Seems like every day, on every social media site as well as on television programs, there are ads for a wide of variety of part-time jobs that are referred to as a “side hustle.” Whether it is driving for Uber, or walking the neighbors’ dogs, mystery shopping, ghost writing, pet grooming, personal chef services, or about a million and one other ways to generate a bit of money “on the side.” I guess that why it is called a “side hustle,” but that description initially made me think it was something a little bit “shady.” If you know what I mean. But since I’ve been reading up on this whole phenomenon recently, I’ve discovered that there really are quite a few ways to pick up some extra cash for your family. With a bit of imagination and a whole lot of determination, I think it could work for you, too.
There are lots of places to get ideas so that’s not really what I wanted to write about today . . . just do a bit of research on “side hustle” and you’ll pull up a ton of websites with great ideas as well as links to specific sites you might want to check out. For me, personally, I’ve been working on updating my Etsy shops for the past few weeks, and have a ways to go before I get them the way I want them to be, but I’ll tell you (just in case you are or have ever thought about running an online boutique / shop or Etsy store), it is WAY different now than it was ten years ago when I opened my first Etsy shop.
Back in the day when Etsy was a fairly new concept for handmade artisans to offer their creations for sale online, it didn’t take much to get a few sales. I would sew up some cute outfits for my girls to model, offer them as custom-made orders in whatever size the customer requested, and BOOM! I would make a sale. I didn’t really need to do any promotion or advertising, there wasn’t a lot of competition, and lots of mamas loved my beautiful children’s boutique clothing.
Well, that has definitely changed in the past few years. For one thing, a whole bunch of the millions of listings on Etsy now are not actually “hand made.” Millions of sellers have flooded the marketplace with tons of items that are sourced from overseas, selling at prices that those of us who still make things by hand (translated: lots of time, energy, effort and love go into each of our creations), so it has become very difficult to compete and succeed in that environment.
Not to worry, though (I suppose), because there is still a market for hand crafted items that are truly appreciated for their intrinsic value of being created with love and unique qualities that cannot be duplicated by mass-produced products. But it is definitely much harder to find your “perfect customer” in the sea of online shoppers.
My original Etsy shop, mamas*little*treasures, was specifically for children’s handcrafted boutique clothing. As my girls grew up and I no longer had “little” models and I became involved with lots of the other stuff of life when you have growing children, I moved into creating refashioned and vintage clothing with my second Etsy shop, Tatters to Treasures, mostly for women, but occasionally I would still create pretty garments for children. But then the whole business of very restrictive requirements for selling children’s clothing came along and I just couldn’t keep up with all of the rules, so that went by the wayside.
Over the past six years or so, I’ve had great fun creating refashioned garments, “making new stuff out of old stuff, one creation at a time,” and found that there is a target market for unique, handcrafted, refashioned and upcycled clothing for women. But with all of the other realities of life, I was just not able to keep my Etsy shops up-to-date (and I eventually only sold ebook patterns for my children’s designs at mamas*little*treasures instead of actual garments), and they’ve just kind of been sitting there, making a sale here and there, but nothing consistent for about a year now.
I don’t know if running an online shop would be for you, if you are interested in having a “side hustle,” but there are a great many resources available to help us navigate the waters of competition for that “target market.” One of the communities of artisans that I have discovered that has been really helpful as I am updating my own online presence is “Flourish.” It is a community of creatives and makers who sincerely want to help, support, and encourage one another in our home-based, online businesses.
If you are struggling or confused or just plain ol’ annoyed that it is such a mess out there in Etsy-land, I would encourage you to check out “Flourish” on their website “The Joyful Entrepreneur” as well as their Facebook group The Joyful Marketplace HERE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thejoyfulmarketplace/ Yes, there is a membership fee, but the resources that are available to you are amazing and everyone in the group is so willing to help, answer questions, and offer support and encouragement to keep you focused on building your business.
So for now, I continue to keep working a little bit every day on updating my NEW Etsy shop, Ruby Threads Studio. I am having my banner and logo updated and I am updating all of my listings for refashioned and vintage clothing and accessories, and I am looking forward to getting back out into my sewing studio to make some fun, new designs for autumn and winter. One of my best-sellers has always been my patchwork sweaters, so I will definitely be creating more of them in the next week or so. I have sold every patchwork sweater I have ever made, so I think that is a good place to focus!
What’s YOUR “side hustle?” Do you have something that works for you? Have you ever tried Etsy and what was your experience? If you are just getting started and want to check out an Etsy shop, be sure to look into the resources available from “Flourish” and “The Joyful Entrepreneur.” I would love to hear your ideas of what has worked for you in your “side hustle!”