In all the moving fiasco, I've been having some doubts about my future as a small business owner - which is completely normal and expected. I spent 7 years in college working on my degrees in biomedical engineering. Now in just a matter of days, I'm giving that all up to run Lama Works - which I am really excited about!
Now when people ask me what I do, I often get a lot of confused looks that translate into .. I'm sorry you do what? Oh ... you must be really smart! Yes, i have a job that no one has ever heard of and the idea of using animations to determine surgical recommendations is a scary sounding job, not to mention I have not one, but two degrees in what kind of engineering?
Now that I'm leaving that behind and moving forward with the shop I get a lot of looks that say "Oh, isn't that nice ..." code for - "Are you crazy?? You're going to knit for a living???? Right ... good luck with that!"
So today I'd like to defend the independent artist a bit. To the outside viewer I knit and make stationary and those are usually just hobbies. Over the last year I've learned that to sell something is so much more than just making it.
I don't sell mittens by accident. There is a lot of research that goes into it. What's popular? What colors are in? What is my target audience and how to I make sure that they see those mittens? Are others making mittens like mine? If they do, how do I make mine different and better?
What about taking pictures of the products. You need the right backdrop and the right lighting and a little bit of skill in making those photos look like a million bucks. Even here I do research to see what works for others. I watch what's on the front page of Etsy to see how I can make my photos fit the right "style". Do you take a full picture of the product? A close up so that you are intrigued enough to see what it is the picture is depicting? On a model? In the grass?
There is also the marketing side. How do people find your store? This leads in to tagging items so that they come up in the right searches. It's also important to be active in all of the social networking opportunities ... Facebook, Twitter, blogs ... to get your name out there. I even track things like how frequently people "heart" my store or items. Is there a particular day of the week this happens more frequently or even a particular time of day? This all gives me cues to when the best time to renew my items would be. Yep there are even strategies on when and how often to renew items so that you are always at the top of the search list.
How about my skills as an accountant? Each item that is listed has to be logged and tracked so that I can track my sales and again look for trends. Are there products that sell more in one month than another? How can I use this so stock my inventory appropriately?
My husband said it best last night ... if you went away for a week and asked me to look over the store, I wouldn't have even the slightest clue where to start and what to do to keep your sales coming in. So to those that may think I'm wasting my degree ... I'm just applying it to a new direction.
I'm going to try to blog a bit more about these things once I am moved and find everything again, so stay tuned!!
Until the next time ...
The girl behind the lama