Etsy Jam Episode 7: Competitive Analysis

Welcome to Episode 7 of Etsy Jam!

Today we’re going to talk about Competitive Analysis and how you can use this to get a leg up on your competition.

Why it’s important to do competitive analysis?

Competitive analysis is not meant to copy your competitors but is meant to know where you stand in the market and it’s a really good practice. It helps you understand where you fit in the marketplace. We’re talking about key differentiators like “how are they relating to the market, to the audience, to the potential customer”, and “how can YOU have a different message”. If you’re not paying attention to the market then you don’t really know what you are saying that’s different.

Why most people don’t do competitive analysis?

One of the things I’ve heard repeatedly on other channels like Ijeoma’s podcast for example. She has guest sellers on all the time and one of the things a lot of them say is that sometimes they’re afraid to do competitive analysis. They’re afraid that it will spoil their creative process. They are afraid they might see something that a competitor is doing and feel like they can’t do that now because they saw a competitor doing it. They also have this fear of looking through the search results because they might see something and then not be able to do it or feel guilty if they do that. Some people are going to be in this boat and some people aren’t going to be. Some people might be a little bit more business minded and say like “I’m sure they’re looking at my stuff so why shouldn’t I be looking at their stuff?” In the end it’s all just personal preference.

How to perform Competitive Analysis with Marmalead

In Marmalead, you can do a search and what you’ll first see is a set of filters, Marma-meters, and right below that there’s a summary across that keyword and what the whole landscape for that market looks like. You can go ahead and look at all those numbers and understand how pricing breakdown, views, favorites, and things like that without actually seeing anything.

If you’re the type that don’t want to see other people’s listings, you can quickly scroll all the way to the bottom, and then start scrolling back up slowly. Then you can access all of the rest of the information that we’re showing on the screen in Marmalead like the Tag Cloud, Matching Items, and information about the tags used like views, favorites, and ranking. Keep going up and you’ll see the Pricing graph so you can see how different things are priced in that space and that’s a really good way of understanding where your competitors are at, price wise.

There’s another little thing too inside Marmalead that you can use for Competitive Analysis and that is if you are an Entrepreneur, you can change your shop name inside Marmalead and filter by your shop. A lot of people do this when they want to see where their ranking, how they’re performing, how their listings are doing, and that’s all great. If you wanna do a little bit of research about your competitor’s shop, you can put their shop name in there as well and filter by their shop in the results and see exactly what they are doing, see what tags they are using, and see where their pricing is because we’re showing only that shop’s information at that point. That’s another great way you can use Marmalead to do a little bit of competitive analysis.

Jen Carey’s tips on how she became competitive:

You may remember Jen from our previous Etsy Jam episode. When she first got started, she kept binders full of listing information. She would go to Etsy and just do searches and look at what her competitors are doing, what the market is doing at the time; and she studies these things. She would go through those and read all the descriptions. Seeing what kinds of information people are including in their descriptions. But not only that, she would print it out as she was learning the best way of doing these things just to see what other people are doing and seeing what’s working.

Target the listings that are grouped towards the top of search because those are the shops that are most engaged and they care about how they are presented on Etsy. By looking at those she was able to do a bunch of research ahead of time and gave herself a leg up before she even started listing anything on her own in Etsy.

Rachel of PaperBerryPress on trends:

When we were talking to Rachel, she talked a little bit about trends. Trends in the marketplace and how to stay ahead. She talked about how she would go to craft fairs a lot and catch those that are happening before they got to be more widely popular. She also talked about Pantone values too.

Related: Etsy Jam Episode 4: Rachel of PaperBerryPress

Pantone – for anyone who’s familiar with print media, Pantones are the numeric value representation (like a letter-number combination) for a color. It’s what it physically looks like when it’s printed out as opposed to seeing it on a screen digitally.

One of the thing that she does is she pays attention to this Pantone Association who’s in charge of this book of colors. Every now and then they add new colors to it and she has found that it doesn’t happen super infrequently that they add a color and it catches on. People start building products that are around that color. She knew about this trend way ahead of time because she was privy to the Pantone colors being released.

Trends

One of the things you need to do as a crafter is build your inventory. So if you are aware of these trends before they strike, you are able to start creating or crafting things using these trends. By the time it’s picked up and people are wanting to buy them, you are already ahead of the curve. You’ve already got stuff out there in your shop while everyone else is scrambling to play catch up.

You can’t always be right, sometimes you think something is going to be a trend and it doesn’t pan out, that’s okay. It’s better than showing up late to the game and being in a saturated market. When you do that, you’re always a little bit behind.

Rebecca’s comment on trends:
Trend Council is a good idea to follow on Pinterest if you guys are interested in keeping up on trends and catching those things ahead of the curve.

Google your competition.

There’s a bunch of information you can gain by googling your competition. If you Google them, you start seeing where they pop up, who is referenced to whom, where they have been featured, and sometimes they will be even indexed if they went to different shows. So you put their shop in and maybe they have went to a trade show or different fairs; and a lot of times these places will list the different vendors that showed up. Everywhere that they’re showing up is either an idea for you or just so you’d know what they’re up to and what you might wanted to do as well.

Set up Google Alerts.

If you’re really interested in keeping tabs on one of your competitors (or multiple competitors), you can set up a Google Alert where Google will send you an email notification whenever their web crawlers find something on the web that includes the keyword that you’re asking for. So by putting a competitor’s shop name or even the competitor’s name, you can keep tabs on what they’re doing and where they are showing up online.

Will my competitors know I’m following them in Google Alerts?
No, they will not know you are tracking them in Google Alert. There’s zero trace and the emails will be sent only to you.

To best understand the customer experience that someone is having with a competitor, you need to be a customer yourself. What you should do is you should be looking at their messaging. You should be buying something and see if they follow up with you, if they reach out to you, what their shipping looks like, what their follow up is, or what their packaging is. Take the guesswork out and try the entire experience. See what they’re doing. It’s very important.

You will get some benefit by looking at a single competitor’s information and looking at their shop and what they’re doing. But the more people you look at, the better. That’s why some of these tools come in and help you with that. You can go through and google a bunch of other people or set a Google Alert for multiple keywords. The more competitors you’re looking at, the more trends you are going to notice between them, and the more people you analyze, the better position you’re gonna be in.

When you study your competitors too, one of the things that could be really interesting to you is where they’re showing up. They might show up being talked about in markets you’ve never even expected your product would be used in. The fact that they’re showing up there and selling something to them might make you think “You know what, I sell that same product and if I just change my marketing message just a little bit to reach them, I can find a whole new customer segment that I haven’t even considered before”.

Closing:

That’s been it folks. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You’re welcome to attend next week! Etsy Jams every Thursday 9AM PST / 12PM EST.

Etsy Jam Episode 6: Tools to Keep You Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

It’s no secret that the web is becoming more and more riddled with spyware, viruses and malware. Every day is a cat and mouse game between malicious parties and the people trying to help us stay safe online. We focus on two tools to help YOU stay safe online:

Ad Block Plus and LastPass

What is Ad Block Plus?

Ad Block Plus is an advertising blocker that can block tracking, malware domains, banners, pop-ups and video ads – even on Facebook and YouTube.

Why Use Ad Block Plus?

  1. Safety – There have been an increasing number of people affected by ransomware and other dangerous types of malware recently. A large number of these take advantage of problems with Flash to infect your machine.
  2. Privacy – It’s no secret that your value to ad companies is your data. They want to know more about who you are, where you go online and what you like. Ads are built to track your habits across the web and ad companies can learn a LOT about you without you even knowing they are doing it.
  3. Freedom – Flash is used by over 97% of the internet. While it is being replaced by HTML5 in a lot of places, lots of sites still make heavy use of Flash. By using Ad Block Plus, I’m free to still access tools and features of sites which are using Flash without exposing myself to Flash Ads – which are a common way for attackers to get malware onto computers.

What is LastPass?

LastPass remembers your passwords in one secure spot so that you can focus on the more important things in life and still being able to access your accounts accross multiple devices.

Why Use LastPass?

  1. Security – LastPass helps you create super secure passwords for all the sites you use – passwords so complicated that you couldn’t remember them on your own. Instead of needing to write them down, LastPass encrypts them and keeps them safely on their servers.
  2. Multi-Device – What good is a password manager if it only works on one computer/device? LastPass keeps your credentials in sync across multiple devices and even allows you to easily share access to sites with other people WITHOUT sharing your actual password with them.
  3. Safety – Ok so I know we said this one with Ad Block Plus but it applies to LastPass too. It helps you stay safe by only prefilling your account information on recognized sites. This means that if you accidentally click a link to a phishing site (one that is meant to LOOK like a real site but ISN’T a real site) LastPass won’t pre-fill your account information and it will help you avoid giving your password to a malicious party.

Etsy Jam Episode 5: Field Trip

In this episode, Richie and Gordon take a special field trip to a top secret location in Cleveland. This may be a good episode to watch the video version down below:

This week, we want to talk about why people are selling on Etsy, why people are trying out this entrepreneur lifestyle and what it means to them.

But before we get into that, we had a pretty good conversation in our Facebook Group about quotation marks when searching in Marmalead and whether or not you should put quotation marks in your searches.

Do quotation marks matter in search?

The strategy we like to use is to reverse engineer what’s working for the top listings for a given search that a shopper is doing. If your shoppers aren’t gonna be using quotation marks when they’re searching, I would recommend not doing it. However, if you really think that your customers are doing that (and you can always ask your customers to verify), then I would do it. Otherwise it will change the results and then you’re going to be modeling after something that isn’t what’s working. With Marmalead, research the way your shopper is gonna be shopping and you’ll get the best results.

What Etsy is actually doing when you use quotation marks in your search is that it’s making sure those words appear in sequence together in the title or tags of that listing. So, the example in our Facebook Group was “art for bathroom”. If I search for that without quotations, Etsy is going to find things that contain the word ‘art’ and ‘bathroom’ but not necessarily in that order and not necessarily with ‘for’ in between them. So if I’m using quotation marks, the search results I’m getting is going to be smaller because Etsy is gonna make sure those words are in there and they appear in that order.

Why are people passionate about being an entrepreneur?

8. Love of crafting and not enough space in my house for everything I make. – 3% of the votes.

We definitely relate to that too. Because the whole reason we started Marmalead is because we keep going to the Cleveland Public Library with the MakerSpace, making stuff with that 3D Printer and found the laser etcher. We want to make stuff but we couldn’t just fill up our living room with coasters (our wives wouldn’t approve it! 😉 ) so we intended on keeping making stuff with the laser etcher and selling them on Etsy. It’s the love of making stuff. Now we’re making Marmalead and other projects as well that’s related to Etsy.

7. Living abroad and other career options are limited. – 3% of the votes.

In this day and age, where everything is so mobile and so remote; it’s cool that people are able to make a living or any kind of income no matter where you are in the world. I could be living in France working remote and able to do this and support myself and possibly my family too. I think that’s awesome.

6. A passion for upcycled stuff and being green. – 6% of the votes.

Being good for the environment. A lot of these places that sell stuffs like China etc. are all on mass production. Not only that production of those things is not great for the environment, but transporting those things all over the place too. You have to think about cargo ships, planes, and all the fuel it takes to move the stuff around as opposed to more unique one-off items that are often times reused of other items that people have made on Etsy. Upcycling something into something it wasn’t even intended to be and breathing new life into something that didn’t have that before.

5. Supporting my family. – 6% of the votes.

Etsy is providing these people incomes to be able to support their families. That’s fantastic! If you’re able to have a shop that’s doing well enough to support a family – let alone yourself – that’s amazing. Give yourself a pat on the back!

This is something that we recently took the plunge. From working a day job and moving into a spot where Marmalead is now our full time job and all the joys and challenges that come along with that. I can really identify with this; this is why I’m doing it, too. Part of the reason why I’m doing Marmalead is to support my family. I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to have this opportunity and work with everyone.

4. Flexibility at work due to illness, unable to work a typical 9 – 5 job. – 8% of the votes.

Selling on Etsy affords you the flexibility to be able to work your own hours and accommodate yourself in ways you couldn’t necessarily do in a 9 – 5 job.

We definitely talked to at least a handful of sellers that are doing this. Either they have somebody in the family with an illness or they have an illness themselves. Really unfortunate circumstances but this is a way to make it work on your schedule and be able to do what you love and do something you enjoy a lot more while overcoming some of the not-so-great things that life throws at you.

3. Side income. – 10% of the votes.

More people are finding side income through Etsy and I’m sure some of these people that are using Etsy as a means of gaining side income. They possibly have the hope of one day growing that into a full time job and being able to support their families with it so they can spend even more time on it. Obviously if you’re doing this in your free time, it’s something you enjoy doing. It’s something you love.

Sometimes it’s really surprising. The things you start on the side really grow into something that can be full time. Marmalead is not something we planned on either, this is just something that we stumbled into. We came across a need for ourselves, and we thought that other people may have the same problem, too. Once we started, we realized we had a real passion for it, for the product, for the community, for everything. We just followed it, followed the opportunity, followed the passion… it’s very cool.

"For those of you doing this as side income, keep an open mind. It might be a lot bigger than you think."

2. Selling on Etsy helps provide them freedom from their day job. – 29% of the votes.

There’s a lot of people here that this is their goal. This is freedom to them. This is the ability to make their own decisions and not having to answer to a management. Instead, to have a meaningful relationship with customers and help their customers through things. The goal of gaining freedom from their day job and being able to do this full time.

1. Able to spend more time with family. – 35% of the votes.

Gordon: This really rings true for me too since I have left my day job and doing this full time now. I’m at home a lot of times and that means I can spend more time with my daughter and my son. Just being there as they grow up and do things for the first time. Whether it’s just smiling, or laughing – the first time he’s doing these things – I realize, I was at my job and missed some of these things. My wife was at home with the kids fortunately, so she’s able to be there and see those things but I missed out on a lot of that stuff. Working from home now gives me the ability to at least have breakfast with my family every morning. So for me, this absolutely is up there in the top reasons why I enjoy being an entrepreneur. I’m able to spend more time with my family that I might not get otherwise if I have a day job.

Richie: Having a 3 year old and a 3 month old at home, it was really tough with a day job to see them during waking hours. Those of you who have kids, you know when you leave early for a day job, the family tends to be asleep. When you get home, around dinnertime, it’s just dinner – bath – then bedtime and you don’t really get to do a lot of the hanging outs, the reading books, taking them to the park, and doing those first-time-experience-type things with them. So it’s really meaningful to be around for that kind of stuff.

Closing words:

Regardless of what brings you to Etsy, there are others here for the same reason. Maybe you’re here for one of the reasons or several of the reasons mentioned above. But the nice thing about Etsy is, you fit in. Pretty much wherever you come from, whatever your motivations are – you’re going to fit in and you got a place. It’s pretty cool.

Etsy Jam Episode 4: Rachel from PaperBerryPress

Welcome everyone to episode 4 of Etsy Jam.

This week we have a special guest with us, it is Rachel from PaperBerryPress and she will be talking about the adventures of a mompreneur!


How did Rachel get started with Etsy?

To go back to 2013, I opened a shop and at the time, I had a full time job. I was a teacher and Etsy was just a way for me to start monetizing my hobby. So it started out as a hobby business. I made a few sales and really liked learning the side of business. It’s been 41 months since I opened my shop but I’ve only been an active shop for 25 months.

When people ask what I do, I always say “I’m now a stay-at-home mompreneur”. Of course my first priority has to be a ‘stay-at-home mom’ but the ‘preneur’ part is also very special to me.

Being a mompreneur, what kind of tricks do you use when you’re trying to find the time to work on the ‘preneur’ part when most of your time is probably consumed with ‘mom’ part?

That is such a good question especially with young kids. There’s so much good advice and content out there but I didn’t always fit the molds of that of a typical creative person that have this infinite amount of time and schedule. Add that to the internet telling you to be everywhere all at once. It was really hard. I’ll admit, I am a creative person but I’m not an organized person. It’s hard to fit in all the demands of running a household and also run a business.

So last year, August 2015 I made the decision and I said “I’m gonna take my business seriously.” When I did that, I said I needed to soften the noise of the internet and I really just need to look at what the Etsy platform has to offer me as an Etsy seller. Also, I need to understand the buyer experience – how the buyers find me; and if I can understand those things and focus on growth and sales – the rest can fall into place and I’ll still have time to spend with my beautiful precious babies.

What gave you that moment of figuring out to ignore the noise and start focusing on the core things?

I think I was being busy for being busy’s sake. I was trying to be on every single social media platform and doing what people are telling me to do. There’s a lot of pressure out there or so I thought. I was trying too many things and wasn’t going anywhere. Until I found something to really focus on, that equaled results. That is what changed it for me. I created a growth plan. That’s what I ended up doing and it’s all through Etsy search.

You said you’ve focused on the things that get the most results, could you elaborate more on that?

Everything changed when I learned about scaling a business. Like last week you talked about the fear of failure; but I have the fear of success. In my mind, success meant that it’s gonna take up more of my time. I’ll get more orders and do more things and I was afraid of that. When I learned about scaling, it brought to the forefront the ideas of systematizing and automating. I knew that there are things in place on the Etsy platform already. I knew that they would have things for their sellers and place for us that we can utilize to help us as sellers.

So really just stopping and looking at the buyer process, and we can go over that it all starts with search. Again, utilizing every piece of real estate that Etsy gives you.

When you’re talking about that fear of success, how did you overcome that?

Last August, I was pregnant when I decided this [to take my business seriously] and I knew the busiest season is coming. It was going to be a very busy season and here I am, pregnant. I knew I was gonna be 9 months pregnant in December. I really need to have a plan – and that’s kinda where the growth plan started. In January, I took a little hiatus in part of the new baby up ’till February. But jumping back in, it’s kind of ironic that now with 3 little ones, having less time has been my greatest asset because now – the time that I do have is “focus time” and it’s very specific on what I focus on.

How did you identify who your ideal customer was?

I think I resonate a lot with my ideal customers. I’m a 34 year old mom, when I design things, I design things I like. I have a younger sister as well – we’re 6 years apart – and so I can get her feedback on a lot of things. One of the ways I did it like I talked about was on Facebook. I knew who I wanted my target market to be but through Facebook I figured out that sometimes who I thought in my mind was my ideal customer; actually wasn’t.

I knew that I had a large women audience, I thought the range was gonna be 23y/o – 65y/o. But doing a few ads several times and A/B Testing I found that my ideal target market is women, they’re either from urban areas, or they are in the southern states. I also found that they’re normally between ages 23 – 34.

Could you tell us a bit about what your Growth plan is?

I really focus on 5 things. Part of it is having a growth plan and knowing when I do monetize enough and I need to put back into my shop to run this beautiful business I created. I also have processes in place and those are the two big ones. The third is Product development. Then Product management such as maintaining my listings and then Sales. Those are the things I focus on and systems are the biggest; because time is everything to me. Within Etsy, there are lots of things you can do. Here are the tools I use for my system in place:

1. Snippets
2. Promoted Listings
3. Shipping Labels
4. Marmalead
5. Dropbox
6. Email list

How do you get people to join your mailing list?

I have two things in place. The first is in my listing. I am really big on repeat customers so I wanna get people on my mailing list. So I have a little coupon code within the listing that says “Hey before you buy, you can save 10%. Sign up here!”. I also hooked up AWeber. I use AWeber specifically because they integrate with Etsy. So if somebody purchases something, I have a second chance to get that email in front of them. If they didn’t catch it in my listing description, now AWeber would notice that they purchased and would send a little email saying “Hey, would you like to join our mailing list?”. I get a lot of people that way.

Rachel’s tips on how to look for trends:

Get on Instagram, or Facebook, or any social media channels that you prefer and look at trade shows. Look up these big shows because they happen months and months before the trend starts (because they’re selling to retailers). So look at things that they’re offering. For example, right now you’re gonna see lots of things in Instagram like marble backgrounds. I started noticing that trend on Instagram on trade shows last September 2015. So ask yourself, is this a trend that I could use in my product development? Could I stage my products using this trend and does it fit into my brand? Those are things you can definitely do that are easy to implement and it will give you a leg up.

If you find a trend that’s coming up, say ‘flamingo’ for example, all you need to do is get on Marmalead, start targeting your keywords now. Get on Keyword Comparison and start looking for how you can optimize your products that may have to do with flamingoes.

As far as using Marmalead, what does your work flow look like?

I use iOS and Mac. The first thing I do is to put Marmalead in the homescreen on each of my devices. You may have to log in each time you use Marmalead but at least it’s there within a click of a button.

My next workflow is that I got a Dropbox account and I have that on all my devices as well. So what I do is I go to Marmalead, go to Keyword Comparison, and I would search for some keywords first. Then I take a screenshot. The great thing about screenshots is that it’s going to timestamp that screenshot. So I know the date in which I did those searches and put it in my Dropbox. I have a little folder there that says ‘Marmalead’ and a folder of each of my products. Then I drop that screenshot into the folder of the listing related to my search. So that when I have time, I can look at all the keywords I targeted and then when I’m ready to get on my listing, I have them all right there.

I also use your fabulous worksheets. Those of you that are already on Marmalead, this is a great opportunity to use this worksheets. It is so systemized and step by step. It’s a no-brainer and you don’t have to be good at this stuff. You just follow the steps.

The best thing about Marmalead is the Keyword Search. You can search for a targeted keyword that you want and say you’re on page 1. You can look at the views that you have and what other people have too! You can also see their pictures! You can click over and see what they’re doing so you can really compare yourself to the people that are also ranking.

I also love your Trending Tags. I can see how people might not use the Trending tags but guys, take a screenshot of the Trending. Think of this as the “long game” of marketing. You wanna see what’s trending now because a lot of things are seasonal. See what’s trending at this very moment so that next year you have an idea what the hottest keywords were. When did they start popping up? How early did it start trending? You can really start to curate a collection of information that is going to be really powerful for you.

Closing:

Thank you for being here with us, folks. If you prefer live video, we invite you to see us in Etsy Jam! Every Thursday 12PM EST / 9AM PST!