ETSY 101: When Things are Slow

There has been a lot of commotion in the forums this last month or so, slower sales, possible site issues, less foot traffic. We have a voice in some of these matters, but sometimes the overall resolution we do not… or it takes some time to resolve which we have been seeing lately. March has typically, overall, been a softer month for retail (not always the case with individual shops, some do well a lot or March is good for them) so as an artist with a creative nature, I try to look for creative ways to get my name out there. I think as the creative people we are here on ETSY, many of us have found unique and great ways to stand out and bring in customers despite slower times. So how am I getting creative:

*~* OUTSIDE of the BOX crafting. Last year when things were slow for me during the spring I didn’t completely abandoned beaded designs with gemstones and natural components, I just went outside my crafting comfort zone. I started buying unique vintage items, and instantly fell in love with cabochons and cameos. When I introduced those to my store, my 5 sales a month went to over 10. Now I am selling on average an item a day. Go ahead and experiment. It’s a perfect time to, and you may just broaden your range of customers.

*~* Get CREATIVE LOCALLY. Sometimes just marketing somewhere you never would can draw in sales. I have been marketing myself when I go karokeeing. I now have repeat local customers who buy my jewelry just because they met me, thought I was interesting, and became friends with me on Facebook. I post a lot of those new pieces on Facebook… from there the sales have come.
~*~ MARKET to a wide array of PEOPLE. I post my cards at local hardware stores and yes I realize a small percentage of people who go there are female, BUT I do know that my card attracts those significant others who want to buy their wife, girlfriend, significant other a piece of jewelry. Believe me no one else is posting their jewelry cards there, so my competition is none. I have gotten a lot of male customers that way.
~*~ TRAIL and ERROR advertising. Slow times are I believe the BEST time to test new advertising strategies. When you are slow you can really get a good overall look at whether or not a certain advertising is working. If you place an ad on craftcult and have been slow for a little bit and then start making sales, you may realize it was because of that ad. Remember you don’t have to always pays for advertising, try posting to Facebook (just your regular one, I find its more efficient), submitting to blogs and magazines. Approach local stations.
~*~ Don’t STOP CRAFTING and LISTING. A lot of people hate to list when its slow, but its a really good time too. Remember you may still have repeat lookers and buyers periodically browsing your shop. You have to remember sometimes it takes just 1 view for an item to sell. Plus crafting is fun… it’s what brought a lot of us here and I think it’s too easy to forget our passion and get caught up in no sales. I always go back to what I love.

How are you getting creative in slower times?

NaturalAmber Jewelry: New Vintage Cameo Line

Cameo’s are a very popular item lately, so stay tuned for many new cameo pieces in my shop!

ETSY: Making a Profit

These last couple of months have been tighter for my family and I, expecting another new addition to the family (another boy, we have a four year old Carl) in July. At first I was thinking to myself, how in the world is this going to be possible. I was a little afraid I may have to walk away if I couldn’t afford to bring people to my shop to at least pay the bill for the month. But then somehow the lightbulb went off and I realized… you know let’s just try to “promote on a low-budget”….

~*~ Cut the Renewing. It’s so easy to just go and click renew. To me renewing is almost like playing the slots in Vegas, you may get a few views, and once in a while a jackpot (item sold) but in reality after all the renewals how much are you really cutting into your profits? I was cutting too much into them. Being in the jewelry category I learned “renew to be seen or you’ll be buried”. I believe instead in good pictures, good tags, and good networking. I spend a lot of time continuing to improve my pictures, look at my tagging, and Im always trying to meet new people through Facebook, twitter, and my blog https://naturalamber.wordpress.com

~*~ Network Correctly. Twitter really can be a good thing for your business as well as Facebook (sometimes it doesn’t work for some, but there is no harm in trying) I have met a lot of wonderful people on twitter, and many of them will retweet some of my links to my work to their twitter contacts, and posting the new listing on my Facebook has really gotten more of my friends, family, and people from the past stopping in and buying. As long as you don’t spam, and have it personal the links once in a while they will be happy to see. If they think all you care about is buy from me they may just eliminate you completely from their page

 ~*~ Pitch Yourself. There is no harm in trying to pitch yourself to popular blogs, craft magazines, local tv stations, and other free places of advertising. The worst that could happen is they say no or don’t respond… the best thing that could happen is they want to feature you and they have a huge audience. You’ll never know unless you ask.

 ~*~ Aiming for Repeat Business. Repeat customers are hard to come by sometimes that’s why each and every transaction should be a way to really show your customers that you care. Respond to their questions, ship promptly, add something extra, have great packaging, and great follow-thru! Keep posting new items so they want to come back and see what else they can buy. Customers love fresh shops! Create a mailing list and create a newsletter geared towards customers, offer them specials, let them know what’s new with your business.

 ~*~ Keep Creating. Don’t let your shop get boring. Instead of spending 20 cents to renew something old bring something new in your shop. I try to at least add new items to my shop 3 times a week. I love to have a big inventory and I love to keep looking for new and unique items which is why I buy mainly on ETSY. I know I am bound to find a unique supply. It’s very important to keep yourself looking fresh. Why use your potential profits renewing the same items, when you can add a new treasure to your store. Have fun, get creative! Being creative artists we should thrive on finding creative ways (and budget nice ways) to get our name out there.

ETSY Search 101: Are Buyers Finding You?

 Being found in search I think, and Im sure everyone can agree, is a must here on ETSY. For those of you who are serious about selling your work how many of you on a regular basis use search to research your own shop from a buyers perspective? I never thought about it, I have used ETSY hacks in the past, but using the actual search here on ETSY in a way —- is better way to research and this is why:

*** How Your Products View With Others This is a real quick way for you to see what other buyers are seeing when they see your product lined up with others. I don’t remember what thread I saw it on but one seller said I knew I needed to fix my pictures when I skimmed right over my own product in search because my picture was that bad! They didn’t even recognize the product was theres. Customers are enticed by GOOD pictures, so it’s a quick way to see if your shop is in need of a photo do-over. We want customers clicking not skipping our listing all together!

***Are You Tagging as You Would Search? So, when you are searching are you using words that make your items show up? A lot of those flowery tags some of us use customers don’t search by. So your products may not even show up… or if they do they are pages and pages back which in a jewelry section could be bad for you and bad for your shop… we don’t want our products getting dusty. So if your tags need refreshing, I love this site! http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

 ***Overall Where Do You Stack Up with Other Sellers It’s always important being true to yourself, your work, and your prices but there are also times where you need to throw realistic in the mix as well. As a buyer when you see similar items at different price points you don’t always necessarily go for the cheapest price but you do go for the reasonable price. If one shop is selling a ring for 5, another for 15, and another for 55… all about the same time and materials to make which one would you probably go for? I would go for the 15.00 more and likely. Be true to your costs, your time, and materials… but if you are way out of league on your items see the underlying issue, maybe you are not getting the best prices on supplies…. and maybe others are. Just food for thought. Hope everyone has a wonderful day. Embrace slower times and downtimes as a perfect time for you to improve your shop. It’s always important to remember there is always room for growth and improvement, and don’t forget to remember why you are here. You love to craft… and you want others to see your passion too and love it just as much as you… but you got to get them in your shop to do that!

Handmade Jewelry: Packaging with Love

 

People love buying handmade for the overall experience. Most love that what they are buying is unique and made with love but many love (and appreciate!) the packaging that comes with it.  When I first started ETSY I remember shipping some of my jewelry in protective bags and other times in these little flimsy boxes. Not the best presentation. Not the most durable packaging to ship jewelry in.  I have since changed how I ship my jewelry. I now use colored ribbon boxes for my earrings and rings, and I use sash bags and larger jewelry boxes to ship my necklaces and bracelets in. 

ETSY has a lot of wonderful jewelry artists, and because of that packaging can also be important in setting yourself outside of the crowd. I know I love receiving items wrapped up, even if it’s just in tissue paper.

Here are some helpful tips:

 Take pictures of your jewelry in the box. Customers loves visuals!
Make sure you have plenty of packaging on stock! I hate when I have two boxes left and I left hanging wondering if they will come in time to fulfill an order.
 Be creative! There are so many ways you can ship your items. You can ship your jewelry in sashes, boxes, tissue paper with bows… there are so many tutorials online to make your own!

How to Be Seen on ETSY: Standing Out

Being in one of the most saturated categories on ETSY I know the feeling “I’ll Never Be Seen”, it’s hard sometimes to get yourself out of that slump when you are surrounded by many talented artists but there are ways, and ETSY Sellers are doing it everday. One of the main things to keep in mind is ETSY provides us a shopping cart and community support, but the rest is up to us. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. How would a buyer find you?

* Good Tagging!
I love this blog for the ETSY treasury team. They really give a great list of TAGS to use for your products. Ever since I have bookmarked this site, my tagging has increased views big time!
http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

* Good Photos!
Photos on ETSY speak to the customer. Without a good picture your listing will get overlooked in search unless there are a small amount of people offering a similar item. I love this forum thread on ETSY and I go back to it over and over!
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5169829

* Good Descriptions!
So you got the photos down, now it’s time to paint a picture in the customer’s head. Present it the item the best way you can without being too flowery but being creative so you don;t bore them! Check out this storque blog:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/seller-how-to-making-the-most-of-your-descriptions-635/

* Outside Online Advertising!
There are some great places online where you can buy advertising. I find a good portion of my buyers are actually ETSY sellers themselves which makes perfect sense why www.craftcult.com and www.craftopolis.com are great places to setup an add for a low cost! I mean $15.00 for a Carousel ad on Craftcult is an awesome price for advertsing!

* Outside Local/Print Advertising!
Often times you can submit ideas or advertising to magazines. I see alot of ETSY artists supplying craft ideas to magazines like Bead Magazine, or Bead Style. definitely worth looking into. My recent adventure has been posting business cards in local hardware stores. For jewelry you would think why? Well men have really appreciated having found a jewelry business card while out running hardware errands! Often times they call and say “My wife’s birthday is next week and your site is perfect! Can you make me a custom order?”

One of the hardest things for many sellers is when they setup shop they think now they will have buyers, I know I was under that impression so my sales didn’t kick off for almost a year! It is hard work for many to keep going at it but remember to have patience, persistance, and perseverance and good things will come — and never forget why you came here. Your passion to craft — you should never lose interest in that 🙂

ETSY Selling 101: Creating a Budget

I love crafting, I love ETSY, I love my current hobby, now I want to take the fun I am having in making jewelry I sell and add on to it. I want to add smart to the equation.
This topic has been hashed out a lot in the forums: renewing. At .20 a hit am I really budgeting or overspending? I am sad to admit it’s the second of the two. It really is hard not to. We all want sales and sometimes the EASY button (renewing) is the easy way it seems, but it’s costly and it’s just like playing a slot machine. Sometimes you get a little bit of views, sometimes a sale…. but at what loss to your hobby? Your part time adventure? Your business?
This weekend, and I encourage those who haven’t already implemented a budget to do so. I have always considered this a hobby, never could this be a nice little extra part time income, but it seems it may happen sooner then I thought. So…. it means getting serious and really searching and budgeting for what I want out of my little adventure.
So this weekend I will be budgeting:
* FEES. (Etsy, and Paypal) and how much I realistically want to spend (listing and renewing a day…) Other fees are a little harder to predict, paypal and etsy commission but can be done on an average look at sales versus dollars

* Supplies. These are just my supplies for my jewelry. Need to setup a monthly budget instead of shopping on a whim

* Packaging. This will account for jewelry boxes, protective bags, sashes, and shipping materials. Am I getting the best cost right now?

I’m actually excited to put all these little financial things under a microscope and start building a budget for my business!

Natural Amber Jewelry: Spring Sale, Up to 50% Off

With Spring just around the corner my shop Natural Amber Jewelry is having a Spring Sale. Many items are up to 50% off! Please visit the Spring Cleaning Section of my shop and also please see many new additions to my store. Brand new Floral Hair Pins, Flower Rings, Flower Earrings, and Statement Bracelets! 

*Also any order placed before March 31st 2010 will be put into a drawing to win the above pictured Vintage German Butterfly Ring!

Selling on ETSY: Small Steps to Being Seen

ETSY is a wonderful place to sell your handmade items, or your vintage treasures but taking the plunge and setting up shop can be pretty scary and very overwhelming!  I remember when I first started selling in my shop NaturalAmber I didn’t know where, or how to even market myself. I felt like this little fish in a big, big online world of very talented artists.  So what little things can you do today to give you better visibility to potential customers?

* List as Often Possible.  For many artists listing daily is just not possible, but it is so very important to list as often as you can. Returning customers love fresh shops (it gives them more reason to buy again!) and new products is like adding one more window or door to your shop. The more the variety the easier it will be for you to be seen on ETSY. Wouldn’t you rather show up in search 150 times over 25?

* Participate in Forums and Chat.  I believe in this one just as much as I believe in the first small step. A good portion of my sales have come from me being active in the forum. People want to click if they like your presentation (that little avatar of yours) and many will fall in love with your shop that way. I can not tell you how many times I bought from a seller because I saw them in the same thread I was commenting in!

* Business Cards.  If you don’t have any now, I would get some soon. I like 123 print. Business cards are great to pin up at local stores, libraries, schools… you name it. The more local business you could bring to your shop the better!

* Use Facebook Connect.  Everytime you post a new item on ETSY you have the ability to post it directly on your Facebook page. A lot of sellers use a Facebook Business Page but I like to just link directly to my own personal Facebook Page. A lot of my friends and family love seeing what I do and it has resulted in sales and inquiries.