Sunday, March 5, 2017

Messages from buyers

One of the things that is both challenging and wonderful on Etsy is that buyers see the sellers in a different way than they see sellers like Amazon or Target. The wonderful part of that is I believe they see more meaning in the handmade items because they are connecting with the artisan who made them. Sometimes shoppers will message you with compliments and let you know how much they appreciate your work. That means a lot since they took the time to reach out to you.

Where this becomes challenging is when someone shopping on Etsy seems to see it as something like a flea market, where they can bargain on details. I have received messages from people inquiring on options (color, size, etc.) that aren't listed. Some have asked for larger quantities and discounts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but each artisan will handle it differently. Part of why I liked selling on Etsy more than at craft fairs was that I didn't feel as much pressure to have a large inventory so I wasn't gambling on making things that might not sell.  I know that some people list things on Etsy that will be made once they have been ordered. My full-time job keeps me too busy to take orders. I just like to sell what I've already made.

Another part of the challenge comes from shoppers not taking you as seriously as they would an online retailer like Amazon. The most recent example of this for me was when someone in another country placed two separate orders. Because I was shipping overseas, the calculated shipping charge was high. The buyer sent me a message requesting that I ship both orders in one package.  I was able to do that, but he reached out to me again after receiving the order and was upset that I didn't refund the shipping on the second order. I probably should have realized that was implied in his original request, but this was the first time he specifically asked for it. I wasn't opposed to the refund, but it was extra work for me to figure out how to take care of it. If he had ordered from Amazon he would have either been more careful to order everything at once or would have accepted the fact he was paying for two shipments.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Twitch Creatively

To be honest, I've gotten a little burnt out on the whole craft sales thing. My work day is pretty intense and it's hard to find the energy to make new things. It can also be very discouraging to see favorite items sitting there in your shop, going unsold.

My husband had been experiencing the same thing but has been inspired by watching the Twitch creative streams. Originally geared toward gamers, Twitch has been great about supporting the creative community with the help of Adobe. It reminds me somewhat of Periscope and Facebook Live since the person broadcasts video of what they're doing and viewers can make comments and ask questions. The interactivity of it is perfect for the creative crowd and you can reach a much bigger audience.

I haven't tried using Twitch as a creator but I have watched people doing woodwork, jewelry making, painting, graphic design, and leather work. The artisans come from all over the world, too! You can even make money on Twitch through the use of subscription and donation buttons. Etsy likes to remind us that people are interested in seeing our work space and getting insight on how we make our products and I think this is a good way to do it.

What do you think? I may try Facebook Live first since there's no setup involved. Have you tried live broadcasting your creative work? What was your biggest challenge? I think remembering to pay attention and answer questions might be difficult at first. Let me know what you've tried and how it worked out.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I'm Still Here

It has been just over a year since I last posted here. Our Etsy shop is still active and we still occasionally sell live at local markets. My regular life got pretty crazy for awhile with changing jobs and, because my job involves doing blogging and social media, I was just too plain burned out on marketing and communications to do any for myself.

It has been hard to feel motivated to create more inventory since the main thing selling has been the different one-inch buttons that we started making a few years ago. This week, however, we had a sale that I never imagined would happen. The most expensive item in our shop sold!

The tatted lace baby bonnet took me so long to make that I swore off making another. When I put a price of $70 on it, that caused most people to pass it by. I stood my ground since it took me at least 70 hours to make and I see it as an heirloom item that a family would pass down for christenings and baby blessings for years to come.

Why is it so hard to charge a price that's fair to me for my efforts? A good friend of mine has ceased to be shy in charging for his quality work. He refuses to lower the value of his work and makes no apologies for it. It hasn't hurt his business and he has as many custom orders as he can handle. I'm determined to get braver as I go and be better about being paid for my work. Still not sure if I will make another one of these bonnets in the near future.

How are you doing with your pricing strategy?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creating an Etsy Listing from My Phone

I've definitely enjoyed having the Etsy app on my iPhone. The "cha-ching" sound when something sells gives me a thrill. It's also been nice to instantly respond to conversations. I don't know what your experience has been, but I've found that most people that contact me tend to ask a question and then never respond to the answer I send.

They'll ask about a custom order, adding a necklace to a pendant, etc. For custom items, I tell them that they'll need to pay in advance and then I never hear from them again. The majority of the convos I get on Etsy are asking about items I sold in the past. Since we tend to make things as the mood hits us, much of what we make is pretty one-of-a-kind. We often don't have the same materials available to be able to make more of the same item.

Today was a much more positive experience. Someone who had been searching the Internet for a specific items was happy to find what she was looking for in my shop. The color wasn't exactly what she wanted so she sent me a message. After some conversation back and forth via the Etsy app on my phone, I knew that I had what she wanted even though I didn't have it listed in our shop. I quickly took some photos and was able to list it through the app. Within minutes, she bought the item and was very happy.

Have you tried adding a new listing through the Etsy app?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Inadvertent Infringement

I would guess that a good percentage of sellers on Etsy end up being accused of copying another person's work or of some sort of rights infringement at some point. My first brush with this came over the last year when someone sent me a message saying that a design on one of our stone necklaces was a copy of their friend's design. My response to her pointed out that the design was based on a very common Native American symbol and that my husband had altered the design to fit on the stone and incorporated some design elements that matched his interests.

Sometimes the problem with seemingly identical designs can happen by accident. More than one person could come up with a particular idea. In the tatting community I have seen this happen and I think that it happens as people try to figure out a way to make a specific design since they use common patterns and stitches. Designs may look the same but were not actually copied.

My latest experience came this last week with a message from a company about my use of their name in my product description. Even though the buttons they objected to were made from photos of the blankets and shawls made my that company, I don't know how much standing I actually have in using their name in the description. I've heard of some crafters getting into trouble for making jewelry or other items from Lego building blocks, both because of using the Lego name and for selling items made from the blocks. The second part of the objection to my buttons was that they pictured blanket designs trademarked by that company. I hadn't really thought of any of this being a problem, especially since you can't properly describe the items without using those names. (It reminds me of all the ads currently running that reference "The Big Game" since using the actual name of the NFL's championship game gets you in trouble.)

Has anyone else run into similar problems? I'm curious to know what crafters can do with these trademarked names and copyrighted designs. Would a photo of someone holding one of these items be illegal to sell? After hearing the horror stories of people losing their Etsy shops over accusations like this I wasn't willing to take that risk. I removed the questionable items from my shop. What would you do?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Etsy to Provide Phone Support

Providing phone support for a major website may seem like something that would happen automatically, but that hasn't been the case for Etsy. One of the biggest frustrations for shop owners who have had their shops suspended by Etsy is that they couldn't call and talk to a real live person. Sorting out that kind of situation via email isn't the best way to handle it and took more time.

Etsy has announced that they will be launching phone support for shop suspensions and problems with Direct Checkout. You still won't be able to call Etsy for help. Instead, there will be a way to indicate that you want someone to call you and tell a little about the situation. The Etsy support person will then research the situation and call you. At first I didn't like that setup, but it made more sense as I had a chance to let it sink in. Allowing the support person to do some research before you talk to them will save time in the long run. If you had called in directly, you'd probably be spending a lot of time on hold as they checked into your concerns.

Here's to long awaited progress!
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