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Bob Coyle

Selling anything on Etsy?

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DMCosta    7

Hi, I have been on ETSY for about a year. I've made about 24 sales and I don't have a ton of items up there. I never had more than about 25 items for sale at one time. In general, I like it. However, you get what you put into it. I "refresh" or "edit" my items on a bi-weekly basis so my listings end up toward the top of the search. I find that is the key for me. About 50% of the items I sell are custom made items. Buyers contact me about something they liked via the site and I custom-make it for them. The kitchy items such as dog bowls, money jars, etc. seem to be the best sellers for me. I have had zero luck in selling any of the more "high end" items. Hope this helps!

 

~Dianna

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PotterGrl    3

So did you decide to do Etsy?

 

I've been making pottery for 3 years now. In the beginning, I was putting pictures of the work I was proud of on my personal Facebook page (timeline) just to show to my family and friends. It didn't take long for all of them to start saying things like "How much do you want for that" and "when are you going to start selling?" and "can you make me......?"  It was a little frustrating because I wasn't ready to sell and certainly wasn't ready to take commissions. Finally, after 2 years I decided to sell. However, I needed a way to do it. I couldn't just put a picture on my FB page and say "this is for sale" and then have 10 people tell me they want it. So to simplify things, I started an Etsy page for the MAIN purpose of selling to my friends and family. So what I do is I put a pic on FB and say "for sale on Etsy right now!" Then it's not up to me to decide who gets it. I also have the set price, there's no "weeelllll, I'd like $20 for it."  Nope. It's on Etsy at this price, take it or leave it. You snooze, you lose. LOL.  I've sold 23 items since March, now it's October, so that's 7 months.  I think only 3 or so are complete strangers. I always tell my friends and family that if they live locally, to talk with me before buying because I will go to the item and put a reserve on it, then take off the shipping cost. Then that person can pay through Etsy, but come pick it up at my house.  I actually like them to pay through Etsy because I think it helps my Etsy Shop to see the number of sales. I just can't stand dealing with money with friends and family. So I MUCH prefer having Etsy to go through, even though Etsy gets their cut.

 

So for my purposes, Etsy is working awesome and doing what I need it to do. I'm always getting Etsy emails that give ideas on how to promote and sell on Etsy, so if my goal is to sell a ton, then there ARE ways to do it. But I'm not a production potter, it's simply my hobby. I don't need a dime from it really.  I also get upset when I'm suddenly stressing out over making pottery. I have a 3 hour show this weekend and that is stressful enough. I don't want the fun to ever leave it. I never want to be forced to my wheel.  I've done commissions and they stress me out (I have 2 in the works right now).  I just prefer to go at my own pace, list items on Etsy and say "here, if you like it, it costs this much" and leave it at that ;o)

 

A side note, don't forget to put your shop in "vacation mode" when you go on vacation or if you have a show and you are taking those same items with you.  I went on vacation for 8 days this summer and I forgot to put my Etsy shop on vacation mode, and my second day there I had a sale!!!! I have a smartphone and get the emails and Etsy notifications ;o)  So I emailed the woman and appologized like crazy that I wouldn't be home for a week to mail her package. Offered to give her money back if it was something she needed right away. She was nice and gracious about it. I put a little something extra (a brown sugar keeper) in her package when I mailed it. That was embarrassing. 

 

I also have a Facebook business page where I post pictures and updates, and there is a free shopping app on that page that directs people to my Etsy page. I'll post pics of thing in progress, finished things, shows I'm going to, etc. I have 94 likes on that page, only 45 are family/friends from my regular FB timeline. I belong to a FB group of crafters for my area that has over 800 members and I post there as well. So the word gets out.

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PSC    54

I have an etsy shop but come january i'm closing it down. Etsy has changed their definition of handmade to include mass manufactured items and it seems dishonest to me to call nonhamdmade items handmade so after my current listings expire i will not be listing anything. I've been there about 5 years weathered many of the changes etsy has made but this change has to do with integrity. Its like a craft show with no true crafts anymore still calling themselfs a craft show.

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PotterGrl    3

I have an etsy shop but come january i'm closing it down. Etsy has changed their definition of handmade to include mass manufactured items and it seems dishonest to me to call nonhamdmade items handmade so after my current listings expire i will not be listing anything. I've been there about 5 years weathered many of the changes etsy has made but this change has to do with integrity. Its like a craft show with no true crafts anymore still calling themselfs a craft show.

I did not know about this change, but I DID notice that whenever I search for handmade items that non-handmade things come up. I use Etsy to help me price my own pottery for shows or to list on Etsy, so it's frustrating that the non-handmade things come up.

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karan    0

I originally set up my Etsy shop as people at my local art fairs would ask to see my website...

 

I wasn't active for about the first year and a half or so... but have had much more activity these past couple of years.

 

It is a little supplemental income... but not huge for me, as it is just nights and weekends to dedicate to my shop.  

 

I think the best thing about it for me, is just the ability to give people my direct shop link... even if I don't sell through Etsy, locals often look, and contact me directly for a sale in person.

 

I still am weighing whether or not I feel all the work is paying off though... I've been looking at it as though I am laying groundwork for the long haul... the question then becomes when is the groundwork being laid finished, and the long haul beginning...

 

:-)  Karan

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DMCosta    7

Hi, I'm on ETSY. It has it's positives and negatives. If you have simple functional items such as mugs, bowls, pitchers etc., eventually...they'll probably sell. On Etsy, my more high-end sculptural items never sell and never really get the attention. I find that the majority of buyers on Etsy are looking for made to order, "personalized" pottery. I am willing to do a handful of that, but I have my limitations. Aside from the personalized items, I find the sales are generally weak. I typically use my Etsy profits to put forth on craft fair and events so I don't have to take that money out of my regular paycheck. On average, I do about a sale one or two sales a month. Sometimes it can be a good sale. I recently made two custom order dog bowls for $80 a set, plus shipping.

 

Also, I fully agree with what was mentioned before that the items need to be refreshed on a regular basis, that helps generate more sales for sure.

Good Luck!

 

~Dianna 

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nancylee    30

Hi,

I didn't sell anything on etsy until I started to offer personalized works: mugs with names, dog bone ornaments with names, dog bowls with names. I have been crazy busy this last month with Christmas orders, I am getting 3 to 4 custom requests a day, which is a lot for me, as I was working full time. Never underestimate the narcissism of your fellow Americans!!! I know one woman on there, she is one of the top sellers, she makes personalized ring holders. She was saying that she brought 3 days of orders to the post office the other day: 180 boxes. You can check out her sales: dgordon. 

 

I know that sales will slow down now, so I am looking for some shows that I can do, where functional pottery does well. I think in any field, we have to be flexible and willing to do what brings home the bacon, even if I can't stand making another name plate to put on a mug!!!

Nancy

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Mark Barta    0

I've recently started actually using my etsy account I set up a year or two ago and have had some luck in the past month.  What people have mentioned previously is very true in that you should list new items at least weekly, research keywords that are unique and descriptive of your work, and that customer service is very important.  I also think that having a lot of options in your store is important, the number that seems to be thrown around is having at least 40 items in your store, I'm still working up to that number.  I currently use there ads program and spend about 5 dollars a week on advertising, so I make sure to factor that "overhead" into my work.  For instance, if I sell 1 piece of work a week, and I spend $5 on advertising, then I add $5 to the "base" price I would sell the work at.  Since there is a lot of pottery on Etsy, I would suggest finding a way to differentiate yourself from everybody else.  Where at an art fair there may be only 5 other potters to compare work to, on Etsy, buyers have literally thousands of pieces of work to choose from.

 

Hope this helps!

-Mark

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JBaymore    1,432

Wow, 250 pages of competition. That's a big race!

 

Hence the discussions in the business section of "It ain't easy". :)

 

best,

 

..................john

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Kohaku    22

Hi, I'm on ETSY. It has it's positives and negatives. If you have simple functional items such as mugs, bowls, pitchers etc., eventually...they'll probably sell. On Etsy, my more high-end sculptural items never sell and never really get the attention. I find that the majority of buyers on Etsy are looking for made to order, "personalized" pottery. I am willing to do a handful of that, but I have my limitations. Aside from the personalized items, I find the sales are generally weak. I typically use my Etsy profits to put forth on craft fair and events so I don't have to take that money out of my regular paycheck. On average, I do about a sale one or two sales a month. Sometimes it can be a good sale. I recently made two custom order dog bowls for $80 a set, plus shipping.

 

Also, I fully agree with what was mentioned before that the items need to be refreshed on a regular basis, that helps generate more sales for sure.

Good Luck!

 

~Dianna 

 

I've sold five higher end items (planters, kettles, art plates) on Etsy since I started a little more than a year ago. Average price in the $120 range. Seems a pretty unenviable success rate... but given than I've only had several hundred hits, it suggests to me that them potential is there. I hate the idea of pouring time into Etsy marketing... but I'm considering it...

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Shuli    0

You definitely need to "brand" yourself.  Everything about your online "storefront" needs to be cohesive: Your name, banner, fonts, items, photos, photo backdrops, "about" page, marketing...Think about businesses that are extremely successful today.  GAP.  Tiffany & Co.  Starbucks.  Pier One.  When you hear one of those names a jolt of recognition goes through you.  Everything you see/hear/smell/touch/taste in the store makes you think, "Yeah, that belongs there."

 

It also helps if you specialize and target a particular kind of consumer.  When I first opened my Etsy store, I put up all the work I had lying around the house, most of it made at least five years ago (I hope my skills have improved!)  The items that sold the fastest were two sheep soap dishes, so I made twenty-five more (does that qualify me as a production potter?) and poured a plaster mold to make them easier.  I'm going to package them with handmade goat's milk soap because it turns the soap dish into a nice gift, and I'm thinking about taking down my old work and devoting my shop to soap and soap dishes for a while.

 

I read in an article that bath/beauty products and craft supplies are some of the most fast-selling categories on Etsy.  Does anyone know if that's true?

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JustPeachy    16

I'm glad I have no intentions to sell pottery but just make boat anchors for my friends. I snooped around because the Etsy topic caught my eye. I have an account and I've sold only a few things there. Mostly vintage sewing patterns but never enough to make a living off. red-neck-laughing-smiley-emoticon.gif Hardly seems worth the effort. And I've heard more of the same from people selling handcrafted soap. It's become so saturated and undercutting to just make a sale, that there isn't much profit to make. yellow-smiley-confused-emoticon.gif

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How you list your work on Etsy and the taggings are really important. If people can't find you then you won't sell anything. Think of what terms people are going to look for and use them. It seems using "Pottery Art Ceramic" in the title has worked the best for me.  Etsy gives you 140 characters to use in your title so I try to use as much of a rambling title that I can to take advantage of words people might use to search.  For instance for a raku pot I have used something like "Pottery Raku Seashell Art Ceramic Vase Home Decor Vessel Terra Cotta Housewares"  Pay attention to the tag words and use them to your advantage in both title and description.

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nancylee    30

And make sure you have good content, not just SEO buzzwords, but from what I have been reading, most of the hits on my shop come from inside etsy, not Google. So I buy search ads. And make what people want. Research what sells, and make it.

 

I am so weary of putting names on mugs, but I sold a couple of thousand dollars of them in the past month. Never thought that would happen! But people like that. They like useable, good prices, lovely work. It's not a place for original art, in my experience, although many people have excellent solid work there. There is also a price point to consider. One lady makes lovely mugs, but at close to $50, they don't sell. I sell my mugs at $22 to $25.

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JBaymore    1,432

This lady just posted on Facebook that she just hit 5000 total sales on Etsy.  But looking at the shop info, that one was founded in Nov. of 2009.  So that is 5000 sales in 14 years.  If the average price of a sale for her is $40 (seems reasonable given her pricing listed) that is a total of about $200,000.  Nothing to sneeze at.  But divide that by 14 years, and you get about $14,285 average a year, for the GROSS income.  Take out COGS, overhead, and other such business expenses maybe less than $10,000 a year, pretax. 

 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/blueroompottery/sold?ref=shopinfo_sales_leftnav

 

These days $10,000 is not a lot of money.

 

best,

 

.....................john

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bciskepottery    925

John, not to be picky, but how about 4 years (2013 - 2009 = 4).  Yeah, that new math stuff really gives me trouble, too.  Any case, that's a boatload of yarn bowls.

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JBaymore    1,432

Picky, picky, picky. 

 

Oops... brain fa%$.  :rolleyes:  :blink:  :unsure:   Yeah..... that new math is a bear.

 

That is more like $50,000 a year.  So an Etsy success story.

 

Wonder if it is sole proprieotorship or if there are employees?  Also if there are other retail and whol;esale sales, or is this the whole enchilada?

 

best,

 

.....................john

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Mark C.    1,807

I'm still not selling anything on Etsy-

I have been selling a boatload of potttery just not online.

$10,ooo per year-just the shipping/wrapping gives me pause at 40$ per sale.Glad its not me.That can be done in a 3 day weekend without 250 UPS shipments at a good show.

I ship enough without looking for more shipping-

Buy it now .com works best for me at my booth.Its worked for over 40 years even before the web.

When I'm to old to pack pots around I may and I say may half heartedly try my own online cart. Not etsy.That name feels like my back is itching?

I already have my own customer base-Thats what you need to work on to make selling pottery work.

My glazes are always different-thats reduction firing. Its also why folks like the pottery.

Mark

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Stephen    139

Wouldn't you have to admit though that even with shows you handle all the pottery a number of times as you move the pieces through a show and unsold back to your studio.

 

The labels from online would/should be automated and plucking, wrapping and boxing to a certain degree would be done in both venues. There are things in both that would be exclusive but if someone did a lot of online and was extremely organized couldn't they also pack and ship 250 pieces in the same 3-5 days you would spend on the 3 day show?

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Mark C.    1,807

I'll grant you it could be done as in its possible -Amazon does it  every nano second but on etsy-250 pieces bought in the same 3 days?maybe a $5 dollar item? and thats a BIG maybe.

Yes I handle pottery a lot of times and thats a fact but its part of the job-its keeps me in shape at 60-clay has always kept me in shape.

Some folks think moving pots is a hassle for me its all part of the whole.

The larger question is can you make a living selling on etsy what do you think?

As I know I can with my other outlets. I feel etsy is a very much supplemental income source that all it can be or will be.

 

One last note if you do not like handling your ceramics many times then maybe rethink clay as its all about handling the same things many many times-there is no other way. no matter how you market them.

Throwing trimming sponging bisquing handbuilding sanding waxing glazing loading firing and we have yet to get to selling wait you need to unload them-price them pack them sell or ship them take them to shows or galleries repack take home take somewhere else? it all adds up to handling them many many times.

For me as I said its all part of a single process making a good living with clay.

On etsy you are one in 850,000 sellers or less as I think the number has growen what are the odds?

Mark

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Stephen    139

Hi Mark,

 

Love to move the stuff at every stage of the game, I was disappointed when we started buying pre-mixed clay because It was fun starting with a bunch of bags of dirt and turning it into clay first :-) 

 

If I understood your post as intended, you were saying the shipping is a nightmare and you can move 250 pieces through a show and not have to deal with shipping it.

 

I was mostly trying to point out that there are many hours involved in shows as well so If one is organized, shipping those same 250 pieces you mentioned moving through a 3 day show will not by definition take that many more cumulative hours to ship via UPS (over a longer time I'm sure). Based on previous experience with shipping other things if everything (boxes, padding etc) is just so and the labels are all automated then packing a box every 15 minutes seems doable, 4 an hour, especially since you are not doing it all at one time but a few a day tops. If the packages averaged a piece and a half that's 166 packages to move 250 items and that would be about 40 hours of packing spread out over however many days, weeks or months. I assume you agree that a three day show would take x number of hours as well so the difference may be closer than you think. I do get though that you enjoy shows and despise shipping boxes though :-)    

 

Anyway I don't have enough experience to be arguing with you. From what I can tell almost no one sells more than a few hundred items a year on-line and that takes some dedicated hours of specialized marketing to do. I think Etsy is a popular example to use in the discussion because how long a store has been up and how many sales they have had is right there for everyone to see.

 

On a different note, I Hope everyone had a nice holiday yesterday!

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Chris Campbell    1,088

I like hearing the stories of how people are adapting etsy to their own personal business ... they don't care if the whole world sees it, they are just using it for the convenience if their customers ... They cannot be bothered dealing with online credit cards etc., so direct people to etsy and let them do it for a fee.

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GEP    863

Wouldn't you have to admit though that even with shows you handle all the pottery a number of times as you move the pieces through a show and unsold back to your studio.

 

The labels from online would/should be automated and plucking, wrapping and boxing to a certain degree would be done in both venues. There are things in both that would be exclusive but if someone did a lot of online and was extremely organized couldn't they also pack and ship 250 pieces in the same 3-5 days you would spend on the 3 day show?

 

(Sorry for my slow response to this ... I haven't been on the computer much during the holidays)

 

I don't do much online selling either, but right after my Open Studio (my last show of the year), I loaded up my online store and received a flurry of orders in two days. Remember I do a lot of wholesale so I have a very efficient setup for wrapping and packing boxes. I spent about 6 hours packing and shipping online orders. If I compare the gross sales represented by those 6 hours, to the gross sales of the 9 hours that my Open Studio was live, there is no comparison. Making sales at a show is far more efficient than packing online orders. Not to mention, my Open Studio took place during a sleet storm, could have been much better. Also not to mention, taking photographs, uploading them to the online store, writing descriptions, this all took several hours. About the same amount of time it takes to setup my display for any show. And I only listed about 25 pots online, at any show I can display hundreds of pots. Also not to mention the high volume of packing materials consumed, vs the wrapping/bags used at a show. It seems wasteful. 

 

The major difference is this ... at a show, the customer comes to you. They spend a lot more of their own energy making the purchase, especially transporting it back to their house. When customers are sitting at their computers, the potter needs to make up for this effort themselves. 

 

My thoughts on the example provided by John B ... it looks like this etsy store has really embraced the yarn bowl as a niche market. Their store offers dozens of items but just about all of their sales are yarn bowls. And in my opinion their yarn bowls are of a better design and quality than most of the yarn bowls I've seen. And it's the type of niche item where they probably couldn't find that many knitters at a time by doing shows. I do wonder if it requires an assistant to pack 5,000 orders. If so, that needs to be factored in as an expense. And I wonder how they feel about making only one item all the time. But if they have all of these things figured out, then they are doing something very smart. 

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