It’s been a little over a week since I attended the vinyl cutter boot camp at Stahl’s, and I’ve been very busy experimenting. Using the cutter is getting easier. I’m learning a lot. I bought more vinyl when I went to the boot camp, so I have more colors to play around with. I have some ideas I’m kicking around, and I will list new items in my online store soon. Here are some of my creations so far.
About a month ago, I purchased a vinyl cutter. It was expensive, looked complicated, and I was pretty sure I was going to break it. I watched all of the instructional videos before I even pulled the cutter out of the box. That only left me more intimidated. There was so much information on the videos. I didn’t know how I would learn it all…until last Wednesday.
I attended vinyl cutter boot camp at Stahl’s, the company I bought the cutter from. Fortunately for me, their world headquarters are within reasonable driving distance – just North of Detroit. At the training, I was relieved to learn that I’m not the only one intimidated by their vinyl cutter. The training covered a lot, but I left there feeling more confident. I also bought a lot more vinyl to play with.
Sales have been slow, but I have been working hard to get things up and running. My Shopify store, Google AdWords campaigns, market research with WBC/ECDI, and new designs are some of the things I’ve been working on. In the next few weeks, I will spend more time brainstorming niche markets to tap into with unique, new designs.
Despite losing my job at Harbor in January, I have been staying very busy.
I have been spending a ton of time working for Rahm Designs, LLC – even more than usual. I’ve been playing around with adult sizes, and last week I finished a fun custom order.
I’ve been working hard on SEO, keywords, and advertising for my new Shopify store. The domain rahmdesignsllc.com now forwards to that store. The domain meganreneerahm.com is my portfolio website. After meeting for a coaching session at the Women’s Business Center, I’ve decided to keep my graphics for clothing and my writing jobs as two separate businesses. I will be returning to the WBC next week to meet with a market research specialist.
I’ve kicked it up a notch. Yesterday I ordered a vinyl cutter and some supplies from stahls.com. My order will be arriving tomorrow. I decided that if I really want to make this a successful business, I would need to invest in a cutter. Vinyl graphics are much more durable and are great for garments for groups and sports teams. Vinyl is not limited to clothing. It can be used for signs and car decals as well.
I am still looking for work. I’m hoping to find a job I can learn from and that allows me time to work on my businesses. I still have quite a bit of time left with my unemployment benefits, so I am taking my time and being picky. I met an old friend about a job last week, and it seems very promising. I think it would work out great, but it’s not a sure thing yet. I have my fingers crossed.
I love that any questions I have regarding my commercial heat press can be answered online. Google is an amazing thing!
I often prefer to go to T-Shirt Forums because there are so many questions answered in the different threads by all sorts of heat press users, from hobbyists to professionals. There’s a handy search tool you can use to find questions similar to yours in the forums. I’ve gotten all sorts of tips and remedies from this site.
Today I found a couple other helpful sites for heat press users. I came across stahls.com by finding their pins on Pinterest. From there I went to their site and found equipment accessories I had never even heard of. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn! There are tons of educational videos, and they even offer a free downloadable e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your T-Shirt Business. I am still looking through the e-book, and it looks like there are some extremely useful worksheets at the back of the book.
Then there’s howtoheatpress.com. I found this site with a simple Google search. I don’t think I will ever purchase another heat press or heat press accessory without checking this site out first. There are so many product reviews on this site!
I am always learning and always amazed at the heat press information I find online. I wish there were more hours in the day!
Inspiration comes from everywhere, and sometimes when you least expect it. I’ve always believed that as an artist you need to be professional and have the ability to work on a regular basis, not just when inspiration strikes. However, it’s definitely a boost when it does strike. You constantly have to keep your eyes and ears open.
My SCORE mentor saw a book on Etsy in the library, and suggested I check it out. It’s from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Start Up Series and it’s called Start Your Own Etsy Business: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Handmade Success. This book is not authorized, prepared, or sponsored by Etsy, which is great because it contains information from a variety of sources. It was published in 2017, so it’s pretty up-to-date. The only thing I could think of that wasn’t current was the number of listing photos has gone from 5 to 10. I’m sure there’s more, but I didn’t notice any.
This book contains a lot of detailed information on running a business and using Etsy. The main advice I got from this book was be prepared before becoming an Etsy seller, run your shop like a business, and have realistic expectations. I had none of those things when I started, so I really wish I would have found a book like this before I opened my shop in 2015.
Each chapter end with the background of a successful Etsy seller as well as their advice for new sellers. These stories were fascinating and helpful.
This book stresses the importance of professional-quality listing photos, which is something I really want to work on. I use Photoshop to apply my graphics to photos I took of white onesies and shirts, but now I would like to post photos of my best sellers with the graphics physically on the items. One thing that surprized me was the book stressed how helpful using a light box can be, and even gave ideas of where to purchase one of your own. However, the book did not give instructions on how to contruct one of your own and save money. I have seen instructions in other books as well as online.
One clever tip was the book suggested to register and forward your own website URL to your Etsy shop. I had never thought of that. The book also suggests using the keyword tool in Google AdWords. I have used this in the past but it’s definitely worth revisiting.
I found this book extremely helpful even though I’ve had an Etsy shop for just over two years. If you’re just starting out or thinking of becoming an Etsy seller, definitely check it out.
My goal for January is to keep an open mind and just get through the month. I have a couple meetings to prepare for and I am eager yet nervous to hear everyone’s feedback.
I feel my goals are a little more clear now on how I want to expand my business. I want to focus on two areas: designing for adult sizes and finding more writing jobs. I will have to purchase a larger heat press. This of course does not mean I will stop designing for children’s clothing and accessories. These new goals are just ways I would like to expand.
I also plan on focusing my design work (for both children and adults) on niche markets. I am exploring different hobbies and interests to come up with some ideas.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!