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Launching your Etsy shop. January 13, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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2 comments

Silence Dogood here. Recently I’ve been posting about selling original artisanal crafts here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, and some of our regulars have expressed an interest in knowing more. So here’s another step on the road to home-based income.

I love reading about knitting, beading, quilting, and all my other crafting ventures as much as I enjoy collecting the materials and creating the finished products. (Our friend Ben is just as bad about collecting books about all his collections.) So when I decided to launch a fashion accessories venture this year, it was unthinkable that I not start out by reading some expert advice on how to go about it. I had the name, I had the unique product, I had the marketing strategy. What I didn’t have was a way to get them out of my head and onto labels, cards, displays, brochures, and online.

I needed help, and plenty of it. So I went to Amazon and checked out their books on selling crafts on Etsy, the premier online crafts site, and elsewhere. Based on the content and reader reviews, I narrowed my choices to three books, which have just arrived here at Hawk’s Haven:

How to Sell Your Crafts Online: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Sales on Etsy and Beyond (Derrick Sutton, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011).

The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online (Kari Chapin, Storey Publishing, 2010).   

Starting an Etsy Business for Dummies (Allison Strine and Kate Shoup, Wiley, 2011).  

A quick look has convinced me that my choices were good. The For Dummies series is always good for an overview of any subject, a starting point for more personal and/or more in-depth books on the topic. The Handmade Marketplace is quirky but practical, with lots of real-life stories, successes and failures from the author and many other crafters. And How to Sell Your Crafts Online is a primer on successful selling, how to make your product stand out, how to get it noticed, how to create buzz, all of which are especially important for crafters, who tend to be rather shy when it comes to putting themselves and their products forward.

All three books are information-packed and easy to read. If, like me, you’re just getting started, I recommend them as an excellent place to start. And if you’re already up and running and have found other books or websites more useful, please share them with us!

              ‘Til next time,

                            Silence

Miracles happen. January 11, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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3 comments

Silence Dogood here. Have you ever heard of a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People? Well, I’m about ready to update that to When Good Things Happen to Average People. Read on to see why:

As a freelancer who supports myself with writing and editing projects, I was facing 2012 with no paying projects in the pipeline. Our friend Ben isn’t exactly raking in the big bucks, either, so clearly it was time to implement plan B. Plan B in my case being to attempt to market a unique fashion accessory that I can actually make.

I had the product, the name, and the marketing campaign down pat. The question was, if and where could I sell it? And how could I get enough samples made to launch my product and brand? This is where the miracles come in, assuming you don’t think that coming up with the product and campaign to begin with was a miracle in and of itself.

First, buying the raw materials—especially yarns—to make my fashion accessories would be far from cheap. So imagine my astonishment and delight when my friend Amy turned up at my door with three boxes of yarn and asked me to take the yarn and the wonderful snap-lock boxes, since she was trying to get rid of clutter and realized that she would never use them. Thanks, Amy!

Next, there was the issue of how to sell my accessories. Exclusive handcrafts shops and online through Etsy were the venues that sprang to mind. I knew that, once I’d made enough stock, I could shop it around at the crafts boutiques. But I had no clue about Etsy. So I posted “Tell me about Etsy” on our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, and received some wonderful startup advice from Becca, who has an Etsy shop, The Home Gnome. Thanks, Becca!

Hearing of my startup, my friend Carolyn volunteered to take me to the “Big Three” crafts chain stores, Michael’s, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and A.C. Moore. I’d never been to any of them, and none are close to my home, so I was very grateful to have the opportunity to see what was available to mainstream crafters. Thanks, Carolyn!

We were chatting in the checkout line at Jo-Ann’s when the person behind us in line cheerfully joined the conversation. When Carolyn mentioned that I was making crafts for sale, she asked, “Are you on Etsy?” “Not yet,” I replied. Well. Turns out she’s one of Etsy’s top 500 sellers for 2011 (and if you recall that Etsy has well over 400,000 people selling, being in the top 500 is really being in the elite). “I can help you set up an Etsy store!” Gasp. Thanks, Merrill!

I still need lots of help. I need a mannequin and a white or cream knit turtleneck dress to put on her. I need a graphic designer to bring my logo to life, and someone to help me with business cards, labels, and signage. I need a website. I need to be able to take and upload photos. And on and on and on.

But oh boy, if not a jot of further help is forthcoming, look at what’s already materialized in the first month of my new venture! If that’s not proof that miracles do happen, I don’t know what is.

                 ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

Tell me about Etsy. January 6, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, Uncategorized.
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3 comments

Silence Dogood here. Money continues to be tight here at Hawk’s Haven in 2012, and I’ve been thinking of trying to sell some of my work to raise a little much-needed cash. Naturally, Etsy springs to mind, since it allows people to set up “shops” and sell handmade items on its site. I know at least two bloggers who have Etsy shops, but I don’t really know anything about Etsy, except for a staggering statistic I read that over 400,000 people sell on the site. 400,000! Would that be every crafter in America?!  

Anyway, I’m hoping that some of you who have experience selling on Etsy can help me out. Is the site hard to use? (Remember, you’re speaking to a techno-moron here, a genuine Luddite.) Is it difficult to set up a virtual shop on Etsy? Is the shop format flexible? Can you actually make any money, or is it more for raising enough cash to support your own favorite crafts/collectibles habit? How much of a hassle is it to deal with the payment process? And what about the whole legal/tax/small business aspect?

Anything you could tell me would be much appreciated!

             ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

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