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Sunday, January 24, 2016

What I wish I knew before my 1st year of Running an Etsy Shop - Part 1

I can't believe it's been a year since I first opened Love of Sweeties weave  shop! I started my Etsy shop on January 6 2015 and have since made a small amount of money each and every month through my shop to feed my love of weaving. My plan for this year is to turn it into a steadier, more reliable source of income. Not quite my day job income (yet...), but enough to happily consider myself a fully functioning #GIRLBOSS.

I've learned A LOT over the past 12 months of running my shop. This is advice, and a bit of guidance for those starting out, who are worried about being overwhelmed by putting their craft up for sale, or drowning in their fear of shipping costs, or just afraid of what do do once they make their first sale! I was afraid of all these things!

BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR CRAFT This is no longer just a hobby or pass-time for you. Once you list your work for sale, it has to be sale worthy! People will be buying your products to give as gifts so there needs to be a high level of quality to it. If you don't think you're quite there yet - wait! Practice some more, make you skill more specified, invest in better tools, whatever you need to do to feel proud to sell what you make. If you really aren't sure where you are at, ask a friend who will be honest with you. "would you buy this from a store in town?" There's absolutely nothing wrong with not being at that point yet. Improvement is awesome and constant. Also if you list your items before you're skilled enough, you run the risk of damaging your reputation for your future sales.

Think about it this way: CASE STUDY TIME
Jenny from Happy bags started her shop a year ago, 3 months after she learned how to sew. Her bags are totally adorable! She uses all the cutest fabrics and has very trendy designs. She made 20 sales in her first 3 months (go Jenny, wish I had done that well), but her expertise just weren't there yet. After a few uses, the seams come loose on her bags. She's received some negative feedback on her shop's review page because of it. Since those first few months she has perfected her technique, and he bags now hold up wonderfully to wear and tear, but she still hasn't seen the success she had in her first 3 months. She's frustrated and can't figure out why her bags won't sell. They're so professional!

I am guilty of this mistake myself which is why I'm stressing it so much. It's such an easy rookie mistake to make because you've seen the progress you've made since you started, of course you're way better! When I first started selling my wall hangings I didn't realize I didn't know how to properly attach them to their dowel rods once they were done. I gave many as gifts, and I sold a few that way, and although everyone loved them and I got 5 star feedback I cringe when I think about it, And I worry they won't last as long as the properly finished ones I sell now.

Advice on this: research other established, sellers who are selling similar goods to you. Observe their craftsmanship, actually order one of their products, look at the level of professionalism. Are you comparable?
Before selling anything give lots as gifts! Maryann Moody's woolful podcast episode offers some great advice on this topic. I'd highly recommend listening to it, no matter what your craft is.
I have a friend who is a wonderful crocheter but she will never take payment for anything she makes for anyone. Even if they've requested she make them something. Not because she's totally selfless and charitable but because she says as soon as she takes money from someone she can't allow herself to make a single mistake, and the project gets stressful. Doing it for free keeps the pressure off and the project remains enjoyable and relaxing for her. She's told me she "wants to be able to do a bad job and not feel guilty" if that's all she has time for.

BUY A SCALE Investing in a food scale and a tape measure took all the fear out of what to charge for shipping. Its a very small investment, maybe $20 total. So do it!
To figure out your shipping costs, pack up your product as if you were sending it away, box and all. Weigh the package and take its measurements.
Next, go to the postal office's website and use their shipping calculator. Type in some random postal codes to get an idea of shipping within canada. Do the same with us zip codes. Then go international! This is going to be the exact price you'll pay when you go to the post office so no surprises! If you're unsure of addresses to enter, look up some businesses on google in a certain state. "Like Urban outfitters Texas". And use that address as an example.
Don't deny your shop sales because you're afraid of shipping international! Heck, in many scenarios its cheaper for me to ship to the US than it is to ship within Canada. What's up with that Canada Post!?
Once you have the cost of shipping, add in your supplies and packing time to calculate what you will charge for shipping. It may be 9.95 to ship to California, but that box was $1, the bubble wrap was $4 a roll and you spent 25 minutes packing the box and taking it to the post office. Don't sell yourself short. Factor this stuff in or your business will be losing out.

TAKE STELLAR PRODUCT PHOTOS. Notice I said stellar photos, not use a stellar camera. Believe it or not you can do one without the other. A lot of the time I'll take my Etsy photos on my cell phone. They come out great! There's still a lot I can learn of course, but for my current skill I do pretty well. I do not own a DSLR, and I barely know how to use the high-end but very old point and shoot that I have. So I'm telling you, don't worry about the camera.
Make sure your photos are bright, clear, consistent, and feature all the detail of your work.

You're given 5 photo spots so use every one of them! Why waste any opportunity to show off what you're trying to sell? You pay the same for an Etsy listing whether you use one or five photos, so you might as well get all you can out of your listing. Utilize that 1st photo especially! Crop the square, zoom in if you have to, really make it count. It's the only opportunity you may have to catch that customer's eye while they search the bajillions of things for sale on Etsy. And speaking of thumbnails, keep the thumbnails in your shop consistent. It will help brand your store. Let's say you're a rain boot store.  Don't have some of your thumbnails as foot selfies, some as your model jumping through a puddle and some as a styled product shot. Instead, pick one of these styles for the first thumbnail, the others you can always put in the listing.

Your setting should match or makes sense with your product. Garden gnomes belong it the grass, but not bracelets. Use a clean backdrop or setting and avoid clutter. The easiest way to do this for small items is pick up a piece of white poster board at the dollar store. Instant fresh background!

Turn off your flash. Take photos when you have good light. If you don't have good light. stop taking photos. Do something else, and take photos another day.
You also have no need to purchase an expensive editing program. Both Photobucket and Picmonkey are wonderful and free online services that allow you to edit your photos in a very user-friendly interface.

These are my first 3 big pieces of advice when starting out. You can delve so much farther into each of these topics with just a few google or pinterest searches. Next week I'll be getting into how to get your items to start selling!


5 comments:

  1. Hi Arielle! Thank you for these advice, I really enjoyed reading your article. I have a question for you if you don't mind answering it, as I am myself a weaving newbie, what have you changed in your finishing to make sure the weaving would stay properly attached to the dowel? I always fear that they won't stay attached even during the shipping. Do you have any advice on that? Thanks in advance :)

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  2. I'm glad you found the article helpful! When I first started out, I used the remaining warp thread to secure my dowel to the top of my weave. Like I brought it over the dowel and wove it through the back of the piece if that makes sense. Now I have a few different methods depending on how I want my weave to look, but I no longer use that one.I like tucking in all the warp threads on the backside, and use separate piece of yarn to secure the dowel. I hope all that made sense!

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  3. You should check out theweavingloom.Com she has some fantastic tutorials for beginners!

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  4. Yes it makes perfect sense! I think I may do the right thing then since I also tuck them in the backside and use another piece of yarn to secure it! Yeah! I'm so worried about finishing, it makes such a big difference about the quality of the weaving, so that's why I'm always looking for new tricks. Thanks for the recommendation I already know and loooove theweavingloom, this is where I've learned most of the weaving techniques, thank god someone made a website about it! :)

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  5. Hi to every single one, it’s truly a good for me to visit this web page, it includes helpful Information.

    ReplyDelete

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