My little Etsy shop started on a whim. A friend introduced me to pretty beads, taught me how to use needle nose pliers, crimp beads and jump rings and let me play with her supplies.

That was the summer of 2009.

The very first sale I’ve ever made on Etsy was a custom order for my friend Angie.

Today, it’s January of 2013, and I’ve just hit 1,000 sales. When I see a shop that has hit this mark, it usually leaves me saying, “Wow. Look how creative. Look how successful.”

I’m not entirely sure how I fit into that, but the milestone is one that leaves me feeling slightly overwhelmed  a little disbelieving and very, very happy.

It’s been nearly four years to hit this mark, and half of those 1,000 sales were made in 2012 — which is to say, it took me a bit to figure out what I was doing.

And my 1,000th sale was to my friend Lindsay. I knew I hit the milestone when I received a text from her last night that said “1,000 biyotch!” I love my friends ❤

And frankly, I’m still not sure what I’m doing. But there are a few things I’ve figured out and learned over the years that might be helpful for someone thinking about taking the leap into opening an Etsy shop. In no particular order of importance:

  1. Sponsor blogs. It’s a great way to get eyeballs to your shop. But don’t pick a blog just because its price of sponsorship is reasonable — and similarly, don’t suppose that just because a sponsorship is expensive that it will garner sales. I’ve found the best blogs to sponsor are the ones I read myself.
  2. Be ready to do a lot of work that has nothing to do with your craft. I’d say only half of my time — maybe less — is spent making jewelry or hunting for it (I find a lot of my supplies in antique shops). The bulk of running Jac & Elsie is taking product photos, creating listings, writing thank you notes, packaging purchases and making sure I have prompt, friendly customer service.
  3. The best thing you can do to improve your product photography is to make yourself a light box.
  4. The best thing you can do to improve your customer service is to respond to inquiries as soon as possible.
  5. Remember: You do this because you love it, and many of the people you run into will be friendly and wonderful. But not everyone. When faced with a rude customer or someone angry about something utterly out of your control (how long it takes the post office to deliver, for example), be polite but firm. Be professional.
  6. Have fun. When it’s not fun, it becomes a chore, and no one opens up a small business for more work. You do it because it makes life better. When I found that I was missing my holiday because of the influx of orders, I shut my shop down. Did I miss out on a whole lot of holiday sales? You bet I did. But I wouldn’t have changed what I did instead (saw Stephen King in Boston, visited beloved friends in Cincinnati, spent time with my fiance and friends) for anything.
  7. Ba patient. It might take you weeks to get that first sale. It might take you years to hit 100 sales. There’s no magic “Etsy” formula (though I still feel like I’m trying to discover it); there’s just a magic “you” formula.

* * *

When I opened this shop, I thought it would go the way of most other hobbies I pick up: I thought I would enjoy it for a brief time and then move on. But something about Etsy made me stick around. Something about measuring and cutting lengths of chain soothes me after my 9-to-5. Something about coming up with a new friendship set excites me; maybe I’ll help someone give the perfect gift.

Instead, Jac & Elsie is one of the best parts of my day. I thank you hugely for all your support to hit 1,000 sales.