Are you walking around with an entrepreneur in your belly? Want to start on your own but can’t quite figure out how or where you would find the time? I give you an honest, no holds barred, review of my first year of earning money online. It is not mindblowing, it is not in the thousands of dollars range, but it does sow seeds of hope that this might one day grow into a substantial income stream.
To start 2019 off clean I am doing a review on how my little Etsy sidehustle business has been going. I know I only started my shop back in March 2018, but I prefer to stick to yearly reports. It makes it so much easier down the line.
I would also point out that Etsy changed their payments and billing system back in October 2018, so detailed numbers from March to October are lacking. But I can still provide an impression of the growth.
If you are new to the blog, you can find my etsy shop over here, called Frugasaurus Vault. You can also find previous instalments in my experiments to achieve employer independence here:
If you have kept up with the log, you will know that it was only the last two updates in which I made the switch to a digital experiment. Prior to this I experimented with cold-process soap making. A lot of fun, but I found it difficult to carve the time required to not only make soap but also to do marketing and other aspects of a physical business.
A physical business also meant I had to be home or with my stock in order to package and ship it. Going digital would make it easier for me to work on bits and pieces wherever I happened to be. Be that travelling for work, visiting friends or family or travelling for longer stretches of time as Mr. Frugasaurus and myself intend to at least try after my current work contract ends.
It has also proven to be a lot of fun. Creating something digital with no tangible proof of the time spent on it – and then start to see people actually paying for that time and work? Of course, I know people pay for digital items and services all the time. I have bought many a game and software package in my time. But I was always a child who revelled in physical crafts. Such as drawing, knitting, sewing, sculpting and wood carving. I have still not managed to transition my joy of drawing from physical sketchbook and pencils to drawing tablet and digital program.
Seeing someone actually pay real money for digital bytes and designs I built has felt empowering. And the best part is that with Etsy I was making money from the start.
In Frugasaurus Vault I have made mainly financial goal trackers of different kinds. Big and small, editable and not. As anyone, I started with some fairly simple ones and slowly built up towards larger, editable pdf pieces. Because I like to work with nice, round numbers (and I figure many other people work the same way), a large proportion of what I make has divided the goal into 100 increments, making it easy to do percentage of the goal as you go along.
I have also made some no-spend trackers and other fun things. Over the holidays I have been knitting long thigh-high socks (gotta keep them hands busy!), and since I make up my own patterns, I thought I would try to branch out and upload that once I finish and get some photographs.
I currently have 52 listings in my shop, and my goal for 2019 is to pass 100 listings through regular or semi-regular publishing. Etsy algorithms reward you for adding new listings, something I’ve definitely noticed over the holidays when I’ve had the time to make a handful of new listings after a 3 month radio silence:
One thing to be aware of when working with digital downloads is that you’re quite often in the lower price range on Etsy, as a rule. That means Etsy is going to take a larger chunk of your profits through their fees, especially the fixed ones, such as the listing fee. Other fees are a percentage of your sales price (special offers do not count into this), which is worth taking into consideration when pricing and selling things you make.
Pst. Want a boost when you set up your own shop? Use this link, and we both get 40 free listings!
With that aside, here are the numbers from 2018:
|March||4||34 NOK||22.60 NOK||11.4 NOK ($1.5)|
|April||7||90 NOK||27.4 NOK||62.6 NOK ($7)|
|May||7||149 NOK||30.39 NOK||118.61 NOK ($12)|
|June||8||131 NOK||30.46 NOK||100.54 NOK ($11)|
|July||17||423 NOK||59.43 NOK||363.57 NOK ($39)|
|August||18||415 NOK||151.45 NOK||263.55 NOK ($28)|
|September||12||477 NOK||66.04 NOK||410.96 NOK ($42)|
|October||12||274.01 NOK||102.99 NOK||171.02 NOK ($19)|
|November||25||625.46 NOK||105.18 NOK||520.28 NOK ($55)|
|December||25||690.26 NOK||178.87 NOK||511.39 NOK ($54)|
|Sum||135||3308.73 NOK||774.81||2533 NOK ($260)|
Paying the fees
As you can tell, fees fluctuate quite a bit. Fees are always a higher percentage of profits when the shop is selling many cheap items. They also increase when I am active and publish many new listings, or many old listings are getting renewed (every 3 months). Still, I am super exited to be able to report that the fees never surpassed the profits in any single month. As such, I would rate this a very successful sidehustle experiment so far!
I will also admit that this whole Etsy business is addictive. It’s a lot of fun to see your numbers climb steadily as you add more and more stuff. I even got Mr. Frugasaurus to try out the whole thing, as Etsy pays me in my own currency, meaning I avoid the exchange fee entirely. The exchange fees are what makes Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP – Mr. Frugasaurus’ other sidehustle project) a bit more work before you break even.
You might have noticed the two biggest spikes in profits happening in July and November/December? That this coincides with our summer holiday/frugal honeymoon and Yule is by no means a coincidence. I try to carve time in between work as well, but it is when I have more than a weekend off in a row that I really have the time to buckle down and get all those ideas out of my head and onto the screen.
I have no more specific goals for my sidehustle in 2019 than the 100 listings I mentioned earlier. My other goals are just to keep working steadily and hopefully increase the earnings slowly but steadily. I hit a big milestone in November and December by passing 500 NOK net earnings, and I hope to at least get into the low to medium four digits by the end of 2019. Five digits (NOK) would be amazing, but it is not currently an active goal for the year ahead.
I hope to branch out a bit into creative printables, with one knitting project already planned. Just to see if that is a market I might want to explore in a bit more depth. Right now I am having a lot of fun with the goal trackers too, but I suppose there are only so many of a similar item you can make? I hope to get some good ideas and add some new and creative things to the shop as the year progresses. But as I haven’t had those ideas yet, I make no promises! 😉
Do you have a sidehustle you are exploring this year? Are you keeping up the steam on a project you’ve been chasing for some time, or are you stuck at the starting point wondering what you really want to do? My advice is just to give it a go! Especially with low-startup cost sites like Etsy, there is almost no downside to giving it a go. Even if you don’t make much, you’ll still have learned something!
With that I wish you a happy 2019, and happy continued hustling!
PS: Remember that link I mentioned? I’ll post it again in case you forgot: 40 free listings for you (and me) if you use this link when you open your very own Etsy shop!