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I have a confession to make. In the last month, I hit crafter rock bottom with my Etsy shop. After months of preparing small promotional campaigns and larger ones, such as logacat, I got a huge and naively unexpected return over the holidays. I was unprepared.

Throughout November and December, Etsy orders rolled in daily. For a custom seller like myself, this can quickly snowball. With even one back-ordered custom portrait on my plate, I feel the pressure of time. I never imagined having 4 or 6 or 25 on my plate at the same time. I can comfortably create one custom pet portrait in an evening after work, but I did not imagine that I would have a backlog of 3 weeks of evenings filled with working on custom portraits, and yet, that is what happened from early November through mid-January.

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As a result of this wonderful holiday season, I hit complete burnout. I removed listings from my shop, took a few weekends off from all drawing or shop activity, and took a few weeks off from this blog. This is a response that I do not want to repeat, and in the weeks since Christmas I’ve been reworking prices and reexamining the structure of my shop to see what I can do to continue GoodAfternoonan’s growth while maintaining a balance in my life. I don’t want to lose the enjoyment around drawing animals, and I don’t want to give up marketing either because I really enjoy displaying my work.

I’m still not positive about how I’ll grow GoodAfternoonan, but I do know I need to do a few things right now to get on track for a very different year in 2014. These are the changes I’m making right now to avoid burnout.

Shelve Custom Orders

For the time being, I’ve deactivated all custom pet portrait listings in my Etsy shop. Part of what overwhelmed me over the holiday rush was that every order was a custom request. I set my shop up that way because that is what sold the most, but I have spent a great deal of time recently thinking about ready to ship inventory. I want to go in that direction in my shop. In order to develop that inventory, I have to put the custom listings on hold, at least for now, while I design and start making new items. This is why the shop is slowly being rebuilt with dog breed button packs.

Structured Saturdays

I usually spend a good portion of both Saturday and Sunday “working” on my shop. Working includes a lot of time thinking as well. I’m probably guiltier than most of allowing myself to become distracted on the internet during the weekends. I’ve decided to remove Sundays from working on my shop and force myself to truly use all of the time that I have on Saturday instead of wasting a lot of it with mindless browsing. To do this, I will structure my Saturdays as a full GoodAfternoonan workday. This means starting the day with a shower and breakfast before sitting down in my studio. I will no longer stretch the morning in PJs into the afternoon. Symbolically I must turn my Saturday shop workday into something more professional and get more sh*t done.

Learn to say No

Perhaps it’s less about learning to say no and simply more about forcing myself to say no. I am going to have to decide to pass on some of the opportunities that come my way this year in order to get my shop to a balanced place. I want to grow the shop, but for the time being, I’ve decided to say no to trying to do wholesale. Once I’ve built up more product lines, I will revisit this, but for now I’m not even going to research the possibility anymore. That research has become ripe with internet-browsing procrastination. Right now I am just saying no.

3 Comments on Burnout, Confessions of a Crafter

  1. Totally understand and appreciate your honesty here! It’s one of the reasons why I’ve now made my blog the main focus of my promotional activities, as I simply don’t have the time to run a super successful shop (and don’t want to sacrifice work). I’m busy enough doing 3 custom orders a week and the occasional postcard sale. It’s what keeps me happy. I definitely admire people who grow and get to quit their day job, but I love my day job and need that balance (but it’s harrrrrd!!!). Thanks for sharing and LOVE your work.

    • Right. It’s really hard. I have to believe there is a formula that can work for my shop to continue to gain more success along with keeping a successful full-time job. I am determined to find that secret formula. I’ll let you know results when I figure them out haha.

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