I’m coming up on two years now of having my etsy store up and running and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the numbers. The idea was to have a small business that I could do while cruising to help slow the burn of savings. I’ve been selling recycled sailcloth goods and small canvas pieces online and shipping them out all over the world. I’m going to try to evaluate whether this could work while cruising based on a few basic criteria.
The Work: When deciding whether the work could be done on a sailboat or not I need to divide the recycled sail work from the canvas work. I think that if I had a choice I would not want to make recycled sailcloth bags on a boat. The biggest obstacle with it is space. The sail takes a lot of room to store before it is made into bags, and afterwards even more space. The bags don’t sell quickly and the amount of inventory you would end up storing would make your life miserable. The sail also takes a lot of space to clean and spread out for cutting up. Sailbags also need hardware to make which takes additional storage. The canvas work however would be very feasible on a boat. If you chose a few limited colors and bought large rolls of sunbrella storage would be relatively easy. Products would be made to order and would not need to be stored afterward.
The Platform: My experience with Etsy has been great and it’s only getting better. They do a lot to advertise your products at no additional cost. You can of course pay for more advertising, but I never have. They make it extremely easy to manage your listings and to put your shop on vacation if you need more time. They also have a built in shipping forms that make it extremely easy to print and ship things. All of their stats are downloadable in excel and they really try to make them useful and easy to read. Minimal fees.
The $$: So here is the real question. In almost two years I have made a grand total of $4,486.01 profit on 98 orders. That’s not counting the cash sales I have made locally. I haven’t spent any money on advertising either locally or online. I also shut the site down for a bit this spring because of my regular job picking up. Of all of my products listed most of the revenue came from my small canvas items.
I think that doing canvas work both online and through etsy would be a viable option while cruising. It’s definitely working out better than our music career did. While I wouldn’t suggest it as your only source of income I do think that the space and time that it takes in your life would be worth it for the money it brings in. Having a sewing machine on the boat could also come in handy in a tight spot.