How HannahLongmuir got started
Introduce your Etsy shop and tell us your story. How did you begin and decide on what to sell on Etsy, and how do you create your products?
I’m Hannah Longmuir, an artist from the south of Scotland. I draw the fields, trees, birds, and changing seasons in my little corner of the world.In my Etsy shop, I sell cards, stationery, and prints featuring my drawings.
I opened my Etsy shop in 2010, when I was living in Edinburgh and working full-time in a library. I was drawing and making in all my spare time, listing bits and pieces on Etsy as I went. I desperately wanted a life change, so I quit my job and moved back home to the Scottish Borders. I was horribly underqualified and had absolutely no plan whatsoever. I did craft fairs and slowly worked on my Etsy shop. Around the same time, I got the world’s worst-behaved puppy. I walked the socks off him to try to exhaust him. While I was out walking, I began to draw the countryside around me. I fell in love with drawing my surroundings. From there, I began to build my niche, creating lovely, quality paper goods that connect people with nature. I narrowed down my range to be more focused in response to customer feedback and profitability.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
My favorite item to design every year is my Wildlife Calendar. Each month has sketches and handwritten notes, acting as a guide to the natural year. I'm obsessed with the changing seasons, and I keep ideas and sketches in my sketchbook and blog about them throughout the year.Some of my customers are very loyal to the calendar, returning year after year to buy another one. I love that I get to be part of their year and their household—all those important dates and mundane everyday things that get written in my calendars.
There’s also an accompanying postcard pack that has one postcard for every month of the year. The images for the postcards are the illustrations for the calendar. That’s my most popular product year-round.
Getting sales on Etsy
How long did it take for you to earn your first sale and how do you currently attract customers to your Etsy shop?
I can’t remember how long it took to get a sale that wasn’t just one of my mom’s pals—a few weeks maybe—but I remember the feeling being euphoric. I’ll never forget that feeling. It is addictive.
I currently send the majority of the traffic I generate through social media to my own website. I concentrate on Etsy ads for generating additional Etsy traffic, alongside Etsy’s tools like automatically sending coupons.
I think I have the world’s nicest customers. Some of them even send me Christmas cards and gifts for the kids. People are really lovely almost all the time. If you start with that assumption, it makes things much easier.
How do you manage your shop? Are you running solo or do you have any team members? What tools or services do you use to run your shop and how do you handle fulfillment?
I work from my home studio. As well as using Etsy, I sell via my own website, and I have a fairly large wholesale arm to the business. I do all the artwork and business bits myself, but I do have help with fulfillment. At the moment I’m on partial maternity leave after welcoming baby No. 2 in the spring, so I have two wonderful women who spend a few hours each week in the studio picking and packing orders and making stock. They have helped me through a gorgeous but tricky year. We ship via our Royal Mail business account; we don’t use tracked shipping as much as Etsy would like us to (because of the cost), so I’ll never be a Star Seller!
Other than the Etsy Sellers app, the most useful tool for running the shop is the Photoshop Express photo editing app. It means I can do all my product photography on my phone and then make it look bright and sharp. I also use Xero for bookkeeping.
The future of HannahLongmuir
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
Having kids has forced me to be less growth-oriented. I’ve had to find other markers of success. My business provides for my family; if you could have told the 24-year-old me who quit her library job that this is how things would turn out, she would have been stunned.Other than continuing to provide for the family, I think the most important thing for me is to continue to create products that I’m proud of and that my lovely customers are excited about. I’d love to create some illustrated storybooks next year, as well as more products for children.
I’ve got a little dream of a brick-and-mortar shop one day, where Etsy and reality would meet!
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
I think my key piece of advice would be to only list things that you’re really proud of. You want to feel confident and wonderful about what you’re sending out into the world. And then take nice photos, treat your customers really well, and keep an eye on the profit margin. If it doesn’t make any money, it has to go, even if you really love it.
For me, Etsy has been a slow burn. I didn’t have instant success. It took years of tweaks, learning, and trying things to build up a customer base and a decent level of traffic to the shop. Don’t be disheartened. Go to fairs, watch how people respond to your work, adjust things, and try again.
Some sellers really get inspired by hearing numbers. Feel free to share these if you like.
Question: How much is your monthly revenue?
Answer: Approximately £2.5k, but not evenly distributed over the year.