Hi! We are Ellie and Don and Meant to be Made is our blog.
Our blog is where our passion and knowledge meet, all beautifully curated right here for you to take advantage of. We offer incredible insight into making money online, inspirational ideas, advice and also a wealth of knowledge on how to start your own business and make it a success.
We created Meant to be Made so that we could share our knowledge of creating a blog and business, making money online and insider tips and strategies for you to do this quickly and successfully.
With a background in business and media and owners of a successful six-figure online business, we’re just a couple of doting parents who want to show you how to do it all.
LET’S GO & DO SOMETHING AMAZING!
How we went from being made redundant, almost broke and in debt to making over $10,000 a month in our first year from selling handmade items online.
We’re going to run you through the story of Meant to be Made, however, it doesn’t actually start with Meant to be Made being our first solo venture. If you’re interested in starting a blog or an online business, going from zero to hero then read on. On our journey, we really started from the bottom (twice) and here we are.
Our journey was definitely a huge learning curve and time was against us. Having both been made redundant, we had only our months salary (and a little savings) to live off, so we went full pelt making a strategy, creating and starting our first online business which brought in $10,000 per month in its first year.
We should just say, doing this wasn’t easy but it wasn’t impossible and we plan on teaching, guiding and sharing everything we have ever learned here with you.
We created a successful business and lost a successful business. We have dusted ourselves off and started again from scratch, making it more successful (by learning from our mistakes and still learning!) and ran it on multiple online platforms earning us $10,000+ per month.
Let us tell you a little bit more about us.
Meet Don (husband, daddy + a seriously determined, hardworking guy)
Back in the day, Don worked for an IT company and was seriously the best at the job – honestly, clients just flocked to him (maybe it’s his charm).
Alongside working his day job, he also had several different side hustles, including a blog which made him a nice little side income (and taught him a lot). Eventually he moved on to work for a media company (which is how we met!) so that he could have more time for his side hustles as working in IT meant seriously long hours.
Meet Ellie (Wife, mummy + a seriously clever gal)
I graduated from University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication and Digital Publishing. To put it in simple terms I pretty much designed cool stuff like logos, publications, and websites while living off cereal and coffee.
After graduating, I worked in admin and sales, because that’s what happens when you study the arts for five years and don’t get a job in it. Quickly after, I started a job at a media company, and together, Don and I became an incredible team.
Working for ourselves – the start of our journey
We’ve hit quite a few interesting milestones along the way, had plenty of ups and plenty of downs, some quite severe. We’ve had failures and successes, we’ve been broke and also earned so much money we’ve had to cap it (that’s crazy right? Why put a cap on huge potential? But alas, we will talk about that later).
2015 – Being Made Redundant + Starting From Nothing
Late 2015, is where it all started for us. We were both working our typical 9-5 jobs which we had been at for a couple of years (Don for longer) and it truly was monotonous.
Don was earning a decent wage and I was slave labor (really, I was constantly being told I was doing too much work for the little pay I was getting. I was even working after hours at home).
There were early signs that the business wasn’t doing well and a huge chunk of the staff was going to be let go, we just didn’t know who yet. Rather than wait for the ship to sink, we decided to be smart and figure out a way to keep ourselves going after it was all over. That’s where our first business together comes in.
While we were at work, we were dying to work on our new business idea. We spoke strategy and planned during our lunch break, we accumulated research, we delved so deep into our competitors we felt like private investigators.
Every single night without fail we worked on our new business. We designed logos, we scrapped logos, we designed products until our eyes burned and we got to know SEO like we invented the thing. In doing all of this we had created the foundation for our first business, but we had also unknowingly made our first huge mistake.
Winter + Spring 2016 – Our Side Hustle Launched + Became Our First Online Business together
February 2016 was a key moment for us. We had just moved in together, renting a small apartment in a church conversion. ‘Luxury Flats’ they were labeled and sure they were beautiful but in the long term turned out to be too darn small.
We also had nothing in our new home, apart from a few basic things from IKEA and no internet. That’s a bit messed up considering we were about to launch an online business! But alas, we were saved by spending hours in a Mcdonald’s car park, sucking their free wifi dry as we uploaded all of our products onto one of the most popular online platforms going – Etsy.
We decided to open two stores (one for each of us) to cover a larger range of products and potentially give us a better income (first mistake). I focused on prints and downloads, whereas Don focused his attention on selling wall stickers.
So what were our hopes and dreams for our first Etsy store(s):
- Easy mega money
- Working from home to suit us
- More time together than we’ve ever had (multiple nap times? Yes please)
- Something to call our own.
- Being able to pay the bills at the very least
As you can tell, we were pretty thrilled about being up and running on Etsy and so eager to get traction and make money.
Don got sales pretty quick and I was so eager to get my first sale until eventually I was no longer eager and just became doubtful. It had just about been two months and I hadn’t even gotten a sale yet.
I was so gutted that I had put in so much time developing products and things weren’t going as planned. I remember we were sitting in the car at the park, talking about work, feeling pretty low. I felt like sacking in my store, as Dons was doing fine and I could just focus on him right?
Then suddenly, there was a Kaching! (The Etsy seller app actually makes that noise when you get a sale) and I got my first sale. I went from zero to hero in a millisecond.
I was honestly walking on clouds and the sales kept on coming. That’s the thing, you only need one sale to get sales (it’s all about ranking). To celebrate we got a kitten.
Okay, so it wasn’t really to celebrate but I had to give Don a really good reason to get a pet and this was the only excuse I could use apart from ‘but he’s sooo cute’ (which he was, he’s a furry ball of nightmares now).
Summer + Fall 2016 – Making Sales + Money While Travelling
In the summer of 2016, only 3 months after being made redundant we were pretty well established in our roles on Etsy. The stores were both doing great, we had a brilliant customer base and the money was really picking up.
From launching on Etsy in February, we were making roughly $10,000 p/m by August between us which after expenses, fees and the cost of living, left us with a tidy disposable income to play with. We had both been working so hard, day in day out, listening to our ‘tropical vibes’ playlist in the studio when suddenly Don said: “I want to go to Florida”.
Don had been to Florida in the past and was so keen for me to experience it with him but isn’t Florida one of those once in a lifetime holidays for us Brits? How could we afford Florida really? But looking at our income, knowing how to budget and doing a lot of research into deals, we went for it and booked our first holiday to Kissimmee, Florida for September.
We were going to spend 10 days in Florida, no work allowed, but somehow not lose a complete 10 days’ worth of income. A couple of things we learned about how Etsy could work for us in this situation –
- You don’t have to temporarily close your store as you make your own policies. Just prolong your processing days and leave a note on your store to say you are still taking orders but processing times will be a little longer than usual.
- Hello digital downloads! Want to know the best thing about digital downloads? The effort is in the initial production of the product, then going forward you just have to sit back and watch the sales come in. Digital downloads are a brilliant way of making a passive income and not working (so to speak).
We were enjoying our first holiday together as a couple, hearing Kachings often and we even got engaged – it truly felt like we were making it.
January 2017 – Losing Your Income When you Really Can’t Afford to Lose it
January was the two extremes for us. On January 7th we found out we were pregnant and we were so happy and overwhelmed and totally ready for the journey. The business was going really well and we were expanding out to a wider audience, then two weeks later we could no longer access one of our stores.
Imagine logging into your store one morning to start work for the day and being hit with a suspension notice with no prior warning. It turns out our print and download store had been closed due to trademark infringement, something we weren’t even aware we had done!
Let me give you a quick insight. When you design a Christmas product but tag it ‘the elf on the s—f’ – expect to be closed down. It was pretty upsetting to have our store closed down just for using a phrase that was tradmarket, but at least we had the other one to fall back on.
March 2017 – Losing All of Your Income, Your Business, And Your Hopes
Remember when I mentioned earlier about our ‘first mistake’? Well, this is it right now. Creating two separate stores on one platform a whole year earlier was coming back to bite us. Please, guys, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Our second store was closed down with no prior warning. Guilty by association, which is an Etsy policy. There was no email of infringement or any wrongdoing apart from having two stores (even though they were ran by separate owners). By using the same IP address (wifi), Etsy essentially labeled it as risky.
In as little as three months we had lost our business and had no other way of bringing in any income and we were pregnant. It would be fair to say we were pretty devastated.
Going forward things didn’t get any easier. We were dealing with an illness in the family, whose health was rapidly depleting along with our own mental health going downhill.
We were at a really, really low point and any money we had saved was running out very quickly as we had to use our savings and credit card to pay rent, bills and grocery shopping.
We worked constantly, day and night trying to build our business back up. We were tired, struggling mentally and emotionally and falling out a lot. Amongst that, I was suffering horrendous morning sickness.
There was one positive we could hold on to from all of this and that was our experience. We learned a ton from our time on Etsy and we had prior knowledge of setting up websites and doing design work so we went forward with starting our online store.
May 2017 – Tragedy Ensues + Helping Others Helps You
By May we had made some progress, but we weren’t earning enough to take the impact off the credit card which was causing us debt. In late May, we went to visit my family in Manchester after it suffered a horrendous terrorist attack. This is the point where it all changed.
Before heading to Manchester, we decided to create a Manchester Bee sticker as the worker bee represents the close, hard-working people of Manchester.
We offered these for free on our online store as a gesture of goodwill and for other people to show their support and we also took some to Manchester with us. Our sticker proved so popular that we were approached by a few companies who wanted to buy them in bulk from us and so we charged a small fee to cover our time, materials and postage.
In addition to this, people started to become aware of our product range and the sales of our products started flowing in.
This really changed things for us and allowed us to pay our rent and get off the credit card. We were able to support the people of Manchester and they were able to support us.
Summer 2017 – Amazon Handmade + Back to $10,000 p/m
We’re going to introduce the next platform we decided to tackle – Amazon Handmade. The good thing about having previous experience with Etsy is that we could transfer a lot of what we learned to Amazon, although let me tell you, Amazon is a different beast.
We got started on Amazon and quickly but thoroughly learned as much as we needed to start accumulating sales and make quick progress. At this point, I’m pregnant as hell, like I’m going to burst and we are busier than ever.
There is never a break with Amazon and to be honest, having too many sales is a good problem to have and we quickly started to reach the money we were earning before being wiped off Etsy.
If you’re interested in learning EVERYTHING there is to know about selling on Amazon then check out our Amazon series. It is so in-depth and will seriously progress your online business and launch your income from Amazon.
Fall 2017 – Hello Baby + Working Solo
In September 2017, we welcomed our daughter to the world. We knew that keeping on top of business would be hard but with the birth of Emma came an influx of health problems for her.
I was in hospital for about a week with Emma which meant Don had to run the business solo and learn how to do all the manual labor on his own. However, he learned a lot of techniques and tricks for being able to quickly and effectively blast through orders which we are excited to pass on to you.
For the rest of 2017, we focused on maintaining our sales and increasing the products we could offer so we could start 2018 at a higher level.
Spring 2018 – Growing the Business
By the spring of 2018 our business was growing rapidly, but it was also becoming so busy it was hard to manage.
We were generating enough sales that we had to work from morning to night and that still wasnt enough time to get through them all.
At this point we decided to purchase new machinery and equipment which would help us work more efficiently. All the new products we created at the end of 2017 made a prominent appearance on our store which helped to up sales alongside Amazon.
Summer 2018 – Having to Shut Down Business Because $15,000 Per Month is Just Too Much.
By early July, we were pushing $15,000 per month which is equivalent to 16-hour workdays every day of the week and too much work for just two people.
Remember that our business was heavy on labor, we had to do every single step of our business from idea to finished product between the two of us and it was tiring.
This is where we started to shut down business.
By mid summer we decided to temporarily close our business for a month. During that month we got married (spur of the moment elopement which was so fun), spent our honeymoon in Nice and then came home and slowly started getting our head back into work.
Over the course of 2018, our business attracted quite a few big clients such as Elstree Film & TV Studios, McDonalds, BT, Costa, Smyths Toys Superstores and the NHS (plus so many more) which was really fun and exciting for us.
We also decided to adjust our strategy to allow us to work more efficiently (less work, more profit) especially since we were now working with big companies which required a lot more of our time.
The business was booming, it was the best it has ever been and in Fall 2018, we had a light bulb moment.
Winter 2018 – Meant to be Made was Born
In the winter of 2018 we took another month off work to go travelling. This time we travelling through Scandinavia and Europe.
Taking time away from our main business let us brainstorm new ideas and it’s at this point where we had a brainwave.
It was one of those flashes of an idea. Something that just flickers so quickly across your mind that you almost miss it and it doesn’t make it to your lips. Luckily for us (and you), our thought became an idea we couldn’t ignore. We wanted to share all of our experiences, teach all of our knowledge and give everything we had to people who were doing or wanted to do what we had achieved over the years.
This is where things start to get interesting for you! Like I said at the start and as you have read, getting to this point was definitely a rollercoaster ride but Don and I have experienced the failures, rode the highs and learned a heck of a lot to this point.
All you have to do is gather your passion, gather your patience and invest some time into reading all we have to offer, and we can show you how to make money online which is actually worthwhile!
As you can imagine, the start of something new is always exciting and we were seriously charged for doing this. It was something fresh, something we were passionate about and something which could genuinely help people.
Fast forward a month or two and then reality hits.
2019 – Juggling running a business while starting a NEW Business + Making it Work
So when I say reality hits, I mean it like this. It’s all good fun starting a new project, having new ambitions and getting yourself all pumped up for it but the reality is that if you are currently working and trying to juggle multiple jobs, it’s gonna get hard!
Some of you might work a 9-5 and then work part-time on the side and I can imagine that must be hard and for those of you who don’t have a side job, making money online is going to become just that. It’s going to be hard, your enthusiasm is going to falter but the end reward will be worth it if you put the hard work in.
In our case, I hit a period where my enthusiasm faltered completely. Work was super busy, I became ill and I didn’t have time or energy for Meant to be Made.
I’d get through my ‘7-10’ and all I would want to do is sleep because it was too much to be awake. We cover how to get through days like this throughout the blog but I’m an honest woman and I’m going to let you in on a secret.
You can read the posts on time management, how to work like a super dude and push past all the crap you’re feeling or you can simply be human and pull a sickie. And sometimes for me to actually use the little energy I had to get stuff done for Meant to be Made, I had to pull a sickie.
We wanted Meant to be Made to become our full-time jobs and lay our first business to rest. We’d been running them side by side so we could keep an income but this meant the progress on Meant to be Made was slower than expected.
We decided to sit together and create a strategy for a period of 12 weeks, laying things out month by month and working side by side to get through things (but things never really go to plan). After four weeks into our strategy, we realized we were really being held back by our current business, we just didn’t have the time for ANYTHING.
We decided to push our current business harder, influx the money and close shop in just over 30 days’ time. This would;
- Allow us to hit our savings target quicker ($25,000) which we want to reach before closing.
- Provide fresh enthusiasm for MTBM. We had just over 30 days to slog it out before starting our new jobs full time – exciting!
- Add but also alleviate pressure. The pressure was on to get our site more structured and work on our content before we hit full time. However, we were also aware that if we couldn’t put in the time we needed over the next 30 days, we had money to supplement our loss of earnings when we went full time on Meant to be Made.
End of 2019 – The Final Push + Baby Number Two
In the fall and winter of 2019, we closed shop on our main business and focused all of our attention on Meant to be Made. We started our blog from nothing, all we had was a strategy and determination to make it work.
Alongside this, we were also expected our second baby in January 2020, so there was a lot of pressure to get this as close to finished as possible before he arrived.
2020 – Meant to be Made Launched
So here we are, we’ve finally launched Meant to be Made. As you can see, it has been a long journey for us, you’ve been on it with us! We have had so much to juggle while trying to build Meant to be Made – another business, another baby, personal issues – but if we were able to focus solely on this blog we would have completed it a lot sooner.
We launched Meant to be Made with over 150+ informative, helpful and honest posts all created with you in mind. We fleshed out multiple courses, all aimed to teach and guide our readers on specific aspects of their journeys. We developed a ton of great freebies and products all designed to aid you and develop your passion in one way or another.
If you want to learn how to make a blog and monetize it like us, then read our free in-depth how to start a blog guide here.
Despite what has happened this year with COVID-19, we are still trying to stay positive about the health of the world and what this means for business everywhere. All we can do right now is to keep working hard and developing Meant to be Made so we can help others through this hard time.
Remember to stay safe, work hard, and sing happy birthday to yourself!