Dolly Henry is a sewing and design blog for the creative wanderer, where style meets play and making is a lifestyle.

Hi, I'm Megan - owner, designer and writer at Dolly Henry! Join me here as I explore the ins and outs of creativity, dabble in dollmaking and raise my voice on issues facing creative entrepreneurs.

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Good, Not Perfect - Selling Your Work Online

I was listening to a podcast, late at night last week in an attempt to fight off a sudden bout of insomnia. It didn't work, but as I listened sleepily to the discussion on selling your creative work online, there was one part that I found particularly relatable.

The fact that 10 years ago, it was a lot simpler to publish your work online and earn sales, then it is in 2018. Back then, Etsy was new and the whole internet was quite a different place than it was now. There was not a lot of competition and like many things in their infancy, the whole thing was a lot more exciting!

This drew me back to my own experiences, the first items I made and sold online. It was fairly easy to share your work, and I was lucky to grow a small audience quite quickly. It was a community. Everyone was so new at the whole make-it-and-sell-it game that it didn't matter my photos were totally dodgy. I look back now and laugh at items that sold out instantly - the product was good, the photos were bad. Very bad.

The thing was - everyone else's looked like that too. Filters were applied a little too liberally - I remember one item I sold vividly. The photo was cropped with curly frames and the effect I applied had a snow-like grain to it, in an attempt to try and make the whole photo look 'better'.

But it didn't matter - nobody had excellent photos, and the pressure was relatively non-existent. It was easy for people to find you - the community was a lot smaller and social media didn't have the algorithm issues. So making, selling and promoting your work was a fairly simple process.

I saw a post on Instagram recently, a clever little sketch depicting a character all excited to share his art online. He was excited because the internet made it easy for him to share his work with others. Except when he checks it out, he is so daunted by the high-quality standard of the work other people are sharing, their thousands of followers and photography, he is too afraid to share his work.

This is an excellent example of comparison stealing joy. The comic strip was very relatable, it's true. It does feel like you have to be a professional photographer in order to sell your work online now. An expert on Instagram. A whiz at marketing. You feel like you can't share your work or somehow, it isn't as good because you don't have the skills to compete with such glossy imagery.

This is sad. The need to be 'better better better' and the advertisements in your newsfeed telling you 'that you too can reach 1000 sales overnight or earn a 10-figure income off your handmade pineapple purse' has created so much pressure for creatives that are already experienced, let alone the new artists dipping their toe in the water for the first time.

Don't listen to the noise. It is indeed wonderful that you can take your work and share it on the internet, and reach someone in another country. Don't let the fact that you are new and still working things out stop you. Don't let one account with 20k+ followers daunt you - they started years ago and they started when the social platforms made it easier to accrue those numbers. A lot of people are swayed by vanity metrics but that's all they are - vanity metrics. They aren't the numbers that matter.

There is no hard and fast rule - some people might try to convince you that there is. But if you shut up like a clam and don't put yourself out there, you are not going to be any closer to achieving your dreams.

Acknowledge to yourself that you are learning, embrace the exciting stages of learning something new. I never used to touch the camera, was afraid of how it made my work look 'crappy.' One day, I decided the only way I was going to improve was with a lot of practice. And that improvement is something that never stops. You only stop improving when you stop learning. And we will never stop learning.

Now I really enjoy photography and reaching new stages in my work. It's become creative for me, the process itself is quite fun. The more I look around, the more I have come to see how many different kinds of photography there is. It's taken me nearly 3 years of constant clicking away and experimenting to reach the point where I feel happy with the quality of my photos. There has been so much trial and error! And I should mention here that I am not a patient person.

So forget the hustle, hustle, hustle and just start. Enjoy the journey. Remind yourself that everyone who is now experienced was once a beginner. You only have to go back to the beginning of someone's Instagram account to see that once upon a time, their work didn't look as 'amazing' as it does now. But they persisted, and it's that ability to accept the process that will in time, allow you to improve your work as a creative and add to your skillset.

The pressure is only higher if we allow it to be. The pressure that comes with comparison, comparison who delights in robbing hearts of joy and in the process, murdering creativity.

Learn to be okay with good enough, trusting that in time your version of good will change and adapt as you continue to grow as a maker and an artist.



  1. This is so true. It's true of everything we do but especially true for those sharing their creativity. Words or pictures, photographs or dresses,all creative output represents the individual creator and can only ever be judged subjectively by others. Never let it stop you from moving forward.

    1. Wise words Nikki! So true ☺️ Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes! It’s all about finding your tribe ✨ Megan x


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