New business launch!
@MissMushy I've found out that the period before the launch of a shop when you are creating your products is the ideal time to start social media and start to engage with the community. I started by saying that my goal was to launch a clipart shop and I would draw and post one clipart every day until I had enough clipart packs to launch. This made people interested in my journey, since they've accompanied me on my goal they really started rooting for me. I was overwhelmed by the incredible support from the community, everyone went out of their way to give me advice and suggestions. Posting my clipart one by one like that also allowed me the gauge which ones interested people the most. Then I created a mailing list and promised a free clipart pack every month to people who signed up. I started sending a DM to everyone who followed me saying "Thanks so much for the follow! If you like my clipart, did you know that you can get monthly freebies by signing up to my free VIP club? Link in bio if you're interested!" That worked really well and a lot of people signed up for the mailing list. I discovered that the pre-launch was the ideal time to get to know the community specifically because I didn't have anything for sale yet. It kind of cleared up the air, and people felt free to engage with me without fearing I had ulterior motives or just trying to sell them products. I made some really good friends in that time!
Offering free cliparts also meant that people started sharing their craft projects made with my clipart, and that also spread the word around and gave me nice examples to show. At that time I also learned about PR teams (also called design teams). Apparently on Instagram it's becoming a big thing in the crafting community for sellers to have a design team, meaning crafters that get products for free and in exchange create projects using those products and post them to their account. I thought this sounded too good to be true, but apparently being part of a design team is a sought after position and I actually had people DM me to ask me to be on my design team before I even knew what it was. For me who offers digital products, it cost me nothing. I set up a cloud account with my entire launching collection and asked 5 good crafter friends I'd made on Instagram if they'd like to join. They accepted and have helped me spread the word since!
I grew my email list to 160 people before the launch, so I was able to tell all those people about the shop launch and send them a special offer, a discount code just for them. I made a launch plan that lasted the whole month of May: It started with a live on Instagram revealing the launch date and telling them I had a survey going, then hosting a giveaway, revealing the special coupon code the day before launch and finally a live launch event on Instagram where I revealed the shop. By that point, I had already received many DMs and emails asked me where the hell they could buy my clipart... It kind of worked like a months long tease and by the time I launched, people were really ready to buy! Some people told me they were already making mental lists of which products they wanted.
A lot of this I did kind of by accident and realized only later why it works so well. They say people have to like and trust you before they want to buy from you, and starting my social media early and asking people to join me on my journey to create a shop allowed them to get to know me and root for me. It's all been a really fun and great experience and I look forward to continue growing this business!
@hannahmccaffery They're actually clipart, so digital products I'm using the instant download feature on Etsy so when people buy they can directly download the files and I don't have to do anything more at this point!
MichaelaH last edited by
@hannahmccaffery I am shipping myself all my products on etsy, it is not easy, because of the many regulations, in EU it is easy and cheap, outside of EU is not always cheap, German Post ships out of EU under 1kg for 9€, if it is above 2kg or high in price, I can ship only with German DHL Post and than it costs 35€ to ship to US...
And if You are shipping outside of EU, there are these custom authorithies and what You have to write on the package...tehre are regulations for it.
@NessIllustration thanks for sharing all of this! So much to learn from your experience. I have been toying with ideas for digital downloads on Etsy too , since shipping physical -products esp from Canada is such a pain. Sounds as if you put a lot of effort in all the right places so now you get to reap the rewards. Well done you!
@MissMushy Amen girl! I'm in Canada too, and after selling some prints in college I decided I never wanted to wrestle with Canada Post.. Ever again!
@NessIllustration congratulations! The store looks great! The unicorns are adorable. ️Best of luck to you.
Sean_H last edited by
Thank you for sharing, your detailed step by step has me thinking about how I could do something similar.
I have a suggestion for you as well, you might want to consider selling on gumroad.com as well. It’s really popular for digital artists content (like tutorials etc.) and the fees are super low . I’m not sure what the fees are on Etsy these days but I remember them being pretty high for physical products.
Is the digital only clip art market big?
@Sean_H Hi Sean! Thank you so much for the suggestion! I definitely want to expand to other platforms in the following months. I'm eyeing Creative Market, but I didn't know about Gumroad so I'll definitely go check it out! Thanks!!
The market for digital clip art is huuuuge! There are so many applications... Especially these days there are a lot of people trying to start their own businesses like T-shirt shops, sticker shops, template shops, home decor shops, ect. and a lot of those people can't draw so they depend on purchased graphics to create their products. Personally I'm targeting the crafters because that's what interests me most. I'm trying to reach people who like to print cliparts on cardstock or sticker paper for instance, for use in their crafts like scrapbooking, card making, planners, art journals, penpals, etc. Clipart is great for that because it's a much more affordable way to craft, and it's much less damaging for the planet. You only print what you need, and they don't need to be individually packaged in plastic. The eco-friendly aspect is very important to me and I talk about that a lot on my social medias. I'm trying to get crafters who don't yet use cliparts to see how it's a greener and cheaper way to do it. I also have a lot of people who are into digital scrapbooking and digital planning, those are great green hobbies too that require clipart!
@NessIllustration Thank you for sharing! This is what I needed to hear today! Great job!
@juliepeelart I'm happy to hear it! Are you also trying your hand at an art business?
Coley last edited by
Wow that's awesome , congratulations!
@Coley Thank you Coley I'm going to work on this shop hard to grow it larger and larger! I would really love it if one day this becomes my full-time job, with a couple books every year. That's my dream!
Coley last edited by
@NessIllustration I think you can do it
Lisa Middleton Griffin last edited by
Wow, that is great news. Sounds like your marketing efforts have really paid off. I do have an Etsy shop by it is in vacation mode as I didn't have the time to devote to it as needed. You are correct in that it takes a lot of effort to keep happy customers finding and returning to your shop. The mailing list is a great idea too! Helps to promote new merchandise as well as sales/events.
Hope you have continued success with it.
@NessIllustration I have been doing a little of everything (been paid to design t-shirts, an illustration, several fine art commissions, logos, you name it) Since I was starting to get paid, last year I started working on setting up and learning about business infrastructure. I created a website and set up an Etsy shop. I connected the shop to my website and printful account for shirts, and a different printer for fine art prints. I set up a square account and used it for sales at a craft fair. I connected it all to paypal and banks and registered for a business, so I did all of the infrastructure things in order to prepare for future possibilities. Then I had to populate it to see if it would work.
So I started by posting what I have the most of, which is fine art prints which are expensive to produce and hard to sell soooo I have sold practically nothing online (my website sends mixed messages), and small stuff at the craft fair. I may have gone about the whole thing backwards.
A year and a lot of podcasts later I have learned that I need to 1. find my brand and stick with it (people consistently tell me that they like my paintings, and LOVE the comics and cute stuff) so I need to curate and re-work my website with and audience in mind; and 2. Get a good social media strategy so when I launch things, I will have an audience. 3. figure out what products my work is best for.
I think I am getting closer to a vision, but some health and time challenges have set my time-table back. So I was just soooo happy to hear your success story! That gives me courage that maybe I can find a plan that works! And a blueprint to try. Thanks for giving us permission to check out your strategy. If I have questions later I hope that I can ask. Your stuff is darling! Thank you for sharing!
@juliepeelart Wow what a story!! It seems you jumped in head first, and I really respect that You'll find what works for you! There is no one size fits all answer after all. I also had to do a massive shift in my audience and product after my last attempt at a business. Back then I thought "I like drawing cute stuff, so I'll make nursery prints. Perfect!" I hadn't thought that by doing this my audience would be moms, a group I don't know anything about, cannot relate to, don't know how to talk to them or their needs. So it was all over the place! And when I thought about doubling down on research and effort to really connect with moms, I wasn't feeling up to it. So I had some soul searching and realized I really wanted to serve other creatives. Clipart is my way to do that! And I LOVE crafting, but I've had to put it aside for years to focus on illustration. Now I feel that I want to go play in that sandbox again, so I decided to do clipart for crafters. Everything has flown so much easier since I decided that! Sure it's been a lot of work, but it feels right and I'm always motivated to find new ways to grow the business. I have an endless list of ideas! I wish you the best of luck in figuring out what you want to create and who you want to serve, I'm sure you will decipher it I also suggest you do some research on Etsy to see what's out there, and what ygou could see yourself doing. Kind of like the dream portfolio assignment, but "dream Etsy shop" instead hihi
@NessIllustration Thank you for your encouragement! One thing you said really helps me a lot. The idea of connecting with your audience and knowing their needs can point me in a direction. I have had lots of people give me suggestions of what I should make and one has been to make digital clip art, (Sillouette or Cricut type) but whenever I think about it I get mental hives because I have a different experience with crafts. I stink at them! I don't know the lingo, or the process or even how I would test the files. I suppose I could learn, but starting where I already have a passion is a great point. People also have suggested Nursery art to me, I feel kind of neutral on that one, it could maybe work. What I really like is art that is clever or funny and usable. People suggest cards too, and I wonder, does anybody do that anymore? But if it were a funny card that would be cool to make (now I am chasing my tail again.) I love your idea of a dream Etsy shop assignment! I am going to try it! Thank you!
@juliepeelart Your comment made me chuckle! Clipart was a perfect fit for me, but for you the idea of looking into crafts is as uninviting as the idea of looking into parenting was to me hahaha I think you're on to something with the clever/funny/usable idea. There is a big market for that!! There are huge shops that do funny cards, funny mugs, funny t-shirts, funny totes, etc. If you have a knack for creating clever new designs that tickle people pink, it literally has the potential to go viral! You can do some research to find a niche that's perfect for you, there are several. Like cards and stationary, or maybe specializing in gift items. At any rate, there's definitely a market for the fun, clever and funny! If that's what you love to do, it's a very viable idea business-wise.
Here are some nice shops that are killing it!
T-shirts and apparel: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ThreadAlive?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=678071926
Funny kitchen and bath prints: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KITCHENBATHPRINTS