Hey people! So the other day I was writing about looking back at how far you have already come and setting business goals for this year and I realised that I had actually come quite far from last year, when I was still wondering how on earth you started as an illustrator. I'm not an expert on running a business, but I have had some personal experiences from starting an online business of my own, that I thought it might be helpful to share.
1. Just Start I know it sounds obvious, but really - stop worrying about it and get on with it.
2. Take Some Time to Brand Yourself I'm not talking about spending a lot of money, but I do think it's important to start developing a bit of an identity for your business. It's important to at least have a logo or some kind of identifying feature to put on - at the least- stickers and business cards. These things are not expensive. Even cheaper than that, you can get self-inking stamps made and you can simply stamp a load of blank cards/stickers/labels/etc. What's important about branding yourself a little is 1: you want people to recognise your stuff and 2: You want people to be able to figure out where they bought your product from so they can buy more or recommend it to a friend(by heading to the website on your sticker or card!) As well as visually, take some time to figure out exactly what's special about you and what sets you apart. There's a lot of online businesses out there, and it's important to find ways to get people to come back, as there's no physical storefront there to remind them.
3. Have Your Own Space I learned from a lot of people the importance of having somewhere that you are in charge of. What I mean is that whilst Etsy is great, you're not in complete control of it. One day Etsy could disappear and so could all your hard work. Having your own site gives you all the power of your own terms. Although I definitely agree that Etsy and the like is a good place to test the water, I think it is vital when starting an online business that you eventually have a place that will withstand time.
4. Start Learning Find books, bloggers, teachers and learn what you can. I have yet to find someone willing to be my mentor to give me all the wonderful worldly advice about running an online business, and pat my head when it doesn't work out, so I have nominated these bloggers and authors as my unknowing mentors, who's advice and experiences I do my best to absorb.
Some of my favourite bloggers are:
and a great book that I am almost finished reading is Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin. I have learnt so much just from these resources.
5. Make Mistakes I have heard/been told this a few times now, and most recently reminded by Dianne in her fantastically truthful post "selling online is hard" but the setting up time is the time to make your mistakes, and little changes. It's the time when people won't notice when you screw up.
6. Take Yourself Seriously I know it seems so dumb but it is so hard to say 'my business' when it doesn't feel like one yet. But you have to validate your little business in order to start taking it seriously. Call it what it is.
Thanks for reading people! Smart, learned business-runners of the interweb, feel free to bless us with resourceful additions to this post in the comments, or else let me know if you liked this post. I'm still learning and finding out new things, hopefully next year I can write 'how to run a successful online business' right? ;)