September 30, 2009

Another Valuable Resource

Thanks to Indiepublic, I found out about this fabulous web site which has SO much information for any small business owner. I think I might have to learn about Podcasting - yes, they have a webinar and tools for this!

Sorry to keep it brief folks, but my schedule has been altered dramatically. Changes are occurring slowly - but I can tell you DEFINITELY double-check your tags and descriptions. Also, if you have some photos which might be giving too much play to the props rather than the listing - time for a switcheroo.

I went from four sales over a 6 week period - to having 4 sales in 4 days!!! Woohoo!!

September 26, 2009

Featured on the Front Page!!!

So I must be doing something right, because after those subtle changes with tags, and changing out photos, and cleaning up shop, I got FEATURED by Etsy Admin!! Just imagine my surprise this morning when I awoke to discover my shop had over 800 page views! That's probably more in one day then two weeks combined. Naturally, I'm elated this morning. This sweet, unassuming little vintage handblown glass songbird - is the fella that brought me there.

Thanks, Etsy Admin!

September 24, 2009

Finally Did Something!

I'm so glad I wrote honestly to you all this morning. It made me accountable not only to myself, but to you. So, rather than completely indulge my procrastinating tendencies, I got off my duff to do something! Well, actually, I've been on my duff for a while here - updating tags and titles.

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to join AOE Team (that's Altruism on Etsy). Altruism on Etsy is a network of Etsy Sellers, who donate a portion of their sales to charitable causes and non-profits. It's a great way buyers can find where not only are they buying handmade - they're supporting a good cause doing it. So, I've had to update my tags with "aoe team" to make it easier for those buyers to find me.

In doing so, I couldn't believe some of the LAME tags I had been using from the first listing date! Obviously, as I can easily see at Craftweasel - a ton of these tags were getting NO play. So I updated my tags with adjectives suggestive of similar interests and attitudes for each piece. This was not always easy. I still would love any help from anyone who just loves giving a good Etsy shop critique!

Updating the tags led me to change a couple of the more awkward titled listings (I got lazy, and didn't do them all). And, I decided it was time to remove the buckwheat hull pillows. I think those pillows, while I 100% LOVE and vouch for them (sleep on mine every night!), were part of what was making me schizo. If you want one of those, email or convo me - comment here too.

My point here is (and I'm sorry, as I intended to be brief and concise with this post) this: perhaps if the sales aren't coming, and the analytics point to declining interest - check yourself. You know more today then when you first listed your items. Do you need to fix some weak tags, drop any listings? Get it done - I like my shop better already!

The Embarrassing Truth and Some Great Info

I've been putting off blogging for a couple of days because I feel completely embarrassed and haven't wanted to admit that I haven't updated ANY of my shop copy. Oh dear. It occurred to me last night, this would be no secret to my dear blog followers and beloved return shoppers/visitors. So I thought I should tell you all what's going on - why haven't I updated the copy? It's not that hard, right?

It all starts with me wanting to refurbish my shop. Why do I want to refurbish my shop? It feels a little schizo to me when I'm in there. I want to have a cohesive brand and several great products. My original plan was to just make whatever I love making, and throw it up there - but that plan was stalwarted by the Creative Block. I do know that I have a wonderful knack for turning ubiquitous items into treasures for the senses and spirit. I want to use that knack to specifically design, make and sell my handmade goods on Etsy.

Now that you know I've been feeling a little schizo about my shop, and its purpose - I'm sure you can agree that rewriting the copy is not easy. I'm not sure what "voice" to use - obviously my own, but which one? Now I just sound really nuts! All the while, I'm trying to study up on branding, marketing, sales - all of those important basics I completely zoomed by before setting up shop. It's a lot to take in with only a few hours to process.

But what's exciting about this process - is I'm becoming more clear about what I want to do with my shop, some designs are beginning to take shape - and the dreaded Block is starting to lift. I thought this would be a simple, step-by-step guide for my fellow Etsy sellers and anyone else starting out in e-commerce or small business to learn from. But I can't promise you that. Mine is a meandering path to the promised destination. I hope you'll stay tuned in - because along the way, I've been finding great links to share - and let's face it, my story is a bit interesting - even if schizo.

Here's the best resource I've found in a couple of days. It's a fabulous blog, called Everything Etsy, written by a husband and wife who both have Etsy shops (their kids do too!) - and they run it all from the road in their 31' motorhome! Now that's impressive.

If any of you would care to help me out with tips on the copy - I'd love to know which listing you think is best written, and which is the worst. All submissions will receive free shipping on any future purchases. Please mention "I HELPED YOU" upon purchase.

Thanks in advance - I do need some support.

September 20, 2009

Revisiting the Copy

I'm sure I thought it would be the simplest of all tasks to revisit the titles and descriptions of my shop. Like all previous misconceptions that having an Etsy shop would be a breeze, this one didn't fail to generate more effort than I anticipated. I probably could have gotten much more done, had I a) not been a perfectionist, b) not spent time at the park with Marley (my amazing daughter), and c) had access to a computer that isn't a relic. My laptop recently had to go in for service due to some motherboard issue (thanks, HP); and I've been operating for the past several weeks on my iMac G4. This one - that's how OLD this thing is. I might as well be running my shop with a ten-key.

Anyhoo, I thought it best despite my lack of any real revisions, to let you all know the steps I've taken to start this process. First, I refreshed all heart charts, item views, etc. at CraftCult, and made PDFs of the reports. Then, I also visited Craftweasel for their wonderful tag tool and reports. More PDFs. I had to print these reports in order to have a starting point, some numbers, stats, etc. to help make sense of the results which follow.

Then, I made PDFs of each listing (being on this ancient computer, I'm sooooo glad now that I've only got 25 currently!). I have printed each listing, so that I can edit with red ink (old school, I know), readdress the tags and materials.

I suppose it won't be until tomorrow until I'm ready to revise the copy; you can click the title of the blog for a quick link to my shop and see how the listings look now vs. tomorrow.

See you there!

September 19, 2009

Struggling to be Free

I can't describe to you all how inspiring it was to be a source of help for so many Etsyians! After posting about my blog entry for September 17th in the Etsy Forums, I received the largest response any of my posts has generated - and I believe, made many new friends. I thank each of you for taking the time to read my blog, thank me, and most importantly wish you all the success that can come from your own personal power.

And waking up to see how many MANY other people read my blog yesterday, well that felt VERY good! Sometimes, you can feel like you're writing to the thin air - just remember you aren't.

"It has been said that each generation must win its own struggle to be free."
- Robert F. Kennedy

I came across this quote the other day as I began Naomi Wolf's 2008 "Give Me Liberty: A Handbook For American Revolutionaries". Naturally, it is in a political context within her wonderful handbook; but I think it can apply to people on an individual level as well. We all must win our own struggle to be free - for many artists, it's from ourselves.

I am currently struggling with self-doubt and procrastination, otherwise known as a Creative Block. I have decided to make a public guinea pig of myself, my Etsy shop, and those wonderful resources I have started to find. I'm gonna turn this thing around into the sale-generating powerhouse I know it can be - and you, my friends, are invited to watch. And hopefully learn something - even from my mistakes. Perhaps, especially from my mistakes.

I will refurbish each area of my shop, list and relist, develop product, shoot photos and reshoot, all the while, carefully taking notes regarding times, tags, keywords so that my Analytics make sense. I seek the Secret to Success on Etsy with vim and vigor.

Please check in on my blog from time to time for resources, statistics, laughs, and lessons.
I could never stop having my Seller Interviews and Shop Features, so feel free to check back for those regularly as well to find some of the most talented Etsyians.

Let me know what you think of my progress - I will definitely need a lot of feedback as I move through this.

Thanks so much, everyone! Especially to Bomobob@Etsy for the use of his gorgeous photo! To see more of Bomobob's work, click here.

September 17, 2009

I Can't Wait to Join Team SASsy!

For a minute there, I nearly gave up on my Etsy shop. I lost faith in myself, my product, and Etsy. And then I picked myself up off the ground, and started doing some research. Some I paid for, most was free - I'm still up to my eyeballs in the research. There's a common misconception for most Etsy Newbies that they will open a shop, and the sales will rush in. I, admittedly, had the same fantasy, which landed me in the dirt I was discussing at the beginning of this post.

I wanted to tell you about some of the resources I've found, free of any charge whatsoever - because I'm frankly annoyed I spent any money. Also, I don't want anyone to go through what I've been going through - it's SO unproductive.

I say I can't wait to join Team SASsy, because they are one of the most fabulous networks of Etsy Sellers I have found. Every member is devoted to assisting others. Like a co-op, there are responsibilities that come with the membership; such as posting to the blog, being a mentor to a newbie, etc. I currently love helping other Etsy sellers whether through Shop Critiques, Blog Features, or Forum Threads and Chat. I want to be a part of a community which is like minded. Aside from the seemingly entirely altruistic nature of SASsy, one can deduce there must be an amazing ROI for members.

Team SASsy's blog led me to the EtsyWiki - I can't believe I didn't know this existed. My fault for not Googling Etsy more, I guess. But honestly, this thing is chalk full of amazingly useful material - from Etsy sellers! It is clear, you can relate to the author, and it seems the answers to the most urgent of questions about Etsy Success are THERE. Sure it's all in the forums, too - but it's organized amazingly well here.

Bonus, there are links to other great blogs, shops, etc.

If you aren't sure about how to price your listings - here's a great downloadable spreadsheet which will calculate it for you based on wants and needs.

AND, if you still can't get that photography down (I thought I had it - gotta go back to the drawing board!), check out this spot for how to make that cool light box seen on Team SASsy's blog.

Honestly, if you have an online shop anywhere in the world, and you are new to ecommerce, business, and marketing - all of these resources are fabulous!

September 8, 2009

Interview with KajaDesign

I really love that your designs are created with functionality for the children wearing them - so many children's apparel designers create clothing that is tight fitting, impossible to wrangle over their heads and squirmy arms. What was the driving force to inspire you to make your clothing different?
As you pointed out. I have have had my share of clothes that aren’t fitting or that you are afraid to hurt the poor kid just to get them dressed. Some things might look pretty, but a hoodie for a baby can’t possibly be comfortable. Imagine having to lie down on a pile of cotton fabric!

When my daughter was born I bought a lot of dresses, most of which was pulled over the head. My daughter didn’t like that, so I came up with my pinafore pattern. As she grew I realized that this model actually is very practical for older kids as well.

I sometimes refer to myself as a “crafter by force”. I get an idea of something I want, and it is sometimes impossible to find, and if I am able to find anything that is close to what I am looking for, then it has an insane price tag attached to it. Even my kids have realized that they can make requests for special clothes. Last winter my son came to me and was asking for “a beanie with an angler fish on it!”. You can’t find that in a shop, but he has loved his beanie and thinks he is so cool. And right now I have a request from my daughter on a penguin top. I am not sure of how to pull that off, but I will do my very best!

Each garment seems to have successfully merged traditional elements with modern styling. What is the source of inspiration for finding this "sweet spot" in the design?
I look a lot at old pattern and I am always looking for new models. Also, my mum and grandma always made clothes for me when I was a child, and I find a lot of inspiration from photos of my childhood. Usually I avoid using a vintage pattern combined with vintage fabric, since then you can just go to any second hand store and buy it there. But, a vintage pattern and new fabric or vice versa, that’s what I call creative!

Here in Sweden a lot of the designs right now aim to be timeless, so that a piece of furniture could be used for decades, and still never run out of style. I like this idea, since it really reduces the impact on the environment to buy quality products. When I design my clothes I usually try to make them wearable for a long time. The peasant style dresses can be worn as dresses this year; but will still be wearable for one or two more seasons, and then as tunics or blouses. Jeans will have a fold that can be removed as the child grow or made in a model that will allow them to be used as crops next year.

Some pieces are listed as being inspired by folklore - that has me VERY intrigued. What folklore are you inspired by?
Our Swedish folklore of course. We have these traditional costumes here in Sweden that are really pretty. Each parish actually has their own, and since the beginning of the 20th century there is also a special costume for Sweden. My husband was born in Slovenia and each year we go there to visit his relatives, so I think I get some of my inspiration from the Alp-region too.

How long have you been designing/making apparel?
I think I have always have been designing. I remember that I broke my mums sewing machine when I was about 12 years old and trying to force the machine through 5-6 layers of denim fabric in order to add a lot of patches to my jeans (oh, glorious fashion of the 80’s).

I have been sewing ever since, but mostly interior design items as curtains and pillows. When my kids were born I started making clothes for them, and after a while people were asking me to make clothes for their kids as well.

Two years ago I started blogging and a couple of months later an art&design shop found my things on the internet and asked me to make a collection for them. I’ve been on Etsy since April and I really enjoy it, since it gives me the opportunity to come closer to my customers again.

Tell us about your creative process? How do you get into the groove?

Pretty much anything can get me started, but most of the time it is a fabric. I just love going into fabric shops and pet the fabrics to see what structure they are, and thinking of which fabrics that would look good together. Not that I really need to buy any fabrics, since my stash would probably be able to keep me occupied for at least a couple of years…

Right now I have had a green fabric with flowers lying on the table for a while. It is a curtain from the 70’s, complete with polyester tassels. I wanted to make a skirt of it, but with those bright colors it would be absolutely impossible to coordinate with anything but a white top. Yesterday I saw a kid in the playground who had a big patch on his knee in the shape of a bright red heart. And, then it hit me. I will make a skirt out of it, but only use the green fabric as an appliqué.

I have a pretty clear picture of how I want it to look when it is finished, I think I know which pattern to use, and I definitely know what kind of feeling I will have when I am looking at the finished item. So, some of the details as if to have any pockets or use seam binding for hemming I will probably have to decide during the process. When it feels right, then I’m finished!

Tell us more about your organic line being sold in brick and mortar shops. Can we expect to see an organic line on your Etsy shop?
I have actually always recycled material. When my husbands Dockers were worn out as work pants, there were still a lot of good fabric in them, so I recycled them for "sand pit pants". It's great, soft against the skin, absolutely free from production chemicals and you don't have to worry about ripping them, since it only took me an hour or so by the sewing machine.

Today I have a lot of things that are made from recycled material. Some are curtains or sheets that are so soft and still have bright colors. I even got a couple of dresses that are made from old table cloths.

When I got a question this spring to make a collection of organic pinafore dresses in the mixed style, I was thrilled. Since I make all my clothes only in one piece each, I had a great time combining the different patterns together and trying to make the most of it.

After I made this collection I have found other lovely organic fabric and I have bought a little here and there, so yes, there will be organic clothes in my Etsy shop. I am not sure of when though…

Kids sizes:

Baby sizes:

Kaja Design:

September 3, 2009

Featured Etsyian - Flylikehermes

New shop on Etsy, flylikehermes, is a peaceful, poetic place where you can find simple, sophisticated jewelry to make a statement, or stunning photography of faraway places. I really liked what I saw, and contacted the creative force behind flylikehermes, Adria - to bring this interview and exposure to yet another talented Etsyian.

Your profile states that you are a graduate of the Art Institute of California. What was your major?
I majored in Media Arts and Animation, which means I learned quite a lot about computer animation, and graphic design. It's very interesting to go into a film like Pixar's latest, Wall-E, and know what went into that film, from the character design to the lighting and modeling. It broadened my horizons and made me more well rounded as an artist. It also made me realize that 3D-Animation is not what I want to do as a career. I'm much more satisfied on the front end of creating something, rather than doing the time consuming task of animation.

How/when did you become interested in making jewelry?
I've always loved jewelry ever since I was a little girl. I still have the necklace my Mother gave me when I was a bridesmaid in her 2nd wedding (I was 9!). I started creating jewelry when a relative gave me a bead set when I was about 7. Ever since then it's just been one trend after the next, new supplies, new forms and ways of creating wearable art!

Aside from creating jewelry and photography, what do you enjoy doing in life?
I really love to travel. Photography and traveling go hand in hand, and I want to see as much of the world as I can in this life. Taking photos of far off places makes for wonderful memories, and amazing art. Something else I love is being outdoors. I really love hiking, and almost always take my camera with me to capture things outside. I also love to comb the beach for new items to make into jewelry (I have to be careful though, I once accidentally brought home a hermit crab still in it's shell! My family and I drove around for hours until we found a salt water aquarium that would take him! Now I'm extra careful).

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere. I draw inspiration from people I see daily, to nature, to adopting ideas I saw in a magazine into something I would personally wear. I don't make jewelry that I wouldn't be proud wearing myself; it's my philosophy that everything I make be made with the same care and precision in design and execution that I would want for my own jewelry.

Describe your creative process:
There's a process? Only kidding! Really, I just feel an over whelming need to have my hands wrist deep in something fun; whether that's crocheting, photography, painting, drawing, sculpting, or jewelry making depends on my mood. Once I have an idea that I want to create, it just flows from there. I pick pieces out of my 'collection' of supplies and experiment with things until the piece looks just right. Even then, I sometimes do things over because a bead just isn't working to me, or the wire didn't curl just right. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to making things with my hands.

It's been about a month since you've had your shop on Etsy, how is your experience so far?
Wow, it's been a whole month? Obviously it's been going by fast! I'm really enjoying Etsy so far, and while sales aren't what I hoped they'd be (really, are they ever?), I'm just pleased to be making new friends, getting advice on the look of my shop, and getting my art out there. I'm so glad that I'm finally taking what makes me happy out into the world, to hopefully make others happy as well.