Ok, maybe not the best analogy as running my business isn't making me physically ill. But it's stressful. I can't seem to dial it down. If the shop is open and I'm taking custom orders, I'm either working on orders, figuring out how to get more sales, or feeling resentful that there are so many similar shops on Etsy and many with more sales than I have. Is my pricing ok? Am I offering unique enough products? Should I invest time and money into selling my work in person at shows?
I'm not a competitive person, but something about having my own shop really brings out the worst in me in that sense. I obsess about whether my shop is getting enough views and people marking favorites. I wonder if I should place Google or Facebook ads. I renew listings to get them to show up at the top of the search, even though they haven't expired yet and it costs me money.
I'm at 70% of the aggressive sales goal I set for myself this month, with several more days to go in the month. And every time I take a break, I get several past customers asking when I'm reopening, and I hate to turn them down. When I do reopen, I'm rewarded by the little email pop ups of new sales notifications. Clearly this shop is satisfying my need for external validation and "gold stars", which is something I'm not terribly proud of.
|my product photographs have gotten so much better since 2007!|
Don't get me wrong - I love making things. I love that people think my work is good enough to give to their spouse on their wedding day. Actually crafting the pieces puts me in a GREAT frame of mind - calm and peaceful. I've learned a bunch of other skills from running this as a real business - dealing with taxes, product photography, customer service. I'm thrilled that even with a toddler and a tech career, I can make time to do something artsy and soul-satisfying.
But here's the thing. When I made my Mondo Beyondo list, I had no goals for my business at all. And that didn't surprise me. I've already proven what I set out to do - I wondered if I could ever be successful at selling what I had made. The answer is yes. I don't have other "big goals" for it beyond that.
Since T was born, I've taken several breaks from it when it felt like "too much". But I keep coming back.
I feel guilty about the supplies and money I've invested over the years. I feel like I should at least "use up" the consumable supplies before I quit. The other part is feeling like I'm wasting an opportunity. People work for years trying to build up a freelance career or flexible side business to make some extra money. I already have that "big idea" and it's clearly working for me. It seems crazy to give that up.
I know for sure I never want to quit my job and rely on my crafty business income. That would be the surefire way to kill the fun and skyrocket my stress levels.
But on the other hand, I hear stories of how my pet ID tags ensured lost dogs found their way home. Or how someone cried when they received the item I made (hopefully not because it was hideous!). And the woman who watched her husband open the gift I made over Skype because he was serving in the military in Afghanistan.
Obviously there are tons of people out there who can take my place, and tons of folks who *are* doing this as their sole source of income. Of course they are going to have the time and inclination to maximize their sales. I know I have too many other priorities. But when I'm away from it for too long, I miss it.
I'm just not sure how to keep it in balance and not make it all-consuming. Thoughts?