The goals, the hours, the workload.
I didn’t want to write this blog post. Probably not the best way to start 😆 but it’s true. I’ve never been one to write a post completely about myself or my business. I share glimpses here and there into my life or parts of my business, but going "all in" and writing one completely about me is something I haven’t wanted to do. I like to help by instead offering advice and things I have learned along the way. This post I know will still offer help, but in a different way. This week in an Instagram post, many of you stated you would like for me to dive deeper in what a typical month looks like in my business as far as goals, hours, workload, strategy, etc. are concerned. So here it goes..
A Month in the Life of an SVG Designer
I first start off with the name of the post because there’s reasoning behind this. As you know the typical saying, “A Day in the Life of a Billionaire” or “A Day in the Life of....” then insert whoever the figure is. But I intentionally used “month” instead of “day” and here’s why.
See, my work life typically happens MONTHLY rather than daily. Outside of this blog and sharing my information to others, I handled the shop all on my own the first couple years. I did everything from customer service and designed every single product. After branching off into this new area and becoming a busy mom, I realized I couldn’t expand on my own and didn't have enough time. I have since hired a VA to help manage the listings and complete whatever odd jobs I don’t have time to do, as well as a design assistant who preps and exports my designs to all the different formats.
Typically the monthly tasks include: researching/brainstorming design ideas, creating new designs in Adobe Illustrator, adding new listings on Etsy, assisting customers who need help, and adding at least one promotional sale for the Etsy traffic and email subscribers.
There is one time a month that we really give the Etsy shop attention in order to update sales, shop announcements, etc. There are also a couple times a month when we add new products. Outside of that, we take customer service items as they come. So back to the title, there is no "daily" in this business! You may get by with weekly duties, but the shop is on autopilot - duties call only on occasion instead of daily.
Note, this was definitely not the case in the early days of launching the shop. If you haven’t already, be sure to grab the Etsy guide below. I give you a simple step-by-step guide to follow that will help if you’re new to Etsy or aren’t seeing the traction you’d like with your shop.
How are things looking right now? The workload...
In the IG post, I shared that we have not added very many new designs to the shop for a while now. Since I have been working on developing the designer SVG course for the past eight months now, I haven’t been on top of creating new designs. My apologies to those of you who have been my followers on Etsy.
So the other day, I was curious what the numbers were and discovered this. I took a screenshot and posted it to Instagram. These are the sales numbers from my Etsy shop over the past 30 days, which I found interesting. Even though we have put minimal effort into the Etsy shop (like zero new products and a max of 5 hours of maintenance between Amanda and I), it still was able to generate this. These sales are definitely not where I'd like them to be right now, I was hoping for them to be more and starting to increase with the change of the season. However, since we haven't been adding a consistent round of new products over the past 8 months and I'm dedicating more time into teaching others how to design and start their own passive income business, I've put little to no work into it.. and have it still generated $2400...perdy good! Now don’t get me wrong - I definitely put in the hours in the early days, but since then this is pretty much how it’s been...AND THIS IS A SLOW MONTH! 😱
Since starting this Etsy business, I definitely see that our sales are like an oven, its still hot for a while after you turn it off - or in this case, after we stop adding new products. The sales still come in, but then over time the sales gradually start falling off. SO outside of this new area I'm starting in, let me share with you the plans.
What are my plans for the shop? The goals...
Right now I am happy with the direction we have taken with branding and positioning ourselves. I think my customers enjoy the style I have gravitated towards with the minimal, farmhouse style. Plus, I grew up on a farm and know this audience well - it makes sense for me to continue in this direction.
One thing I want to improve is customer service. I try very hard to keep my customers happy and I think that what will help them more (while also saving time for me) is creating little video tutorial snippets to help them when they get stuck. Specifically when it comes to downloading files and uploading them to the cutting program. Also creating little snippets of text ready to send customers would also be beneficial, especially for the questions we get asked the most. It would speed up customer service hours for sure. This is something I want to do soon.
More importantly, after I get this course launched, I want to get back to adding new products consistently each month. I was thinking I'll aim for around 20 each month and see how this goes. I also want to plan a little better than what I have been....doing things on the fly doesn't work out very well, haha! And where I now have a lot of different things going on and its not just the Etsy shop that I'm managing anymore, I neeeeed to be more organized. It's a must now. I have found I save the most time if I batch out my tasks and do them all at once. We did this at the beginning of the year and planned out what new products to release each month, but now I need to dive deeper and plan out every single sale, promotion, giveaway, etc. for the shop. This is next.
What does a typical month look like for us? The hours...
Okay so I know you're all going to read at least this part of the post haha since this is what you asked for. It's pretty much the juicy part of this whole article! SO a typical month usually involves around 20 products (though if you're new, I recommend adding at least 45 new products each month until you get your sales where you want them, then you can back off) but typically this is what we aim for now that I am blogging, teaching, and doing other stuff. If you can do more than 45 new products in a month, do it! I have only ever worked part time or less so more than this has never been an option for me. 20 products in a month usually takes me around 5 hours to design, and it takes my VA probably the same amount to add these to the shop, manage the shop, fine-tune existing things, etc. So we plan on around 10 or so hours, but again, if you're new to this it could easily be doubled or possibly more.
Customer service is usually anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour each week and mostly involves helping them properly load their graphic into their cutting program. Most people DO NOT read the description, unfortunately, so even though this is stated, you still have the ones who will ask. If Etsy is experiencing slow processing (which seems to be happening more and more these days), then this can easily double the amount of messages received.
Another portion of our time is brainstorming and researching new products (designs) to sell. It's important to be involved in online groups and know what people are needing, or to know what topic or style is trending. Just a stroll through Pinterest or Etsy itself can generate many ideas. Let me clarify, a "stroll" does not involve "copying" designs. This is only meant to get your creative juices going. I have gotten to the point that this portion of my work is very minimal because I now have "design inspiration" boards or lists (with that exact name even) on every place where I am online. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram even. Did you know that you can create lists on IG or FB, and save posts for future reference? It's amazing, and I highly recommend it. This is an ongoing thing I do constantly as I'm roaming the web. I see a shirt, decoration, painting, whatever it may be, and it will give me an idea for a new design. Right then and there I save it to my board. THEN when it comes time to do the actual design, I have a database of design ideas on these platforms waiting for me. I also add ideas to Trello - our project management software. It's free and amazing. I make lists for everything in Trello.
In short, you can be as involved in your online store or Etsy shop as you want. But I do notice a big difference when I am active, updating listings, adding new listings, making shop updates and updating images, compared to these past few months when I haven't been as active. This also gives you a boost in the Etsy search engine. Etsy likes active shops that are constantly present, so it makes sense that they'd push more traffic to your listings.
A typical month selling SVG designs usually includes: researching/brainstorming design ideas, creating new designs in Adobe Illustrator, adding new listings on Etsy, assisting customers who need help and adding at least one promotion. Now I'm curious to go a step further with a blog post specifically on each of these areas. Which area would you like me to cover the most in a blog post? Lay it on me in the comments below!! Have a great rest of your weekend all!