Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Evening With Etsy

I apologize in advance for this term paper of a post, but I had a very nice evening that I’d like to share with you. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I love Etsy. I have two Etsy shops, The Soap Seduction and The Decadent Flame. I am a member of We Love Etsy. I am a member of Etsy sellers who blog. If you have no clue what Etsy is, click here to learn and discover.

Last evening, I had the pleasure of meeting some fellow, local Etsians along with two of Etsy’s admin folks, (Beth and forgive me but your name escapes me, but you were very sweet) at the Washington Hilton in midtown D.C. I was only too excited when I received a convo last week inviting me to join them for a little fun and camaraderie. Our group was very diverse in terms of our craft. We had almost every major category covered: bath and beauty, candles, paper, jewelry, art/sculpture, knitting/crochet, glass, and beading.

Our discussion mainly focused on our experiences (good and/or bad) with Etsy, what we like or dislike about Etsy, and how the site could be improved. I immediately jumped in and said what I love about Etsy is that you have a built-in audience. There’s no need to drive people to your site because they’re already there-24/7. The downside to that is of course you’re competing with a thousand other artists who make the same or similar product as you, but that’s the glory of handmade-no two items are exactly the same! One of the artists said he could not stand the forums and he avoids them like the plague. Another artist commented about how user-friendly the site was. Another said she loved The Storque. You get the picture. There were also some interesting suggestions about how Etsy could be improved. Of course I had to jump in (again) and say that I’d like the option to change my shop’s name without having to close it altogether. By having to close your shop, you lose valuable marketing tools like your customer rating, your sales figures, and your client feedback. Another really good suggestion was having pre-made templates to list and store your product descriptions. I really love this one. It would be a time saver and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to include valuable information about your item. Another good suggestion was being auto-notified when you are featured in a Treasury or when you make the front page of Etsy. Two more really good suggestions were auto re-listing an item once it sells, and being able to program items for future listings. Trust me; the admins were vigorously writing down all of our thoughts and concerns.

Here’s my personal take on Etsy: It’s a great forum to showcase your handmade treasures and to meet and network with other artists, but as a soap and candle maker, I cannot depend on it to make me successful or financially independent. It’s difficult to make a presence or stand out because there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of soapers and chandlers on Etsy who make the same or similar item, use the same scents that you do, and oft times, the same ingredients you do. Unless you master the Etsy shuffle, you won’t make many sales. What’s the Etsy shuffle? It’s a term I just coined to describe the process and the time it takes to master the Etsy phenomenon and to be a successful Etsy seller. I came away with a lot of valuable information last night, and the one thing I learned is selling on Etsy is a science (this was not said, but implied to a degree.) This means studying who and where your buyers are from. Participating and posting on forums frequently, listing at certain hours or days of the week, attracting international clients, and pricing your products and shipping to sell. Sounds like anything a hardworking business person would do right? Sure. But when you’re competing with hundreds of others in the same field as you, it makes the process a little more challenging.

So I leave you with this: I still love Etsy. It’s a great community of crafters, and the buyers are truly lovers of everything handmade. They are excited to buy from you and they truly appreciate the time and effort that you put into your craft, but I personally cannot depend on Etsy to sell a lot of product. I just don’t have the time to put into reading all the forums and commenting on topics, etc. For those who “Etsy” full time, I salute you! Maybe I’ll get there one day. Please check out these local Washington, DC Etsy artists:

Shoo Fly
A Stitch To Wear

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