Book Review: How to Start a Home-Based Etsy Business

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Good Books, etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 7 January 2014 at 11:52 am

As you may or may not know, I have dabble over at Etsy.com for awhile. I pretty much have lately just tried to sell my pdf jewelry making tutorials, but in the past, I have sold finished jewelry, kits, and supplies. I have found, like most business endeavors, that the more time you put in the more money you can earn. But, “time” is not something I usually have an abundance of, so I tend to spend time on it when I have some and then pull back to just a dabbler when it just doesn’t work for me.

Since I joined Etsy has a seller, lots of changes have happened. They usually tend to be controversial in the crafting world, and so people are not very happy about it. Whatever you say, though, about Etsy, love it or hate it, you have to admit that it is still one of the market leaders when it comes to selling hand-made items, supplies, and vintage products.

In a new book written by Gina Luker, she tackles the what, how, when, and why of becoming an Etsy shop owner, hopefully a successful one too: How to Start a Home-based Etsy Business (Home-Based Business Series) . Unfortunately, as I write this review right now, her shop is closed while she is on vacation, so I was not able to see it. However, her sales are impressive, 4,950.

I received an e-copy of the book, and felt is was very thorough, full of nuts and bolts information. This would especially appeal to anyone who is not very familiar about how the site works. In fact, before I opened my own shop, I have to admit that it took me a long time to get a feel for how it all worked, so this can be a real time saver since she sets it all out for her readers. Generally, I found her approach very helpful, again especially for anyone very new to Etsy or selling on line. One little thing I would have liked to see added were photographs. For example, in the section on “Perfecting Your Photography,” it would have been nice to see examples of good and bad photographs.

If you have been thinking of opening an Etsy shop but had problems understanding where to begin, then this book could get you started in the right direction.

New Web Crafting Ventures

Blogged under Around the Web, Craft Classes, Crafting a Career by Tammy on Monday 17 September 2012 at 9:24 am

Crafting continues to be a pretty big business, especially on the Internet where all kinds of start ups are popping up lately. Here are a few new ones I have seen that you might want to explore.

First, there is CraftArtEdu. It is a combination on-line community and educational portal where members can connect with each other and also sign up for web-based craft classes. Right now, the classes are divided up into polymer clay, fiber, jewelry, fine art, and other media. It is free to join, and the cost of classes range from free to in the hundreds of dollars. There are lots and lots of classes, and you can preview a class before purchasing it.

Then I received an email about Creating a Craft Business. This new site is the vision of Clare Yarwood-White, who has run a successful bridal jewelry business for many years. Along with free information available on this new weblog, she also offers workshops in the UK and also provides mentoring services.

What Makes for a Good Craft Podcast…IMHO

Blogged under Around the Web, Crafting a Career by Tammy on Monday 27 December 2010 at 5:48 am

Since being home on my holiday vacation, I have been catching up on some of my favorite craft podcasts. One reason I like podcasts (over videos for example) is that I can listen while I’m crafting. I can keep my eyes on my work and still learn some interesting and entertaining craft information at the same time.

If you look at my sidebar links, you’ll see I have a list of craft related podcasts, and I’m always looking to add more if you know of any good ones (feel free to add links in the comments). Of this list, there are two that especially stand out to me as being the ones I seem to enjoy the most, Crafty Pod and Yarn Craft.

Let me preface this with the fact that I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into producing a podcast, and I am by no means a expert. However….I have listened to a lot of them and notice that sometimes I can’t get myself to finish listening to one podcast while other podcasts make me come back for more. So here are my podcasts dislikes and likes.

Dislikes -

  • Unorganized or rambling - Sometimes the speaker seems to have very little idea of what he or she will talk about and will just ramble about all kinds of topics, sometimes related to crafts and sometimes not.
  • Way, way off topic - This is kind of related to the above point. While I don’t need every single word said to be just about crafts, I think the primary focus should be about crafting, not the speaker’s garden or new shoes or whatever.
  • Too much personal info - Again, this is related to my previous points. Unless I am closely related to the speaker, I am only interested to a certain point about his or her personal life. Yes, I like to hear about new craft projects under way or some kind of craft related trip taken or even something cute a pet or child has done, but keep it short and sweet and get to the point of the podcast.
  • Ummm…er…um…well…ugh - Like, be careful about, like, how you talk, you know, like, man

Likes -

  • Themes - For me, a well-organized podcast often has some kind of theme or main idea. This is usually mentioned in the show notes, which is nice since I can read these first and decide if it’s a show I want to listen to or not. Crafty Pod and Yarn Craft always do this and even have very specific topic-related titles.
  • Good show notes - Related to the previous point, I love to have links and photos and other related information included in the show notes so I can refer to these either while I am listening or afterward.
  • A clear conversation - Yarn Craft has an advantage because it has two hosts, Liz and Zontee, and they actually talk to one another during the podcast, thus creating a real conversation. Sister Diane is very well-spoken and is clearly thinking about what she says to you, the listener. Neither of these podcasts ramble, but they don’t feel overly rehearsed either.
  • Not all about them - Good podcasts should have a balance between feeling connected to the hosts, which requires knowing about them personally to some extent, but not feeling like the speakers areĀ  just talking to hear themselves yap. Yes, these are often people who are standouts in their crafting field. Maybe they have books published, sell patterns, are total experts in the topic, but if they have a guest on, then the conversation should focus primarily on what the guest has to offer to the podcast listeners.

Feel free to offer your own likes and dislikes as well as list the URLs of any podcasts that you enjoy listening to.

Summer Vacation in Review

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Finished Projects, etsy by Tammy on Wednesday 23 June 2010 at 3:39 pm


I return to teaching this week, so while technically summer just started, for me it is no longer summer vacation mode. On the bright side, summer is pretty sleepy around campus, even when classes are going on. It is nothing like fall semester which is pretty crazy. Thus, I’ll be easing back into the daily work of grading papers, conducting class, and working on new ideas for next semester.

I always feel like I have to accomplish something when I have a chunk of time off from school, and for the most part, I think I did during my break:

  • I crocheted another blanket for my crazy dogs, and so far, it is getting the puppy thumbs up.
  • I went on a short cruise to the Bahamas and made my mom happy for a few days, and I learned that I’m not a cruise kind of gal.
  • I manage to get a few books read: Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, and I’m close to finishing The True History of Paradise: A Novel.
  • I created a series of jewelry making kits, all earrings, and so far have variations of 3 (tutorial only, supplies only, and full kit including supplies & tutorial) listed in my Etsy shop. In fact, my shop had literally about 3 things listed around early May, and now not only have I increased my listings to 49, but I have re-shot tons of photos, gotten a new banner, and generally have it in much better shape.
Sparkling Star Wire Earrings Jewelry Kit
Sparkling Star Wire Earrings Jewelry Kit

Jewelry Kits Under Wraps, Spilling the Beans

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Crafty Biz, Crafty Products, Projects in Progress by Tammy on Tuesday 8 June 2010 at 5:05 pm

I have been working on a new jewelry related project during my summer vacation, and until I got to a certain point of completion, I didn’t feel comfortable discussing it here. However, I have made some major progress and see my vision coming clearer ever day, so I finally decided to spill the beans, at least some of them.

Drum roll please…Tammy Powley (aka the Crafty Princess) will soon be offering jewelry kits for sale. This is a project that I have been dreaming about for way too long and decided to just buckle down and do it this summer.

Of course, it has been way more work than I expected. For example, my husband is helping me with the photographs since it is basically impossible to take photos of your hands making jewelry since, well, you need your hands to operate the camera. On our first photo shoot, he asked me how many photos I thought we would need to take. This shoot was for two of the kits, so I said well, maybe two dozen pictures or a tad more than that. How many did we end up taking? More like 100 pictures!

When I get further along, I will reveal more details about the designs I’ve created for the kits, but for now, I can say that I’m just starting with a small number to test the waters. My vision for the kits I think are a little different than what I’ve seen available so far. In fact, I’ve been pretty surprised at what I’ve seen as far as kits in general. My goals when putting together the designs for each kit include the following (in no particular order of importance):

  • Use quality materials, some of which are not available at the average craft shop
  • Develop a “class in a kit” approach where each kit covers specific skills
  • Provide step-by-step instructions tailored for each specific kit
  • Incorporate high-resolution photographs for each tutorial that accompanies each kit
  • Generally create kits that are appealing to beginners but also appeal to intermediate level jewelry makers
  • Offer convenience to buyers, no going to the craft store, bead shop, or ordering a huge list of supplies on-line.

I’m really hoping I get these all together and ready to announce properly, yes, with lots of fan fair, press releases, and Hollywood parties (okay, maybe not a party but you get the picture) by the time I start back to school, which is (yikes!) only a few weeks away. So stay tuned!

Photo Background Eureka Moment

Blogged under Crafting a Career, etsy by Tammy on Thursday 3 June 2010 at 4:23 pm

One of the issues I have had with getting my Etsy shop in order is trying to create some kind of cohesiveness, and photographs have a lot to do with that. If you are listing 50 items in your shop and have photographs with 50 different backgrounds, that is not exactly cohesive. However, since I’m selling mainly jewelry supplies along with some finished jewelry pieces, I have a real mix of materials, from metal to glass to crystal. What looks good for the background of a sterling silver tree charm doesn’t necessarily look that great behind a bead mix of lampwork, crystal, and seed beads.

I’ve been trying a zillion different backgrounds and canvasing everyone fromĀ  Twitter to Facebook to my blogging buds about their opinions. I’ve posted on the Etsy forums too. Of course, the more people you ask the more opinions you get, not all of which agree with each other!

Finally after probably over-thinking this way more than necessary, I came up with a compromise that I hope will help give me the put-together look I’m going for but accommodate all the different materials in the shop: black, gray, and white, all with slight textures to them. These neutral colors look good together and don’t fight with the colors of the materials either. So everyone can play nice!

Now I have the monumental task of retaking many of the photos I already have in my shop, which now has 45 items for sale, the most I have ever managed to get listed in there. But it feels good to have some kind of direction now, and I think, I hope, my photos are getting a little better as well.

Jewelry Time Clean Up

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Sunday 9 May 2010 at 4:59 pm

After working away on my jewelry, writing up some projects for my About.com site, and loading up new items to my Etsy shop, I realized that this place has gotten, well, shall we say, a tad on the messy side? So yesterday I started cleaning and reorganizing a little around here. Luckily, I did most of my major studio reorganization last summer, so now when things get out of control, I can at least just put everything back in order, dust, and I’m ready to go!

Ah, this is soooo much better; don’t you think?!

Seriously, when I have a clean and organized space to work in, I seem to get so much more done. The hardest part of getting organized in the first place is stopping and just doing it.

Tips for Crafting a Business

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Crafty Biz by Tammy on Wednesday 21 April 2010 at 6:32 am

Victoria Tillotson sent me a link to this interesting article on The Entreprenette Gazette, “The One Tip that Changed my Business.” (You will find Victoria listed there in tip number 6). The article includes 67 different tips from small business owners - many of them in craft related business such as making jewelry and other accessories. Participants were asked what one piece of advice they would give or have been given that when followed changed their business (for the better I’m sure). If you have been thinking about expanding your crafting business from your kitchen table to maybe a department store, you might find some of these tips helpful, or at least worth getting your wheels turning in the right direction.

Etsy 101 Help

Blogged under Crafting a Career, etsy by Tammy on Thursday 15 April 2010 at 5:45 pm

I have been crazy busy since school started back up this week, so I’m just kind of throwing this out there for you to catch. You may want to bookmark it for later even, but someone else passed on an awesome Etsy link to me called The Etsy Seller Handbook. I wanted to return the favor to all crafters out there who have been thinking of trying Etsy on for size but have zero clue about how to get started.

Encouragement from the Jewelry Trenches

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Jewelry Designers/Artists by Tammy on Wednesday 24 February 2010 at 5:30 pm

Included on my “after the book is done to-do list” is to resuscitate my poor little (sad) Etsy shop. I think I’ve got something like 3 things in it right now! But, it takes time if you want to make a go of anything, especially a business. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother when I have so little time to devote to it and there are so, so, so many jewelry people over there.

Then I read one of the latest “Quit Your Day Job” articles, and I realize that yes, it does take time to develop a successful shop over there (as in it’s not going to happen over night, folks) and yes, it can actually be worth it if I ever do find the time. This series is always enjoyable and informative, but one of the more recent additions is even more so because it features a jewelry designer, yeah!

K. Gardner Designs talks about how she started with just a small investment and eventually turned her jewelry business into a full-time gig. As of this post, she boasts an impressive 1,838 sales, and her membership dates back to January 2008 (which may or may not be the date she started her shop since many members, like myself, open accounts but not necessary shops right after joining).

One detail that I noticed after taking a look at her shop is that like many of the more successful Etsy shops, K. Gardner’s shop is very focused on a specific style. She has a niche, a look, a signature if you will: “Chic Jewelry for Bridal and Everyday” is how she puts it. She isn’t all over the road trying to sell 10 different styles of jewelry or even a mix of crafts for that matter. In fact, I know some Etsy members will open more than one shop just so that they can create a niche feel to each one.

This idea of “niche” is something I’m still trying to figure out myself over there, so perhaps that is why it was so noticeable to me. I like to make so many different types of jewelry as well as other crafts that finding one focus has been difficult. For writing, being all over the road trying all types of techniques has worked for me because it means I have more to write about. However, a clear focus is really something I think is important if you are trying to stand out in a sea of other crafts in a network as large as Etsy.

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