Monday, 27 May 2013

so far so good

well, i hope you are all enjoying your bank holiday weekend? i am finally recovered from a crazy few days of order processing. i had a large last minute order that i just couldn't turn down which meant working all through the night to get it done. it's not the first time i have done this so far this year and it won't be the last. am i a workaholic? (or crazy?) - you could say that, but am i upset about it - nope!

this leads me onto the purpose of this post. i wanted to give all you etsy sellers and anyone else who would like to take what you do from a 'hobby' to an actual business. i am not professing to be a massive success - yet ;)however, i have had a marked increase in revenue since january this year and i wanted to share with you how i did it.

above is a graph from my 'etsy stats' ( i have edited it to remove the actual figures) i wanted to show you this as to prove that what i am talking about is not 'bs' and that i really do have some useful tips for you. these tips are mainly focused on those of you that have an etsy shop but i think it will help most people.

make the decision to sacrifice
if you really want to make your business work you have to make sacrifices. as you can see from the time i started my etsy business (more a hobby at the time) i was not making too many sacrifices and was merely plodding along. however, naively i was always confused about how my business was not suddenly picking up and becoming an instant runaway success. the reason this wasn't happening was because I WASN'T WORKING HARD ENOUGH!
at that time in my life i actually didn't need to. things changed and then i had to make it work. some people don't need a massive life change to make them realize that serious hard work and sacrifice are required. but i am one of those people. it wasn't until i was forced to make the decision to either lose everything in my life i had worked so hard for or find the strength to make it work. it wasn't a hard decision - i really had no choice.
don't be the person that makes that decision only when they have to - make the decision now!

i have had to make sacrifices to increase my sales. i have had to sacrifice sleep. not something i like to do as i love my sleep! i have also had to turn down lots of fun things purely because i have made a commitment to myself that i will not let myself and more importantly, my customers down. when everyone else has been out having a good time i have been indoors working. was it fun -  no! but, when it comes time for me to have fun i will be able to choose to do more interesting things with my time, things i wouldn't have been able to do before - and i will enjoy it a lot more knowing that i have made it happen for myself because i made earlier sacrifices.
you need to decide what you are prepared to sacrifice. do you have a partner or a family? these are things to consider. if you want to make it really work you will have to think about whether you would be prepared to spend less time with those that you love. this was a sacrifice i wasn't ready to make before and to be honest i am glad i didn't as it would have been something i would be seriously regretting now.

sell something people want and need
when i was put in the position of having to make my business work i had to really think about what i was doing. i had to look at my shop and the stuff i was selling in it. i realized that to start getting proper sales i had to provide something people really wanted and needed. this was when i really started to notice a difference and my hobby turned into my business.

if somethings sells well, make more of it!
when you find something is popular make sure you try to capitalize on it. make more in a different style, different colours and slight variations. when it comes to etsy the more items you have in your shop the better, but when you have more of what people want in a wider variety - better still. and it's so easy to do with the new etsy 'copy listing' feature.

renew items regularly
the more views you get the more orders you will get - it's a simple as that. i try to renew around 5 -10 times a day so that my items are in the first few pages in the searches. this is something that you need to be very consistent with. if i fail to do it i do notice a decrease in orders. also, the timing of your renewing is important too. i try to spread it out throughout the day but i do get the most orders at around 4-6am. luckily i usually wake up a few times around then so i quickly renew a few items from my phone and go back to sleep. it always seems to work. that's just something i personally like to do - i wouldn't suggest you set your alarm to wake you up 5 times a night to renew but as i wake up then anyway - whats the harm!

list new items often
this is something i am not too great at! purely because i am busy enough with the orders i am generating from the products i have on offer already. however, with a little bit more time management and hopefully when i am in a position to employ people to work on the practical side of things then i will be able to add more and more new designs etc.
a general rule of thumb for successful etsy shops is the more you have to offer the more sales you will get - simple really!

forget about how many 'favourites' you get

i used to obsess over how many favourites i got. i used to get quite a lot and they are now increasing again slightly. i think i got quite a lot before was because i made unusual 'treasury worthy' items. i would be featured in a lot more treasury's and now not so much. i think it's because when people see something in my shop the tend to just buy it. think about it, if i favorite something it's because i am not completely sure and want to see if there is something better available. i very rarely buy something i 'favourite' if i see what i want i buy it there and then.
don't worry about 'favourites'
worry about views because 'views = sales'

take excellent photos
this is SO important. you need your items to stand out in the searches. they need to be clear and bright and professional looking. it amazes me the amount of people that wonder why they are getting no sales when they have absolutely terrible photos! there are so many tutorials on the etsy website - there really is no excuse. you don't need a flashy camera - i just have a simple point and shoot but if you use the correct settings and then take the time to edit them properly you will end up with a really good shot. 
(i will be posting a photography tutorial soon which will detail how i take and edit my photos)

be prepared for slow times
don't get despondent if things suddenly go very quiet. this happens to me all the time. i can go for a few weeks with nothing - not a peep - and then all of a sudden i am getting sales all over the place. just make the most of the down times to work on your orders at a normal pace! and on new products. keep renewing and listing new items. if you stop doing that the sales won't come back.
don't give up!

find ways to motivate yourself

a picture of me as a kid. i wasn't like your average little girl that dreamed of getting married and having babies. my dream was to be a successful business woman. i have had this 'dream' all of my life. the only thing i didn't quite realize was how much hard work was involved to make the dream a reality. i am no-where near where i want to be and things are only just beginning. 
to motivate myself i look at this picture everyday and ask myself - would i want to let her down? this helps me stay motivated when i really don't feel like doing anything.
there is a saying that i love that i was taught while selling credit cards door to door in London.

'when you least feel like doing it is when it counts the most'

this is so true and it's something i try to remember when i am feeling lazy or fed up with working all the time.

i hope these tips help you. really it's just a few simple changes (but hard ones) that i have made that are helping me a lot. so to summarize here are the main points to remember to increase sales in your etsy - or any other online shop

  • sell products people really want/need
  • take really good photos
  • list new items often 
  • you can never have too many products - list, list and list again
  • renew at least five times daily
  • don't give up!


and remember - if you worry about your beauty sleep - or lack of - like i do, you can always have a face lift when you are rich!