This is a follow up story for By Recruiters. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi there, I’m Ana Colak-Fustin, the founder of ByRecruiters, a job search website and Etsy shop selling resume templates.
Here’s my original starter story: I launched a $30K/year Etsy shop that sells resume templates.
Long story short: I packed my HR, recruitment, and career coaching experience into a digital, in-demand tool almost everyone needs in their job search - a resume template.
So, I sell customizable resume templates filled with practical resume tips and best practices. My customers are job seekers worldwide, mainly corporate professionals who need professional templates to showcase their expertise.
In 2022, I also began supporting online business owners looking to start their business selling resume templates or wanting to add this type of product to their offering—basically, helping other business owners create their resume shops on and off Etsy.
Focusing only on resume templates, since the original story, I’ve had more than 2,500 new customers, now totaling over 8,500 resume templates sold altogether on Etsy, DesignBundles, and my website.
Last year, I shared that my bestselling resume template had brought in $11K. This number has continued to grow! On Etsy, I have earned $17K from one resume template.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Since we last talked, my monthly revenue has varied quite a bit, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. It’s a broad range, I know. It’s due to not working for a few months almost at all for personal reasons, which we’ll get to soon. Despite the range, the good thing is that my yearly revenue has grown to over $40K, a 36% increase YoY.
My Etsy shop and website have led to some exciting business opportunities. I've been getting interested from other business owners, such as digital product sellers, career coaches, resume writers, and HR consultants interested in selling resume templates.
Remember that your business should align with your desired lifestyle, not the other way around.
As a result, in the past 12 months, I've shifted my focus more toward B2B products and services. I recently rebranded my site to cater to job seekers and those who help them, now offering a combination of B2C and B2B digital products.
To be specific, my B2B offer now includes two things:
- Resume Shop Starter Kit—a digital toolkit and collection of resume templates with commercial license for business owners starting their shops off Etsy
- Etsy Shop Starter Kit—a digital toolkit tailored to aspiring Etsy shop owners looking to start an Etsy shop with unique products without having to design them from scratch (currently going through renovation and relaunching in May 2023)
I’ve worked with dozens of business owners and haven’t actively promoted these services yet. (It’s time to get serious about it, and I’m putting it out here to keep myself accountable.)
In the meantime, I left my website and Etsy shop on auto-pilot without any new activity or products there.
I mentioned a year ago that I would like to work on SEO to drive traffic to my website. Since I shifted my focus to these B2B offers, I didn’t post any new blog posts.
But one thing I did that brought results was building backlinks with HARO, which helped me get my quote on Yahoo Finance!
Regarding marketing, I tried Instagram and TikTok with a few freelancers to help me out. I did see an initial uptick in followers and reach, which was promising. But it didn’t directly translate into traffic to my website or shop, and it didn’t result in increased sales.
To be fair, I was only active on both platforms for two to three months, which I understand is a short time. But not seeing any traction was disappointing, to be honest. The lack of traction discouraged me, and I ended up on an ongoing hiatus from posting on these platforms.
I have, however, stayed consistent with Pinterest. Here are the results:
In January this year, one pin went semi-viral.
However, it was a quote pin I posted over three years ago that wasn’t linked to any of my products or directly related to the topics I’m covering. While it did bring in some traffic to my website, it didn’t increase sales.
But, as it happens with all things that don’t go as planned, it resulted in a valuable lesson. Instead of generating content for the algorithm's sake, any content I put out there should be strategically linked to my core offer, relevant to my audience, and aligned with my business goals.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Five months ago, I moved to Sweden. And I have to say, it’s surprisingly hard to get anything done when your life is in boxes.
With the relocation and all bureaucracy that comes with such a move, life got in the way, and running my business has been on the back burner. But, simultaneously, because of the digital products my business is built on, it continued to generate ~$1K per month even when I dropped the ball and wasn’t working on it for weeks.
I’m grateful to have a business that allows me to step away when needed. But now that I've settled, I’m returning to my business with a solid plan to continue its growth.
Daily, putting myself out there and staying consistent with blogging or social media when I don’t see results is still a challenge.
Recently, I realized something that should have been obvious right from the start - besides Pinterest, I don’t actively and consistently promote my products or services anywhere. I rely on platforms where I can post products or graphics, then run away and hide. (As I’m writing this, I understand it sounds ridiculous, but it is what it is.)
I’m my most significant obstacle, and I’m committed to figuring it out, or to be precise, figuring myself out and getting out of my way.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Over the past year, I’ve been going back and forth between Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok without, as embarrassing as it is to admit, seriously committing and staying consistent with any of these channels.
One of the biggest eye-openers was realizing that I needed to stop chasing quick wins and start thinking long-term. I used to get caught up in trying to hit the next month’s revenue and followers or reach goals without thinking long-term about business and marketing strategies that pay over time, such as creating evergreen content and building an online community.
I appreciate that I’ve been able to build and grow my business without being super active on any social media or paid ads. But to get to the next level and for sustainable results, I need to work on it, even though - or especially because - it’s out of my comfort zone.
You’ll find answers and progress as long as you stay in the game.
It may be evident to some, but since this is my first year working at ByRecruiters full-time, I’m still learning how to navigate this business journey. So I just recently realized how thinking short-term is limiting my growth.
Recently, I came across this quote that struck a chord with me: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” It made me realize that courage is the key to experiencing new things in business and life. That quote is now my daily reminder to be bold, try new things, and take more risks.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year and the next five years?
Last year, I mentioned that I would like to support job seekers with a comprehensive job search platform. But, as time passed, I played it by ear and decided to double down on resumes. Resumes are an essential tool for anyone job hunting. Plus, most people could use some help in crafting effective resumes, so there is a high demand for support on this topic.
Based on that, the plan for 2023 is:
- Create 20 new resume designs linked to an upsell offer for job seekers (a crash course on resume writing)
- Actively promote my B2B offers on Instagram and Pinterest
- Work with 10+ business owners to help them launch their resume shops
- Get back to writing blog posts regularly (or semi-regularly, at least)
For the next five years, my goal is to have my website as the primary source of income, instead of a third-party platform, through blogging, affiliates, ads, digital products, and B2B services.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
One of my favorite books was “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. It’s not your typical business book, but it has taught me invaluable lessons about designing a life and business that align with my values, passions, and long-term goals.
I read it when I felt uncertain about my business's purpose and next steps.
By applying the principles and exercises in this book, I was able to clarify my vision, confirming that a) yes, I genuinely love talking about job searching, careers, and resumes, and I want to continue building my authority in this field, and b) having an online business is the way to go to achieve the impact and freedom I’m after.
These newsletters contain practical tips, real-life examples, and actionable advice. They’ve given me fresh perspectives and new strategies to create better copy that I’ve applied to my website. I plan to test them on Etsy and Pinterest, too.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?
With social media, it’s become too easy to compare ourselves with others or get caught up in chasing someone else’s idea of success, only to end up feeling unfulfilled and forgetting why you started it in the first place.
Remember that your business should align with your desired lifestyle, not the other way around. So, go back to the drawing board, figure out what life you’re after, and make your business work. (Digital products have been a game-changer for my work-life balance, and I may be biased, but scalable digital products are a great way to do so!)
And something I keep reminding myself: It’s okay not to have all the answers right away.
Entrepreneurship is a learning process. It’s normal to face challenges, not know the next step to take your business to the next level or doubt what you’re doing. But don’t give up because you haven’t figured it out yet. Instead, test, experiment, and try different things in your business. You’ll find answers and progress as long as you stay in the game.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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