Times may be tough, but creativity can be your rescue. Have you ever dreamed about opening your own online store? With easily accessible eCommerce platforms like Etsy, you can turn your passion into income! Etsy is a place for creatives to flourish. Turning your craft or passion into a form of work is one of the best sources of income, in our opinion. Inspiration and motivation are practically endless, and you know what they say; if you love what you do, you’ll never get tired of it.
We spoke to some of our customers who own Etsy shops to share some background on how they got started, what they specialize in, how they use GotPrint products for their business, and what advice they would give to anyone looking to start their own online shop. Read on to gain inspiration!
Images courtesy of Michael Parla
Michael Parla, owner of Sofari Guide, is a full-time freelance graphic designer, but he didn’t start out that way. “I started as a graphic designer for the pharmaceutical industry. As you can imagine, the work became mundane and my creativity felt stifled. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I realized how important it was to show him that there’s success in following your dreams provided you stay focused on your path.”
Freelancing allows Michael to take on multiple different individual design jobs that challenge creativity, all while owning and managing his own shop. Sofari Guide, started in 2018, is a collection of animal enamel pins: “This collection of spirit animals defines my journey, and reminds me that there are still hurdles to overcome, joys to be had, and opportunities to seek. My goal is that Sofari Guide does the same for others and empowers them to boldly follow their own path.”
The Sofari Guide collection features 12 different animal pins, each one backed by a business card that contains a unique description and traits of the spirit animal. Through Sofari Guide, Michael uses his life experiences to motivate his passions, all while sharing this passion with others who may be on a similar journey.
Advice from Michael on connecting with customers:
“I’m sure there are more people better qualified than me to be giving advice on Etsy shops but the one thing that has served me well is always communicating with my customers. Sofari Guide is such a personal project I always thank them right after their purchase and follow up immediately after I ship. And because Etsy is like the new mom and pop, the one thing we can do to set us apart from the big chains is connect with our customers.”
Images courtesy of Esther Yaloz
Esther Yaloz and her partner, Ofir, are the owners/makers of PLANETARIUM, a family-run business that specializes in screen printing and sells handcrafted textiles such as tea towels, t-shirts, tank tops, baby onesies, and fabric earrings. Along with an Etsy shop (est. 2013), the duo sells their handcrafted textiles locally at a farmer’s market in Ithaca, NY and at Handwork the Artist co-op downtown. Though they enjoy local pop-ups, they shared that Etsy is a great way for local customers to keep in touch and up to date and creates more exposure for their products.
Planetarium Designs uses GotPrint for classic business cards and informational postcards that get sent out with every online order. They also use Ultra-Thick Trifecta paper as earring backings, and 16 pt. Premium Matte Cover paper for merchandise hang tags.
Esther’s advice to those wanting to start an Etsy shop:
“Go for it! It takes time to grow but it’s so worth it. We connect with so many different people from around the world. That kind of support is so important for any small business, and when you get positive feedback about your designs it’s very rewarding.”
Images courtesy of Alex Azabache
Alex Azabache, owner of DoneByAlex, newly opened his virtual doors on Etsy in October 2020.
Alex took his artistic, adventurous passion and turned it into tangible items he could share with the rest of the world. He designs and sells travel stickers, enamel pins, and map prints of designs inspired by U.S. cities and locations. “My Etsy shop is all about helping people show off their adventures through prints. I love to document my own travels and have little souvenirs, so I started making some products that people can buy to show off their trips.”
Alex uses various products from GotPrint, from packaging to actual products sold in his shop. He prints postcards as thank you cards that go out to every customer with each order, business cards as backing for the enamel pins, and foam boards to print his intricately designed U.S. travel maps. He says his goal with printing on foam boards is so that people can physically pin the locations they’ve traveled to.
Alex is currently in the process of creating more products, such as state-specific maps.
Alex advises paying attention to detail:
“One piece of advice I would give to anyone looking to open up an Esty store is to really put in the effort to make your product packaging look nice! I am always striving to give my customers the best experience when they purchase from me. Creating fun and eco-friendly packaging really sets you apart from the rest! I have received a lot of compliments on my packaging and that always makes my day!”
Image courtesy of Ariel Devore
Ariel Devore of Devore Designs is also new to the Etsy game but has plenty to share about her journey of opening her first online shop. The idea of opening a design shop came to her in early 2020, when she came up with a concept and designed her first sticker. What started as a small project to share with friends and family, turned into a permanent hustle of Devore Designs, a design shop primarily for stickers, and also mugs and t-shirts.
Ariel’s initial impression of Etsy is probably the most concise way to describe the platform: “At first, it was a bit intimidating because I had no idea how to use it. But it is a very seller-friendly platform and an affordable alternative to building and maintaining an ecommerce website.”
Ariel primary uses thank you prints from GotPrint, but shares that she has ideas for other print products in the works: “When I sold my first stickers, I printed a little black and white ‘Thank You’ note on regular paper and mailed them off in letter envelopes. We all have to start somewhere, right? Once I started to get more serious and listed items on Etsy, I knew I had to up my game. I created and ordered Thank You card inserts from GotPrint and they turned out perfect. There are still things I need to improve and ideas in my head that involve business cards, branded envelopes, and larger Thank You inserts for wholesale orders.”
Her designs are inspired by music, positivity, and spirituality and she hopes to pass on her passion to others through art and prints.
Advice from Ariel on finding your niche:
“The one piece of advice I have is to really fine tune and focus in on your target audience. I was designing random stickers for fun, as practice, not necessarily for any particular type of person. These items didn’t sell very well. I wasted a bit of money and effort, but it led me to realizing how important this is. My sticker designs ranged from “Dog Mom” to mouse ears to “2020 LA Champions” which weren’t necessarily reflective of my business. Now that I know better, I will be designing more stickers, shirts and coffee mugs that align with my mission to empower others and spread love and light.”
Merely Madison Designs
Images courtesy of Madison Herman
Madison Herman of Merely Madison Designs launched her shop in 2010 while pursuing a college degree in graphic design and working part-time as a print center associate. “What initially started as helping a few close friends with upcoming events, grew into multiple referrals and networking with Photographers and Businesses to get my name out there! Shortly thereafter, I opened my Etsy Shop as another platform to showcase my design work and make extra income to help with tuition cost.”
The Merely Madison Design shop consists of a variety of digital and printed designs for all occasions, holidays, and seasons! Madison specializes in invitations, announcements, and cards but also offers gift tags, cookie/treat toppers, and other printable items.
Madison describes her design process as both a challenge and a reward: “Out of my home office, I custom design each project I have the honor of working on. My creative process begins by working with each client on specific details to tailor the design to their style, decor, and theme. The creative process is so rewarding and challenging, and I love working on unique projects!”
GotPrint is Madison’s go-to print shop for offering high-quality printed invitations, announcements, cards, and envelopes. She uses our convenient blind drop shipping feature to directly ship prints to customers after she places an order.
Madison’s advice on research and guidance:
“The Etsy Community is a place where all makers are welcome, admired, and appreciated. If you are thinking about starting a shop, spend time browsing other shops for inspiration, and don’t hesitate to reach out to Shop owners for guidance!”
There you have it! Creating an ecommerce shop may seem like a terrifying process, but with easy to use platforms such as Etsy, some patience and dedication, and helpful advice from both new and experienced Etsy shop owners, you’ll be on your way to starting the online shop of your dreams.
A special thanks to all of our participants for making this blog possible!