Tuesday, February 14, 2012

fighting Etsy exhaustion part III - tips for one at a time or small batch makers

When my maker shops on Etsy took off, my small batch and one at a time makings model quickly became a challenge.

The time I used to spend creating something new became time spent reproducing/replacing things that had sold and eventually

(I blame Etsy's cunning little relist button)

to producing things that I had already sold.

This can create a situation where we are so focused on the outcome that we lose sight of how much energy we are investing and stop paying attention to how exhausted we've become.

“you can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned and you’re down to your reflexes. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights" ... joe frazier

(yes, I realize this quote is off-topic and may even make you more exhausted to contemplate it - but someone just sent it to me and
damn it's good

Small batch (and one of a kind) makers need a tight grip on their time.

(something like the death grip Angry Bird addicts have on their handhelds)

1. Unless your item is personalized do not hit the relist button until your next item is made.

Simple thing - hard to do - saves lots of headaches

2. Instead of making 1 of your amazing little whatnots - if possible, make two, often you can make multiples without doubling your production time

3. Limit your time online - clicking is addicting

4. Set up your studio to make your making easier

I recently 'cleaned' my studio ... again ... to make things a little more Ford assembly line-like for myself, but found my hands always reaching toward the places where parts and doodads used to be - it has taken me some time to retrain my muscle memory, but I have been able to save time by getting my workspaces in line with my process.

and yes, you will probably need workspaces - plural -

- constantly taking things out and putting them away is a huge time waster - before I had a studio - I would set up things in drawers within a cabinet and then pull the drawers out onto the table to set up 'areas' for assembly, shipping, photography, etc and then just return the drawers to the cabinet when I was finished with them

5. Get on a schedule

I think, that just like your production area, your schedule needs to fit your life, your energy peaks, etc - this does not have to be a 9-5 thing, but when it's become a 5-9 thing all the time and when the things that you need to do to make your business and your life sustainable- like make time for new work - get lost in the shuffle, you need to get yourself a huge calendar and figure this out.

I like to schedule things in chunks so if something comes up I can move one chunk to another part of the calendar.

Confession - I do not have this all figured out and there are some chunks that have been moving around my calendar for ... weeks ... sigh.

6. Limit your one of a kind or commissioned work - make a production schedule and stick with it

(it is human nature to want things that are not just readily available to everyone - things that are made to order just for us, things we have to plan for - wait in line for; hopefully a cyber line, like your production schedule - things that SCREAM special)

Allowing yourself time for creative work - no matter how many of your amazing whatnots you are selling right now, everything has a life cycle and I can guarantee you that your whatnot will become a whatever at some point - allows your business to grow in a more sustainable way.

It allows you and your brand to be around long after your whatever whatnot has become yesterday's news.

7. Get help

The opposite thinking is that you need to strike while the iron is hot with your amazing whatnot - so farm out the production help that you can while you can - and be ready to move on when the iron cools.

part III continues Friday

(I promise it will be worth dragging your tired self over here to read - unless you have something really important or really fun chunked into your calendar - like a Belgian wax, maybe - yes, you read that right, I do not have my countries that start with B mixed up - it is really just a regular wax that you follow up with a waffle to reward yourself since it hurt so much, but it sounds almost as exotic as the gross kind)


Jennifer Mullin Johansson said...

I love reading your blog! You always have good practical advice with a big dose of humor. Thanks for sharing Cat. You inspire me to think bigger!

Catherine Ivins said...

xo- thanks Jennifer!

ArtSnark said...

yep - so true. Thanks for sharing

Viktoria said...

always helpful and fun to read!

lynn bowes said...

Oh my. These are things I think about but never can put into words - and your words fit together so much better than mine. I hate chasing that dollar and finally started making what makes ME happy. The dollars aren't there *yet* but the smile is.

xo :: lynn

Deb said...

Thanks for the great comments. I'm not *yet* at a point where my maker shops have taken off, but these tips are useful to plan into your life if that's where you're heading, too.