As the last few days of 2012 wind down, it is a good time to take stock of what I accomplished this past year, both professionally and personally.
2012 Business Wrap-up for Bags of a Feather
- Sales were all over the place- May and November were some of my best months ever. I also went a very long 54 days in June and July with ZERO sales. There were several periods during the year where I seriously considered shutting down the business for good, but decided to persevere instead.
- After 3 years, a lot of time and effort, and Twitter and Facebook promotion, I decided to close my ArtFire shop and concentrate on etsy. The traffic and sales on ArtFire were steadily dropping off, and I had a very long stretch of more than 5 months with no sales at all. I spent hours and hours re-writing my titles, descriptions, and putting captions on my product images, without any returns on my investment of time. I had 2 buyers who first bought from me on ArtFire in November, and then signed up for etsy and bought a couple of very large orders from my etsy shop.
- Two of my local retail outlets did not work out. One very good location decided to close her storefront, but I later met with her at her new role as a gift shop manager at a local hospital gift shop, and she purchased some of my products to sell there. I did pick up another local consignment outlet which looks very promising.
- I only did one craft show all year, and it was not worth it. It was a show at the assisted-living place where my mother-in-law moved to in July. I made up some walker or wheelchair bags and did not sell a single one. This is the same place that wanted to pay me $3.00 to come in and hem a pair of pants for the residents if I offered sewing or seamstress services. The going rate at a dry cleaners or tailor shop is $12-14, so that did not work out.
- I came up with an original design for a jewelry pouch with an anti-tarnish inner pocket to store silver jewelry and keep it from tarnishing. I started offering this design in November and did quite well with it. I plan to tweak the design and offer more options in the coming weeks.
- I joined a great team on etsy, and the support and advice from the team members has been invaluable. Some really good advice on tags, and writing search-friendly descriptions, and how to promote effectively. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes makes a huge difference.
Other Events in 2012
- I signed up to be the Springfield Sewing Examiner for examiner.com, and wrote 56 articles from February to December of 2012. Most of the articles are either product reviews, local artisan profiles, fabric slideshows, and local quilt shop events and classes. This is a great opportunity to promote local fabric artisans and quilters.
- We moved my 94-year-old mother-in-law to an assisted living facility 20 minutes away from us. This involved a lot of travel, setting up new doctors, dentists, etc, and other arrangements. Since I am not working, I have become her primary assistant for laundry, shopping, appointments, etc.
- I am still searching for a part-time job to fill in the financial gaps. My goal is to make enough from my business to pay for more than just the essentials, but that is still a long ways away (if ever).
Overall, it was a year of ups and downs, and adapting to the economic climate as well as family priorities. I think that it went pretty well, all things considered.