Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

How to Balance Your Etsy Shop With Your Day Job

Many Etsy sellers also hold down full-time day jobs — on top of being parents. Check out five time management tricks to try from a veteran supermom.

By Kimberly Palmer Jan 23, 2014
Photo by The Pairabirds

The day I got the idea for my Etsy shop in 2011, I was way too busy with my full-time job as a magazine editor to work on it. I had been browsing on the Etsy website in preparation for an interview with a successful seller, Amy Stringer-Mowat of AHeirloom. When I stumbled onto the planner section, I was inspired to create a line of digital money planners based around life goals, from having a baby to starting a business.

On that day, though, I was faced with many other pressing matters: deadlines for articles, my toddler daughter and what seemed like a thousand other household and personal tasks. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my planner idea. I craved the satisfaction that would come from creating something from scratch and helping people manage their money. I sat down that night and started drafting my first planner. Within two weeks, I launched Palmer's Planners.

Since then, I’ve sold about 320 digital planners on Etsy. Though I've gotten better at juggling all of my responsibilities, it's no easy feat. And I’m far from the only one tackling this challenge — one recent Etsy report found that about one in four Etsy sellers also holds down a full-time day job. Plenty of us are moms, too. So how do we do it? Here are five techniques that have helped me strike the right balance.

1. Get ultra-organized

A single calendar hanging in the kitchen is probably not going to cut it. When you’re coordinating schedules for multiple family members, yourself, your business and your coworkers, you need something more dynamic, like a shared Google Calendar. That way you won't schedule a doctor’s appointment during a Twitter chat you want to join.

2. Don’t be afraid to say “no”

I used to take on extra tasks all the time, from helping out with school fundraisers to organizing get-togethers with coworkers. I still try to do all of those things as much as I can, but I don’t say “yes” as often, which has freed up valuable time for me to work on my shop. When it comes to deciding whether or not to take on another responsibility, I ask myself, "How important is this, really?" If it’s a social event, I ask myself if I’d be excited to go to it right now. If the answer is no, then I politely decline. The guilt can come on pretty strong, especially when I feel like I’m shifting more tasks onto my coworkers or not being the best classroom parent in the world, but I’ve had to let that go. I can't be perfect, or in two places at once, and I have to be okay with that.

3. Get help at home

My husband, who also has a full-time job, started pitching in more at home as my own work life got busier. I’m still usually the one who stays home with my kids on snow days, sick days and other unexpected days off (and I relish those opportunities to spend time with my children). But my husband is now more likely to take charge at home on some of those days. He’s also gotten better at handling the morning rush when I have to leave early for work. That shift has led to some frantic phone calls and text messages, like the first time he went to the pediatrician’s office on his own and couldn’t figure out where to park. But overall, it’s made our marriage and home life more balanced. Communication is key; talking about potential conflicts and how you'll respond to them before you ramp up your Etsy shop can help ease any tension.

4. Work on the go

I work on my Etsy shop whenever I can: when my children are napping, after bedtime, during my commute to work and on lunch or coffee breaks. Luckily, I can do a lot of the work on the go using my smartphone. When I’m standing in line at the post office, for instance, I can update my Etsy listings, browse related blogs and send Tweets to help get the word out about my shop. When I'm about to launch a new product, I often wind up staying late to catch up on emails and my editing work. But I get a decent rest most nights by working on the go during the day.

5. Make it a win-win

Of course, you’ll need to make sure that your Etsy shop doesn’t interfere with your full-time job. You can also go a step further and find a way for your employer to benefit from your budding business venture. For example, I was able to apply some of the lessons I learned about creating and selling digital products to a new project at my day job, which my manager appreciated. Meanwhile, the social media and search engine optimization skills I've picked up as a journalist help me market my Etsy shop more effectively. In other words, it's a win-win.

How do you balance your day job with your Etsy shop? Share your tips in the comments below.


Kimberly Palmer from kspalmer

Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life, which tells the story of her Etsy shop, Palmer’s Planners, and profiles other side business owners, as well. She’s also senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report and a mom of two.


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