Sunday, December 30, 2012

All Etsy Apps are Not Equal

Just over a year ago, I was excited to tell everyone about how Etsy had this amazing app. My only experience was with the iPhone and the iPhone app for Etsy. I loved it and used it a lot when I needed to manage my shop on the go. It made it possible for me to continue selling online when I set up at boutiques. If an item sold, I could quickly deactivate it in my Etsy shop. Without this app people had to either put their shop on vacation or hope that they didn't ended up double selling something.

This week, I tried the Etsy app made for Android. It's definitely for buyers only. There are no options there for managing your shop. I don't understand why the iPhone and Android versions are so completely different. One of the highlights of the Christmas shopping season was hearing that "cha-ching" cash register sound on my iPhone every time I made a sale.

Have you tried any of the Etsy apps? Any favorites?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bring Aprons Out of the Closet

I'm not much of a cook, so I really don't think a lot about aprons. I have to admit I assume that people wearing fancy aprons must be really good in the kitchen. That probably explains the few boring, food-stained aprons I have hanging in the corner. I don't rate a great apron.

Grandway recently offered me an opportunity to try out a great apron.  They've made vintage inspired aprons that look like adorable dresses straight out of an old movie.

I love seeing a company taking a common product in a new direction! The apron I tried was The Lindy. Since I am both large and tall, I was really impressed by the adjustable buttons along the neck. The apron ties are also very long and can be tied in the back or wrapped around again to the front.

The idea with these cute aprons is to feel like you can keep your apron on even after your guests arrive. I felt like it was much cuter than the boring black dress I was wearing when I took the pictures. The quality of the material impressed me since I've had a few aprons with material that didn't adequately protect my clothing. Even if I can't cook beyond mac 'n cheese, at least I can look good during the attempt.

To show how the same apron can be worn beautifully by women of different sizes, shapes, and ages, I enlisted the help of Dyllen, a quirky drama major who is dating my son, to use the apron as well.  Isn't she cute? In addition to these sassy aprons, Grandway has matching pot holders, gloves, laundry bags, and even brooms.

Grandway is following the same dream that I had when I started Native & Pilgrim - taking something familiar and putting your own twist on it. While other people use their tatting skills to make doilies, I prefer to make jewelry and other wearables. We've seen the same Native American and Southwestern inspired jewelry over and over so we modernize the images and even some of the materials. "There are a variety of fabric aprons on the market," Grandway explains, " but we feel like we have added the perfect amount of 'extras' to ours to make them stand out and make them different than other aprons on the market. Gone are the days of taking off your old aprons when company arrives; we have designed the aprons with little fancy dresses in mind so our hostesses can finish their hosting tasks and still look stylish and chic."

Want one of these aprons for yourself?  Grandway has provided me with another apron like the one they gave me so that one of my readers can have one. To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post about your favorite kitchen memory.  For a second entry, go to my post about this apron on The Spirit Bead Journals and leave a comment there.  The drawing will be January 5, 2013.

**Disclaimer - Grandway provided me with the apron pictured in exchange for writing a review of it and sent an extra apron to give to one of my readers.  All the opinions expressed are completely my own.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Sales

I really look forward to the Autumn months on Etsy. That's when sales really start picking up for us as people do their holiday shopping. Online shopping just keeps getting more popular and that's good for those of us selling on Etsy.  Handmadeology has a great infographic that shows the trends.

Online selling continues to be my best option. Since I work a full-time job (with a lengthy commute), I can't participate in very many of the local boutiques. I set up at the annual Heritage School boutique in mid-November and had a few sales. The cost was minimal and Heritage handled the cashiering, so it was worth the risk. Unfortunately, a heavy snowstorm hit on the last day of the boutique, robbing us of potential customers.

I've noticed that nearly all of the recent purchases from our shop have been through Etsy's direct checkout. I don't know if that's because it's the first option the customers notice or if they don't have PayPal accounts (or don't want to bother with PayPal). The other thing I've noticed is that more purchases are coming from people who aren't regular Etsy customers. In the beginning, my customers were more likely to be people who already had Etsy accounts and spent more time on Etsy. Recent customers have joined Etsy just to make the purchase from me.

What kind of trends are you seeing in your online sales?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Etsy Listing Variations

Some people struggle with any type of change and get stressed out over it. A good example of that is how so many people freak out every time Facebook makes a change. Even when the changes are good ones, whining commences. Fortunately, I'm not one of those people who automatically sees change as a bad thing.

I'm so excited to see another wonderful change in how Etsy lets us list our product offerings. You can now add variations that the buyer will be able to select.  You can choose up to two different properties from Etsy's list or you can add a property of your own:
  • Color
  • Dimensions
  • Diameter
  • Fabric
  • Finish
  • Flavor
  • Height
  • Length
  • Material
  • Pattern
  • Scent
  • Size
  • Style
  • Weight
  • Width
  • add your own property
Of course I needed to give it a try myself, so I edited my tatted baby booties listing. It was great to be able to allow the customer to choose what color of booties they wanted without creating two different listings or having to rely on the customer to send me a note to tell me the color choice. I also played with it on one of my supplies listings (leather cord).  Read more about Etsy's new way of listing and let me know how you plan to use it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confused Buyers

Have you ever had a potential customer contact you about one of your items only to find out they are actually thinking about items from a completely different Etsy shop?  I was pretty excited when I received a message on Etsy about wanting a pair of my tatted baby booties. The current listing is for booties done in a cream colored thread since someone had requested two pairs of them. Unfortunately, that buyer hasn't come back to make the purchase.

The customer who sent me the message wanted to know if I had any done in white without having to special order them. I let her know that I had a pair that was partially done and that I could hurry to finish them and get them in the mail to meet her deadline if she was committed to buying them. Her response really confused me, talking about dupioni silk shoes with white lace.  I wrote a message back asking for clarification and repeating my offer to finish the tatted booties in white.  She responded with a more detailed description of the silk baby shoes and her phone number.  When I told her that I only had tatted booties, not silk ones, she was surprised and replied that she thought all the baby shoes were in one shop. Since she had already purchased the silk shoes, she wasn't interested in buying from me now.

All this confusion was from someone who joined Etsy just for this purchase. Etsy newcomers seem to struggle some with how it all works. I look at Etsy as a kind of mega shopping mall with lots of fun little shops. Some are large and some have only a few items. Customer service varies from shop to shop and it's good to check around to see which shops fit your needs and your personality.

I'm learning to clarify with buyers what exactly they want before I get my hopes up too much. I'm also learning that I need to have customers purchase special orders before I make them or else I may get stuck with putting time, effort, and money into unsold merchandise. What is your experience with this?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Etsy Gift Cards

Ever since I first signed up to have an Etsy shop, I've seen comments from sellers wanting to offer gift cards to their shops.  Some people had tried ways of working around the lack of an official Etsy gift card option. In fact, I once won a contest on a blog that gave me $10 to spend at a specific Etsy shop. The way that seller set this up was to have me do a regular purchase from their shop and then they refunded me the money. Yes, that does work, but customers usually don't like paying up front in hopes of a refund.

One of the things that makes Etsy so popular is the amazing assortment of handmade items available for purchase.  Unfortunately, this also makes it very difficult for those who would like to treat a friend to a gift from Etsy. Without gift certificates or gift cards, the buyer had to select a specific item to purchase or make arrangements with a specific shop. Those of us who've gotten gifts in the wrong size, color, or style know what a waste that can be.

Etsy is now getting ready to offer gift cards. In order to be able to accept gift cards in your shop, you will have to sign up for Etsy's direct checkout service. When Etsy first announced Direct Checkout, I passed on the opportunity since I was fine with all my sales going through one source - PayPal. With the possibility of accepting gift cards, I just can't pass this up now. Etsy has even gone one step further and is covering all direct checkout processing fees (3% + $0.25) for the month of September.  Count me in, baby!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trying a New Market

We started our summer by setting up at Provo's Farmers Market. The advantage to that market was that it was closer to home and it started earlier in the summer than some of the other markets. Unfortunately, patrons are often disappointed when they come to a farmers market and there are very few farmers. We toughed it out for roughly two months, but business was very slow. This area is notorious for people wanting to buy things cheap or just scoping out your stuff so they can copy it.

When we learned about a new market in Highland, we decided to give it a shot. The Highland Town Market is in its first year and is pretty small, but people who live in the Highland area seem to appreciate handmade items better. I've enjoyed having people like our creations and not turn their noses up at the prices. The first weekend was slow and most people were stopping by to see what was going on. Even though there weren't more people yesterday, there were more people buying.

This market feels like a good fit for us. One of our young customers event recommended that I do more tatted items in orange since she has lots of friends who would buy stuff that's orange. So cute! I took her advice and I hope she's right. New markets seem to be popping up all the time and I'm glad we were paying attention.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tophatter just isn't my cup of tea

I'm generally willing to try new things for our business. Etsy has been slow and I heard of a new site called Tophatter. Tophatter is an auction site. Unlike eBay, the auctions happen live and sometimes go very quickly. As a buyer, you are represented by an avatar in the "auction room." There are a variety of auctions at different times of the day - supplies, artisan, artisan jewelry, daily bazaar, night owl bazaar, jewelry, etc.

Because the auctions go quickly, selling on Tophatter takes a different approach than selling on eBay. I already made the mistake of pricing something too low and having it sell for the $1 starting bid. The fees vary, depending on the auction room. Most items can be listed for a 10% fee or $1, whichever is higher. On my pricing mistake, Tophatter got the entire $1.

Listing your items isn't too difficult.  Once you have your items entered into Tophatter, nothing happens until you schedule them for an auction. There are two scheduling options. The best is when you can schedule it directly into an auction. You will be able to choose an auction for a particular time and date and your item will be up for sale. The other option is Standby. The scheduling for Standby is much like the direct auction scheduling. What makes it different is that your item won't be put up for auction unless somebody places the minimum bid first. There is an indirect way to do Standby instead of scheduling it in advance. You can add items to Standby while in the auction room when that option is open. It opens up every couple of hours. Click on "add to Standby" and it will tell you how long it will be until Standby opens again. If you list an item and someone makes that minimum bid, your item will be moved into the upcoming list for that auction.

When I first started playing around on Tophatter, I noticed that things weren't always going for great prices. Supplies seemed to do really well, so I mostly listed supply items. After a few auctions, though, there were never any slots for me to list my items directly into auctions. Plus, your sales record determines how many items you can list at a time and how far in advance. It was beginning to be a fight to get my items into an auction at all!

Another thing I've noticed is how items sell much better when the seller is there during the auction. Tophatter brings your avatar up to the front of the auction room and you get to tell people more information. Some sellers even add bonus items at certain bidding levels ("I'll add 25 more of these charms if the bids reach $10"). Unfortunately, the difficulty in getting my items scheduled has resulted in me not being there any of the times my items went up for auction.

I'm not the only one frustrated with Tophatter. Kim's Knots gave it an honest try and finally decided to cancel her Tophatter account. She experienced many of the same things I did. Difficulty in scheduling auctions. Problem buyers who leave negative reviews. Having to devote a ton of time to being on Tophatter to try to get items into auctions and then to wait around to promote the items on the auction block.  Is anyone happy with Tophatter? There must be a core group of people who are making it work for them or the site is just surviving on a fresh group of suckers on a regular basis. You might do fine as a buyer snapping up some cheap deals, but I wouldn't recommend selling on Tophatter unless you need to quickly get rid of your inventory at clearance prices.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quality versus Price

People will sometimes hesitate to purchase handmade items because of the price. They may know of a way to buy a similar item for less money. Usually that means purchasing something that is made quickly and cheaply in a country with lower labor costs. Too often we get tempted to devalue our own labor in order to compete with the lower prices available in a factory environment.

All jewelry is not created equally. What I've noticed in wearing some of these pieces is that jump rings aren't fully closed and they fall apart. I was lucky that I found all the pieces to the necklace pictured here when it fell apart.

When I make jewelry, I am only working on one piece at a time and I take care to close each jump ring and secure each connection. My attention to detail is part of why I hope customers will choose to buy something I created instead of a $5 necklace from a mass merchandiser.

Have you ever tried wearing top quality clothing or shoes? They last longer and look better than the cheaper options. It's your choice whether you want to buy a quality item for $100 or buy something similar for $10 that you have to replace over and over again. When my kids were little, I was okay with buying them cheaper shoes since they grew so fast and needed larger shoes about the same time that the shoes wore out. For my own shoes, my size isn't changing anymore and I'd rather have a quality pair of shoes that will last for years and still look great.

As we continue to sell our handmade creations, we will emphasize the caring and the quality that goes into each piece. I hope my customers realize that it's worth it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Great Pricing Change for Multiple Quantities on Etsy

I was never a fan of how Etsy charged you a listing fee for each item when you had multiple quantities of the same item. If I make 10 identical pairs of earrings and list them on Etsy with a quantity of 10 being available, Etsy will charge me 20 cents for each, resulting in a listing fee of $2.00. Because of that, I usually just list one item and mention in the description that I have larger quantities available.

Etsy seems to have finally come to its senses with this pricing system and is now only charging the one listing fee of 20 cents, even if you have a bunch of the same item. If you sell more than one of the item, Etsy will add the listing fee for each of them, but at least you're not paying multiple listing fees for something that's just sitting there. If you're confused by what I'm saying, you may want to check out this explanation with illustrations.


It basically boils down to
  1. If you sell all the items you list, the cost to you will be the same
  2. If you  list something with multiple quantities and they don't all sell, you will save money
This new pricing policy goes into effect on May 21, 2012. I'm happy I will be able to list multiple quantities without penalty.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Ways to Accept Credit Card Payments

Now that I've bragged to you about how much I love using Square to process credit card payments on my iPhone, it's time to tell you about some of the other options out there.  It's only recently that I've noticed competition popping up. They include new and revamped systems.

Vistaprint, a company known for affordable business cards and free samples of other custom imprinted items, sent me a postcard advertising Pay Anywhere. Their service originally charged 19 cents per transaction in addition to the percentage-based processing fee when they started up a year ago. Pay Anywhere recently dropped the transaction fee and now charges only the 3.69% processing fee.

Intuit (maker of QuickBooks) has GoPayment. They offer an interesting option that may save money for those who are processing larger amounts of credit card payments. You can pay a monthly fee of $12.95 and the percentage charged for the credit card transactions will drop to 1.7% for swiped cards. One advantage with this system is that it works with QuickBooks. You can also have multiple users on your account so you can have sales going on in various locations, but still be able to track who made the sale.

You may have also noticed that PayPal is finally jumping in. When I first started looking for credit card options I could use for live sales, PayPal was the first place I looked. I figured it would be better if all my credit card payments were coming through one payment system. Unfortunately, PayPal didn't have anything available at the time. Now I face a dilemma over whether to stick with Square or switch over to PayPal's system for the iPhone. PayPal Here isn't available just yet, but you can get on the list to be notified when it's ready.

Which system should you use? Each one offers the iPhone or Android app and the credit card reader for free. They claim to have no extra or hidden fees and each has a slightly different rate for processing the credit cards. Access to your money is same day (PayPal), next day (Pay Anywhere, Square), or in 2-3 days (GoPayment). There are other features that will speak to one seller more than another, so make sure you read up on all the details. Personally, I'm fascinated by how different each card swiper looks. I have to admit that I'm intrigued by the blue triangle for PayPal...it's so pretty. After my experience with Square, I think GoPayment and Pay Anywhere may have the advantage in stability since they look like they'll stay put on the phone as you swipe the card.

What system looks good to you?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Credit Card Processing on the Go

If you've experienced selling your merchandise in person, you've probably noticed that people seem to be willing to buy more when using a credit card. At a previous job, we joked about how the payroll deduction forms were the company "gold card" since it didn't feel like you were really spending money.

For about a year now I have been using Square so I could process credit card payments when selling in person. The account and the credit card reader were free and the credit card fees were similar to what I was already paying on PayPal.  Since it was connected to my iPhone, I could use it anywhere I had cell phone service.

Some of the things I really like about Square:
  • Sales tax - You get to decide when to charge sales tax and how much to charge. If you are selling in different locations with different sales tax charges, this is very helpful. Some sellers like to include sales tax in their purchase prices and would want to turn off the sales tax charges.
  • Entering cash transactions - My friend Brittany at Trinkets and Butterflies told me about this one. You can enter all your cash payments in the Square app and keep a nice record of all your sales.
  • Photos of items sold - Square likes to market this as a way for customers to remember what they purchased from you. I like it because a lot of the items I sell are unique and the photo helps me remember which item I sold and a photo so I can try to make another item like it.
  • Easy to use records - Not only can I look on my phone to see how our sales went for the day, but the Square website lets me download records as a spreadsheet.
  • More personal than a credit card machine - The customer can watch the entire process and receive receipts by email or text message. They walk away with their purchase without having to leave their credit card number with a stranger. I never liked knowing that a merchant wrote my credit card number down to process it or had the imprint on a carbon somewhere.
  • I get paid! - I don't have to worry about whether the credit card number is any good or whether a check will clear. Square lets me know instantly that the transaction went through. I can't afford to gamble when it comes to having people pay for their purchases.
My friends who own Black Sheep Cafe were recently featured in a news article about Square replacing the cash register for some small businesses.  They use an iPad and Square's register app that allows them to enter their menu items (with photos). It turns the iPad into a touchscreen cash register that the server uses to assemble an electronic ticket for the meal and process the payment. The customer can even add a gratuity/tip. As a small, eclectic new business, using Square has kept more profits in their pockets instead of paying for financial services meant for large-scale businesses.

No, I'm not getting anything in return for praising Square. These are my opinions and experiences, free of charge. In my next post, I'll tell you about some other companies who are providing credit card processing via smartphone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Great Idea Taken Down by Bad Timing

I recently learned about an amazing product.  Unfortunately, I heard about it because they are going out of business.  The Swany Walkin'Bag, was designed by a Japanese CEO who is a polio survivor. Etsuo Miyoshi needed a bag that was light, easy to maneuver, and that he could literally lean on for support. With two of these suitcases, he could lean on the extended handles and use them like crutches.
Fortuno
Despite the great success of these bags, the downturn in the economy and then supply problems resulting from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year led Swany to close their operations in the United States.  It's a real shame since these are really amazing bags/suitcases. They're offering my readers an amazing price on their remaining bags.

More details about the bags and the discount are on my other blog

Coming up with an awesome and innovative product doesn't always guarantee you success. There are so many variables to success in business that you can't know for sure what will happen.  I can think of a lot of examples just off the top of my head. When the home video recorder first came on the scene, the Beta format was the better product, but the VHS format ended up pushing Beta out of the market. Kodak was once king of the photography scene. Unfortunately, they missed the boat on the whole digital revolution. Sony was the top dog when I was a teenager because everyone wanted a Walkman. They were caught napping when more people wanted mp3 players and left CD and tape players behind. 

I don't say all this to discourage you. It's just good to know that things don't always work out perfectly. If your efforts don't pay off this time, don't give up.  Keep trying. Keep creating. You won't know which one of your inventions, creations, innovations, or dreams will be a hit until it happens.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Other Side of Me

I try hard not to go too far astray on this blog. It's important to keep close to the topic of selling handmade items, but I felt I had more to share. To satisfy that need, I started a new blog: The Spirit Bead Journals  The name is based on a nickname my husband gave me.  There is no particular focus there; just me sharing things I think about, experiences I've had, and (most recently) the agony of my job loss and resulting job search.

Today was my second day at a new job. I'm a Development Specialist for the Utah-Southern Idaho Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's wonderful to have a new job and a new purpose. The only drawback is that I have to commute for the first time in my working career and that eats into my "free" time.  I hope you'll have patience with me. Drop by The Spirit Bead Journals from time to time to see what else I'm doing.

Etsy Wednesday Promote Your Shop Linky Party #39

Welcome to ETSY WEDNESDAY!
This week I'm featuring Like Mother, Like Daughter hand stamped jewelry. Karen and Kaitlin are a mother and daughter team who have been on Etsy nearly a year. I love that they have more than just letter stamps. Take a look at all the other stamps they use plus fun charms and embellishments. Each piece is custom made for you when you order it. It sure looks like this team is having fun with their craft.

Make sure you link up to the party.  You could be the featured shop next week.

Other linky parties say "NO Etsy shops" but we say YES!!  Here's your chance to market or promote your online store for FREE.  Once you link up your shop, don't forget to spread the word to other sellers as well as your friends who are in the mood for shopping.  Don't worry, you can still link up even if you're on Artfire, Zibbet, 1000 Markets, Folksy, etc.  Wondering what a Linky Party is or how it works?  Read this explanation for help.

Etsy Wednesday Linky Party Guidelines
  • Remember to visit other shops on the list.
  • Because this is promoting Etsy shops, I'm not going to require that you add my blog button to your shop (it's not possible anyway).  However,I'm hoping you will see it in your heart to add my button to your blog; stay connected to me on Facebook, Twitter, or my RSS feed; and/or promote this link party in your own way.  
  • Share this blog post however you can.  We want as many people as possible to look at your shops. 
  • Leave a comment telling the favorite shop you found on the list (other than your own, of course). 

Etsy Wednesdays




TIME TO JOIN THE ETSY MADNESS....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Madness - Etsy Direct Checkout

Some of you may have already noticed Etsy's announcement about the launch of Etsy Direct Checkout.  Only a few select shops are using right now, but you can sign up to be added to the list so you're notified when it's available. This will give you another payment option besides PayPal for U.S.-based sellers. I've really had no problems with Paypal, so I wasn't too interested at first. After I looked at the fees for the service, I was a little intrigued.

Photo by cklausen
Etsy Direct Checkout charges 3% plus $0.25 per sale.  PayPal charges 2.9% plus $0.30 per sale.  These amounts are very similar, but the fees are slightly less using Etsy Direct until you have sales over $50. A couple of pennies probably won't make a big difference unless you sell a large number of low price items.

Sale Etsy Direct PayPal
3.0% + $0.25 2.9% + $0.30
$1.00 $0.28 $0.33
$5.00 $0.40 $0.45
$10.00 $0.55 $0.59
$15.00 $0.70 $0.74
$20.00 $0.85 $0.88
$25.00 $1.00 $1.03
$30.00 $1.15 $1.17
$35.00 $1.30 $1.32
$40.00 $1.45 $1.46
$45.00 $1.60 $1.61
$50.00 $1.75 $1.75
$75.00 $2.50 $2.48
$100.00 $3.25 $3.20


Etsy will deposit the funds in your bank account each Monday and expects they will appear in your bank account in 3-5 business days. The funds will not be available for deposit until about three days after you mark the item as "shipped." PayPal holds your money until you direct it to do otherwise. You can get a debit card to access your funds. PayPal says that transfers to your bank account take 3-5 days. 

Will you be switching over to Etsy Direct Checkout or staying with PayPal?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Etsy Wednesday Promote Your Shop Linky Party #38

Welcome to ETSY WEDNESDAY!
Tune Tube by relaine
This week I have chosen relaine's shop on Etsy to be featured.  The shop description cracks me up:
There are so many fun fabrics that I couldn't possibly make something for myself out of every single one, and yet I want to sew with them all! So I compromise and make things for other people.
That's a great attitude! Sometimes I feel that way about the things I make. It wouldn't be right to keep them all, but I just can't stop creating.

Make sure you link up to the party.  You could be the featured shop next week.

Other linky parties say "NO Etsy shops" but we say YES!!  Here's your chance to market or promote your online store for FREE.  Once you link up your shop, don't forget to spread the word to other sellers as well as your friends who are in the mood for shopping.  Don't worry, you can still link up even if you're on Artfire, Zibbet, 1000 Markets, Folksy, etc.  Wondering what a Linky Party is or how it works?  Read this explanation for help.

Etsy Wednesday Linky Party Guidelines
  • Remember to visit other shops on the list.
  • Because this is promoting Etsy shops, I'm not going to require that you add my blog button to your shop (it's not possible anyway).  However, I'm hoping you will see it in your heart to add my button to your blog; stay connected to me on Facebook, Twitter, or my RSS feed; and/or promote this link party in your own way.  
  • Share this blog post however you can.  We want as many people as possible to look at your shops. 
  • Leave a comment telling the favorite shop you found on the list (other than your own, of course). 

Etsy Wednesdays




TIME TO JOIN THE ETSY MADNESS....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspiring My Son to Create

micro origami crane by Dwayne
I was hanging out on Pinterest one night and had a chance to show my oldest son some of the cool origami creations I found there. He's been into origami for years and has come up with his own dragon design. First I showed him some really complicated origami creations, but it was some miniature paper cranes in a glass bottle that ended up catching his eye.  That brought on our first ever mother and son trip to the craft store.

This is not the son I usually pal around with. He's very geeky (even more than me) and is into Magic the Gathering rather than beadwork and crafting. Going to the craft store was fun and he soon gathered the supplies he needed. He got right to work as soon as we got home. In order to fit the cranes in the glass bottle, he had to make them micro sized. Yes, that's a real penny underneath that teeny tiny crane.

He filled the glass bottle with six miniature cranes and then hung the bottle from a necklace cord. It was cute to see him work so hard on it and then anxiously wait for me to add it to our Etsy shop. Interestingly enough, his necklace was viewed 13 times in the first 45 minutes and it was listed in a new treasury within two minutes of being listed.

Origami Cranes in Glass Bottle

Today I saw a great article about how your kids can help you with your Etsy business. Getting your whole family involved in the business can prevent you from burning out. Having the support without feeling separated from your family will keep you going strong. I've also found that fun new ideas can come from all over, even from your kids.

Have you involved your kids in your creating yet?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Etsy Wednesday Promote Your Shop Linky Party #37

Welcome to ETSY WEDNESDAY!
ratty daddy dinkum
With a name like Ratty Daddy Dinkum, how could I resist? Their Etsy shop with handmade scarves and more was my featured pick from last week's party. Run by a mother and daughter out of Florida, this shop has some fun vintage picks as well as scrappy felt flowers and the scrappy scarves they've become known for. 

Make sure you link up to the party.  You could be the featured shop next week.

Other linky parties say "NO Etsy shops" but we say YES!!  Here's your chance to market or promote your online store for FREE.  Once you link up your shop, don't forget to spread the word to other sellers as well as your friends who are in the mood for shopping.  Don't worry, you can still link up even if you're on Artfire, Zibbet, 1000 Markets, Folksy, etc.  Wondering what a Linky Party is or how it works?  Read this explanation for help.

Etsy Wednesday Linky Party Guidelines
  • Remember to visit other shops on the list.
  • Because this is promoting Etsy shops, I'm not going to require that you add my blog button to your shop (it's not possible anyway).  However, I'm hoping you will see it in your heart to add my button to your blog; stay connected to me on Facebook, Twitter, or my RSS feed; and/or promote this link party in your own way.  
  • Share this blog post however you can.  We want as many people as possible to look at your shops. 
  • Leave a comment telling the favorite shop you found on the list (other than your own, of course). 

Etsy Wednesdays





TIME TO JOIN THE ETSY MADNESS....

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Etsy Wednesday Promote Your Shop Linky Party #36

Welcome to ETSY WEDNESDAY!

Iridescent White Porcelain Pendant
After a vacation, it's time to share the Etsy love and get the good karma going again.  This week's featured shop is Chiron Creations out of Temecula, California. Chiron Creations is a collective, featuring the work of  Tracey Giehl, Jim Lathrop, and Jennifer Donnelly. Jim and Jennifer do the crystal-glazed ceramics, a fusion of art and science. Tracey makes the macrame plant hangers, does ceramic painting, and functions as the shop's owner. 

Make sure you link up to the party.  You could be the featured shop next week.

Other linky parties say "NO Etsy shops" but we say YES!!  Here's your chance to market or promote your online store for FREE.  Once you link up your shop, don't forget to spread the word to other sellers as well as your friends who are in the mood for shopping.  Don't worry, you can still link up even if you're on Artfire, Zibbet, 1000 Markets, Folksy, etc.  Wondering what a Linky Party is or how it works?  Read this explanation for help.

Etsy Wednesday Linky Party Guidelines
  • Remember to visit other shops on the list.
  • Because this is promoting Etsy shops, I'm not going to require that you add my blog button to your shop (it's not possible anyway).  However, I'm hoping you will see it in your heart to add my button to your blog; stay connected to me on Facebook, Twitter, or my RSS feed; and/or promote this link party in your own way.  
  • Share this blog post however you can.  We want as many people as possible to look at your shops. 
  • Leave a comment telling the favorite shop you found on the list (other than your own, of course). 

Etsy Wednesdays





TIME TO JOIN THE ETSY MADNESS....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feature Friday - FantaSea Jewelry

FantaSea Jewelry - Dragonfly

Have you ever been browsing online and stumble across a photo that just makes you stop and stare? I'm going to share the one that caught my attention the other day on Etsy.  It's a sterling silver dragonfly with blue topaz.

I love dragonflies and I grew up on the ocean. FantaSea Jewelry's Etsy shop is absolutely breathtaking with its silver creations beautifully photographed over driftwood.

When I look at an Etsy shop, I like to see what they put in their shop announcement, shop policies, etc. It gives me an idea of how professional they are about running their shop. FantaSea Jewelry does an excellent job of making customers aware of the time it will take to receive their orders:
Please keep in mind that I am shipping from the Caribbean, and although we are part of the US, shipping will still take LONGER than shipping stateside and I have no control over this! Please expect delivery between 5-12 days from the day I shipped your item out. Most items are handcrafted at the time of purchase so please expect 5 days for production. If an item is ready to ship, I will email you and let you know when I receive the order. Thank you!!!
 You can avoid negative feedback and unrealistic expectations by letting your customers know what your process is like. Some friends of mine recently opened a wonderfully original restaurant and art gallery. Because they make all their entrees and sauces from scratch, it takes some time to get your food. On opening weekend, our server was apologetic about the delay. I later talked to the owner and told her that instead of apologizing, the server should let the customer know that the food is being cooked from scratch at the time of the order. Customers just need to know what to expect. Not everyone is in a hurry and many things are worth the wait.

FantaSea Jewelry - Octopus
I'm so glad I stumbled across FantaSea Jewelry's shop, especially since I never manage to get to the Caribbean to go shopping.  In addition to sharing my favorite items on Facebook, I pinned them on Pinterest so others can admire their beauty. My husband may be getting tired of all my hints, though...


FantaSea Jewelry - SeaHorse

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let Facebook Help Promote Your Etsy Shop

 Can't afford to advertise your Etsy shop? Neither can I. Fortunately, the growth of social media has provided some great opportunities to share information for free.  Right now I have a Facebook page for this blog, but I haven't set up a separate one for Native & Pilgrim. The Etsy Madness page basically serves to promote the blog and the shop.

Worried about the time investment of an additional Facebook page? It doesn't have to take a lot of time. I post the latest blog articles by clicking the button below the article to share on Facebook. Etsy has also made it easy to share your product listings on Facebook. I wouldn't necessarily post every item in your shop on the FB page, but posting new creations, sale items, and holiday-specific items will keep your fans connected. Make sure you do some status updates about what you're working on or asking questions of your customers so its not just product promotion.

Mashable recently posted this article on hot tips for small business marketing on Facebook. I recommend following Mashable for their posts on technology.

Another great article comes from Outright's blog, The Bottom Line. Justine Smith shared the top 10 marketing tips from full-time Etsy sellers. You may have heard some of these tips before, but I like having a refresher and each person will explain it a little bit differently.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Postal Rate Increase


Some of you have probably already noticed the latest rate increase from the US Postal Service (USPS). This rate increase happened on January 22, 2012. Although the difference in rates isn't huge, it will certainly add up as you ship multiple packages.

New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products:
  • Small box — $5.35
  • Medium box — $11.35
  • Large box — $15.45
  • Regular envelope — $5.15
 If you haven't done it already, head over to your Etsy shop and update the shipping charges for your items. I used to use the Craftopolis website to quickly edit prices and shipping charges. They're renovating their site right now, so I'm going to have to make the edits on Etsy.

One of the easiest ways to handle your shipping amounts on Etsy is to create Shipping Profiles. Go to https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/YourShopNameHere/shipping/batch.  You can created and edit shipping profiles there. I have one for digital items (free shipping), one for very small items (1 oz or less), and one for items that are a little larger and need more packaging. You'll choose all the same options you would when listing a new item for your shop. Once you save it, you'll be able to select that shipping profile when listing or editing items in your shop. Over time, this will be a great shortcut.

On the shipping page, you can apply shipping profiles to many items at once. The only negative I've found is that changing the dollar amounts in the shipping profile doesn't change anything in the items in your shop automatically. For example, I decide to change the shipping profile for very small items. The shipping charge is now $2.25 instead of $2.00. I will now need to go in and edit the item listings to apply that shipping profile. Shipping information for items doesn't change until you apply the updated profile. That's definitely an area that Etsy could improve on.

Please share any tips on making this an easier process. Good luck!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Handmade for the Holidays

I know that Christmas was a month ago, but I was impressed with news about how a lot of consumers chose to buy handmade items this year for gift giving. BusinessNewsDaily talked about the trend toward purchases of one-of-a-kind handmade gifts over the mass-produced gifts of the past. Etsy's CEO remarked that average sales per shop on Cyber Monday increased 11 percent.

This information is good to know as we launch into a new year of selling. I know that the items we make are unique and made with care in a way that can't be done in a factory. Whenever we sell in person, we are able to talk to our potential customers about what went into the creation of the piece, the inspiration, and more. I honestly believe that when customers buy from me in person, they are purchasing the background or story as well as the actual item.

One of my friends posted on Facebook that she was doing a "pay it forward" activity and would send a handmade item to the first five people to comment.  The only catch was that you had to do the same thing - post the pay it forward status and make something for five people. It didn't matter what the handmade item was - cookies, greeting card, jewelry, etc. My friend sent me a crocheted dish cloth and I am just finishing up some tatted hearts to send to my five people. I also decided to make one extra to send to the friend who connect me with this effort.  I encourage you to consider participating in this to keep handmade items in the spotlight.  Here is the text for your Facebook status:
Pay it forward 2012.... I promise to make something handmade for the first five people who comment. They must in turn post this and make something for the first five who comment on their status. *The rules are it has to be handmade by you, and they must receive it before 2012 ends.* Craft, cookies...who knows what you might receive..

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inexpensive Help for Your Business

You can do it all yourself, right? Create products, photograph and list them online. market your products and your business, create logos/labels/packaging, etc....I didn't think so.

I recently stumbled across a website based on the concept of "What are you willing to do for $5?"  Fiverr allows you to search for the type of work you need done. You can also request your own specific "gig" and hope for someone to respond. You can sign up to offer your own services as well.

For only five dollars, it's not much of a risk. What can you get for your five dollars? Here are a few that I thought would be helpful for Etsy sellers:
  • Critique your Etsy shop
  • Create a banner for your Etsy shop
  • Tweet about your shop (some do this several times per day without end)
  • Edit your product photos
  • Design a logo for your business
  • Set up your blog
  • Record a video promoting your product/business
  • Create backlinks for your site
  • Review your product on my site
  • Write the name of your business on a sign, lips, fingernails, face....

There are some very entertaining things on there. You could get a video of somebody in a hot dog costume dancing for two minutes to the song of your choice or have someone do some of your computer programming homework. Like with any online purchase, you should read reviews from previous customers before committing to pay. I paid for someone to tweet two messages a day to her 32.000 Twitter followers every day, forever and ever. She had me send her the two different messages to tweet and the messages were sent within minutes. Those messages continue to be tweeted daily and I have seen an increase in visits to my shop and new Twitter followers.

Althout you can't expect an awesome logo or banner design for five dollars, this is an inexpensive way to get started. If you decide to sell your own services on Fiverr, you'll want to read this article that explains how much you actually make after fees. I'd love to hear from you if you decide to use Fiverr.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Improving How You Use Facebook

If you're selling on Etsy (or have a business of any kind), you need to have a Facebook page for your business. Originally, Facebook was set up more for individuals. It has adapted over the years and has what it calls "fan pages" that are great for businesses. They're also good for celebrities since they don't set a limit on how many people "like" you (yes, there are actual limits to how many "friends" you can have as a person on FB).

When I first set up a business Facebook page, I created it to support this blog. Sometimes I wonder if I should have a separate page for the Etsy shop. More work, but targeted to different audiences. The debate is still going on in my head for now.

Mashable had a great article about some of the metrics (statistics) that Facebook can provide you for your page. Knowing where your fans are coming from and how they are engaged with your information will help you not only to improve how you market your brand, but will also give you opportunities for keeping your biggest fans engaged with you.

Another great thing you can do with your Facebook page is to add a Welcome tab using an app called iFrames.  I'm working on the one for my Etsy Madness page, but you can take a look at the one I made earlier this month when I was working for Heritage School.

In looking at the statistics for my Etsy shop, I've seen that a lot of people are linking over from Facebook.  So many people comment on and share their favorite items that it really pays to be on Facebook.  I've been hearing a lot lately about how Pinterest is boosting traffic for Etsy shops.  I'm hoping to start on Pinterest, but the one drawback is that you have to receive an invitation to join. My request for an invitation put me on their waiting list, but I don't know how long it will take. 

What are your Facebook tips? And could someone please send me a Pinterest invitation....thanks!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...