A s I’ve alluded to over the previous weeks, I’ve been gearing up to launch an Etsy shop…and TODAY IS (finally!) THE DAY! Head over to my shop if you’d like to browse rows and rows of mail art. :)

My inspiration has been on overdrive and I’ve felt so excited waking up everyday to create more art, photograph it, and get it ready to go out into the world. Here’s some behind-the-scenes scoop in case you’re curious about what has gone into this venture. There have been a good number of steps but I’ve loved it!

First things first: research. I tend to be a pretty fastidious planner and researcher. I wanted this shop to as good as it possibly could be from day one. I know that there will probably be hiccups, and I’ll rise to the challenge when they come up – but I wanted to ensure as few snafus as possible. (I can’t believe that snafu is actually a word. But it’s AWESOME.)

I conducted copious amounts of research about how to best ship my cards and art. The last thing I want is for someone to be excitedly waiting for their order only to find it bent and bashed. It was surprisingly tough to settle on the right mailer. I read review after review, trying to find a mailer that was rigid enough, while also looking beautiful, while also being the right price point. What do I want – the world?? Yep.

U-Line finally came to the rescue…but I had to order in bulk to bring the price down. Based on reviews, I also decided to buy additional cardboard inserts to ensure that the envelopes were REALLY rigid. The smallest order of those was 1,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Needless to say, Bobby kind of raised his eyebrows when this monstrous and super heavy package arrived at the golf shop. He brought it down to the house for me and was like, “What in the world did you buy?!?”

I also did mountains of research about clear cellophane sleeves to protect each item. Trust me, I know loads about clear cellophane sleeves now.

Since Etsy sellers tend to package things in the most darling ways known to man, I did quite a bit of brainstorming around how I could make my items a pure delight to receive in the mail. (Creating mail art for the mail art – how meta is that?) I finally decided upon some handwritten thank you notes (at least until things really gear up and I’m unable to sustain that), a business card, and a little surprise inside the card. What is the surprise you ask? Not telling. But it’s cute and happy, I promise you that.

I actually got to give this all a test-run before I officially launched because someone found my shop (I’m assuming through the search functions) and ordered a card. I was so excited, I immediately bound up to Bobby and had him read the order email. I had hit the big times! Of course, I took a selfie before I shipped it off.

I was feeling SO proud of myself and then, the night after shipping it out, I realized that I hadn’t included the white envelope along with the card. Gah! I sent the woman an apology message and zipped it off to her in the mail – along with a fancy mail art envelope that was pre-stamped with vintage stamps to try and make up for the mistake. Live and learn.

If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ve heard me talk about business cards every now and again. For the longest time, I didn’t have one. Then I finally just DID it and decided to hand draw/write/paint them. (Seriously, it was that 3-step process for each card – I drew them first with black ink, then wrote in all my information, then added some splashes of watercolor to them. They were labors of love and they worked for awhile but it was a big commitment to spend that much time on each card.)

Then my brilliant sister Leah helped me by working her Photoshop magic. She took scanned images of designs for both the front and back of a business card and suggested I use this custom stamp website to get some stamps created. Elise Blaha, a blogger and maker whom I really admire, has talked before about using rubber stamps as an inexpensive but awesome branding tool and I am SO ON BOARD.

Why did I not do this months ago?! They still take some effort but it’s so, so much better. I use StazOn ink for the stamping and then can do a watercolor wash right on top – the ink doesn’t even bleed. (Please note, that’s an affiliate link – to the best ink that’s ever been created.) I decided to edge the cards with neon pink paint, which I think was TOTALLY the right choice.

I also branded the back of each greeting card with a small stamp of a drawing of mine – it has a fan saying, “Made with love by yourbiggestfangrace.com.”

After taking care of all of these elements, I did my best to figure out Etsy – which honestly was such a pleasant experience. User forums abound and I was able to google every question that came up. Leah helped me (again! Best sister EVER award going to you, Leah!) to get my shop banner painting in the correct size and also aided in making the YBFG logo pop on the shop page.

Photos matter SO MUCH to me when I’m shopping on Etsy and I know that others feel the same. So after creating card after card and envelope upon envelope, I researched best practices for photographing items. I looked at other online stores I admire. I tried to figure out how I could make this all work with an iPhone and a house filled with yellow walls (I’ve found that the yellow tint can sometimes affect the lighting in weird ways). Here’s the set-up I eventually came up with:

Looks completely DIY because it IS but it worked! I took two blank canvases to create a makeshift light box, waited until the right time of day when the light was coming in softly through the window but not pouring in directly, borrowed Bobby’s iPhone which has a better camera than mine, and took hundreds of photos. I made sure to get lots of different angles of each item and included different props. Props are always good.

Then I edited all of the photos on VSCO Cam, using the same formula for each to make sure the colors stayed true to what I’m seeing in real life while also matching each other so that my shop page looked cohesive.

THEN I wrote some quick individual copy for each card because shopping is way more fun that way.

THEN I entered each listing on the Etsy site while Bobby watched football and gave me a back rub. Win win. ;)

Last night, I nearly pulled an all-nighter and was tapping away at my laptop until 4:30am…an ode to college, I suppose. There were a number of new listings to put up before the launch and some editing that needed to happen. I will very likely crash in about…ten more minutes or so.

Is that more information than you ever wanted to know about setting up an Etsy shop with a line of greeting cards? Great! Glad to have filled the quota.

But it was all worth it! Because I can now officially say that I run an Etsy shop – and I really, really love everything that I have for sale. And I think that I’ve found my passion: creating handmade goods to help others spread love and joy.

I hope you’ll stop by the shop! And please pass it along to any people in your life who appreciate any/all of the following: cheerful mail, stamps, unicorns, and talking zebras. I mean, it’s not essential that they like talking zebras…but it will help. ;)

Love to all of you!