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Archive for the ‘Selling Online’ Category

Let us assume that you want to go somewhere a thousand miles away. You have no vehicle. You can only set off walking and hope that somehow, sooner or later, you’ll get a ride. There’s a risk involved. You have to make a gesture of intention, faith and determination and then see what it leads to. The alternative, however, is to stay at home and decide that as the journey is impossible, the destination can never be reached. With this, there’s no gamble. You can be quite sure that nothing will change. So which is it to be this month? You have no choice. You have to try.

The above is my horoscope for September from Jonathan Cainer. He has an uncanny knack for writing a general horoscope that I feel was meant just for me. I’m a Taurus by the way, so any of you other Tauruses out there, this is your horoscope for September as well.

When I started selling crafts some 22 years ago at craft fairs, I just jumped in. We were fortunate to get a good list of shows to try out and we came up with some products that sold well right off the bat. I left the shows for full-time work and when the creative bug bit again, I started on eBay, again, with little knowledge and not sure how my products would do.

Along the way, I learned the ropes, made some mistakes and revamped my products until I was happy with them. Has it been success all the way? No. I’ve paid my dues, spent some money I didn’t necessarily have and I’m still working to figure out how best to make the most of a craft I love.

Would I trade anything I’ve been through? Not for a million bucks. I’ve learned so much and I enjoy what I do for the most part. I’m still learning and evolving and I’m ready for the next 1,000 miles, wherever that will take me.

The point? Don’t let fear stop you from doing something you think you’ll enjoy. Etsy and eBay are easy places to get started selling your crafts. If you’re considering selling this way, I say go for it. You’ll never know unless you try.

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created at wordle.net

created at wordle.net

In the Etsy forums the other day, there were a couple of posts about getting your Etsy shop visibility in the famed Google search. I thought I might condense some of the information and make it a little easier to implement what appears to be a pretty cool— and free— way to let those outside the Etsy

community know all about your fabulous work!

STEP 1:

First, there’s the way Google finds you. According to one Etsian who seemed pretty techno-savvy, while on Etsy, your tags may be your most important search tool, Google only picks up your title. I’ve noticed that a lot of Etsy shops get creative in their titles but leave out the all-important search words customers are looking for. For example, I have an album titled “Innocence” in my store. It’s a baby pic and that title provides the right sentiment. But…in the same title I have Personalized Baby Photo Album, which is what I would expect customers to search. I also have “photo album” and “baby” in my tags, because I think the important search terms bear repeating. Some Etsians try to only use search words in one place. But this isn’t eBay and you have unlimited space in your title. What can it hurt to use an important search word twice?

And I know I’ve said this before but remember to think like a customer when developing your keyword strategy. How would potential customers search for your products?

STEP 2:

There’s a tool on Google called Google Base. I’ve just gotten around to listing my items here, but wow, this is cool. You need a gmail account to access google base, and if you don’t have one of these, it’s free and there’s lots of space and it’s userfriendly and keeps the spam out. Get a gmail account and sign into it.

Then, search for Google Base in google…. or just click the underlined google base… I looked and looked but could not find the link through gmail but because I was signed in, I had instant access when I searched for it in the search engine.

Now, you need to go to a website called LetsEts.com

This is a great tool that will pull all of your Etsy listings and format them exactly the way they need to be formatted for the Google Base tool. All you need to do is a “Save As,” remember what you called it and where you saved it on your computer. The file is an XML file. Make sure when you do your “save as” you save the document as an XML file.

Next, you’re going to go on Google Base, enter the information they ask you for and upload your XML file. You don’t need to worry when they get to the formatting part. It’s already been done at LetsEts. How cool is that? You don’t need to be a techno-geek to do this!

And that’s it. Supposedly in just a couple of hours, your items will appear on Google under the keywords that are in your titles. There are great tutorials on Google too for how to do this. I’m a first-timer myself.

So I’ve uploaded my listings. They take a while to process, but I’ll definitely let you know how it went. Don’t wait for my results though to do this yourself. It’s free. And free google listings are good!

Just make sure to pump up those title keywords!!!

word image is courtesy of wordle.net

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Rumor has it that eBay is getting ready to change their listing fees again.

This time though, supposedly, listing fees will not go up. They will go away. Final value fees, however, will go up. How might I know this? For more on this subject, check out Ina Steiner, at AuctionBytes.

What does this mean for any of us crafters who are selling on eBay or are considering selling on eBay?

There are some sellers who think eliminating listing fees would be a great thing. I fall in that camp.

There are others who think it will just overrun the marketplace with redundant stuff. Why use store listings if the auction or fixed price listing are free? And initially, it could be overwhelming. But in case you’ve never listed anything (on eBay or Etsy), it is time-consuming and I think a dramatic increase in listings would eventually fall off.

For me, this would be fantastic. My products are unique because they are handmade by me, and I don’t have all that much competition. Not that I want to pay higher final value fees, but if I could list as much as I wanted for free, I could sell more…and then I wouldn’t mind those final value fees so much. You might be thinking the market is already saturated for what you are selling. But if you craft your keywords carefully, you can carve out your own eBay niche, where the competition will not be as much of a hindrance.

I’ve always looked at eBay as a marketing tool, a place for customers to find me. Once they’ve found me, I don’t encourage them to buy from me again on eBay. I encourage them to come to me directly through my website or email, or through my Etsy store.

So fee changes may have already started. According to this article, eBay Motors Fees are being eliminated for the first four cars listed…..a test? http://auctionbytes.com/cab/cab/abn/y08/m08/i14/s02

Sign up for our Iris & Lily Crafter’s Tips newsletter, and I’ll send you a free report on the benefits of selling on eBay!


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When I started selling my handmade photo albums, scrapbooks and journals online, I started on eBay. It was the easiest place to start and at the time, the only game in town. Now I sell on my website and on Etsy too, but I do still sell on eBay and I have to admit, when I’m putting my energy there, it’s still my most successful venue. Let’s face it… with 250 million-plus registered users, the audience is there.

Something bothers me a little on eBay though. Well lots of things about eBay bother me lately, but this one is specific to trying to sell handmade items there.

On a whim this morning, I searched “handmade” on eBay. And I got 48,971 results. That’s a lot of handmade in what has primarily become a commodities marketplace. As I sifted through the results though (and believe me I didn’t sift through them all or I’d still be doing it), I noticed that many of those “handmade” products are not handmade by the person selling them, which really muddies the waters if you are looking for products that are handmade by the artisan. There’s lots of fair trade products on eBay, and lots of items that I’m not sure I would believe are actually handmade, but hey, who am I to judge?

So I searched Indie… 3,000 plus listings here but these referred mostly to vintage indie-designed clothing, s that won’t work.

eBay has categories for finished crafts and artisan jewelry. I don’t make jewelry but I know I don’t use the finished crafts category often because I don’t get great results there.

Self-representing artists have their own category and they also have EBSQ, which is an association for self-representing artists. When you see this tag on an art listing, you know it has been created by the person selling it.

We need something like this for eBay artisans as well. A tag, an acronym, an organization we can promote on eBay listings that defines us as self-representing artisans and crafters.

Yes, we have Etsy, and it’s growing and making a name for itself. Based on views vs. sales though, I still think I’m being checked out primarily by other sellers. I have less visitors on eBay but a much higher sell-through. That’s because eBay is established and reaches a mass consumer market. And I’ve been there longer.

Most eBay pundits feel that niche marketing is the way to build a future on eBay. Actually, that’s the way to build an Internet business. And you can’t get more “niche-y” than a handmade line of whatever it is you are creating.

So I think we need to come up with a new keyword for our eBay titles that makes it clear that the items we are selling on eBay are handmade by us. And then we need to let the masses know. It will certainly help our target customer find us without having to sift through 48,971 listings.

Any suggestions?

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If you are selling your crafts online, whether on eBay, Etsy or anywhere else, you should be reporting your sales to the IRS. The upside of reporting your additional income to the IRS is that you can also write off expenses and as we know, there are many–materials, space in your home that you use specifically for your craft, computer equipment, etc.

It’s not the best idea to run your business online and think the IRS will never catch up to you because you’re just a little guy.

It was recently announced that Paypal will be required to report payments to the IRS each year, starting in 2011. Paypal is one of the easiest shopping carts to use, and if you are selling on eBay or Etsy, I would be really surprised if you aren’t using it.

Under the new legislation, PayPal will be required to report to the IRS the total payment volume received by PayPal customers in the U.S. who:

  1. receive more than $20,000 in payment volume in a single year; AND
  2. receive more than 200 payments in a single year.

Both requirements must be met for Paypal to be required to report payments. And I would think that this is just the beginning.

If you are doing business online, be smart and safe and report your income. And then take the deductions that come along with being in business too!

To read more about these changes, go to https://www.thepaypalblog.com/2008/08/proposed-irs-reporting-requirements-become-law/

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I was browsing the Etsy forums recently when I found myself in a thread that turned quite ugly. That was sad.

The thread focused, however, on copyright and trademark infringement by using images owned by companies like Disney and Sanrio (the Hello Kitty people). I think that anything someone does creatively is a great thing, and I don’t personally object to people creating jewelry, cards, scrapbooking stuff, etc., with well-known images and kid-friendly icons. They can be hot sellers. However, I’m not one of the big companies whose images are being used. It is cause for concern if these sellers don’t know that they can be in quite a bit of trouble if they are using these images without permission (which was the case in the forums), or if they don’t care.

On eBay, there is a VeRO program, and if a large company complains that someone is using its images illegally, those items come down and sellers are warned. I know. I’ve been a victim of VeRO for unknowingly using the term Shabby Chic to describe a fabric that was not actually owned by the Rachel Ashwell company. The term is a registered trademark of Rachel Ashwell. I didn’t know. I thought it was a decor style and I was selling fabric that fit that style. My listing was taken down–no refunded listing fees. Fortunately, it was only a warning, and I got the message. And I sent an apology to the Rachel Ashwell company for unknowingly infringing on her trademark.

Using Disney images or other copyrighted, trademarked and patented designs without permission can land you in hot water. On Etsy, we are for the most part little guys, but Etsy is growing, and eventually Disney or Sanrio could take notice. You don’t want to be the one they notice. Even certain Disney fabrics are no-no’s for creating anything for resale. Says so right on the selvage of most Winnie-the-Pooh fabrics – for home use only. Etsy is not in violation but you will be. And Etsy won’t be able to protect you.

I did a search on Etsy before I started this post for Disney Princess. 27 pages. A lot of those items may be supplies, but some are not. For Hello Kitty? 62 pages.

My suggestions?

1. Do your homework and make sure your products are not inadvertently in violation of any copyright, trademark or patent holders. And if they are, start brainstorming products that might sell just as well without putting your entire business in jeopardy.

2. Don’t refer to your product by the company name or trademarked product in the title of your listings. If you’ve made it, even if you’ve used images from Disney or Hello Kitty, it is not a Disney or Sanrio product. It is yours. However, the images are still theirs.

3. If you are selling something similar, say a costume, but it’s not the same and not infringing, don’t refer to it as [company name] such as Disney or Hello Kitty. In your description instead, if you want to get the keywords in, say something like “Feel just like Cinderella in this beautiful princess dress.” Don’t say its a Disney Cinderella Dress, even if you used a Disney pattern. It’s not. That’s like saying a pocketbook you made is a Coach bag.

4. Find out how to get the rights to use those images if they are your bread and butter. Just be prepared. It may cost you an arm and a leg.

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I’m so angry at my son right now. He took my car last night to go to work (his is not running) on the terms that he’d be home by 7:00 am, so I can get my daughter to work and myself to work on time. It’s 8:05 and he won’t be home for at least another half hour, making us both very late. 😦

I’m not angry with him for being late. I get that stuff happens and we can’t always keep our promises. But he could have called. I had to call him 5 times before he picked up his phone….probably because he knew there would be yelling on the other end. But he could have avoided that by calling me first.

When you are in a family and something you are doing will affect another family member, the right thing to do is communicate. We all know this. By not communicating, it causes all kinds of friction. You’re all shaking your heads in agreement, I can feel it.

Well, it’s the same with your customers. If someone buys something from you, they expect at least to know what they need to do to complete the sale and when their package will arrive. And in this day and age, it’s really easy to get in touch, via email, phone, text message or even twitter! (Sidebar: What’s a twitter you ask? A really fun way to stay in touch! More about that in a future post.)

So guide your customers along the way. Talk to them. Email them when you receive payment, when you expect the product to ship, and when it has shipped so they know to watch for it. If you have a problem or are waiting on a back order of beads, email your customer and explain the hold up. Most people are very understanding, if you just give them the opportunity to be. If you don’t communicate though, and a package takes longer than expected to arrive or the product is not exactly what was pictured (and with handmade that is often the case), you might find you have an unhappy customer at the other end. And we all know we don’t want that.

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