OK this title sounds a little bit cocky but bear with me! I get told a lot of the time how lucky I am to be able to spend so much time with my children. And I am lucky of course, I love my life, but it takes a lot of hard work to be this lucky. I wanted to write a little bit about the beginning of my working from home journey for anyone in the midst of the difficult early days struggling to get their own business off the ground, wondering what it will take to get to where they need to be.
Back in August 2012 I started selling handmade baby headbands on Etsy and ebay, I sold a couple a week at first – more in the run up to christmas when I added some festive styles. I was barely making any money but I was learning a lot about how to run an online business, things like how the Etsy shop worked, how much Paypal would charge in fees and how to photograph images well for listings. I was basically learning by doing, totally winging it but making a little bit of money and enjoying getting feedback from customers telling me their baby had worn it for a wedding or a christening – it was such a buzz!
I really loved those first few things I sold and I just kept trying new things, I’d be lying in bed and come up with a new idea of something to make then make it as soon as I had the time. I was hand sewing a lot of things at first, then I bought a sewing machine and taught myself how to use it. I made personalised onesies, bunting, letter shaped cushions as well as the headbands until the bridal hangers started to take off. All the money I earned in those early days went straight back into the business, to buy materials or tools for the next project I wanted to try.
In early 2013 I listed a few of the personalised wedding dress hangers, selling a few per week until wedding season hit and by March I had over 60 orders (a mixture of the facebook page, Ebay and Etsy) and earned as much as my part time wage from my council job for the first time. It really was a case of trying anything until I found my niche, then honing the craft and getting better at it, the products I sell now are much nicer than the ones I made back in 2013 but that’s because I’ve made thousands now so I’ve had a lot of practice.
In those early months I had steadily been posting to the facebook page and because it was linked to the Etsy shop, each post brought in new orders. I ended up with a waiting list of about 6 weeks in the height of that summer, while I was working 3 days a week for the council. I knew I had to keep working hard and stay consistent in order to establish the business and keep it growing. I didn’t leave my job until August 2013 so there were 12 months of juggling work, a baby and the new business, the first 6 months of which I was working very hard for very little profit – all of which was going straight back into the business, it was exhausting.
Now when I’m too busy I can stop posting to facebook so that orders slow down enough for me to catch up a bit, and to be honest I don’t post many Anniebobs Boutique pictures on there any more because I get very stressed if my waiting list is longer than 2 weeks. I’m now in a place where I know the summer months are always going to be my busiest time and I’ll have moments where I’m ridiculously stressed out and want to quit, but I know I need to earn enough to cover my salary over the winter months when work is quieter.
My life now in an average week consists of a good mix of creating products, writing blog posts, working out and most importantly spending time with my family. I’ve written before about how childcare can be an issue when you’re working from home but Evan is due to go into nursery for two days a week soon, in time for the wedding season rush, but even the most stressful days can end well when I get a nice review from a customer or a comment on a blog post I’ve poured my heart into.
I could have carried on in the job that I loved, working part-time or full time, my life would have been a lot easier and I wouldn’t have known what I was missing. It was challenging in the right way and I loved the social aspect of going to work in an office every day, but it wasn’t anywhere near as fulfilling as working for myself. Now that I’m solely responsible for my own income, I find it exciting and terrifying at the same time.
If you’re thinking of starting a business and you’re not quite sure where it will go, be consistent and try new things as I did. If you keep going you will find your niche, I hope this post gives you hope that the hard work will pay off and be worth it one day. If you want to read more about setting up a business from home, I wrote about it in What it’s like to quit your day job to run your own business. And I’ll leave it there with some wise words about the key to success from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.