Monday, January 30, 2012

does etsy "success" = exhaustion? the nasty little by-product of selling what you make online ...

Maybe it's the cold weather
(although it hasn't been all that cold here),

the shortened days
(although they're getting longer)

or my own natural inclination to work until collapse

(in a 24/7 selling environment that doesn't really allow for collapse this is not a good model - unless of course you are prepared to really collapse, like into a great big old mahogany box with a velvet liner)

but an awful lot of Etsy sellers are using a 10 letter "e" word to describe their state of mind lately.

And it ain't "exhilerated" (which is 11 letters actually).

I have said it before and I will say it again - this is all a great deal of work

(and before you think I am a big whiner - although hello ... this is not news folks, I did devote 427 42 Wednesdays of my life to the art of whining or maybe that was wining - I need the corks remember, but whining is reactive and I am determined to be proactive here - how do we fix this?!)

No matter how we sell our makings online we have to - market ourselves, create relationships, take amazing pictures, basically make ourselves stand out among the thousands/millions/gazillions

(where the hell are all these people coming from anyway)

of other makers creating amazing makings and doing the same things we are.

(if you have been doing this for awhile just hearing me say it out loud can make you tired and cranky and reaching for your Snugli and I should add that if you do read my posts out loud I am from New Jersey and should be read with a Carmella Soprano 'foget-about-it' inflection)

There are 5 ways to make money on Etsy:

(maybe more I appear to be out of fingers)

1. Vintage - If you sell vintage items you do not have to do the making part, but you do have to do the finding part and the research of pricing part and the take amazing pictures part and you need to figure out the correct shipping charge and get yourself the proper packaging for your oddly shaped whosee whatsee and oh yes, since your items are one of a kind there is no renew button for you my dear ... sorry.

2. Large Batches - If you do your makings in large batches you will likely work really hard for a certain period of time making your fabulousness and then work less during the shipping phase of your process, but you will likely have to have a very good handle on inventory and supplies and what will sell

(I recommend a magic 8-ball for this or some market research I have found them to be equally inaccurate)

or you will be sitting on alot of excess inventory and miss out on sales when you run out of stock.

3. One at a time - if you do your makings in small batches or one at a time, well, you will just be making your makings all the time and the busier you get the more you will need to get a handle on time management and pricing or ... well, I think your head could explode actually ... this is my makings model and I have been known to discover little pieces of brain matter all over my studio, luckily, being the creative professional I am, my brain matter is always in pantone's latest colors, so at least it's pretty brain matter - my apologies if you are reading this while eating lunch, but yes, art is messy, folks ...

4. Make something once and sell it again and again - paint a picture - sell prints, take a photo - sell copies, design a dress - hire someone else to sew it. This is kind of my dream maker business model (sigh)- the make something once and sell it over and over again model - but will not work for everyone. I do think there are ways to incorporate some of this into any of the models though.

Of course, there is also supply selling on Etsy (5) which involves mostly buying things in large batches and selling them in smaller batches for a profit. The pitfall being that you could end up doing an awful lot of work for not an awful lot of money. You really need to know your profit margins and what your competition (you will undoubtedly have alot) is doing.

Anyhoo, I have been talking to some successful shops who sell in these various models for some great tips and tricks to avoid the dreaded "e" word. I will be posting them over the next two weeks - so check back starting on Friday for Vintage and (hopefully) Large Batch Makers.

* carry me by redbishop
* squirrel salt and pepper shakers by kella
* tshirt by xenotees
* map necklace by sherry truitt
* wish illustration by pale preoccupation

13 comments:

Al said...

I can totally relate. I'm an Etsy seller, blogger, mark. rep, Mom, and wife. There's got to be an easier way to get everything done, and still have "me" time. Let me know if you come up with any new tips :) -Al

TesoriTrovati said...

This is why I always drop everything and come over to visit when I see you post something new... you are tapping into what I am thinking and come up with so many great angles and ideas and thoughts. I cannot do it all. And lately it seems as if I am running so fast my feet are not touching the ground. Sometimes I have to just stop and take a deep breath and then reorganize to get it all done. Tonight is one of those times. But it is all good and there will be times I will be cursing that the well has gone dry so I am happy for the rainy season even if it makes me crazy!
Enjoy the day! Erin

What is design lab 443? said...

I know what you are saying, I make custom items and sell prints. I love when I sell the prints, just pack them up and ship out. Those are the best!

Isette said...

Wow, you've read my mind, I swear. It's taken me *forever* to bounce back from the holiday season this year...Happy to report that new ideas are flowing, though, after my mental downtime.

I'm looking forward to what other sellers have to say!

SummersStudio said...

This is a good series. I've been in the 'e' mode and would love to hear what others have to say about this. Thank you!

Catherine Ivins said...

it is my own lack of bounce-back this year after the hectic holidays that inspired this series-just talking to other makers about this has helped me tremendously am hoping to pass that feeling on ...

Leaves of Glass said...

I really want to go lie down now. I definitely relate to this. The thing I struggle with most is finding empty, refreshed time to create new work. I can just barely manage to keep the stocking/making/shipping/marketing/ cleaning my house/living my life in balance most of the time. What throws the whole thing out of whack every 3 weeks or so is that I need to sweep the schedule aside and do the REAL thing I do, which is make new things. And then just hold on in the middle of the chaos until there's a four day weekend and I can catch up with myself. And vacuum.

I love this life, and I'm not ready to stop doing this anytime soon. But golly, do I get tired.

Ngan {eNVe Designs} said...

You said it all sister. I have yet to stumble upon my magic formula where I can "work smarter, not harder".. so far, I'm just lucky if I can keep up with photographing and listing. I enjoy making one of a kinds, but like you mentioned, there's no "renew" option for those. Looking forward to gleaning some more insight from your ever-helpful posts, Cat. I know I'm a broken record, but thanks for sharing your knowledge (on top of all your own business happenings)!

DancingMooney ♥ said...

It sounds as though there are quite a lot of us who suffer from this 'e' thing you are talking about... especially right now. The holiday rush is over, and the newness of the new year brings expectations and an overwhelming feeling of needing to know all the answers, even though we have to remind ourselves to take things one day at a time. Can't wait to read your coming tips!

DancingMooney ♥ said...

p.s. Ditto what Leaves of Glass said! ♥

Melisa said...

My brain matter looks like beads ; ) I make jewelry as does everybody else on etsy. I LOVE etsy...mostly for buying. Selling is a whole other ball of wax. I look forward to your future posts about "make one sell one" advice.

Wild Woman Jewelry said...

amen! can't wait to read the next bits- and hugs and a nice nap to us all :)

BlackStar said...

Well, I am officially taking weekends and most nights off now. I may check convos to see if someone is in real need of me, or hit the publish or renew button, but I'm cutting back and treating this like a 9-5er. It makes for a much happier BlackStar.

Can't wait to read the rest and see what everyone has to say.