I think I forgot to tell you yesterday that I am sharing what I love with you this week.
One of the things that I love is Etsy.
Okay. Maybe I am a bit addicted.
I love the way that you can search for items by color or pounce on things that have been just listed or discover shops that need that first sale. I love looking at the Front Page (and dream of being there one day) and the Treasuries I have made and been a part of. I love that there are real people on the other end of that convo and they have all been a dream to work with.
I have been a buyer on Etsy for years. If I can't find it there, I have to say that I am a bit reticent to look for it elsewhere since I love the comparison aspect. I love all the hand crafted art that is out there on Etsy and have made friends with some sellers. I wasn't sure that I had what it took to sell on Etsy and wondered that allowed to my good friend. It was not until my friend gave me an ultimatum last year that I actually took the plunge and set up shop on Etsy. She told me that I had to have a shop open by April 1st. So on March 30th, 2010, I officially opened the shop...with a header and some shop policies, but no items! (I found a loophole in her ultimatum ;-) It wasn't until September that I actually listed something!
I don't know what I was waiting for. Except I can tell you that I have this desire to make sure things are just right before I do them. I am a research fanatic. I need to know how things work, and why, and I spend a lot of time reading and absorbing and making sure that things are just so. That is when my friend told me to just get over myself. If I were waiting until everything was just perfect, there would never be a time to start. She said that Etsy is like an ocean... there is plenty of room for all of us to swim. She was right.
I started by listing things that had been returned to me from publications, figuring that I already had pictures of each of them. I wanted to have my listings a certain way. And while it is a work in progress to get things just right, I had to start somewhere.
And then... nothing happened. I recall checking stats out on CraftCult. Occasionally there would be a heart. Too cool! But no sales.
I remember vividly the moment of my first sale.
I got an email that I had never seen before that ended up in my Spam folder. It was something to the effect of there were uncollected funds of $150.00 in my PayPal account. I was actually getting ready to email PayPal this "spoof" email and have them look into it, when a second email from Etsy arrived showing that I did indeed have a sale! The first sale was to someone in California. I come to find out that this person picked up her first BeadStyle magazine in which I happened to be the featured designer. Then she saw that I am from Stevens Point, and she was excited because she is originally from a town just 40 minutes away. So she got online and found my Etsy shop and was delighted to find that all three pieces from that feature were in the shop. And she bought two. (It is a good thing that I didn't actually send that supposed spoof to PayPal. I can just imagine that I would be the talk around the water cooler about that naive bumpkin from Wisconsin asking for the money to be removed from her account!)
Shortly after that I got another email, this time my first convo, from a patron in France. She wanted to know if I shipped internationally, and that she loved a piece that she also saw on my website, and was that one for sale too? So I had to explore the possibility of shipping internationally. And now there are two of my favorite pieces walking around in France somewhere (that gives me goose bumps!).
And the fourth sale was coincidentally from someone who lives down the road just a bit from me. Did I know her? No. But she had been to my gallery exhibit earlier that summer and remembered me and bought a pair of earrings. (I refunded her the shipping since I delivered it personally!).
That was just a few months ago, and now I am closing in on 100 sales.
I don't have the most smokin' Etsy shop and I probably never will. I don't have the time to play the relisting games to push myself to the top or spend hours marketing it and making Treasuries and joining teams. I would love to do that, but I have a day job. I look at Etsy as just one more tool in the toolbox for getting my name out there and selling the things that I make. I know that people have complained about the fees but they really are not that bad. If you feel that they are, then you should take that into account when you are pricing things. If you sell on commission in a gallery they can typically take from 20-50% of the sale. I once calculated what the Etsy fees, the PayPal fees and the actual shipping costs were and it hovered around 10%. That seems more than reasonable to me.
If you are considering opening a shop, there are plenty of awesome articles out there that will help you, but here are some of my observations:
- DO your homework. Spend some time just browsing to get a sense for what is out there, what sells, at what price and then plan how you can get a piece of that action.
- DON'T think that you have to have it perfect before you begin. It is a work in progress, so treat it as such.
- DO decide on some key policies before you begin. How will you handle international orders? What about returns? Will you take custom orders? How will that work?
- DON'T neglect your pictures. They are everything to a good shop. Look at the shops you admire and take note of their picture taking.
- DO develop your own style. From the header (there are plenty of Etsians who make headers and some will even make yours unique to you - or make your own. That is what I do!) to the pictures to the text in the listings. How you do it says a lot about you.
- DON'T skimp on the tags. Do some generic ones but also think outside the box and come up with some that might bring searchers your way, as long as it is true.
- DO add items as frequently as you can. This is something that I am not good at. I am trying to get better. I will never be listing and re-listing to have things come to the top. That is not where I want to be. Every heart I have received and every item I have sold is because someone came looking for ME. That is the way I like it ;-)
- DON'T forget that you are a real human and that the person on the other end of the keyboard is real. Treating customers right is the sure way to keep them coming back and maybe even becoming friends.
- DO research what others are selling similar items for but...
- DON'T undersell yourself. You will only do yourself a disservice and your fellow Etsians as well. Your time and talent are worth money, sometimes more than the cost of the materials used to make it.
- DO be realistic in what you can do to make your shop a success and what sort of sales you might get out of it.
- DON'T be discouraged if you are not a top tier seller. I am sure that those people work exceedingly hard. Look at this as one more layer in your overall plan to do what you love and make a little money at it.
I am working this week on an update to the shop (right now my camera will not talk to my computer so I am a tad bit frustrated!). Each day I will list some new charms and pendants and components from the 'simple truths' line as well as more finished jewelry. To celebrate my birthday week, I am offering a discount of 15% off anything in my Etsy shop (or click the slide show on the right) from now through Sunday, August 14th. All orders placed this week will go out next week.
To get the discount, be sure to enter the code: ITSMYPARTY
Do you have an Etsy shop? If so, what is the best thing about your experience on Etsy? What tips do you have to share?
If you do not have an Etsy shop, is it something that you are considering? What is holding you back?
Or if you are not a seller, are you a buyer on Etsy? What