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.

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ETSY and Branding Your Work

Many sellers say that branding is one of the hardest things for their work and their ETSY shop.  I admit, when I first started ETSY it was something I struggled a lot with too. I had so many different items, and the overall feel of my shop was nothing but cluttered.  Then I stumbled upon my love of vintage, and vintage inspired glass and flower cabochons and branding just seemed to fall into place overnight.

Branding is very important for a seller. When customers come to a place online they like to know what kind of shop they are in, and if you are all over the place there may be some confusion and a customer may walk. We definitely do not want that! So what can you do to successful brand your ETSY shop?

*  BE CONSISTENT *

When I say consistent I am talking about your overall business in respects to pricing, items offered, packaging, customer service.  There is nothing more confusing than walking into a store and seeing prices all over the place for similar items, too many styles of product. Packaging in my eyes, is very important aspect of the branding process. You include your cards and your special touch on the package and every time a customer comes back to your shop they know what to expect. Consistency helps tremendously with peat customers. So stay consistent to your packaging, your prices, and most overall what you sell.

May 2010: ETSY Success Tips

Selling on ETSY takes a lot of hard work, but thanks to many successful sellers and the forums selling on ETSY has been easier with all the tips and advice they have dished out. I do have to say if it wasn’t for the forums I may be still trying to figure it out two years later. I  have received some of the best advice on here.

Always remember that some advice may not work for you, but you never know unless you try. Having a business is about trial, error, and learning… really finding what works for you. I always try to remember why I’m here, it all started with a passion to create and now I want to share it with anyone I can. When I get down, I always go back to crafting and many times a new item.

My Top 3 Pieces of advice?

* Keep crafting and Keep listing. You can never have enough and what is not listed can not sell. You’ll find yourself relying less on renewing with more and more new items to list

* Go Outside the comfort zones. When I added vintage cabochon jewelry to my shop last year my sales started for me. Now I’m listing more new items, my flower line has taken off, and I’ll be adding vintage cocktail rings this week.

* Always room for improvement. There are always things you can do to improve your shop. Tweaks in your listings, new pictures, better tagging…

Happy Reading. Thank you guys!

My ETSY Recaps, Advice That Has Helped Me:

How the Four P’s Helped Me Hit 100 Sales
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6444980

Promoting on a Low Budget:
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6472038

Have You Refresh-ed Your Shop Lately:
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6507509

Before You Relist Consider This:
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6511099

My Favorite Threads From Sellers:

4 Years on ETSY Want to Know My Secrets
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6494244

Homework is Not a Dirty Word
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6409036

600 Sales and What I Have Learned:
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6506854

So You Want to Be An ETSY Success Story:
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6419206

Thanks Guys for all your encouragement. I love ETSY… and a lot of it is because of all the fun times I have here in the forums.

ETSY when its Slow: Creating New Product Lines

“Innovation is a new way of doing something or “new stuff that is made useful” . It may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. …”

When it comes to your shop I have one question this afternoon, “Have you been innovative lately?”

I know for myself, coming to ETSY was not about the money but for me it was about sharing my passion for creating unique items. Over the years I have developed new styles, laid to rest others, and really have had a fun time thinking outside of my creative box. I love crafting, I could never imagine making the same few items (the ones that sell good) over and over in my shop. Of course now I like to make money, so I still sell what sells good but I am also constantly searching for new things to make. This week I have a new idea that I think is going to be wonderful!

Innovation has done good for me and my little store. I introduced vintage inspired last year and my sales have been good ever since. I introduced flower items this winter and this spring those items exploded. I can only think good things can come from being creative and learning new things to make.

So, when was the last time you were innovative with your little passion, craft, and shop?

Amber

TIPS for Selling on ETSY: Straight from Other ETSIANS

Selling on ETSY is hard, so it’s always great to get advice from seasoned sellers and sellers who are successful on ETSY. One of the best places to get advice from other ETSIANS is the forums. Over the last two years I learned so much from other sellers just from reading a forum thread they posted. Every week I will be adding an article to my blog with great forum threads full of useful advice!

Alternatives to Renewing. Here is a great article that can help maximize your profit without relying on renewing items. Why cut into your profits if you don’t have too?

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6390019

Tagging Tips.  Tagging is extremely important for sellers, it’s how your buyers find you on ETSY. Here are two very good articles, one on tagging to reach international customers and one to help with hard to think of colors

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6422936

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6473700

ETSY success tips. These are tips from sellers who are doing very well on ETSY and what they think has helped them sell well.

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6347556

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6444980

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 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!

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!

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