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.

Wholesale Earring Kits Bundle

Blogged under Jewelry Designing, etsy by Tammy on Friday 3 May 2013 at 11:38 am

ONE!

TWO!


Sparkling Star Wire Earrings Jewelry Kit

THREE!

You can now purchase three of my Crafty Princess Earring kits at the wholesale price. I have bundled them together to create this wholesale earring kit package. The three kits include all the materials required to make three different pair of earrings, three full-color PDF file tutorials, and three gift boxes. All of this including shipping for only $30!

These same earring kits have sold retail at a major web-based jewelry supplier for $15 each, and that does not include shipping.

Head over to my Etsy shop now, and take advantage of this limited time wholesale earring kit collection offer!

Christmas Is Here, Time to Freak Out!

Blogged under Crafty Products, etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 29 November 2011 at 6:11 pm

I made a short road trip and visited with some of my family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Of course, Christmas plans had to come up, and as we started discussing who was going where and what and when, I realized that my plans for making all my holiday gifts may have been a tad lofty. A few problems have come up that I had not anticipated.

First, school is ending a lot later this semester for whatever reason. Normally, I would put in grades and be gone for vacation between the 8th and 10th of December. Now grades are due the 12th, and I’ll be hanging around going to meetings (oh, joy) until the 15th.

Then top that with the fact that some of my family is going to leave a few days after this to visit with other family and thus require an early Christmas with them before they go, and I’m shall we say….screwed!

I had the idea that I would have a few weeks before Christmas to crank on the gift making, but I may have two days if I’m lucky. I have to say that I have done some gift making, but I’m not in a comfort zone as yet, so in comes plan B: Etsy.com. If I don’t have time to make the gift, at least I can find some hand-made goodies made by someone who does have the time.

I ended up doing com cyber shopping this past weekend, and now I feel way less pressure. If I make a few gifts to go with my Etsy purchase, great. If I don’t have the time, no biggie. The presents I did get will be great all on their own, and oh, how I would love to show off what I got! But, my lips and blog have to stay zipped for awhile because some certain people on my gift list might read about themselves, and that would ruin the surprise.

Hello Etsy in September

Blogged under etsy by Tammy on Monday 1 August 2011 at 7:00 am

Admittedly, I have not done much with my Crafty Princess Etsy Shop in some time. With summer school here and fall semester looming and everything else I’ve got going on, the store will have to continue to limp along for awhile. However, I still get email from Etsy, and one recently jumped out at me, not because I could actually participate in this event but because if I could I totally would!

In September 17 and 18, 2011, Hello Etsy will hit the Internet via streaming video and, of course, be conducted in the real world at the same time. In fact, “world” is a good location to give it because while the main event will be in Berlin, Germany, there will be similar ones all over the world. The website describes Hello Etsy as “A Summit on Small Business and Sustainability is a hands-on gathering for small business owners who want to connect with their peers, learn the skills to find success and independence, and be part of the movement to build human-scale economies.”

I am always amazed at the cool events and ideas that continue to come from Etsy. This is just another one to add to the list. I’d love to hear from anyone who plans to attending one of these events.

Gift of Crafting for Mom

Blogged under etsy by Tammy on Friday 6 May 2011 at 12:58 pm

I’m not just a seller at Etsy; I very often buy items over there too. And that is right where I went to first when I decided to get mom some crafting supplies. Like myself, my mother is into crafting, and she added jewelry making to her list this past year. This has actually made it easier than ever to buy gifts for her since I know as a fellow jewelry maker that there are all kinds of great gifts to buy for her like tools and supplies. For this Mother’s Day, I purchased a number of vintage charms in lots of 10 to 20 from an Etsy seller called DIY Closet, and I plan to split them up with her, some for me and some for her.

For those of us with crafty mothers, rather than make her something this Mother’s day consider buying her supplies for her favorite form of crafting. Or, you can always get gift certificates too, and those are super easy to mail as well.

Pretty Kindle Cover

Blogged under Crafty Products, Sew Simple, etsy by Tammy on Thursday 4 November 2010 at 4:25 pm

When I purchased my precious Kindle, one item I thought about was the cover. Amazon has tons of them, but they are pricey and boring to boot. I went ahead and ordered my Kindle with the idea that I would make my own cover, but then it occurred to me that I should also check Etsy to see if anyone over there made them already.

Sure, at some point I could make one myself, but right now I don’t have the time, and I wanted to be able to bring my Kindle with me wherever I go and keep it protected. Plus, as a seller on Etsy I also try to support other sellers whenever possible, and voila, I found the perfect Kindle cover over at Dana Designs. I love the material on this one because it has a classic look to it and sort of matches my taste in reading the classics as well. I also like how this has a flap. I saw tons of them over there, but this design stood out to me.

The screen on a Kindle definitely needs some protection if you plan to tote yours around, so do a search on “kindle covers” over at Etsy to find out lots of pretty covers to choose from.

New & Renewed Jewelry Items in My Etsy Shop

Blogged under etsy by Tammy on Saturday 9 October 2010 at 8:52 am

50th Etsy Sale, My Learning Curve

Blogged under Crafty Biz, etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 24 August 2010 at 11:14 am

Recently, I chalked up sale number 50 in the Crafty Princess Shop over at Etsy. For me, I find this a significant number. While I have¬† been an Etsy member since spring of 2006, I didn’t open a shop until a few years later in April 2008. Even then, I was just testing the waters and trying to learn more about how it all works. I was not seriously intent on trying to sell that much. Since I write about jewelry making and many jewelry people sell over there, I knew it was important to be part of the conversation. This was my primary incentive for finally opening a shop over there.


As it turned out, sales did trickle in, even when I was not actively promoting it. Some how or another, people found me, friends purchased items, and so on, and I did make a few sales over time, nothing huge but some sales at least.

This trickling in of sales made me realize that, gee, if I actually had time maybe I could make a go of this shop. I knew I didn’t have the time to go crazy over there, but if I could at least get the shop looking better, more listings, etc., then maybe I could get some semi-steady sales from it. So, that’s what I decided to do over my summer break from my teaching job this year.

I think the time I spent on it has paid off to a certain extent. Since May 8, 2010, when I started concentrating on my shop make-over, I have made 22 sales. Before that I had made 28 from March 2008 to January 2010. That means in 4 months I came pretty close to making the same number of sales I had made in almost two years.

Looking back, here are a few things I feel I learned that helped me:

  • Take critiques with a grain of salt. There is a critiques folder on the Etsy forum, and I have had a number of Etsians give me their 25 cents over there. Some of it has been really helpful, like when I got a big thumbs down on my banner. Some of it, well, not so much. For example, one recent suggestion was that I accept alchemy requests, which means you agree to make customized items for people.¬† Special orders take a great deal of time, which I don’t have, so that’s why I didn’t include that on my shop. Obviously, this person who suggested it wouldn’t know that.
  • Learn by looking. This is a little related to my previous lesson above. While people can tell you their opinions, I think you can learn much more by looking around Etsy (or whatever network you may be a part of) and taking note of successful shops. In fact, many of those who will give you critique suggestions aren’t necessarily burning it up in sales. Sure, things like photos are really important, but they are not the end all be all. I found plenty of successful shops that had one or two clear photos and that’s it. They aren’t some super fancy artistic artwork, just a clear photo of the product.
  • Success is relative. For me, a few sales a week would be what I consider successful (repeat, for me). I have a job, actually two jobs. I just want to make a little extra income from my shop. Also, there are lots of Etsy shops that have high sales, but when you look at their products, they are super low end as far as prices. Selling $1 items, even if you sell hundreds of them, well, is not a huge amount of money considering all the time you have to put in to list them.
  • Good photos do help. While I said previously that they don’t have to necessarily be perfect, still, you want clear photos of your work. You are asking someone to buy an item from you, and other than your textual description, all they have to base their purchasing decision on is a photograph. I spent a crazy amount of time working on getting my photographs clearer, better, etc., and they still aren’t necessarily perfect, but they are so much better.
  • Describe what the heck it is! I buy on Etsy too now and then, and boy, I’m amazed at how many sellers will have their super long, drawn-out stories about a product but almost no basic information: What are the materials it is made of? How big is it? Where did it come from? Don’t just tell me the earrings have pink beads. Are they plastic, wood, stone, crystal? I would rather know that the earrings I’m looking at are made of sterling silver and are 2 inches long than read a stupid story about how some fairy came down and inspired the artist to make them.
  • Have a decent selection. I don’t know what the magic number is for me or anyone else for that matter, but I can say that the more I have in my shop, the more I have available to buy. I’m not talking about a thousand items, but if you only have 10 listings, then you don’t have much there for people to look at or buy. If a person only has 10 items to look at, I would think that’s going to be a very brief trip to your store.
  • Define your shop the best you can. Most of the shops I find that have high sales seem to have a clear focus about what the shop is all about, a kind of personality to it. I don’t necessarily think you have to be super quirky, like one shop I found that sells women’s silk screened panties, but I do admit that when you go to a shop like that, there is no doubt about what the product is. She clearly has a strong focus and is doing well with her product line. For me, I try to focus on jewelry products: kits, tutorials, supplies, and finished jewelry. Sure, I crochet, but it would just not fit in to have my crocheted baby hats in there.
  • Price it right. I’m still working on this, but after making a few low-end sales, I realized that it is not worth my time to sell a $2 bead, pack it, and drive to the post office, even if I do add shipping and packaging costs to each sale. The PIA factor alone, for me, is not worth it. I sill have some low-end items in my shop, but as I list and relist, I try to make sure that my prices are at least within the $10 range. This may mean combining items, like creating a bead assortment rather than selling one or two beads alone.
  • Promote yourself. You don’t want your friends and family to run the other way when they see you, but do not expect the network housing your shop to promote you. Have business cards handy to pass out. Include a link to your shop in your email signature. If you blog, well, blog about it. Use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Twitpic. I can testify that it does bring in sales. How many sales? I can’t say for sure, but I have had the occasional immediate sale after mentioning a new listing on Facebook and Twitter.

Fused Glass Earrings

Blogged under etsy by Tammy on Saturday 21 August 2010 at 5:51 pm

Fused Glass Post Earrings

Fused Glass Post Earrings

I scratched out a little Etsy time this weekend, though I probably should be doing other things, sigh! I managed to sell a few items from my shop over the last week or so, which brought my item listings down below the 50 mark, and heck, I just really want to keep 50 items in there because I think the more you have the more you sell. So, here is one of the items added today, Fused Dichroic Glass and See Bead Post Earrings.

Tag It, Tag It, Tag It on Etsy

Blogged under Crafty Biz, etsy by Tammy on Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 7:56 am


While I don not have the time now that I did earlier this summer to devote to my Crafty Princess Etsy Shop, I have been trying to keep up with it so that it does not turn into the shop with 3 things in it like it was earlier this summer! I sell an item now and then and do my best to relist and add new items. I also keep an eye on the Etsy forums and read helpful articles over there as well.

One issue that I see often popping up is the use of tags when listing an item in a shop. The Etsy forums have a “critique” folder, and while it is so busy that it may be impossible to get seen at times in that folder, I try to help out when I can. I’m not an expert, mind you, but I feel I know more than the average newbie. Tags seems to be one of the major things I see that newbies are not very savvy about.

To make a comparison to writing on the web, “tags” are like the key words or meta information. They help get the attention of those who are using a search tool to find a product. For example, if I list a pair of earrings in my shop, then I want to be sure to not only use the word “earrings” in the title, but I want to make sure that word is listed in my tags as well. There are 14 tags, and it is very important to use them all. When a potential buyer is looking for something, she will go to the search box on Etsy and type in words like “gold earrings.” If you don’t have these key words listed in your tags, she won’t find you.

So tag, tag, tag, and try to use words that properly describe your products. To help break down this important topic even more, I suggest reading this article in the Storque area of Etsy, Seller How-To: Tag-o-rama With Descriptive Keywords. Another thing I have found helpful to get the brain thinking about tags is to cruise around the Etsy network and look at other shops and the tags they use, especially shops that have high sales numbers.

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