Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Theresa the owner of the blog DIY Lifestyle. On my blog, I share dozens of gluten-free, vegan, paleo, raw vegan and healthy recipes, fun crafts & DIYs, helpful life hacks, and travel tips. I started my blog because I was looking for a place to write down useful information to share with people all around the world but it quickly turned into something more.
In just 2 short years my blog has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors spanning all corners of the globe. This has allowed me to connect with people who I otherwise would never have talked with and to explore my other passions besides blogging, such as crafting. The income I make from my blog, around $400-$500 a month.
This income allows me to invest in buying materials to make products I am passionate about that other people can buy. For years I have been running a small business out of my home called “With Love From T to You”, selling Christmas ornaments, earrings, bookmarks, home decorations, and fairy/hobbit huts. This is my second hobby next to blogging.
Over the past few months, my business has been expanding so I wanted to create a store where I could easily sell my pieces and Etsy provided the perfect outlet.
On my online store, you will find dozens of bookmarks that range from personalized ones, my Harry Potter collection, page corner bookmarks, and Lord of the Rings designs. You will also find a large selection of nickel free polymer clay earrings, home decors such as marbled clay coasters, and fairy/hobbit huts which take their inspiration from my favorite movies, Lord of the Rings and Rapunzel.
My combined income from my blog and Etsy averages around $700 a month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Ever since I was a young kid I have always loved cooking, making art, and writing. But it wasn’t until I went into High School that my passion for these grew exponentially. On my days off from school, I would be in the kitchen baking cookies, cakes, bread, or working on my next art project.
At a young age, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease which is a severe allergy to gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye). I also developed a long list of other allergies to dairy, soy, eggs, various fruits, vegetables, and fishes which means my diet is limited to a select group of foods. Due to the changes in my dietary needs, this forced me to cook most of my meals at home and invest in a few dozen cookbooks. Over time once I became more comfortable with cooking to my needs I started creating my recipes and writing them down with the hopes that one day I could create my recipe book and blog.
Although my recipe book is still a work in the process, my blog is up and thriving! Seeing as I am someone who can’t eat a large group of foods I understand how difficult it can be for others on the same path as me, so I wanted to create a place to share all of these recipes; but not only recipes, DIYs, traveling tips and life hacks, crafts as well.
Starting my own small business is something that was in the works for years. First, I needed to create products that people would want to buy. So through trial and error, I finally found a group of items that attracted people’s interests.
Second, I needed to find a space that would work as my shipping and packaging center where I could sell my products from. Previously, I had found two stores that were willing to take my products and display them in their stores for people to buy. This was an informative experience but as anyone running/ wanting to start a small business will tell you, having to give 50% of your profits to someone else is not the best move financially. So I opted to remove my products from their stores and branch out on my own. I was looking for an online place that was safe, reputable, and would allow me to display my large range of products on. This is how I came across Etsy.
Etsy is an online selling platform that allows small businesses like myself to display and sell their products on. Getting setup was the easy part but the hard part came when attracting people. So I ran ads, created my advertisements, and handed out business cards. Although it took a while, just like with my blog, my hard work was finally paying off.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My Etsy is a combination of all things I enjoy. Harry Potter, Reading, Lord of the rings, Jewelry, and Home decorating. Creating my first product was easy because I knew exactly what I wanted it to be, earrings.
All of my jewelry is made out of nickel-free materials because I like many others have a severe allergy to metals so all jewelry needs to be nickel free. I first start by thinking of an earring design in my head and then use polymer clay to bring it to life. I incorporate beads, paints, twine, and other materials to further accentuate the piece of jewelry and make it more unique. This is the same process I follow for all of my other polymer clay pieces such as my Hobbit and Fairy Huts. Creating an outline of what you want your product to look like is a very important step because then you can begin to bring to life the imagination you have thought of inside your head.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching both my blog and Etsy shop were both fairly easy tasks. Once I found the perfect platforms to host them, WordPress for my blog and Etsy for my small business, all that was left was for me to add my creative touches and decorate these online spaces to how I wanted them to look.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Keeping readers coming back to their blog is difficult for even the most experienced bloggers. What works best in my opinion is trial and error. Try out different post ideas such as recipes, DIY’s, hacks, travel tips, and take notes on which posts have more readers, produce more income, etc. Then you can tailor your blog to what people want to read. This is important because if you’re posting about topics that no one is interested in reading your blog is not going to grow.
This same knowledge can be applied to running a small business. If your products are not attracting people there are usually one of two reasons. One, your business just doesn’t have enough of people viewing. In that case, you need to advertise and start getting the word out about your products.
The second reason is that people are sadly not attracted to what you’re selling. So you’re going to need to test products to find what people are most interested in buying then tailor your creations to these likes. Then once you have a large enough following coming back to your business you can create new products and see how customers respond to them.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, just like everyday my blog and Etsy are growing. Each day new people read my content or inquire about my products. I put my heart and soul into my businesses and people pick up on this. It’s the little things that keep customers/readers coming back. Like adding a greeting when people visit your blog or investing in high-quality business cards from Vistaprint. Even the way you package your products says a lot about what type of business you run and how many people will be likely to come back to buy more.
As I look into my future right now all I see are dozens of posts ideas and Etsy products waiting to be created. The creative space these hobbies of mine have given me is the perfect escape from reality. Creating polymer clay pieces allows my mind to travel to the lands of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and live among the shire folk for days at a time or battling the dark arts with Harry, Hermoine, and Ron. For right now this is perfect for me, but who knows, maybe someday down the line, I will be able to rely solely on the income from these two businesses. But for right now the imagination it brings me is enough.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The biggest tip I have learned through my businesses is that there is pretty much a solution for any problem you are dealing with.
Is your blogging content not being viewed? Then maybe you need to think about advertising. The same goes for Etsy. The only way you will be able to grow your business is to get your name out there. One reason why businesses like MyPillow, Boomer Naturals, Vistaprint, etc do so well is that they are advertising their products for the world to see. Most of us unfortunately don’t have thousands to devote to our advertisements but that doesn’t mean we still can’t get our name out there!
Reach out to businesses in your area and ask if you can pass out cards, put up a sign, or even create a small stand informing people about your product. Hand out free samples for people to try. Buy booths at fairs to sell your product from. There are so many affordable ways to advertise the products that will give you the attraction you need. You only need one person to know about your business before they tell others.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
WordPress has a large variety of plans, ranging from free to premium so if you’re new to blogging like I was 3 years ago, then you can choose the free plan to get a sense of how blogging with WordPress works for FREE. Then for those who are more advanced in the blogging world you can choose the business plan which gives you unlimited access to everything WordPress has to offer, this plan costs you money. There are several other plans in between these for different needs. There are also options to sell your products on WordPress by buying the WooCommerce plan. There is something for everyone!
If you’re looking to start a blog using WordPress then use this link here for an easy experience. I will earn a small percentage of the sales if you use my link above. Or if you’re looking to start selling your creations using WordPress (the WooCommerce plan), you can use my link here. I will earn a small percentage if you buy from this link as well.
Etsy is the perfect way to start your small business online. It’s free, easy to use, and is very popular in the art world so your products are sure to be found.
Everything is also managed by WordPress and Etsy so you won’t need to worry about any software updates, bug issues, or other problems that can arise with managing your site.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My biggest piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a blog, small business, or other hobby is to go out and do it! It can and will be scary at first but this is all part of the learning process. You will make mistakes, you will be unsure as to how to operate your business, and may even fail at first. I did.
In my first year of blogging I attracted no views, it was so discouraging. But because I knew this is something I wanted to do in my life, a passion of mine so to say, I didn’t give up that first year and I am so thankful I didn’t.
A few tips I have:
Make a plan. Whether it is sketching out the design of your product or writing down blog posts ideas, making a plan is a great way to outline what you want to do.
Find what sells. For your product or blog to thrive, you need to create something that people want. What will make your product different from others out there that sell items just like yours? Make your products unique and offer something people can’t find anywhere else. Find your niche. Mine is that all the products on my Etsy are one of a kind. I only have 1 product made for each item. For my blog, my niche is that all my recipes are for those with dietary restrictions.
Promote, promote, promote! Advertising your products is the best way to get people interested and to know you’re out there! Hand out flyers, start a website, sell at craft fairs, etc. Getting your brand name and product out there is very important for success!
The first year is the hardest. Just like in marriage, the first year is always the hardest, this same thinking goes for blogging/creating and selling your product. But once you get past that first year, no matter how tough, think about what you just accomplished! You’ve learned so much and can now take that knowledge forward to bigger and better things.
Have fun. If you’re not having fun then it will show. If you're not passionate about what you’re doing then maybe you need to go a different route and this is completely fine. It’s all part of the learning curve.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am currently not looking for any help nor do I have any open positions. But I am looking to expand my blog and Etsy store so any help you can give me here will be much appreciated, ie. buying my products, telling others, following my blog.
Thank you to everyone who supports me.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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