09 August 2011

It's My Party: Birthday Week Giveaway Day 2

"Thanks to modern medical advances such as antibiotics, nasal spray, and Diet Coke, it has become routine for people in the civilized world to pass the age of 40, sometimes more than once." ~Dave Barry, "Your Disintegrating Body," Dave Barry Turns 40, 1990

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

Your turn...
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


moonlitfantaseas said...

I have been a buyer on etsy for a long time, but not a seller........I don't know how to set up a shop, and I am not very computer savvy......I would like to explore it though, I have so much jewelery made up, and don't have a venue for it as yet.......I love reading your blog you always have such pertinate information...

Alice said...

You must be a mind reader. This week I've been feeling a bit confused and bewildered about my jewelry sales. Every first friday of the month I sell at a gallery in Kansas City for their First Friday events. There are loads of people, most of which appreciate the art of handmade (unlike the people who live in my small town). This past Friday I sold only four pieces. It's quite a bit of work, not to mention the 3+hour hour round trip. To make a long story short, eventhough the people ohhh and ahhh over my jewelry and comment on the fair price, they just aren't buying. I'm wondering what my place is in this business, my skills, my prices, is this even what I should be doing. I thought of opening an etsy shop just to see what happens.

Like you, I want to investigate and learn all about things before I jump in. Also, my photography skills are not where they should be. But really these are just stall tactics, to be honest. I just need to jump in and take the plunge (along with my very own blog).

Whew, sorry for the long comment, and thanks for all the great information on etsy.

Happy Happy Birthday Week!!!!

SummersStudio said...

These are very good points you make about selling on Etsy. My experience there has been pretty good overall. When I first started out I found a wealth of information available to help me get started. They've also made some wonderful changes that make listing so much easier than when I first opened my 'doors.' One thing I would add is that while people may find you on Etsy, it is important to do what you can to get people to Etsy. Things like blogging, advertising, magazine submissions, all help to create awareness of your Etsy shop and what you have to offer.

Anonymous said...

I bookmarked this post so I can come back and linger over your observations. I set up my etsy account soo long ago but have not had the nerve to list anything. I love going there to read the Quit My day Job stories and have glanced at the forums. I could see myself getting lost on etsy all day long!
I applaud your bravery and honesty. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Happy Birthday!

Unknown said...

Oh you do know how to make me think. I have been thinking for a while but I am not sure if what I have to offer is something that can sell. Then the other day a fellow blogger posted about an artist who is making one of the things I was pondering and it was received well. I may look into it more after things relax a bit.

Kim Stevens said...

Oh, this all totally resonates with me Erin - I too am one that needs to research, and have everything nice before I start something. And then one day I came across a quote that well, kinda slapped me in the face. In fact that very same day I went back into my blog that I had set up and forgotten about and wrote my first post . . . without anything else . . . no pictures, no buttons, nothing! Now I need to do the same with my etsy shop. This was the quote that I read:

“Too many of us wait to do the perfect thing, with the result we do nothing. The way to get ahead is to start now. While many of us are waiting until conditions are ‘just right’ before we go ahead, others are stumbling along, fortunately ignorant of the dangers that beset them. By the time we are, in our superior wisdom, decided to make a start, we discover that those who have gone fearlessly on before, have, in their blundering way, traveled a considerable distance. If you start now, you will know a lot next year that you don’t know now, and that you will not know next year, if you wait.”

~The William Feather Magazine (care of Steve Pavlina)

So now here I am taking those steps towards blundering my own way through what I hope will ultimately be a great distance traveled and I am excited to know what I wouldn't have known had I continued to wait, whatever that might be!! Kim

queenofcuffs said...

Happy Birthday Week.
Thanks for such wise etsy words !!
I have an etsy shop - only 2 sales - but still love it to bits.
My best experience is the amazing help and friendships from other etsy people and I would say to anyone thinking of starting a shop - any questions - shout out and lots of help will come flooding in.
My only problem is my addiction. It is at times a serious one. Do other people have it??
I am either checking my shop . . looking at threads . . making team treasuries . . checking what's new . . buying too much . .
even before I go to bed I just have one last lookie !!
So be very very careful . . so addictive.
Love your blog and your creative beautiful work rocks.
How do you fit so much into your day.
(I must resolve to look less and make more)

Maneki said...

Happy birthday week!

I'm mostly a buyer, on Etsy and everywhere else. Don't spend as much time there as I used to, but browse around every now and then, muttering about why it should be so difficult to find unusual czech beads on this side of the Atlantic, drooling over dupioni silk ribbons and art beads, being inspired by jewellery and treasuries and so on. But you really have to be strict when searching and wandering around Etsy or you'll end up broke!

While I guess I could sell jewellery, what I'd really want to do would be to create beads and components to sell. I think that'd be more fun than selling jewellery as I'd sell something the buyer would create with. I'd be part of a piece of jewellery I could never dream up myself, using the same beads. I'm very inspired by other bead artists who sell their beads, pendants, charms, connectors etc online. Now I just need to experiment to find my style and niche in bead-making.

Here's the irony: I love pretty much all aspects of business (well, sans final accounts)and yet I don't sell anything and I don't have anything that's even close to becoming a company. I probably know why too. Mostly cowardice, but also the fact I'm sharing home with my parents and would feel more free to work and try things if I'd have my own place again.

Maneki said...

By the way, Kim: I really like that quote. I also think many people don't wait for the perfect moment because it has to be just right (for one reason or the other), but use it as an excuse not to dare take the leap. When you lack the self-confidence you really find all sorts of excuses or not to do something. Or you set up a "goal" but without a time frame, which is _the_ way not to get anything done.

Brandi Hussey said...

Happy Birthday, Miss Erin!!!!

It's a strange feeling to know that I signed up on Etsy in 2007. Though I don't sell there anymore, I think it's a great place to learn and experiment. A good number of my sales were to other sellers, so there was a freedom to playing with everything from packaging to photos till I found my own voice. It was okay to play with it! Everyone seemed to understand that, since everyone was working for the same thing - making their shops better.

I will say that Etsy's really different now then it used to be. It's harder now to get on the front page, get a lot of sales. I think I was luckier than most, but that could really be because I did it full-time. It's a lot of work! But I did it because I loved it.

My best piece of Etsy advice is this: your focus should be on making your shop as good as it can be; everything else is just part of the experience.

I've been on the front page several times, and that's awesome; but it really shouldn't be a goal. Other than a burst of exposure, nothing much changes. I've seen friends work so hard to get into treasuries hoping to get on the front page, and it never happens. Instead, I'd suggest channeling that energy into constructive goals you can meet, like photos or listings or creating. Much more satisfying, let me tell you.

I've also been on several teams, and helped start a couple, too. They are a great place to connect with people who get you, but they can be a drain on your time, especially if you only create part-time. Before joining a team, I'd suggest being really clear with yourself about what you want and expect to happen with a team; this way, you aren't disappointed.

The best thing about a team, beyond the connections, is that together, you are a bigger voice on Etsy. You can support and promote each other, and your promotion effects are instantly multiplied - that's fantastic.

Anyway, the one thing I really wanted to say is that perfection doesn't really exist - nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be, so rather than wait till everything is just right, I say go for it! Open that shop and learn!

Judy said...

I hope you are having a fabulous birthday week Miss Erin!
Is there an Etsy anonymous? My name is Judy and I have a problem....I am addicted to Etsy.
Where else can you meet great people from all over the country and see amazing creations and stock up on cool supplies, and wait you can sell too! It has also have been a school for me on so many levels.

Christine said...

Happy Birthday! I want to set up an account on etsy, but it's been a crazy winter & spring,and then summer came along. I love all of your advice - this page is bookmarked so I can refer back to it. I've bought on etsy & plan to do more of it because there are so many lovely jewelry designers out there.

Unknown said...

I am one of those people that love planning things and having everything perfect before I start - and yes, I realize that is wrong! lol I have been thinking about opening an etsy shop but have heard so much conflicting opinions. Some say that there are just TOO many jewellery sellers out there. But I have taken the first step - I have bought a domain name and got it hosted. Now to just get an website up and running. When I get that going, my next project will be etsy :) I must just remember to give myself time to make actual jewellery! LoL

Unknown said...

I do not currently have an open Etsy Shop. It is on the list, but live and nerves get in the way. I plan on listing a couple items by October(fingers crossed!)

Unknown said...

Your charms are Beautiful Treasures! Its no wonder they were featured! I will not sell any necklaces with any of your charms..they are all hoarded! lol.

I think Etsy is great and if a person has beautiful things they will eventually sell is my thought. But it takes time time time. I just opened my SingingGlass Lampwork on July 13 and I have made 5 sales. Nay bad! Its just really getting out there plugging and interacting with people!

Michelle Mach said...

I have loved reading all your posts this week! This one resonated the most. I am secretly (shhhhh!) setting up my Etsy shop this week. I set up an account at the end of the year and did nothing with it until just recently. I wouldn't recommend doing that! Now it looks like I've had my shop open for 8 months (instead of less than a week) and items only have one or two views. Oh, well. Live and learn!

CraftyHope said...

Your tips are perfect for those just starting out. Yes, I have an ETSY shop and have had it for about a year. The best tip you have up there is that your shop doesn't have to be perfect and is a work in progress. No one told me this before I started and I fretted for WEEKS before I opened my shop. Now, I feel a little silly about it. I think the key is to get some really good pictures and descriptions and a pretty header (which reminds me that I want/need to change up mine soon!)

Shannon Chomanczuk said...

I have an etsy shop and have been doing well selling my pendants but I would like to be doing more with my jewelry. i have sold a few pieces here and there. I am like you (could be because we are both 8/11 babies) that I research everything to death. I worry about what if...
I still can't believe I have anything in my etsy store. I am committing to listing more this year. I think that helps make sales.

Nissa said...

Good pointers seeing as I'm trying to open my Esty shop! You make wonderful jewelry!

Kym Hunter Designs said...

I have been an Etsy shopper for 4 years now. I would like to sell my jewelry on Etsy, but worry that if I list something, it won't sell, or will take forever. I see so many shops that have similar products and I don't know if mine will stand out enough to be chosen over the others. I'm also so, very, picky about having good pictures to list and that is holding me back too.

Grubbi said...

I have an Etsy shop but I think I have spent in other shops, far more than I have made in my own. Still, I love it when someone buys my beads...my first sale was to a woman in New Mexico. I couldn't get over the fact that someone the other side of the world would be making jewellery with beads little old me had made. Great feeling!

Anonymous said...

I have an etsy shop, but I haven't been very avid about updating with new items or marketing it. I think for me the best thing has been that it has been a nexxus where my items can be found, in a setting that a lot of shoppers are familiar with. If someone asks me about my jewelry, I can write down my etsy URL for them to get a better look.

The big tip I have is actually one that a friend of mine always reminds me about. Relisting as often as possible will keep you in the queue.

rockcreekcreations said...

While I had an Etsy shop awhile ago, I currently have a studio on Artfire. While I liked etsy, it was just so hard to stay at the top of searches. I like the randomness of artfire searches.

BUT, I love looking around etsy. I don't buy much due to there's no money tree in my back yard but I do enjoy window shopping!

Susanm said...

I don't have an etsy shop and for the time being, don't aspire to having one. Making jewelery is one of many hobbies. But I buy most of my beads and components on esty - especially like the function that allows you to view the items chronologically, from newest to oldest. It is great way to window shop, even is you aren't in a buying mood.

Lucid Moon Studio said...

Ugh. I left a long comment on here, and it disappeared when I tried to post it. Hate when that happens! Anyways, I have 2 Etsy shops, and one thing I have learned is that jewelry is one of the hardest things to sell on Etsy because there are SO many jewelry designers on there. I discovered that handmade jewelry supplies sell much better, in my experience.

Creations by Kari said...

I LOVE Etsy! I have spent countless hours browsing and love seeing all the amazing artistic creations! Maybe someday I'll set up a storefront, but not anytime soon.

Shel said...

1st off - Happy Birthday week!

Thanks for a great post - really did make me think.

Out of my two Etsy shops, the supplies sell better than the finished jewelry.

Also, I agree w/whoever it was that mentioned that the best thing about Etsy for them is that it's a nexxus where her items can be found - Ditto!

And, it does seem to be one of the first places that about half the planet goes to when searching for unique, handmade items - so that's a plus!

Thanks again for the great tips and awesome post!

Kathy said...

Happy Birthday Week! This is a cool idea and timely. I have enjoyed etsy. I have learned a lot from it but also have made some friends.


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