I realized this month was Julie Ann Art’s six year anniversary through Linkedin. They sent me a little “happy anniversary” message. How cute.
It got me thinking about how it all began six years ago. I don’t think all of you know the story so I thought it would be fun to look back at the very beginning.
At the time I was working full-time as a photo editor at a photography studio. My coworker, Krystal, was the one who told me about Etsy. It immediately sparked my interest because I had always been creative (voted Most Creative in 8th grade!) and thought….why not?
I decided I’d sell paintings. Not because I will skilled in painting….or had a background in painting. I honestly don’t know why my mind went to painting. But sure enough, I went to Michael’s and bought a bunch of canvases, brushes, and paints. I closed myself in my room and started painting simple, modern art.
My first product photos were taken with a point-and-shoot camera….sometimes using….dare I say….the flash. Yes, you heard it straight from the source. Some of the first JAA product photos were taken with a direct flash. Shudder. OH! AND?!?! I used a black and white checkered fabric as my photo background. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Despite the horrid product photos, my first sales came quickly. But I think this is greatly due to the fact that I priced my original paintings far too low.
Obviously, I was a little lost. In my little defense, this was in 2008 so the internet was not so seasoned with “Tips for new Etsy sellers” blog posts yet.
But I was trying. And man, I loved it.
I spent hours in the forums (quite different than the “Teams” we have now), trying to get sales, participating in things like BNS and SNS (do these still happen?).
I realized I needed more products than canvas paintings so I started painting magnets, picture frames and, you guessed it, cards! I picked up some watercolor paper and start painting original greeting cards. I sold them for $5. Granted, they prob took me about an hour to make.
At this point, I knew this wasn’t working. The profit wasn’t worth my time. So I invested in a printer….and it changed my entire business. I now had the ability to spend the time creating a design just once, and then printing as many as I needed. Much more effective business plan, I’d say.
It was around this time (2009) that I started following Elsie of A Beautiful Mess. I had found her blog through her Etsy shop and became so inspired. Elsie has always been so generous with her readers, offering tips and insight into her own techniques (she was very involved in painting at the time). One day she mentioned the need to “find your style,” a style that becomes your own and makes you recognizable. She said it takes time to find it.
What was my style, I wondered. I knew I hadn’t found it yet.
It’s not that I didn’t like painting cards, maybe I just felt like it wasn’t quite “me.” Maybe this is what made me, one day, pick up a pencil, do some sketching, and somewhere along the lines, create my first illustrated greeting cards.
(These product photo still hurt my eyes but at least they’re not on a black and white checkered background!)
This is when things started to fall into place. I even remember telling my mom “I think I found my style!” Even so, it was not for another two years that my business really took off.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that…..I didn’t know what I was doing when I started out. And, if you’re just starting out, and you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, well, that’s ok. I get asked a lot, for tips or advice on starting an Etsy shop. And honestly, you just need to jump in and go for it. You will learn from experience. I’m still learning (maybe even more-so now than I was six years ago).
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! It was fun for me to think back to those nights spent painting in my bedroom. Nights when “Julie Ann Art” was just a hobby….before I could even dream it would become anything but.