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!

Handmade Crafts 101: Don’t Fear the Word Improvement

Swarvoski Wrapped Ring

Swarvoski Wrapped Ring

 

Being a jewelry artist you must know that to be successful you must learn and grow from ones own mistakes. I know that it’s not easy to realize that all the hard work you did isn’t paying off, but realizing this and making improvements and changes to your small jewelry business (or other crating business) may pay off big in the long run. There is always room for improvement to your online webpage, to your ETSY shop, and even to your offline customers and sometimes it’s better to sit and re-evaluate your strategies every few weeks then find out 6 months down the road you need to do some major overhaul to your business. So what can you do to make improvements today?

1. Focus on Your Pictures. If you were a customer would you buy the item? Are any of the pictures blurry or boring? Do the pictures grab you and make you want to click on the picture to learn more about the item for sale? If not you may want to re-evaluate the pictures you have. Find a consistent and creative way to show-off you work without taking away from the product. Taking pictures takes alot of trial and error, I know in my own shop I have revamped them time and time again, and I am still looking to add improvements.

2. Would You Buy Based on Your Descriptions. Read through your product descriptions, are they too vague or too wordy? Do you list the materials you use? Have you added a unique touch to your descriptions, perhaps the significance of the particular gemstone you are using or where you bought your materials? Sometimes just a quick re-wording can trigger people to buy what you are selling.

3. Are Your Product Titles Too Creative, Vague, or Wordy? Pictures and the Title of your item are sometimes the only things a customer will see and look at, and if your title doesn’t say what they are looking at they may not want to look at what you are selling regardless to how good your description of the product may be. This is something I recently did, and I re-hauled all my Product Titles realizing after I uploaded them to Google Base the titles that were more of a play on words were not getting any google hits. Customers are not looking for Dancing Autumn, but more suitable Title would be Autumn Gemstone Necklace.

There are many other things you can look at when attempting a shop makeover or adding improvement to your online craft store. What is important is to find your niche and run with it. Even seasoned sellers find there is always room to re-event and improve.
Love the piece above? Come See my Swarvoski Wrapped Ring

Small Business 101: Why Having a Day off is Okay

Green Teardrop Necklace

Green Teardrop Necklace

Remember the reason you wanted to have your own business? Many of us fell in love with an idea, a project, a craft and wanted so badly to one day have our own business, be our own boss, do what brings us happiness everyday, while bringing others happiness as well. Then there are those times, that many of us come too, where our visions of a happy successful small business become everything in our life, and then the balance becomes close to being non-existent. Yes, we all want to be successful small business owners, but it is okay to take a step back and take a day off. Yes, a whole day off.
I know that this can be hard for many small business owners, because I am one of them. I am so afraid all the time that I am not doing enough for my small jewelry business Natural Amber Designs, but there are times I work two weeks in a row without a day off. Working like this is not healthy for either you or your small business, everyone needstime away from the frustrations of lacking sales, or ignored marketing, and everyone needs time to inspire new ideas and cultivate them in their head. Don’t think as this as a bad thing, it really is a great way to rejuvenate yourself, your ideas, and your peace of mind. Dive back in refreshed and taking on new ideas —- and improving past ones.
Try to remember taking time away is not a bad thing. You want to remain passionate about your business, working everyday can lead to burn out and folding.
Love the necklace above, please come see the Green Crystal Drop Necklace in my store!

Support the Handcrafted Movement

Going Green, Supporting Local Farmers has been a wonderful ongoing movement that I encourage more people to follow, and now a new movement that has been around for centuries is taking the world by storm — “The Handcrafted Movement”.  With sites such as ETSY, Dwanda, and now Art Fire taking the internet by storm people are starting to realize that there is a world outside of retail to buy wonderful artisan gifts. I would rather support a local farm or a handcrafted piece of work over food that has been touched by several different sources over months of traveling time, and support the work of an artist who appreciates and takes quality time into their work over the retail movement of ‘Walmartness” and pieces that took little time to create.  It’s a step back to what is important, supporting our neighbors, embracing artist dreams, and getting back that little bit of customer service that has been easily forgot through the growing of “Corporate America”. What can you do to support the movement?

1. Check out these wonderful websites, the handcrafted communities online. I sell through ETSY (http://naturalamber.etsy.com) and have fallen in love so many wonderful and talented artists work. I would rather give my mother handmade pot holders, over buying a pair at Walmart.

2. Support Local Farmer Markets and Craft Fairs. Whether you buy something or not, going to your local craft fair and market can be fun, and a great way to bond with the community as well as your family.

3. Instead of throwing away items, consider selling them at a yard sale. I can not tell you how much fun it is for a crafter to find beautiful items that they can break apart and make into new pieces. I love finding beautiful pendants, or pins I can make into pendants, for strung beaded necklaces. Last weekend I picked up a box of shells that I can’t wait to turn into pendants! Recycle and Reuse is a great aspect of the going green movement.

With the holidays just around the corner, let’s don’t forget about the handmade goods. Check out the sites, visit a craft fair, and warm your friends and families with special gifts without the “retail” vibe.

Marketing 101: First Six Months are Crucial

 

Selling off-line and selling on-line are two different worlds, but both have one thing in common you must market to gain exposure, and the first 6 months are absolutely critical. Many businesses fold before a year has passed, often times from frustration and lack of sales, but if you market yourself and market daily your presence will bring more customers.

 

My ETSY shop and my own website naturalamberdesigns.com have been one of the biggest marketing tasks I have ever done, and at first I really didn’t know where to begin but once I researched how others in my market were advertising their web-pages, their ETSY shops I quickly began following their proven strategies. I have been a successful artist off-line, but selling on-line is definitelydifferent, but you can combine marketing strategies to bring the customers to both areas of your small business.

 

1. Market Yourself Everyday.  I can stress the importance of this one enough, it is so important to find a way to reach to someone, a potential customer every day. This could be as simple as handing out your business card to the checkout lady who adores your jewelry, or could be devoting yourself to a new campaign on Google’s Adwords. Keep marketing.

 

2. Fall in Love with Networking. Networking proves to be a very strong tool in the world of marketing, it really comes down to who you know, and what people know you. There are so many wonderful networking sites, and you don’t need to just join ones that have to do with your small business. There are some great networking sites such as Flickr, Myspace, Stylehive, and so much more.

 

3. Make a Blog.  People love content, and they love getting to know the artist behind the shop. Often times many of us try to make our websites as pictureful as possible, so blogging is a great way to say what you want to say. You can blog about practically anything, just make sure it’s the positive attention you are going after! Try to blog at least three times a week so you stay in the first few pages of search engines.

 

4. Optimize with search Engines. On-line people are not going to be able to find you unless you show up in the searches. Search engines love new content, but you need to make sure they know you are out there! I highly recommend submitting your website to the major search engines, starting with Google. Also you may want to consider using a campaign marketing sponsor links like Google’s Ad Words. Also search engines love content, make sure you use your major keywords in your titles, and the first paragraph of your page.

 

5. “Random-Nize” Business Cards. I would leave your business cards wherever the opportunity arises. This could be anywhere from books in the local library, or on the tables of local coffee shops.

 

Just remember be creative, market yourself daily, and don’t give up. If you are new at this it can take up to 6 months to really get into the groove of daily sales, and a less sporadic sales volume. Before you know it you will have a steady book of customers, and proven stategies to continue working on with marketing.

Please come see me online at: http://naturalamberdesigns.com

Online ETSY Store: http://naturalamber.etsy.com

NaturalAmberDesigns has just added a bead gallery! In the market for a custom piece of jewelry? The Grand Opening of the bead chest is September 26th, but we have beads already loaded so check it out!

Small Craft Business 101: No Sales?

Autumn Heart Earrings

Autumn Heart Earrings

 

Over the last few months I have had many close friends and people I know through the wonderful world of crafting close their shops, or throw in the towel on their small business venture. It’s disheartening to see them walk away from all their efforts, their hard work, dedication because they simply can no longer invest in their dream or the feeling of failure has become too overwhelming for them. As a small business owner myself, I too have had days where the pressures of keeping my dream alive seem to be outweighed by the frustrations of little income coming in but then I have to have a sit down with myself and remember why I am in the business of what I am doing. My passion for creating jewelry and wanting to share them with people will never change, and that’s why I am in this business. I have a long road to go, but I am in the long haul. I know sometimes people must scale back because of the restraints of money — but if you are one of those crafters who are in it for the long run what can you do to drive more sales to you?

 

1. Marketing. I can not stress this enough. Somedays I know it can feel like all you are doing is marketing but in the long run this is what is going to bring people to you. No one is going to know you are in the virtual world (or outside of it) if you don’t say hello to the world! I would google possible ways to market yourself on-line depending on what you sale.

 

2. Update, Update, Update. Make a goal to yourself and to your business to consistently add new products, new lines, fresh colors because often times potential customers like your work but just haven’t seen a piece that talks to them, says “I’m Yours.”

 

3. Network. Networking can be a great way to get yourself out there, and find other businesses with the same interests as you. Often times the word of mouth through networking can be powerful, and drive new customers you would never of had. I would try places like Flickr, Myspace, Facebook.

 

4. Promotions. Often times customers are looking for a good deal. Perhaps they would love to buy that second piece but can;t afford both, but a simple 15% off of the second item promotion may be the key to the additional item on their order.

 

5. Keep On Keeping On. Sometimes new ideas, concepts, pieces aren’t going to work out the way you want them and all you can do is go back to the drawing board and come up with new ways to drive more sales.

 

If you would like to see more of my jewelry work, please come see my shop NaturalAmber Designs at http://naturalamber.etsy.com

Interactive Networking: How do your Market Yourself?

 

Marketing is a continuing learning process. Sometimes some of your marketing will get noticed and other times what you are doing will just not work. Over the last week I have had some successes as well as some flops. I learned Craigslist is not the best route for advertisement, people apparently go flag happy and they really don’t encourage smaller home based businesses to advertise freely.  The one marketing skill that to me seems to be most successful isnetworking, both online and offline. You would be surprised how helpful artists can be to each other. It’s amazing, see how much people strive for others to succeed. One lesson I am glad to have learned this week.

 

So let’s network here! What makes you successful? Let’s share our floppers and successes, and perhaps this networking thread will help you really take a look at what has helped you and really what has not. Others could live and learn from your tips, so feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your stories!