay a more premium price for it.
I enjoy giving a little discount to my mailing list to show my appreciation that they stick with me through my process of trial and error, but I try not to give too much for nothing. It does me no good, and it makes people value your work less.
A little discount, or freebie, is helpful to entice but be careful not to give away too much!
The feeling of relief, once everything went live, was amazing. My husband and I went out for a walk in the sunshine. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted. That, I thought, makes it all worth it. Even if I didn’t get a single order this weekend, I felt lighter, and the sense of accomplishment was enough.
But I did get orders. They have been pretty consistent since launch day. But, as well as it went, I know that I need to keep pushing to make the sales. Sitting back and letting it happen is not a strategy, and luckily this process has excited me to do more. More new products are coming, and I have just finished designing a new freebie planner printable for my mailing list! Keeping momentum is vital!
If you want to hear more about my journey through starting a small, handmade business – and of course grab your free planner printable – then please sign up to my mailing list.