July 23, 2014

7 EtsyTips and Suggestions

Hey everyone! You know how you stumble onto something that just works? Perhaps you learned the hard way (losing those car keys every morning?) until you worked a plan that worked! I now have a key bowl...yes a bowl that holds keys...it works.

Well now that I am in my young 50's I have found a few ideas regarding Etsy that I wanted to share in hopes it would help someone. Help that I  would have appreciated that goes beyond the Etsy Seller's Handbook. But of course this is not a comprehensive list...just my list!

A few years ago I agonizingly opened an Etsy shop with hopes of selling a few items. I didn't have the foggiest idea of what I was doing.... It seemed logical to open a shop on Etsy, since I loved to sew and create. And other people were doing it.

I did my homework...which is essential when opening up an Etsy shop. How to's, listing items, the best header...what was a header? A header is what buyers see when they visit your shop...it should be captivating! Should be...

 It all seemed more than I could do...but I just had to do it. It took me 8 hours to figure out how to make a header...my son walked by and suggested that I 'Google' how to make a header. Voila, I found directions somewhere on a random blog and in 30 minutes (after the 7.5 hours frustrated nightmare) created a header.
I used PicMonkey for resizing the image above.

I began Googling (apparently this is a common used term) how to list items in Etsy, how to use key words, how to boost traffic, how much to charge for shipping, and get more sales...etc. 
gives VERY EASY DIRECTIONS how to do all of this!

It is worth the read...I gave myself 30-60 minutes a day to read articles, I cut out a couple of TV shows to make time for my new project. I even printed some articles off so I could read them while taking kids to games, doctor's appointments, etc.

All I wanted to do was sell a few table runners and little beds for dollhouses! Come on how hard could this be?

So I continued to read articles how to do things...I would try them until I succeeded. 
I did not let frustration determine my destiny!!!!
I will never forget the (now embarrassing memory) HAPPY DANCE that I did when I sold my first Christmas snowmen. 

I closed the deal and had to call everyone to let them know of my success!

I made a couple of little comforters and sheet sets for dollhouse beds...
took hours to make, then take the picture..
then list the items...

I was exhausted!
It all sold in 2 hours...
I decided to make 4 of everything...
within a week it had all sold, and I had 2 customers asking for special orders!
I was exhausted!

So here we go...my 5 Etsy tips
Stay with me...
1. GIVE YOURSELF 6 MONTHS...JUST try it.......and just try the Etsy business game plan. Make something you love, that you enjoy making, and make a few! Try to come up with 10-15 items. Again, give yourself time to make items and then sell them. There are no hoops you are jumping through. This is for you. 

When you are on the Etsy site, type in the name of items that are similar to what you want to make. See what others have made, and what they are selling these items for. You may be pleasantly surprised at the amount they sell something for, and you may realize you could make something similar...maybe even better...but be gentle on yourself. 

Once you have made some items...write down a description of the item, what supplies you used and keywords for the item( I use some 5x7 index cards and keep them in alphabetical order so I can use them again or add ideas to them)  Next you will take a picture for your listing.

This is a brief idea of what I write in a listing.
For example:
Shabby style miniature size quilt(1:12 scale)and doll bed. Wouldn't your little doll love to crawl into bed at night and snuggle with this quilt?  Bedding has been made with a  Shabby style feel. Bedding includes: newly made mattress, flat sheet, blanket, ruffled comforter, 2 pillow shams, 2 pillowcases with 2 pillow inserts and accent pillow. Bed has been painted, but was not made by me.
Materials and Supplies used......
Keywords: Miniature, dollhouse, doll bed, miniature quilt, polyester stuffing.....
2. TAKE a picture...make it a good picture. If the item you have made is nice, lovely to look at, and a wonderful item then the picture needs to be equally nice, lovely to look at and a wonderful picture.
I don't have a fancy camera but I work on taking good pictures with good light.
Make sure that the picture does not have alien items in it...bottles of Aspirin, rolls of toilet paper in the corner or a stack of bills, loads of laundry, etc. Just saying'...
You are going for a feeling, that you want the buyer to have as they look at your item.

I sell doll beds, miniatures, and other little items. The background of my pictures usually compliments the items I am trying to sell.

3. Once the pictures are taken, package your item and label it for your own personal help. This will help you find it when it sells.  I use post it notes with the name of the item put inside a Ziploc bag or baggie with the items. I also use this same name in my Etsy listing when I put it up for sale so there is no confusion(e.g.. Cottage Style Miniature Fried Pies Prep Board). Yep those are little fried pies above in the picture. I knew you knew that.

Your picture should be as pretty as the item you are selling.

4. Store like or similar items together in a water proof tub or bin, that is just used for Etsy items.

My sewing room just flooded last night, it is near our laundry room. In fact my kitchen, laundry room. bathroom and sewing room all flooded due to a broken water pipe. But the majority of my Etsy items in my sewing room are stored in bins, so they weren't ruined even though the walls and floors were.

Label your bins to help yourself when looking for an item that has sold.
I get bins that are about 8"wide x 11"long  x 6" to 10" deep. They stack on each other about 6-7 high. I get them from Walmart and they have lime green handles that snap the lid and container together. They work really well for me....they are not heavy, easy to move, easy to stack, and easy to see through and they are reasonable priced. I buy two every time I go get groceries.
And best of all they are waterproof!

I have bins for the following items. 
To be painted items:
Miniature chairs, hutches, beds, tables.

Once they are painted they are separated into separate bins... Food prep boards like the one above...chairs, hutches, beds, tables.

I may set up an entire room in a dollhouse using several of these items, but until the are finished they stay safely in bins. 
I have had too many things left out and broken by little ones or sat on by big ones! Hahahaha....and yes it has happened.
If I use a bed, I will make little mattresses, sheets, comforters, blankets, pillows, etc. Once I am finished with lets say a bed...then the finished item or items are then placed protectively in a Ziploc bag with the post it note.  I now have a larger inventory, so I separate finished items in bins by category...and holidays.

5. Respond immediately to customers' questions, input, requests. I always tell people I am HAPPY to help them. If I don't know the answer I do not say 'I don't know', I tell customers I am not sure but I will find out. Talk to your customers the way you would want to be spoken to. Be polite and respectful even if you disagree. I have a personal standard that if a customer is unhappy with something that I have made...for example a custom order where they don't see the finished product until I have made it...I tell them to send it back to me and I am happy to make another item that will be more tailored to what they want. I pay the additional shipping too. It has happened twice in several hundred orders, but both customers have ended up being repeat customers. They wanted doll bedding that fit and apparently not all doll (American Girl Doll) beds are made the same size!

I try to make a customer's shopping experience through Etsy and with me a positive one, knowing that if I am successful on my end, they will probably come back to purchase again.

6. KEEP POSTAL RECEIPTS:This one I just learned due to a package loss. I save every Postal receipt and use an accordion file folder that has the months listed on the sections. After I have mailed packages, I have a small zippered makeup bag in my purse just for saving these receipts. I then take them and put them in my accordion file folder in the month that the package was mailed. This is a must! Sometimes things don't arrive when they should. 
Tracking is $1.05 extra, so I don't usually use tracking especially if my item is under $25.00 or more. If the buyer is buying more than $50.00 from me I suggest that they pay the extra for the tracking, and let them decide. Usually they want to. $1.05 is not that much for one customer, but for you if you are sending out 50-100 packages a month it adds up.
With the receipts you are able to see the location the package was sent to and the expected delivery date. This always reassures the customer that it has been sent and it will get there.
I have had packages though that have taken upwards of 2 weeks to arrive...and no known reason. Address was correct, and so was postage. I usually use 1st class postage and Priority for most packages.

7. ADVERTISE: IT IS UP TO YOU.  You can pay for advertising on Etsy, which is my biggest source of buyers, so it makes sense to use their advertising.  But you can also post a picture of your newly listed item on Facebook, Instagram,  Flickr, Pinterest, FOR FREE! Let people see what you are making. A picture never shoves anything down someones' throat. I do one picture a day on my social media. I don't blab a lot...just one sentence usually is enough.

I am sure there are more lists and guidelines from Etsy sellers who have thousands of sales. 
                             (pie anyone?)
                       miniature of course....

I have a small shop, it is just me doing the work...

but I have never been happier doing what I am doing and working on! 
And yes I started while I was working another job....

It is worth it to work through the frustration of figuring out how to do it! I really don't think you will regret it.


May 26, 2014

Red, Whites and Blues-Outdoor Decorating and more

Happy Memorial Day to Everyone. My  father was part of the Air Force group...very proud of him in so many ways. Thank you dad for faithful service to our country.

We are enjoying family, friends, food....festivities today and I hope you are having a lovely celebration in honor of our wonderful Military.
I love red white and blue...
all of it.
I have been working full time creating little miniatures....
along with home pictures of my real home below here is some miniature eye candy!

 Prep table @ https://www.etsy.com/shop/RibbonwoodCottage

 Quilt Hutch with little tiny pieces of quilts from my collection of quilt pieces.

Now my real home...pictures from the last few Memorial Day Celebrations...

 I cut out slices of melons and then used star cookie cutters to cut pieces out!

 My favorite celebration included nieces and nephews, so we pulled out the vintage stove...added buckets of candy, trays of little cupcakes...it was a festive occasion!

Blessings to all!

April 15, 2014

Happy Days..Loving Creating...and Blogging

Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

Since I started blogging in 2008 I have looked at thousands of blogs...
Women who are amazing at everything you could think of.
I kept thinking...I know how to sew....

But I wished I could decorate, own a business, a vintage shop, or maybe design jewelry....no?
I just keep thinking...all I know how to do is sew! 

Hahaha...sewing seemed a bit boring when looking at blogs where the women seem to have entire staffs helping them 
paint, wallpaper, 
spray paint, beadboard their walls....
and create delicious meals while 
posting on their blogs daily!

I love making little quilts, throws. different bedding sets. 
All of them for dolls of every size. I decided that I love to sew and I wanted to open an Etsy shop and just try my hand at the Etsy business. 
Etsy has an online handbook how to do everything so why not!

Blogging has led me to meet several wonderful people...which encouraged me to step out in faith so to speak and do something I just love...
if they could do it, surely I could try!

So  little by little I started a business... and I am now sewing doll bedding, making miniatures, creating little things...https://www.etsy.com/shop/RibbonwoodCottage
And I am loving it.
I create doll bedding, little quilts and sheet sets.
I do custom orders for people who want me to use the fabric their designer used when decorating their little girl's room, and make doll bedding to match!
My favorite is to use vintage fabrics, sheets, laces...etc....
Floral and cottage style fabrics make the sweetest little patchwork quilts.
 Blythe dolls have quite a following....they love comfy bedding too!

I've made doll bedding for people all around the world, and they send me pictures of their dolls sleeping on the bedding. One gal from Australia sent me a picture of her CATS sleeping on the French inspired linen comforters I created with pillows and shams....yes it was for them!

 I get inspired by looking at vintage bedding, Pottery Barn bedding, Pinterest decorating boards-Bedrooms, blogs.

 American Girl Dolls Bedding....I get new ideas every day. I told my husband I needed some staff...you know to get the housework and bills done. Mr. Farmer just rolled his eyes...so I did the dishes anyway! hahahaha

I am also taking care of my little 86 year old mother, so I needed to quit my job and be home. 

All I could think of was...
I know how to sew....
so I started sewing.

I had an offer from a doll company to create for them and they would sell my doll bedding...which was exciting...but they wanted rights to all of MY DESIGNS...
So I graciously said no.
We will see where this next year leads.
But I feel like I am on to something.

In the next few weeks I am going to start sharing some of my Etsy ideas...and things I do that helped me and maybe can help someone too.
Stay tuned!

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