It's been about 3 weeks since I put my Etsy shop up and I haven't sold a thing.
I'm not sure what I expected or what I'm expecting. All I know is that when I post a new item, I spend the next 6 hours constantly checking my shop to see how many views and hearts I'm getting (or not getting). It's not normal. I think subconsciously I believe if I stare at it long enough I can will someone to buy one of my purses or cards. I kept telling my hub last week, "If I can just sell one, I can buy so many more supplies!" I'm not made out of money (obviously, since I write screenplays and make purses out of books for "a living") and my resources are depleting. Yes, selling one purse would make it all okay . . . I would feel less guilty about the money I've spent on supplies. I would have more confidence in what I'm doing. Or would one sale make a difference?
I began to think about it (okay, I've been doing nothing BUT think about my shop!) and I realized that no, one purse wouldn't do it. I'm very in tune with the vibrations of the universe (that's a joke, by the way) so I can tell you now . . . if I sell one purse, it won't solve my self esteem issues. It wouldn't even begin to make up for the money I've spent so far. I would be happy for all of thirty seconds until I freaked out about if I'm doing the shipping right, or if the person won't like the purse when they get it in person, and most of all . . . when am I going to sell ANOTHER purse?
I would like to blame these insane thoughts on Etsy itself. While there are lots of things I love about the Etsy culture, there are a lot of things I don't like. I'm starting to believe you have to live on Etsy to sell thing one. I suspect some sellers have found a way to "Tron" their way into Etsy and literally live there like it's some sort of virtual time share. That's the only explanation I can offer for the people that are filling their shops with items nonstop.
I don't have the luxury of making and posting things 24/7. I have a lot of health issues (not to mention a rascally toddler I have to keep my eye on constantly) I don't have the time, money or energy to put items up every day. I went into this project with the attitude, "I'll do what I can and if people like it, they'll buy it." Obviously, I'm not the business gal. I'm not a numbers gal.
I'm a craft gal. A creative gal. I'm more interested in making beautiful, unique and practical things. It's unfortunated to see that many people on Etsy obviously spend more time on marketing than actually creating. It's even more unfortunate that a lot of those guys are the ones making sales!
And that makes me feel like crap. It's beyond frustrating for me to see people selling similar things that are not well made. Fancy photography can only do so much . . . I've looked at plenty of product pictures and seen unbelievable flaws. If that wasn't bad enough, some sellers are flat-out liars. I was shocked at some of the things one seller in particular claimed . . . I'm not going to go into it but let's just say at least half of their FAQs answers were so false that anyone could Google and figure out within 30 seconds that those seller's pants are definitely on fire. I strongly recommend researching a handmade item on Etsy before you buy it . . . sometimes the product description is more "creative" than the product itself!
As much as I would like to blame my lack of sales on other people or on other factors, this isn't about them. I can't change what they do. Really, this is about me. I can't change the fact that I'm sick. I can't change the fact I don't have the resources other people have. I'm honestly doing the best I can to make high quality purses and sell them . . . I'm not sure there is more to do to improve them. However, I can change what my definition of success is. My self esteem should not be hanging on whether I have hearts, views or sales. I love making purses and cards and I feel an extreme sense of pride when I finish them. Really, at this point, that's all I can do. And that should be enough. When I really thought about all this, I decided to change my "Bio" page on Etsy to reflect my honest feelings on this whole crazy business. Here's what I wrote:
I'm supposed to be a writer. I should be writing books, not tearing them up.
I am a screenwriter. I write screenplays but I have yet to sell one. Last year, one of my scripts made it to the quarterfinals in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The "Oscar" people) Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition. It's a big deal. Unfortunately, I have yet to sign a big deal.
It's a frustrating choice of vocation. Writing screenplays is like designing the blueprints for a building you never see built. It's the business of making plans without the ability to follow them through. Then these book purses came along.
Almost a year ago, I saw an article in "Country Living" (I live for that mag!) on how to make book purses. I immediately ran upstairs, grabbed an old Shakespeare textbook and gleefully tore out the pages (take THAT, Dr. Baker!). A couple of hours and hot glue gun burns later, I had a fabulous (if imperfect) purse. To this day I carry that purse around and get compliments and questions literally every time I carry it.
While I'm still plugging away at screenwriting, it's so rewarding to have something else that I can see through from beginning to end. Each of these purses reflect my love of story and history, my quirkiness and my unique fashion sense. I'm also very grateful to have a platform to share my silly cards that I've been making for years and years. (Confession: Sometimes it take me longer to make one card than an entire purse! I just can't control myself . . .)
I'm in my mid-twenties and right now and I'm not where I thought I would be when I graduated college four years ago. I have a lot of health issues coupled with financial issues (who doesn't?). My circumstances don't reflect who I am as a person . . . but my craft, my scripts, my purses and my cards, do. What a blessing to have creativity in my life! So, yes. I will continue to rip apart books in the name of expression and sanity. Wanna come along?
Unfortunately, I'm a total nutjob and rational thoughts like these are few and far between. That's why I need to write them and post them for all (all three of you) so I have some feeling of responsibility to carry the new attitude through. We'll see.
I would be totally remiss to not thank all my friends and family for the support they've given me in this loopy endeavor. Also, thank you to all those in Etsyland who have hearted me . . . it means so much to have such great talents take notice of lil' ol' BiblioBags. It's been a hard ride so far, but I would do it all over again!
The pictures throughout the post are the "making-of" my Edward Cullen (or Robert Pattinson for the purists who don't accept him as the "real" Edward) linoblock. It was my first linocut portrait, so cut me some slack! ;)