An honest and open behind-the-scenes look at why I sold my Etsy shop.

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“If you’re really as “successful” as you say you are/were, why don’t you run your Etsy shop anymore? Why would you stop actively marketing it if it was supposedly “working” out for you. Something’s fishy and doesn’t add up…”

It’s an email that I’ve gotten more than once (although occasionally with more colorful language that I’ll choose not to repeat on my G-rated blog ;) 

One of the wonderful things about running a business online is all of the amazing people you meet across the world. People that write kind emails and let you know how much even your free content has helped them to grow their Etsy businesses. I love those emails. 

Unfortunately, you also get those who attempt to understand your choices better than you do and criticize you every step along the way.

Since selling my Etsy shop to my sister in July 2018, I’ve had more than one comment thrown my way about how I must be a “fraud” or “not as successful as I claim to be” when it comes to running an Etsy shop.

I realized I've never openly addressed the "WHY" of doing this (short of a few quick statements mixed into livestreams), so if you are one of those many people who are genuinely wondering why the heck someone would give up a multiple six-figure Etsy shop to work on ANOTHER completely different business model (this MorganNield.com one, here!), this post is for you :)


The beginning

It all started in year 3 of selling on Etsy.

It’s no secret-- I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2011 (with a shop called “Highbury Place” that specialized in notecards and wedding guest book prints-- *this shop is currently closed*) and then more recently (2013 - 2018) with “Little Highbury,” an Etsy shop that utilized custom-designed fabrics to create unique baby products. You can check it out here :)

I like to think of “Highbury Place” as my Etsy experiment. This is where I first learned about the platform (and boy was it overwhelming at the time!), where I first learned how to print off postage in my home (a novel concept!), and where I learned that spending $2.50 for an envelope at the local post office was NOT going to be profitable long-term.

I made a lot of mistakes. Like, A LOT.

(My biggest one being that SEO is the make-it-or-break-it strategy of Etsy).

But that’s not to say that my mistakes didn’t pay off-- they did.

And when I opened Little Highbury in 2013 (after learning A LOT through trial + error, and investing in a business coach + online courses-- yes, I actually PAID money to learn how to make money-- best decision I ever made :), LittleHighbury opened its doors “officially” in November 2013 to the tune of $1,789.

And that was--literally-- just the beginning. 

  A screenshot from my "baby," although you can now clearly see it's owned by my sister, Kelsee :)

A screenshot from my "baby," although you can now clearly see it's owned by my sister, Kelsee :)

Armed with a new strategy in hand (hello, marketing system!) and experience under my belt, to an outsider it looked like LittleHighbury was an instant hit and that things almost came “too easy” for me (I’ve had more than one person accuse me of that).

On the surface, it looked, well, effortless.

Within a year I was making 600-700 sales/MONTH and averaging around $700 - $1,000 in gross revenue PER DAY.

And when the holidays hit?

That number easily DOUBLED.

(and if I was running a sales promotion, that number went through the roof).

On paper it looked AH-MAZING:

  • I had a 70% profit margin
  • My items (literally) took less than 5 minutes to make, and...
  • I had mastered my marketing system to the point that I didn’t have to worry about finding traffic for my Etsy shop-- it was finding ME (thank you, marketing system!)

But behind-the-scenes was a completely different story.

There were MANY tears.

MANY sleepless nights.

And a whole lotta grunt-work (those orders don’t fill themselves, yo!).

(note- I am not complaining about selling and making money. I realize this is genuinely the best possible problem to have with an online business and I am forever grateful for the opportunities it gave me and the doors that have opened because of it. I am merely sharing how it emotionally felt to me at the time).

The turning point

After managing the business 100% solely by myself for over a year (well, my husband was recruited to package and wrap orders for me-- thanks, hun!)...

...and hitting over $11K in monthly sales…

  Stats from my first full year selling on Etsy with LittleHighbury

Stats from my first full year selling on Etsy with LittleHighbury

I knew something had to change.

Because while it was AWESOME to pour all of those (insane!) profits back into the business/into our bank account…

...I was DYING. 

Because here's the deal: Besides being the owner of LittleHighbury, I was also a stay-at-home-mother (to a VERY busy toddler!), wife, active church volunteer, and chief "errand runner" in our home. 

Add that to 25-30 DAILY orders from the Etsy shop and it's basically a recipe for disaster for those of us who aren't super-woman material ;)

A couple of things I learned during this phase of the business:

  • Try to work AND tend my child at the same time was beyond frustrating. I needed separate time to focus on each.
  • There is no way to succeed at all of those things all at the same time. Balance is great in theory, but not practical (or possible!) in execution.
  • I am basically absolute RUBBISH after 10 pm. None of my work was ever that great after that point, ha ha, and I found myself redoing a lot of it the next day! #funfact

These "realizations" led me to hire my first “employee” (and I use that term VERY informally ;).

This "employee" was actually just a local high school girl that needed a part-time job to work around student-council obligations and she didn’t actually “work for me” because she was contractual (meaning she wasn’t technically an employee so I didn’t have to pay taxes or provide benefits-- so don't come asking me about those details because I don't know them!).

She started by taking up the menial labor tasks like cutting fabric and sewing headbands and I felt like I could FINALLY breathe again. 

My mom was hired shortly after that.

And a couple of local stay-at-home mom friends right after that.

Within a year I had gone from a one-woman show to 5 people running an Etsy business that consistently maintained five-figures/month.

It wasn’t easy to keep on top of everything (especially during the holidays!)...

But with help? It was manageable.  

It was around this time (we had just had our first $20K month) that I got my first “How do you do it?!” question on Etsy.

And that’s when everything changed.

A mindset shift

I received probably about 10-15 conversations/day on Etsy asking questions about my products/ordering/wholesale/etc.

I had a canned set of responses (definitely something to consider doing if you aren’t already!) that saved me OODLES of time with these questions. My goal was to spend less than 15 min/day in my Etsy inbox.

But when I received my first “How do you do it?” question about running an Etsy shop I couldn’t believe it.

Someone was asking me (ME!) about how to run a successful business on Etsy.

And I took 45 minutes answering that question in so much detail that the poor Etsy shop owner probably had to split the reading into a two-part session.

And I had FUN answering it (wha?!)!

That question was--literally-- just the beginning.

The more LittleHighbury sold, the more the questions seemed to flow in from ready-to-hustle entrepreneurs that were willing to do the work (MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE EQUATION!) but just didn’t know what “work” to do.

(a question I address + solve for you inside Mastermind Your Marketing!)

I answered probably about 15-20 of these questions via Etsy convos super in-depth before I saw an ad on my Facebook home feed for a FREE Etsy training from a couple who averaged 125 orders/month selling on Etsy.

And people were FREAKING OUT in the comments at how awesome it would be to make that amount of sales.

Note: At this point in my business I was hitting 600-700 sales/month.

And that’s when I realized that THIS could be a business, too.

Now, at this point I certainly didn’t want to give up my Etsy shop (it was so profitable and it’s not easy to walk away from that kind of income!), but I realized that since I had extra help with the labor of creating product for my Etsy shop, I could totally do this “Etsy coaching” thing as a side-hustle. (<-- serial entrepreneur right here, folks!)

Within a few days (and even without a website!) I booked my first one-on-one call and charged $247 for a 60-minute one-on-one coaching session with a client (which included a 60-minute Skype call, 2 weeks of email support, and a personalized marketing plan).

She left THRILLED with the direction and guidance that I offered (and is making BANK now with her shop!) and I couldn’t believe that I had--figuratively-- sold my knowledge and experience-- and made a decent chunk of change doing it.  

Also? I didn’t have to ship out a product at the end. (<-- I’ll admit, this was a big one for me, ha!).

Things quickly took off from there.

While I was still running my Etsy shop full-time, I was booking more and more one-on-one clients (and having the time of my life chatting with other business owners!).

But there was a major problem.

And while I'll be the first to admit that I didn't spend a lot of time "searching" for these clients-- they seemed to find me on their own (<-- huge blessing, I realize that), there was still a MAJOR issue I ran into:

The 60-minute phone call sessions? They took up TIME (truth: you can’t rush a 60-minute call-- it’s ALWAYS going to be 60-minutes [and usually turned into 75 minutes because I can’t stop talking about marketing!]).

Time I didn’t *really* have if I was being honest because LittleHighbury was still so. dang. busy. 

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not super-woman, nor do I ever pretend to moonlight as her or profess to have ANYTHING in common with her.

I’m seriously just your average human being.

And being average with that kind of schedule?

Well, something had to give.

(lest you thought it was the baby, know that even on her worst tantrum-filled days, we decided she was worth keeping in the mix ;)

I wasn’t working IN my Etsy shop much nowadays (thank you, employees!), but I definitely was actively working to drive traffic to it (following the system I outline in Mastermind Your Marketing).

And even with a streamlined marketing system, it still takes a bit of time to stay on top of things.

And so I gave up marketing my Etsy shop. 

...I stopped adjusting my SEO every 4-6 months.

...I stopped posting on Instagram every day.

...I stopped creating new blog posts and actively growing my email list.

(cue the audible gasps).

Now I bet I know what you're thinking right now...

Why on earth would someone choose to stop doing what was working?!?!?

(the infamous question I get asked all. the. time.)

Today I'm going to answer it for you as honestly and openly as I can :) (Note- I'm not going to justify my answer to you or debate my decision in the comments (it's already been made!), but just explain MY reasoning why I did what I did) 

Actually, there were a couple of reasons:

  1. I was making serious money OFF of Etsy.

    My Etsy shop wasn’t the ONLY thing that was working for me.

    With VERY little effort on my part, I was booking one-on-one clients to chat marketing and making $497/hour doing it (yes, I raised my prices early on and people STILL kept booking with me).

    Also? I didn’t have to ship a physical product. I didn’t have to buy inventory. I didn’t have to spend HOURS/day in my sewing room fulfilling orders and crossing my fingers that USPS would hurry and deliver that “I waited to purchase until the last minute!” order that was placed by a frazzled customer (I absolutely HATE stressing out about people's last-minute rush orders, but I always do! Drives me crazy!)

  2. I had lost my passion for my target market.

    Now this is a seemingly trivial piece of the puzzle that a lot of people don’t understand.

    What does “passion” have to do with making money? If you’re making six figures and doing it consistently, why does “passion” even matter? You’re making money! Enjoy it!

    I felt that way at first, too :)

    I was SO thankful that this Etsy business had taken off. We were the definition of poor church mice when I started (I had to take a $300 loan from my mom to buy inventory because we--literally-- couldn’t afford to buy supplies), and without it?

    I’d hate to think where we would have ended up...

    But was I passionate about my “dream customer” or “target market”?

    Nope :)

    I’ve always been fairly transparent about my journey into motherhood-- it’s not something that came easy to me and it’s still a challenge almost every day. I’m not what you’d call a “natural fit” for the role-- and even though I was making baby products, I didn’t enjoy conversing with other mothers about sleep training, swapping debates about homeschooling vs. public education, or talking about the divine blessing that being a SAHM is. (truth- I get so much social anxiety going to play groups because motherhood and kiddos is ALL anyone ever talks about at those places).

    So even though I tended to avoid those conversations in "real-life," having a baby accessories business means you are surrounded by those types of conversation all day every day (no brainer, I know!).

    From 2013 - 2016, I was of the “fake it til you make it” mindset when interacting with my customers and fans. I swooned over their baby photos, offered tips on parenting that I had learned from raising my own daughter, and obsessed over the latest baby trends because #socute #amiright.

    But it didn’t feel natural and I didn’t enjoy it. There was absolutely nothing wrong with those who could talk 24/7 about #allthingsbaby (I admire you so much!), but in the words of Amy Poehler- “Good for her, NOT for me."

    But with business questions? Marketing?

    I could (and would, if I wasn’t careful!) talk about those things all day.

    That’s when I came to the realization that I could adapt my business to better fit MY needs and dreams-- and that was OKAY.

A mental breakdown

Even though I started plugging away at MorganNield.com back in late 2016, I still kept my Etsy shop. No, I wasn’t actively marketing it (which was a relief in so many ways!), but it was still making daily sales (average about 10-15/day with residual marketing from all the efforts I’d put in over the years).

And because those Etsy sales had--literally-- given us a roof over our head and food in our bellies-- I was more than a *little* queasy at the idea of closing the shop. After all, we had lived off this income for YEARS. Would it be possible to make do without it?

I couldn't convince myself that it was, so I kept working on both ;)

Truth bomb: Building MorganNield.com while managing LittleHighbury was not the walk in the park you’d expect.

It took a lot out of me.

When I wasn’t fulfilling orders, I was writing blog posts.

When I wasn’t answering customer convo’s on Etsy, I was juggling one-on-one client coaching calls.

Oh, and I had that thing called “family” that I enjoyed hanging around with (although by this point I'd almost forgotten what they looked like...kidding).

I’d like to say that juggling two businesses helped me master “balance” with things, but I’m going to be straight up honest with you--

It caused me to have a mental breakdown in February 2018.

As in curled-in-a-fetal-position, hunched over sobbing in our bathroom with the fan on for hours at a time not being able to physically move. 

And that’s when the doors to Little Highbury closed for an “indefinite vacation”.

Now you may be asking "What went down in February that changed things?"

Here's a quick synopsis:

I was in the “pre-launch” phase of my third round of Mastermind Your Marketing.

Lest you think launching an online course is easy (hahaha!), let me clear that up for your right now: It’s not.

Is it rewarding? Yes. Profitable? Yes. Amazing? Yes.

But easy?

Ha!

Here's a list of tasks I was working on just during pre-launch:

  • I was recording livestreams and on a weekly (and sometimes daily!) basis
  • I was creating 1-2 pieces of new content for my blog each week
  • I was networking with others in my niche to build relationships with them and--ultimately-- pitch my product
  • I was answering the never-ending questions of people interested in learning more about the program and if it would be a good fit for THEIR business (probably about 10 questions/day in the pre-launch phase-- more during the actual "open-cart" launch)
  • I was reworking the course to be even better than it was. This essentially meant starting from scratch again and adding SO much more to it to make it as done-for-you-marketing as possible.

Now take alllllllllllllll of those things and add:

  • Managing 10-15 daily orders with Little Highbury.
  • A (surprise) positive pregnancy test and almost immediate puking non-stop.

(yep, apparently I’m one of those “lucky ones” that gets hyperemesis gravidarum like Princess Kate Middleton and spends the next 2-3 months working out of the upstairs bathroom in-between puke sessions).

Oh, and tries to take care of an incredibly active 4-year-old while doing it because, you know, the whole “SAHM” thing I signed up for :)

So we’ve established that by this point in my businesses (February 2018), I was still running Little Highbury AND MorganNield.com.

I thought I could keep doing both.

After all, they were both INCREDIBLY profitable (Little Highbury was still hitting $100K even without the heavy marketing [or any marketing at all, if I'm being honest], and MorganNield.com was WAY past that already).

From a financial standpoint (and logically, as well), it made sense to keep both businesses going.

And whenever I casually mentioned “killing off Little Highbury,” people looked at me like I was CRAZY. Like, why would you ever get rid of something that made you money like that?!?!

(And from an outsider’s perspective, I TOTALLY get that. I remember wondering the same thing when Melyssa Griffin stopped offering graphic design services and focused solely on online courses. I thought she was CRAZY for giving up a six-figure design business at the time. Now I understand a bit better ;)

But when my husband found me on the bathroom floor after an especially grueling toilet session, bawling my eyes out, it became ridiculously apparent that I couldn’t balance both anymore. #tmi

I’ll spare you the details of my pros and cons lists for both (yes, I’m a little Rory Gilmore sometimes) and assume that after reading through this post you’ll know which one was the obvious choice.

And just like that, Little Highbury became a part of my past.

  • Yes, I GAVE UP a six-figure business.
  • Yes, I WALKED AWAY from something that was already working.
  • Yes, I WENT AGAINST every logical and financial bone in my body and put my shop in “permanent” vacation mode (for the first time ever!).

And instead? I went ALL IN with MorganNield.com.

(and--literally-- doubled my annual revenue with that next Mastermind Your Marketing launch (which I basically executed from my bathroom floor-- now how's that for a happy ending!?).

Giving up my Etsy shop after 4+ years of selling?

It was the BEST business decision I have EVER made. 

And I don't regret it for a minute. 

Now you may appreciate my decision, or you may violently disagree with it. That is totally up to you. I give you 100% permission to over-analyze my story above and come to your own conclusions about my decision and whether or not you think I'm a "fraud" for walking away from Etsy.

(know, however, that during the time you’re analyzing MY business, you’re wasting valuable time that you could be using to actually grow yours ;).

Choosing to sell Little Highbury

And for one final FAQ: What did I do with Little Highbury? 

For those of you who know my story, you know that I created Little Highbury at an EXTREMELY vulnerable time in my life (it was my main coping mechanism that I used to deal with my post-partum depression after my daughter was born), and it didn’t seem right to “sell it” to someone that most likely wouldn’t have understood the backbone of why I was doing what I had done.

Also, there was the whole “I design my own fabrics!” thing to consider (a lot harder to hand off to someone than you’d think, haha) ;)

That's why when most people asked about me selling, I always told them, "Nope-- I'm letting it die a slow death."

And truthfully? I had every intention of keeping that “vacation mode” on for the remainder of the year and eventually closing out the shop by the end of 2018.

And then my sister came to me with a business proposition (fun fact: I’m from a whole family of entrepreneurs) and presented an agreement to “buy out” Little Highbury because she was in need of a project to keep her busy (Ha! Joke's on her!).

***Edited for clarification: I did not "sell" her the shop (yes, I am aware that is against Etsy's TOU's!) -- I am still "unofficially" overseeing things with LittleHighbury, however, she is the COO. She is in the process of setting up her OWN shop on Etsy and has purchased the inventory/equipment/marketing that I have used with LittleHighbury in the past to create her "new" shop.

Now before you come to me asking for help on drafting contracts and negotiating terms for selling a business, know that my sister is one of the most Christ-like people I know and doesn’t have an advantage-taking bone in her body. Seriously. (it gets really annoying sometimes because she’s always so...good :P) Yes, our agreement is written down, but it’s not your typical “legal” document and there wasn’t a notary present and all that jazz.

But for now?

It feels good.

She’s LOVING running the business and getting her hands wet with entrepreneurship, and I’m LOVING being able to focus 100% on MorganNield.com without balancing inventory/customer service/marketing/etc. (you know, all those bazillion hats we Etsy shop owners seem to wear at all times ;)

Will I go back to Etsy one day?

Eh, maybe.

But I can promise you this: It will NOT be with a physical product, ha ha! Once you go digital, you never go back, my friend ;)


And if you made it to the end of this post, thank you. Thank you for hearing me out and taking a minute (or 60) to understand where I am coming from and to learn more of the "why" behind my business decisions.

I feel like people always gloss over the less-than-glamorous details of business evolutions, and I want you to know that it's okay if your business is currently a hot mess and you're overwhelmed. 

Life is messy

Business is messy.

And business evolution is a TOTALLY normal (and good!) thing.

Don't ever feel like you have to stick with something that doesn't bring you joy.

Consider this permission to go after your dreams and make them happen no matter what anyone says-- because I'm right behind you, cheering you on :)

xoxo, Morgan  

How long does it actually take to earn a five-figure month on Etsy? [case study!]

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You've got some crazy-ambitious revenue goals and you're willing to do the work.

But what work are you actually supposed to do!?!

It's a question I get asked A LOT. 

In fact, most creative-type Etsy sellers are absolutely KILLER at creating beautiful product. 

But when it comes to actually marketing it?

They don't have a clue where to start. 

Sure, they've hopped on Google and typed in "how to get found on Etsy" and found approximately 1 bajillion outdated and extremely vague tips and tricks about SEO, but as for an actual marketing plan?

Nada.

In fact, my student Molly was the EXACT same way-- she had an amazing business idea (you can check her out HERE!) and more creativity in her little finger than I have in my whole body (true story!), but when it came to selling?

She had absolutely NO idea where to start (probably similar to you!).

Molly enrolled in Mastermind Your Marketing in May 2017 (when it first launched-- I can't believe it's been over a year!) and opened her Etsy shop just a couple months later. 

Here's a screenshot of a post she shared in September 2017-- just 2 months after she opened her Etsy shop following the Mastermind Your Marketing curriculum:

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But you may be thinking "Sure, Morgan-- but that was MONTHS ago. Is she still selling that much?"

I'd better let Molly take it over from here ;) 

Are success stories an everyday occurence inside Mastermind Your Marketing?

Why yes, yes they are :)

 
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Are these students "special snowflakes" with unique situations (although I do happen to think each of these ladies is pretty awesome!)?

NO.

Do they have a 100% unique product that no other Etsy shop sells?

NO. 

Do they rely on "free" strategies on the internet to get where they wanted to be revenue-wise?

NO. 

Each of these case studies enrolled in Mastermind Your Marketing, did the work (important!), and saw the results. 

It's seriously that simple. 

And guess what? They come from selling a variety of products-- baby accessories, photography props, jewelry, and wedding stationary. There's honestly no "one size fits all" niche for successfully marketing your shop on Etsy-- ANYONE can be successful. 

You just need to have a profitable marketing system in place. 

...a system that makes you *cha-chings* in your sleep so that you can spend more time working ON your shop instead of in it

...a system that completely takes the guesswork out when you'll make your next sale (you're in control, yo!).

...a system that actually makes marketing--dare I say it-- FUN (gasp!). And seriously easy to implement (just follow the step-by-step workbooks inside MYM, plug in YOUR shop details and get to work!)

Oh, and did I mention that once you've got it set up, it's just rinse-and-repeat from here on out? 

Seriously. 

Spoiler alert: There is no "secret trick" to selling on Etsy.

Every successful Etsy shop out there will tell you that it takes WORK to make $$$ happen.

But can you imagine if someone held your hand and walked you through exactly what "work" that needed to be?

Consider me your personal mentor-- I'm going to show you EXACTLY what to do in the EXACT order you need to do it.

(+ bonus tech videos walking you through it because, you know, #techchallenged is a real thing)

Ready for the course that will change EVERYTHING for you about selling on Etsy?

I'll see you on the inside :)

xoxo,
Morgan

Save yourself approximately 4,201,973 hours per week using Etsy snippets (+ free swipe copy!)

Save yourself approximately 4,201,973 hours per week using Etsy snippets (+ free swipe copy!)

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you probably know that I’m a HUGE advocate of responding ridiculously quickly to Etsy conversations. There are a few of reasons for this:

1- It clears up your to-do list. If you can respond immediately, you don’t have to make a reminder to yourself to respond later. Plus it’s one less thing weighing you down throughout the day. 

2- It seals the deal. If someone is messaging you, that’s great-- it means you have a potential customer in the wings!  Respond quickly (I already recommend within ½ hour if you can manage) and you’ve pretty much sealed the deal-- they’re still in the mind of thinking about your brand, and your conversation can serve as a confirmation that it would be smart to purchase from you. 

3- It legitimizes your brand. Even if you’re working part-time on the weekends while you do a full 9-5, by responding quickly to conversations, customers can see that you take your business seriously-- and not just as a hobby. 

How to Grow Your Etsy Shop’s Email List on Autopilot

How to Grow Your Etsy Shop’s Email List on Autopilot

SO email marketing.

It’s one of those things that you know you should be doing (since everybody and their dog coins the phrase “the money is in the list”), but if you’ll permit me, I’m going to make a guess that it’s probably been at least 6 months since you last emailed your list (no judging here—we’ve all been there and I'm currently digging out of an email marketing rut myself).

Your growth is probably feeling a little stagnant as well. Did you gain 20 subscribers last month? 10? 3?

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, it can be INCREDIBLY discouraging to try to grow your list from 0—because nobody really talks about how to do it-- they just tell you it's important to do (<-- worst advice ever). Add the fact that Etsy’s TOU’s make it EXTREMELY complicated to build a list and it’s no wonder you’re burned out before you’ve even started.

Well….

What if I told you that I could help you grow your list like MAGIC?

An Actual Step-By-Step Plan to Setting + Reaching Your Crazy-Big Revenue Goals

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written down “I want to earn [insert $ amount here] from my Etsy shop this quarter,” and then realized that you have absolutely NO idea how to actually make that happen.

Yup, I see you ;)

So many success coaches out there will tell you to visualize your goal or “manifest” the money you want to make, but have you noticed there's extremely limited information out there about how to actually make those goals happen?

Yeah, not so many people seem to talk about that ;)

Why?

Well, because it's a bit un-glamorous.

It's easy to get caught up in the glitzy dreams of dollar signs, but it's a lot harder to actually do the work and make those dollars happen. 

Maybe you've got a quarterly (or yearly!) revenue goal right now.

But I want you to answer this honestly: Do you have a step-by-step plan of how you're actually going to achieve it?

If you're reading this, then probably not. And that's totally okay! That's why I'm here to help :)

Luckily, there’s a lot less “luck” than you think involved in actually reaching your revenue goals—it just takes a bit of strategizing, execution (the hardest part!), and then evaluation.

And guess what? In this blog post I’m going to walk you through exactly that! #heckyes

So let's get started!

Step 1: Decide on a quarterly business goal

First things first-- you actually have to have a goal in mind (duh).

But I don't mean this as a "I want to grow my business this quarter," type of goal-- because what does that REALLY mean? Are you hoping to grow your traffic? Your conversion rate? Your profit margin? Your brand awareness?

Now you may be saying “Yes! I want all of those!” but I’m going to stop you right there—because by focusing on allllllllllll the things, you're already sabotaging your success. #letsbehonest

In fact, that lack of focus probably has A LOT to do with why you're not making the $$$ now-- because you're trying to do too many things all at once-- and doing a pretty crappy job at all of them. 

So instead of running circles around your business trying to do #allthethings, I want you to use each quarter to focus on ONE GOAL. That’s right—just one goal every 3 months. This doesn’t mean the rest of your goals aren’t important—it just means that you’re going to focus the bulk of your efforts on making this one goal come to realization. And then next quarter, you can switch it up to a different goal.

So for the purpose of this blog post, I'm going to use an example goal of growing my Etsy shop traffic.

Now I want you to notice that the goal I listed above is better than just "grow my business" as a goal, but it's still not great.

And that's because there’s no measurable outcome attached to it—and that measurable outcome is very important to actually achieving your goal because it leaves little "wiggle room" for interpretation.

Because if you say "I want to grow my business," you could get 10 more followers/day and even though you could consider that a win, it probably isn't going to do a lot for your bottom line. 

And is that helpful for your overall business growth? NO.  

But if you said something like "I want to grow my business from 5,000 to 30,000 views/month," then you've now got a measurable outcome and it will be a yes/no outcome on whether you achieve it or not. 

So take whatever goal you wrote above and now quantify it and turn it into a measurable outcome. 

Example: I want grow my Etsy shop traffic to 30,000 views/month

And there you have it—your quarterly business goal.

Step 2: Brainstorm ways to get there

As anyone knows, putting your goal out into the universe is great, but you need to have a plan on how you’re actually going to get there (hint: wishful thinking is not the answer I'm looking for here ;).

This is usually one of the harder parts for Etsy shop owners because there are--literally-- so many things that they could be doing at any given moment that it's hard to know where to start.

So they do a little of all of it. Try a few things out, don't see immediate results, give up, and try something new. 

Over and over and over and over again. 

Ringing any bells?? ;)

Here's my two cents about that: If you implement random strategies with random effectiveness, you're only ever going to make random sales. 

No matter what goal you set for yourself in Step 1, "randomness" is not the answer.

So let's get deliberate. 

I'm now going to make a list of things that I could possibly do that would help me reach my goal. 

But I don't want this to be any old list-- because putting things down like "post more on Instagram!" is vague and ineffective. Something like "post 4x/week on Instagram" would be a much better goal. 

But better yet-- write down ideas that are targeted towards an ideal customer you have in mind.

So in my recurring example, I made a goal to increase my traffic to 30,000 views/month. Now let's say that the product I sell is travel-inspired art prints (always trying to come up with new ideas besides baby headbands, ha ha!). Here is a list I've brainstormed of different strategies I could do to help increase my views and get me up to 30,000 views/month:

  • Get an article/product featured in an online travel website
  • Interact + comment on travel forums
  • Create a daily pinning schedule customized to my target market and stick to it
  • Create blog content that features items from my shop + links to them
  • Create product roundup blog posts featuring my items
  • Include direct links to my shop in all my social media profiles
  • Run targeted FB ads to lookalike audiences
  • Host a social sharing contest/giveaway
  • Launch a new product line
  • etc.

This list will be long. It SHOULD be long because I want you to list down alllllll the ideas you have and just brain dump it all out on paper. Plan on listing AT LEAST 10 ideas in this step of the exercise. You won't have to act on all of them-- but you do need to get them all out there on paper.  

Now you may be saying, "But I don't actually know what strategies will bring me 30,000 views/month!" and that's totally normal. We're not addressing that just yet. Right now we're just putting all of our ideas out there. Every single one.

Step 3: Pick 3-5 strategies to focus on

Once you’ve got a very specific list of ideas on how you could possibly increase your traffic up to 30,000 views/month (for this example, at least!), it’s time narrow down your list and pick 3-5 strategies to actually implement. 

How do you know which ones to pick?

Well, there's where it gets a bit tricky...

  • If you’re an active marketer of your shop, you probably know what strategies already work for your shop—and that’s great! Use that knowledge to DO MORE of the things that are working and scale the growth of your business. This is hands-down the FASTEST way to reach your goals. 
     
  • If you’ve never done a lick of marketing in your life, I want you to pick 3 marketing strategies from your list and try them out. And I don’t just mean for 2-3 days and then give up—no, I want you to commit to them for the entire quarter. You NEED those month-to-month statistics to evaluate what’s working.

To help with this, you're going to want to assign certain numbers to each of these strategies. 

So, for example, let's say I picked the following tasks:

  • Host a social sharing contest/giveaway w/brand reps
  • Launch a new product line
  • Interact + comment on travel forums
  • Create product roundup blog posts featuring my items

Because my goal is to reach 30,000 views/month, I need to ballpark where those numbers are actually coming from (because they obviously have to come from somewhere!). 

  • Host a social sharing contest/giveaway w/brand reps (10,000 monthly views)
  • Launch a new product line (10,000 monthly views)
  • Interact + comment on travel forums (2,000 monthly views)
  • Create product roundup blog posts featuring my items (8,000 monthly views)

Now, if this is your first time doing this, you won't know what those exact numbers are. THAT'S OKAY. The reason why we're doing this is not so much to try and guess the effectiveness of our marketing strategies as it is to make sure that you've picked strategies that are actually reasonable for achieving that goal. 

Step 4: Create an editorial calendar

Now that you have a few marketing strategies you’ll be focusing on in the next few months, it’s time to map everything out on a calendar to keep you on track. Remember—there’s nothing that can derail a shop faster than willy-nilly marketing without intention. If you’re going to put all the time and effort into planning out your revenue and marketing your shop, I want you to make sure it’s worth your time!

So take the different marketing strategies you’ll be utilizing and break them down one step further. If you’ve chosen the strategies:

  • Host a social sharing contest/giveaway
  • Launch a new product line
  • Interact + comment on travel forums
  • Create product roundup blog posts featuring my items

…you now need to schedule in their execution.

For example, “Host a social sharing contest/giveaway” may mean that you need to:

  1. Decide on a contest prize
  2. Set up a contest landing page + email collection form
  3. Make a list of possible brand reps to help spread the word
  4. Install social sharing buttons
  5. Create a social media campaign
  6. Write out a follow-up email sequence
  7. etc. etc. 

Each of those steps needs to be scheduled into your editorial calendar on the appropriate timeline to keep you on track for reaching your goal (you can use an online management program like Asana for this or even Google Calendar).

You're going to do this step-by-step breakdown for each of the strategies on your list to create an EXACT plan of how you’re going to accomplish things and aren’t working off vagueness ;)

Step 5: Execute

The hardest step of the whole process, ha ha! Execution is the make it or break it part of your strategy. Because while you can plan marketing strategy circles around your competitors, if you aren’t actually doing the work and executing (curse that blasted research and development stage!), you’re never going to make any progress.

..So get to work! Start implementing the tasks you've written out on your editorial calendar, giving yourself plenty of time to do so (hint: hustling the day of usually isn't the best approach to making this successful...sharing personal experience, here ;)

Step 6: Evaluate and review

Once you’ve neared the end of the quarter and have poured your little heart into reaching your quarterly goal, it’s time to evaluate and review the past 3 months (and not just because they might have been the longest 3 months of your life ;).

First things first—did you reach your goal? Did you come close? Give yourself credit for however far you’ve come since you started—even if you didn’t quite reach your goal.

Now it’s time to sit down and figure out what worked out well (yay!), what was a total flop (sigh…), and what you are going to do differently next quarter.  I recommend writing this down in a notebook or a Google doc that you can look back whenever you need to. 

While you're evaluating and reflecting, if you’ve found out that one of your strategies worked REALLY well at driving traffic, then I want you to DO MORE OF THAT. If it didn't work? Feel free to ditch it (seriously). 

So maybe creating product roundup posts on our blog worked out really well at driving traffic. Awesome! Do more of those!

But maybe hosting a contest/giveaway flopped hard and your ego is still a little bruised. It sucks, but now you know what NOT to do and can either ditch that idea completely or give it a (smarter!) makeover based off of what you learned and try again.

The most important thing is that once you’ve found something that works for you and your audience, KEEP DOING IT. Remember—you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every single time. That’s why you’ll see businesses host the same promotion every single year, or become a regular collaborator with a specific blog—they’ve found what works for them and they’re going to continue doing it.

That first year of business? It’s all about experimenting. Are you going to fail? Yup, almost certainly (and if you don’t ever fail, please share your secrets!). But stop looking at failure as a sign to give up—it’s not. It’s a chance to learn a lesson and approach things differently the next time.

So get to work—start planning out your quarterly goals and execution and see where you end up 3 months from now.

And be sure to keep me posted :)

xoxo, Morgan