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Posts Tagged ‘Selling Crafts Online’

A couple of months ago, I learned about Google Base from an Etsy forum. I found a great tutorial on how to use LetsEts and post on Google Base. It was a little tricky, so I wrote my own blog post about posting to Google Base based on my experience. LetsEts picked it up and apparently it’s been helpful to others. I’m so glad!

One of the recent comments on that post was from a woman who called herself a Geek-in-Training (thanks Carla!). I loved that!!! As crafters, we are in tune with non-technical processes. As a bookbinder, I use board, fabric, a scissor, an iron and a cold glue process.  I love working with my hands. But to be able to even afford my craft, I need to make some money from it, and with the Internet, I now have easy avenues for that purpose. So I’ve also become a Geek in Training.

There are so many ways to sell on the Internet, and many of them are relatively inexpensive  or even free. You really don’t even need a website. However, if you are considering selling your crafts online, and you should, you need to know about a couple of tools that can help you and are relatively easy, even for us non-technical folk.

The next time you are on your computer, consider learning about the following tools for selling your crafts and building a following:

Etsy (of course)

eBay (yes, eBay is still a great place for selling handmade items)

Blogging (wordpress, blogger, typepad, take your pick. They are free and relatively easy to learn). Personally, I like wordpress, can you tell?

Twitter (micro-blogging site that is just the hottest networking tool right now. It’s quick, easy to use and a great way to send new potential customers to your website, etsy store, ebay store, blog, etc. You do want to have somewhere to send your potential customers though.)

Facebook, which is a great social network for connecting with family and friends, as well as setting up a page for your business, connecting in groups where you may find the folks who are looking for what you are selling and a way to find new followers.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, you can get so caught up in doing all of these techno things, you might find you have less time for your actual craft, but if you aren’t selling it, you won’t be doing much crafting anyway.

So don’t be afraid. Look up information on the above on google and get fearless. It’s really not as hard as you think. I am still a geek-in-training (the web moves so fast I don’t think we ever stop training), but I’ve learned a lot and I love the technical stuff almost as much as the crafting!

In the following weeks, I will be blogging about getting started on etsy, ebay, etc. These will be very elementary for the true beginner. I hope they help!

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So I saw it on the Etsy forums today and then on Ina Steiner’s Auction Bytes. Etsy has had a banner month in November with  total sales of $10.8 million, representing a 28% increase over October, and a 157% increase year-over-year. Wow.

I know I am having a very good month on both Etsy and eBay. I’ve been working non-stop, one of the reasons I haven’t been posting, and I will be doing so for the next week at least to get all of my orders out in time for Christmas. I wish I had more time to promote and craft and promote some more. I’m certainly not making tons of money but I almost feel like that’s only because I just don’t have enough time.

And yet, I still see grumbling on Etsy forums from shops that are not doing the sales they did in prior years, or shops struggling to get their craft businesses off the ground. My suggestion is to find successful Etsians and see what they do differently. Find different avenues to promote your wares.

Take the time you spend worrying and complaining about  sales that are down and spend it finding new ways to improve, promote and build your business, using facebook, twitter, bloggers and the etsy forums.

Several years ago, I read Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. It was an interesting read…. and one of the things that I took away from it was an exercise in “not complaining.” Spend a week not complaining. It’s not as easy as you think. If you find yourself winding up into a whine session, stop, and turn that into a positive. You will be amazed at how your attitude may change, and in response, your business will change. Things fall into place when we are positive.

So be positive, and grateful….grateful that you have the talent to make things with your hands and that you’ve met such cool people along the way and that whatever extra you gain from your craft business online, even if right now it’s just education,  is something someone else may not be able to do.

Your positive attitude will come through in your listings, in your dealings with customers and in your very own creativity.

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It’s been a while, but I hope to get back to regular blog posts now. We’ve had a lot going on around here and sometimes finding the time to sit and write gets tricky. But there’s so much to share!

One of the things I’ve been busy with lately is album orders. Finally! As we get closer to the holidays, business is picking up, although very few of my orders are holiday gifts or even holiday related. In fact, my life has been so hectic these last few weeks, I haven’t really even had the time to list properly in preparation for the holidays. But enough about me.

There’s something I’ve noticed with my recent orders (still about me…tsk, tsk) that has been a really pleasant surprise. I sell on eBay, Etsy and my own website. I blog, have had some products showcased on blogs (thanks to Etsy) and I have a decent customer base from the years I’ve been doing this.

My orders are coming from all over. Some from eBay, some from Etsy, two from my website in the past month, which is rare but so exciting, and a few from previous customers, who just shoot off an email. I only just added selling on Etsy this Spring and it has already made a huge difference in the exposure I’ve gotten for my albums. I even considered giving up eBay….

But here’s the thing. By having my products in multiple places, very different groups of people find me and I’ve gotten a much further reach for my albums, resulting in more orders than I would have otherwise.

Obviously when you start selling, you want to start in one place to see how things go. Websites are expensive (and that’s not my most effective selling tool), and listing on multiple sites can be quite time-consuming. We need time to craft too! But don’t discount your options. I see quite a few people on the Etsy forums dissing eBay. And while eBay and/or Amazon might not be for everyone, if you’ve got something unique and handmade, you’d be surprised at how much you can sell. Not everyone on eBay is looking for a bargain. In fact, lots of customers go there to find something different that they can’t find anywhere else. And everyone goes to Amazon now. I’m not there yet, but I plan to be by next year.

I like having multiple streams of visibility for my albums. Not only does it give me more sales, it gives me credibility as well. Seeing Iris & Lily in a bunch of different places signals that I am a real business.

If you are only selling in one place, consider your options. I know if I was selling in only one place, my sales would be a little dismal. Try a few different venues and see which ones work for you. With listing fees of only 20 cents in a lot of cases, and now only 35 cents even on eBay, it can’t hurt to try. Weed out the ones that don’t work, but you might be surprised when you find another venue that does.

The holidays are just around the corner, and while money is tight everywhere, there are still gifts to be bought, and lots of consumers are going online to buy them!

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On Friday at work, one of my coworkers and I were passing in the kitchen and we exchanged the usual “Hi, how are you?” Of course the answer we always expect is “Fine” or “Good, and you?” and we move on. This coworker jokingly asked me if I was going to wait around for the answer. We were crazy-busy and I was walking as I was asking.

It’s become a joke between us and that’s fine but it did get me to thinking. Are we really listening? Are we really doing the things that our customers would like to see? Or are we doing what’s easy and what we love. I get that as artisans, the whole point of creating is that we love what WE are doing. I’m not suggesting that if one of my customers (I’m a bookbinder) wants jewelry, that I’ll switch gears and start making jewelry. But if a customer asks for a slightly different style book or a fabric I don’t normally showcase, I see if I can do what they are asking or find that fabric. I’m not always successful, but I do listen to suggestion and I always try. I’m fortunate. I create custom products a lot of the time and I have to listen to my customers. But, I get really great ideas from them.

What I’m proposing for this holiday season is that maybe we should ask our customers what they’d like to see…what will get them to click on the “BUY NOW” button…..what they will be willing to spend their disappearing dollars on?

Have a mailing list? Send out a survey to see what people are looking for? Figure out the trends. Pay attention in convos. You may just find the “next big thing” that way.

And when you have a consensus about a color, a pattern, a style….try it. Someone out there will notice you listened and be happy to spend their money with you.

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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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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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