Monday, June 20, 2011

Setting up My Etsy Shop++

Overloaded with quilts, I finally took the plunge and signed up for an Etsy shop.  I found the Etsy site very easy to use and it was really easy to set up my shop.  I did, however make a couple of  mistakes.  I didn't realize that my user name would be my shop name. I thought there would be a user name and then a separate shop name.  So, I put in my user name as beffie48 intending to think up a cute name after I got the shop set up.  I don't know if I just didn't read the instructions very well or if Etsy isn't very clear on this point, but anyway once you choose your user name you are stuck with it.  You can open a new shop with a different name, but once you have gotten some business and have some people who are giving your shop hearts you don't really want to set up a new shop from scratch. 
My second mistake was to put a different name for my shop on my banner.  My user name was beffie48 but I wanted my shop to be called Keiki Baby.  So I put Keiki Baby on the banner.  I didn't realize for several months that this is confusing to shoppers.  First of all it makes it hard for them to find you by your shop name.  Etsy stores your user name as your shop name so if a customer searched for my shop name as Keiki Baby nothing would show up on Etsy.  They would only be able to find my shop name by searching for beffie48.  I also found out the its is helpful to put your shop name in the tag area of some of your items. That way if someone does a search for your shop and they haven't selected "shop" in the drop down search box at Etsy, your shop will still come up. 
I opened my shop put my quilts up for sale and waited.  While I waited I started reading the "help" newsletters that Etsy sends out to you.  They are very helpful and I learned many important things from them.  The first I already shared with you, your user name and your shop name need to be the same.  I went into my shop and changed my shop name to match my user name.  I found a free banner for my shop and put that up until I could figure out how to make one myself.  I also started looking around Etsy to see exactly what types of items were selling well.  You can use Etsy's  "pounce" search to see recently sold items.
In those first couple of months I only sold a couple of quilts.  I felt a little frustrated,  was the price too high?  Did people not like them? Were they able to find my quilts in the vast ocean of Etsy shops?  Was my postage charge too high?  Was there a better, less expensive way to ship my items?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Too Many Quilts

After I got started making quilts I found it hard to stop.  I was on the internet looking a fabrics all the time.  I became familiar with some of the the names of the most popular fabric designers.  Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Michael Miller, Heather Ross and Riley Blake are some of my favorites.  I made several rag quilts with their fabrics and some rag style burp cloths. The burp cloths were great, so much nicer than a ratty old diaper.  My daughter really liked them too.  I'll post instructions in a later blog.
But how many quilts can you make and give to one grandchild?   I realized that I had made more quilts then my new grandchild would ever be able to use.  I still gave her 5 or 6 then started giving them away to friends with babies.  Still I wanted to make more quilts!  I went back to Etsy and found allot of people selling quilts.  I wondered if maybe someone might want to buy my quilts, well it was worth a try.  Etsy doesn't change anything to set up an account, there is a small .20 cent listing fee for each item.  And a fee if the item sells. It was easy to set up.  I added a PayPal account to make collecting money simple and I was off!  I put listings up for several quilts and waited.......I experimented with lowering my prices, raising my prices and taking different photos.  By the way quilts are quite challenging to photograph.  I think I only had 5 or 6 items for sale at the start.  I kept waiting and still no sales. Finally after about a month I sold a quilt.  Hum, I don't think selling one quilt a month is going to make me much money.  So, I decided to make some burp cloths and try to sell them, not much success with that idea either.  I thought maybe a larger selection of quilts and other items would help, but that didn't seem to do the trick. I experimented with several hand sewn items, still no increase in sales.  Then one day I saw an article about selling on Etsy.  I think it was a Etsy Success article.  The woman wrote that she had very little success selling her pillow case dresses but lots of success selling a diy pillow case dress kit.  I thought that might work for me. I know many of the people who are interested in Etsy shopping are interested in making things themselves.   I decided to make a Rag Quilt Kit to sell online. It took me some time to figure out how much fabric, what size squares and what to charge in order to make a small profit, but I immediately started selling several kits a month.  And I love reading the comments that I get from people who buy my kits.  I still make and sell quilts on my site but the majority of what I sell now is quilt kits.  After a few months of selling kits I decided to buy an embroidery machine.  I thought it might increase my sale if I could personalize the quilt kit for my customers.  I offer free embroidery with each kit.  Everyone really likes the embroidery and it makes such a nice personal gift.