Opening an Etsy shop is one of those things. You know, like starting a blog or sending out a book proposal.
It feels like a milestone. It's a start of something, something that could potentially be big. Or not big at all. It could be significant, or entirely insignificant.
Therein lies the fear.
Small is safe
About 6 months ago, I opened an art shop on my website. Behind that launch lay a determination to open before 2016 ended, since selling my art was a fear I wanted to face during my Fear Year. If I hadn't had that push, it would have taken much longer.
The decision to host my shop on my website came out of stubbornly wanting to do everything on my own and to do it "the right way" from the start. Etsy is the kind of platform that people advice you to start with and then eventually move away from, since Etsy could be gone or entirely different in a year or a few. (Girlboss on Netflix anyone?)
I decided to just skip Etsy and take the harder route of starting out on my own.
No platform, no help with finding customers. The good thing is that I learned just how it works - sales don't happen by themselves. People don't randomly wander into the shop and buy. I don't have the website traffic for that to happen. The bad thing was of course the same - it was a lot work.
It was during my creative break back in February/March that I decided to move my shop to Etsy. After working my butt off for months on everything that is my creative life, I was ready for whatever could make it easier.
I'm under no delusion that Etsy will swoop me up and send thousands of customers my way. No, it's a platform like any other. You still have to do a lot of work yourself but the chance of some random stranger stumbling into your shop is higher. Kinda like moving to a busier street. And if you start gaining some popularity, then the street owner might start promoting you as one of successful ones, giving you that nice snowball effect.
One little voice in my head keeps wondering if it felt safe to keep my shop on my website.
Like wanting to stay on that calm backstreet, where I know who comes and goes, in a nice little lull. The chance, or risk, of a sudden rush was tiny. Staying small is safe.
The real chance lies in doing the work
What if it actually works? What if Penguin House wants to publish your book? What if Oprah finds your blog post and decides to share it, sending millions of people to your website and you watch your subscribers tick up to 50 000?
What if my Etsy shop blows up and I have to quit my job to keep up with orders?
The likelihood of these things happening? Very small. Still, they're there, as tiny possibilities that are both delicious and terrifying. I mean, it does happen to some odd ducks.
Most of us probably don't think a sudden success will actually happen, but the idea can still creep in and affect us subconsciously.
The whisper of that unlikely scenario can make us act kinda silly.
1. We're too scared of it happening so we don't open ourselves up to the risk.
2. We want it to happen so bad, we try to make everything perfect.
3. We sit around and wait for it to happen.
4. We're convinced it won't happen, in fact, we don't think we're gonna come even remotely close to something successful, so we give up in advance.
The alternative is of course to just ignore outliers and go for the much more tested route to whatever it is that we want - generally including doing lots of work and learning what has worked for others.
Giving it a real chance is to do the darn work.
Even when nobody cares. Even when it feels pointless. Even when it's scary.
That's when things can start happening. That's how Etsy shops grow big and authors get good book deals. Through endlessly learning and practicing. By not giving up on the big thing but giving up on what doesn't work.
Important steps don't happen by themselves
Taking important steps, be it opening a shop, starting a blog or sending out a book proposal, takes both a lot work and a lot of courage.
It's the kind of thing you can put off forever.
It's the kind of thing you think you can't do before you're perfect.
In other words, it's easy to plan and dream about, but hard to actually make happen.
When I decided move my shop to Etsy, I instantly knew I could procrastinate that move for a long time. At the same time, I knew it doesn't really take that much time to set up a shop.
See, we have a tendency to think that things are really hard just because they're important. That's not always the case. Setting up my Etsy shop took me a couple of hours. Yes, to that comes actually creating what I want to sell and taking photos of them. And if this was my first time, I would have needed to figure out the shipping logistics and VAT rules. But it doesn't have to take forever, if you get to work.
I had to force myself initially, but I'm glad I didn't wait to move my shop just because I could.
I'm excited to see if being on Etsy is exactly the same as having a shop on my website, or if there's actually some help to find there. Whatever the answer, I'm ready to put in the work to give my shop a fair chance.
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