Saturday, January 26, 2008

Old Fashioned Internet Selling Advice, by JBT

Just felt like putting down some of my own successful ideas for selling, and buying supplies.

1. Buy in bulk! Wholesale is NEVER cheaper than bulk! You can buy anywhere on the internet and ask for a discount. Don't be afraid to send a message to sellers on ebay, or any other site for that matter. They want your business, and undoubtedly have a lot of items in stock. And the best part is, you don't have to report your taxes on bulk, like with wholesale.

2. Don't feel obligated to buy from friends, or on Etsy. I can testify to this, because I am a supplier there. You should research on your own what is the most for your money.

3. If/when supplies start to pile up, do not sit on them!! Open a de-stash store, and get rid of most of it. This goes with buying in bulk. You paid a lot less, but nothing should ever sit too long. Money should be constantly flowing in/out of your business.

4. Don't get stuck on a trend! I can't tell you how many times I thought that I had the market on a certain pendant, or style. I bought so many overpriced pieces, then I was stuck with them:( Sell it, and when it slows down, move it out of your store, ASAP. Believe me, we will soon have octopi necklaces selling on Etsy for $5!

5. Please don't worry so much about banners, avatars, etc. If someone buys from you, there are so many reasons why. Changing your avatar to a certain item in your store, could actually push buyers away. Why? Because we're all different in our tastes! Do what you want, if they like your items, they will buy it.

6. Confident business people, do not need a lot of forum support. What I mean by this is, don't post things like "does this look okay", "do you think people will like this", "why are my sales slow", "my banner is ugly", etc., etc. In real life, do you see people at Nordstrom asking their fellow customer's/employees if their store looks okay? Or if they are too ugly to sell expensive items? Show confidence in your product, and even the ugliest item becomes wanted! LOL

7. If it's not working, get over it. Sorry to be harsh here, but when you repeatedly try to sell unpopular styles, don't complain that there's no customers. I tried selling beaded pieces on Etsy when I started. Sure they were pretty, time consuming, and made of the best materials. But only other designers could appreciate them. The average customer wanted an octopi necklace! All I'm saying is, if you do this for the love of creating, make what you want. I completely support you:) But if you'd like to make a buck, you might have to ride the waves of Etsy/internet trends.

8. Pricing is a HUGE issue. Should I go higher, lower, etc. First off, be confident whatever you decide. Secondly, don't outprice your market. Although Etsy does have room for all prices, you cannot afford to sell the same types of items, for 3 times the price of other's listings. I can't say enough that jewelry sitting in your shop for over 3 months is a bad, bad, thing! You need to get it in/out in the smallest amount of time possible. If you're taking too long to create your items, paying too much for everything that goes into them, re-evaluate your situation on a weekly, if not daily basis. Another thing I want to say about this. Customers are not stupid! They see how much our supplies cost, and they can do the math. Selling my octopi necklace for $75 will not work!! LOL Same goes for simple earrings, not made with precious metals, or gemstones. I wouldn't pay $25 for kitty charm earrings, and customers shouldn't either!

As for upping prices, I can really see this as a good thing with certain sellers on Etsy. When you are a glassmaker, metalsmith, etc. You need to reflect your labor/craftsmanship in your price. This post is just about jewelry, but I have noticed that a lot of other artist's are really selling themselves short.

9. Customer Service is sometimes even more important than the actual product you're selling! Almost 100% of my customers are repeat buyers. I'm really proud to say that I bend over backwards for everyone that buys from my shops. I hear repeatedly on the forums, "I don't have time to convo every buyer", "I re-use packaging, and I don't care that it looks bad", I hate doing custom work", etc. Every buyer must be wooed, because their words are advertising for your next customer. Not only are we judged by feedback on Etsy, but we can bring in repeat sales, and new buyers, through our satisfied clients. So go that extra mile, swallow your negativity/annoyance with lame demands!! It's worth it in the end:)

10. Start out with great packaging/advertising. It doesn't take a lot of money to create a beautiful gift for your customer. Besides business cards, throw in a pin, nice bag, promotional item, etc. My customer's raved last year, when I gave them JBT buttons w/cool graphics. Now they ask my for my latest ones. It's a great feeling to have your own brand, and style of packaging. It also lets your customer's know that you are here to stay, and care about how you look.

So that's my top ten, please add your thoughts too. As always, thanks for listening!


LoveMeKnot Creations said...

that was great advice T thanks!!

LoveMeKnot Creations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

loved your article! great advice to live by!

nek2c said...

Thanks for your advice, Tara! It means alot coming from a successful Etsy seller! I'll take it to heart:)

Carol said...

great points, Tara. I agree with you 100% on all points, esp #6.

Christy said...

"All I'm saying is, if you do this for the love of creating, make what you want."

This is so important! I have been asked to carry a product that I don't LOVE...and I was telling my friend last night that I'll make it for the person who requested it, but that it will not become a 'staple' of my shop and they couldn't understand why. What you said is the very reason why. I was never able to explain it to her in a way she could understand...maybe it's because she's not a creative/crafty/artist herself... *shrug*


LooseWireStudio said...

Your tenacity is contagious! Thanks!

Mystic Silks said...

Great Post!

Mystic Silks

Amy Yang said...

Great article. I completely agree. I feel motivated to go make something fabulous! :)

idyll hands said...

What great advice! Thank you for sharing your tips of the trade.

Dharma Designs said...

Well said! :-)

Anandi said...

good article. I disagree about the items that sit for 3 months, though. Given the huge amount of jewelry on etsy, sometimes it takes a while for the right buyer to come along.

You get 4 months for your $0.20 so at least let the item ride out that time before deciding whether to pull it from your shop.

eclecticadornment said...

Great article and wonderful advice. You are so right about customer service. Customer service is the most important aspect of selling. If your not willing to do what needs to be done to please your customers then what's the point in having a shop. The customer is what it's all about.

iamnotadoll said...

thanks for the advice, very helpful and hopefully will be useful to others too :)

Little Lovables said...

Great, blunt and to the point post. Thanks!!

Crave said...

Great tips! I'm in the works of starting up an Etsy shop and this was fantastic information to know from the start!

Nirmik said...

What A Blog, It's Very Good Blog. How much Time take for making This Blog.

Michelle said...

Great advise I'm taking it all in! Lovely blog. I'm loving it!

I've added you to my blog so that I can come back and visit :)