About Me

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About Me: I am the creative person behind Ribbonwood Cottage. A mother, wife and grandmother. My goal in life is to leave a lasting legacy to my family that life is incredible. God gave us this one life and it is worth the journey! A believer. A pianist, church music and worship director. Focused on intentionally living the best life possible.

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.