Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Retrospective

As I prepare for the ball to drop in Times Square and listen to the strains of Auld Lang Syne, it’s time to take a look back at the past year before bidding GOOD RIDDANCE to 2014!  The past year was a very umm.... challenging one. 
I’d characterize 2014 as a Compost Year – a heap of sh*t that will hopefully spawn new growth in the year ahead.
Here's a review of last year's personal resolutions and Etsy goals.  My, what a Pollyanna an optimist I was!
Last year I set spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and financial goals. 

SPIRITUAL:  I kept a gratitude journal and prayed daily.  I enjoyed the Curiously Gorgeous Sisterhood’s 52-week creativity journal course by Sarah of A Cat-Like Curiosity, but fell behind in my “homework” during the holiday rush. I’ve resolved to complete the unfinished weekly exercises in 2015.
PHYSICAL:  I ate healthier, walked more, and I’m drinking more water and tea and far fewer carbonated sugar-free soft drinks.  Aspartame is a scary chemical. There’s still room for improvement in 2015.
MENTAL:  I did not manage to read one good book a month.  My late maternal grandmother, a librarian, would have been very disappointed in me.  I did take a community college photography class but my photos still suck.  There is MUCH room for improvement in this category.  I do have new camera batteries and a new light box.  Just need to figure out the settings.
EMOTIONAL:  I didn’t finish Erin’s graduation quilt (major guilt) and  I continued to spend way too much time on the computer.  But I did see all 9 grandkids and their parents, and my two single adult kids during 2014.  I was very grateful for that quality time with my family.  With big financial challenges to overcome, I found it fairly easy not to sweat the small stuff. 
FINANCIAL:  The near-austerity budget was a way of life for most of 2014, and I was not able to procure affordable health insurance.  The part-time job at UNL which started in February was a godsend.  Those small but steady paychecks helped keep us afloat as tax office hours were cut, legal research work was mostly pro bono, and Etsy sales plummeted. 


2014 ETSY GOALS  – Pasque Flower Creations

I must have been delusional. Here were my lofty goals:

$10,000.00 in sales in 2014
500 new orders
Surpass 1,000 total sales in 2014 (I was at 735 in 2014, so it seemed do-able at that time.)

Here’s what REALLY happened at Pasque Flower Creations this year:

$5694.60 in sales  (down 33% from last year)
228 new orders  (down 24% from last year)
I did not surpass 1,000 total sales in 2014.  I’m currently at 993, so I should hit 1,000 in 2015.
Ironically, I met almost all of my specific Etsy goals, but they did not translate into increased sales.
1.  Monetize scraps.  Did that.  Cord keepers were a big hit at craft fairs.  I’ll expand on that concept in 2015.
2.  Add personalized/ monogrammed items (learn to use my new embroidery machine).  Did that. Added personalized bibs fairly late in the year.  Zero sales of personalized items online or at craft fairs.
3.  Expand and promote my oven mitt line.  Did that. Still my best sellers--just not as strong as 2014.
4.  Promote prairie sunbonnets (the only item other than oven mitts to make my Top 10 Favorites in Shop Stats).  Did that.  No significant increase in sales or views.
5.  Create new shop sections to maximize SEO and reflect current shop identity.  Did that—and joined the Etsy TEMPT Team to do more promoting.
6.  Create a Clearance section in an attempt to recoup some of the costs of discontinued or less popular items.  Did that.
7.  Write fewer but more interesting (hopefully) blog posts.   Much room for improvement there!!
8.  Increase my number of Facebook followers or bust.  I had only 162 followers in 2014.
Did that.  I now have 208 followers.  I have more Twitter and Pinterest followers, too.  Still much room for improvement in the social media marketing arena.
9.  Explore options to market items in venues beyond Etsy.   I increased craft fair marketing, and did more local custom orders -- no gift guides or wholesale orders this year, however. 
10.  Improve product photography.  TOTAL FAIL!  Much to work on in this area in 2015!
2014 ETSY GOALS – Aunt Pheba’s Vintage
$2000.00 in sales in 2014
150 orders
Have 100 listings by July 1, 2014.
Here’s what really happened:
$716 in sales (up 24% over last year)
46 orders  (up 22% over last year)
I had 38 new listings during the year, but currently have only 47 items in the shop.  I didn’t hit 100.
I had only 3 resolutions for Aunt Pheba's Vintage for 2014:
1. Add more vintage book listings.  Did that.
2. Consider adding estate sale finds, particularly jewelry and vintage sewing and quilting items. Did that (although I didn't make it to many estate sales, I made quite a haul at the annual Hillestad Gallery rummage sale this summer), and many sold quickly.  I need to seek out more opportunities to add vintage textiles and sewing notions to inventory in 2015.
3. Improve product photography. Again -- TOTAL FAIL!

And in conclusion . . .
It wasn't pretty!  But I was grateful for the extra income, even though it was lower than I'd hoped. I did have relatively strong holiday sales in both shops, so I have not completely abandoned hope that my Etsy shops can survive and possibly even thrive in 2015. 

I'm painfully aware that in the "new Etsy" it's definitely survival of the fittest -  adapt or die!
Stay tuned for my 2015 plans in a future post.



  1. WOW! What a comprehensive retrospective! I am glad to see that you still have hope, as I have little left as an Etsy seller. I'm making other adjustments for my creative endeavours.

    1. I think our posts crossed in cyberspace. I will miss you on Etsy, but I respect your decision, and I wish you all the best with your creative endeavors.

  2. my previous comment has disappeared!

    Anyhow, I think you deserve a big round of applause for doing just about everything possible to reach your goals! Here's to a fabulous and successful new year 2015 :)

    1. Thank you, Duni! Wishing you continued success in 2015.

  3. I like to see your great optimism and hope for new year! I wishing you all dreams come true, but as I like to think - enjoying the journey as much as fun as reaching the destination! Hugs and cheers!!!

    1. Thank you, Lana! I needed that reminder to enjoy the journey. Wishing you continued success in 2015!

  4. I'm really glad you did such a comprehensive breakdown with your numbers, because it's concrete proof that New Etsy isn't working for a lot of people. My shops were closed for parts of 2013 and 2014, so I don't have anything this detailed and have only been going on my gut feelings after doing all of my old tricks and getting fewer results. UGH. Hopefully 2015 will regulate a little and things will be back to normal.

    1. I really like all the new home accent pieces you've added to your shop. And I truly believe the Room Kits will take off. I'm feeling lost in the crowd in the "New Etsy." Glad to know I'm not alone.

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