Friday, August 29, 2008

Etsy Tutorial: IV - Selling Items

Captain Obvious says, "Selling items is what you have to do in order to have a successful shop anywhere". You can make the best things in the world, but if you can't get someone to buy them... well, you know. I've been on Etsy just a little over 6 months and I've had just about 450 sales to date, just so you can feel some confidence in my information. Making sales is almost as much an art form as making the items. That's why God created business school. I've never been, but Etsy has cleared up a lot for me in the word of consumer behavior and just how to be effective with your marketing. I still have a lot to learn, I know, but here are some practical tips I've currently found to be helpful:

  1. Don’t undervalue your handmade items. Perceived value is related to price, so don’t feel bad charging what it is really worth for your time and effort. Reducing the price will not necessarily sell it faster, in higher volume, or at all. Use a pricing calculator to reveal hidden costs (i.e. overhead) in producing your items to make sure you are covering your bases. Think of it this way: If someone asks if you will sell a product wholesale and you can’t cut your price approximately in half and still make enough profit to be worth your time, you aren’t charging enough.
  2. Advertise yourself by being a presence on Etsy. Post in the forums, heart other shops, leave comments in the treasuries or make your own treasury. Showcases are an exception, in my mind. I tried a main showcase and a subcategory showcase and didn’t even get more views, let alone sales. Common experience has indicated that many sellers experience the same thing. A $15 main showcase slot costs the same as renewing 75 items, so spend that money where it will do the most good.
  3. Don’t let slow times get you down. Slow and steady wins the race, right? As Michael from Arrested Development would say, “Keep your head down and power through.”

One note about sales: You can't necessarily assume because a shop has a high number of sales that they are successful. in my case, for example, I sell handmade items and vintage buttons. The handmade items bring in more money because I have to pay myself for my time, though the button sales really beef up my ratings because I sell more of them for less. Ultimately, the buttons might not be considered "worthwhile" since they do require the same work as handmade items to list, yet fetch more in the long run. But I think, by listing a variety of things that appeal to a variety of niches at a variety of prices, I get more views in my shop as a whole and, consequently, more sales.

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