Welcome to episode 13 of Etsy Jam! In this episode, we are joined by Kelly from FitFizz. Kelly is a graphic designer and power lifter who is focused on being able to one day sell on Etsy full time. She shares some fantastic information about how she keeps herself motivated to be “all in” on her endeavors, how she stays focused on the things that truly matter and what her biggest surprise has been since she started selling on Etsy.
What is FitFizz?
My shop is FitFizz and I sell fitness items. I know there are a lot of fitness shops already out there on Etsy that sell t-shirts and handmade jewelries. My little spin on it is that since I’m a power lifter, a lot of my things are more based on strength so you’re not going to see bodybuilding things about like “Hey, check out my 6 pack!” but it’s more like being strong.
FitFizz started as a Facebook page just to help my friends with motivational fitness stuff. I just started posting quotes and I also designed cute little things that I felt were inspiring just for my friends and it grew from there. I had that since 2012, and it wasn’t until 2016 that I focused on making some money off of that.
I plan to hopefully be able to take on Etsy full time. Luckily I have the flexibility and time; I am able to build and build and build. That’s where I’m at right now. It also has its challenges because I can’t work on FitFizz during the day. Only at night and on the weekends.
Tell us more about your career as a Graphics Designer.
Right now I work for a big marketing corporation and my main client are two big automotive companies. I design their emails and mainly lots of production work. Before that, I came from a packaging design background and also publishing (print designs). I’ve worked on a lot of different things and it’s been about 20 years. I’ve been burned out in this corporate life for quite some time now and I’ve come to realize that it’s because I’m in this creative job – but I don’t get to be creative. It’s killing my spirit and that’s when I knew that I need to do something for myself.
Why do you do what you do?
I love doing the products that are mainly for power lifters because that’s my personal passion but I also don’t want to leave behind the people who might be 150 lbs. overweight that are scared to go to the gym because they think someone’s going to make fun of them. I want to motivate those people and I want to make them feel included. Fitness is not just for people who compete – it’s for everybody. I love it when people say “We’re going to the gym because we’re training for life.” That applies to everybody. I have power lifting products and also products that can be for anybody because I think some people are scared to work out because they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re scared to even take the first step. I want to have things that those people will feel good about, too.
Getting started with Etsy, is that something your sister Erica (AvalonSunshine) encouraged you with?
I wanted a line of fitness greeting cards but I never knew what to do with it or how I’m going to sell them. I tried making a few handmade ones and selling them here and there. She (Erica) was always talking about Etsy and she started her own shop – it evolved and now she’s being successful with it. At that time, I loved it and I like the platform but I didn’t think there is room for me on Etsy.
I’ve always loved crafting but I didn’t really know what am I gonna make. Being a graphic designer I do things on the computer. I also thought fitness people are not shopping on Etsy until I really looked into it and found out that they do! Then I saw how my sister had her die-cut machine and I saw her using the vinyl to make pillows and then the wheel started turning more. I realized that I could use that machine on t-shirts and it evolved from there.
What advice can you share with other people that are just starting on Etsy?
What got me here to have this chat with you guys was finding Marmalead! The SEO on Etsy is so important and when I was getting started, I saw these weird listing titles and I was like “Why are people labeling their stuff this way?” Then my sister gave me a brief rundown of what she’s learned and the how-to of Etsy SEO and after that, she pointed me to Marmalead. After that I was like “OMG, this is the missing piece!” and it became more and more relevant to me that SEO is so critical. Then it really started making a lot more sense.
At that point too, using Marmalead was fun for me because I love nitpicky details and studying statistics etc. I had fun and I’m still not done using it. I could now get into the groove and be more confident about my shop.
Related: How Etsy Search Works
Have you tried spreading out to other platforms other than Etsy?
My focus has really been Etsy but I also love Instagram. I do think it’s important to build an audience there especially because I sell a physical product. Imagery is important and Instagram is all about images. Plus, having a pretty decent following in the fitness community in my personal account helps and a lot of people have been supportive enough by following my business account.
I love Instagram but a lot of my focus has been on Etsy, I feel like I still don’t have nearly as strong of a grasp as I plan to.
What does your process look like in doing your product photos?
I’m totally comfortable with editing because I’ve done that in the graphic design world. I did have some photography classes as part of my requirement for my degree. My dad was actually a photographer and he taught me a lot. So right now I have a lightbox and a kit I bought on Amazon. I would love to have a professional camera in the future but I’m just using my iPhone for now. I usually just have to brighten it up or balance the colors a little bit.
Also, I found out that since my items are reflective – it makes photography a little more challenging. I have all sorts of crazy things rigged up in my lightbox and I had to hide my tripod and my phone from reflecting. But it’s fun, I like these kind of stuff even if they take time.
What got you into fitness and powerlifting?
My high school dance team was very important to me but when I started college, I missed it so I started teaching fitness classes instead. Eventually, through the years I felt like I needed more challenge in the fitness world and I decided to enter a bodybuilding contest. I don’t know if you’re familiar with bodybuilding shows but there is a category called ‘bikini’ where basically you don’t have to have very big muscle mass but you just have to get very lean. I competed in that but I actually didn’t like how it made me feel. Even though I was very lean and you can see muscle, I felt really skinny like somebody could just push me over!
I always had friends who are power lifters and they kept nudging me until I trained with them. Then I fell in love with it! So I’ve been doing powerlifting for about 2 and a half years now.
With all your experience with Etsy, what would you say your biggest surprise?
I would say I’m surprised by how much I’m getting found! Honestly, it is possible to get found. I know a lot of people struggle with that but if you take the steps and work on what you know you should do to improve – then it’s possible.
When I look at my competitors on Etsy, I see really cool stuff out there. There’s a lot of really really good stuff. When I look at them I go “Wow, they really have their stuff together, they know what they’re doing, and they’re probably making tons of money!” and then I get little alerts on my phone when someone favorites my product and I’m like “Oh! People are finding me! That’s pretty cool!”
How do you decide what is worth your time and what might not be worth your time?
I am always analytical with things. I’ve literally made a mental system for myself because when I started my shop, I subscribed to everything, became part of every group, and then I started realizing that this is too much; this is taking away my productivity. So with my emails, if I get 5 emails from somebody that I signed up for and I don’t care about any of them… that’s a sign for me to unsubscribe. I don’t want to be mean – I like to be supportive but you do have to clear out that noise. It’s so important.
I was spending so much time on Periscope watching business coaches… but what am I actually doing? I felt bad unsubscribing but I stayed subscribed to the ones that I really like and I also turned off my notifications. I feel bad I don’t watch their Periscopes anymore. They are there when I feel like I have spare time but to be honest – it just doesn’t happen. And that’s okay because I’m being productive and that’s what matters right now.
Something that you would recommend that other sellers should shy away from? Mistakes that they can avoid?
I think a mistake I was tending to make when I was starting out was – wanting to take everybody’s advice from friends and family that didn’t even understand my vision. You don’t have to take the advice that everyone’s gonna throw at you when you’re starting a business. Because people who don’t even understand what you’re trying to do are going like “You should do this!”, “You should do that!” and you don’t have to listen to them.