When we created our vintage Etsy shop in 2014 we never expected it to be our sole source of income; much less support a life of fulltime traveling. Here we are – two years later – roaming around North America, living off of our Etsy revenue.
This week our Q&A series will answer the question:
How do you operate your Etsy shop from the road?
Making it Mobile
In the beginning our Etsy shop sold all things vintage – clothes, toys, books, furniture, and everything in between. We operated a corresponding booth at the local flea market, and also dabbled in selling items on Craigslist.
Once we began preparing for “life on the road,” we knew we’d need to downsize our shop if we wanted to keep it up and running. We created a rule to operate by; if we want to sell it, it must ship in a standard rigid-mailer envelope.
This rule eliminated 90% of our items and shifted our focus to antique maps and prints.
Storing our Products & Materials
Since maps are thin & flat, it doesn’t take much room to store our items. We keep all 3000 of them protected and filed in a moisture-proof plastic crate. We use a second crate for our shipping materials.
These two crates are heavy, but not in the way.
Taking high quality photographs of our products is a necessity. Our camper has many windows, creating a controlled natural lighting environment. We use a wooden backdrop to give the images warmth. If we find a rustic table at a campground or park, we’ll take the pictures outside to add some variety to the backdrops.
Listing our items is the most time consuming process of our shop. We like to do this task in small bursts once a month. If its a rainy stretch of days, we’ll hunker down and list 200 items so when the sun comes back out we can enjoy the outdoors.
We have orders come in everyday and like to ship them as quickly as possible. Because we don’t travel with a printer, we write all of the envelopes by hand and mail them at the post office counter.
Every town, even the smallest desert community, has an easy-to-access post office. We enjoy visiting the post offices across America; it gives us a great sense of the area.
This is, by far, the highlight of our job. We love hunting thrift stores, estate sale, and auctions in search for the perfect vintage finds.
As we travel America, we’re always discovering new thrifting opportunities. We’ve found bundles of 1960s Playboys in Yuma, Pee Wee Herman memorabilia in Desert Hot Springs, and car advertisements from the 1940s in Joshua Tree.
Etsy Lets Us Be Mobile
Overall, Etsy has helped us create income as we live a nomadic life. The success wasn’t overnight, and it took hundreds of hours of work, but the result has created location-independence!
Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.
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Thanks for sharing. I love that you are traveling in a relatively small trailer and have a whole shop under your roof. So cool!
I want to do the same thing with my husband’s photography but there is some stiff competition on Etsy. We’d have to travel with a printer too.
I’m intending on semi-retiring in 1 1/2 years. My pension won’t be enough and I want to continue to pay into social security. So I want to develop a mobile librarian business: temp jobs, independent research or maybe online class on information literacy.
But I can’t wait to take to the road! Y’all are an inspiration!
Could I see what you are storing your items in?
how do you get packages shipped to you, like from Amazon (mailing supplies ) when you are on the road ?
Awesome! We are from Fairhope, too!! Can’t wait to get out in our campervan, “Fred” and travel~ maybe we’ll meet up on the road one day~ The Kraliks
We get them shipped to the campground we’re staying at, or the nearest post office through “general delivery”
Hi, I just started reading your blogs. I too just started a blog and am full time. I bought a very small trailer and pull it with my car. I am traveling from Florida through out all the states to New England. Finishing up in Maine before I return home in Sept.Planning on traveling November to Texas, Arizona and all the midwest states. I want to go to Quartzsite Arizona. The have a hugegem show I have always wanted to see. I am studying gemology at the age of 69. Well I will be 70 end of July.I had a Etsy shop but didn’t do very well. I ended up having my own web site. sharongulezianjewelry.com. I also have a gem blog on my store.I am doing pretty good now. I make handcrafted Jewelry and sell Jewelry withl real Gems from the earth along with crystals. It has become my passion. I too work from the road. My inventory is huge but I have it in a room at my sisters house in Venice, Florida. She has sense become co-owner with me. I do all the computer work, some ordering, billing, working on the store and she does some of the buying and ships out the product when we make a sale. So far its going really well.I shared your store on my f.b. and twitter. Happy to do so. I will enjoy watching your travels. Maybe some day our paths will cross.Sharon from Floriida.
You guys should really invest in a Zebra Label printer. Their quite small. Save you guys a BUNCH of time instead of writing each and every address. You can find used ones on ebay for as little as $50.
[…] Etsy on the road. These guys are living the dream and it sounds awesome! […]
Thanks! Never heard of them!
Sounds like you have quite an awesome business! We love gems and crystals! Best of luck to you!
Sweet! Happy Trails!
We don’t have any photos on hand, but they are just plastic storage bins from walmart!
Sounds like you have some great ideas and goals! So exciting! Best of luck to you!
Very nice! Love a peek into others worlds. May our paths cross auspiciously.
Love watching and reading your blog. I too have just bought a vintage trailer and am in the process of redoing it and hitting the road with my business.
Since just starting to read your blog I am sure this question has already been asked, but what do you do for internet service, library, coffee shops etc? How often do you check your Etsy shop? Thanks, Christine
We have internet on our phones and carry two hot spots from different providers. It costs us about $200/month