50 Reasons You’re Not Getting Etsy Sales

Not sure why the Etsy sales aren’t rolling in? Here are 48 possibilities -and how to fix them.

1. You don’t have enough items.

Etsy is a host to hundreds of thousands of products galore, and their search engine will only show 250 pages of them at a time for broad, generic searches. (Not that anyone would actually flip though all 250 pages anyway.) If you’ve only listed a handful of items, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten lost in the crowd, and browsers are very unlikely to find you.

Not only that – but a sparse storefront with less than a page of listings looks abandoned and untrustworthy. While there are always some exceptions, generally a robust store with at least 2 or more pages to browse through translates that you are keeping your stock updated and tended to.

2. You don’t list often enough.

Though Etsy has switched to relevancy as it’s default search, the recency of your items still plays a significant factor in it’s search ranking, as well as showing up when browsers flip over to searching by recency instead. Rather than listing a whole bunch of items at once, consider spacing them out over a few days, that way once the unsold ones reach their expiring period, you’ll have a steady flow of new or renewed listings at the forefront of your store and Etsy’s main search.

3. Your product photography “could use some work.”

Blurry photos, photos with too much distracting background clutter, and images with flash glare spots aren’t doing your products any favors. Even fairly decent photos could be replaced with high-quality, more enticing images to up your sales. Etsy is a very visual selling platform (with a frequent rate of being bookmarked to Pinterest), and so better photos almost always equals more sales.

Wen an item expires without selling, consider trying some new photos for the next go-round. Sometimes all it takes is trying out a cleaner background, placing the item on a model (if it’s wearable), or otherwise showing the item “in action” or with better lighting.

4. You forgot to include dimensions.

It can be hard to tell from a photograph, even one taken next to a standard-sized object such as a dime or ruler, just how large or small a product is. Whenever possible, include dimensions that are easy to spot in your product descriptions. Plus, if you want to go above and beyond, include them in cm and inches to appease all onlookers. The less work you make people have to do or think about, the more likely they are to buy.

5. You’re directing people offsite.

Yes, you want your potential customers to like your Facebook Page and keep in touch with you on Twitter, but your product descriptions aren’t the place to direct them there. Social networks are some seriously distracting platforms, and by taking your potential customers there, you may not be able to bring them back so easily.

6. Your descriptions are lacking.

Sure your necklace may be pretty, but simply telling me “Pretty necklace, 16 inches” isn’t really convincing enough. I want to know what it’s made out of, who it would be a good gift for, and what type of fabric it would look fantastic against. Flesh out your descriptions with plenty of features AND benefits, and your potential customers will be that much more likely to see themselves owning it.

7. You just got started.

If it’s only been a month and you’re wondering why you’re not rolling in Etsy sales then, uhm, you need to be more patient my friend. These things take time. It can take several months for you to not only flesh your shop out, but to also get yourself established and building trust with your fans and potential customers. Like snowballs, we all start small.

8. You don’t have any reviews yet.

Raving reviews go a long way in establishing the level of trust required as social proof before more people will feel comfortable buying. How can you acquire these reviews? Go above and beyond with every order you receive. Include special touches in your packaging such as a hand written thank you note, a freebie gift, gift-ready packaging, and speedy shipping.

9. You have poor reviews.

If you have, in fact, gotten plenty of reviews from orders, but many are less than savory, then there might be a few things you can do to reconcile the situation. For starters, what’s the main theme behind these negative reports? Slow shipping? It’s lost in the mail or arriving broken? Customers that couldn’t be satisfied no matter what?

When compiling your shop’s refund and return policies, always, always, ALWAYS try to think of the scenario from your customer’s point of view. How would you feel if you ordered something you were excited about and it got lost in the mail on it’s way over to you? Wouldn’t you expect a replacement or a refund? How about if the item arrived broken? Would you still expect to pay for shipping in order to get at least some of your money back? Or how about having to wait for months before the Christmas gift you ordered finally arrived in February?

These may seem obvious to the more experienced Etsy seller, but I am often surprised at seeing Etsy shop policies stating things like “Not my responsibility if your item is lost in the mail” or “No guarantees if your product is broken along the way…” Not cool guise. I think we can all do a little better than that.

If your item DOES take a long time before it ships to the customer (if, for example, it’s made-to-order and time consuming to create), then it helps dramatically if you CLEARLY state the shipping date times on not only your shop policies and announcements, but on every item description that it pertains to. If you properly set up expectations ahead of time, then you can easily go above-and-beyond with the order afterwards, resulting in much more positive reviews.

10. You’re not on social media.

No, I am not advocating that you start spending [read: wasting] hours of your daily time on Facebook or Twitter, but I am recognizing that social media can be a valuable channel to bring customers back to your Etsy shop. Pinterest and Instagram especially, due to their mostly visual nature.

If you think your target customers are there, then having a presence on specified social media platforms can bring in customers who may not otherwise be perusing Etsy for handmade trinkets to purchase. Just make sure you are being strategic about your time on social media, as it is too valuable to waste on distractions and notifications.

11. Your items don’t stand out.

If you’re selling the same bracelet as at least 12 other Sellers on Etsy, then you are competing on price. (That’s a race to the bottom you really don’t want to be a part of.) Being unique and different is the easiest and most sincere way to direct browsers to your Etsy shop. And when other less creative sellers catch on and start copying you? You’ll already be developing and listing even more unique and different products for them to scramble over.

12. You aren’t being featured outside of Etsy.

Outside-of-Etsy features have the potential to bring in hundreds of targeted eyeballs directly to your Etsy shop. If your stats are dwindling, or you simply want to expand your reach, consider reaching out to bloggers and websites that feature Etsy sellers for interviews, giveaways, or product reviews.

13. You aren’t being featured on Etsy.

There are a couple of accessible ways to be featured within Etsy: front page product exposure and included in Etsy’s e-mails.

You don’t really have any control over either of these, but you have a slightly better chance of getting featured on the front page if you (a) have great product photos and (b) join a handful of treasury teams who collaborate to make a consistent stream of “front-page-worthy” treasuries. You’re chances are still slim, so I don’t recommend wasting a ton of your valuable time producing treasuries, but joining a team or two with reasonable treasury-making requirements will give you a slightly better chance of seeing your product on Etsy’s home page than if you simply left it up to pure chance.

14. You aren’t optimizing your titles.

In order to be found within Etsy’s relevant search algorithm, you have to be using titles and tags that people are actually typing into the search bar when trying to find items similar to yours. Try as best you can to think of your product from a browser’s point of view. If you sell handbags for example, people are more likely to be typing in “Red Leather Tote Bag” into the search bar instead of “Sophia Leather Darling.”

15. You are cramming too much into your titles.

To maximize your chances of being found, choose different keyword phrases for different products to emphasize which ones will be found and ranked for different search terms. If you try to stuff every possible keyword and search phrase into a single title, it’s confusing to buyers and makes you look more like a robot than a seller. It makes more sense to cover more ground with multiple products than relying simply on one to get found by everyone.

16. Your target market isn’t clear.

People like to step into a shop–even an online one–and think to themselves, “this place is for me!” If your target market is too scattered, however, then buyers are likely to get confused and overwhelmed. If you serve two or more completely different target markets, you may want to consider opening up a second Etsy shop to make your individual shop’s branding more cohesive.

(For more info on identifying your target market, you can download Part 1 of the Run a Handmade Business & KEEP Your Day Job Course by submitting your e-mail at the top of the sidebar.)

17. You ignore your current customers.

Acquiring new customers is great — but it’s just as important (even more so, in fact) to nurture your current customers. By providing your best quality of customer service, you can insure not only repeat business, but word-of-mouth recommendations (which are far more trustworthy than any self-promotion you could do on your part.)

Making your current customers feel appreciated and taken care of goes a long way towards building up your reputation as a quality seller of great products.

18. You don’t accept custom orders.

Often times browsers will LOVE something they find in your shop, only they wish they could get it in a different color, size, or quantity than they see listed. Accepting custom orders from these people can make a measurable difference in your sales, and can even allow you to charge a premium price for the additional labor involved.

19. Your shop is all over the place.

A cohesive shop not only speaks of a strong brand, but keeps the browser from feeling overwhelmed with scattered product options. A little tailoring and trimming goes a long way towards presenting a more fluid storefront.

20. You haven’t listed anything new in a loooooong time.

Even if your products are great, there are always going to be previous customers and fans who want to see what else you can bring to the table. Fresh products can spruce up your shop and possibly bring the option that is just what some of your fans have been waiting for.

21. You never talk about your shop in person.

Whenever you can: blab about your Etsy store. Word-of-mouth is huge, and that includes word-of-mouth coming from you! Always carry business cards, and pass them out whenever the opportunity arises. If you are embarrassed to talk about your Etsy shop, how can you expect other people to do it for you? Bring it up whenever the opportunity arises, and really become your own #1 fan. The trust you express in your own business instills trust in others to make purchases.

22. You don’t network with other sellers.

There is power in the ability to work with other sellers. What we can accomplish together is exponential compared to what we can do on our own. Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice or to offer help in the Etsy forums, on teams, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups, or in-person. There is a lot we could learn from each other, and plenty of collaboration possibilities available. Not to mention, being a work-from-home seller can get rather lonely after awhile, and networking can offer a sense of community and camaraderie that you may feel a sense of lack in currently.

23. You aren’t blogging.

Blogging for your business is a gradual, but very possible way to build trust with your potential customers, establish yourself as an authority, and bring in the sales. By providing the kind of content that your target customers will be enthralled with, you will be able to sell your products to your audience in a non-salesy way that actually keep your products moving from the shelves. There is a finesse and art to blogging, but the best way to learn it is by starting now and consistently keeping it up.

24. You haven’t been keeping up with Etsy’s changes.

Etsy doesn’t stick to the same rules, guidelines, or search functionality for very long. The more successful sellers stay on top of these changes as they are happening, figure out how to best apply them to their own shop, and push forward. Yes, sometimes the constant tweaking and twisting can be frustrating, but there is a lot more to be accomplished in taking action over complaining or pining for the olden days long gone.

25. You aren’t tracking where the views are coming from.

Etsy’s STATS feature makes it pretty easy to see where your visitors are coming from. This lets you know, for example, if all the time you’ve been plugging into Twitter is actually bringing in the eyeballs you think it is. And if not? Trail and error will help you decide with activities bring the best results.

Just remember: not all traffic is created equal. You don’t want to get so obsessed with numbers that you start trying to pull in traffic from anywhere and everywhere just to watch them go up. What’s important is that those numbers are representing members of your Ideal Customer audience, so that they are the most likely to actually purchase from you.

26. Your shop looks neglected.

If you still have “Christmas SALE” written in your shop banner even though it’s well past March, it looks like you aren’t tending to your shop as you should be. Just as with the sparse listings mentioned above, this will make browsers feel less trustworthy of you as a seller, and therefore be that much more less likely to buy.

27. You take your sweet time to ship.

Unless you specifically state long shipping times in your shop policies, announcement, and each and every product description, people expect their items to be sent out right away. We are an impatient bunch, and with sites like Amazon offering next-day shipping options, the competition is fierce. Sending out orders as soon as possible will make a huge difference in your shop’s credibility, and how you are viewed from a customer service perspective.

28. You look like a faceless corporation.

Most shoppers on Etsy want the personal touch of buying form an individual, or at least from a small company. If everything looks like it’s been taken from a stock photo website, and there is little to no voice in your written content, you may be getting confused with a massive reseller as a brand. A few personal touches, sprinkled in your product descriptions, photography, and packaging can go a long way in having you recognized as the one-of-a-kind individual you are.

29. You’re lying.

This may seem obvious, but I do see it from time-to-time. Don’t lie to try to get sales, no matter how tempting. Don’t pretend your item is made of gold if it’s only gold-colored, or that it has magical fertility-enhancing abilities or will automatically attract the soul-mate your customer has been looking for. A wallet isn’t going to make your customer richer (though it could make him feel richer), and soap isn’t going to take off 20 years (though it could make your skin feel and look more youthful.) Make sense?

30. You’re begging for sales.

There’s a difference between the charming story of mentioning that you’re a small, one-person shop and you appreciate your customers for helping you to put food on the table and writing in your shop announcement “Please buy from me so I can eat!!!”

Unless you’re being obviously humorous, of course, you don’t want to come across as desperate. It’s a huge turn-off for customers and will have them fleeing your shop before they even take the time to look around.

31. You copy other sellers.

If you think people can’t tell, they can. Sure, you may get a few sales riding on someone else’s coattails, but not for long, and not from the kind of loyal customers you want to be attracting. Stick to being original, unique and freshly YOU and you’re bound to find more success that you can actually feel proud of.

32. You don’t pay attention to suggestions.

If you have customers who frequently say, “Oooh, you should make this!” and you are consistently setting your phasers to ignore, then you are basically ignoring potentially reliable revenue streams. Sure, there are going to be a few ideas that are brought to your attention that you will instinctively know aren’t a good fit for your brand, but at least take the time to consider each one and the possibility of what offering it could do for your shop.

33. You’re breaking copyright or trademark laws.

Once again, please be original. Come up with your own shyte. If you get in trouble breaking either copyright or trademark laws it could cost you a lot more than your Etsy shop getting shut down. It’s not worth the risk and it doesn’t make you look very good either. Become a fan of your own stuff, and that enthusiasm will spread to your customers. Really.

34. Your prices are too low.

When your prices are deeply discounted the average passerby will probably think “what’s wrong with this product” or possibly, they will assume that you aren’t really shipping from the region you claim you are, or that your manufacturing process isn’t as you state. All of these things may be contributing to unsold inventory, without even mentioning the the fact that you could be setting yourself up to go out of business through net losses if your stuff actually was to sell. All important to consider.

35. Your prices are too high.

This is rarely the case although many sellers instantly go to this as the potential reason for their lack of sales.

It makes more sense to re-phrase: your prices are too high for the customers you are targeting.

There, that’s better.

If you want to continue to sell at the more affluent prices then you need to be targeting a more affluent market via your promotion and branding. If you tend to have branding that focuses more on the bargain hunters, such as frequent sales or discounts, then you may need to calculate what options you have for bringing your average anchor price lower.

36. You haven’t developed a memorable brand or style.

You want your products to reach the point to where when someone sees one of them they can recognize it as one of yours, even without any labeling or logos nearby. Keep fine-tuning your designs until this end goal is reached, and then continue expanding it from there. You want a brand that your customers feel affectionately proud to be loyal to, and even brag about having taken part of.

37. You forget to respond to messages.

Even if the answer is no to a particular question or custom request, the proper customer-service-oriented response is to reply back courtesy, preferably within 24 hours.

38. You’re waiting instead of working.

The sales come in when you’re busy taking action. Whether or not their are orders flowing, continue to create and design your products, promote and market, and develop your brand. Too often sellers will take a specific action – and then waste time waiting to see the results. The results are going to come whether or not you are refreshing your stats page every few minutes instead of working on blog posts or product lines. Yes, keep track and measure the results of your actions, but don’t let the stats distract you from pressing forward. As they say, success likes to find you working.

39. You aren’t offering combined shipping.

Offering a discount or free shipping on additional items can be a huge incentive for your customers to purchase more than one thing when they buy from your store. A flat rate or low-add-on cost simply makes sense, especially from the customer’s point-of-view. If your items are super heavy, consider adding some of the shipping cost into the cost o your items rather than completely within the shipping rate, as a massive sticker shock there can be a major turn-off.

40. You aren’t offering a variety of products to choose from.

While you don’t want your offerings to be so scattered and all over the place that you overwhelm browsers, you do want to have a variety of options within your product collections. For example, you want your standard product to be anchored with a more elaborate (and expensive) aspirational piece, and compliment it with potential up-sell products. In jewelry, for example, this means a standard necklace can be anchored with an elaborate statement necklace, and/or complimented with the up-sell options of a matching pair of earrings or ring.

41. You’re making it all about YOU.

Yes you want your unique personality, story, and brand to shine through your shop. However, at the end of the day, your potential customers want to know what’s in it for THEM. Stick to emphasizing what THEY’LL get out of working with you and owning your products, and hone in on the details that matter most to them, not you.

42. You aren’t collecting e-mail subscribers.

The most effective way to keep in contact with your fans isn’t through social media or even blogging, but rather, through an e-mail newsletter. Sending out a simple message to your audience a few times a month to alert customers of new items, helpful content on your blog, or sales, not only brings in more -purchases but also reminds your customers that you’re still alive. We’re all busy people, with limited attention spans. Allowing your potential customers to give you permission to receive notifications from you will have your shop and products at top-of-mind when they think of buying again, or for the first time. Getting permission to deliver straight to their inbox is going to cut through the clutter of social media, and give you a much more likely chance that they won’t forget you exist.

43. You don’t offer multiple payment options.

While PayPal will probably remain the most popular online payment method, there are still several people who would rather use their credit card, or even send in a money order to make a purchase. If you can, more options usually means more potential sales for your Etsy shop, so provide as many as you can and feel secure doing.

44. You don’t ship internationally.

There’s a whole world of customers out there, and with Etsy’s new print-from-home customs label option, you don’t even have to stand in line at the post office to reach them! If you aren’t sure you’re comfortable shipping internationally yet, consider adding a couple of countries at a time, until you get the hang of it and feel more secure adding the option to every location.

45. You don’t have an avatar image.

Now that just looks shady. Build instant trust by posting up your face or at least your logo or a product image.

There. Much better.

46. You haven’t filled out your shop policies.

While it’s true that most people won’t read these (unless they’re making a very expensive purchase), many will often click over for a quick glance. If the spaces are blank, your trustworthiness instantly drops to near non-existence.

47. Your “trendy” products are outdated.

If you are selling on-trend items, then you will need to pay close attention to the fluctuations of what’s HOT and what’s NOT. If you’re still selling MySpace spoof items, for example, then you probably aren’t being sought-after in the searches. Unless you’re going for the nostalgic route, of course.

48. Your shop is flooded with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Mistakes happen. I know, I happen to be one of the worst offenders of not noticing a glaring headline mistake until much later (or having to be told.) However, it does pay to take a second to read over your descriptions, titles, and check your tags before hitting the publish button. Too many “human mistakes” will make you appear unprofessional.

It pays to learn the difference between “you’re” and “your,” as well as “there,” “they’re” and “their.”

 49. You aren’t directing people back to your store front.

Many Etsy browsers are going to find and click on your products from their search results, meaning that nay one of your product listings could be their first contact with you. To guide these individuals back to your storefront, where they could potentially find just the thing they were looking for, include a link to your main page in each and every product description.

50. You aren’t drawing from multiple revenue streams.

Whether you like it not not, there is always going to be a small percentage of traffic coming into your shop from other sellers, not necessarily buyers. They may be looking to check out how you do things, get inspiration for their own projects, and so on.

Why not pad your shop’s income by offering a few items for them too?

If plausible, this could mean listing some of your destash supplies, creating some PDF tutorials or patterns or complete ready-to-make kits.



How to Compete with Low Priced Products

Many sellers on Etsy and the web, as well as at craft and trade shows, may baffle you with their low prices. You have probably thought, “How am I supposed to compete with THAT?” on more than one occasion.

It’s easy to fall into the victim trap and tell yourself that your handmade goods aren’t selling because customers will always buy the cheaper option. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You CAN compete with lower priced products, you just have to come at the situation from a different perspective.

First of all, let’s start by evaluating how exactly these other sellers are able to price so low.

Some of them are new to selling and haven’t got a clue on how to price their goods, so they are probably selling at a loss and won’t realize it until it’s time to total everything up for the tax man. These sellers will either learn their lesson and adjust their prices for the future, or they’ll give up and unfortunately stop being in business altogether.

Other times these sellers are selling at a loss on purpose. They may have a handful of deeply-discounted items in their store to lure people in (where they will hopefully buy some of the higher-priced, more profitable items.) Large retail stores do this all of the time, but it can be a tricky practice in the handmade world, where, I would generally say it’s not as helpful because too many people will only buy the low-priced goods. They aren’t in the same situation as brick-and-mortar locations where customers are going to be right in front of the other available goods, and therefore more tempted to buy additional items that they hadn’t planned on when stopping in.

Similarly, sellers may be selling at a loss in an attempt to just get rid of some old inventory. They are probably considering that a small amount of their money back from the cost of supplies is better than zero money being generated form inventory that simply sits there year after year. (I have done this on a few occasions, by offering deep discount sales in an attempt to make room for new jewelry collections.)

Some of these “handmade” sellers might not be very much handmade at all, and have the resources to sell at such deeply discounted rates because they can manufacture or purchase their products in extensive bulk for pennies compared to what they are actually charging. Or, they might be selling handmade but have figured out how to cut costs by purchasing large quantities of their supplies in bulk, cut down on the quality of their materials to save costs, or have a portion of the process manufactured or automated to mostly eliminate labor considerations.

Your goal, however, isn’t to figure out how you too can cut costs so you can price at the same level as these low-charging sellers. Rather, your goal should be to completely set yourself apart so that their pricing structure and items are completely irrelevant.

There are a few things you can do to make this happen…

1. Target different customers.

Not everyone is a bargain hunter There is a large mass of people looking for unique, refined, one-of-a-kind items that they can feel a genuine connection with. There are a lot of customers who don’t just make purchases because the item is cheap. Rather, they purchase because they identify with the item, and look forward to wearing/using/showing it off because they see it as an extension of themselves.

Consider who your Ideal Customers are, and create products and marketing materials that will attract them. When you can get your offerings in front of the people who will appreciate and desire them the most, price really isn’t even taken into consideration.

2. Be different.

What is it about you and your products that is unique? Focus on and highlight those things. Because when you’re the odd one out, there really is no competition. Only you can be YOU, so don’t bother following what everyone else is making and or who they are targeting. What sets you apart will make everyone else irrelevant.

3. Provide free value and turn yourself into an authority.

Let’s pretend we’re an online customer looking to buy a set of handmade, ceramic mugs on the internet for a wedding present. So we do a little Googling and come up with two different websites that seem to be selling what we’re looking for.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s imagine that both sellers are offering mugs in equal attractiveness.

However, while one site is merely a storefront to purchase the mugs, the other site also has articles that explain how to clean them so they always look new, cool ways to decorate a mantle with them, and ideas on how to store the pieces for maximum cupboard space. This site ALSO mentions in their product descriptions that they will happily gift wrap their items for you, even including a lovely free card with a blank interior for you to fill out in the case that these mugs are purchased as a present.

black-mug

Guess who gets the sale?

Even if the latter site charged more than the first one, they would probably earn our purchase. For starters, they seem to know a lot about mugs (that’s authority), so they would get our trust in that they are probably selling higher quality than the other guy. Plus, they are making it convenient for us to purchase their products as a gift (free value), by saving us the time of having to gift wrap or find a decent card to go with.

If the purchase goes smoothly and the service provided through the transaction is excellent, chances are, we would head straight back to this site when in need of a similar gift item. We wouldn’t even bother with the Google.

 

To wrap this all up: price is only one of many factors that people consider when making purchasing decisions (and it’s not even that important, if you are targeting the right people.) So stop worrying about competing with the low-priced sellers and start selling more by setting yourself and your business apart.



Simplify Your Social Media Strategy

Overwhelmed by social media?

You are not alone.

As business owners, we are often told that we cannot afford to ignore the beast that is social media.

And especially if we operate an online business, these unsolicited-advice-givers are mostly right.

Social media offers your small business a tremendous opportunity to directly connect with your potential customers and gather a following that will propel your business forward. It really is a wonderful thing.

Except when it starts to take over your life.

The first thing we need to agree on when it comes to using social media for business marketing purposes is that it is not free.

Sure, there may not be a dollar amount attached to utilizing these tools in the same way there is with traditional advertising, but social media can still be expensive in that it can take up a lot of your precious time. Time with which you could be working on other areas of your business – areas that would make you money.

time-is-money

So if you want to save yourself the expense of using up all of your time, but still want to garnish the benefits that social media offers your business, there are a few things you can do to simplify your overall strategy on this platform.

For starters: recognize that you do not need to be everywhere.

Whenever there is a hot new social media platform, everybody starts to talk about it. The media is all abuzz, and the business blogs are highlighting some fantastic success stories of sellers who have “made it” because of this new platform or other, and you think to yourself, “Great! Now I need to sign up for that one too.”

But you don’t have to sign up unless you want to. Or, alternatively, you can sign up to get a feel for the place and change you mind shortly thereafter. You’re not signing a contract with any of these services stating that they own you for the rest of your life. So go ahead and give Instagram a try if you want to see what all the buzz is about, but don’t feel like you have to stick with it if you feel that it’s not the best platform to reach your Ideal Customers.

Secondly, look at the ways platforms can be linked together. For example, there are apps that you can utilize that will post whatever you put out on Twitter to your Facebook page, or you can send out each of your Instagram posts to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr just to name a couple of the options available to you. That’s like hitting 5 birds with one stone!

Finally, you can save yourself a crap-ton of time by pre-scheduling the majority of your posts by using a service such as Hootsuite or Buffer. I’ve personally been using Buffer for awhile now, and as a free service where I can schedule up to 10 posts ahead of time: it has been a life-saver.

Side note:  even if you are going to schedule out your posts in advance, I still recommend that you pop into your actual networks to make sure you aren’t ignoring anyone’s comments or inquires. No one likes to be part of a one-sided conversation.

Extra bonus tip: keeping an updated file with pre-set posts can be a huge time-saver. If you save a Google Doc or Evernote file with a continuous list of status update ideas, then you will never feel stranded for what to post or say. Plus, you’ll only have to spend a few minutes on your social media accounts a week, filling up your schedule and checking in for a quick moment before you’re done.

Social media simplified = less overwhelm and more time for you!

How to keep yourself motivated

So I’m going to ask you something that’s probably going to make you cringe just a tiny bit.

Sorry in advance.

Here’s my question to you:

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along?

Ouch. I know.

That was a bit harsh.

It probably stung a little bit.

But like ripping off a band-aid, it had to be done.

I’m doing this for your own good.

Because we all start the year off with the best intentions…

Remember saying these things:

This is going to be our best year ever!

We are going to totally ROCK IT!

Bring it on!!!

But then life gets in the way. And new, shiny objects deliver distracting promises that sound so much better than the work we originally had in mind. Plus, Facebook is so much more fun than writing blog posts and Pinterest is so much more entertaining than editing product photos.

So how do you get back on track? How do you re-boost that initial motivation so you can start getting shyte done again?

Well,  one clever way to handle this situation is by creating a system of mini-rewards for yourself.

I know it sounds Kindergarten-classroom based, but I’m totally serious here.

Procrastination stems from unsavory tasks that do not deliver immediate rewards. Writing that blog post probably won’t result in the reward of immediate sales (though you know it’s good for your business in the long run), organizing your studio space won’t get you on the cover of VOGUE, and even editing your product photos won’t guarantee you a spot on Etsy’s front page. While we may “know” that these tasks are good for our business in the long run, that isn’t always enough to motivate us to do them.

The mini-rewards system bridges the gap.

Create yourself a two-column document. I personally use Evernote for this, but you can use Word, Google Docs, or even a plain ‘ol piece of paper.

In the left-hand column, write down the goal or task that you need to work on or would like to achieve for your business. In the column to the right of it, write out a suitable “mini reward” for when you get that task completed.

For example:

goal-reward-chart

Yes, the ultimate goal of a thriving, profiting business is still on the horizon, but those mini-rewards along the way will keep procrastination at bay, and prevent the work in the meantime from feeling pointless. Plus, when you choose mini-rewards that you really, really want: you’ll work on those business tasks even harder and faster to get to the end!

Good luck with the rest of the year, champ.

You got this.

 

 

Guest Post: How to Get Post Craft Show Sales

Having a successful craft show experience means more than simply making a lot of money over the weekend (though that’s great too!) Another factor to strive for besides immediate sales is directing your visitors and buyers to buy again from you later, either in person, or from your website or marketplace site. There are several things you can do to make this more likely to happen.

Maximize your business cards.

Leave a stack of cards at the front edge of your craft show booth so shy passerby’s can easily grab one without having to ask. Also, be sure to hand them out personally to any interested browsers or purchasers in case they missed the stack you left out.

Your businesses card is a powerful advertising tool. Make sure it is unusual enough to catch someone’s eye, and clearly indicates who you are and what you sell. (Don’t just include a pretty stock design, but rather, an actual image of your products and multiple ways to contact you.)

A coupon code good for your website only on the back of your business cards will help direct people to check out what you have online at a later date.

Click here to read the rest of this article at Handmadeology.com.

Are you killing your business with too many sales?

Sale

Are you killing your business with too many sales?

The laminate flooring in my kitchen is disgusting.

I know, I know, weird way to start off a post.

But I’m telling you, it’s gross. It’s been gross since I purchased my house–over 3 years ago!

Yet I haven’t bothered to swap it out yet.

Before you get all judgy, allow me to explain…

There’s this store I drive by every day after I get off of work. It’s a flooring store, and it sells laminate, tile, carpet, rugs, and so on.

There’s a big ‘ol sign on the outside of the store where announcements are posted. You know the kind with the exchangeable black Helvetica letters. Pretty standard.

This sign is ALWAYS announcing a sale.

Everything is always marked down, on sale, featuring big discounts, super clearance, or some other variation of this vocabulary.

So I haven’t bothered stopping in to shop or buy.

Can you guess why?

Because if I procrastinate until next month–no big deal–there will be another sale.

Even if I procrastinate until next year: things will probably still be on sale.

And so I continue to procrastinate.

By constantly having their items marked down, there is no need for me to BUY NOW. I feel no deadline or sense of urgency.

However, when stores only have a handful of sales a year, then there is a definite sense of urgency. (Anybody else shop Victoria Secret’s Semi-Annual sale?) We get used to the regular prices, so an unusual, limited sale can ready force us to stop procrastinating and hit that buy button. It makes a big difference and gets a lot of inventory moving.

So you might want to keep this in mind when planning sales or discounts in your own business. If you feel like you aren’t getting as much out of your big sale extravaganzas as you used to, it might be because you are running them too often.

Guest Post: The Social Media Breakdown

letsgetsocial

There are 2 important concepts you should understand before jumping full-on into the realm of social media marketing. These concepts apply to ALL of your marketing, not just social media, and are relevant regardless of the platforms you choose to operate on.

Concept #1: Know your market

Who are your target customers? What do they like? Where do they hang out online? It would be a pointless waste of time, for example, to pine away on Snapchat if the demographic of people you are hoping to reach aren’t even there. So make sure you are doing your Ideal Customer work first and foremost.

Concept #2: It’s all about delivering value

There are 3 main reasons people spend time on the internet. The first is to learn–to be informed. The second is to be entertained, and the third is to connect with other people. At least 70% of your marketing should be about delivering one (or more) of these things to your potential customers. Nothing but a stream of links to your products will get you ignored, and you’ll probably start to feel like all of your efforts aren’t worth it. On the flip side, if you NEVER mention that you have a business or products to sell, you may also wonder why you’re efforts aren’t paying off. Sure, your list of followers will continue to increase, but you need to make an offer to your audience once in awhile if you actually want to generate any sales from them.

Getting started:

After you’ve figured out which social media platforms your target customers are on, start with one or two to set up profiles on, and brainstorm how you can use this platform or platforms to deliver the value your customers are looking for.

 

Click here to read the rest of this article on Handmade Success…

A Case for STAYING on Etsy

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Going Beyond Etsy, Etsy and similar marketplace sites provide a great starting point for those of you who are new to running a handmade business, or new to the online aspect of selling within the global marketplace. It’s relatively low-cost, and provides plenty of space for adjustments and experimentation for defining your brand and offerings. Not to mention, the traffic there is phenomenal, so there are bound to be a few eyeballs on your goodies, even if you never do any outside marketing directing people to your Etsy shop.

So Etsy is a great place to get started. But what about afterwards? What about when you are ready to go beyond the platform and have built up your own official website and all that other good stuff? Should you still stick around on Etsy?

Etsy Store Screenshot

Yes, you should. And I say this for a couple of reasons.

Reason #1: Etsy is a community as well as a shopping site.

Etsy teams, the discussion forums, and the camaraderie of treasury-making all provide a useful platform for networking with other handmade sellers. As I have said before, when we think of our fellow sellers as colleagues instead of competition, we can all give each other a boost that we otherwise would find difficult to achieve on our own. The community on Etsy is one of many ways such networking is made possible.

Reason #2: Etsy is a channel for reaching new customers.

Now, once you have you own official website set up and ready to go, I recommend you start directing all of your own marketing efforts towards that. After all, you’ll have more control over your website, will be able to capture e-mail leads there more easily, and no one will be taking a cut of any of the sales you make  there.

I think of Etsy now more as an affiliate partner. While I still direct some traffic to my shops there through a tweet or two once in awhile, I think of the sales I get from there more as coming from the site itself, not from me. The internal traffic in the site is another chance for me to capture new customers, and eventually get them over to my own site.

How to get your Etsy customers to buy from your website:

  • Include an exclusive coupon code or gift certificate in their orders, good for your website only.

 

  • Capture their e-mail addresses by letting them know it’s an option for them to sign up in their receipt message.

 

  • Put your social icons on your Etsy shop, where you will be promoting your website to your fans after they have liked you on Facebook or followed you on twitter.

 

  • Put a handwritten note or post card in with your Etsy orders, announcing the launch of your new site. Let them know you would LOVE it if they would stop by and tell you what they think.

 

  • Launch new products or collections that you will sell exclusively from your website. People will have to buy from there if they want the goods!

 

  • Have sales or specials only on your website, or at a better deal than the sales in your Etsy shop.

Yes, it will take some work, and a whole lot of marketing, but eventually more people will start to buy from your website than from your Etsy shop. However, I still recommend keeping both for the reasons mentioned above. However, I encourage you to put more of your efforts into your site, while thinking of the sales from Etsy more as opportunities to garnish even more loyal customers that will eventually start buying from your official site, signing up for your e-mail updates, and spreading the word of your business to others.

Going Beyond Etsy

Are you ready to go beyond Etsy?

Etsy–and other marketplace or auction sites like it–is a great place to get started with your handmade business. For starters, Etsy is cheap. You can set up shop for free, and then list each item for the going rate of only $0.20 a pop. Not bad.

Etsy also has a shyte-ton of traffic, so even when you aren’t doing any outside marketing for your goods, there are bound to be at least a few eyeballs on your items from the site’s search engine alone.

Most of us start out on Etsy because it gives us the confined and comfortable space to test our branding, products, and learn the customer service tactics that help us to build recognition. Essentially, it gives us a place to find our first customers, while also serving as a community platform for networking with other handmade sellers.

I still recommend that you have a shop on Etsy or another corresponding marketplace site. Even as your business grows, there are still major benefits to sticking around, but I’ll cover those in next week’s post.

Today I want to talk about going beyond Etsy.

You see, the thing I didn’t realize after having been selling on there for almost 3 years, was all of the work-a-rounds I had simply gotten used to.

Some of these work-a-rounds included:

  • Having to get creative when I wanted to offer a gift card to my customers
  • Having to create (and pay for) multiple listings on a custom order when a client wanted to make changes that increased the price
  • Having to maintain an off-site blog that redirected my traffic back to my Etsy shop
  • Having to convince people who had never heard of Etsy but wanted to purchase from me that they needed to sign up for an Etsy account in order to do so
  • Not being able to create custom pages
  • Working with very limited category options
  • Having to use and even pay for an off-site application in order to host a sale
  • Not being able to place active links to off-site locations
  • Working with the limited branding capabilities
  • Having to adjust to each change from Etsy as it rolls out (being reactive instead of pro-active)
  • Having to get creative trying to get people to sign up for my newsletter without breaking any of Etsy’s rules
  • Having to “re-arrange” my customized store every time I renewed or listed a new item
  • Having to place “visit my shop here” links in all of my listings in case browsers get confused and head back to the search bar or the Etsy home page when they actually want to see more of my products
  • Having to work with an outside party’s application for selling on Facebook which includes ads to products that aren’t mine
  • Not being able to adjust the HTML, CSS, or any other design or functioning code of my shop
  • Not being able to post product videos or more than 5 photographs per listing
  • Needing to adjust all of my product photographs with each new Etsy redesign
  • Not being able to include a contact from with customizable fields
  • Not being able to have a hidden catalog for wholesale buyers
  • Not being able to sell downloadable files that are too large in size without a third party service involved
  • Not being able to have customer-friendly visible titles in addition to SEO-optimized titles
  • Having to work within Etsy’s branding to make my shop my own
  • I could go on and on…

I don’t mean to make this a lets-bash-on-Etsy post. In fact, I think Etsy’s still awesome and I’m so grateful for how it has helped me grown my business, my audience,  and for the sales I continue to receive through the venue.

But then when I decided to finally take my business “pro” last year and get my own “official” website, it dawned on me all of the possibilities that I didn’t realize before. Not only do I feel like I’m more of a “legit” business with my own website, but I am able to get that website to work for me in many ways that Etsy couldn’t.

Honestly, I wish I would have gotten my own website sooner.

I think back to all of the traffic I had been directing towards my Etsy shop when I could have been building an audience and back-links for my website and it makes me mentally cringe.

Ah, well. What’s done is done.

There is the future to look forward to, and it is bright indeed. With my own website, I have complete control of the outward appearance, number of (unlimited) products, pages, blog posts, and so on. I get so excited and motivated just thinking about it. It makes me feel like my business is finally real.

Are you ready to go beyond Etsy?

There’s a lot of options out there for hosting and building your own website. I personally use Highwire  (affiliate link) for mine, and have been happy with their service and all of the options provided through them. Though I know that they are only one out of a sea of other options.



When I was deciding which host and shopping cart I wanted to go with, I signed up for several “free trails” so I could explore the back-end of each platform. I liked Highwire’s because it allowed full and complete access to all of the CSS and HTML coding, so I could adjust the look and feel of my site to exactly what I wanted. Also, it was a flat monthly fee that included unlimited storage space, up to 10,000 products, and unlimited revenue (without them taking a cut of any sort) for all the same rate. Considering that I continue to pay about 5 times that amount for the Etsy bills that come to me through my 4 Etsy shops, I feel it’s a bargain.

What I don’t recommend is signing up for a free website set up that does not allow you any access to the coding on the back end. Even if you personally aren’t comfortable adjusting the CSS and HTML of your website, there may be a time in the future you will want to hire someone to do it for you. You don’t want to be stuck sending your traffic to a website that is limited in its ability to grow with you.

Where and how you’ll want to host your website will also depend on what you are looking for. For example, if your needs are more along the lines of a main blog, supplemented with a simple digital product or two, then you might want to consider a WordPress.org site instead. Or, if you are very comfortable with creating databases and working on the back-end coding of your own shopping cart, then you might want to lean towards an OpenSource cart.

Either way, there are a lot of options out there beyond Etsy. I don’t mean to overwhelm you, I am only hoping to get you thinking and save you from the “I wish I would have done that sooner…” pang of regret.

We’re All ‘Under Construction’

What was once a fairly decent parking lot across the street from my day job currently looks like a disaster.

Construction crews have turned the space into a giant hole, filled it with wooden planks and concrete slabs, leaving piles of debris in their wake.

They’re working to build a new hotel/parking garage at the site, but for now it looks like they’re simply making a tiny fraction of the city look like an apocalypse-aftermath preview.

Construction

I, being the way I am, can’t help but view the scene as as a metaphor for business and life.

We’re all under construction.

I’m under construction.

So are you.

That mess you’ve got going on right now? It’s all party of the process, baby.

Sometimes things have to get knocked down before new things can be built up. Sometimes holes have to be dug out–and this isn’t always a pleasant feeling–before the spaces can be filled up again.

The process can be messy. But it helps if that’s what you consider it as: a process.

Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle, or your foundation to someone else’s finished building. Refer back to the image of your completed design to keep yourself–and “your crew”–motivated.

Then, even when you think you’re done, it’s probably time to consider some remodeling projects. Because in this life there is always more to learn and improve on.

We are always under construction.