Last week, I shared the infographic below along with some highlights of my first year selling jewelry on Etsy. This is part two of that series. If you haven't read part 1 yet, you can check it out here.
PROFITS SHOULD INFORM SHOP DECISIONS
Sharing how much you make has historically been a taboo topic among handcrafted makers. People are very sensitive to other artists selling at prices too low, too high, or simply not the way they do it.
The only way the handmade community will get past the misconceptions and misunderstanding of pricing is to TALK about prices. As I mentioned in the previous installment of this series, I did not start out thinking about my Etsy shop as a business. I should have, but the only way to drive that home is to use a case study that I’m very familiar with: my own shop.
I've gone back and forth on whether to share my actual income and spending numbers and have decided to do so for a few reasons:
I am proud of my sales over the past year. I started as a somewhat hobbyist and quickly became immersed in the eCommerce world. I don't want to pretend that I have everything figured out financially or that I am perfect. I am not.
This is real. Are there people who will tell you that they made thousands and thousands selling XYZ on Etsy. Sure! Might it be true? Sure! However, the vast majority of Etsy sellers do not make anywhere near enough to quit their day job. Specifically, Slate reports that 65% of Etsy sellers do not make more than $100 a year. My numbers reflect that reality. So, before you go giving some guru your hard-earned hand-crafted money, check your facts. Do they have an ACTIVE Etsy shop? When was the last time they sold on Etsy? What were they selling? The market has changed, so don't trust everyone who tells you they have all the answers you've been looking for. Building a brand takes time (in years, not months!), so you can't expect overnight or 1 year success.
We need to kickstart a conversation about the difference between revenue and profit. To do so, we need to start somewhere. Here’s a start. Profit does not equal revenue. It’s so important to critically examine how much you’re actually spending on your business. Most people don’t realize that some of the largest start-ups and companies took years to make a profit. Revenue is not profit. Profit is the difference between the amount earned from sales and the amount spent.
FEEDBACK IS A GIFT
Another key component of a successful shop is the customers. Duh, right? After any length of time selling on Etsy, it can become easy to forget that your customers are at the center of your success. There are the fees for listings, shipping, social media, live vendor events, taxes, and so much more. But at the heart of all of that is the voice of the customer.
What are your customers telling you? Are they saying anything at all? Getting feedback is harder than you’d expect. The people who give reviews organically (read: without any prompting) tend to be on the extremes. They either absolutely LOVE their purchase or absolutely HATE it. How can you capture everyone else who is in the middle?
After a little over 100 sales, 30% feedback isn’t awful. It’s not great either. To capture those 30% of reviews, my main tactic was to ask for feedback repeatedly. I asked in my initial listing copy and then again when a customer checked out and again in their package. It still only worked 30% of the time.
FOLLOW THE RULES
When you’re first starting an Etsy shop, another factor that you might not consider is the limitation on using existing brands to market your products. It’s very tempting to want to connect your products to whatever inspired you to create it in the first place.
Maybe it’s a song, a doll company, a celebrity, a movie, or a sports team that inspired your listings or even your shop. Tagging this inspiration in your product listing helps others know what it’s all about. However, it also means that you’re infringing on the legal rights of the entity that own that brand.
In my first few months on Etsy, I followed this strategy with a very popular bracelet. I also included an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tag that named the artist that inspired the bracelet. Bad idea. The is only one example of “not following the rules”. There are others. The important part to not having your Etsy shop shutdown are stalled before you’ve even gotten started is to make sure you know the rules.
Have you started an Etsy shop selling jewelry recently and feel like you’re in this alone? Or have you been selling for years and feel like you have advice to share with other jewelry makers? We’d love to have you join the Jewelryosophy 360 community!