800 Sales on ETSY and I Still Have My Towel

The first thing I want to say is 800 sales on ETSY for me has not always been the easiest road, some weeks and some months have proven very trying on me but I have to say I still have my towel. Along the way I have learned and shared my secrets on photos, tagging, marketing, promoting, and being an artist on a budget. They are the same trick of the trade that has been spun around like tie dye in many sellers advice threads, and its great advice to take. It’s the mechanics that holds your business together. Along the way I learned another thing that contains so many facets: Passion. This is the heart of your business, you can do all the mechanics right but if you lack this the mechanics don’t matter as much. So how do I keep that passion alive and keep on trying to keep my business thriving?

I Cut the Distractions. When I first started I felt I needed to do everything everyone else was telling me. So I Facebooked. I Twittered. I Myspaced. I Played in the Critique Threads. I did Project Wonderful. I Did Dwanda. I did Artfire. I can go on and on. I was spreading myself so thin, and was so busy with “promoting” tactics I was finding myself hating my business. It was tiring. It was boring. I had no creative time. Plus, it wasn’t working! it wasn’t working because I had spread myself too thin. I now just focus on my blog and facebook, and build the majority of my time in the creative department.

I Work on New Projects. When was the last time you made something new, and not just a new “color” of the item you have been making? Something unique, something different from what you have carried before? It’s so easy to get into repetition and get bored with the business when you are doing the same thing over and over. I am constantly buying different supplies, trying out other mediums.

I Get Involved. Something newer for me is my involvement outside of ETSY with the community. I used to just sell online, but now I am branching out into the community and I am really getting involved with other artists. It’s fun, its refreshing, it makes me feel like this is something more than just a hobby. This is my passion and its so rewarding to be around other people who are just as passionate as you are. Its inspiring. Thats why i love the forums, I love blogs, I love teams… I love the handmade/vintage/the crafty community

 I Wasn’t Afraid To Tear Down and Work From the Ground.  I started on ETSY selling handmade beaded jewelry. I enjoyed what I was doing but the not selling (and the realization that in the saturated market my stuff just didnt stand out) was killing my passion. I wanted to keep making jewelry. I wanted to be successful. So I abandoned my beaded jewelry in Jan 2010 and started from ground up making vintage inspired jewelry. I hit 100 sales in February 2010 after 18 long months and have added 700 sales since then.

I Take Creative Burnout Seriously. I don’t push myself when I need a break, I take a break. I have experienced burnout to the point I stopped crafting for many months, and it makes me sad losing that passion in my jewelry making. Don’t think you have to work everyday, create balance in your life. Take a day off. Take an afternoon off. Breathe. And you will find it flows together more smoothly.

ETSY QuickTip: Mailing List

 

I am always looking for new ways to promote and grow my business and a very effective way to grow your ETSY business is by adding a mailing list.  When you add a mailing list you increase your sales, and you aren’t spamming, as long as you let them sign up for the mailing list.  I have seen many businesses add customers to their mailing list without asking, and that is a definite no-no.  I rather people want to receive my mailing list, then possibly lose a customer because they think I am spamming them, and without their permission.

Mailing lists are a perfect opportunity to reach out to your book of customers, and reach out to potential customers by offering coupons, specials, and even free goodies for purchasing.  I like the service MailChimp  its fast, easy, and free to use.

ETSY and Artfire: Slow April Sales?

Have you been having slow April sales on Artifre and ETSY, this may not make you feel better but you can breathe knowing it’s Google… and not necessarily you.  That’s not a good thing either.  Apparently Google Base (which is now going to be called Google Merchant) is changing there feeds and the way they communicate to merchants which means the base feeding has been suspended…. your items aren’t in Google right now.  See this article below:

http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=forums&op=view_topic&tid=33640

ETSY How-To: Money in and Money Out

 

When running a business on ETSY (or any online venue, personal website, or home parties) it’s very important to keep track of money in and money out.  It’s nearly impossible to gauge how well your business is doing without keeping track of the necessary profits and expenditures.  Once you are tracking the in and out of money it can be easier to find budget limits, and determine where to cut costs from and where to put more money in.  If you aren’t already I would get an accounting software (Quickbooks is one of the best) and put it all your information; inventory, receipts, bills, advertising costs, and sales.  It’s also a great program to use to keep track of inventory pricing such as cost, wholesale price, and retail price of items you have for sale.

Here are some quick tips on how to save money once you gauge where your business stands with money in and money out:

* Have a Set ETSY Bill.  Every month determine the exact amount you want to spend on ETSY for listing new items and renewing. Remember if you want to only spend 60.00 a month don’t set your budget at 60.00 because you still have to account for items being sold and your commission costs to ETSY for those items being sold. If you sold $350.00 in merchandise on ETSY that’s $12.25 that will also be on your bill Try to stay as close to your budget as possible.

* Research Supply Prices.  Always remember this: You are not married to your supplier.  It’s okay to look for better pricing on items.  You may get lucky and your current supplier may price match the other supplier, but they won’t if you don’t ask.

* Dedicate to FREE Promotion.  There is no cheaper advertising than free advertising, and there are many ways you can do that.  I am currently working on a Facebook fan page, and it’s free.

* Cut Unreasonable Practices that Bleeding Money.  I was offering free shipping for a long time but with the cost of shipping going up and the cost of my mailers going up it was no longer practical for me. I still have very good shipping costs ($1.99 US, $2.99 international) but it was unreasonable on my already lower priced items to offer free shipping.

Hope this helps you out a little with your pursuit of making more profit in 2011.

How the 5 P’s Can Help You On ETSY

I came to ETSY in July 2008, with one thought on my mind: “I want to share my jewelry with others.” and that Artisan Dream is still as much alive in 2011 as it was in 2008, maybe even more now. I have five simple words I live by for marketing: persistance, Patience, Perfection, Projects, and Passion. Passion, the most newly added has helped me the most to keep going for what I enjoy most in life. I could never imagine not having jewelry in my life, and whatever I need to do to keep me passionate and happy about my craft I will try to do. There is a lot going on in ETSY, from the concerns with ineffective renewing all the way to the sadden feeling many sellers feel from Heartsy, the one thing that keeps me from dwelling on what I can’t control is remembering why I am here “to share my jewelry with others…” How can you use the 5 P’s?

Persistance: Keep going and keep being consistent with your marketing. So many of us spread ourselves thin, so thin it’s nearly impossible at that point to really be effectively marketing for customers. If you are only spending 10 minutes a day on Facebook, twitter, Project Wonderful… it takes away from building a following. YOU can always build a better base when you are strong, and are able to nurture those relationships. Can you imagine opening 15 shops at one time? Can you imagine effectively building up a good shop when you only get to spend 5 minutes a day on each? Think of your marketing the same way. Pick one or two venues of marketing and build them up from there. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Patience: Catherinerings had a wonderful thread about building a Facebook fan page following. Did you read it? It took her awhile to build her base of customers. Can you imagine throwing in the towel after a week because you don’t have sales. This is not an overnight success. You have to build, you have to be consistent, and you have to be patient. I highly recommend this thread if you are considering a Facebook fan page: http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6860668/page/1

Perfection: When I first started on ETSY I made the mistake of setting up shop and assuming I would make sales. My first pictures were horrible, my tagging was bad, and honestly I am surprised I made any sales in the first 6 months. It was only when I realized that you can always be working on shop, and always trying to improve it did I finally start making consistent sales. I am always revamping tags according to the merchandising article that ETSY has on their blog, I am always reworking tags, and changing pictures on items that are having a harder time selling. Projects: Aside from Passion this may be one of the most important P’s, Projects. If you stop crafting new things, stop listing new things, your followers will get bored. Don’t ever let customers get bored of you, or even worse you get bored of yourself. It’s so easy to get wrapped into the “I must sell mentality” and work on marketing all day, and never make time for that creative (and extremely crucial) part of your business. I am always making new items, new lines, and working on new ideas. In 2009 I abandoned most beaded designs and have been working with vintage pieces, cabochons, and cameos ever since. Right now 1/3 of my shop is on sale to make room for all my new jewelry I have been working on this last month.

Passion: Without that continued passion, you know the passion you felt when you first started creating and selling, then it’s hard to really keep that Artisan Dream alive. It has to be more than just money, it has to be all of the above to keep yourself wanting to really do this for yourself. It’s that repetitive I’m not selling that really gets us all in a rut, gets us discouraged, and makes us abandon all of our hard work. It’s that passion that causes so many to have a creative rut…. and sometimes it can last awhile. If you don’t have balance, creativity and marketing, I think that’s when your passion for this becomes affected.

Make it a great day, celebrate those milestones, and pat yourself on the back. There are many who think this is easy, and it’s not. It takes dedication and many sacrifice what others take for granted in order to try and live out that artisan dream.

ETSY 101: How to Promote in 2011

 

There are 3 P’s that come to mind when selling on ETSY and they all go hand in hand.  Without one P the others just don’t function as well.  Those 3 P’s are:  Promoting, Patience, and Passion.  A couple years ago I wrote an article on how to promote yourself on ETSY but I just wanted to add-on that article since there is more information, and other ways one can promote themselves on ETSY.  I think it’s also so very important to realize how passion and patience plays a key role in promoting effectively.  So yes having business cards, having a blog, social networking, being involved are some great ways to promote…. but let’s add onto that.

1.  Social Networking is the New Way to Meet.  So much of today’s world is online, how many businesses do you go to, restaurants, stores, shopping centers have a Facebook page you can follow?  A lot of them.  So why shouldn’t you?  I myself am going through the building up the Facebook fan base phase as well, so who wants to join the challenge with me.  My fanpage is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natural-Amber-Designs/207775495396 What better way to go viral with your business than online networking.  It’s proven to work, and yes you too can make it work for you.  I have found the greatest thread on how to do this, from a very successful ETSY seller CatherineRings. She has built a fantastic Facebook fan base, and shares her information here:

http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6860668/page/1

2.  ETSY Treasuries.   I can not stress more the power of treasury on ETSY.  Your  chances become better in being treasuries if you create as well.  It’s how karma operates.  Also there are so many ways to up your chances in being one of these treasuries by doing some improvements in your shop.  The two key areas to focus on are tagging and picture-taking.  Take a good picture someone is going to want to put you in their treasury.  Tag it so they can find you, then that ensures you will be in treasuries.  Also it’s so very important to pay attention to ETSY’s merchandising desk.  They are telling you whats hot, and they are giving you hints on how to get in more treasuries.  So check out the below links. 

Tagging:

http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

ETSY Merchandising May 2011:

http://www.etsy.com/storque/seller-handbook/from-etsys-merchandising-desk-may-planning-12555/

List New Items Frequently.  At 20 cents a listing this really is the best way to keep your shop looking fresh.  People are looking at your shop all the time, and many of them are repeat lookers.  They may not have bought anything yet, but if you let your shop go stale those lookers are going to lose interest in you, and possibly walk away.  Plus, wouldn’t you rather spend your 20 cents bringing in a new item?   I try to list new things daily, and shoot for 20 new items a week between handmade and vintage pieces.  Here is one my newest:

Create New Items.  I used to do beaded jewelry, and then did a lot with flower cabochons (which I still do) but I moved into a different direction by adding cameos and vintage to my shop.  Sometimes bringing in fresh projects and pieces is all your shop needs to bring in new life.  So go shopping today!  Pick up supplies you have never worked with before and let your creativity lead you.

Stay Passionate and Patient.  Everything I said above is not going to happen overnight.  I think many of us get frustrated when we don’t see results in a day, a week, even a few weeks. It’s so important to build a strong foundation and wait for the results.  If you stay passionate about what you are doing and stay consistent in marketing and promoting yourself the results will come.  It took me 18 months to hit 100 sales on ETSY, it only took me a year to add over 600 more.  It was a long 18 months, but it was 18 months that I had to find myself and truly see what was working and wasn’t.  Business is finding the road that works best for you, and once you got the green light things will just fall in place.

Facebook Fan Page NaturalAmberDesigns

Social networking is one of the hottest ways to promote handmade work.  I currently have a Facebook page, but honestly was at a loss on how to make it work for my business until I came across this very imformative post by Catherines Rings. 

http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6860668/page/1

With the above information I feel I can finally make the plunge to have a successful Fanpage.  So thinking about starting a page?  I highly recommend the above link.

Please visit my fanpage at: 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Natural-Amber-Designs/207775495396

Making the Most of Every ETSY Sale: Packaging

Everyone loves seeing that ETSY transaction email and the Paypal “You got money” one that follows, who doesn’t love getting sales, but it’s the behind the scenes customer service after the sale that can help generate repeat business.  How you handle a sale is important to customers; from packaging to delivery.   So part one of this series is: Packaging

* Packaging.  I love buying items on ETSY and receiving them in cute packages. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, I have bought some cute items that came in construction origami boxes.  Here are some great resources on: Packaging

http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/fabulous-packaging-and-wrapping-with-rikrak-5926/

http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/seller-how-to-pretty-as-a-package-5327/

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6679688

ETSY Success: Awesome ETSY Holiday Advice

What I love about ETSY is the abundance of advice that can be found in the ETSY Storque and the ETSY Forums.  I know sometimes it’s hard to find the time to search for all this great advice so I wanted to have it in an easy place for you, right here on my blog!  Also, I am always willing to help new sellers so please don’t be afraid to send me a message on ETSY, my seller name is NaturalAmber.

Tips For Handling the Holidays:

http://www.etsy.com/storque/etsy-news/the-holiday-rush-11127/

http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/from-etsys-merchandising-desk-a-busy-december-11077/

http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/holiday-season-marketing-how-to-engage-your-buyers-11069/

500 Sales on ETSY and How I Never Walked Away

I  logged on this morning and to my happy surprise I hit my second major milestone: 501 sales. It took me 18 months to hit 100 sales back in February and only 8 months to add 401 more. My time on ETSY has not always been an easy time, actually 10 months ago I almost walked away. The end of December 2009 had hit and I was still under 90 sales after a year and half on ETSY. I looked around on ETSY and thought to myself “How could I ever compete?”

At that time I had moved into a little bit of vintage inspired jewelry but 75% of my inventory was still beaded jewelry. So I thought maybe it’s time to walk away. I took a couple of weeks off in January and had gone vintage shopping with my mom. Something anything me stirred and I thought: “I’ll try something new.” I pulled most of my beaded jewelry and spent a good three-four weeks creating many different creations and ripping apart and altering vintage classics. Then I posted them here on ETSY. All of a sudden I stood out, and sales came in. I have never looked back.

I still love to make beading jewelry in my spare time, but realize that with the abundance of talent here on ETSY I had to find my own way to be unique and now I have with vintage inspired creations that have my own flare. I feel confident that people can see a picture of my work and say “Thats NaturalAmber”

My keywords to success here on ETSY are:

1. Patience and persistance: keep trying when everything else fails. Find a way to stand out in the crowd. Think outside of the box.

2. Innovation: Life around us is always changing, and change is not a bad thing. Have a new idea, try it out! Continuing your crafting and creating new items keeps you happy and your customers coming back

3. Standing Out: On ETSY I think its soooo important to be unique, have good pictures, and find a way to entice people into your storefront. Abandoning beaded jewelry was my in, what is yours?

4. And never accept you can not improve.
There is always room for improvement. Working on Tags, pictures, and descriptions is an easy and quick way to start sales again. Need help with tagging I LOVE this link:
http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

Maybe you don’t need to walk away. Maybe you just need to walk a different direction
Amber

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