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2012 Filled with Home Business Success, Challenges

Readers reflect back on their accomplishments, and bumps along the road.

With the year coming to a close, now is the perfect time to look back, see what worked and what didn’t, and plan ahead for home business success in 2013.

You might make adjustments or stay on the steady course that brought you a cheerful 2012. We checked in with some of our readers to see what their biggest accomplishments and toughest challenges were this year. Read on to see what they said.

New store, new issue

We met Corinne McHie in early October. The seamstress and owner of Etsy shop SeptemberHouse says her biggest accomplishment of the year was starting her own online store. McHie had been selling on Etsy since 2008, but this year she decided to take another step to grow her business.

Her biggest challenge of 2012 was an ongoing copyright infringement issue. The seller says this is new territory for her, though it’s a problem more and more artists and crafters have to deal with

“It took a lot of research and effort to work my way through it, but I am so glad I did it,” she tells us. “I still consider it a work in progress, however, and can’t imagine a time when I will be able to just consider it done. There is always room for improvements.”

Her biggest challenge of 2012 was an ongoing copyright infringement issue. People have been using her images without her permission.

The seller says this is new territory for her, though it’s a problem more and more artists and crafters have to deal with as they try to achieve home business success online.

To meet the challenge head on, McHie has been educating herself on her rights and ways to protect her works by reading articles, and talking to lawyers and other artists who have dealt with the issue.

“It’s definitely something that can have an impact on your business and your income, and I recommend artists learn about this topic before they have to,” she adds.

Next year, McHie is looking forward to expanding her product line, exploring more marketing opportunities and laying out a five-year plan for her business.

Sellers deal with natural disaster

Some sellers had Hurricane Sandy to deal with in 2012. Susan Majzik, an eBay seller, told The Online Seller that Bay Village, Ohio, where she lives, was hard-hit by the storm.

“Seventy-seven percent of our residents, including me, were without power,” she reports. “I was without power for six days!”

It was tough keeping her eBay sales going during that time. She had to borrow a friend’s computer to send invoices and check orders so she could ship items on time.

“Well over 70,000 residences and businesses were without power in the general area,” she adds.

Seventy-seven percent of our residents, including me, were without power. I was without power for six days

Marissa Gadsden, who lives in Philadelphia and owns Eden’s Touch Bread Company, was also affected by Hurricane Sandy.

But her area wasn’t as severely impacted by the storm as Majzik’s, though she did report storm winds during that time. While she never lost power, she did stop production for a couple of days while she waited to hear back from family in New York, where the storm hit hard.

Gadsden tells us her biggest accomplishment was taking her bread baking business online by opening not one, but three online shops. She had more than 100 sales in less than eight months.

Sales grow

For several merchants, 2012 proved to be a year of growth.

Lisa Zodrow tripled her sales, “and the year isn’t even over yet,” she says. Miriam Otto, the owner of Blue Frog Shoes, says her sales doubled in 2012.

She was able to accomplish this by hiring employees who help her photograph, list and package items. However, finding the right people for the jobs was her biggest obstacle. Still, she has high hopes for 2013, and plans to double her sales again next year.

Billy Daubenmire, nextdaymro on eBay, started selling online this year and made a profit in the first 30 days. For this seller, having his own company and being in control of his own destiny was the best accomplishment of the year. The challenge was making a good profit after paying eBay’s fees, Daubenmire says.

Stevens also enjoyed finishing her website so she doesn’t have to pay listing fees and she can set her own rules

Sherika Stevens, the owner of Saturday Market—Jamaican Products on Amazon, had 100 orders in a small niche market within five months of opening and buying her own domain name, she says.

What helped her achieve her home business success?

“The endless hours that I spend listing products, finding new marketplaces to sell on, identifying new products and answering customer inquiries in order to increase my feedback ratings, which is at 100 percent on eBay and 86 percent on Amazon,” she notes.

It’s also helped that eBay and Amazon provide good buyer traffic, she adds.

Stevens also enjoyed finishing her website so she doesn’t have to pay listing fees and she can set her own rules. She hopes to learn and grow her business even further, and hire one person part time to help her ship items.

“I want to start shipping products out on the very same day, at all times with tracking and insurance because I got burned the other day by USPS,” she continues. “I want to have at least 150 listings in my eBay store and 400 in my Amazon store. I also need to find a faster and more efficient shipping service that will not kill my bank account. I need to also purchase products directly from manufacturers—or at least their distributors—instead of wholesale dealers.”

The mobile effect

For Jane Morgan, silvervisions on eBay and Etsy, the “constant bombardment with mobile devices” and being able to surf the net from anywhere has drastically reduced people’s attention spans, and was a challenge for her. She thinks mobile devices have reduced buyers’ likeliness to wait for auctions to end.

eBay policies “have made selling a stressful thing, rather than the enjoyable experience it used to be”

“Nothing seems ‘special’ anymore,” says the Australia-based seller. And eBay policies “have made selling a stressful thing, rather than the enjoyable experience it used to be.”

The strength of the Australian dollar against the U.S. dollar has also affected Morgan, who tells us she used to sell one-third of her inventory to shoppers in the U.S.

“Now I rarely make a sale there at all, and Australia Post’s massive increases in postage prices have been negative as well,” she adds. “It’s ludicrous to be selling a little top for $3 or $4 when the postage has to be over $7!”

Morgan notes she’ll be sending her items by Registered Post from now on, to ensure they’ll arrive.

She’s also simplifying her eBay business, starting with paring down her listing template to make it easy to read.

“No more decorative headings or tables, just plain font, less flowery descriptions etc.,” she continues. “I’ve closed my eBay store as well as. With the new fee structures, I was just losing money.”

Better listing skills

Ed Weber, the owner of Gully Farm Consignment, says his biggest accomplishment was improving the way he photographs his items and writes descriptions.

I upgraded my camera and began utilizing optional eBay pictures, both of which improved my listings, particularly those viewed on mobile devices

“Both changes made my listings better and made my business more efficient,” he adds. “I upgraded my camera and began utilizing optional eBay pictures, both of which improved my listings, particularly those viewed on mobile devices.”

He’s also started writing his descriptions in Microsoft Word instead of handwriting them first, and he’s set goals and time frames to shorten the turnaround time when listing. The outcome has been his best sales turnover ever.

The biggest impact on him as he looks for home business success was branching out and listening to other sellers on eBay forums.

What were your biggest accomplishments and challenges of the year? Tell us in the comments below.


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About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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