Lately, I’ve noticed a trend among my fellow Etsy sellers.
When they aren’t making sales at the high five or six figure level, they’re positive that something’s WRONG.
These sellers think they’re missing some magic piece of the puzzle… or they’re wondering if their item just isn’t capable of driving serious sales.
And most of them say they’re one bad day away from throwing in the towel.
But the reality is this: you don’t just open an online store and making 6 figures (or even FIVE figures).
If selling online were that easy, EVERYONE would be doing it!
Today I want to talk REALITY.
I mean no makeup, surrounded by plates of leftover food, smells like shit, true-to-life business REALNESS.
This is the reality of my situation.
To get 6-Figures in the first place, there were a lot of steps I had to take. There were a lot of things I had to pay for. And there was a small clusterf*ck of things I had to stop bitching about and just LEARN.
But most importantly: it DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN.
I didn’t just wake up one morning to an insane payday. (At least, not one that I didn’t PLAN months in advance!)
It took legit TIME, a bit of torture, and consistent EFFORT on my part, every single f*cking day.
“Luck” has NOTHING to do with a 6-Figure business.
So, I’m going to go through all the things it DOES take to create 6-Figures… in an effort to help you understand your own hot mess of business.
(Which by the way, is totally normal. If my biz stops being a hot mess, then be warned: I just sold my soul to Satan).
I wanted to quit at least 500 times during my first two years in business.
And once in a while, I still want to quit now.
If you don’t feel like you’re ready to give up at least once a month, then congratulations: you’re a friggin’ psychopath.
Just to drive this one home, I’m gonna paint you a pretty picture:
6 months after I started my business, I was crumpled up in a ball on the floor of my office.
My husband and I had just polished off one of 50 arguments we were destined to have that year…You know, these arguments: “when are you going to clean up all these boxes?” and “your business doesn’t fit in this house!” and “You can’t work 14 hours a day! I haven’t seen you in weeks and I can’t clean this house by myself!” (he could, husbands are just allergic to cleaning).
In this phase of the biz, my default position was lying on the floor of my office wondering “what the fuck have I done?!”
Meanwhile, I was working a horrible job where my boss yelled at me every single day (coughcough #HardcoreVerbalAbuse), despite the fact I always turned in high-quality work before deadline. I was stuck in the corporate hamster wheel and I had long since realized it would never get better.
Reality check: as bad as my business sometimes felt, my current job situation was WORSE.
I had to choose the lesser of two evils.
On this particular day, I had my “lay on the floor and flip out” moment…and then I got up, I pulled out a sheet of paper, and wrote down solutions to all my current problems.
Because the fact is, in business and in life, no one can help you but YOU. Being a business owner kind of sucks. Sometimes, it sucks A LOT.
But you’ve pretty much got two options: keep trying or give up.
So, I decided to shut up and keep moving forward.
I can attribute at least 50% of my success to BEING STUBBORN. Pure and simple: my ability to try again no matter how many times I fail at something is the reason my business exists today.
Things I paid for: Success is NOT cheap.
Here’s what it costs to run this blog every month:
WP-Engine* $82.5 (sophisticated web hosting)
Bluehost $9 (domain name hosting)
Convertkit* $99 (email marketing)
Teachable $39 (a platform for courses)
DPD $10 (delivery of digital items)
Sumo Me $20 (helps me collect emails on the blog)
Postcron* $8.25 (social media automation)
Rainmaker $145 (how I create a premium portal for Etsy Academy)
Google mail $5 (my “fuzzyandbirch.com” email addresses)
Tailwind* $10 (Pinterest + Instagram posting)
Boardbooster* $15 (Pinterest automation)
Coschedule* $60 (Sophisticated social media marketing)
Voo Video $16.5 (Sophisticated video hosting)
Mega $9 (An easy way for me to backup documents)
Bit Defender $4 (For keeping viruses, malaware, and phishing in check)
Samcart* $199 (How I take payments on the blog)
Vimeo $17 (My video hosting platform)
Proof $29 (Social proof that shows who made recent purchases on the blog)
TOTAL – $777.25 / month (yes, really.)
Keep in mind that I collected these tools over time as my blog became more successful. So, when I had the need for a new tool / function on the blog, I looked for something that could accomplish the task and make back the money it cost each month.
Here’s what I’m paying to keep my Etsy shop running each month:
Marmalead* $19 (Etsy SEO tool)
Etsy on Sale* $10 (Etsy sale, tagging, and renewal tool)
Etsy Renewals $12 (renewing items)
Mailchimp $9 (Email marketing)
Adobe Design Suite $19 (custom graphic design software)
ShipStation* $25 (shipping for my fulfillment service)
Etsy Promoted Listings $30 (as needed)
TOTAL – $124 / month
(Link has a * next to it? That’s an affiliate or referral link, you can claim a free trial of this item if you click the link. Full disclosure: I get a small commission).
Once again, I did not START with all these expenses. And don’t forget: buying these tools won’t GUARANTEE that you start making more money – you have to put in the work. That’s how an investment works: it does some of the lifting for you, and in return, you make the money back SOMEWHERE ELSE in your biz.
Why do I pay for all these things? Well, Buttercup, as it turns out, they all MAKE me more money than they cost…not to mention, they allow me to continue making money every day.
Without these products, my business just plain stops functioning, stops selling, or both.
Because at the end of the day, you can’t run a 6-Figure business for free.
Literally zero people do that.
So, get real with yourself, and realize this business of yours is going to require a REAL investment if you want to be serious.
Now let’s review all the…
COURSES, coaching, and communities I pay for
I’m not going to list them all (you’d be reading for HOURS – and my bank account would get super embarrassed), but I will tell you which ones made a BIG difference for my business.
I would NOT be sitting here today without these items:
Pinfinite Growth* by Melyssa Griffin ($397) – This Pinterest course taught me how to boost my Etsy and blog traffic with less effort, all by using Pinterest. I bought this course back in early 2016, and it’s still bringing me serious blog traffic and at least 50 visits to my Etsy shop every day.
Call-to-Action by Ramit Sethi ($997) – This course is all about convincing people to buy your product without sounding scammy, or feeling icky at the end of the day. I came to the table with an MFA in Professional Writing, and I STILL needed to take a writing course at the end of the day. That’s because we don’t learn effective ways to persuade people to buy products without sounding like a car salesman. This course in super in-depth, technical, and not for the hobbyist…and if you do the work, you’ll learn how to make money with your writing over and over again.
Accelerator by Ramit Sethi ($997 per year) – This is the premium community that comes with the “Call-to-Action” course I mentioned above. In this community, I can hop on business strategy calls, coaching calls, copy editing calls, or just “shut up and work” calls whenever I need accountability. It’s extremely useful when I’m feeling clueless (which is most days). This level of support is worth FAR more to me than $997/year. I’ve met tons of people like me, created serious business connections, and pushed my business forward like never before.
90-Day Year by Todd Herman ($597) – This is the holy grail for all my peeps who constantly feel unorganized. If you’re ready to stop throwing shit at the wall (fingers crossed that it sticks!), 90-Day Year is the ultimate planning course. You’ll learn how to become ultra-productive and organized in a super short period of time. And you’ll understand what’s worth your time, and what isn’t…almost immediately.
Etsy Coaching Collective by Lisa Jacobs ($3000) – About 8 months after I started my Etsy shop, I decided to enroll in a coaching collective with blogger Lisa Jacobs. At the time, I was trying to grow my business exposure by starting a blog. I knew I’d be taking this blog super seriously – even if it made me no money. I understood the value of a blog and I was well aware that it was going to be an uphill climb. I didn’t expect to start making money until the blog was at least a year old. And that’s why I hired a business coach. I needed someone to help me overcome the initial obstacles of starting a new business (while running an existing business). And that’s exactly what happened – 6 months after starting the blog, it began bringing in between $1000-2000 extra every single month.
Each and every one of those courses was a financial BOMB for me when I bought them – those bitches got charged to the credit card and I was crossing my fingers that I’d be able to pay them off at all.
But EACH ONE taught me enough to start bringing in serious new money. In many cases, I wound up paying off these courses the same month I bought them.
And that’s because I COMMITTED to doing them, top to bottom. I understood each course was an investment in my business, and in order to make them WORTH it, I had to complete the exercises and do the work. (Even when it made me uncomfortable, and even when I really didn’t want to. I did it anyway).
So, if you think EVERYTHING is too expensive, and you’re freaking out about costs, know that WE ALL FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY. Everyone who makes serious money had to buy something they couldn’t afford at some point.
That $997 course I bought from Ramit? It made me $15,000 in a week. This happened just two months after I bought the course.
Makes $997 feel like a pretty good price, doesn’t it?
If you’re not spending money on your business (and your personal growth), you’ll never make serious money. Period. No exceptions, no spoonful of sugar.
Times I’ve Failed: (Is there a number bigger than infinity?)
I’ve created products that don’t sell. (Ever).
I’ve spent three months on blog projects that never made a dime.
I’ve made decisions that cost me serious money and led to week-long stuffing-my-face-with-take-out-and-Netflix binges.
And that shit was all worth it.
Because all those failures forced me to FIX something major that was wrong in my business.
Yes, I learned the hard way, and that sucked.
Oops. Well that sucked. But BECAUSE it sucked, it f*cked up my life for a minute… And I’ll NEVER forget those lessons.
Human beings REMEMBER negative reinforcement. That’s why we respond so strongly to 1-star reviews, our parents being “disappointed”, and being made fun of on the playground for that dorky t-shirt we used to wear.
Failure is SO important to making 6-Figures, that I actually get excited when I f*ck something up these days…because I KNOW I’m about to learn how to fix something major. And it’s about to significantly change my biz overnight.
It means I’m ABOUT to learn what I did wrong, learn how to fix it, and learn what to do instead.
You can’t pay someone for that kind of insight.
Failure is a kick-ass way to learn important business lessons really f*cking fast. Embrace that shit. You can TRUST yourself to fix what’s wrong. Let go and realize you need to ride the failure train to make legit money.
It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp (and that’s OK)
People always say that if they could go back in time and start their business again, with full knowledge of how much work it’s going to be, that they wouldn’t do it.
I don’t personally agree with that statement (now), but I will say that it’s very ACCURATE.
When I started my business, I did not personally have the threshold for failure, rejection, patience, and gratitude that I do now.
In fact, me from three years ago is a f*cking ALIEN compared to me now.
The Entrepreneur level of “thick skin” doesn’t just grow on you instantly – and it will NEVER be impenetrable.
There will always be things in business that upset you. But a shitty review (or email) that would’ve left me in tears two years ago just gets a simple “read-and-move-on-with-your-day” now.
Over time, you’ll learn these skills too. The more it sucks to learn them now, the better you’ll be at handling them later. Because here’s the TRUTH:
Dwelling on negative things is a waste of TIME and ENERGY. These things are out of your control, and there’s nothing you can do to change them.
So take a breath, respond if you have to, and LET it GO. This person doesn’t deserve ANY more of your valuable attention.
And it’s widely known in online communities that NEGATIVE comments are a sign of major business growth. Many bloggers (myself included) report that they get an influx of negative emails right before their business gets a serious income injection.
All businesses get trolled. A LOT. The pain will always subside with time, then it won’t matter anymore. Focus on YOUR business and what YOU need to do to make money this week. Don’t focus on things you have no control over (aka Trolls).