13 ways to avoid burnout in your etsy shop - Melissa Talbott

13 Ways To Avoid Burnout In Your Etsy Shop

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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 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.


Burnout is real. If you're a newer Etsy shop owner, you may think that 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.


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

Whether you have products that are time-consuming and buyers are constantly messaging you asking when their items are going to ship, wanting mockups, font changes, etc., or you simply have taken on too many orders at once.  You can quickly find yourself in a panic about how to get your orders finished and out the door on time. 

Four quick solutions. 

  • Extend your processing times
  • Put your shop on vacation for a few days
  • Stop taking in custom orders
  • Hire help

If only extending processing times or putting your shop on vacay for a few days, your shop will not suffer or lose much traction, and it will give you a much needed break to get caught up. 

This can happen especially around big buying holidays.  Even if for just one day, you give yourself some room to breathe without worrying about new orders and your already overwhelming workload.

If your shop doesn’t primarily run on custom orders, then not taking on that additional stress may be all that’s needed.



If your business is growing at a fast pace, you may want to consider hiring some additional help.  This could be just temporary during your busy season or a more permanent solution, such as hiring office staff to help with the daily operational tasks like invoicing, answering email inquiries, etc. or consider a virtual assistant.

The less costly way may be to bribe your kids (bribing my 12 year old doesn’t work. Just an FYI.  LOL), ask your hubby to donate a few hours on the weekend or snag a gal pal for a bit before heading out to girls' night.

Hiring help doesn’t have to be a huge expense and can just be done on an as-needed basis.



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 that week.) 

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 sort of occasion but definitely should not be your normal operating system. 

Sleep deprivation will lead to all kinds of other issues.  Decreased productivity, costly mistakes, irritability, weight gain and so much more.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep!  Your body has a similar response to not getting enough sleep as it does drinking alcohol.  You’re impaired.  When you’re behind on your Z’s isn’t the time to be running a table saw to cut that custom sign.  Go get some rest.

Make sure you are eating a fairly healthy diet.  Yep, you're hearing it again.  A better diet allows your mind to function at its optimum.  Keep feeding it the junk like high carb processed foods, and you will see more crashes and mental fatigue.

And take care of yourself in general.  Even for the busy mompreneur, a shower and twenty minutes of peace and quiet can make a world of difference in how efficiently you are operating.  Whether you put the kids in bed and take a bubble bath, put on something other than grungy painting/workshop clothes, slap on some mascara and lip gloss or just take five minutes to shave your legs.  DO IT! 

You will feel a little more human afterwards, trust me.  

Do something for yourself, even if only for 5 minutes. This helps keep you from  that feeling of always having to be ON, which is one of the quickest ways to burn out.  Time to breath, fresh air, a walk or even just a short nap to recharge.

If you start experiencing lots of stress headaches or stomachaches and intestinal issues, you may need to take a break and slow back down.  Listen to your body!  Remember… you’re body is able to mostly run on autopilot.  If it starts sending you distress signals, check the blinking red light! 



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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. 


If you are jumping at that message ding (which by the way, is the same ding sound as a favorite in the Etsy app) you ARE 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 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 and that 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.



Jumping to the ding also can derail you if you are working on a current order or project.  I have read this one over and over again in business articles.  STOP THE DISRUPTIONS and INTERUPTIONS! 

Did you know that on average it takes about 20 minutes to get back on track when interrupted?  So that 5 minute task now ended up being 25-30 minutes.  DANG IT! 

There are reasons concepts like TIME BLOCKING exist.  It’s to stop the disruptions and keep you focused so you can be more productive at work.



I know that’s not always possible and that plans can change at a moments notice. I have kids and a family. The four year old is home with me every day so I am the master at multitasking

But, sometimes I just need to focus. Sometimes, this works best when my spouse is home or with a really good kiddo activity that helps keep her entertained.

For those with little ones… make sure to spend time with them.  Please don’t forget this. 

A simple fix that can work is creating a daily schedule.  Getting yourself and your kiddos used to working at certain times of the day gets them used to the daily flow of activities and makes it easier to manage your busy day.

For example, get little Suzy is used to eating breakfast, then transition to reading a book, then on to an age-appropriate activity. 

This might also help to spend one-on-one time with your child…DEVOTED time, not distracted, focused solely on your child for at least 30 minutes to an hour.  They then are full of mom's (or dad's) love and affection and feel secure in going off to do other things on their own.

Then transition into craft time or an educational video.  Mommy’s crafting time, kiddo’s crafting time, etc.  My daughter loves watching anything crafty like Creative Galaxy (give her some paper, markers, etc. and she's off creating right along with Arty) and fun educational shows like DIY SCI (check out DIY SCI if your kids like science!!!  Steve Spangler's a former science teacher and teaches all kinds of cool science experiments.  Even our 12 year old watches it.)

Now that your little one is intrigued with their own activity, you can get some quality work time in.  Time blocking would still have to be flexible and fluid if you have kids around, but works great for also training young kids to focus on their own for a little bit (a much needed skill in today's world of technology, social media and other distractions).

BONUS - take one of those time blocks and use it to make your family feel even more connected to you.  Not all daily tasks have to be work-focused. Take a mommy-toddler power nap.  Who doesn't like snuggling?  You can also take one of those time blocks to snuggle with your spouse too while watching a show together on the couch or just have a relaxing conversation on the deck to enjoy the sunlight and unwind a bit.



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. 

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

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, whether it's a more difficult and time-consuming task or if it’s a super needy, needs-to-hold-your-hand-while-you-paint buyer. (It’s 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, 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 and will help manage their expectations if they have to wait longer or order at a later date if they really want to work with you.

Or you could 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.

As a side note, Etsy recently had been throttling shops (slowing down their traffic and not showing them in search results) when Etsy felt they had too many orders outstanding.  This situation could actually do more damage than just saying no to one or two custom orders as 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. 



I got into being self-employed while being a stay-at-home mom with ants-in-her pants and a need to create, not 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, and work on my own terms to accommodate my family while having a young child a 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 as permanent employment.  I enjoy the freedoms it allows me way too much to give that up.

If I bend to the will of every buyer that passes through my shop, wanting me to create products that are not in my wheelhouse or wouldn’t allow for the profit margins I prefer, or they need it in three days because they procrastinated purchasing (not happening by the way), etc., I will have no 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. 



A simple example of this is in one of my digital shops. I RARELY (I mean almost NEVER) take custom orders there.  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, as 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.



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 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, and you make changes and maybe learn to create products in a complimentary space, etc. 

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.

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 they allow us so much more.

They keep my business running, food on the table and roof over my family’s head, but they also provide me with the income that allows me to spend money on growing as a person like other non-business hobbies and such, able to explore new ideas, etc. because that is 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 that transition can take time. But explore and be willing try something new.


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!!!

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.

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.



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.



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 letting and accents, glue, string, etc. 

I was feeling like I wanted to rip my teeth out because it was a time-consuming process, and I wanted more of my time back. So, I switched to print and printable.  I now print about ¼ of my products, hand-make ¼  and have the other ½ set up as printables or other digital items I never have to touch 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, which these days is more about designing and less physical product making, so I do much more work digitally, from printable party décor to product mockups and more. 

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 and how can you switch gears to keep it at bay and enjoy the work you do.

Keep on making and stay safe out there.



Are you thinking about starting your own Etsy shop??  Use this link to get 40 FREE listing credits!!


Earn 40 Free Etsy Listing Credits - Melissa Talbott



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