Monday, 31 March 2008

March Roundup

March turned out to be my most successful month on Etsy. This came as a total shock to me, as I completely ignored Etsy for the first two weeks as I frantically crafted for my first craft fair. Here's how the monthly stats come out:
Sales: 15
New hearts: 60
Hearts:Sales ratio: 4
I think that the hearts:sales ratio is really interesing - it's actually pretty low. I used to do a lot of pimping my work in the promos forums, and whilst that got me a lot of hearts and views, it didn't actually get me sales, and so I stopped.
Given that I had such a successful month, what was I doing differently?
1. Better photos. I have gotten very picky about my photos. Even the ones I'm currently using, I'm not completely happy with them. I've started only shooting in natural light in the morning (I've been late to work a couple of times taking advantage of the rare sunny days in Edinburgh!). I take photos against either white simple white computer paper, or for my newer amigurumis, a roll of white card. I really want to invest in a light box, but not for a couple more months. I usually don't use flash, but I've been finding it useful every so often for evening out light tones during the day.
2. New products. This month I created a lot of new products. I started making a whole lot of felt badges, which I am completely addicted to making. I also made up new felt ninjas, and this week I'll add some new crochet beasties to the mix. A reasonably high proportion of my sales have been recently listed items - items that weren't even a week old in my shop. That to me is amazing! Having said that, I also sold the two oldest things in my shop, so I guess I can't make too many comparisons. But the message I'm getting is that adding new things to the mix is really great, and to keep doing it.
3. List every day. At least. Since the mad crafting rush for the craft fair, and the subsequent disappointment around sales there, I was left with a lot of stock on my hands. I spent ages taking photos of it, and have been able to list a new item every day. At the weekends, I have been listing two. And I have also been listing across categories - my felt brooches are in accessories, and my amigurumis are in toys - I'm hitting up a lot of different etsy spaces, and the results are effective. I don't know why, but listing new items seems to be more effective than relisting, but it could be that the newer stuff is simply better.
4. Focus my social networking. I didn't go near a laptop for two weeks. My views definitely suffered. The last couple of weeks of March, I started focusing my efforts on Myspace, Flickr and Twitter. I commented my etsy mini on around 100 myspace pages, and I uploaded approximately 30 photos to flickr, which I then tagged and added to the relevant group. I also commented on a couple of other people's photos. I reinvigorated my twitter account, and have about 60 people following me. I have received feedback on the Etsy forums that I "tweet" well, and have also made a sale because of twitter. And the best thing? It's really low maintenance. I'm not doing anything that I wouldn't already be doing. Myspace takes an hour every two weeks, Twitter take the time that you are waiting for pages to load anyway (I use twitterfox), and flickr only ever gets pictures that I would have to edit for listings anyway. I use the flickr organizr tool to streamline my photo management, and it probably only takes about 20 mins a day. I have to admit that I still browse the Etsy forums, but only whilst I'm at work, so I'm not losing any important "crafting time".
5. Blog better. I've been putting more focus on my blog and posted articles that are relevant, and hopefully informative. I gave my thoughts on Alchemy, how to Twitter better, and the joys of marketing here. By making my blog more useful, hopefully its readership will grow.
So that's what happened to give me a spectacular March. I only hope that my expectations have not been so high that April will only disappoint. I have set myself a number of goals for April.
12 sales
50 new hearts
consistently maintain approx 25 items in shop (and not let it drop below 20).

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Multi-Avenue Promotions

I have frequently extolled the absolute necessity of promoting your Etsy store outside of Etsy. The last couple of days for me have been absolute proof of that. Last weekend I made a sale that started with someone spotting something I made on the front page and blogging about it. I discovered this, and then commented on his blog, we had a nice little conversation, and a few days later, he made the purchase. I really don't think that he would have had I not commented on his blog and blogged about him. Then, a few days later, I made a sale thanks to my frequent twittering, and this morning I woke up to three more sales to someone who counts me as a flickr contact. If I'd only stuck to promoting within Etsy, these sales would never have happened. But, and this is the best bit, they really didn't take that much effort from me. I love flickr anyway, and have happily lost hours whilst looking at other photos and sorting my on. Twitter, as I've already blogged about, is such an easy way to connect with people.

So, what makes effective flickr marketing? Easy. Add your photos to groups. Add contacts. Make comments on photos. Repeat. Just beware that you don't lose three hours of your life there - so easy to do!!

And for twitter - talk about your life, talk about your products, add links to your blog and new listings. Tweet to other people, get involved.

Oh, and finally, isn't my new "I heart geeks" badge awesome!! I love it, and really wanted to keep it.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Treasury Time!

Just a quick post of Friday night to say thanks to DogmawGlass for including me in their Orange treasury - woohoo!! DogmawGlass makes gorgeous glass beads - definitely check out their store!!!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Twitter Tastic!!

I'm not posting or listing anything today - the light is horrible and I can't get a good photo of things I've made. Instead, let me talk about my latest online obsession. Over the last couple of months, I've started using Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that I first read about it in the storque, etsy's news area, and thought, hmm, that sounds fun. Well, okay, I first really signed up to twitter about six months ago, but at that point, I couldn't really see the point. Twitter seems to be reaching a really interesting critical mass at the moment - problogger uses it to connect to his readers, and dooce just blogged about it this week as well. I'm really enjoying my little twitterfox that pops up and tells me the antics of some fairly random crafty and fashion peeps all over the world. Following a post of on the Etsy forums, people started adding each other as friends - I currently only have about 50 "followers", as opposed to my 500+ myspacers. But I wouldn't want to have 500 twitter people - then I would be deluged with "tweets". Tweets are 140 character long messages that people send via twitter to provide updates on their life. It's amazing how informative a 140 character post is. Jellypotpie provides frequent updates on her running. paintgranny tells us about her weather. Delightfully tells us about new sales and cheers everyone else on with theirs. I talk a lot about lost crochet hooks and jaffa cakes. We all provide updates on our creative processes, new listings, and new blog posts. The joy of twitter is not just the public posting, but the ability to reply straight back to people directly - conversations start, relationships build, and connections get stronger. I would like to think that this is all part of a bigger strategy to build up customers, rapport and more. But in the meantime, it's not much effort, and rather addictive.

Follow me on twitter.

Monday, 24 March 2008

50th post!!

Yes, I can't quite believe that I've made it to my fiftieth post. Not quite as exciting as my 50th sale, which will be quite some celebration. Yesterday I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th sale, and that lucky chappie will be receiving a little extra gift in his envelope when he opens it. Actually, he was a really great customer, a couple of convos about the item in question before buying it, and I just really liked ho he took the trouble to get in touch. Big smiles.

Yesterday, I was supossed to be making more amigurumis, as they are by far the most popular thing in the shop. But I realised that what I really wanted to do as to stack my felt up and to vaguely tidy my thread box. I've included a before picture, but I forgot to take the after picture - doh! But bringing some order to my life made me a wee bit happier.

Today, I also neglected the amigurumi ducks (nearly finished, honestly) in favour of making something entirely new. Please welcome this tiny little felt car! I think it's adorable. I saw something similar in an Aranzi Aronzo book, but I wanted to go smaller and use buttons and some embroidery, so ended up with this little cutie. I really want to make a whole heap more of them now. The only shame is that his buttons don't actually turn, otherwise Ori and I could race them round the flat!

Tonight I'm having a late Easter dinner. Roast lamb, all the trimbings, and a rhubarb crumble for dessert. I've never actually made a rhubarb crumble, so I have to admit to being slightly worried about it. Mainly that I don't actually have enough for the crumble, to be honest. I wasn't really thinking when I picked up the bunch, and now this could be a disaster!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

I got blogged!!

Just a quick one as I'm tired after a hard day's shopping (what, I'm allowed, I'm pretty sure Lent's over). I got a google alert today that someone had written about my wenis badge - turns out a certain Rob Williams noticed it on the etsy site, and provided some further background on the word wenis. I always thought it was just a mix of weiner and penis - who knew? Anyway, it's pretty cool that he blogged about it, so I'm happy.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

the grass is always greener!!

No matter what I'm doing, it seems I always want to be doing something else!! I am a firm believer that variety is the spice of life, and the fact that the last three things that I have listed in my store have been felt brooches (and aren't they lovely?), makes me want to start listing more amigirumi crochet. Not that I have any! Right now I'm putting together some whales for my mum to send some friends, and right after that, I'll get back to making some cute things for the shop. I can't believe that I can't just be happy with my new product line - always thinking of the next thing!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


One of the most recent changes to the Etsy website is the introduction of Alchemy - an area of Etsy where buyers can request a custom item to be created by sellers who "bid" for the sale of the item. Prior to it being launched, I thought "yeah, that sounds like an interesting feature". And interesting it sure is, but not for the ways that I thought it would be. There are a number of results that I had no idea would happen.
The first is that buyers no longer have to search for an item, and therefore I imagine that browsing/random purchases are down. I know that quite often I think that I want one thing on a website, and then when I actually get there, I get distracted and buy something else entirely. This is the premise behind having shop locations, having categories, having showcased items - all of retail is based upon the browsing mentality. Alchemy effectively loses the browsing, and I don't wonder if sales are actually down. I imagine that site views certainly are. Of course, without clear statistic on Etsy performance, it's hard to say. I have seen zillions of posts for "wanted: banner for my shop" - well, there are zillions of banner creators out there - why not just use one of them? Of course, promoting is an absolute constant in any good store, but this feels like beyond promoting and closer to pimping my store!
Secondly, is the "race to the bottom". Etsy is supposed to be a marketplace that values hand-crafting. However, sellers are underpressure to cut prices and enter lower bids in the Alchemy service. Many of the ideal prices are quite simply frighteningly low. No seller is forced to enter a bid, so I can't possibly comment on the rights and wrongs of it, but I personally know that I don't think that many of the ideal prices are worth effort of creating the item.
Thirdly is the "rip-off" attitude. By this I mean the "can you create this but for a bit cheaper please" that seems to go on. I thoroughly approve of adding pictures that you are inspired by or you sort of want your item to look like. But asking people to copy other's work, or to undercut them is just plain cheeky.
Finally, Alchemy itself is difficult to work. There are no categories to search by and the bid process is confusing.
I was genuinely excited by Alchemy when it first arrived. I've now realised that it's not a service that I plan on using, either for buying or selling. It will be interesting to see how it matures and other Etsy users experiences of it.

Monday, 17 March 2008

moustaches and clouds

Just another quick post to say that these two were listed today as well. I sold a couple of the moustache pins at the fair at the weekend, so I hope they do well on etsy. The cloud keyring came from some random doodles in a business meeting (my notebooks are an embarassment and I have to try and not let all the senior guys see them otherwise they'll just think that I'm more of a girlie nutcase than usual). I am really enjoying making the felt brooches and keyrings at the moment. It's giving me a lovely break from crochet, which I think is giving me RSI. Too much of anything, and I start to crave other things!

More thoughts on the craft fair

I've had loads of comments from the Glasgow Craft Mafia after my post of the fair. The first thing I'd like to say is that I think it's absolutely awesome that so many have thought to provide comments and invite me along to talk about my thoughts. The people in the mafia are really cool and did put a whole lot of hard work into the fair on saturday, and the bad weather, the lack of signage on the day (beyond their control) and the poor footfall on the Byers Road that day all contributed. The people there were really cool, especially lady wurlitzer, stellamystar, asking for trouble, we are the robots, and pumpkinsputnik. Plus, they have such a fantastically high standard of stuff - I wanted to buy buy buy!!! (Nothing until Easter Monday though - the shopping-free lent continues. Much as I would like to go to Mono to chat about it, I am in Edinburgh so probably can't. However, I would definitely do another Glasgow Craft Mafia fair - one event does not an experiment make.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

New Designs Posted

Just a quick post to say that these are two of my latest creations. I designed the yellow ninja first, and then loved the shape so much that I thought I would make a badge of it too. I really want to do a whole line of these teeny ninjas - I think they are soo cool!! I just posted them tonight - my first new products for March. Making brooches is a current obsession for me - I have lots of ideas I want to bring to life, and they are really restful to do. Plus, they don't take up heaps of space, so my boyfriend likes it as well. Space is at a complete premium in our flat. I'm really excited to see new things in - my shop was even starting to bore me!!

My first craft fair and getting back to the real world

I've been completing neglecting my blog for the last week, on account of the freakish amount of crafting I have done to try and build up a heap of stock for the craft fair I was at yesterday. It was the Glasgow Craft Mafia market, and my first ever fair. More thoughts on that further down the post.

Firstly, one week's intense crafting (and we're talking still going to work every day), with the extreme support of a very understanding boyfriend produced:
  • 3 crocheted ninjas
  • 2 felt ninjas
  • 2 crocheted whales
  • 2 crocheted elephants
  • 10 felt badges
  • 2 plush bunnies
  • 1 crocheted octopus
  • 2 plush monsters
Quite a haul, don't you think? I definitely don't want to leave everything to the last minute again, but it was great to see how productive I can be if I really put my mind to it? And I did still enjoy doing it, but like anytime I feel that I'm crafting to order, I did feel a bit constrained, and right now I have a heap of new designs in my head that I want to try out, so I'll work on that for the next week or so. I have another fair in about six weeks, so I'll try and be more organised in thinking about my stock.

So, how did the fair go? Well, it was my first fair, so I'm not sure how much I can really measure it, but I have to admit to feeling a bit disappointed. I just about made back by entry fee, and by watching the other people there, I wasn't doing any worse or any better than anyone else. It was held upstairs in a library, and there were very few signs outside to let people know that it was going on. There was a fantastic banner made by the craft mafia, but unfortunately they weren't allowed to hang it up downstairs. The Byers Road in Glasgow is the perfect place for the fair to be, but the lack of signs on the day really meant that the footfall wasn't fantastic. When people did come in, then it was great, but at most parts of the day, the number of sellers in the room outnumbered the buyers. A real shame, and I don't know if it was just a once-off for that event, or an ongoing issue. I did get a chance to meet some really cool people and see some fantastic stuff, so that was really good. If possible, I would like to try it again to see if it was just a once-0ff.

I haven't listed a single thing of Etsy for all of March, so I will be spending the next ten days or so listing something new every day, so it'll be interesting to see if that is good for sales there.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

crazy times!!

Right now I am perched on one corner of the sofa, knees against my chest, typing in a fairly uncomfortable position. The reason for this is that I have my very first craft fair next Saturday, and I have woefully little stock for it, and am now mad crafting like a maniac to make up for it. On top of that, I have been in Israel for a few days vacation visiting my boyfriend's family, and I thought I would be able to get loads done there - nope, not a chance!!! The floor of my tiny flat is covered with felt scraps, there is wool everywhere, the kitchen table has cut out bits of felt all over it, and there are enough pins and needles lying around to ensure that I'll definitely do myself a serious injury!! Now, my boyfriend is a total neat freak (when he runs out of things to say, he says "tidy up!" because he knows it's relevant!), so luckily he isn't home until tomorrow, otherwise he'd be having a heart attack and breaking out into cold sweats. I am literally counting the crafting hours I have between now and Saturday to see how much I can make. And with the fab new job, well, taking a sickie is just plain out of the question. I can see a week of very little sleep, and bribing my boyf to be extremely understanding!