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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 15 Update on The Science of Renewing Your Etsy Items


Cuff links by MetalsinTime on Etsy
 Back in February, I posted an initial update to show the amazing success I was finding by playing the Renewing Game, as outlined by my girl Steph at nerd JERK.  It has now been 15 weeks since I began renewing items at strategically planned times every day, and I wanted to see how the numbers were looking thus far. 

To review briefly, I used Google Analytics to determine when I was having the most traffic to my shop, and then I scheduled different items to renew during those times using http://www.statsy.org/.  That's all I did.  It's that simple.  For those of you who aren't familiar with how Etsy works, when you do a search for a particular item, your search results are sorted in chronological order by the most recently listed item first.  Thus, to get the most exposure, you need to make sure your items are showing up first, and you can do this by renewing your items.  While you do pay to renew an item, the same price you'd pay to initially list an item ($0.20 per item), the return on your investment can be extremely high.

Why is this important? If you choose not to renew your items, you run the risk of falling deep in the search results and never being found.  Each listing on Etsy "buys" you 4 months time.  If you've got items in your shop that were listed 2 or 3 months ago, the odds of having those items seen can get really low.  If you're in a popular category, you might not get seen at all, as Etsy will only show the first how-many-ever thousand items in a category!

I've heard many sellers flat out refuse to renew, just because they simply don't want to spend the extra money, or feel its Etsy's way of ripping you off.  If you fall into this category, keep reading.  I've got evidence to show this renewing can actually work to your benefit!

For this comparison, I looked at the last 15 weeks that I've been strategically renewing (January 1 - April 16) to the previous 15 weeks (September 18 - December 31). 

Here are the cold, hard facts:

Item views:  increased by 161%
Revenue (aka money made!):  increased by 206%

Is that incredible, or what?! Its also interesting to note that there was 1 entire week in March where I didn't renew at all.  I was on vacation and didn't want to shut the shop down, but didn't want to encourage a high number of sales either :)

Would you like to see similar increases?  I firmly believe this will only work well for you if you have a sufficient number of items in your shop, if your item descriptions/tags are already fantastic, and if your item photos are great.  If you're already there, take notes on Steph's article, give this a shot and see where your sales go!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PinkyCrafts is officially one!

Coconut birthday cupcake! YUM! 
Approximately one year ago, I had just moved across the country in search of something to make me happy.  I had found where I wanted to be geographically, but it was time to decide what I wanted to do to fill my time.  I had just experienced a messy break up - with my previous career.  I knew I didn't want to go back to it, but I didn't really know where else I could go.......after weeks of daily job-hunting, I knew I had to do something immediately to keep myself from dying of boredom.  I had a good friend who was selling on Etsy, and I thought that maybe I could list a few of my scrapbooks and scrapbook pages online.  When I asked her for advice, she made it clear: "It's hard work! Don't expect this to pay your bills!".  I thought, "Well, how hard can it be?  I like my products, I'm sure there is at least one person out there in the world who will like it too!".  All I wanted was to sell a few things, make a little spending money, and keep myself busy while I planned my next career move. 

I created a few new things, took some photos, and sat back to await my first customers.  It didn't take me long to realize there was a LOT more to selling online than I realized!  I had no idea how much competition there was just in my market.  I realized my photos weren't up to par. I realized I needed to get established so buyers would trust shopping with me. I realized I'd have to work extra hard at getting noticed by search engines.  I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

It became a goal of mine to be successful at this thing I originally thought was so easy.  I read every article about Etsy selling that I could get my hands on, I networked with other sellers, I joined the Etsy D-Listers Team. I learned everything I could about SEO.  I advertised on every free website I could find.  I started learning about my target market. I learned when my site received the most traffic, and where they were coming from.  I blogged.  I tweeted.  I Facebooked.  I held a sale and sponsored a giveaway. I studied keywords. I re-wrote my listings and re-tagged my items more times than I can count.  I attended Virtual Labs on Etsy, I took and re-took all my photos in every lighting condition imaginable (ok, I did this many, many times!).  I constantly worked on new products.  I basically threw my entire heart, soul, and all of my waking hours into my shop. 

4.10.10:  First Etsy Sale!  What a HORRID photo! EEK!!!
After a few months, I realized that I had put far too much effort into my little business to just keep it just a little business. I wanted to make it big; I wanted this to be my main thing.  I was having a great time learning about this new project!  I was feeling fulfilled, I had made a few sales, and I wanted more.  With the support of my husband, I decided to make it happen.  I was working harder and more hours doing this than I had been at my previous career, but I was happy - something I hadn't felt in a very, very long time.  There were, and still are, people in my life that don't understand what I'm doing or understand just how much effort goes into PinkyCrafts.  This is a real thing, I am a small business owner!

I had also realized that working from home was a little lonely. My husband found a job shortly after I opened my shop, so he was gone all day.  Its great to wake up and work in your PJs, but I could go days without needing to leave the house, and most of my conversations were between myself and my bunny!  I decided to take on a part-time job, and started working at a local pet hospital.  Originally, it was only a couple days per week, and easily fit into my life.  In recent months, I have struggled to balance that job and my business, but it's something I'm trying to address.  Part of PinkyCrafts is having a personal shopping experience, and I want to remain available to my customers!

In August, a friend of mine suggested I create a line of drink glass tags that party-goers could write their names on. Once I introduced my first two styles, my sales started skyrocketing, and I started creating all kinds of party accessories. Everything fit right into my shop philosophy: helping my customers celebrate the good times in life.

My party accessories put PinkyCrafts on the map!
Fast forward to today, and I've just celebrated my very first Etsy anniversary.  I made my goal of having 100 sales in the first year - something I am insanely proud of.  I've sold to over half of the states in the US, as well as several other countries.  I sold at two different holiday gift shows. I was featured on the Etsy Front Page in March, and I've received the most generous compliments on my work from my amazing customers. 

Several friends have asked me how to start selling online, and I see so many new sellers post for help with how to increase sales.  I always tell them the same thing:  it's so much more work than you think, but its worth it.  You get out of it exactly what you put into it. You need to be fully committed to what it is you're selling, and be ready to throw yourself into building this business.  You've got to check your fears at the door.  If you are, and if you do, and if you can, you've got a good shot! 

My goals for the next year: beat my first year sales number, in both number of sales and dollars made.  I also want to start approaching local boutiques about wholesale contracts.  I want to finally reach 100 item listings!   Most of all, I want to keep having fun and keep being my own boss.  This really is the very best job I've ever had. 

Cheers to my second year!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Must-Enter Giveaway!

Embroidered Kitchen Towel
One of my favorite Etsy shops is run by Christy at the Hippie Chick Boutique.  She creates all kinds of home accessories - towels and finger tip potholder mitts are her specialty right now. She's also a fantastic person, and I love supporting fantastic people.  I've got her towels in my kitchen and bathrooms, use the fingertip mitts several times a week, and have gifted towels and fingertip mitts others..  Suffice to say, I'm a fan.  When I heard that she was having an amazing giveaway, I had to shout it from the rooftops (well, not literally, I might get arrested for disturbing the peace!). 

Christy is giving away TWO items of the winners choice, including the option to do custom work.  Do you know what that means?! You get to pick two things, any two things, from her shop.  For free.  And she can embroider them for you, design something in custom colors - whatever you want.  How can you not enter this giveaway?!

Here's what you do:
1. Visit her shop, decide which item is your favorite.
2. Visit her blog, post which item is your favorite - that's 1 entry.
3. If you tell her how you found her (um, that would be from PINKY!), that's another entry.
4. If you choose to follow her blog, another entry.
Fingertip Pot Holder Mitts
5. "Like" her on Facebook, that's another entry.

In about 30 seconds, you could have at least 4 entries - I ask again: how could you not enter?!  On second thought, maybe I shouldn't share the news so I have a better chance at winning.......*grin*  Good luck to you - if one of my followers ends up winning, I want to hear about it!