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Seth’s Blog, Etsy and Social Networking and time to bead

I wake up every morning and the first thing I read is Seth’s Blog.  It is short and sweet and full of good advise that I truly subscribe to …. things like “its cheaper to explain it right the first time than it is to answer a question later…”  When I get home from work, I try to get a handle on my etsy shop.  Should I add more items, should I tweak the words, should I read the dozens of emails I get on advise on how to improve my shop, (which, by the way, has had no sales.)? Should I re-list? Should I list more items? Should I change the tag words? Should I join more circles?  Should I pick more favorites? Should I join more teams? I am a tiny fish swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and I can’t even find the Gulf Stream to flow with the current.  (Right now with the Hurrican Irene, that might be a good thing!) Tonight I read the Etsy Seller’s Handbook blog about the changes they made to the site focusing tags on relevancy, rather than recency.  It seemed to make sense, but then I started reading the Shop Owner’s comments and I came to the conclusion that Etsy might not be right for me.  For one thing, it may be more work than its worth.  There are too many jewelers on the site and my items cost too much to buy over the internet. Another wrong turn on my road to having a small business succeed enough so that I can give up my four other jobs.  Oh  well, I think maybe this year, I need to try and do more local shows (the ones that don’t cost much to get into). What do you think?  So I am going to take a few days off from social networking and bead a bit.

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Comments

  1. Informative post, Im now one of your feed followers

  2. Andrea,

    It’s nice to hear from you and this is a very thoughtful post. I found your Etsy shop. I don’t know how well you usually keep it stocked, but its a bit empty right now. I’ve looked at a lot of your jewelry and you have some gorgeous pieces. I think it would help you to decide on a consistent background as Sparrow Salvage explains. Work on your photos – I feel like I am redoing mine for the trillionth time. I think I’m starting to pull a consistent look together.

    You need to add more stock if you want to be on Etsy or anywhere else. Think about being at the mall. Which jewelry store would you walk into – one with a few items or one well stocked? I’ve been looking at the jewelry shops that are doing really well and most of them have a lot of items (150-250 range). There are always exceptions, but I figure that I’m not established enough to be able to be an exception. That means that the person with 100 pieces of jewelry has a chance of being found that is 25 times greater than yours.

    Etsy takes work, but so does everything else. I started out on Etsy years ago and did not do well at all. I tried all of the stuff they suggest – write a blog, get on Flickr, tweet on Twitter. None of it helped. I believe now that the reason it did not work was because my Etsy shop was not ready. My jewelry was not distinct enough, I had a hodge podge of different styles, and my photos (however hard I had worked on them) were not good enough. I could not see those reasons at the time – I blamed Etsy. I went and got my own website and realized that I had to do everything – figure out how to get my site boosted up in Google searches, etc. And I did it, which taught me a lot. Many people are successful with their own websites, but realize that there are no forums, no treasuries, no hearts, no circles – you are on your own.

    About the blog. Unless you write a blog that your ideal customer will be interested in and want to follow, it will not help you get sales. For example, if you sell coffee cup cozies and write about coffee, different beads, best coffee spots in different towns, fair trade coffee farms, etc – you stand a chance because your customer is the coffee drinkers. I agree with the other commentor about jewelry blogs. I follow a ton of them and will most likely not buy any jewelry from them. I follow them because I like participating in the online jewelry community. That is why I do my blog. Plus for my supply shop, my readers are my ideal customer.

    When I opened the supply shop on Etsy, I realized how much I missed being there and decided to open a jewelry shop – http://www.etsy.com/shop/CharleneSevier. It is going much better this second time around, although I know I don’t have it all figured out.

    Wherever you decide to sell your jewelry, let’s stay in touch and maybe our insights and friendship can help each other. I’d love to hear your opinion about how my shop looks. I know I’m probably too close to it to be objective.

  3. Hi Andrea,
    As a marketing strategist I have been observing this handmade jewelry market for quite a while now and I find your insights very interesting.

    First off, i cannot find a link on your blog to your Etsy shop. Second, I think that there indeed is a lot of competition on Etsy, but then of course it is also a place where people go to look for jewelry. If you have your own online shop people will have to look as hard or even harder to find your stuff than on Etsy. Thirdly, you say that your jewelry is too expensive for online, I think it is as expensive offline. At least online you can sell directly. Offline, you have to sell it yourself (any which way) which is far more labor intensive. Or you have to sell it through shops which either makes the price go up even more or makes you margin go down.

    I have two theories. The first is that most of the social networking venues on beading and jewelry making are mostly read by people who bead and make jewelry. I have friends who wear and buy a lot of jewelry but they do not read blogs or follow people on Twitter because they make jewelry. They may like some brand on Facebook, but I think that is as far as it goes. So I think you will not sell much through beading social networks. Most of the people there (beaders) will probably think: I can make that myself. Social networking will only work if you build a brand that consumers want to like and follow.

    The second theory is that labor intensive jewelry doesn’t sell very well. Last year I took a class with a gold smith. She made this beautiful chain and pendant. It took her 40 hours to make. Multiply the hourly fee times 40, add the cost of materials, cost of overhead, a margin and it is virtually impossible to sell. You make labor intensive jewelry that comes with a high price tag. You would probably make more money teaching these projects (like the bead seed pros do) or selling kits of the individual piece, then making and selling the individual creations. Through teaching and kit selling you obtain economies of scale which you do not do when creating individual pieces of jewelry. Of course you could find a niche where people are willing to pay your prices and like a custom piece. Bridal jewelry could be an avenue to explore.

    Hope this helps with your insights…

    -Pepita

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