Etsy Jam Episode 14: Rachel from IndigoTangerine

In this episode, Rachel joins us from IndigoTangerine where she sells handmade personalized burlap and linen bags. She also has a shop named IndigoPress where she sells some really cool printables and planners. She shares her fantastic story of starting a shop during Etsy’s infancy, what happened to it, and how with her current shop she’s managed to gain SEVEN times more sales than she had in May of this year. Join us for some great tips from Rachel in this episode of Etsy Jam!


Rachel’s Story

Back in 2008, I just had my 5th boy. For some reason I guess I needed something more to do and so I started sewing bags for my kids. I made a lot of bags as I taught myself how to sew and just got to the point where one day I was like “This is just a lot of bags. I gotta figure out how to sustain this habit.” But I really like crafting so I just started hanging my bags in my front yard, taking pictures, and sending it to friends. People started buying them which was awesome! But I also figured out really early on that I want to branch out of this. Then I stumbled upon Etsy.

It was the dawn of Etsy so people weren’t talking about it but it just clicked that this is the place to sell handmade stuffs. So I posted and listed a few of my bags just to see how it went. Took me about 6 months to get a sale and I’ll never forget that moment. I’ll never forget that, I was ready to give up. 6 months was a long time to wait.

Then it went from there. I found a niche really quick with the material called oilcloth. I realized early on that you really need to find a niche if you ever want to become successful on Etsy. Even at that time, when you do a search for ‘bags’, you’ll just get pages and pages of results. It was hard to get noticed. But I learned pretty quickly that people really liked oilcloth and that has been one of my stronger keywords in terms of what people are searching for.

For a while, I had this vision to start something new, I had this vision for IndigoTangerine but I realized quickly I couldn’t balance two shops without stretching myself too thin. So my assistant (Becky) eventually bought RBTbags from me. She runs it now and she really knows it well inside and out as she was working with me for so long and I couldn’t think of anyone better to run it – and so she still does. Then I launched IndigoTangerine; that is my line of burlap primarily and some linen personalized products. That was about a year ago and it’s doing great!

What are the changes you have seen on Etsy over the years?

I think that the things they improved upon the most is the efficiency. The ways that they help us Etsy sellers be more efficient. When we started, they were so hardcore in trying to eliminate any kind of mass production. They really made it difficult back in the day. You couldn’t just copy a listing. You literally had to start every single listing from scratch and that made sense – for what they were trying to do but there are things about it that made it really difficult to run a handmade business which is already in itself not as efficient as Amazon and other competitors.

From side hustle to full hustle

It was really back in January 2016 when I really started to come up with a full time income as I’ve been raising kids – which by the way I feel very blessed about because I have been able to stay home with my kids. So I started getting back into the job market but what I knew was; entrepreneurship, small businesses, how to market, and produce, and sell. So I just kept at it while I figure out if there is a way to take this and make it full time. It was in May that I felt like I was getting there. I can see the potential because I was getting consistent sales. I started doing some research and figuring out how to utilize all the tools that Etsy has to offer to maximize my exposure in Etsy. Then I stumbled across Marmalead via Merriweather council and that was really the key for me when I realized that I can actually stop guessing how to title my listings and I could do some research and apply some market data while also measuring my results. That was a turning moment for me.

From week 2 of May to week 3 I tripled my revenue. Then it just steadily increased since. At this point (August 2016), I’m up SEVEN times above of what I was in the beginning of May (in revenue).

"Going through all of your tutorials - a part of it was really a mental shift realizing that I'm not selling to Google. Stop creating listings for Google. If I list on Etsy and I happen to get Google traffic, that's great. But I realized that what I really should be focusing on right now is Etsy. Etsy and that's what Etsy exists for - Etsy customers."

I check on my SEO at least once a week!

I check on my SEO at least once a week. With SEO and trends; things change. Things are always changing and if you’re not on top of what keywords are working and helping you out – also add the new ones that are showing up as seasons change – it’s easy to fall behind on that sort of stuff. You can’t just spin through everything and set and be all done.

I had no way to know where I was landing in search!

When I think back to the “dark ages” of Etsy, I had no way to know where I was landing in search. I was just randomly renewing products. I didn’t know if it was doing anything or not. And that is until I’ve discovered Marmalead.

Can you give us a glimpse of what your process is?

For me, first of all was always photography. I’m always revisiting my photos. Another thing is with Marmalead. I like to be able to search my keyword and what I’m looking for is if it has a good variety of photos. So if someone is searching that keyword and I have multiple things pull up, I like to see that there is some variation in the photos.

I also go through and do lots of updates and changes on my descriptions because I tend to listen carefully and pay attention to the questions that come in from my customers. If I start noticing people are coming to me with the same set of questions, then usually that’s a good sign for me that I need to go back to my listings and figure out if there’s a way I could be communicating this better.

Then for the keyword research – for example, bags. Bags are an easy and fun thing to sell. But there’s so many ways to list them. Sometimes, something just pops into my head like keywords that people might use my bags for. It occurred to me one day like “I don’t have these listed as gym bags.” But I have people search for ‘gym bags’. So I went to Marmalead and started doing some research as I try to figure out if I am on to something there. I try to figure out too what photos to use because I have lots of photos to choose from. I actually do have around 50 different listings on Etsy of the exact same product! Based on what target keywords I’m trying to rank on, I might change the cover photo to something that I think would resonate better with someone who’s searching for a ‘gym bag’ vs. someone searching for a ‘beach bag’. I try to look into the big picture and make sure that from the photos to the descriptions it all captures the same mood.

How was the transition when you decided to take on Etsy full time?

It’s a tough one to answer because I’m not always sure I have that balanced well. One of the better things that happened to me was when my shop outgrew my house in terms of having the space for productions.

So I moved it into my parent’s basement and I think that has been good for me. There’s something to be said about when you’re working at home and it’s just so hard to clear your head of it. It’s always lingering in your mind and I think I would just always be working if it was in my house. But since it’s not, it’s good for me to have that sort of set hours. I know when I’m gonna be producing and I know when I’m not; and there is a good boundary there.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

I’m preparing myself already – hoping for some good sales this holiday season. I’m excited!

As always, if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, we’d love to have you – just shoot us an email at success@marmalead.com

Etsy Jam Episode 13: Kelly from FitFizz

Welcome to episode 13 of Etsy Jam! In this episode, we are joined by Kelly from FitFizz. Kelly is a graphic designer and power lifter who is focused on being able to one day sell on Etsy full time. She shares some fantastic information about how she keeps herself motivated to be “all in” on her endeavors, how she stays focused on the things that truly matter and what her biggest surprise has been since she started selling on Etsy.


What is FitFizz?

My shop is FitFizz and I sell fitness items. I know there are a lot of fitness shops already out there on Etsy that sell t-shirts and handmade jewelries. My little spin on it is that since I’m a power lifter, a lot of my things are more based on strength so you’re not going to see bodybuilding things about like “Hey, check out my 6 pack!” but it’s more like being strong.

FitFizz started as a Facebook page just to help my friends with motivational fitness stuff. I just started posting quotes and I also designed cute little things that I felt were inspiring just for my friends and it grew from there. I had that since 2012, and it wasn’t until 2016 that I focused on making some money off of that.

FitFizz’ goals?

I plan to hopefully be able to take on Etsy full time. Luckily I have the flexibility and time; I am able to build and build and build. That’s where I’m at right now. It also has its challenges because I can’t work on FitFizz during the day. Only at night and on the weekends.

Tell us more about your career as a Graphics Designer.

Right now I work for a big marketing corporation and my main client are two big automotive companies. I design their emails and mainly lots of production work. Before that, I came from a packaging design background and also publishing (print designs). I’ve worked on a lot of different things and it’s been about 20 years. I’ve been burned out in this corporate life for quite some time now and I’ve come to realize that it’s because I’m in this creative job – but I don’t get to be creative. It’s killing my spirit and that’s when I knew that I need to do something for myself.

Why do you do what you do?

I love doing the products that are mainly for power lifters because that’s my personal passion but I also don’t want to leave behind the people who might be 150 lbs. overweight that are scared to go to the gym because they think someone’s going to make fun of them. I want to motivate those people and I want to make them feel included. Fitness is not just for people who compete – it’s for everybody. I love it when people say “We’re going to the gym because we’re training for life.” That applies to everybody. I have power lifting products and also products that can be for anybody because I think some people are scared to work out because they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re scared to even take the first step. I want to have things that those people will feel good about, too.

Getting started with Etsy, is that something your sister Erica (AvalonSunshine) encouraged you with?

I wanted a line of fitness greeting cards but I never knew what to do with it or how I’m going to sell them. I tried making a few handmade ones and selling them here and there. She (Erica) was always talking about Etsy and she started her own shop – it evolved and now she’s being successful with it. At that time, I loved it and I like the platform but I didn’t think there is room for me on Etsy.

I’ve always loved crafting but I didn’t really know what am I gonna make. Being a graphic designer I do things on the computer. I also thought fitness people are not shopping on Etsy until I really looked into it and found out that they do! Then I saw how my sister had her die-cut machine and I saw her using the vinyl to make pillows and then the wheel started turning more. I realized that I could use that machine on t-shirts and it evolved from there.

What advice can you share with other people that are just starting on Etsy?

What got me here to have this chat with you guys was finding Marmalead! The SEO on Etsy is so important and when I was getting started, I saw these weird listing titles and I was like “Why are people labeling their stuff this way?” Then my sister gave me a brief rundown of what she’s learned and the how-to of Etsy SEO and after that, she pointed me to Marmalead. After that I was like “OMG, this is the missing piece!” and it became more and more relevant to me that SEO is so critical. Then it really started making a lot more sense.

At that point too, using Marmalead was fun for me because I love nitpicky details and studying statistics etc. I had fun and I’m still not done using it. I could now get into the groove and be more confident about my shop.

Related: How Etsy Search Works

Have you tried spreading out to other platforms other than Etsy?

My focus has really been Etsy but I also love Instagram. I do think it’s important to build an audience there especially because I sell a physical product. Imagery is important and Instagram is all about images. Plus, having a pretty decent following in the fitness community in my personal account helps and a lot of people have been supportive enough by following my business account.

I love Instagram but a lot of my focus has been on Etsy, I feel like I still don’t have nearly as strong of a grasp as I plan to.

What does your process look like in doing your product photos?

I’m totally comfortable with editing because I’ve done that in the graphic design world. I did have some photography classes as part of my requirement for my degree. My dad was actually a photographer and he taught me a lot. So right now I have a lightbox and a kit I bought on Amazon. I would love to have a professional camera in the future but I’m just using my iPhone for now. I usually just have to brighten it up or balance the colors a little bit.

Also, I found out that since my items are reflective – it makes photography a little more challenging. I have all sorts of crazy things rigged up in my lightbox and I had to hide my tripod and my phone from reflecting. But it’s fun, I like these kind of stuff even if they take time.

What got you into fitness and powerlifting?

My high school dance team was very important to me but when I started college, I missed it so I started teaching fitness classes instead. Eventually, through the years I felt like I needed more challenge in the fitness world and I decided to enter a bodybuilding contest. I don’t know if you’re familiar with bodybuilding shows but there is a category called ‘bikini’ where basically you don’t have to have very big muscle mass but you just have to get very lean. I competed in that but I actually didn’t like how it made me feel. Even though I was very lean and you can see muscle, I felt really skinny like somebody could just push me over!

I always had friends who are power lifters and they kept nudging me until I trained with them. Then I fell in love with it! So I’ve been doing powerlifting for about 2 and a half years now.

With all your experience with Etsy, what would you say your biggest surprise?

I would say I’m surprised by how much I’m getting found! Honestly, it is possible to get found. I know a lot of people struggle with that but if you take the steps and work on what you know you should do to improve – then it’s possible.

When I look at my competitors on Etsy, I see really cool stuff out there. There’s a lot of really really good stuff. When I look at them I go “Wow, they really have their stuff together, they know what they’re doing, and they’re probably making tons of money!” and then I get little alerts on my phone when someone favorites my product and I’m like “Oh! People are finding me! That’s pretty cool!”

How do you decide what is worth your time and what might not be worth your time?

I am always analytical with things. I’ve literally made a mental system for myself because when I started my shop, I subscribed to everything, became part of every group, and then I started realizing that this is too much; this is taking away my productivity. So with my emails, if I get 5 emails from somebody that I signed up for and I don’t care about any of them… that’s a sign for me to unsubscribe. I don’t want to be mean – I like to be supportive but you do have to clear out that noise. It’s so important.

I was spending so much time on Periscope watching business coaches… but what am I actually doing? I felt bad unsubscribing but I stayed subscribed to the ones that I really like and I also turned off my notifications. I feel bad I don’t watch their Periscopes anymore. They are there when I feel like I have spare time but to be honest – it just doesn’t happen. And that’s okay because I’m being productive and that’s what matters right now.

Something that you would recommend that other sellers should shy away from? Mistakes that they can avoid?

I think a mistake I was tending to make when I was starting out was – wanting to take everybody’s advice from friends and family that didn’t even understand my vision. You don’t have to take the advice that everyone’s gonna throw at you when you’re starting a business. Because people who don’t even understand what you’re trying to do are going like “You should do this!”, “You should do that!” and you don’t have to listen to them.

Replay all of our past episodes by clicking here!

Etsy Jam Episode 12: Kathleen from HerJoyfulStudio

Welcome to episode 12 of Etsy Jam! In this episode, Kathleen from HerJoyfulStudio shares some great experiences with us. Not only was she was able to leave her day job and work full time on her Etsy shop, but she was also able to help her family purchase their first home from her shop’s profits. Kathleen has a lot of great tips to share about getting started, balancing work and home life, selling wholesale, product photography and more!


A Little Background About Kathleen

She opened her studio in 2013. It started as a hobby at first and shortly after that, she discovered she was pregnant. Then she made it her goal to turn her shop into her own full-time job so she could move away from her corporate job that she had at the time. In the summer of 2014; she made it happen. Fast forward to 2015, she was able to use her income from HerJoyfulStudio to buy her first house!

How did you do that in such a short period of time?

Honestly, it is just hardwork and I really do think if you are willing to put in the work, the time, and you are willing to be flexible – anybody can be successful in Etsy.

What do you sell on Etsy?

I sell headbands for babies, toddlers, and adults.

What is your secret in product photography?

At first I started taking photos of one of my daughters. It was much easier when they were babies because they don’t move around a lot and then when they became toddlers – forget it; it became impossible, But luckily by that time I was starting to get traction on Instagram and I had several photographers who bought my headbands then post them on Instagram and I would kindly ask for their permission.

How do you identify the things that are really worth your time and the things that you feel you don’t really need to worry about?

It may be different for everybody but I did work in marketing so I have a background on how important SEO is. If you don’t have a good SEO, there’s no way for anybody to find you and that was my main focus. Some people say pictures are the most important but my pictures weren’t that great to begin with and I did my best but that was something I didn’t dwell in. My focus was in getting good SEO.

It’s fantastic that something like Marmalead exists now because 2 years ago when I started – there was nothing like that. Just to see the growth on Internet Marketing and the tools that are available now – it’s amazing.

What was your process on doing SEO?

I used a little bit of Google Keyword Planner and I was very unaware of how many headband sellers there were. My two girls were growing up and my mind was so preoccupied and I didn’t have time to overanalyze what my competitors are doing and who my competitors were. I thought it was just as simple as going to Google and finding competitive keywords.

When you opened your shop, how long did it take before you got your first sale back in 2013?

I remember the exact day. It was a Sunday and it was a week or two after I opened my store. I started in May so my first sale was at the beginning of June. I hit 100 sales in January 2014 and it took me to September 2014 to hit 1,000 sales.

What made you decide to pivot from doing keychains to headbands?

I was so excited to welcome my twin girls. I was excited to be a mom and do all the girl things and I wanted somehow to incorporate that into my life because I felt like I would be putting a part of me into each of my creations that went out. It’s really important for me to have that customer connection; I’m so thankful for my customers because I know without them I would not be living this life right now.

Is there any piece of advice that you’d give to someone who’s on the fence about making a transition like you did from a different product line to another?

I would say nothing is permanent. Try it and if that is the way you feel the direction your store should go but you are hesitant yet you really feel that’s what you should do – then do it. If it doesn’t work out and you see traffic go down, you can always put it back in the way it was. Nothing is permanent.

Have you ever messed with doing any kind of e-commerce before?

Etsy was my first. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur although I wasn’t sure how. But once my husband and I got married in 2012 I did a lot of different crafting aspect for our wedding and I knew I wanted to do something with that. I just wasn’t sure what and how but Etsy became the vessel to get me there.

Can you tell us more about the wholesale part of your business?

Somebody contacted me out of the blue through Etsy and that was the first time I did a wholesale order. Then about a year ago I joined Etsy Wholesale and that made it so much easier to get your line sheets ready and available to wholesalers because you can do it through your listings and put the wholesale price there as well. So from there I got about 1 or 2 wholesale orders which is really great because June and July are usually slower so it helps me to have a steady income.

How big is the portion of wholesale to your business?

I’d say it probably makes up about 20% – 25% of my business right now.

Is it pretty consistent throughout the year?

Yeah. Right now I have 4 or 5 wholesale orders and I think that’s great to help balance the slow months because people right now are out with their kids and/or on vacation but wholesalers and boutiques are getting ready for fall and winter so they’re the ones looking to buy.

Any advice for sellers on the fence about offering wholesale?

If you’re able to do wholesale, I’d definitely recommend walking into it. You’ll be able to make your income much more steady than it would be without the wholesale.

Do you solicit reviews from your customers?

I don’t believe in reaching out to customers to ask them to write reviews. Etsy already does that. Also, that was something I learned in my previous company about building online reputation. You run the risk of reaching out to somebody that may not be happy and I don’t want to risk that. Those things are rare but Etsy already does that, and I don’t want to nag somebody. I think they send an email out or message via the app to remind people to leave a review. So if they’re doing that and you’re doing that – I feel like it is too much.

What are some goals you have for your business?

I think a major goal is to keep that personal touch but maybe in the next 6 months, I might hire somebody to help me with sewing to alleviate some of that. That’s probably the main thing right now. Then to get more items that are ready to ship would be even more great.

Do you have favorite resources online you go to?

I think Marmalead is amazing and I use it all the time when I put up new listings. I also joined different Facebook Groups like TheJoyfulEntrepreneur and Flourish. They helped me tremendously. Also, just paying attention to other things that people may suggest in those groups. For photo-editing, I use FotoFuze to help me turn my backgrounds white.

With wholesale, does that help you extend your reach for the brand?

Actually I had a couple of customers say “Hey I bought a headband from this store and I came to your site to see if do you have some more?” I think an aspect that I like is if somebody contacts me and they need something right away, I was able to recommend them to one of our retailers near her location. It’s also great when you have some retailers overseas like in Australia so if they buy from me, we know shipping is going to be super expensive but I can point them to a store near their city that carries some of my items.

Stay tuned with us every week on Etsy Jam!

Etsy Jam Episode 11: YOUR Customers

Welcome to Episode 11 of Etsy Jam. In this episode we talk about YOUR customers. How reaching out and learning about your customers will put you in a much better spot than relying on information from other sellers about THEIR customers.


Why talk to your customers? Why not just ask someone about their customers?

You’re not gonna gain as much information out of talking to someone else about their customers. Something I see all the time in Etsy and anywhere else is people are always very interested in asking other people about their customers and their experience. They always ask things from someone who they think is successful: “Hey, will you critique my listings?”, “Will you critique my shop?”, “What do you think about these photos?”

The advice you should ask other people that are successful is to learn their framework. The best way to learn from somebody who figured out something for themselves is to understand how they approached getting to where they are. How they approached overcoming those obstacles. How they approached those moments of enlightenment for their business so that you can do the same.

You don’t have to ask somebody a question or look for these information from someone else. This stuffs fall in our laps everyday on Facebook Group, Etsy Forums etc. People are sharing things that they’ve done where they found success. For example, someone recently changed their product photos and sat it behind a wooden fence to give a rustic feel to it and it worked great for them. It doesn’t mean that the same will happen to you if you copy their style, but what you can do is to test that. Keep in mind that it worked for somebody else so test to see if will work for you, too.

But it’s also important to talk to your customers. In talking to your customers, you’re gonna get a better sense of who they are as people, and the things that they’re interested in. If you can describe your customer just like you’re describing one of your friends, you’re in a really good spot in how well you know your customers.

Doesn’t Etsy tell me that I can’t talk to my customers?

Etsy does promote good customer service. You just want to make sure they’re getting excellent customer service which benefits everybody in the entire Etsy ecosystem including Etsy themselves. Following up your customers to check their satisfaction about your product isn’t frowned upon. That’s just good customer service. That extra outreach gives you the opportunity to reinforce a super positive experience OR reset a neutral experience and turn that into a positive one.

When someone has a great experience on Etsy, whether that be from your shop or anywhere else, it’s a net positive. Because that person may go out and be like “Wow, so I bought this on Etsy, and this person who sold me this bracelet reached out to me to make sure I’m super satisfied”. When was the last time you went to Target and bought something and they called you up to make sure you’re super satisfied?

For a couple of reasons, it’s totally okay to talk to your customer as long as you’re not soliciting or asking them to join your newsletters and whatnot. You’re just following up, making sure that they have an exceptional experience with you.

How would you set something up if you want to get to know your customers more?

I would start with a warm welcome or invite in your packaging. Put a nice little thank you note and let them know that you will be contacting them up about the product.

Example: “Hey [name], in 2 weeks, I’m going to follow up with you and ask you how it’s going because I want to make sure that you had a chance to get familiar with it, and that everything is going just beyond your expectations. But, if for any reason you need to reach out ahead of time, you can contact me [insert preferred contact method] here.”

So that way you opened the door and also letting them know that you are gonna reach out. That lets them know right off, that you care. The people that really care about you and your shop are gonna start thinking right away about what they’re gonna say to you. They’re gonna start thinking about their experience, “What was it like?”, “How am I liking it?”, “Do I have any questions?”. A lot of people are keen to talk to the people who made the stuff they care about. “You’ve taken the time to make this thing for me, and I’m probably buying it because I couldn’t make it myself so it makes it plain interesting to me.”

After you have established connection with your customers, what do you talk about?

It’s probably a good idea to have some questions pre-planned ahead of time. You can ask them about their experience and some of them possibly have an idea in their heads of what they’re gonna be talking about. But in our experience whenever we’ve talked to our customers – the best information comes out when you go off-script. You get to have conversations that are just real. Conversations that are organic and you really get to know these people.

How much time should you be devoting to talking to your customers?

As much as you possibly can. In fact, over these summer months where sales tend to be slower for most shops – this is a perfect opportunity to reach out to people. I wouldn’t even be too worried reaching out to people who may have purchased from you months ago. I don’t think there is a time where it would necessarily be too late to reach out to a customer to solicit feedback from them and get to know them a little bit better.

Think timely, but also give them a chance to use it before you even try to talk to them. Let them get acquainted with the product, let them kinda make it their own and then see how it went.

Why is it so hard to get reviews?

The big thing about people is the “What’s in it for me?” There’s the “What’s in it for me and why should I leave a review” and there’s also “Does my review even matter?” If people don’t think it matters, then they’re not gonna take the time to do it – except for people that had bad experience. People that had bad experience will go out and leave you a bad review. They’re doing it for them, they’re doing it out of some sort of revenge. That’s their “what’s in it for me?”. But for a lot of good people that have a good experience, if they have a good reason why to go leave a review and they believe that’s gonna help, then they are more inclined to do so. Not all of them, but they’re definitely more inclined to leave a good review if they believe that’s gonna help you.

So what should I do with all my unhappy customers?

20% of your customers cause 80% of the problems. People that are not a good fit for your business can be very high maintenance. As a small shop owner, you can’t afford to have too much unreasonable customers. I see people spend a disproportionate amount of their time and energy either 1) being upset about a bad shopping experience or 2) talking about it and making them more upset about it. Not that I’m telling you exactly how to resolve this – because I’m thinking sometimes it might be better to leave them unresolved.

You have other customers to serve and you’re not doing good customers any service if you spend all your time trying to please people that are bad for your business. If it makes you feel any better, you owe it to the customers who are there for you – your true fans – you owe it to them so spend your time on them. They are the ones that are there for you.

Closing Thoughts:

Get out there and talk to your customers. Shoot them an email right now. Just reach out and see how it goes and what happens. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’re going to be with it and you’re not gonna think it’s as big of a deal. The next time you do it, it would be easier and you get into a groove and we think you’re going to find it fantastic.

We will see you next week on our next episode of Etsy Jam!

Etsy Jam Episode 10: Ten

Welcome to Episode 10 of Etsy Jam! In this episode we talk about the hidden meaning of ‘Ten’. Unendorsed ways of stimulating creativity, the Zen of IKEA instructions, and putting YOUR customers to work!


Ten

Ten may seem like a lot. Or maybe it doesn’t seem like a lot. But if you ever sat down to do something; be it a podcast, a video podcast, or maybe a blog, you have to come up with at least 10 ideas for things. It can be kinda tough sometimes and by the time you get to 10 – you’re feeling like “This is a bit more tedious than I expected.” Maybe it’s something that you were crafting and by the time you’re done with 5 of those things you’re like “Man, I really wished I hadn’t sold these because it’s hard to keep making these and I’m not getting efficient as time goes by”.

We’ve had 10 Etsy Jam episodes so far, and we’ve had some guests sprinkled throughout. It’s been pretty fantastic! We’ve got plenty of other ideas on the table and guests lined up for the future episodes but this is one of the things we want to talk about.

Ten doesn’t seem like that big of a number. Ten seems kinda small. Actually in our Failing Forward episode we mentioned “Who knows – this is episode 3 – I’m not sure if we would make it to 10”, yet here we are.

Long time ago, one famous rock band once said along the lines of “You don’t stop playing a song when you’re tired of it, you stop playing a song when the fans are tired of it”. You’re playing it over and over yet those fans are still hungry to hear it because they’re not tired of it. You might be, but they’re not. When you put stuff out there, people are consuming your content for learning from the people they resonate with or from people that make it enjoyable. It’s pretty much the same thing. Just cause you’re tired of talking about something doesn’t mean your audience is tired of it.

Speaking of tired – do you know that you are actually more creative when tired? I was reading an article about how to make the most of your day when you are tired and not feeling productive – which makes sense because late at night is typically when I get more of these ideas.

You know what else makes you more creative? Not eating. There’s this startup company in California who’s encouraging their employees not to eat on Tuesdays. The idea being is that if you fast for a whole day, it increases some chemicals in your body and it allows you to be more creative.

The takeaway from this is we want to hear what you do to get creative. Do you fast? Do you stay up really late? or do both? What do you like to do? Let us know how it goes down in the comments.

The Zen of IKEA Furniture

Richie recently moved from Ohio to Florida for a new home. He had 36 boxes which was 600 pounds worth of new IKEA furniture to put together (which is waaay more than anyone should ever put together). Assembling all of it together gave him a Zen moment.

“But it was interesting putting it all together. There are no words in IKEA instructions, it was all pictures. They circle the parts and put an X on it if it’s bad and a checkmark if it’s good. You look at it for a minute trying to find the difference, and then when it’s time to put all the stuff together you’ll doubt if it’s gonna work. You’ll try to think ahead and see where this part is going. And if you ever put an extra screw in there somewhere because you think you can save yourself some extra step in the next page – it will get you. It’s almost like they know. It’s like “Hey, don’t do that”. “Don’t try to outthink this.” It was very zen like.”

The IKEA Effect

The IKEA Effect coined by Dan Ariely – the behavioral economist at Duke University in a book called Predictably Irrational. There is an irrational love and appreciation for the things that you put time and effort in putting together. So he called it the IKEA effect because he spends so much time putting things together. After you spend hours and hours putting your IKEA bookshelf together, you find yourself loving this bookshelf just because you put a lot of time into it. But you’re not exactly sure what made you like that furniture so much – but it just happens. To you, it’s the single most wonderful bookshelf in the world but to anybody else, it’s just that; a normal bookshelf.

How can you leverage the IKEA effect in the stuff you make on Etsy?

When you have a hand on doing something, whether it’s a DIY project or anything, when you put some effort into it, you feel like you appreciate it more. The takeaway is that if you sell something, if there is a way for you to get the purchaser committed to it – everyone’s going to be happier and they’d have a more positive outlook about the product. For example, if you could let the shopper put his/her own finishing touch on it and create a level of personalization built in, they’d feel subconsciously more attached to the product.

If any of you are doing this right now, we’d love to hear more about it, if you have anything that you’re sending out that requires the purchaser to do a little bit of work, we’d love to know what that is! And if you have any ideas for what you might do, we’d love to hear those ideas about what you might test out! Let us know down in the comments or email it to us at success@marmalead.com

Etsy Jam Episode 9: Michelle from FourLetterWordCards

Welcome to episode 9 of Etsy Jam. In this episode we talk with Michelle from FourLetterWordCards about all kinds of Etsy stuff. She shares how she got started, write descriptions for her products, keep shipping costs down, perfects her photos and loads more.


How did Michelle get started on Etsy?

My name is Michelle and I own FourLetterWordCards. If you haven’t already figured it out, I curse a little bit because all of my cards surely have curse words because it is more colorful that way. I started my Etsy shop on October 31, 2014. Last year was my year in business and I did pretty well. After I did taxes and everything, I actually did a whole $1,000 in profit. It sounds so small but it was definitely busier than I thought it would be especially during the holidays.

November last year, I had 627 orders in that month alone. In December I ended up having 938 orders and it solely progressively picked up. Last year alone, I had 2,552 orders just from my first year in business and then this year, I’m already at 3,000 orders. In January I had 700 orders, February had 671, March had 196, May 529, June was 521.

Did you sell cards in your shop right from the start?

No, when I first started Etsy I started as a jewelry shop because I was like “Oh I’m gonna make pretty jewelry and I’ll sell it and it will be amazing and it will be my hobby!” because I have a job at the time so it was just going to be a side profit sort of thing. So I put up a couple of listings. They were atrocious, awful, the photos were terrible, and the descriptions and everything are just the worst it could possibly be. Nothing happened. “Why isn’t anything happening?” “Why is there no movement?” I’ve got no traffic and I don’t know what’s going on but I also didn’t like educating myself on anything. So then I started looking into it and I said “I don’t think this jewelry thing is really going to work out”. “I really don’t know how to make jewelry all that well so it’s probably not gonna sell”. Then another week later, I was trying to think of something to do and I just decided to do cards. I couldn’t sleep one night because I was thinking of all the stupid things I could say on cards and it would be funny. I just started laughing like a crazy person in bed while I was trying to sleep because I was just thinking of these funny things I want to put on my cards.

I was going to initially name it “ScrewYouCards”, but I decided that I wanted something a little more clever. So then I made “FourLetterWordCards” because it kinda encapsulates everything since most of my stuff has curse words in it.

What are your thoughts on refunding customers?

As a small business owner, if you were to refund every single person that demands a refund, you’ll be poor. Or you would not make any money. You have to figure out a way where it serves you as a business but you are still helping your customers out and giving great customer service. You need to have policies that work in the favor of both parties.

How do you do your product descriptions?

There’s a lot of people that I’ve seen on Etsy that creates descriptions that are like the most boring thing I’ve ever read in my life. They’re just listing the technical of what they’re selling. So instead of saying “Look at this great, fantastic, colorful card that you can give to your Dad and make him laugh hysterically” and etc… You’re just giving the technical terms like “I print on a 110lb cardstock and I use XX ink and XX printer and your cards 4.25″ x 5.50″ and you get this envelope etc. etc. BUY FROM ME!!!”. People are gonna get bored. They’re not going to read anything of the stuff you wrote. You have not created an emotional connection from me to buy your product so I’m gonna go to the next shop that actually elicits an authentic response from me.

What you can do instead is to captivate the feeling you want the customer to have and then you can break it down into technical terms at the bottom. So if they want to read the technical stuff, they can and if they don’t, they don’t have to read it but it’s broken down enough to where there’s different sections on the page so if they quickly want to see something – they can and they can go to the next thing.

How do you put yourself in a frame of mind where you write something that’s gonna resonate with your customers?

I ask myself these things:

  1. Why did I create the product?
  2. What is useful about the product?
  3. Why do I connect with it myself?

If it’s artwork, you want to elicit the type of emotion that you want the customer to connect with. You want to paint a story or a picture as to why it’s going to be important and why they’re going to want it.

How do you tell when you’re satisfied with the product description that you wrote?

When you read it and you have some sort of connection to it and draws a picture or a story to you. As long as you’re doing that – you’re fine. You can always critique it later on and improve upon your descriptions but as long as you’re eliciting some sort of emotional response when you read it, then hopefully that will be conveyed to your shoppers as well.

Do you have any specific suggestions for vintage sellers?

I think it depends on what you’re selling. Break it down to what it is that you’re selling and who would be buying that product. Say if it’s a furniture, then you may want to depict a story as to how they would use the furniture.

  1. What type of person is it that would be buying the furniture in the first place?
  2. What kind of house would they have it in?
  3. Where are they gonna use it for?
  4. Is it going to be elegant? Rustic? What are the type of things that they would use it for and what story would it tell inside their house.
  5. How are they going to connect with it?
  6. Why would they want to buy it?

For vintage jewelries, tell the historical aspect. Tell a story of what it’s best used for.

  1. Where it was used for?
  2. What type of people first had that jewelry?
  3. Why was it made and what was the significance of the jewelry?
  4. What does it mean?

Everything is a conversation, everything that you do should elicit some sort of emotional response with the buyer. If they are not feeling something from it, then they’re not gonna buy it. Why would they care? They come to Etsy for something special so if they don’t feel like it’s special then they’re not going to give a fuss and they would go find something else.

How do you keep shipping costs low?

USPS. They have been the cheapest that I have found. With greeting cards, it is $2.54 for me to ship first class in USPS anywhere with a tracking number within the US. International shipping aren’t cheap so just be prepared regardless of where you are shipping to and what it is your shipping. It always ain’t cheap. But USPS is the cheapest.

The other thing I’ve been looking into are the priority flat rate boxes. They are amazing when you need to get something somewhere soon. I’ve tried to calculate how much it is to ship two mugs and when I do two mugs; I have to ship it in the medium flat rate box because it’s cheaper than shipping in my own box. So figure out the calculations of what’s the cheapest and why.

What are your thoughts on Multiple shops vs Single shops?

I think if everything goes together. I think if you have a brand that gears toward a specific person, then I would keep everything within that one shop. If you can justify two different products to fall under one brand, then I would put it together. If not, then I would put up separate shops.

What do you think about Photos?

I hate photos. Period. It’s because people keep copying your photos. Once you find a good layout, people start copying the layout that you used and it really pisses me off to no end because what I do is I try to stand out from the pack. Once you figure out what company uses what layout for their photos, you can then pinpoint each photo and who belongs to what.

I want to make a distinction. But when people starts copying you – then you have to find a new way to improve upon what you’re doing so that it stands out more.

Tune in with us next week on Etsy Jam!