Friday, September 5, 2008

etsy discussed on orchid forum

I came across this and thought you all might like to read it, even though its long... i

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[Orchid] Results of MJSA's Etsy research

Thursday, September 4, 2008 11:59 PM
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Greetings:

As promised, here are the comments I received from Orchid members
regarding Etsy.com. For the sake of convenience and balance, I also
included most of those posted directly to Orchid.

I've kept the messages anonymous to ensure privacy for those who
desire it. Editing was minimal.

FYI: I received many other emails from people wanting to share their
Etsy experiences and offer advice to the jewelry community, but the
article was already done. (And, as I mentioned earlier, it's very
short.) I imagine that anyone seeking further guidance on Etsy need
only post a query on Orchid.

I neither endorse nor disparage Etsy myself. I don't make jewelry,
and I have no personal experience with the site other than, in the
course of research, buying a really nice pearl and green tourmaline
bracelet for my daughter's birthday. And a money clip for myself.
And finding a bunch of gift ideas for my wife.

OK, I confess, as a consumer who appreciates and buys artisanal
goods, I really liked the site. But before you try to sell there,
consider the following comments and questions:

***

I've seen a lot of positive things about Etsy in the fiber
community selling raw materials (yarn, roving, etc.) and there
are many hand-dyers that are making a very good living there. But
I had always been under the impression that finished products
(especially finished products with price tags over $35) just
didn't sell. Or if they did sell, others were very quick to copy
the designs and offer the "same" product/design at a lower price
point. It would be nice to know if these negatives are true in
the experience of jewelry artisans.

Also, it would be nice to know something about how much time
these artisans are using to promote their Etsy site. I've also
heard (again, mostly in the fiber arts community) that the most
profitable Etsy vendors spend hours and hours each week really
working the community (through message boards, etc.) as well as
aggressively looking for blogs and podcasts to do features on
their items in order to drive traffic to their Etsy site. I've
always wondered that if you are going to spend that much time
promoting yourself, wouldn't you be better off promoting your own
stand-alone website, instead of sending traffic to a larger
marketplace where the potential customer has a much greater
probability of getting distracted by all of the other offerings?
Again, this may not be the experience of artisans selling
jewelry on Etsy, and it would be interesting to know the
difference.

***

I think Etsy is a great online sales tool. I also love that it a
supportive community. All the other sellers want to share
information, sales tips, and resources and are generally very
giving and open. I love that people have come to me through the
site asking technical expertise and giving feedback about items
that they like. I also love the "favorites" feature; I received
two great birthday gifts this year that were items I had marked
as favorites. And I really enjoy seeing what other artists are
making and selling, particularly my friends. So far I have only
sold an average of a bit less than one piece a month on Etsy. But
additionally some friends and existing customers have purchased
items directly from me after viewing them on Etsy. I hope to see
both types of sales grow.

My other venues (galleries, boutiques, museum stores) are more
established for me at this time. But prior to setting up my Etsy
shop I did not a have shopping feature on my business site. Now
my site has a 'shop' link that brings you to my Etsy shop. So
rather than just Etsy traffic I get my new or regular customers
going online to see what I have that is new. I think the site is
very well set up and easy to use. There are some tips that are
helpful to know but the site offers tons of support, great
articles, and other sellers offer all kinds of shared
experience. There are even shop critiques!

I have been on Etsy about 6 months. In the first month I had a
sale from a total stranger that found me through searching the
site. I am always grateful for new customers.

I really approached Etsy as simply having an online store, so I
haven't been trying to compete or stand out particularly from
other sellers. I would like to get better and more images up, it
is great if you have images of additional views of the items. I
have also been advised to renew existing items, this only costs
20 cents each time and gives your items more visibility because
they come up as newly listed.

I plan to put all price ranges up, but keep a focus on pieces
that are $60 to $150. So far the pieces I have sold have been in
that range. People also like purchasing materials on Etsy, so I
may list some stones and other materials that I am ready to part
with.

***

I've sold around 240 pieces. Officially 256 but there were about
15 ring sizers in there. Sales don't really differ too much from
other ways I sell. But in person I might sell higher priced
pieces and 'quirky,' less conventionally shaped quicker then
online. It is tricky to represent comfort via a photograph. In
galleries and shops people have the opportunity to try them on
and discover that they're surprisingly comfortable. But I have
found that there is receptiveness to 'Calternative' materials.

I've also received more thank-you gifts and cards from clients
in the last year on Etsy than in 10 years via shops. Which is
delightful- to say the least. Etsy is extraordinarily easy to set
up and to use, quite user friendly and self-explanatory. Once the
shop is set up it's smoother then smooth to navigate and any
problems can be posted in the Etsy Forum's help section. I
started an account in June 2006 to browse, opened a shop in Sept
of 2006 with two items and my first sale was a month later. It
was lost in space and I admit I didn't tend to it at first. I
thought it would mainly be a place to post custom orders for
existing clients. But in November '06 I was featured on the home
page of Naver.com (It's like Yahoo for Koreans) with 'Bubble Lace
Ring 1'. Despite there being no direct link to my shop I was
getting 1000s of hits a day to both my site and shop. It
resulted in daily sales to Koreans from all over the world. This
was a revelation. I'm afraid that I don't really strategize to
stand out on Etsy. I've mainly made work that I liked and
photographed it in a way that feels appropriate.

This really would be my advice to anybody opening a shop, just
do what you do well and take multiple photographs of the piece. I
mainly sell sterling silver with some gold, felt, rubber and
plastic. The price range is $19 to $300 with the average sale
$50-$100. In the next couple months I'll be adding a range of
work including more higher end pieces and some gold.

***

I opened my Etsy shop in February of 2007, it took 6 months to
sell my first item. From then until now I have sold 15 items
ranging in price from $95-$400. Mostly about $300-$400. Etsy is
the easiest online shop to use for selling that I have seen. I do
metal work, mixing silver and gold.

***

I have been on Etsy since May of 2006 and was one of the first
real metalsmiths using the site. I had actually been told about
the site several months before as a possible venue for my
production work, but passed at that time because it did not seem
a
good fit. The overall level of the crafts presented on the site
was a bit rough, the prices very low, and there was very little
metal work to speak of. I did not think I could do well there.

When I was approached a second time, I did a bit more research
and was able to find one jeweler who was not merely doing
beadwork or soldering simple hammered bands. She seemed to be
doing quite well for herself, so I thought I would give it a try.
A little over two years and 1600+ sales later, I am doing quite
well there too.

I really like selling on Etsy. The fees are extremely reasonable
and it is nice to get the full retail price for my work. It is
also great to not have to worry about anyone else's schedules or
whether something will sell. I make what I want and price it at
what I need, and it only costs 20 cents to list it for a full
four months. If it takes a year to sell, I am out 60 cents plus
the 3.5% commission-- after years of selling to galleries and
boutiques and selling through a sales rep, that is a great deal.
I like the challenge of having to photograph and present my own
work as opposed to leaving that to a gallery-- it is nice to
have that control. I also like the unique challenges of selling
online where one can quickly get lost in the sheer volume of
things offered. For me, that has meant reinventing myself and my
shop a couple different times and that can be a tremendously
rewarding experience in itself because it really makes you think
about who you are and what you want from your work. Anyway, I am
a big fan of Etsy and have taught two workshops on marketing and
promoting jewelry with a big emphasis on selling online in
general and on Etsy in particular.

***

I do, indeed, sell jewelry on Etsy and feel very positive about
the experience. It allows me to easily list and sell
one-of-a-kind pieces and jewelry that might not be consistent
with the line that I sell at my website. It has also been a
wonderful place for people to notice my jewelry and give me some
press. I was contacted by a reporter from U.S. News and World
Reports regarding some Obama jewelry that I had posted, and made
my way into several blogs. Etsy has also brought me some
wonderful wholesale orders, and I'm finding that buyers are using
it to find new products for their stores, both online and brick
and mortar. I've heard many jewelers who feel there is a glut of
jewelry on Etsy and therefore difficult to make sales. What else
is new? It just reinforces the fact that jewelers must create a
niche and find a way to stand out from the others. Even with a
great product, it has to be kept in mind that Etsy shops are
like any other.

They need time, energy and attention. Fresh stock, great
photography, well thought out tags, and attention to marketing
and promotion all make a huge difference in sales. Opening a
store, whether in cyberspace or the real world, is really just a
beginning. Etsy makes it so easy to open a store, but it takes
some work to give it its best chance for success.

***

Through it I've sold to people in surprisingly varied countries
(off the top of my head- Finland, Luxembourg, Jordan, South
Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Portugal, Switzerland, The
Netherlands, England, France... as well the obvious such as
Canada and the US) I have found an online presence has expanded
my audience. Before Etsy my sales were mainly Canadian and all
through shops and galleries. It's been interesting navigating
different languages and payment types internationally and
'meeting' customers all year- rather then just a few days a year
at shows. Highlights include an order for a pair if commitment
rings from a girl in South Korea, she went to her bank to get a
credit card just to buy them. I was touched.

***

I signed up for Etsy on a whim, bored at my office desk job. I'd
just graduated with a degree in photography & a minor in jewelry,
so I had a few things that I took some shots of & listed. They
sold within a week & I was instantly hooked. After awhile I
started making new work, nothing too fancy, just easy pieces.
Sales were slow at first, once a week or so, but the more I got
into it, the more I started selling. Now I sell many things a
day. I gradually started buying tools & making more & more work,
finally quitting my office job so I could make things full time.
When I went full time on Etsy I didn't have any wholesale
contracts. Once I got into it, I built those out & now have
roughly 15 stores across the country that sell my work, all found
through Etsy. The majority of my income comes through Etsy &
making daily sales happens much more often there than galleries
or other places (who deal out checks once a month or so). It
provides an instant gratification that is great. I've to date
sold at least 4,000 things from working with Etsy. I've
personally found it very easy, but having a background in
photography has helped me well. To stand out on the site (full of
hundreds of thousands of jewelry pieces), it's critical to have
great photographs. Getting decent shots is by far the hardest
thing for sellers & it's something I'm constantly trying to
improve on. My main strategy for standing out is to make
work...all the time. I try to make a new piece as often as I can
so I can stay ahead of the competition. Being original & unique
really matters. Listing often also makes a great difference by
keeping your work on the top of the category lists. I sell mostly
silver jewelry, with a mix of beads, gemstones & some gold. My
peapod designs are by far my biggest sellers. I've found for me
at least, the $30-$50 range works best for me, but I like to
throw in a few outside of that range as well.

***

I began selling my work on Etsy April 3rd of 2007. I was pretty
fortunate that I was able to immediately assess the clientele on
Etsy and design a collection specifically for my on-line store.
Etsy is an extremely competitive market and the competition is
increasing as Etsy continues to grow. I began my poetry line,
which is not a line I carry in galleries, to help draw people
into my shop as the custom nature of this item appeals to a large
population. Through the poetry line I have been able to increase
sales for my two alternate lines with increased exposure. My
average price point on Etsy is $75 but I am seeing an increase in
the amount of items I sell in the $100-$150 segment. I have
gained a reputation on Etsy for selling pieces that have a nice
weight and are well constructed. My sales on Etsy far exceed my
sales in galleries. I do believe that for the most part the
customer base on Etsy differs from a traditional gallery so it's
been important for me to really study this new target market and
fabricate pieces that will succeed within the on-line market
place. I think photography is crucial to your success on Etsy as
well as thorough descriptions. It's interesting that photos that
are a bit more artistic seem to garner more attention rather than
photos that you would use in a jury line-up. A lot of sellers
forget to describe a pieces dimensions, clasp, chain length,
etc. All of these things need to be accounted for since the
customer cannot touch and feel the product. Also, I put all
dimensions in both mm and inches as a large portion of my
customers are overseas.

Etsy is a very easy marketplace to learn and use but you need to
take some time and go through the website. Look at photos,
descriptions, price points, etc. There is a mentality that if you
open up a shop and set up your photos that should be enough and
it really isn't. I do not cross promote my Etsy shop. I do not
send current customers there either, I send them to the galleries
that carry my work. My Etsy shop has not been advertised in any
outside medium. I spend a lot of time reviewing current trends,
updating my shop, and expanding my collection. I have approached
Etsy as a true business arena and I think this is important for
success on the venue. I use a specific photography style to make
my work on Etsy stand out and I also have a look that I think is
true to me and my work. I offer both my Lustre collection in
sterling and 22K gold as well as my Raven collection which is a
darker portrait of my work that utilizes sterling silver and
oxidation. I have sold 1,225 items since I opened my shop.

***

I love Etsy and feel that it has enabled me to become a full
time jewelry artist without having to have another job. I would
say as an average, 80% of my business is on Etsy. I receive a lot
of custom work and some months, that is just about all I have is
the custom work I have gotten through Etsy. It is a great market
place to gauge what might sell and what might not. Even people
just sending a quick email to say how much they love something
even if they can't afford it. Its great to get feedback like
that!

I only sell at a few shops - and give most of my energy to Etsy,
so most of my sales are through Etsy. The main benefit to one of
the galleries I sell at is the price points of the pieces I sell
there are much higher than what I can get on Etsy. I've sold
pieces in the $200 - $300 range, but besides wedding rings, not
much in that range. Most people say that $20 - $40 is the best
range to sell jewelry at - I would say my average is around $60
- $70. I signed up on Etsy in May of 2006, but didn't start
listing until June and it took about a month to sell my first
item. The first year was a bit touch and go. There is somewhat of
a formula that gives better results and it took me to find what
worked for me. I'm always improving!

*Good eye catching photos

*Wide range of price points

*Listing, relisting, or renewing several items a day. Listing is
putting a brand new item, relisting is taking an item that sold
that you have multiples of and simply relisting it after it sold
and renewing is taking an item that is currently in your shop,
paying the.20 fee again and adding it back to the top of the pile


*Blogging helps - it gives people a way to find your shop, it
also gives customers additional information about you and your
work

*Posting on Flickr - it gives customers a gallery to look at,
also a great way to network with other jewelry and other etsy
people

*Joining a street team - EtsyMetal - is a juried street team I've
been involved with since it start. It is a wonderful group of
positive and inspiring metalsmiths. There is a wide range in
skill level (as well as enthusiasm level). Its been a great way
to get and give feedback on photos and branding as well as
technical questions. It also is a really supportive and
noncompetitive group. Etsy is so large at this point, especially
the jewelry category. Not being on the team would feel a bit
like swimming in a big ocean by yourself, being on the team is
like being on a boat! We also advertise together, keep a team
blog and have group challenges to push us in new directions. We
also did a charm swap with a group of 20 members, and are working
on the 2nd and 3rd swaps. We will make a bracelet and sell it in
our group shop on Etsy too.

As far as ease.... Getting started is easy, once you start,
there is a lot to feel your way around. Etsy has things like the
treasury, time machine, pounce, forums, etc. Finding a mentor is
a great way to go. I like doing things by trial and error so I
asked a few questions and other than that, just tried to feel my
way around. Two years later though, there is a lot more to the
site than there was then. I love mentoring people - its a great
way to give people a positive experience from the beginning.

I started on Etsy basically when I was starting my career. I
graduated from college and then worked for a couple years until I
just quit and decided to go for making jewelry full time. It took
me 6 months to start using Etsy after that, but it kind of felt
like a life raft! It gave me a direction to go it and an outlet.
I like making one of a kind pieces. Having a regular website is
difficult to update that frequently. But adding a new piece on
etsy is relatively easy. I didn't have a definitve style for
quite a while, but enjoyed doing lots of experimenting - still
do! But I stumbled upon a certain style - my organic vine
collection - that people seem to really like. The more I made,
the more I sold and really started developing a full collection.
Without Etsy, I wouldn't have known so immediately that this
collection would be so popular. I also have had collections that
I think are starting to not be as popular and then I'll get an
email from someone asking for a piece they had seen in my sold
items. And a collection will get rejuvenated again.

They main collection that does the best is something that is
unique. It is a process that can be repeated over and over and
will always result in unique items. It was a way for me to come
up with a style that would still give customers a unique and one
of a kind piece. I think the best way to stand out is to be
yourself and work on what is best suited for you. Most of the
jewelry I sell is all sterling silver. I do some with gold and
some stones, but most of my work is all sterling. I do quite a
bit of fusing (both my organic vine collection and pebble
collections are all fused) and quite a bit of casting.

I feel I have been very successful on Etsy and just about every
month gets better than the last. And yet I have quite a few
friends that do way better than I do. I am happy with how busy I
am, but I also have incentive, support and motivation to continue
getting better, pushing myself in new directions and simply
selling more!

***

I sell handmade sterling silver, gold and genuine gemstone
jewelry made using various techniques ranging from wax carving to
metalsmithing and lots of experiments in between. My pricepoints
range between $18- $145. My median sale on Etsy has been around
$50.

I joined Etsy in April 2007 so that I could purchase some items.
I started to list jewelry about 4 months later and got one
immediate order. I made the mistake of listing everything at once
instead of one thing a day. The way Etsy works is that if a
customer is searching for jewelry, they will see almost 29,000
items. These items are listed by date (most recently listed come
first). Therefore if you list everything at once, you will very
quickly fall to the end of the 29,000 items and no one (no
matter how patient) will want to search through all of those
items, and you are decreasing your chances of someone finding
you.

I consistently sold about 2 items a month just by chatting in
the forums (where mostly other sellers lurk) and probably just
people stumbling on some of my items by chance when I would
re-list or renew items.

At the end of July 2008 I started listing one item each day. One
item is 20 cents so if you list one thing every day it will still
only cost you $6 a month-- and you move to the top of the list
every time you relist or renew-- I can't think of a cheaper way
of advertising. And since I started listing every day, once a
day, I have sold at least 4 items EACH WEEK.

In addition, I just joined an Etsy team called the JETS. The
team supports its members by putting you in treasuries (which
could make it to the front page and get you the best exposure for
30 minutes that you could ever hope to have). In addition, the
camaraderie, helpful hints from people more experienced in Etsy,
etc. are invaluable in such a broad and overpopulated selling
place.

How does this compare to my other ventures? On my website I sell
the best mainly during the holidays. I got about 10 orders last
Christmas. With my retailers I sell between 2-4 pieces a month.
So with my new strategies I have more than doubled my sales.

***

I love Etsy, I'm not making a living with etsy but I do sell
more on etsy than the gallery I am in. Etsy is easy to use and
easy to buy from. It hardly costs anything to sell on Etsy. You
can make your shop look the way you want it to with your pictures
and profile.

A lot of buyers on etsy seem to be vary creative people with
their own etsy shops. I have designed custom pieces with people
on etsy just by e-mail, they make it vary easy to share pictures
etc.

***

I also have my own website but have recently been getting more
orders on etsy vs. my own site due to figuring out what makes
etsy work. With over 600,000 jewelry items to search through, you
need to have a strategy that works.

***

I'm happy with it. The ease of use.....well lets just say you
need to get used to it. My partner dealt with most of the
annoying stuff. But i like having my stuff up there. It receives
a lot of views so that works for me. We sell leather wrap
jewelry.

***

I've had items listed on Etsy since December 2007, and have yet
to have anything purchased. From what I've learned it takes
uploading new items every day, so you are seen at the top of
search lists, as well as being involved in forums for others to
see you. Hopefully being seen & heard in the forums then leads to
visits to your shop and visitors deciding they "heart" you, which
in turn may lead to buyers that search "heart" lists. For people,
like me, that haven't dedicated themselves to this sort of
involvement, their Etsy shop is easily lost in the plethora of
other shops that do. The opportunity is there, it is a matter
-like anything- of making it work. I think Etsy is a great way of
having internet presence for small businesses without spending
the money involved in a personal website. Another advantage is
that having a shop in Etsy is comparable to having a shop in a
mall that sells only handmade items. Visitors to Etsy are
shopping for what you are selling and you aren't relying on a
google search to bring them to your personal website.

I have a lot to learn in order to utilize Etsy to its fullest
potential.

***

I have been enthusiastically trying to sell on Etsy since about
April. Despite making a lower priced range of work (specifically
earrings at $45. to $125) purchases have been few. I have both
earrings and bracelets on my Etsy site. Two times bracelets were
purchased and returned.

I do all the suggested methods to promote sales such as complete
tagging, multiple images for every item, and continually posting
new items. I also have work on www.objectfetish/jewelry.com

and promote my work with active postings on trunkt, flickr and
facebook. I have only sold a few earrings. In addition, I have
invested a huge amount of time for what amounts to about four
purchases.

Despite this disappointment, I still think selling on line is a
marketplace of the future. just not sure how this will develop.
The same range of earrings is also at several galleries. so by
the end of the summer or early fall I should have a good
comparison of traditional galleries and Etsy.

I keep trying like "gangbusters" and still not much of any
results in sales. Maybe it's the items I make to sell. Maybe they
are too unusual since they are made from tin cans. Maybe they are
too expensive for the perceived value, i.e. tin cans. Maybe my
work it too fashion forward. The person that will wear big tin
can earrings also expects to pay $2 or $4 or $6 at Forever 21 or
Target.

***

I've been selling jewelry and supplies on etsy for almost a year
now. Mostly supplies as I sell wholesale and do not want conflict
with my retailers. My shop is doing very well.

***

I have found etsy to be very positive. I am also participating
in some of the indie fairs in larger cities. I have also seen
Lark books people at the fair scoping out the indie scene.
Perhaps there will be a book about that in the future.

I have had inclusions in magazines and newspapers due to etsy
that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I like the venue and it beats
the work being in a box waiting for the next fair or sitting in a
case. The more eyes on the piece the more potential sales.

***

I have an Etsy store but as yet haven't sold anything. My items
have been marked as favourites but as yet my store is too static
- I've not listed anything new for a while due to other
priorities taking over. Many people have told me that listing
things regularly is the way to get noticed and that the seven
items I have for sale at the moment is not enough choice, which
of course I realize. I'm looking forward to being able to make
and list more items for sale soon, just so long as I can get the
other priorities sorted out first.

***

If you really want to see the disgruntled and frustrated artists
that are tired of the unprofessional aspects of etsy, visit
etsybitch.com.

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