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Five Things To Do Before You Launch Your Etsy Shop

I launched my Etsy shop three years ago this August. I had no clue what I was doing and honestly did not prepare for it. I just added some products I had from my DIY Archives and called it Shop Always Rooney. I had no clue I would still be doing this three years later (and yes, I realize I say that a lot). I don't even think I read many blog posts on how to start an Etsy shop before-hand. I just took the step and then I realized how much more work had to be done!

Maybe you have already launched your store and aren't seeing much growth. I challenge you to read through these tips and see if you've done these five things. If you haven't launched yet, don't take another step until you work on these things. It will be better start off with a firm foundation, I promise.

Most of these tips I didn't even implement for my Etsy shop until this year, but I wish I had done them three years ago. Be sure to download the checklist at the end of this post for more practical tips!

1. Cultivate Your Brand- Your "brand" isn't just the look of your shop/business. It is how people feel when they see your business. Make everything cohesive so if someone saw a design of yours they would immediately know you did it. I would highly recommend hiring a designer to help you brand everything or at the least, bounce your ideas off of a close friend to see if everything is cohesive.  One last tip: when branding, make all social media names the same so people can easily find you!

2. Buy A Domain- Ok, I'm a little embarrassed I just did this months ago…but better late than never, right? You can easily purchase a domain through GoDaddy for cheap.cheap.cheap. Today I bought a new domain for an upcoming project and it was ONE DOLLAR for a year. There is no reason to tell people "You can find my Etsy shop at shopalwaysrooney.etsy.com" That is far too long and no one will remember it! Add some clout to your business with a personalized, easy to remember, domain name. It is simple to direct your domain to your etsy shop.

3. Share Your Story- People follow along and connect with stories more than just a picture with no context to really connect with. When you are setting up your About page, Instagram, Facebook, and any other outlet that lets you share even a snippet of your story, allow people to hear it! What was that final nudge that made you step out and start your business? How did you begin working with all organic soaps? What have been some of the hurdles (mentally and physically) to get over to starting your business? Think about these questions while you are sharing your story!

4. Test Your Product- You can have passion, dreams and drive all day long, but the product is the main meat people are buying. When I opened my shop, I started out with around 8 different products that had nothing to do with each other. A few months in, I realized passport covers were the most popular, easy to customize, time and cost-effective. I got rid of everything else in my shop and had a focus because I tested my product. A way to do this without opening a shop with random stuff (because I don't always recommend that) is to just put your product out there on social media and see the response! If multiple people are asking you to make them something like it, you pretty much have a sellable product.

5. Know Your WHY- The newness of owning your own small business is bound to wear off. Excitement will come and go and when you don't have a why to look back on, you will not press forward when the tough times come. Because they will. Your why is connected to your story (see #3).  It is deeper than "I just want to make money" or "I know this product will sell" or "I just want to quit my office job". Write it down, hang it up where you can see it, and know it well. You'll need to have it in times where you feel like no one is looking at your store, or you realize owning a small business is no walk in the park.

BONUS: JUST BEGIN. Maybe you are still learning your story, trying out the perfect product to hone in on, or even confused about the branding. Most of the time, when you just take that initial step, the ball starts rolling and you will figure a lot of it out along the way. A year from now, you'll be glad you did.
Here is a checklist to help getting you started and break down some of the tasks it takes to opening up an Etsy shop. When you sign up, you'll receive the checklist as well as a weekly exclusive Etsy Business Tip from me!


Rope & Leather Market Backpack | DIY

 I live for summer. The hot weather, days at the beach (well…when we go on vacation), fresh fruit, moped rides, farmer's markets, bonfires. I love it all. I also love all the fun accessories that come along with the warmer HOT weather. I have been collecting market bags to take to the store and transport my etsy orders to the post office in. I saw a straw market backpack that I new would be perfect for taking to the farmer's market and any other daily run. I recreated it in a new way with white clothesline rope and veg tan leather that will take a new patina over time! I love how it turned out it was more simple to make than I thought it would be!

-150 ft. of clothes line rope. I found mine at Wal Mart near the ironing boards for $1.88/50ft.
-2 Leather straps of your choice. Found at Tandy Leather
-Sewing Machine with zig-zag stitch
-Hot Glue
-leather sewing needle

Process: Start by measuring 8 inches of rope and folding at the 8 inch mark. At the fold, place under your presser foot and zig-zag stitch to the end. At the end, continue to wrap the rope around the other rope while it is laying flat and you are still stitching. Continue this around until the rope piece is about 5 inches wide or until you reach the desired size you want the bottom of your bag.

When the bottom of the bag is at the right width, continue stitching but angle flat portion 90 degrees so it makes a sharp corner and the rope will begin to rise up in size instead of out. Keep the angle and continue to zig-zag stitch. You'll do this until you run out of rope. When you run out of rope, back-stitch and cut the thread. Connect the new piece of rope as close to the old piece as possible and continue stitching around. Keep zig-zag stitching around the bag until you reach your desired size. I used about 2 and 1/4 entire rolls of 50ft. rope.When you are finished, back stitch and burn the end of the rope if you don't want it to fray.

For the straps, Cut 2 two inch strips from each strap. Measure how long you want the backpack strap to be and cut according to size and set aside. With the leftover strap, sew it to the top back of the bag using a leather needle. Hot Glue the two inch strap to the bottom front of your bag leaving a space in the middle for the closure strap to go through. Repeat on the other side. For the back straps, sew on top of the closure straps in place and make sure they are sturdy. For the bottom, hot glue in place.

Trim off all the extra threads and head to the market! You did it!

-You'll have gaps between some of the strands of rope because they are easy to miss. Make sure to go back and fix the gaps by just re-sewing over them. Do this as you go, otherwise the bag will get to large for you to reach with your sewing machine.
-I used hot glue and it was sturdy and worked perfectly, I tried to rip off the leather from the rope to test its sturdiness and it didn't budge. Adjust glue if you don't want to use hot glue.

This would even make a great beach bag! I'm telling ya, it is the perfect summer bag.

Got any big summer plans? I'm sure this bag would love to tag along.

PS. Thanks to Rachel for all of these photos!


A Weekend Kitchen Makeover

Check out the before photos of the kitchen here.

You've heard it again and again: paint can change everything. A few months ago I had the genius (insert eye roll) idea to paint our kitchen wall bright white. The only problem is I painted it and hated it. I chose the wrong white and it just was not working. It was left to be a sad white wall for months since I couldn't put my finger on what to do instead. I thought of shiplap, tile (which would be awesome if this was a huge priority financially), and even painting it the color it originally was: a shade lighter than the cabinets.  A few weeks ago as I was perusing Pinterest, I came across this photo which I have had pinned for years. I can't believe I didn't think of this before but just had to try the black wall! So much so, I woke up the next day and got the "go-ahead" from Jordan and while he was at work, I painted away!

The reason I was so inclined to just try it was I had paint leftover from our fireplace and front door makeover. I didn't know a pint of paint could go that far, but I used every bit of that paint! All I needed was a fresh paint roller, which I picked up for $3. This is the biggest and cheapest change we've made to a room (next to my shiplap studio). I even tore that cable outlet and patched up the whole which made a huge difference!

This wall took a few days to get used to since it was such a bold change from white to black. Some days we would like it and others, we were just unsure. I think by now we like it and are searching for the perfect photos to frame on the wall in black frames like the inspiration. Now I just need to finish edging it since we decided we are going to keep it! I also think a new runner for the kitchen will help-but that will come in due time. We have other priorities…like a bathroom to remodel! ;)

Do you have any weekend makeover plans?!