Miranda Gabrielle's Etsy shop focuses on homemade crafts and knitting. She is a high school science teacher whose obsession is knitting. Although she has tried just about any sort of craft you can imagine, knitting kept popping up in her life. As a voracious reader, she noticed that knitting often pops up in books, whether the main character is knitting or knitting is part of the economy. She noticed people knitting out in public, in classes, on the bus, etc. and realized that it was not only a practical activity, but a social one as well.
Being a teacher, she got a book and started to learn to knit. After six months, she felt fairly comfortable with how she was doing and eventually developed a reputation for taking her knitting just about everywhere she goes. As a tatter, I can identify with her satisfaction in learning an age-old tradition.
Now that she has innundated her friends and family with as many hand knit items as they can stand, she has turned her attention to knitting items for her Etsy shop. Miranda's shop is only five months old, but she had some great advice to share.
What is your biggest challenge on Etsy?
I guess my biggest challenge on etsy is actually selling. I know I am creating towards a small niche, so it's difficult finding those customers. A lot of people look at my shop, but I actually get most of my sales locally from word of mouth by people that have seen my work. I'd like to get more online sales, and get sales of things I've already made, versus always having new custom work. I like custom work, but I'd also like some of the stuff I already have on hand to sell. (I've experienced that, too)
What are your favorite resources?
I love the emails Etsy sends us with articles and tips. I've ventured into the communities and forums as well, but mostly rely on the emails. The other good advice I have is to talk to others who are also crafters. They have tons of tips and tricks, even if they make a different product than you do, to get you started and get you over some of the common hurdles.
How are you doing with writing product descriptions?
I'd say I'm still working on that. I've read several articles on Etsy on this, and am trying to incorporate more of the "story" of the object in the listing. So far I have mixed results, because it depends on how much time I have when I'm listing. (I get pretty impatient, too, but you can always go back and rewrite the descriptions)
What advice do you have about product photos?
Have it look interesting - with people in the picture if possible. I think most items look better when worn than sitting on the shelf, but there's not always a model nearby. I think that the better your first photo is, the more likely someone will click on the item from the search. Also - check to see how the photo will look in the small thumbnail. Sometimes it cuts out part of the picture, and definitely shrinks it, and a really fun picture might not be eye catching that small. (Good point!)
What are you doing to market your shop?
Free word of mouth is my favorite. I've paid for showcase spots several times, and definitely see increased item views. Most of the time that does not necessarily lead to sales. My only online sale was a big one - a custom order for three handmade scarves - and it did come on a day I had a showcase. Also - take advantage of any other free ads you can put up that link to your Etsy store - craigslist, online chat groups, your email signature, etc. (Don't forget linky lists on blogs, like my Etsy Wednesdays)
How do you manage relationships with your customers?
I try to give detailed info. For custom items, I share how the process is going. I send progress report pictures, and if they are on Facebook I will post on their page with updates and pics (example: "Guess who's scarf is now 30" long? :)" ). My customers always seem to enjoy being 'part' of the creative process and seeing how it's coming along - particularly if it will take awhile to make it. Also - lots of communication before & during on custom orders to make sure the details are what the customer is thinking and wants. (The Facebook thing is a great way to keep your customers connected. Now I want a custom order so I can try that.)
How are you managing your time?
I knit all the time. Most evenings and if I'm chatting with friends/family. I also work full time and don't knit or have anything to do with knitting during that time. I'm careful to not accept too many commissions at once, and give my time estimates with plenty of extra time in case I get in a bind or need a break. This is my hobby, and I don't want to burn out. And customers love it when you get finished earlier than they thought you would! (Burn out is always a risk. I'm glad you're watching out for it.)
Check out Miranda's shop or connect with her on Facebook.