Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brutal HonEtsy...

...Some unsolicited observations
from an Etsy underachiever...
You know those posts on the forums of Etsy?  The ones where people whine because they're not selling anything and they can't understand why people aren't lining up to throw money at them for making those profound works of art and amazing macaroni bracelets?   When you visit their site, you're speechless because you can't think of where to start? 

I've seen a couple from some obviously left-brained crafters that made me close the thread and back away - I couldn't possibly spend the rest of the day giving them the same tired advice they could have found in the thousands of other threads from similarly dissillusioned, asthetically- challenged crafters - and still be nice about it.  (Regretsy anyone?)

 Some of these poor "Martha-bees" had some pie-in-the-sky expectations about selling hundreds of creations and having product fly out of their shops as soon as they created the listing.  Some are truly mystified as to why they're not eeking out a living wage with their Etsy shop.

The Quit Your Day Job Series is a wonderful aspiration, and I've seen a few snippets that do a pretty good job of glossing over the Raman-Mac N' Cheese budget most of the actual subjects have finally attained.   Those articles make them sound so romantic!  Seriously, no mention of health insurance or vacations or retirement planning or other "luxuries" that most evil capitalists consider important. 

Remember, there's a reason they're called starving artists and, just like celebrities and professional athletes, the one's who do make bank are the exception, not the rule. 

If you're really mystified as to why you're not selling more of your stuff, here are some questions you might ask yourself:

1* What are your goals? - Do you really want to quit your day job?   Can you plan on working night and day until you can?  Do you need a regular paycheck, health insurance and a retirement plan?   Are you a stay-at-home parent and is it realistic for you to spend 8 - 12 hours running your business or will your TV be taking your place with your kids?

2*What do you know about starting or running a business?  Like any other venture, you get out of it what you put in to it.   Working full time online, might  earn you a part time income.  Running a successful business online or in a brick & mortar store will always take far more time & effort than if you work for "The Man".

At last Google, there were over
half a million results for
so you can get some input from
people who are undoubtedly
more driven to sell than I am...

3*Is your market saturated? - There are literally millions of jewelry listings and hundreds of thousands "photos" or bath and body products.  What's going to make your thing rise above all the rest?  Where and how will your creation stand out? 

And speaking of unique -
4* Can anyone make what you're selling?
   - If it's pretty easy and requires very little time or skill to produce, why would anyone pay to have you make and ship it to them?   There are litterally thousands of jewelry makers on Etsy and 10 times that many beads strung on to widely sold findings or those "ooak" pieces of mass produced crap hot-glued or jump-ringed together - (Cabochons?!  UHG! I can't be the only person to think these things are creepy!)
         If you started making stuff as gifts for friends and relatives and they suggested you start selling it, you have an idea.  If you do the research and find out your product makes a nice gift, but people just won't pay you enough to make it profitable or you can buy something that looks nearly identical elsewhere for $2.00 - it's time to rethink.

And finally - Lights, Camera, Blah -
5* WHAT is that?! ~vs~ I didn't even see it
    - You're making an amazing and really unique product - but who would know because it looks like you took those pictures in your basement.  You've obviously seen the pictures Etsy (and buyers) seem to love.  Those muted color, bright, clean, glossy magazine-type photos can be of your product, no matter what kind of digital camera you use.  Really!  My phone takes better pictures than my camera!
*Does your camera have an exposure adjustment?  -Turn it up.
*How about that Macro? - Play with your close ups.
*Do you spend time editing your phots? - You don't need Photoshop - just a regular FREE program like Gimp or PicNik or Photscape or any of these others.

These are just a few things to think about -  The next step would be marketing - But that is a whole other can of SEO worms and will definitely require a post all it's own...

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