Handmade by Holchester has just turned 3 months old. In some ways it’s gone really quickly, but in others it hasn’t at all! I guess it’s because I had it all going on so much in my head for months before that its ‘birthday’ seems a bit arbitrary. It is totally different in every way to when I had Tigger!
My first three months has included a few sales which has been great and although I haven’t been run off my feet with orders, it’s been great validation having people I don’t know see something I’ve made and like it enough to spend their money on it. And with Christmas and New Year too I don’t think I’d have coped with too many either!
January was a slow month, but I was expecting that, and it was a great opportunity for me to get to grips with what direction I want my products to go in and improve what’s available already.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt in my first three months though is just how much information is available out in the big wide world. It’s overwhelming! There are so many free, knowledge sharing and community building initiatives it’s been both wonderful inspiration and incredibly daunting. During January I took part in a 30 day social media challenge, run by Kirsty Bartholomew from The Crafty Mentor, which was designed to encourage and help small creative businesses get to grips with the main 4 social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. While I would consider myself ok with social media on a personal level, operating them for business is different and it was a really valuable 30 days and just incredible that it was offered for free. Handmade by Holchester is on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram (click for links) and although we’re not ready to implement everything Kirsty discussed I’m really looking forward to building on them over the rest of this year.
Towards the end of January I also started participating in Etsy Resolution 2016, which is still ongoing. Another free initiative, this time run by Etsy itself, the seller community participating and the expert input has been fantastic and although I’m not the most active in the community I have been reading all the posts and commenting/helping when I can. And when I have asked questions or asked for comments/opinions the support really has been fantastic. What has come out is a need for us as seller’s, not only to market ourselves better, but also the Etsy platform as a whole. If you’ve not visited it before I would highly recommend it as the range of products available really is staggering. It’s similar in some ways to NotontheHighStreet.com but it does not have the same level of curatorship which I personally see as a good thing, especially if you’re looking for something a bit different or unique!
And all this information is before I’ve even really started reading the masses of blog posts around or started more local networking with other maker/designers and businessmums from whom I could also learn so much.
It’s not been a surprise that there’s a wealth of information out there or learning for me to do. What I wasn’t expecting though was how much of it was going to be free and so applicable to me, nor the community spirit that there is out there. I may have set up on my own but I’m certainly not alone out there!