13 Ways To Avoid Burnout In Your Etsy Shop


I’m going to be the bearer of some bad news here and tell you that burnout is real.  If you’re a newer Etsy shop owner, you may think that will never be you because you aren’t that busy right now. 

While that may be true for the moment, please don’t get yourself into a downward spiral toward burnout by being conscious of these 13 ways to avoid burnout in your Etsy shop.

13 ways to avoid burnout in your etsy shop

Just a heads up!  This blog post may contain affiliate links.  That means if you make a purchase through one of those links, at no additional cost to you, I may make a commission from your purchase, which helps me provide this content to you!

Avoid Overwhelm – Don’t Take On Too Much

If your Etsy shop is rocking and rolling with multiple sales a day, you may start to feel overwhelmed quickly.  You may be a one-man band kind of shop and are doing all the things

One of the simplest ways is to avoid overwhelm is to make a list of your top three priorities for the day. These are a list of tasks that must be completed that day. All other tasks can be set aside for another day if you do not have time in your day to complete them.

I have a running list of additional things that need to be worked on but can be worked on over time or the next day. These tasks are ones that don’t have time constraints like “this order needs shipped today”. I work on orders based on the day that they must be shipped by. All other orders are not priorities for the day.

An example here would be

  1. Complete today’s production of “need shipped today” orders.
  2. Then, I would purchase shipping labels and pack those orders.
  3. Start prep production for tomorrow’s “need shipped today” orders.

If I have additional time to post to social media, clean my office, etc. I can then do those task. But if I’m out of my allotted time to work for the day, I set everything aside for tomorrow.

This method has greatly reduced my feelings of overwhelm on a day-to-day basis. I know that once those necessary tasks are completed, I can move on to other higher priority tasks on my “for later” list or I can take a break, if needed.

I tend to get headaches from too much computer work and backaches from excessive manual labor that involves moving heavy pallets of wood. So I do just rest sometimes and give my brain and body a break.

Here’s a simple example of the typical stressed out and overwhelmed Etsy seller.

  • You have products that are time-consuming.
  • Buyers are constantly messaging you asking when their items are going to ship.
  • Buyers wanting mockups, font changes or other alterations and personalizations done.
  • You have taken on too many orders at once. (Common during the holiday buying season.)
  • You feel you have to be doing everything. Product production, SEO research, packing and shipping, social media marketing on 7 platforms, etc. everyday single day.

You can quickly find yourself in a panic about how to get your orders finished and out the door on time. Feelings of letting yourself down, your family down and your customers. It’s just not a good place to be mentally and/or physically.

Read more about the 5 ways to avoid overwhelm as an Etsy seller here.

Put yourself first – The importance of self care

I know this one can be difficult.  It’s one I struggle with all the time.

Do you get up at 5 a.m. and stay up until midnight answering messages or finishing orders?  Oh yes, I’ve been there and won’t ever do it again. (The last time my husband and I did this, we both ended up sick.) 

I can tell you from experience that running on little sleep will just make it harder for you to concentrate after you do get a few hours of shut eye.  Plowing through can be ok for a one-time, rush order turnaround but definitely should not be your normal operating system. 

Check out these 4 top health priorities for Etsy sellers next.

Don’t alienate your friends and family

We, as entrepreneurs, are prone to being hermits and introverts. Prioritizing our businesses over everything else. But we still need to get out once in a while and away from our businesses. You’ll thank me later.

Holy Moses. The phone dings and pings and chimes and alarms…

I recently saw a post in one of the FB groups about obnoxiously rude, impatient buyers and their demands and was SHOCKED by the responses of many of our fellow Etsy shop owners.  Not only was there a resounding number of shops that said they IMMEDIATELY dropped everything… that includes family and friends, the current order they were working on, etc. just because their phone dinged. 

WHAT!!??!!

If you are jumping at that message ding and SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR BURNOUT!! 

It might be all fine and dandy if you don’t have kids, aren’t married, don’t have any social life whatsoever and only have 3 cats to take care of (who basically take care of themselves).

But you will create a feeling of loneliness within your households, making your family feel as if they’re not a priority in your life and that they only come second to your Etsy shop. 

I have watched this happen first hand.  I have seen friends strain their home lives because of The Almighty Etsy Messenger dings. 

I hate seeing that disappointed look on their spouse’s face from across the room when having a conversation and their phone dings and watch with shock as they hightail it to their laptop down the hall.  Then, hearing the words that come next is worse.  Hearing about how this isn’t the first time. Hearing how she/he always drops everything just to answer a message even when family is in town visiting.

I’m not saying to neglect your messages but don’t alienate your friends and family just for a “maybe” sale.  Your family will be around long after that buyer is gone. 

*That being said, Etsy does figure your message response time into its algorithm so do answer in a timely manner (within 24 hours – if you are working toward Etsy’s Star Seller Badges), but be cautious and courteous to your loved ones when you go about replying to that message.

Create a daily schedule and manage disruptions

We all have chaotic days when running our own businesses. Maybe you are dealing with needy customers or you’ve got a scheduling conflict, a kid’s doctor’s appointment. Or you could simply not have enough hours in the day.

I get it. We’re all busy.

One thing that can help your business keep on smooth sailing is by creating a daily schedule for yourself and family.

You can also find ways to manage disruptions like pinging text messages on your phones, calls, etc.

These are always going to be things that mess with our daily lives. We just need to learn to adapt quickly and dial down the distractions as much as possible.

There really isn’t any good way to say, “Hey rain, could you stop pouring so my packages don’t get wet while waiting for UPS to come pick them up? I really don’t have time to bring them all back inside nor run them to town myself.”

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

If you are struggling here, I would suggest getting a simple printable or online calendar. And try to set a definite schedule for your day.

  • what time you get up
  • drop the kids at school
  • what time you can definitively start working on your business
  • eat lunch
  • stop working
  • go pick up the kids from school
  • cook dinner
  • etc.

By setting a simple schedule, you can better manage the time that you do have available. You set boundaries and keep from feeling overwhelmed.

This also keeps you from wasting time on social media, answering unnecessary emails and other time-wasting tasks.

Also, turn off the dang pinging. No more Etsy or Shopify cha-chings, social media dings. None of it. Turn it off.

I, personally, usually put my phone on silent. But do have it set that certain people, like my husband and kid’s, the school, etc. can still ring through to me if it’s really needed.

You know when the school calls, you’re usually needing to pick up a kiddo that’s fallen on the playground, split wide-open their chin and is in need of stitches. Ask me know I know. Lol.

Emergencies and priorities, yes, they get the go ahead to interrupt me. Everything else can wait.

I also try to not answer at all during times of the day that I have the most focus. For me, that’s usually first thing in the morning. I’ll go back around 2 o’clock each day and check any messages that have come in. Then, off to get my kiddos around 2:45.

Don’t take on what doesn’t feel right

Difficult customers

Ever get that gut feeling like a custom order request is going to be a major PITA (Pain in the A**).  Guess what – it usually is.  Trust your gut for both self-care necessities and a red flag warning for troubled water ahead with an order. 

I don’t usually except requests that feel like the potential buyer is going to be a full-on bag of crazy or overly complicated because I’m a busy person and don’t need the added stress on myself or my family if this project would disrupt their lives and take time away from them. 

Custom requests

I always ask my husband, especially for custom work I’ll need his help with, if he thinks I should take on a project that’s a stretch for me time-wise, my skills, our production ability, etc.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with declining a custom request.  IT’S YOUR BUSINESS.  Run it how you want!!

I’ve turned done lots of requests because they were just going to be huge time consumers.

I think many Etsy sellers get into a starving artist, feast or famine mentality that if they don’t get every sale from every buyer that there won’t be another to follow that is a better fit. 

If your shop is slow, then that’s a great time to take on a custom order that may take more of your time and attention.

These would be projects like a more difficult and very time-consuming or labor intensive task. Or when you are going to be working with a super needy, needs-to-hold-your-hand-while-you-paint buyer. (It happens.) Just make sure you’re getting PAID for your time AND customer service, design time, materials, etc. 

Feeling like you’ve put in ten hours of work and then not getting the sale because you don’t charge a setup fee or deposit up front is just as burnout-worthy as any of these other reasons.

But if you are already struggling to figure out how you’re going to get all your orders completed, just politely say you’re not accepting any custom orders right now due to high order volume. 

This could work even more in your favor if they think your shop is super busy. This will help manage their expectations if they have to wait longer and really want to work with you.

You should also work out arrangements for an extended production time.  Those who like your products will wait if they want it and aren’t needing it for next weekend. You know the impatient type I’m talking about.

For these orders, you should also be increasing the price of working with you. Custom work takes more time than standard production time. Get paid for it.

As mentioned before, Etsy recently had been throttling shops when Etsy felt they had too many orders outstanding. Take on custom requests could actually do more damage than just saying no to one or two custom orders. Etsy could keep the traffic from flowing to your shop until you get caught up or for as long as they want.  I’d rather give up a small custom order or two to keep the bulk of my shop still moving as usual. 

Stop chasing trends

You don’t need to be selling the hottest new thing on the market to have a successful business. Essential, you’re just going to be running around in circles ever 12 months or so. Chasing after whatever is new and trending.

I’ve found the best products to sell in a business aren’t the most trendy. The best selling products and the products that keep food on the table are actually pretty boring.

Let’s unpack this for a minute.

What are products you need?

Do you need that latest gadget? The newest iPhone? Or do you just want those?

When looking for products to sell, I look for three things.

  1. Is there buyer intent? Does the buyer want to purchase something?
  2. Does this product solve the buyer’s problem?
  3. How much competition is there for that product?

You can read more about picking the right products to sell here where I go further into detail about these 3 components.

Run your business, don’t let it run you – business boundaries

I got into being self-employed while being a stay-at-home mom with ants-in-her pants and a need to create. I wasn’t sure what to create but create none the less. 

I wanted to have a flexible work schedule, ability to come and go and take off when I wanted to. I wanted to work on my own terms to accommodate my family while having a young child at home at the time. And now having two kids, this is even more important to me.

It’s one of the biggest reasons why I will probably NEVER go back to work for someone else for permanent employment.  I enjoy the freedoms entrepreneurship allows me way too much to give that up.

Imagine if I bent to the will of every buyer that passes through my shop. Buyers wanting me to create products that are not in my wheelhouse or wouldn’t allow for the profit margins I prefer. Taking on super impatient buyers, the ones that need it in three days because they procrastinated purchasing (not happening by the way), etc.

I would never have time for myself, no time for my spouse and children. And no time to grow my business the way I would like or have any flexibility anymore. 

You have to set boundaries around your business or you will never have what you set out to achieve.

Here’s some of the boundaries I’ve put in place in my business.

  • I don’t work on the weekends, with a few exceptions.

In our sign making business, we tend to have large bulky materials that need to be broken down into smaller usable sizes for our products. Ryan will help me break those down quickly on the weekends as he has a full-time job during the week. But outside of that, I usually don’t work on our product-based business on the weekends.

  • My children and husband come first.

Whether my kid’s forgot a backpack or trumpet case, and I have to run back home. Maybe my youngest is sick, and I have to run them to the doctor’s office. Maybe she just wants her mommy snuggles to make her feel better. Sometimes it’s a classroom party to attend. Or even if my husband needs me to run something to him at work, I’m always available when needed. I have created a business with almost complete flexibility in my time. If I needed to shift my work schedule for the day, I’m free to do that.

  • I take sick days.

My health comes before buyer orders and so should yours. I have in place a small team of people that can run errands for me, yep it’s family but they are always willing to help. My husband can take a sick day and take on the kid’s daily needs tasks for me, etc. I also build in a window of time that allows me to not need to ship next day to my buyers. Our shipping window is 7-10 business days. Buyers today want everything right now, but I don’t train my buyers that I’m at their beck and call. If they want our products, they will wait.

  • Allow time to explore new ideas, without limitations.

I wanted to be able to start a blog and a YouTube channel and explore messy art. But I had to put in place additional boundaries to make those things possible. I couldn’t work in my business 24/7.

  • I stopped “working” after lunch time everyday.

Now, I will say that my lunch time does sometimes change if I’m in the zone doing something, but I rarely work on my business after 2:00 pm. That’s where usually I draw the line. 8:30 am-2 pm. I take a break and get ready to pick up my kids from school. I’m just done for the day.

  • Allow time for hobbies.

I really didn’t have many hobbies. I’m what you would call a serial entrepreneur. I, literally, see every hobby as a business opportunity. I had to tone that done as it was taking over my life.

Reading seems to have become my recent hobby. Also, learning is a hobby. Yes, learning. I just can’t stop. Lol.

  • I will take on contractors to help with production if I can no longer complete the business tasks within the above time boundaries.

Taking on employees wasn’t ever something that I wanted to do with my product-based and home-based business. There’s just something weird about bringing employees into my home.

But, I’m willing to pay for additional help when I’m overloaded. And I know that this is a fairly infrequent need.

My product-based businesses are kept smaller on purpose. As companies get larger, they often times bring on too many employees and need more management systems to manage everything, costs increase, etc. I don’t want to manage a bunch of people either. So, I’ve deliberately kept my businesses smaller at this time so I can keep enjoying my life.

When the time come that I need help, I know of one person (family- who is close to retiring that is willing to come help out once a month or so) just with some manual labor type tasks. We utilize this only during our busiest months.

100K+ income is fine by me. Then couple that will all the passive income streams, I’m in no hurry to grow any bigger right now.

When the time comes that we want to scale larger, I can simply do it. I know what work and what doesn’t. I have systems in place that I created over time to make my business run smoothly with just me, and I can easily bring on staff to help when we’re ready.

Get paid what you’re worth

You’re worth more than you think.

You have a skill set that not everyone else has. You need to use that to your advantage and charge accordingly.

A simple example of this is in one of my digital shops. I have a background in business and accounting, I sell products that not everyone can make because they don’t have the same education that me. I can create products for business owners that work.

I’ve also spent the last decade building multiple businesses, taught myself graphic design and know how to use various crafting tools, lasers and design software.

From spreadsheet and pricing formulas to tutorials on design software and how to make SVGs. I can do it, but not everyone else can.

You have skills like that too. What is your superpower?

I RARELY (I mean almost NEVER) take custom orders in my digital shop.  This shop was designed to mostly run on autopilot.  I have only digital items, no shipping involved, and it makes a nice little side income without much effort on my part. 

If I took on custom digital orders, it’s my job to control buyer expectations. Because of its digital nature, many potential buyers think it should still be relatively cheap, like many other digital products are.  This can create issues in itself, and it’s simply not worth my time. 

That being said, if a buyer knew the full costs of the custom project, say a full branding package with custom created graphics, logos, social media icons, ALL CUSTOM, and was willing to pay my higher-than-normal fees due to the custom nature of the item, not just what I charge for premade graphics, I might entertain it for the right price.

Again, I will not sacrifice my time without being compensated.  Unfortunately, many sellers do.

I keep these things in mind every time I create a product.  For me, how much time is involved before, during and after the sale? Is the buyer willing to pay the price I have listed to keep my margins high?  Do I really want to create this item?

Why did you start your business?  Was it to work on your own terms or someone else’s?  To follow a passion?  To make passive income or a side income?  Keep these business goals in mind along your entrepreneurial journey.  Allowing your business to run you, WILL lead to burnout.

Do what you love and were born to do

I don’t know about you, but more than likely you’ve had a passion project or two in your time.  I know I certainly have. In fact, I have a whole list of them I still haven’t gotten to. Have you always been making and doing the same thing or do you go where the wind blows you? 

As an Etsy seller since 2013, I have made many things that I have sold online.  And for me, it is always changing, challenging me and forcing me to grow, pivot and sometimes change my mind.

There is no right or wrong here. Whether to keep making what you always have loved creating or if your business is more fluid, you make changes and maybe learn to create products in a complimentary space, etc. 

I’ve discovered over the years how much I love business and entrepreneurship. Not just the selling things online side of it either.

In my business, it is ever-changing but still consistent.  I love learning new things and new techniques and want to try new things.  Some stick while others wane. But I will always do what I love.  In my case, it’s working for myself and learning about business, marketing, etc.

I’ve even started sharing everything I’ve learned in my decade plus experience in e-commerce with you now!

We all have some things in our businesses that are not the most exciting tasks and that have peeved us on more than one occasion.  Those are the unfortunate things that we just have to do to keep our businesses running.  But running my own business allow us so much more.

My businesses keep running, providing food on the table and a roof over my family’s head. My businesses also provide me with the income that allows me to spend money on self development and other non-business hobbies and exploring new ideas, taking vacations, paying for kid’s activities and their education, etc. That’s what makes me happy, learning new things and that requires income.

Everyone has aspects of what they do for a living that is not ideal.  Maybe the bane of your existence is marketing or bookkeeping, taxes, website maintenance, etc. But you keep doing it to allow you to do what you truly love.

Best advice if you need the income but want to drop inventory you don’t like making anymore is waiting until you find another item that sells well to replace the other income.  That way you don’t have that financial stress that can contribute to burnout. 

Just remember that transition can take time. But explore and be willing try something new.

GET OUT OF YOUR CREATIVE RUT

Seriously, try something new!  Try something that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time or money to just go do it. 

Learn to watercolor paint, go rock climbing, travel to a different country.  Hell, just take a vacation!!! Even if it’s just in your own backyard.

Get out of the daily grind of things and explore.  You’d be surprised at how different you may feel about what you are currently doing in your business after a much needed break.  You may find you’ve found a new passion in life when you step away from the daily tasks for a few days and give something different a whirl.

Hop on Skillshare and learn something new.

Step out of your comfort zone. Take on a new challenge. I recently attempted acrylic pour painting.  

You know what?  I made a BIG ASS MESS!  And it was fun.  I was totally covered in paint, paint on the floor, table.  I mean everywhere!  But I needed that creative release.  A departure from my mostly scheduled work day, life stresses, etc.  

I gave myself permission to just let loose and man, did I need it.

It may even become on of my next adventures on a more regular basis!

Get some inspiration with a vacation

One other thing for me is we live on a lake. My family who lives out of town usually comes here several times a year.  I mostly take off the entire time they are here, and it gives me a much-needed refresh.  I extend my shipping times and just take a breather for the entire week.

I usually leave me phone on the dock (Well, in the house.  Don’t want to drop that in the lake.) and ignore everything for a few days.  A total business boycott. Lol. 

But I feel so much more refreshed, inspired and ready to get back at it afterwards.

I know, specifically, of one creative individual who spends her entire year traveling to new places and makes art inspired by the region she is currently living in. You can check her out on Instagram @Catcoq.

Learn a new skill or technique

Another thing to do would be to see if you can change the way you make your existing products or a new one entirely. 

Maybe you can outsource part of the product making process you don’t care for or find a new technique to create it. 

An example.  In one of my shops I make banners.  I used to EXCLUSIVELY hand cut panels, Cricut cut lettering and accents, glue, string, etc. 

I was feeling like I wanted to rip my teeth out because it was a time-consuming process. I was working 60+ hours a week and was pregnant. Then when I had my daughter, I wanted more of my time back. So, I switched to print and printable.  I now print about 1/2 of my products and have the other 1/2 set up as printables or other digital items. I never have to touch the digital products after creating.

For me, selling online is a means to an end.  I like to learn and explore and selling the products online is how I’m able to do that.

  1. It feeds my family and pays the bills.
  2. It gives me the income to explore new ideas, learn and grow. And…
  3. It gets the things I’ve created out of my house. LOL.

Along the way, I’ve discovered what I really LOVE to do. I had to go through 10+ years of trial, error and trying new things to get to where I am now.

I wouldn’t have continued to love being self-employed if I hadn’t allowed myself to follow the path of discovery.  And burnout would have been on the horizon, but I made necessary changes to stay in the happy-making lane.

Not everyone will feel the burning desire to switch things up but know that it’s perfectly fine to change what you are doing.  Just don’t get caught up too much in shiny object syndrome

If you are a born jewelry designer, then you bead, string, wire wrap, crimp and solder to your heart’s content.  If you’re a woodworker, you saw, chops, glue, miter and tack to your heart’s content. You see where I’m going, right?

Finding what your inspiration is and following your heart will lead to happier making, learning or whatever it is your business lets you accomplish that you love.

In all, avoiding burnout is really about managing both your expectations and your buyers’ so you can maintain a work-life balance that works for you.  Take it in stride and take a deep breath. Think about what exactly is causing burnout for you and how can you switch gears to keep it at bay and enjoy the work you do.

It is now 2:26 pm. I’ve been writing this post for a few hours now, and I’m taking the rest of today off.

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Melissa

Hi. I'm Melissa Talbott. Long-time seller on Etsy since 2013 with multiple shops on Etsy and several other E-commerce websites. I enjoy helping makers and small business owners create profitable businesses they love that also provide an income that supports their families on their terms.

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