We chat with Jenni from FuzzyAndBirch, FuzzyAndBirchWedding and TattoosByFuzzy. Jenni talks about her batch strategy using Marmalead, seasonality, Brexit, systems she uses to stay on track, massive flooding, her method for finding shop helpers, the weather, and her new Etsy course called “The Path to 1k.”
Tell us the story of how you came up with your shop name
Originally, I was going to sell photography because me and my husband take photographs. I wanted to call it “Fuzzy and Lumberjack Photography” because my husband looks like a giant homo-slumberjack! So I sat down and I thought about it and realized it was pretty long so I decided to drop the “Lumberjack Photography”. I kept the “Fuzzy” and my favorite tree is a birch tree so I added that on and it turned into “Fuzzy and Birch”.
How to Balance Time
I compartmentalize my businesses from each other. So Etsy is one business, the blog is another; and I kinda look at my personal life as another thing that I have to do that’s kinda like a business.
I used to be a hot mess. But I didn’t have any epiphany moment. I just realized that “Okay, I need to rejig this”. What I ended up doing is:
- I wake up in the morning and I fulfill my orders. Right now I’m using fulfillment for my mugs because after the BuzzFeed thing, I decided that maybe it’s time for fulfillment.
- I get on Etsy, on Amazon, on notonthehighstreet, and all the other places I sell.
- I print out all my invoices
- I print out all all my custom tattoos
- I do all my customer service stuff and;
- I go ahead and get them ready to be sent out for the day. I have a mailman who comes at around 3PM which is great because I don’t have to waste an hour going to the city.
I wake up between 7 and 8 depending on how lazy I am the day before. That will usually take me sometime between 11 and noon to get that done. So now I am at the point where I can stop, I can eat lunch, I can make food, I can sit in front of the television and be a pointless human being for 20 minutes and then I will switch gears and work on the blog. I basically divided my day in half and that has allowed me to run two businesses at once.
What’s your method for finding shop helpers?
Students are great. You know you can rely on them because they go to class and they show up on time. They understand the value of a job. Some days I’ll need a person and some days I won’t. For example, a product launch for the blog – I won’t be able to fulfill orders that week and I will do nothing but blog that weekend. Someone will come in for me during those days so even though I’m here, they will still fulfill those orders for me.
Students are great because I am showing them how I have built myself a business. A lot of students especially in business and marketing schools ~ that sort of experience is invaluable to them.
How do you deal with different seasons?
It’s definitely effective to have multiple shops to fill those gaps in income. My shops go slow depending on seasons and having multiple shops and multiple product lines smooths out those slow months. The other thing about tattoos is that they are ‘festival fashion’. Marmalead gave me that tag! I tagged everything with that and it just went nuts!
Basically we do a lot of work on the tattoos in the summer and then family tattoos for the winter. But I will say that tattoos don’t do as well in the winter as my home decors do. So we’re basically taking the seasons and filling the gaps which is great. It’s really nice because you don’t have to worry every month.
This is also the reason why I sell on Amazon Handmade and notonthehighstreet. Because even storefronts have different seasons and things will be popular in different ones. I think it’s a part of an Etsy strategy to diversify just enough that you get those extra income streams but not so much that you’re completely overwhelmed. The great thing about Marmalead is that the tags that the app gives me are very effective on those other platforms too. The only thing I have to adjust for is notonthehighstreet since it’s a British platform. I have to search for British terms and do the British spellings. While Marmalead is very effective on Amazon Handmade.
Do you have a stand-alone shop?
I do have a stand alone website, it’s on Shopify. As an ex-SEO consultant I moderately hate it because you’re driving traffic to all these different places. In order to really do well, the best thing to do is to focus on driving all your traffic into one place. I do that with Etsy. Notonthehighstreet takes care of itself, Amazon Handmade takes care of itself. Etsy doesn’t.
Etsy is the one that I focus on driving traffic to and a lot of the people that work with me on the blog – I say to them; “If you are not ready to have a website yet or if you don’t want to maintain it, buy yourself a domain name, like fuzzyandbirch.com and redirect it to your Etsy shop.” That way you can tell people that “You can find me on fuzzyandbirch.com!” and when they go there, your Etsy shop pops up.
What are the systems that you use?
One of the things I do as a very busy person is that if I’m doing something either an email or on Etsy; once it’s opened and I touched it, my rule is I have to complete it. A lot of busy people have a rule that says if it takes more than 20 minutes – you won’t do it. Well, I kinda have the opposite.
I’m only going to be in my inbox once or twice a day because otherwise, I’ll drown. So if I’m on my emails, I’m going to touch it once, finish it and get on with my life. That has been very effective in terms of customer service for me since we do so much stuff and we get a lot of conversations every single day. So I really want to make sure everyone gets answered on time and in order to do that, sometimes I just need to sit down and space a time in the morning and one at night to go through all the customer service stuff. That makes you feel very streamlined.
It makes a huge difference throughout the day. That system is what gives me the time to sit down and write for the blog, develop a program, or create a new line of products in the afternoon.
What I also do with my time is I do all the Etsy stuff in the morning and do all the blog stuff in the afternoon.
I do all my morning stuff from 8AM to about 12PM and I’ll just block all distractions off at once and during that time – it’s like nothing else exist. I do that because I’ve learned that fulfillment can get out of hand really quickly at any time. I purposely want to make that the beginning part of my day so that I have the time for the second half of my day and do the blog. Write articles, plan products, do sort of things that I need to do on anything big, and just generally go through and make sure that everything is functioning correctly.
Myths that you fell for when you first started out:
I have keyword stuffed my titles. I thought that was really effective but based on how Google works, it’s actually the first few lines of the descriptions and the tags themselves that I think matters. So I’ve been gradually fixing some of them. I originally think it was making a difference but now, I don’t think that keyword stuffing your title makes any real difference.
The other thing I fell for hard when I first started was “The more products you have, the more you will sell”. So when I first started out, I was a digital download art print shop and I made 5 new prints per day for about 3 months until I had over 500 products. As you’ll see with any Etsy shop, there’s always items that are more popular and the rest of their items are just fillers. If you look at your stats in Etsy for the individual listings, you can see how many people are viewing what.
Now I’m at a point where I think I had 500 digital downloads and I only have 50 now. Those are the ones that sell constantly.
A Thousand True Fans
People think that a thousand people is not that many but you know if you can get a thousand people on your mailing list or get a thousand people in your Facebook Group or whatever it is that you’re doing, you have a huge community there. It’s clear that you have something that’s viable and important to people. That’s why so many people say “Get your first 1k subscribers!” and when you got your first thousand – you know who you are as an online personality and you know where you’re going. That feeling is so amazing but getting there is absolute hell.
It’s totally worth it when you get there because everything gets easier. It’s just so nice to have people that support you and you support them too.
Your First 1k on Etsy
I’m launching a course right now and it’s called Your First 1k on Etsy. It’s all about the tactics that you can use to make your first thousand dollars on Etsy. My logic is this; When I first started on Etsy, it was that first thousand dollars that was really just awfully difficult to get. This course takes you past all that awkward stuff and shows you the things that if I had told myself when I started a year and a half ago, would have made me succeed much faster and would have made me waste a lot less time.
The course basically walks you through how to do all those things and what you need to do to get that first 1k. At the end, my logic is once you made your first 1k, you can make 10k, you can make 20k. Once you get the ball rolling, it becomes easier. You can turn this into a full time job that is worth quitting a day job over. On the blog you’ll see the webinar that Richie and I did – talking about the course and one of the major things in there is that we offer a 14-day free trial of Marmalead because it’s a huge part of your first 1k on Etsy.
One of the reasons I chose to include Marmalead was because when I opened my second shop FuzzyAndBirchWedding, I made my first sale in 4 days vs. my other shop where it took 30 days to make a single sale! The only thing I did differently between the two shops is that one used Marmalead and the other did not (because I did not know Marmalead during that time) and I would say that’s a pretty strong evidence that it was a huge asset.
I encourage you guys to have a look around the blog and see if it’s for you. There is a webinar replay available for free so you can watch it and see what’s in the course!