Thursday, July 15, 2010

Asked to Donate an Item - and said "no"

I have been asked to donate items before and I have done it, partially because I have worked for nonprofit organizations and feel a certain kinship for the people who approach me, and partially because I thought it might help boost my business. Last fall, I was heartened to hear that a piece I donated to a local nonprofit went for full price at auction, but it resulted in no business for me.

Recently, I was approached about donating this bracelet:

I thought about it, but respectfully declined.

I happen to really like this bracelet. I bought the beads at a cool little shop in Laguna Beach on my weekend birthday trip a couple of months ago. I was looking forward to making something fun with the beads and I am thrilled with the results. I would be even more thrilled if I sold it! I think there is a time and a place for donations, but at this time, I don't have anything available for free. I work hard, as I know all of you do, too, to produce something unique and valuable for my customers and while I try to keep afloat in "this economy", I need a return on my investment. Right now, the warm feeling of giving cannot equate with the cash that I need to keep my business viable.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Perceived Value of Handcrafted Items

There are a couple of Etsy threads going on right now that are addressing the concept of low prices equally the perception of low value. Does something priced low give the impression that the item is not as worth owning?

I have to say, "yes". I have only made a few Etsy sales - a lot of my sales are done offline - but I have noticed that is is my more expensive items that sell. Anything marked "SALE" just sits there.

This is one of the most expensive items in my store right now, going for $70:

Would lowering the price to $50 make a difference? I don't think so. For one thing, I think this bracelet is worth $70, given the time and the materials. Second, I don't think that a buyer is suddenly going to jump on it because its $20 less. In fact, their perception of this bracelet's value will probably go down. So, I will not lower the price but, instead, wait for the right buyer who recognizes the true value of this piece.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Search Engine Optimization

For someone who really just wants to focus on creating jewelry, the business side of things can be overwhelming. Marketing, promoting, tracking...ugh. Yet, if I am ever to reach my goal of supporting myself as an independent jewelry designer, then I need to get a handle on the business side of my business.

With that in mind, I have spent a lot of time the past two days reading about SEO (search engine optimization). I was happy to find a great deal of useful information on the Etsy forums. There are a lot of people who use Etsy as a hobby, but I am also finding that for many people, they DO make a living from their art and Etsy serves an important function for them. So, why not take the advice of people who are doing what I want to do?

After reading through posts on SEO, I realized just how ineffective many of my titles and tags in my Esty shop were. Clever names, like you might find in the Sundance catalog, are not going to get my products on the first page of a Google search. I need to think like a shopper would think and use those search terms. Therefore, what I had just listed as "Eternity Necklace" became "Eternity Chain Necklace":

and one of my previous listings, which I really thought would have sold by now has gone from "Shades of Brown" to "Shades of Brown Chunky Charm Bracelet":

I changed the tags, too. We shall see if it makes a difference, but it makes sense to me that I need to think like a buyer, not like a seller.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Etsy versus 1000 Markets

After taking a break from my Etsy shop over the holidays, I am spending some reconsidering if Etsy is the right venue for me and my work. I also have a shop at 1000 Markets, but just like Etsy, it gets no traffic without marketing. My view is that whichever way I go, I am simply renting shop space and I will have to drive my traffic there, so it is really a matter of which shop I want to drive traffic to.

Pro for Etsy: 

  1. It has the name. It is hard to find someone in this business who has not heard of Etsy.
  2. The forums. They are very active and have been very useful for hints, suggestions, and a sense of community.
  3. Time - as in, I have put a lot of time into my Etsy shop. I think letting it go, or distancing myself from it, is more of a psychological issue than anything.
  4. Paypal allows for instant payment directly into my account. 1000 Markets uses Amazon Payments, which can take a bit longer because the money has to be transferred into my account.
Pro for 1000 Markets:

  1. The look. It is a sleeker, more professional design that just looks cleaner.
  2. It is not as crowded - or shall I say bloated - as Etsy.
  3. The quality of merchandise appears to be superior, compared to Etsy. I have thought for a while that Etsy was beginning to get watered down. There is some OUTSTANDING work on Etsy, but let's face it, some stuff that is, well, not.
I have not made a decision yet, other than to put more of my focus on 1000 Markets and see how I feel about it from the seller point of view. I would like to get some feedback from buyers, too, to see if it matters to them at all. But, eventually, one will have to take precedence over the other.

If you would like to check out my 1000 Markets shop, this is a sample of what I have for sale: