Starting an Online Business during the Pandemic

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During the pandemic, the internet has been one of the sources in my life I feel that I depended on for multiple reasons and factors. The first and foremost being the news. Staying up to date on different news websites and Facebook announcements allowed me to monitor what safety precautions to take, the severity of the virus, and whether my family and I would be able to stay safe. At first, the internet was a source of fear, anticipation, and solace. When I arrived home after the spring semester was cut short of in-person teaching, it seemed that all was at a standstill, except for the internet. It stayed buzzing, more so than ever in my opinion. 

            Naturally, the internet provided the most entertainment in a world where we had to stay inside. However, more than entertainment, I began looking for ways to connect with others and keep putting myself out there despite the current shortcomings. One of the sites that I was able to learn, use, and apply was Etsy. I have always loved to draw and create illustrations that have a meaning. My peers and family always mentioned here and there that I should begin a business, but I always came up with excuses. There wasn’t enough time in the day, I had to focus on my priorities, etc. However, with more time on my hands than I ever found previously, I was finally able to put all of those excuses aside and really look into how to run an online business. At first, I wasn’t anticipating success. Especially with the economy at an all-time low due to the pandemic, I didn’t have much hope that Etsy would add much to my life, just a side job. However, one thing I noticed right away was how many other artists were out there having a passion for sharing their creations. If I never put myself out there on Etsy, I wouldn’t have been able to discover this whole new network of community that existed within this website. Etsy was the kickstart to my search for connections within the art community. This led to my research into an art sponsorship website called Patreon, the importance of social media marketing, and the effort that goes into an online business. I also found a website called skill share, a tool that was so essential to my learning. As much as I love drawing, being able to get guidance and lessons online from real teachers and real professionals was such an eye opener. It was such a great tool for me to keep learning despite life being at a standstill, because I am the type of person to always keep busy. Skill share is a site that I thought was so well made, especially to share knowledge within so many different communities like photography, digital illustration, and video editing. 

Over the past ten years, I can confidently say that the internet has boomed into not only a place of entertainment but a place where people can now hold an income and become recognized by their works. One place that also was pivotal to my familiarity with the internet was YouTube. This seems odd, considering that YouTube has been around for years. I always saw YouTube as a place for instant entertainment and nothing more, until the pandemic when I realized that I could also market my product and share my life with others in this style of the “vlog”. At first my motivations for starting a YouTube channel came from a place of wanting to keep my family in Korea updated, as another form of communication. It then evolved into sharing my love for cooking and wanting to share my simple recipes with others as well. Now, after about 5 months of starting my channel, it’s being used to market my products on Etsy and share my daily life. More than ever in a strange world where human and physical contact is minimized, the online community and tools to connect have become so prevalent in my life. 

            However, as always, I do believe that social media, while being powerful platforms, can become too powerful. In detail, social media and the internet have this tempting quality of comparison to others, and it can be all too easy to get sucked into a mindset of wanting to put a persona out there that isn’t congruent with oneself. I am a firm believer in staying true to myself, regardless of what the media might say today. Finding a balance with the internet and the life around me has been a learning curve during the pandemic. Although the internet has provided so many tools for me to market, start a business, and learn, it is a breath of fresh air when I get to spend time off with family, playing the piano, and learning through other mediums. My journey with Etsy is still evolving, into one of learning to honing my ability to understand its algorithm and selling capacity. It has even evolved into consideration into other sites as well such as square space or WordPress to sell my items, something that I am looking forward to research more as well. 

            Overall, the internet has definitely been seeming like a new world during the pandemic. With so many new platforms and ways for me to connect and share with others, I am excited to keep navigating these tools. 

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