Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two ways to get sales on Etsy

I think I've realized that when you get down to basics, there are only two ways to get sales:

1) You can find people for your products
2) You can make products for your people

In 2011 during my first three months on etsy, I had two sales. Last month I had 100. I think a lot of people focus on item #1: they spend a lot of time trying to get views.... I never really did that. I used social media (twitter, facebook, pinterest) just for fun... never posted my own items there unless I made something that my friends might truly appreciate. I didn't consider my social media followers to be my target audience... I assumed that the people who visit etsy and search around to buy stuff were my target audience.

The only "item 1" thing I did was make sure that if someone did happen to run across my item on a search screen, they'd be tempted to click it... I asked for shop critiques, checked titles, read about SEO, made sure I'd show up in the search. I tried to make my photos look nice in thumbnail, landscape orientation.

Once that was done, I focused on #2: making products people might be interested in. To a point, of course... I wasn't going to make something just because it would sell, I had to be my authentic self and list designs that made me happy. But I made lots of product line my first year. I read everything Etsy published about merchandizing and trends. I joined EtsyTrades.com to see which items in my shop were a bit more "in demand", and paid lots of attention to those "favorite item from the shop above you" type threads that teams sometimes start.

I purposefully avoided any team promotion games that promised me automatic hearts or views. I wanted to look at my shop stats and know what people REALLY liked in my shop, on their own without any requests. In fact now I have way more sales than favorites, because I've never worked for favorites... I worked for sales. I was obsessed with stats, taking an example from Etsy admins here who are always answering our questions about tests with their results of what's going on with the data. I considered every listing to be a new experiment.

I looked up the best selling shops to see what they were selling. Any time I ran across a shop that seemed overwhelmed, whose announcement said "I've got so many orders my Christmas deadline is in August" sort of thing, I made a mental note of what they were selling. I avoided flooded markets.

And in the end, slowly, it paid off! One listing at a time, one sale at a time, I felt out this place and learned what worked... and now that I've got a few thousand sales under my belt I feel really good about my shop and the time I spend every night packing up orders for people all around the world.

I'd like to hear from some other successful shops... how did you change your product line from the time you started? What resources did you use to find out what would sell?

Or maybe someone wants to debate me :) Is there some trick to the "find people" objective that I missed, maybe it really does work, maybe it worked for you?

There's no way that works for everyone, that's why I love hearing from others... what worked for you?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Visit to Etsy

Last week I visiting New York when I get this tweet from @ansate asking if I'd want to swing by the Etsy offices in Brooklyn for a visit. My response was "seriously?!" Well, seriously! I guess she'd been following me because we're both women in tech and cool like that, happened to be in town instead of remoting in from portland, and wanted to learn to give official Etsy tours anyway and this was a great opportunity. I was thrilled!

The thing is, I spent a LOT of time on Etsy because I run a shop (spacefem.etsy.com) that pulls me into shipping 2-3 bags of fabric around the world every day, and I'm in way too many Etsy Teams, and I dink with the API all the time... so the idea of visiting in person almost threw me, I was like "Am I in trouble? Too weird? Will I be able to act normal?"

Well I totally acted normal, it went great! And I learned some things by visiting the office and seeing a cool trendy tech company at work. There are some similarities between Etsy and any workplace, I certainly saw things that are the same as where I work. There are totally unique things too.

I should mention here that I am a "glass half full" seller. Most of my interactions with other sellers is in the Etsy teams and forums, where everyone constantly acts like THE SKY IS FALLING if Etsy chooses to move a link five pixels to the left... so I on purpose did not tell my Etsy friends that I was visiting Etsy. I felt a little awful about that. But I was afraid they'd just be on me to complain and that was not my goal, I guess because as a person who runs websites I know that things have to change but users always hate change. I wasn't going to ask for the "complain-in-person" department.

On to the trip!



Etsy's offices are very open, just big tables and everyone has lots of desk space decorated with nifty things... in fact they all have a small budget to decorate their personal desks with things from Etsy shops!



There's art everywhere. It feels like you're IN Etsy. Well, except I don't think I saw so many bubble necklaces. But the knitted mug cozies you guys... they're everywhere.

Oh and you know how if you hit a bad page on Etsy you get to this funny "A stitch has gone awry!" page and there's a picture of someone knitting a 3-armed sweater? There's a real 3-armed sweater hanging up. It just adds to the feel that you are in Etsy.

Photo by @jeffrigram

For an open workspace though it's pretty quiet, there are no desk phones and people are encouraged to go elsewhere if they need to talk on the phone, there are cute little closet-sized "phone booth" workspaces. I love it... in fact I'm going to steal this idea for my team and encourage them to drift elsewhere for phone conversations, for sure.

CEO Chad Dickerson has a nice office right smack in the middle of the floor with multiple breaks in the partitions around it. No corner window office. Employees can see the windows, the CEO sees people!

We were there at 10 am and there were a lot of empty desks. It was "early". Lots of people arriving too... I asked about that, and apparently a company's start time is a complicated formula involving of local, corporate, and industry culture, and maybe even time zones. Startups tend to start later, people wake up, chill out, check their email from home, drift in and work until 7 or 8pm. Where I work there are employees asking "Can I come to work at 6am every day so I can punch out at 2:30?" and as an upper manager now, it would look terrible if I came in at 8:05.



My tour was given by a data person so the other "data person" groups were pointed out and there are LOTS of people there whose job it is to gather and interpret data. This is one place where a website company is very different from where I work at the airplane company. We can't move the wings back three feet on all our customers' airplanes at once to see if it changes fleet utilization instantly. That number is what it is. So I asked Melissa who the "experimenters" were who changed things, and she said "Everyone is an experimenter!" with the goal being to change the numbers for the better, and that most important piece of data seems to be how many visitors end up making a purchase. It's HUGE.

I am kinda wondering if they look at diversity of business... how many different shop owners they can get sales for. Maybe I'll send her a follow up question.

I saw the integrity team, which was a sizable flurry taking up several tables, trying to win the whack-a-mole game challenge of keeping people from selling totally non-handmade factory crap. This is a place where a lot of Etsy sellers feel like Etsy doesn't do enough, it'd be interesting to sit there in the flurry for a week, it's a science drawing that fine line and they obviously have a big team dedicated to it. Etsy is not a huge company, only 600 employees or so. Just the engineering department where I work is twice that size. So the numbers of busy people in market integrity were noticeable.

There does not appear to be a busy hive of forum readers responding to every concern that comes up in a thread, sorry friends. There was one forum person pointed out during my visit, and it was not someone I recognized. But I relate to this, because at my company we have dedicated "customer facing" types handling the communication, and us engineers are separated from all that by entire buildings, and while some of the customer feedback gets to it, not all of it does. In six sigma class we watched a clip of The Simpsons where Homer gets to design a car however he wants, and it's a disaster, to illustrate what happens when you get too much "voice of the customer" and not enough looking at data to see what actually works.

Etsy is a B Corporation, meaning that they incorporate social and environmental responsibility into the things they do, and we saw lots of examples of that. Biking their compost out to the farm sorts of things. They have educational events, really try to reach out to the community, and I love their efforts to encourage women and girls in the community.

They let Cate and me use the photo booth where they take all those black background admin profile pics, ha ha!



Cate actually teaches organizational behavior at a local university so she had a lot more good questions than I did (or maybe she's just friendlier and less nerdy) - as we were leaving she said the tough thing is that everyone in her classes imagines they'll work at a cool trendy startup like the one we'd just seen. Sadly this is not the case. But even the big huge giant airplane maker I'm at has been doing some new things - shifting to open workspaces, creating mobile applications, encouraging personality. And I love our fun little side interest groups, that's the best part of working someplace gigantic.

On average I pay Etsy a little over $100 a month in listing, renewal and transaction fees... about 6-7% of my total revenue. The tour actually made me feel pretty darn good about that! I'm supporting a company that supports women in technology, the environment, their community. And without them I would not have this little side business I've got going on, because the items I sell really need that unique marketplace and brand association that Etsy has grown to be.

If you're a seller and in Brooklyn, you might consider contacting them a week or two in advance to see if their tour giving people will be around, they like having sellers in sometimes. There are no guarantees but if I got a tour, it could happen to you! It might give you some perspective and definitely made me appreciate everything going on behind the scenes, since I just went in wanting to learn and have a good time, and I did. It's a neat office and a really nice group of people, it'll be interesting to see where the future takes us all.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Download your Etsy team's member list

Based on some request from my fellow Etsy team captains over at the Captains' Quarters, I published a new widget this week:

Etsy Team Member Roster

You enter your Etsy team, and it generates the list of members in a big table that you can sort, copy to excel, or just review.

I was using a similar tool for my EtsyTrades.com team - I needed to know which members of my team no longer had active etsy shops with listings, because as a trade team we need to know that as we're clicking around the member list looking for cool stuff to trade, we weren't wasting clicks on people who'd fallen off the face of the earth. We have a team policy stating that you either need six active listings, or a vacation announcement with a clear end date, otherwise we can remove you from the team. This app simplifies our search process too.

It also has a "divide into groups" function that works like this:
1) Every Etsy shop is assigned a number between 1-1000 based on the minutes and seconds that their shop was created... that makes the number pretty random, but it'll never change.

2) The list is sorted and divided into groups based on the assigned numbers. For instance if you say you want two groups, one group will be 0-500, the other will be 501-1000.

3) As new members are added they can change groups, but no one will ever move groups, as long as you use the same size chunks. For instance if you want to convo a different group of shops every month of the year, divide your list into 12 chunks. You'll end up with the same group every August, give or take new members, but no one will accidentally move from August to September.

In the trade team we use this for team convos... we divide up the list and each leader takes some shops to notify them about upcoming events. But I'm making sure we don't accidentally convo the same shop two months in a row. No need to bug anyone that much, I figure.

I'd be happy to add more capability to this if I understand how other team captains are using it, so let me know if this comes in handy for your team!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Artist: Sew Much Fabric Bags & Twisted Wristers Jewelry

I have been really lucky to have some great help in the shop critiques team, an open, supportive team that's all about helping anybody with anything. One of my coleaders runs two amazing shops on Etsy: Twisted Wristers and SewMuchFabric2010. She's really helpful and has offered some great advice to the team, so I asked her to share some insights here on the blog.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
My first love is sewing. I've been quilting, making clothes, bags and household items for almost 30 years. Wow that kind of dates me :) I started sewing when I was 12 and haven't stopped since. I have flirted with other crafts over the years as well. Painting ceremics, podging...remember podging, that disturbing craft of the 1980's? I'm not talking about beautiful art here, I'm talking about podging the garbage can! Thankfully I outgrew that. I've also dabbled in embroidery, cross stitch and needlepoint among others. No "secondary crafts" stuck until beads came crashing into my life. I've discovered an obsession to rival the thread and fabric in my life. I'm thrilled, my husband not so much.

Dangle Earrings, Black and Turqoise, Sea and Sky, Ocean Blue, Glass Pearl, Stocking Stuffer, Gifts under 20, March Birthday, Aquamarine BlueDangle Earrings, Black and Turqoise, Sea and Sky, Ocean Blue, Glass Pearl, Stocking Stuffer, Gifts under 20, March Birthday, Aquamarine Blue
by TwistedWristers




What got you to open your shop on etsy?
I opened my bag shop to give me another outlet for selling my work. I thought, what I think so many other people think, that it would be easy. I'd throw up some pics, write a few descriptions and sales would just...you know happen! Wow, that was crazy!

Pleated Purse, Yellow and Green, Retro Pattern, Crossbody Bag, Shoulder BagPleated Purse, Yellow and Green, Retro Pattern, Crossbody Bag, Shoulder Bag
by SewMuchFabric2010




What inspires you?
I love color. I love the way different shades interact with one another. Drama in palattes and the play of hue and tint in combination inspire every combination I come up with.

Wire Wrap Bracelet, Aquamarine Colored, Glass Pearls, Silver Leaf Accents, Beaded Bracelet, Ocean Waters, Sea and Sky, March BirthstoneWire Wrap Bracelet, Aquamarine Colored, Glass Pearls, Silver Leaf Accents, Beaded Bracelet, Ocean Waters, Sea and Sky, March Birthstone
by TwistedWristers




What's the most important thing you've changed about your shop since starting on Etsy?
It's advice that gets repeated all the time, in almost every critique. Pictures really, really matter. I'm still working on the pics for my jewelry shop, improving the color saturation and appearance. I still see room for improvement in both shops and I continue to work on photography.

Cross Body Bag, Black and Blue, Garden Divas, Jane Sassman, Peacock Blue Irises, Bleeding Hearts, Shoulder Bag, Jennifer PaganelliCross Body Bag, Black and Blue, Garden Divas, Jane Sassman, Peacock Blue Irises, Bleeding Hearts, Shoulder Bag, Jennifer Paganelli
by SewMuchFabric2010




What's the biggest mistake you see new people making when they start out?
Well a couple of things really. They don't realize how important their pictures are. A really, really awesome unique product can be sold with bad pictures. But a "regular" product needs really striking pictures to stand out among the all the other people selling similar items. We all want to believe our craft is so much more special than everyone else's but the truth is, there is very little completely original and new for sale...anywhere. Well except my items of course...they're very, very special ;)

Black and Silver, Mauve Mist, Light Lilac, Elegant Bracelet, Night on the Twon, New Year's Eve, Birthday Gift, Elegant AccessoryBlack and Silver, Mauve Mist, Light Lilac, Elegant Bracelet, Night on the Twon, New Year's Eve, Birthday Gift, Elegant Accessory
by TwistedWristers




You mention Search Engine Optimization a lot - it's a big topic that can be an overwhelming concept to new shop owners. What advice do you give to people who feel like they don't know where to start?
I always recommend my favorite team, Etsy Relevancy SEO and Stats and the reasons why are pretty simple. I don't begin to claim to understand everything (or even a small portion) of the useful information that exists about seo. I really prefer to rely on well-researched, relevant information and that's why I recommend the team. I don't have the skill (or honestly the interest) to keep up with SEO even though I know it's really, really important. Making a few simple changes in my shops really helped me be found more in search. "Echoing" tags and titles is one of the easiest changes to make and can net really solid results. Just remember not to repeat words more than twice and use phrases in the tags.

Pleated Purse, Amy Butler, Soul Blossoms, Tulips in Azure, Crossbody Bag, Shoulder BagPleated Purse, Amy Butler, Soul Blossoms, Tulips in Azure, Crossbody Bag, Shoulder Bag
by SewMuchFabric2010




What information do you see people leaving out of descriptions most often?
I have to admit, my descriptions are pretty thin in the jewelry shop. I get so excited to post something new that I tend to not do such a great job. I think including measurements is really valuable.

Bead Bracelet, Black and Pink, Memory Wire BraceletBead Bracelet, Black and Pink, Memory Wire Bracelet
by TwistedWristers




Any specific advice for other jewelry sellers trying to break into this popular category?
Think twice...three times...four times. Honestly, I really think it should be something you love. Going into jewelry especially, thinking you're going to make a lot of money right away is probably going to lead to disappointment. That being said though, if sellers are prepared to do the work, take great pictures, learn something about SEO, and have a product buyers want they can be successful. I didn't really start working on my jewelry shop until a few months ago, and frankly, I'd forgotten how slow the slogging is with a new shop. There are so many things to learn. However, if you're willing to learn them... :)

Amy Butler, Cosmetic Bag, Temple Tulips, Make-Up Bag, Clutch Purse, Bridesmaid Gift, Christmas Gift, Birthday Present, Shower GiftAmy Butler, Cosmetic Bag, Temple Tulips, Make-Up Bag, Clutch Purse, Bridesmaid Gift, Christmas Gift, Birthday Present, Shower Gift
by SewMuchFabric2010



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm giving away a zipper pouch - enter by July 27 2014

This week I'm partnering with a lovely blog to hosting a giveaway of two of my zipper pouches:
http://thebeautifullittlefools.blogspot.com/2014/07/spacefm-etsy-shop-giveaway.html

Both products are items that I made myself with fabric that I designed myself and had printed up by Spoonflower. They're items I'm proud of so I hope they go to great homes!



Go enter, win my crafts, for real! You can have extra entries if you follow my Spacefem Facebook Page or @EtsyContest on Twitter. Good luck!

Monday, May 5, 2014

featured artist: tesorilove on how to promote Etsy treasuries

A few weeks back Kiana from tesorilove.etsy.com made an interesting post in the forums about treasury promotion, and I thought it'd be really interesting to hear from someone who's good at promoting treasuries about the steps they go through to make them. Kiana's treasuries get literally hundreds of views and clicks, are well promoted and absolutely stunning. She has a lovely shop and is very active on Etsy, which just goes to show you never know who you'll run into or what you'll learn from Etsy's community members. I asked some questions and here's what she had to say...


Tell us a little about yourself and your shop.
My name is Kiana and I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut (go Huskies!) studying Art History and planning to go to grad school for Library Science. Two years ago my Aunt Terri and I started Tesorilove in order to sell some of the beautiful vintage jewelry and art that we were finding during our thrift store and flea market hunts. After about a year of not being too serious about the shop, I got into jewelry making and decided to add my creations to the mix, and I began getting more serious about finding ways to promote the shop. So now Terri searches for most of the vintage finds, and I work on the handmade jewelry as well as shop promotion and sending out orders.

Gold Vine Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Gold Earrings, Dangle Earrings, Brass EarringsGold Vine Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Gold Earrings, Dangle Earrings, Brass Earrings
by tesorilove




Why do you love making treasuries?
I love making treasuries first of all because of the curation aspect of making them. I love finding the best of what Etsy has to offer and bringing all of the unique finds together to make one beautiful thing: a treasury. The second reason is because I have a passion for the handmade and wholeheartedly believe in promoting it. Etsy has given us the option to make treasuries to do just that. It can be a great resource for people who may not have great luck with search ads but get found either through creating treasuries for others or by being included in them by curators.

Vintage Pearl Necklace With Cream Colored Pearls on Gold, Gift for Her, Vintage NecklaceVintage Pearl Necklace With Cream Colored Pearls on Gold, Gift for Her, Vintage Necklace
by tesorilove




What are some things you look for when selecting items for a treasury?
When selecting items for treasuries I often like to mix "trending" items with items that may not have received much exposure yet but are unique and creative and deserve to be seen by others. At the beginning I usually search for an item that inspires me (whether it be the item itself, the color, the way the photograph was taken, whether it fits with an upcoming holiday or time of year, etc). After that I either use other items that have a similar theme or color, or sometimes I'll contrast or match separate colors. My favorite treasuries, though, are ones that tell a story and that as a whole speak to the viewer in a way that makes them want to favorite every single item in the treasury or leave a wonderful and genuine comment about it.

What's your favorite treasury that you've made recently?
Here are a few of my favorite treasuries that I've made this year (it's hard to choose one, but maybe the one that was featured on New Year's Day)

1.1.2014

hello

Spring Morning

Green and Gold Earrings, Green Crystal Earrings, Gift for Her, Green Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Dangle EarringsGreen and Gold Earrings, Green Crystal Earrings, Gift for Her, Green Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Dangle Earrings
by tesorilove




What are your favorite treasury teams?
Top Treasury
AvidTreasurers
Ace Team
Team 7
Ten Favorites Treasury Team
Treasury Extreme Team
Treasury Hunt
Trendsetting Treasury Team
Treasury Punks
123 Treasury Promo Team

Grapefruit Glass Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Czech Glass and GunmetalGrapefruit Glass Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Czech Glass and Gunmetal
by tesorilove




What other methods do you use to promote your treasuries?
To promote my treasury I always personally inbox the person I've treasured unless their shop is on vacation. I also tweet the treasury to @Etsy and @EtsyTreasury on Twitter. I submit the treasury link to Stumbleupon, I post the link to the above treasury teams multiple times, and I always use treasurypin.com to pin the treasury to my Pinterest Etsy Treasuries board.

Opal Green Czech Glass Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Milky MalachiteOpal Green Czech Glass Earrings, Handmade Earrings, Gift for Her, Milky Malachite
by tesorilove


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Featured Shop: Frogitta Cards, Prints & Invitations

Frogitta is home to illustrations, cards and gifts that I just thought were adorable so I asked Olga some questions about herself for this week's featured artist. Enjoy!

Thank you card - Royal thank you card with glitter.Thank you card - Royal thank you card with glitter.
by frogitta




Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Olga and I am the owner of “Frogitta” shop on etsy. I am 27 and happily married. I was born in Moscow, but am currently living in Vienna, Austria.

Cute sorry card - I'm sorry card - Apology card.Cute sorry card - I'm sorry card - Apology card.
by frogitta




What got started making handmade items?
I always loved creating things and I experimented a lot with different materials. More than anything I loved drawing. But I never paid attention to it - I felt, it was just a hobby. So I went on to study economics and IT, without ever thinking of drawing as an option. But I continued making handmade presents for my friends.

Birthday party invitations - Set of 10 party invitations.Birthday party invitations - Set of 10 party invitations.
by frogitta




What got you to open your shop on easy?
In the last years my office job made me look for something that inspires me in life. And I was looking for ways to express myself, so one day I read about etsy. I created an account out of curiosity & closed the page. For the next 6 months or so I was battling my fear. I was afraid, that nothing will come out of it and I will just get disappointed. In January 2014 just before my birthday I decided to try and here I am.

I love you mom print - I love you dad print - Elephant love print - Love nursery art - Family wall Art.I love you mom print - I love you dad print - Elephant love print - Love nursery art - Family wall Art.
by frogitta




Tips for other etsy artists?
It is really a typical advice - just don't be afraid and don't give up, just keep on trying. Look, today my friends and colleagues know that I love drawing-they got to know a new side of me and this is wonderful and there is nothing to regret.

Any other links to yourself on other websites you'd like to share with us?
We’ve got a Facebook page www.facebook.com/frogitta.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finding Seller Opportunities on Etsy


Some of my blog posts are things that I find myself saying over and over again in the Shop Critiques Team... I write them here so I can link to the post instead of saying them over and over again.

Sometimes Etsy comes out with prototypes - little tests of new features - that are worth paying attention to. In my opinion the best prototype out there now is the Seller Opportunity Tools. They actually started in this in March 2012, then maybe just forgot about it, who cares.

The point is that it tells you thinks that people are searching for on Etsy, but that aren't flooded with tons of results. You type in a word, like "airplane", and it'll tell you that "Airplane Pillow" is a good opportunity (lots of searches, not much competition!) but "airplane jewelry" doesn't show up anywhere.

To use it, you have to join this awful, spam-ridden team: Seller Opportunity Tools Team

Then use the link on the side that says Find Inspiration.

You have to be a member of the team for the link to work - I tried leaving the team because it's just a mess, but then couldn't use the tool, so oh well I'm back in. But it's totally worth it.

Just one of the little tidbits I've snatched up along the way by being involved with Etsy teams. Happy to pass it along!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Etsy tip: Avoiding the saturated markets

I know I blog on here about photo tips, listing titles, promotion opportunities, but I just realized that when my real-life friends tell me they're about to start selling on Etsy and ask me for my first most important piece of advice, what I tell them is very simple:

1) Don't sell jewelry

Why do I say this? Because you can post in every team, spend hours on your photos and tags, rent a billboard... but if you're competing with a zillion other people on Etsy in the most saturated category they have, your odds of sales are very low.

Time and time again in my teams I see desperate people asking us for advice on their first sale, and sometimes their shop does need a little help. But frequently, they're just selling something that everyone else is selling. Competition is stiff. It takes a lot more work to get a sale, and odds of selling anything are low.

In fact, I would take my advice a step further and tell you to stay away from any of these categories:

1) Jewelry
2) Digital downloads
3) Hair accessories - ESPECIALLY kids bows
4) Photography
5) Vintage
6) Bath & Body
7) Knit/crochet

Now, there's an upside to all this - if you're a buyer, Etsy is a great place to go for great deals on these items. I've bought several handmade scarves for really low prices, and get most of my soaps now for free on the trade teams! But if you're looking to start a business you don't want people like me saying that, you want to make a profit and have a steady stream of inventory LEAVING your house.

Go visit Etsy's teams. Check around for "promotion" threads where people are spamming "post your items here"-type threads. Those people are desperate. They're willing to waste time posting in useless threads, because making things isn't getting them any money. Make a mental note of what they're selling, and know that it doesn't sell on its own. Don't copy them.

Maybe what you make is special and different and has a "niche". If you're not sure, list it. Every listing is an experiment. If it doesn't sell, correct your course and try another idea.

So what should you sell?

I love the Seller Opportunity Tools prototype team. Once you join, there's a link on the left that says "Find Inspiration", where you can see search terms that are getting put in by shoppers, but buyers aren't filling all the needs.

Check out Craft Count to see what the highest selling shops are selling. In general, what are they doing that you are not?

Browse around Etsy from the main page. Read shop announcements. Shops who use their announcement space to advertise deep discounts are probably in a market you should avoid. Shops who have things like "we're so behind if you want your item in time for Christmas you'd better order in October!" obviously have more demand for what they're selling.

Consider barrier-to-entry markets. That means that any guy on the street can't just start making what you're making. Things like stained glass and woodworking require tools that not everyone has in their house - so those markets aren't as saturated.

Obviously you have to love what you're making, stay in markets you "know", and be true to yourself. But you probably want to have some sales, too! So find a product line that fills a void. It'll practically sell itself!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monster pencil case tutorial

Kids are back in school, Halloween is coming up, so I figured it was about time to post up some instructions to the Monster Pencil Case fabric I recently added to my spoonflower shop. One fat quarter gives you supplies to make three different designs, all you need is a zipper and some simple lining fabric!

This is a simple easy project that takes almost no time, I love making zipper pouches. Here's what the fabric looks like:


First cut out all the pieces. Cut a matching piece of lining fabric for each part. Cut the face straight across where the mouth will be.

I used a 7" zipper for this that needed a bit of extension, luckily there's extra fabric for that. Layer the fabric, right sides together, with the zipper in between like a sandwich, and sew across where the zipper teeth end.



Lay the head, zipper and lining together. Make sure the zipper teeth are against your cool outside fabric, not the lining.

Sew across the head.

Open the head up and iron flat.

Do the same for the mouth layers.

Open the mouth layers and now you've got a whole face that unzips!

Now lay the backing down, set the face on top of it, and set the back of the head right-side down on the face.

Pin together.

Sew around, but leave 3-4" open at the bottom to turn inside-out.

Turn, and topstitch or hand stitch the opening. Ta-da! Scary! Yet functional, don't you love it!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Etsy title tips: get your creation found

Something I point out a lot in the shop critiques team are title improvements. I've seen some etsians make titles sound like a really complicated effort, throwing around terms like "relevancy" and "optimization"... relax. Those are computer words. We are humans.

So all you need for a good listing title is this: use words that people will search for.

You hold your creation in your hand and you think "this is something I made with those extra zippers in my craft room"... that's what it is to you. But what is it to someone else? A blue purse. If someone wants a blue purse, you have JUST the item for them, don't you? So that's what you should use as the first words in your listing title!

A good thing to do is to use Etsy's search bar to see if people are actually searching for the stuff you're listing in your shop. For example if you type in "tote bag", all sorts of stuff comes up. Lots of people are searching for tote bags, there are even other suggestions, if you make a "chevron tote bag" you're really in luck. That would be a great phrase to start your title off with.



The most common mistake I see is shop owners who want to be descriptive and unique, so they scrape up some descriptive unique words. But shoppers don't think to use those words in search, so they're not helping you. If you type in a phrase and get no suggestions, it's probably not too common.



Etsy provides us with a very nice "shop statistics" page, where you can see what keywords are bringing in the most people to your shop. If you list five similar items, be sure to give them all a wide selection of titles and tags, and see what works best. Experiment and diversify! Maybe some people are searching for a "blue hat" and others are searching for a "wool hat" - if you've got two similar blue wool hats in your shop, give them different titles and you'll catch the eye of both sets of people.

Just remember that your target audience is always the people who come to Etsy with money in their pocket to buy something - that's who you want to find your item. Good titles are the most important tool you've got for that!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Survey of spoonflower colors - full saturation to black gradient

Spoonflower requires that designers order swatches of their designs before publishing. It's a good policy, because print often looks different than screen, especially with darker colors. Dark blue can easily wind up just being black. Subtle variations are often totally lost.

To help me out recently, I printed a swatch that crosses all hues, fading into black. Here was the original graphic I uploaded:


And here was the printed fabric on kona cotton:


I then made a "color averaged" version.


Now when I design my fabrics in GIMP, I have a two-layer file with my color averaged file on the top layer, "graphic" one underneath. I pick out what I want a color to look like using the color-averaged version, but "grab" the original version of it.

I plan to do some other gradients with this method... for example, I'm still trying to figure out how to get brown. Pastels are a lot easier on spoonflower, much more likely to come out looking like they do on the screen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My geeky baby onesie designs finished up by clichemom - yay!

A while back I introduced a collection on spoonflower of geeky baby onesie kits - cut and sew designs so you could sew up a onesie inspired by your favorite sci-fi show. Of course then what happened? I got Etsy convos from people wanting me to sew them up and sell them. Great, except I've got a full time job and just had another baby... no time!

Then I remembered heck, I'm on etsy! There are shops all over the place run by people looking for more sales, talented artists who can totally sew. I searched around and found someone who was already making geeky baby items, with snaps even... for me that was the most pain-in-the-rear part of the baby onesies, I hate closures. But my new friend Katie at clichemom has no problem with them.

So I convo'ed her to ask if I could send inquiries her way, she said sure, and we're off... she's fulfilling orders and giving me design feedback, I'm back to being just a fabric designer. Collaboration is awesome!

Here's what originally drew me to approach her, these adorable suck pads... basically little pads that snap around your baby carrier (bjorn, ergo, whatever pricy thing you've invested in) so your kid can drool all over the straps and you've got an easy removable bit to throw in the washer:

Blue fancy tardis suck padsBlue fancy tardis suck pads
by cichemom




And here are some of the onesies she's making with my fabric:

Little yellow trekkieLittle yellow trekkie
by cichemom




Little 10th time lord- 3-6 months sizeLittle 10th time lord- 3-6 months size
by cichemom




Little Wizard 3-6 months onesieLittle Wizard 3-6 months onesie
by cichemom




Saturday, September 14, 2013

mod podge cabinet door jewelry holder

Here's how I'm storing my necklaces these days:


Yes, I have a cute jewelry tree that sets on my dresser but my kid kept getting to it, so I came up with this solution, which is out of her reach!

1) Bought a 50 cent stick of wood at the hardware store
2) Painted it with mod podge, wrapped it with scrapbook paper, mod podged again
3) Stuck the ends to the door with command adhesive strips

Since my cabinet door is inset, I can just hang the necklaces over the stick.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013 trending color: flat brown

Earlier in the year pantone announced that emerald green was making a huge comeback and would totally be the color of 2013. This has proven to be total crap, which is a shame because it looks good on me, but seriously we're not seeing it anywhere. I'm not sure who emerald paid off at pantone to get such a nice prediction made out of it, but it didn't work.

No, the real trending colors for the year seem to be flat ones. Low saturation, neutral, relaxing, and homemade-looking. With that in mind, I've chosen a nice flat brown for my latest spoonflower fabric: geek glasses on flat brown


The color: #AB9073. I seriously compared a spoonflower color sample swatch to a chunk of cardboard. Don't laugh, I love it.

Here, I will put chevrons on it:



And this pattern I made over at colourlovers: