one of my first cards made…
Etchy Things, like most start-ups and online shops didn’t just happen over night. It didn’t just start exactly as you see it now and accomplish the things it is today through luck. Like other businesses, there was an intention and an idea(s)… but in order to find our own niche market, we learn to adapt, to evolve and to work endless hours to find “it”.
The card I made above was one of my first ideas in selling on Etsy. I didn’t do much research on Etsy prior to starting; I just started. A friend told me to as he saw some of my recent work and said they looked nice. I’ve sold on EBAY before and I know how to post pictures, set up a listing and have a PayPal account… so I just told myself I can do this. I was right… almost 2 years later.
2 months goes by and I finally got my first sale: https://www.etsy.com/transaction/49426171?. It was sold on sale at $0.99 and I lost about $5 in shipping costs because I underestimated the shipping price and over packaged it too much so it was shipped as a thick oversized small packet package.
LESSON ONE: Research your shipping very carefully before you assume the costs.
After getting burned on shipping, I then did research on shipping costs and found some resources on Etsy via their selling resources. I know you won’t understand everything completely until it happens but just to go through some of the steps will give you perspective when your problem arises.
I kept making different things, tagging it with what I believe are good tags. At the time, I joined several teams and started to learn about treasuries and favoriting items etc. I also thought I would favorite something that is completely different than my category so I won’t be competing with other people’s items. Boy, was a wrong! If you sell jewelry, you definitely should be promoting other people’s jewelry as well as everything else you like. This universe is unique in that we attract like-minded people in our lives and the more you share and make things that you’re passionate about, they will find you as you find them. Share these abundantly but expect nothing in return. Those who share your values will reciprocate and support you as much as you support them and those who ignore or either too busy, too self-absorbed, or perhaps they didn’t see your share yet! SO…
LESSON TWO: (lots of tidbits here)
* Join teams and make tons of treasuries
* Favorite things you like and especially in your genre of items (because you love making these things yourself right??)
* Return the favor if you value this in others yourself
* Keep attracting those like-minded people by sharing your joy with others
If you haven’t noticed or read about my About Me page already, my first shop and this website is called Myoga Craft Cave. At the time, we hadn’t bought a laser engraver yet so I was only making paper crafts that I enjoyed. My pictures were horrible and dark. They were, at the time, I thought, taken with style but I was not getting hits (views). Since I was promoting very little of others, there was very little returns and I sold a few items because people had to jump through hoops to find me.
Second item sold on Etsy
The second item I sold on etsy was something I made for my sister’s baby shower. This was the first time I felt my crafts were appreciated and someone actually liked what I offered. This is because I ended up selling several of these over the next couple of months. MONTHS not days. But I was motivated. I could make more items like this… designs I liked and that I would give as gifts. I would tag them accordingly: Who’s it for? What kind of item? Color patterns etc. Again there are lots of resources on identifying your items and description.
By June 2011, I sold 3 items on Etsy so far and although I was still motivated, $20 in sales in 3 months were not the numbers I was looking for. And in June, I decided to open a new shop called Etchy Things. Etchy Things was named with a play on words in mind – Etch / Engrave and Etsy… I etch things! HA.. I’m brilliant. hahahahhahaa.. okay, it is brilliant to me.
Funny Valentine Card
While I was making cards I enjoyed and sending them off freely to my family and friends, I started learning about using the laser and made laser cuts and engraving on paper products only. My first engraved card I sold for only $5.75 took me about 2 hrs to complete and 5 different drafts. https://www.etsy.com/transaction/52633014? At the time, I thought to myself that my pricing or my products definitely need to change if I were to continue doing business and selling on Etsy.
That’s when I made a change to sell rubber stamps! It made sense to me because I make cards, I’ve been buying stamps (mind you I’ve bought a lot more now that I own my own rubber stamp maker!!) and I would love to design my own rubber stamps to sell. WHY THE HECK NOT?! Reason for the change? It’s important to find something that you can make over and over again. As designers, we spend a lot more time creating and transpiring the end product then the actual cost. But once we find the end result we love and we can make it over and over again, that’s when your product is worth your time selling. Bills and rent don’t give you a break while you grow your business… so it’s important to find something that’s worth the time investment.
LESSON THREE: Always re-evaluate your business and do the equation. If your pricing isn’t set to what it’s worth OR it’s too high for your category, then you might need to make something different or change your business plan/ niche market.
After a year since Etchy Things open its doors, do you know what got me on the map? A geek stamp! I was planning a super heroes party with my fiance and in planning the event, I made a rubber stamp for my guests as an entry stamp. These I posted a week later after my party and I described why I made them. I sold about 20 of these in the next month. One whole year and I finally got on the map and found something I’m a fan of, I can make and sell online and I could repeatedly sell these over and over again.
LESSON FOUR: Your business growth will take time. 1 year seems to be a magic number for me but I have seen businesses on Etsy flourish almost immediately. But I can almost guarantee that they’ve had done a lot of research prior to starting, have another Etsy business or have lots of experience selling online. They’ve already put themselves on the map prior to starting.
If your business hasn’t taken off yet and you feel a bit down by the feeling, take note of the lessons I’ve learned above and this final lesson:
LESSON FIVE: Can the world wide web find you? Tags are definitely important and without them, web crawlers are unable to find you. By being in treasuries, social media and websites, you increase your relevance on the WWW but if your shop name, titles and tags are unrelate-able, you may find yourself not found by your target audience.
Last night, I made several treasuries to share creations from Sock (one of my most respected inspirators and friend on etsy) as well as, Yogy from Yogy’s Kreations. I feature her today because she contacted me last night for a shop critique.
We see threads from other sellers all the time but this was a first request via private message. I requested writing a blog as her request also inspired me to re-evaluate my business and all the milestones I’ve gone through to get to where I am today. Definitely not big shot but I’m happy for the growth so far.
I reviewed Yogy’s Etsy shop from her banner, to photos, to description… her views, About Me page and her social media sites.. WOW, Yogy’s been hard at work! It looks like she joined Etsy the year before and started her shop just last December. By just reviewing the documented time line, Yogy looks like she has spent a lot of time researching the art of selling and have experience in photography, description write ups and tagging. So… why no sales?
[These are my impressions.. my theory. I'll be as honest and objective so please do not take offense to my interpretations ]
1) Give time. My first sale was only $0.99 and took 2 months. As your price points are higher than $0.99 and it’s been just 2 months, your market hasn’t found you yet.
2) Competition. Handmade Jewelry is a huge market in handmade. With that comes competition. I’ve sold less than 100 items to date on my other paper craft shop and as you know re-evaluation was key to success. If your market is a competitive market to get into, either find a way to learn from your competitors or adapt your creations to make it that much more unique than what others have to offer. YOUR STYLE!
3) Your name says a lot about your business. The first impression that comes to mind when I see your shop name, your name and your energy is Yoga. I relate your items with yoga creations, jewelry for yogis and the like. Perhaps, tapping into your name, your passion and combining it with trends that are marketable may find you and in on the map. I’m guessing you do enjoy and are inspired by yoga as I am.. so do share your joy with others in your work. My motto, “My Yoga, My Life” has transpired to Myoga Craft Cave to Etchy Things selling yoga stamps!
You will find you OM if you seek it. The universe works in harmony with the energy you set free into the world.
(BTW, Yogy, why is your facebook page a “community page about Lady Gaga???”)
Enjoy the Journey