Saturday, September 22, 2007

Feeling the burnout

I am going to speak honestly about my feelings. I've been running a business called Burst of Happiness, making handbags, totes and other bags. I love sewing and bags are a great thing to sell because everybody needs them and there are no size issues, like with clothes.

But lately, I'm struggling. The thing is that I work full time at a professional job and do this on the side. But there's so much more to it than sewing some bags. The Internet side of things is really time consuming. After I make an item, which takes a good 20-30 minutes just to cut out the fabrics and interfacing, another good 10 minutes to press and apply the interfacing, and a couple of hours to sew, I also have to photograph the item, transfer the photos to my computer, crop and resave to proper sizes for Then I have to go to my store and post the item for sale, which requires filling out numerous pages. Then I have to maintain my own Web site, where I have to do a separate page for each item, which requires different sized photos, which requires re-editing and placing copies into different folders. Then I have to update the main section pages, as well. I have to go to PayPal and make a "buy now" button. I have to upload all the pages.

On top of all that, there's the constant promoting. Getting business cards out there, participating in groups, finding places that do link exchanges to bring people in. Finding places you can consign your items to. Without promoting, nobody will find your store across the vast Internet.

I've also wasted some time and money on local, in-person shows where I sell nothing.

I've sold lots of stuff, but not enough stuff to necessarily make this all worth while. I told myself I'd do this as long as it was so much fun that I didn't miss my life. But lately I'm looking at all the things that never get done in my life. Some things I want or need to do include:
1. living in a clean home
2. all the extra little things beyond regular cleaning that never get done anymore.
3. running errands.
4. preparing food instead of always eating out, which obviously wastes a lot of money.
5. sewing garments for myself. Many projects are piling up.
6. taking more fashion design classes
7. practicing my fashion design skills. I have noticed you quickly lose it if you don't use it, at my basic level.
8. relaxing and not always feeling like I need to get to the sewing room.
9. baking, which I used to love to do.
10. work out

I could go on and on. The things is, when you take a break from the business, your sales plummet. Much of this is because when you post a new item, it goes "to the front" on etsy's lists, so you get noticed and visits to your store. If you don't put new items up, you may get lost in the thousands of storefronts on there.

Nevertheless, I think I'm going to focus on the holiday season and see what it brings me. After the holidays, I may take a break for a few months and focus on my life. I may make a few things here and there, and I'll be open for business, but I will mainly take a break from anything besides shipping sold items and custom orders. During this time, I may also take down my custom orders pages, thus not encouraging custom work, but rather pushing items that I have already made. I will still take custom work if someone requests it, I just won't be advertising it.

After a few months, I'll revisit the whole thing and whether it's something I miss. I love to make things, and only need so many items, so I can't imagine not needing an outlet to sell my things.

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