Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Beginner’s Journey Through Etsy - Improving My Shop - Photographs

        I have been on Etsy for a little under 4 months now, but I have made quite a few improvements to my shop to make it better. I think in owning a shop on etsy, there are always ways to improve. As a shop owner, I am continuing to learn and grow. I have learned most from looking at information on Etsy, especially from reading Etsy blogs.  I am glad that I have made these improvements, and I would like to share them with you. 
It is very important to have good photographs of the items in your Etsy shop that represent your items well. This is obviously one of the first thing people see when they come to your shop, and they have the possibility of making a great impression. I have learned a lot when it comes to photographs. As a result of this, I have taken and retaken photographs of my items a few times. When taking photographs, you want to make the best impression possible. 
Photographs of my items have improved and changed a lot on my shop site. I started off with photographs that were taken directly from the top view in one uniform angle. The background was white with a wood backdrop, and I took it with the flash on my camera. Then, I saw on an Etsy blog that it is better to take photos at an angle to make them more interesting. I did this and took a second set of photos of all my items. This time I had a 4 colored background made up of construction paper. Then I saw, also on an Etsy blog, that it is better to take photos in natural light. I added this element with the photos at an angle, but had a blue and white clouds background. Some of my items still had a colorful background though. Finally, I read that it is better to have photos with a plain white background. I added this final element, but some of my older items still had a different background. I finally decided, to retake all my photos and make them all at an angle, with natural light, and with a plain white background. Was I happy with the results? Very much so. I say all this to take you through the progression I went through. Also, I wanted to share these tips that I’ve learned as a photographer of my products on Etsy. 
I hope you enjoyed what I shared, and can benefit from it. I will continue to discuss the improvements I have made in the coming blogs that I write. ‘Til then, hope you are enjoying your experience on Etsy!

Kelly Michelle

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 5: FLICKR!

I can't say that I know how to use all of the amazing features on FLICKR! to my advantage. What I can tell you is that it is an amazing site for cataloging your item photographs. We all know that if we post pictures of our items all over the place with tags (keywords) that we will get more views. For this reason, you should post your photographs on every site that you possibly can. FLICKR! is definitely one of those sites. In fact, I show a lot of activity in my shop stats from FLICKR!
The first thing that you need to do is get a FLICKR! account and set it up. They have made it very easy on us by allowing us to use an existing Yahoo! account, Facebook account, or Google account. Isn't that nice of them? So, go to www.flickr.com and sign up for your free account. If you want to get more out of your FLICKR!, you can purchase the premium account that gives you more options and a detailed report that shows your page views.
Just like Pinterest, FLICKR! can be a place for business or a place for personal life. Let's make sure that we separate the two of those, to  an extent. Post pictures of you working on your newest item, your work space, etc. Get your customers to see the person behind the website full of amazing items for sale! Also, add your products with tags, so that they can be found. Link your products to Etsy by putting your shop link in your description box.
Unfortunately, FLICKR! is not really a cross promotion site, unless you are able to pull your friends and team mate's pictures off of Etsy to post them on FLICKR! If you do, make sure that you give credit to your friend or team mate and link the photo back to their shop. FLICKR! can be an awesome playground for customers as long as you get your items on there! The person that said less is more wasn't referring to social media marketing for an online business!

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 4: Wanelo

Now that we have tackled the major social media sites, we are going to jump into some other social media sites that may be showing up on  your shop views page. The first one that we are going to  talk about is an amazing site called Wanelo. Wanelo is a place where you can list all of your items and Wanelo will actually generate a link directly to your shop and help you sell your item. Additionally, Wanelo gives you the option to easily post your items on other not so easy to use social media sites such as Stumbleupon and Tumblr, which we will eventually talk about!
So, let's get started. If you don't have a Wanelo account, get one! I generate a lot of hits from Wanelo to my Etsy site, my Zibbet site, and my company web page. To sign up for Wanelo, go to Wanelo.com and complete the sign up forms, or use your facebook profile to log in. I suggest using your facebook because everytime you post a new item, it automatically shows up on your facebook timeline that you added the item. More exposure! That is the goal!
After  you have your Wanelo account all set up, you can start adding items by clicking on Post. It will ask for a link and automatically generate the price of the item. You can write a cool little blurb about your item to make it more appealing to the others who use Wanelo. Once you  are done adding the item, your followers and other potential customers  can purchase your item right on the Wanelo site....through Etsy! Technology can be so wonderful sometimes!
To get more followers, find your Etsy friends, your Facebook friends, your twitter friends, etc. and follow them. Just like on Twitter, if you follow someone, the typical etiquette is for them to follow you! I shouldn't have to remind you that the more places that you have your items, the more shop views you are going to get! I  had my husband help me add items to Wanelo, and my shop views exploded! It was amazing! So, don't forget the little social media sites and stay tuned for the next article!
Happy Sales!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How To Use Etsy: Shipping Tips

Save Money on Shipping and Packaging

The hardest part of starting an Etsy shop for me was figuring out shipping, both prices and packaging. I did a lot of research before opening my shop and still made many mistakes. I would like to pass on what I learned so you don't have to make the same mistakes and lose money!

Buy a Scale
The best thing you can do to ensure accurate shipping prices is buy a postal scale, the weight capacity depending on what you sell. Buying from Amazon.com is cheapest.

Calculate Shipping Online
With your scale, you can accurately calculate shipping costs on the USPS site, including international rates. Play around with package weight to estimate secondary shipping costs (how much it costs to ship something with another item).

Print Labels from Paypal
Print shipping labels from your paypal account and receive a significant discount on postage for packages (for any domestic service, but only Priority or Express for international). If the person paid through paypal, you can go to your account overview and click "print shipping label" next to the transaction. The address information will automatically load. Just input the package weight (rounded up to the nearest whole number) and service type (First Class, Priority, etc.). If the person didn't pay through paypal, you can still print the label by adding the address on paypal.com/shipnow. Print the label on fast draft to save ink. 

With ready-to-ship packages, no need to wait in line at the post office! Just drop off or request pick-up online if at least one of your packages is Priority Mail.

Be Creative with Packaging
Some shops only charge postage price, while others include packaging costs. Either way, be creative to save on packaging expenses and lower your shipping prices.
  • Reuse boxes if you can. All previous postage must be removed or covered. You can cover non-postal boxes with brown kraft paper.
  • Don't send free gifts. Most of the time, they're cheap things the buyer doesn't want or need but are still included in the shipping and packaging costs (or if not, they come out of your pocket). Most people would rather not get a random free item and pay lower shipping!
  • Only use necessary, protective wrapping; no need to be super fancy unless you sell expensive jewelry or the like.
  • Make your own thank-you notes or write on the back of your business card.
Remember, packaging ends up in the trash, so be wise where you spend your money and what you charge people for. I would rather get a less fancy (but still professional) package if it means I pay less shipping. However, you can include a note in your listings and policies about requesting free gift wrapping.

Add Shipping Information to Your Shop
Include shipping and packaging information in your policies, and your listings if you sell various items that require different packaging and shipping methods. Buyers like to know what they are paying for and when they can expect to get their items.

Choosing the Right Shipping Service

Knowing which shipping service to use is vital in saving money, both for you and your customers. Here are tips I've learned:

Measure your packages 
  • Envelopes thicker than 1/4 inch or uneven in thickness by more than 1/4 inch are considered packages instead of letters.
  • Small bubble envelopes, if flat and light, can usually be sent as letters in the U.S. (only once has one of my customers had to pay extra postage, which I reimbursed), but are always packages for international shipping (I've lost money twice because I forgot this!).
  • Large envelopes that are flexible (for example, holding a paperback children's book) can be mailed at a large envelope price instead of a package.
  • Boxes longer than 12 inches on any side cost more to ship regardless of low weight.
Weigh your packages 
  • The biggest mistake sellers make is sending everything Priority Mail. Packages lighter than 13 ounces qualify for First Class parcel, which is just as fast as and sometimes faster than Priority Mail but considerably cheaper.
  • Heavier packages are mailed Parcel Post, which takes about a week. If the price difference between Parcel Post and Priority Mail is minimal, go with Priority Mail to ensure faster delivery.
  • UPS and FedEx are best reserved for extremely large, heavy, valuable, or fragile items.

The Shop at Pooh Corner

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Can Social Media Do For You & Your Online Business? Part 3: Pinterest

Ask most people who use Pinterest and they will tell you that it is highly addictive, and it is! Just remember that the customer’s addiction to Pinterest is lucrative for your business.  Your addiction to Pinterest may be a distraction and may hinder business! So, let’s keep our Pinterest vices in check when we use it for marketing. Set personal time aside to repin and favorite the boards that you follow, so that you don’t take away from promotional time for your shop!
The first thing that you need to do is get a Pinterest account and set it up. There is typically a wait list to get on Pinterest, unless you  are invited by someone who already has an account. If you do not have an account, find me on etsy at www.blackwillowsoaps.etsy.comandmessage me with your email address, I will send you an invite.  If you have a Pinterest account, great! Let’s get marketing!
Pinterest can be an awesome way to get your products, promotions, treasuries, sales, etc. to another world of customers. Make sure that you use your business Pinterest account like it is used for a business. Create boards that  are relevant to your craft. For example, if you own a jewelry shop, you can have a board that features the items that are from your shop, a board for articles about handmade beads, a board for the treasuries that  you  have been in on Etsy, and several others. I even have boards  on Pinterest that tell  people a little bit about me, such as “Images from my childhood”, where I post shows that I watched, toys that I played with, etc. As we have learned from our fearless leaders on Etsy, it is good to let your customers get to know you!
That said, the first board that is a must have is a board with your shop items in it. Add all of your current shop items and pin new items as you list them. Etsy makes this easy by adding a Pin button to  each listing. Go through your listings hitting the pin button on each listing and add it to your shop board. The next board that is a must have, is your team boards. As mentioned in earlier articles, teams are great for promoting! Link up with your teams who have pinterest boards and pin your items there. Also, favorite and re-pin other team members pins to help them promote!
Pinterest can be an awesome tool for marketing. I use it to post sales,  treasuries that I am featured in, tophatter auctions, new listings, and catalog my favorite etsy creations from other shops. 
Natalie Wright

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Beginner's Journey Through Etsy: Sales!

One of the satisfying parts about being a shop owner Etsy is making sales. I mean that is one of the reasons why we are on Etsy, to sell our products and share them with others. That is actually our initial reason for joining, right? I wanted to touch on the subject in this blog post. I wanted to not only talk about my experience with sales, and how I got them, but also why being on Etsy is not just about getting sales.

When I first started, I was initially wondering when I would get my first sale.  I did get it within the first week of opening, and was super excited! Each month since then, I have steadily increased sales. I am currently at 37 sales, which is way more than I expected, as it can be tough to sell on Etsy. I am definitely not where I want to be, but I am continuing with Etsy in hopes my business will succeed to the extent that I want it to, and maybe even beyond that point. 

So what advice can I give for making sales? Promote, promote, promote. There are so many ways and avenues to promote on Etsy. You can, as I spoke of before, join teams. You can also join BNS and BNRs, where you can buy into these special treasury boards, and get your shop on them. More information about these are found in teams or treasuries search boxes. Just type in the keyword “BNS” or “BNR”.  There is also a tutorial on BNS and BNR boards here.  You can also advertise through sponsoring blogs, or put your shop information on your own blog, pinterest, twitter, and facebook. There are also craft fairs that you can sell your goods at to get more recognition. Telling friends and family about your shop helps as well. All in all, continuing to promote your shop is the best way to get sales.

I wanted to end with this thought: being a seller on Etsy, is not just about making sales. There is so much more to Etsy than just that. Being a shop owner on Etsy, is about sharing your craft with others, and being able to connect with others on Etsy. The community on Etsy is there for a reason. In the long run, it can help your shop to be a part of this community, regarding sales and such. Yet, there is so much more to learn and experience. Wishing you happy sales, but also a happy experience on Etsy!

Kelly Michelle

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meet Our Featured Shop: Blinky

I am pleased to introduce you to our featured shop, Blinky.  Blinky's supply shop carries a fantastic selection of fabric, and even some patterns.  Her shop is cheerful and inviting, with all of the lovely fabric colors and designs.  I asked Blinky how she got started, she said "I love sewing, but I am a huge hoarder, and I buy way too much.  That's why I use my shop to detash some of my extras.  I have 3 little girls that I sew for, so I need at least 5 yards usually, but I buy the whole bolt (15 yards)."  Blinky does this by ordering her fabric at wholesale prices, and usually buys 10-15 bolts at a time.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

These lovely polka dots are available for purchase here.

These pretty stripes are available for purchase here.

Blinky's shop also boasts a great selection of patterns.  She told me that she has tried most of them out, and can answer questions about them.  She also gets the patterns from vendors.  Here are a couple teasers for you:

This pattern is available for purchase here.

This adorable skirt pattern is available for purchase here.

There is one last thing you should know about Blinky's shop, she is having a fabulous sale this month.  Use coupon code SEPT15 and get 15% off your order!

Love and Peace,