Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A blurb.

I am cutting and pasting a facebook message that I just sent to a friend, asking for tips on how to start an Etsy shop.  My response isn't entirely interesting, but it was an excuse for me to verbally process.
And because I haven't put pen to the stuff circling in this busy brain of mine lately, I thought I'd share here too.

Friend's message:

Hi Crystal, love all of the pillows you are making! I am interested in joining etsy. How does one go about doing that? Also, I wanted to know where I might get name tags like you have with your simple mend. I have gone on some sights that were recommended but no luck. I've been sewing and making some things and hoping to sell them. Would sure appreciate any tips! 

My overly-zealous response:

 Anyone can join Etsy.  In terms of your shop name, it may be taken.  I chose "simple mend" in part because it was available on Etsy.

The thing about Etsy is you really have to create your own traffic.  I have had a few sales from people that I don't know, but overall it is people that I have directed to my shop via facebook and blog.  And most of my income from simple mend (which is very lean right now) comes from custom orders.  Most who order custom want multiples, so that's a sale of 3-7 in one pop.

Etsy also has excellent tutorials on how to really be successful.  One that I read more than once was their "Sellers Handbook".

From this vantage point, here are five tips that I think are key to taking the plunge and opening an Etsy shop:

1.  Don't diversify.  Be known for one thing.  I think you lose creditability with your buyers if you sell chocolate and baby dresses.  I have been trying to focus primarily on pillows, with an occasional sewn product that is different, but also home decor (ie; my laundry wall hanging). 

2.  Don't launch prematurely.  I prepared for three months before I launched my Etsy shop.  Writing descriptions, sewing (obviously), taking "good" images of the products, editing the graphic on my banner (which is just my label scanned, but I had to work with a graphic designer to make it fit proportionally).  You don't want to open a shop just to "get it over with", you want to look professional.

3.  Zip it.  I am an extrovert to a fault, so for me it was key to just close my mouth.  I stopped talking about it with other people, very very few people knew what I was doing unless they were involved in some way (and even that was after I had most of the products made).  I found that for me, talking about it gave me a false sense of making it happen, which really the only thing that made it happen was me spending every-single-evening for over a month (after Gideon went to bed) at my sewing machine.  I actually wrote this Proverb out and put it above my sewing machine:

Proverbs 14:23
All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.

4.  Do what inspires you.  For the most part, I only work with textiles that I respond to (make me really happy).  I think this is key to not burning out.  As I'm measuring, cutting, sewing, etc.  I sometimes find myself giddy because I just love what I'm making.  For me, it is that pride that supplies the momentum to move forward.  (I want to keep everything I make;).  People who share your aesthetic will follow you as you continue to grow in your craft/brand.  And a lot of people won't share your aesthetic and that's great too.

5.  Keep going.  Set small goals for your shop (my goal is to make one pillow a day).

I hope that this helps.  I gave you more than you were asking for, I'm sure.  I am still so green and I have nothing really figured out.  Just learning as I go...  

p.s. oh and my labels came from a lady on Etsy. Her shop name is "Inked Papers". She is very slow, so just plan on not receiving your tags for two weeks after you order. If you search for "fabric labels" you will find lots of Etsy shops that can make you labels.


Jessica said...

Love it :-) I'm so proud of you! Owning your own business is the hardest but also most rewarding work. I've pretty much given up all free time to do what I do... But I've never been as proud or happy. Keep up the good work! I love your stuff :-)

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