I have recently celebrated the first year anniversary of my shop Crafty Rat Designs. It’s certainly quite apparent that I’ve come a long way since I originally set it up, and still have a long way to go – nonetheless I think it might be quite interesting to share what I have learnt so far.
The initial set-up
After exhausting YouTube of planner videos and any relevant tutorials, I decided that it was finally time to just go ahead and start with something – Anything at all which might set me in the direction I wanted to go. Which, out of everything I have done, was probably the trickiest part of the whole process. Creating something from nothing was certainly quite intimidating.
I decided to use Etsy as a selling platform due to the already existing community which it holds. Generally speaking, the Etsy community has the kind of characteristics that I was aiming for with my target audience – Fun, friendly and creative.
Arguably I think I rushed into things here, I wanted a shop and I wanted it immediately. The logo I created was very unprofessional and many of the products I was creating were being made in a very inefficient way. I decided that I was reluctant to put any money towards the business because I had something to prove from hand cutting 30 page notebooks with a Stanley knife every time someone ordered one. (I now know that the inexperienced me was very wrong)
Had I purchased important tools and resources such as my slightly pricey heavy-duty guillotine earlier, then I would no doubt have been able to produce a lot higher quality product at a much faster rate. Perhaps I learnt the hard way that it’s better to invest in products that will benefit the business in the long run.
Towards the end of my second year at university I decided to take a step back from my shop, I temporarily closed it in order to give myself time to get my work to the highest standard for the deadlines (and also take a cheeky trip to Ibiza!)
On my return, instead of opening my shop immediately, I spent time really searching into what I wanted to achieve from it. I didn’t want a shop – I wanted a community. I needed a professional brand identity that people would recognise and trust, as well as knowing that there was still the connection of a person behind that brand.
I designed myself a new logo and put together a branding sheet so that I was able to maintain a consistency throughout the different social media platforms. I also designed a huge range of new products and photographed them all as professionally as I could with the resources that were available.
After the brand refresh, I figured I was already well on the way to being able to sit back and watch the community build and my shop along with it – Once again I was wrong.
I started working at Banter in early August, and happily sat next to the social marketing executive, Ash. This seems to have proved a huge benefit to me as I am able to ask her questions about what (and why) she is doing what she does. After only a month of working here I have learnt about content calendars, scheduling, peak posting times, and so much more. All of which I have applied to my own social media and have been seeing huge benefits in doing so.
As I said at the beginning, I have recently celebrated my first anniversary for Crafty Rat Designs and am looking to continue improving on my business and introducing new and exciting products at every opportunity. I know the difference between spending money aimlessly, and meaningfully investing in a product that is likely to benefit me in the long run. Such as a proper website, which is now my next project!