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How To Sell On Etsy, Or Not

At least once a year we should set goals for ourselves.  Sometimes these goal are related to something like losing weight, sometimes they are related to something like learning or perfecting our craft, sometimes they are something like a going to a certain vacation destination.  In any event, it's nice to have goals, it's important to set out to achieve something and either make it or evaluate why we didn't reach that goal.

As I've mentioned, I set a goal this year of growing my Etsy sales.  I've been really terrible at maintaining the shop since I opened it.  My first step was to open the shop, load a bunch of pictures then ignore it.  I didn't interact with very many people on Etsy, I rarely posted any new pots, basically I just hoped the pots would sell themselves.  Once in a while they did.  It was awesome to wake up in the morning and realize that someone had bought something from me while I slept.  Very cool but not very much or very often.  Certainly not enough to earn a living.  Yes, I have pottery in galleries and shops, I do festivals and shows but it's always good to have multiple streams of income rather than a bunch of pots sitting around waiting to go to their new homes.

Dragon Tea bowl by Lori Buff
Dragon Yunomi

I've started posting more on Etsy and interacting with other people who use Etsy and sales have picked up a little but not much.  So I did what everyone else seems to do and checked with the collective knowledge of the internet.  I found a lot of articles about how to improve my sales.  Most of those articles are very long and wordy with lot of links to other articles about how to improve your Etsy sales and those articles have lots of links to other articles that have lots of links to other articles...ENOUGH!

I'm a slow reader, I may even be a slow potter.  If I have to spend half of my time reading about how to sell, and half my time doing these special things to help me sell then I'll never have time to create.  I guess the best strategy is to just do the best you can and let that work.  I've said that about making pots and it was true, I will bet it's true of selling them too.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Comments

  1. Well said Lori; how frustrating. I dallied with etsy for a while but packed it in when I realised it wanted much more of my energy to maintain it properly than I was interested in giving it. I need those hours to make instead!

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    1. Right Georgia. It's simple math, I can sell a lot more pieces in a local gallery or store in one month than I do on Etsy and it takes much less time. Yes, I give the store owner a larger commission but it's money that supports a local business so it stays in my community.

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  2. Oh boy, I don't know what the answer for selling is anymore. My answer this past year has been not to make anything, thing I don't have to worry with the selling! Not the right answer of course but it's been a nice break! However, if I pay attention to my etsy shop, if I put something in there, it sells, I just don't stay consistent with it.

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    1. Hi Tracey, not making anything is one way of not having to worry about sales. I'm still enjoying making pottery, I don't even mind selling it, mine just seems to sell better in stores then on line.

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  3. Many times on etsy I thought their suggesting artists renew or list work often is because they are making money from that, after all they're in business too, it must be quite lucrative for them. It all seems to be a game to play to sell the work and it does take so much energy to do it, ugh I wonder if it might be more lucrative to have a link for folks to purchase pottery from the blog?

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    1. Hi Linda, its interesting to me that you say that because I do have a link here on the blog, it even has pictures. People can also shop right from my Facebook Page and I have over 600 "likes" there. I'm not really sure how to make it more obvious.

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    2. I mean purchase directly from you on your blog not direct them to etsy to purchase ?

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    3. see Lori of Fine Mess Pottery blog site

      http://finemessblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/thursday-inspiration-melissa-mencini.html

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    4. Oh, I see what you mean. Thanks for the clarity. This is something to think about for sure. It might work a lot better, I'll look into it.

      Thanks

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  4. Etsy is time consuming in the beginning. Once you learn the mechanics of it, it takes up less of your time. Focus on selling items that you are good at reproducing. When you do this you will spend less time photographing work. Take my piggy banks for instance. I use a few photos in each listing that represent the variations in the glaze. I renew and/or copy that listing for what I have in stock. If it's sold out, I list it as made to order. Renewing listings is the best way to stay on top. It takes seconds to do. Once your shop reaches 100 items your sales will most likely increase. Good tag words and titles are also important. Driving people to your own personal site is much harder than using the power of Etsy. Jeff and I aren't making a ton of money on Etsy (yet!) but it is growing each year. I really dislike doing street shows and find Etsy less back breaking and time consuming.

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    1. Now that's some good advice Michèle, and you didn't even have to link to 100 other sites to tell me that. Really, I think the folks that are publishing article about how to make Etsy work for people are trying to scare away the competition. Thank you.

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  5. Like Meesh says, i don't care for fairs anymore either. Customers assume etsy is the last word in selling online, but my blog and fb are ten times faster at selling :)

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    1. Interesting thoughts Gary. I don't really do much selling on FB.

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  6. I came back to post with my laptop, since its easier and more reliable than my ipad:)
    I haven't had a ton of sales with Etsy because I haven't really put that much inventory there, but I can tell you my "success" story with it. If I post something on my blog and talk about it, photos of making it, what its all about, etc, then I put it in my Etsy shop, it sells. every time. I think for etsy success people need to connect with you, want a bit of what you have going on. There are so many many pages of pottery, there has to be something that connects you to customers. Everybody loves a good story!
    I agree with Michele, I have found outdoor shows to be so difficult, I lose money if the weather is bad, if it's poorly attended, it's just so unpredictable, At least with Etsy, there isn't much to lose and everything to gain. I'm convincing myself I need to get my shop back in order, haha! Of course, in your case, you seem to have found some pretty good shows, why give them up if you enjoy doing them. Etsy sales could maybe just pay for your show costs then its all profit for an event!

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    1. I think you're right about people wanting that connection. So I spent a lot of time writing my story, or the story of the piece in the description but now the "experts" tell me that less information is better because nobody has the time to read the descriptions. So you do seem to have the right idea, write the story here and post the link to the story on Etsy so if people want to read it they can.

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  7. The majority of my Etsy sales have been from people who have already made a connection with my business - seen me at a market or are directed from a blog post, newsletter link, facebook image etc. I know that Etsy hasn't generated a lot of Etsy-only sales (people searching on Etsy who discover the shop/items with their search terms). Granted, I am quite lax with uploading new stock as soon as it's actually available. My general focus is work for stockists and markets and whatever's left is posted in Etsy 'when I get to it.' I'm always chastising myself for not being more proactive with my Etsy shop but I'm looking into purchasing some better photography tools (ie: a light tent) which will hopefully alleviate the struggle I feel in photographing vessels. Great thoughts Lori and excellent comments from the fellow readers :)

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    1. Hi Rachel, Thanks for your thoughts and comments. I think the majority of my Etsy sales are from people searching on Etsy, but that's not really all that many sales. It's sounding like instead of focusing a lot of energy on Etsy the better idea would be to gather people to our blogs & other social media then direct them to Etsy. Good thoughts.

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