Episode 55: 7 Tips for Time Management

Ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Well, we can’t help you add another 8 hours, but we CAN offer 7 tips from a time management author which will help you squeeze the most out of your time. Up next on Etsy Jam!

In this episode, Gordon and Richie chat about a time management article that they found online here. The article was on Business Insider and was written by Laura Vanderkam. Laura is known for her books on time management. This particular article covers seven tips that she personally uses for managing her time.

What we hear most often at Marmalead is that when you have an Etsy shop, website, brick and mortar store or whatever it may be, time management is a frequently sited restriction. There’s just not enough time. Not only do we hear it often, we feel it ourselves. Time limits can be overwhelming and we all know you can’t make more time. We can’t make a twenty-four hour day into a thirty-two hour day, but what we can do is manage the time we’ve been given as best as possible. So, with all of that being said, let’s jump right in!

Tip #1: Plan your week on Fridays

With this tip, Laura has two tactics combined into one. The first is that your life is lived in chunks. You can break this down into whatever time period you want, days, weeks, months or years. Laura is chunking time into weeks here. The idea is that it’s a cycle. You start whatever it might be, plan it, and live it. Then, rinse and repeat. This is one reason she plans her weeks on Fridays.

The other reason is that it’s the end of a week. She strategically does this so that after the week is finished, she can start planning the upcoming week. Laura feels like if she waits to start planning until Monday of the next week, she’ll be more reactionary to things that have happened over the weekend or emails that might have come in. This might cause her planning period to stretch out into the following day which is too long. If there’s already a plan in place she can hit the ground running.

Tip #2: Measure what matters

Laura tracks lots of stuff. This includes how many books she’s read in a year (twenty-seven to be exact for 2017). It’s important to really measure things that matter to you, because you’re less likely to fall behind in these if you can actually see your progress. If something’s important to you make sure you’re accountable for it. It all goes back to that whole principle of what you focus on expands. If you’re focusing on what matters most to you, it absolutely will expand and grow because that’s where your time and energy are going.

Tip #3: Figure out three anchor events for the weekend (or for your week)

The idea behind this isn’t to cram something into every single hour, but to plan your time around the anchored events you’ve chosen. This is a great tip to use for those of us who are slightly more laid back in our week planning. Instead of planning out your entire week day by day and hour by hour, you could choose several main anchor goals and then tentatively plan the rest of your time around those. This allows for more freedom to be spontaneous and to embrace unexpected events, while still keeping the important things solid. It’s also important not to bite off more than you can chew when planning ahead. Notice Laura didn’t say to figure out thirteen anchor events for a weekend! She’s keeping a reasonable and attainable goal for her schedule, which is important whether planning a weekend or your upcoming week.

Tip #4: Tackle the toughest work first

Since Laura is a writer, doing a first draft or deep editing over her work is done at the beginning of her day. She knows she can accomplish more with a cup of coffee between 8:40am-11:40am than she can around 1-4:00pm. This makes a lot of sense! Your mental tank of gas tends to be much higher in the morning, especially if you aren’t starting with reactionary stuff.

This principle does depend on when you as an individual are less distracted. For many people this will be in the evening or late at night (raises hand as I sit here writing this blog at midnight). Some people are early birds, some are night owls, the point is that you can absolutely tailor this to match your own preferences. The point, however, remains the same. Do your toughest work when you have the most energy for it.

Tip #5: Use bits of time well

For this tip, Laura points to those little time gaps throughout your day. You know, they’re the ones between appointments or meetings. It’s all about identifying those moments of unexpected downtime. In the past, Laura used this time to surf the web, check social media or read the news. All of these are pretty normal habits and are probably what most of us do with our little pockets of downtime. Now during her downtime Laura uses her Kindle to read. She may only read a page or less, but this is a productive and easy way for her to make use of her time.

While Richie and Gordon agree that this is a great idea (and probably why Laura has read so many books this year) Richie says that for him, when he fills every moment of his downtime with something, his brain doesn’t ever have a chance to just rest. When he’s all go, go, go, he’s found he has less long term brain power for the entire day. Instead, he says he focuses on quality over quantity so that he doesn’t end up compromising what really matters because he’s simply too tired.

Tip #6: Make very short to-do lists

This is a struggle for a lot of us! It’s SO easy to make a way longer to-do list than is humanly possible to accomplish. This all goes back to planning. And the planning all correlates with how you’re breaking down your time. How big are the things on your to-do list? How long term is your to-do list? Laura’s point behind a short to-do list is to never make it longer than ten items at a time. Gordon has heard that seven is a magic number to accomplish. Nevertheless, they both agree that much more than that, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

It’s important to stay realistic in your planning as well. If you accomplish everything on your list then wow! Look at you go you super hero! You can always add on a couple more things if you accomplish everything you set out to do. It won’t be fun to have completely unrealistic expectations and not accomplish what you want. It will only add to feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. Pick a couple of the most important things and focus on those. Put your list away so you’re not side tracked by the other five things calling your name . Stay positive. Plan ahead. Stay humble. Stay realistic.

Tip # 7: Have a bed time

What?! Have a bed time?! That’s crazy! Didn’t that stop at age 12 or something?? Laura says she aims to be in bed around 10:30pm. Gordon said that’s usually when he is sitting down with a beer after getting the kids to bed;) I kinda concur with him, I (Jade) am normally sitting down to start tapping away at my keys right around that time! Laura, however, feels much better in the mornings when she’s had enough sleep. She also has younger kids that wake up early, so sleeping later isn’t an option for her.

Richie brings up a good point for those of us creating and brain storming. For him, once he’s in the zone he doesn’t want to stop( nor do I). I think a lot of creatives will relate to this, I know I do! If inspiration is coming, it’s coming. So, hours later when 4:00am roles around…..bye bye peppy early morning wake up! But, while the creative process may cause a lot of us to have some late nights, taking Laura’s advice is definitely not a bad idea. It’s ok to stay up here and there letting the creative juices flow. But, doing that day after day after day definitely wears on us physically and mentally. Sleep is important to a healthy brain, body and life. In everything, it is always important to strive for balance.

Moral of the story

These are all fantastic time management tips! However, they don’t have to be set in stone. Some of these (maybe all) will work great for some people exactly the way they are. For others, a little tweaking here and adjusting there may be necessary in order to get the most out of these suggestions.  Remembering life is never set in stone and will ebb and flow is key. We can plan ahead and have fantastic goals, but when life throws us a curve ball, shouting “Plot twist!” and moving on without letting it knock us out is important! Try new things with your time management. See if they work for you. Don’t be discouraged if you have to change them completely to make them fit your life. Whatever makes you successful is what matters!

As always, a huge thank you to those of you reading this blog! Make sure you check out this week’s Jam…seriously….it’s informative, funny and totally random all at the same time, because, balance! Also, if any of you out there are interested in starring in one of our super fun and rambling Jams, feel free to reach out to us at: success@marmalead.com or email kevin@marmalead.com. Happy selling and time managing, everyone!

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

 

Episode 53: Making the Grade

Have you ever wondered what it takes to earn an A on your listings in Marmalead? Are you curious why we’re scoring your descriptions’ sentiment? Does it baffle you that one of your A listings can turn into a C listing a month later without you making any changes to it? Well, in this episode, Richie and I take a deep dive into how grading works in Marmalead. Learn how to score A’s on all your listings and set yourself up for success.

What’s on the docket?

Understanding shop grades! It’s something that’s discussed a lot in our Facebook group. So, if you’re not currently a part of that group you should definitely join the community there. This is a topic that keeps coming up. New users, seasoned users, those just trying us out, they’re all asking the same question: what’s the deal with shop grades?? 

Here’s your overview

Basically, shop grades are pulling in your listings from Etsy and allowing Marmalead to grade them based on Etsy SEO best practices. To clarify, we are only talking about Etsy SEO. Not google, Bing or any other platform. Just Etsy. We only grade things listed in Etsy. But it’s not everything found in Etsy’s algorithm. We’re specifically grading on the things that you as a seller on Etsy can control with SEO. The things you yourself can change.

Losing Control

Wait, back up! There are things you can’t control on Etsy with your SEO?! Well, to put it simply: yes. So what are these things? They are as follows: The listing quality score and the shop quality score. Ok, deep breath. We know you might be asking, “Huh?! What in the world are those?!” Well, that’s a great question! Even though Etsy doesn’t release a ton of information on either one of these, there are definitely some valuable things to know about them.

Listing Quality Score vs. Shop Quality Score

Overall, the listing quality score has to do with whether your buyers are happy with your product. Are you getting good reviews? When your listing is showing up in search are people engaging with it? By engage we mean is your listing be clicked on and is it then being purchased? Things like a conversion rate factor into this. Now, we aren’t sure where the line between these two scores is different, unfortunately. Etsy mentions them regularly. However, since Etsy doesn’t really talk in depth about the different factors between these scores, all you really need to know is they’re there and they have to do with your buyers experiences with your listings and your shop. 

Taking back control

There are a couple important things to remember with both listing quality and shop quality. While you may not be able to directly control these scores you definitely can indirectly impact them in your favor. Some practical things you can do are to solicit for reviews, have buyers leave you good feedback, take care of any issues a buyer might have with your product and make sure you pick keywords that represent your listings correctly. This last one is important for when buyers are doing a search and expecting to see a certain product. You want your product to be in line for buyers to see and engage with! If you’re doing the right things to impact these scores you can definitely influence them in a positive way. 

Digging deeper with the Listing Quality Score

A great example with listing quality is this: Let’s say you have a listing up and ready to go, but the picture isn’t the best and most captivating picture. You’re still showing up in search but because your picture isn’t great buyers aren’t clicking on your listing. Well, Etsy is going to see this and think,”Hmmm, we presented your item in search a few times and buyers aren’t clicking on it. Not only are they not clicking on your listing, they ARE clicking on other listings around yours.” At this point Etsy will more than likely start pushing your listing further and further back in the rankings. The goal is to cycle through the most engaging listings and that’s exactly what they’ll do. Overall, Etsy is going to put forth on the first pages the things they think will sell the best. And the ones that sell the best are the listings that get the most engagement. This is all to show you just how important it is that you put your best foot forward with how your listings look and are worded.

So…just how bad are a B or C grade?

It’s the end of the world. You’re failing. Your parents are definitely gonna ground you! Or your report card is gonna need to be signed…Ok, ok, just kidding! So just how serious is it? Is it really the end of your Etsy world? Well, that really does depend on where you’re falling short. You’re not failing at this point, but you will want to improve whatever area is less than stellar. Now, an A grade is optimum. Everything is great and there’s no room for improvement. However, a B or C grade is communicating to you that you have room to grow!

A C+ listing example

Ok, so your listing has a C+. It starts out with tags used. There are thirteen of thirteen tags used. That part is great! Etsy gives you thirteen tags for a listing and you should use them. Now, here’s where this C+ listing is falling short: there are only two tags in the title and full credit would be seven. Is that awful? Well, if you’re really happy with how this listing is preforming with only two tags in the title, that’s great! You’re winning even without an A grade! The important thing is to be aware of the fact that if you’re “breaking the rules” you need to know which areas you’re bending to do this. And if you have success in this, then that’s all that matters.

From one week to the next

So, now would be a great time to bring up how grades can change from week to week. Say you’ve worked really hard to go through all your listings and make all the changes you see need to be made. All your listings are now an A+ (yay!) and things couldn’t look better! Then, about a week later you come in and you look and…what the heck?! All or some of your grades are down. UH, WHY?! Well, if you’re not going back in to renew your listings as time goes on, you’re less likely to get a bump in rank than recency. This is a definite factor that Etsy uses. This will reflect in your Marmalead grades as well. Basically, you could make zero changes to a listing and yet you’ll still see your grades slip inside of Marmalead if you’re never renewing.

All the cool kids are doing it

A lot of the successful sellers we talk to have a renewal strategy in place because it really is that important. No, they’re not going through and renewing six hundred listings a day. They have a strategy for how to handle the amount of listings to renew at a time. This absolutely works! Think about why this works: Renewal counts whether or not you click to manually renew or if it sells and renews the listing. As the listing ages without a renewal, what this means is it hasn’t sold in a long time. It hasn’t gotten any attention. So either people aren’t finding it in search or maybe they are and they just aren’t engaging with it OR maybe they are engaging with it but aren’t buying it. Regardless Etsy starts to see this pattern of this listing not selling. So, what do you do with things that aren’t selling if you’re Etsy? You put them on the shelf in the back. Renewing is a way to say, “Hey!! Look at me! I’m still here! Put me back up to the front, Coach!” 

SEO vs. Keywords

There’s a difference between having good SEO and having good keywords. They fit together and keywords are definitely part of an SEO strategy, but you can’t just say, “Hey, I have an A! That’s all encompassing and everything is fantastic!” It’s possible you could have an “A” for applying really bad keywords to your listing. It’s really two different tactics that come into one SEO strategy. SEO grading is based on how those keywords are applied to your listing. But, you have to use the other tools in Marmalead independently in keyword research to find out what really are the BEST keywords for you and your listings.

Why can’t you guys just grade it on a curve?!

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, you’re scoring keywords using the Marmameter and you’re scoring my listings using these grades…why can’t you just work the Marmameter’s scores into the keywords and then wrap it all into one and give me an overall score? Why is there this difference between keywords and my over all listing?” There are two big reasons for this, so read on!

Teach the grade

First of all, different shops and different listings are going to be able to rank for different levels of competition. Something might be super high competition, but if I’ve got a lot of shop cred I might have a really good shot at being able to rank well for that on the first few pages. Yet, if I’m a shop that’s just starting out and I don’t have a lot of built up history, track record and sales, I’ll have a much harder time ranking for those things. We can’t necessarily tell you whether or not you’re going to have success ranking for a keyword. However, we CAN show you the competition level. Over time, as you apply these keywords to your shop you’ll get a good sense of, ok, here’s a keyword with very high competition and I couldn’t rank for that, but here’s one with moderate competition and I was able to rank for that.  This all teaches you what level of competition you can target and be successful with.

Things you know that we don’t

The other big reason for why we can’t wrap all those previously mentioned things in together is because it’s really hard for us to know whether or not a keyword is an accurate description of your listing or not. It could be the best keyword in the world, it could have extremely high engagement and it could be something that has a competition level that you can rank for. However, if your listing pops up in search and the buyer on Etsy looks at it and thinks, “This isn’t what I was looking for at all” well, no one will be clicking your listing and you’re not going to get the benefits of that keyword. Again, you’re going to know all of this WAY better than we can programmatically try and figure out. You’ll know best whether or not that keyword is a good description for your listing.

So why does my C listing out preform my A listing?

A lot of what we just talked about factors into this. There’s a lot that we can’t know. We’re not experts on what your actual listing is and whether or not particular keywords apply to it and all that. This also depends on what’s driving your lower grade. Maybe like we said before, you’re getting that lower grade because you only have two of the thirteen tags in your title. Yet, you’re killing it with those two keywords (or tags) and that’s awesome! Another reason might be that your A listing is targeting a keyword where you’re not a great fit. Buyers might even be engaging with it, but if it’s not a good fit then they might just be clicking out of curiosity and moving on. Again, the grades in Marmalead are about how well you’re applying keywords to your listing. This is assuming that the keywords you’re applying are the best keywords for that listing. That’s the BIG take away here: you have to make sure you’re choosing good keywords. Keywords that have good engagement, competition you can rank for and that they’re appropriate for your listings. Also, don’t forget that photos play a huge role in all of this. Your lower grade listing could be out preforming your higher grade listing simply because the picture on your lower grade listing is really that much better. That’s kinda what it boils down to when you’re doing a search, if you think about it. Once you’re on that first page of whatever you’re searching, it suddenly becomes a photo contest!

Why does it say my tags aren’t in my title?

Usually this is due to some punctuation that’s going on in the title that aren’t in the tags. For example, if your title is silver-starfish-necklace and your tags are silver, starfish and necklace, they will count. BUT, if your tags are silver starfish and necklace, necklace will count because your title is breaking up that keyword with punctuation. Punctuation, it matters. However you write it in your title is how you should write it in your tags.

Why doesn’t this one tag have a Marmascore when my other tags do?

The reason isn’t because it’s an awful keyword or anything like that. It’s just that we don’t have fresh data on it at that moment. No one in the Marmalead ecosystem has searched it recent enough and we’re not comfortable with the scores we have. The easy way to remedy that (if you so chose) is to do a search on the keyword that’s in that tag. If you do a search for it it’ll refresh the data and we’ll then have fresh data to show you in the Marmameter.

What’s the deal with title strength?

This measures how close to the front of your title a specific tag or keyword is. This matters because a strong factor of Etsy search and showing up higher in their search is how close the search keyword is to the front of the listings title. The idea behind this is Etsy knows you can’t put every word at the front of your title and this is a good way of forcing sellers (when they’re creating their listings) to choose and order their keywords. This essentially communicates to Etsy that whatever is first in line is the most important keyword to that seller for that listing. This is a great way of comparing two listings that otherwise from Etsy’s point of view, have the same keyword in the title.

Why should I care about descriptions?

These are simply used for selling your item. It’s not a part of any SEO with Etsy. The description is still important, however, no matter if it’s a part of SEO or not. Descriptions can play a HUGE role for you as a seller in having happy customers. Descriptions can be the turning point between a “window” shopper and a serious buyer. Remember, all a buyer has when shopping online are the pictures and the words. Keep the descriptions simple as far as your writing goes. You’re not writing a novel. Take a look at words that might not be obvious to a lot of people. Review the more complicated words and longer sentences you may have. Be distinct, direct and clear. Keep things positive, leaving out words like, cancel, fail, broken, cracked, spontaneously catches on fire, damaged and words similar to this;) Not that you’d be using any of these for your product, but these would have a more negative sentiment. On the other end of the spectrum, using words like beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, adorbs (ha), courageous and anything with a more positive sentiment is always recommended!

Just remember

We have tool tips throughout Marmalead as well. If you forget about something we’ve covered in the Jam or blog, you can always use those to remind you what you need to do in order to have a better grade! Also, make sure you check out this week’s Jam! As always, the guys are awesome and hilarious! Don’t miss out on the tidbits I couldn’t cover here.

Happy selling, everyone!

Have you ever wondered what it takes to earn an A on your listings in Marmalead? Are you curious why we’re scoring your descriptions’ sentiment? Does it baffle you that one of your A listings can turn into a C listing a month later without you making any changes to it? Well, in this episode, Richie and I take a deep dive into how grading works in Marmalead. Learn how to score A’s on all your listings and set yourself up for success.

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

Episode 52: Diary of a Vintage Seller with Victoria from Ancienesthetique

In this episode we talk with Victoria from ancienesthetique. Victoria is an expat living in central France who sells vintage treasures. She talks about the importance of sturdy shelving, photography, her blog, email list and more!

Back Story

Victoria first opened a shop on Etsy many years ago when she was living in England. Her shop consisted of jewelry, coats and other things she’d made. Victoria says she sold a few things, but her commitment to she shop was basically zero. It was kinda a side hobby, with no research or investment going into learning more about Etsy. It was an after thought and in the back of her mind. Life went on, Victoria traveled quite a bit, got married, moved to France and had children. It was when her son was a few months old that she and her husband decided to try Etsy out again.

Getting Started

Victoria was finding wonderful antiques in France and says she really just needed an excuse to get them into her house. Her shop has definitely been a work in progress with many ups and downs. Most of these came from Victoria’s life being busy in many different directions, but recently she decided to really focus on her shop and see where it would take her.

Black Espresso Cups 

Victoria’s first sale was of course very exciting! She sold two black espresso cups that had yellow interior and were according to her, very cute. Not knowing much about packaging, she simply put them in an envelope and away they went…straight to the floor where they broke! She hadn’t even made it to the post office. She says this was her inauspicious beginning, but from there her shop began to grow. Of course Victoria’s packaging improved and there was less dropping of breakables involved;)

The French way is the only way 

According to Victoria, the French are quite bureaucratic in the way they do things. Like many of us in many different countries, the French have a certain idea about how things should be done. And they believe this is the only way whatever it is should be done. So, when Victoria was first shipping things from her shop she would have many arguments with the employees in the post office. Perhaps her items to be sent weren’t in a certain box which were sold in the post office and were very expensive. Maybe a certain lady working there thought Victoria wasn’t packing her items just right. Eventually, Victoria realized that this lady actually had a point! She did need to package her items correctly and legibly. Victoria has finally traversed language barriers and cultural difference to come to a place where sending her packages is now a routine;)

Changes and transitions 

Victoria is currently teaching English at a college right down the road from her home. However, she is in the process of setting up a “studio” of sorts to keep all her inventory in. Her husband has set up a photography table for her there with lights that ensure good quality photos. She wants her pictures to be more consistent which is very important for her Etsy shop. (Scoop 10:00) Victoria says it’s a slow transition but she’s simply taking one step at a time. She recently renewed her interest in social media, knowing how helpful these tools can be to the success of your shop. With limited time and funds to dump into her shop, it’s a slow steady climb to reach her goals. One of her goals is to have six hundred listings. Because she’s selling vintage and everything is one of a kind, Victoria believes it’s helpful to have more inventory on her shop. She finds that sales are consistent but come in spurts. (Scoop 11:00) The more opportunities there are for buyers, the wider the net is cast for customers, the higher the chance of a sale. There is definitely something to be said about having a larger inventory where a buyer might have come in looking for a certain item, but will leave with three others simply because they saw them and loved them.

Empty Attics

In France there is once a month sale in many villages that are similar to a community garage sale in America. Throughout the village people will empty their attics of what they no longer want, selling them on the sidewalks outside. This is where much of Victoria’s inventory comes from. Unless someone has contacted her and asked for a specific item, she doesn’t set out to buy something in particular.

Terrible happenings and sturdy shelving

About two years ago Victoria was storing her inventory in boxes on a couple shelves her husband had built in their utility room. Quite sturdy shelves…or so they thought. Victoria and her kids were sitting in their kitchen having lunch when they heard a “mighty crash” as she described it! Victoria happens to live between two farms and her first thought was that one of the farmers had blown something up. She quickly went outside, thinking it was strange that she couldn’t see the farmer anywhere. Suddenly, it dawned on her what might have happened. Running to the utility room, she tried opening the door and couldn’t because all of her items and shelving had come crashing down in front of the door! Victoria ended up losing almost seventy percent of inventory. She said she couldn’t even cry, she just felt astounded and overwhelmed at the prospect of resourcing all of her inventory. Trevor, Victoria’s husband, cleaned up the mess because, as Victoria laughed and said, “It was clearly a shelving issue and not an overstocking issue!” Though there were quite a few discussions between them about which of those two issues was actually the culprit for the terrible disaster! Victoria also had to update her shop with listings that survived with a crack or chip. Thankfully, chips and cracks are all part of being vintage and she was still able to sell many of the items that stood strong through the shocking fall.

In the aftermath

After losing so much of her inventory, Victoria decided to revamp what she was selling. Instead of selling breakable items, she thought she’d try old newspapers, journals and keys. But, she is naturally drawn to fun little espresso cups and the like. Eventually these items found there way back into her shop. All her inventory (including breakables) are now stored in a safer area under lock and key!

Twice as nice 

Victoria doesn’t normally sell higher end antiques on Etsy. Usually her inventory consists of smaller items like some we mentioned earlier in this blog. However, Victoria came across a beautiful antique Napoleon III travel box that she decided to list, knowing its value was much higher than what she normally sold. After renewing the box a couple times with no offers, she presumed it was still in her husband’s work shop as she clearly hadn’t sold it. Finally, Victoria had a buyer for the box and arranged a layaway payment plan with the woman who was making the purchase. Once the price and payments were negotiated, Victoria asked Trevor to bring the box back out of his workshop. Low and behold a client of Trevor’s had sold it in his shop a few weeks before!! Victoria then had to go back to her buyer and tell her that the box had already been sold. Strangely enough, the woman vanished into thin air. After reaching out and letting her know what happened, Victoria never heard from her again. Thankfully there were no upset feelings and Victoria can laugh about the twice sold box:) Gordon thinks the vanished customer might have actually been the buyer in Trevor’s customer’s shop!

Blogging for the win

Victoria loves to write and so does her husband. They are currently combining their talents to start a blog for each of their unique talents. Trevor restores high end antiques and makes handmade items as well Several of these are listed in Victoria’s shop! Victoria is diving into writing about life in France as an expat. France is a beautiful country where great value is placed on old things. Even old vine covered buildings are left to stand the test of time. So there are lots of opportunities to write about all the goings on around her. Check out Victoria’s blog posts at ancienesthetique.com. (At the time this Jam was done, Victoria was about to write a post about old French doors. It’s now posted and I went to check it out for myself. What a truly charming post! Definitely read it for yourself.)

Email list strategy

Victoria uses a service like MailChimp to send out emails to subscribers. Often after a sale she’ll email a buyer directly with a follow up email. In the email she’ll ask them to subscribe to her shop and follow her. She also uses her email list for promotions of her listings and blog posts, but she’s very careful to not spam her customers. She will strategically send emails when she’s offering a discount and to promote her blog posts. (Scoop 27:30)

Creative Finds

Victoria and Trevor not only combine there skills at writing, but they collaborate creatively as well. While recently out hunting for her next listing, Victoria happened upon quite the unusual find: a whole stash of ancient test tubes! She’d seen some creative ideas on Pinterest and after chatting it over with Trevor a unique collaboration came to life: test tube rack bud vases! In fact, several of these are still available on Victoria’s Etsy shop. Run quick and purchase your next unique and unusual gift! Victoria also has a great blog post about this fantastic find.

Simple is superior

When Victoria first started out on Etsy she didn’t believe photos or descriptions were a big deal. As long as the item was great everything else would take care of itself. She didn’t worry about lighting, quality, or descriptions in her listings. Through trial and error and also looking at other sellers photos, she finally realized that photos and descriptions really can make a huge difference in what you’re listing. Victoria’s sister is also a photographer who helps her tirelessly look through photos taken to choose the right pictures for her shop. Also, because of what she’s selling, Victoria and opted to keep her photos simple, usually only featuring the item itself. For her, focusing on the item itself is more important than props used in the picture.

Her biggest struggles

When Gordon asked Victoria what her biggest struggle has been as a seller on Etsy, she was quick to reply, “Dropping things!” We love her sense of humor! One of her serious struggles has been ascertaining the value of an item. She admits this is more of Trevor’s forte as he restores antiques. However, learning what to buy and buying things she might not necessarily be drawn to herself has been a learning curve. She has found that turning to her local Etsy group, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sellers on Etsy has been a huge help. All of these can assist in learning the value of a certain item or items similar.

Descriptions can also be time consuming. Everything Victoria sells in one of a kind, so finding the correct wording for each listing can be tedious. This is especially true when you have multiple items that are similar yet different. The contrast to this is when she finds something she’s really excited about selling. Descriptions tend to come a bit easier when items are especially unique.  

Where to find Victoria

You can browse through all Victoria’s awesome vintage finds on her Etsy shop, ancienesthetique. And make sure to listen to this week’s Jam! The guys and Victoria have riveting discussions about remote plumbers, facebook usage, English lessons and Etsy shop deactivation!

 

In this episode we talk with Victoria from Ancienesthetique. Victoria is an expat living in central France who sells vintage treasures. She talks about the importance of sturdy shelving, photography, her blog, email list and more!

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

Episode 51: Etsy Shakeup

 

In this episode we talk about some recent news out of Etsy as they release their Q1 earnings report and announce that Chad will be stepping down as CEO. Stick around to hear some highlights from their Q1 statements and our feelings about the future of Etsy!

Straight outta Etsy

Big news: The beginning of May Etsy announced their first quarter 2017 financial results! Along with this, they also announced other exciting changes coming to an Etsy near you! We wanted to cut through some of the Q1 things Etsy released and give you an overview of what some of the numbers buried in that report actually mean. The truth. Because, there are a lot of things going on and you might be wondering, “What the heck?!”

All about the timing

Let’s all take a deep breath, calm our nerves and remember, this was all planned. Even though it might feel like there are SO many changes SO fast, all of these changes have been in the works for a while. Etsy wasn’t caught off guard because those behind Etsy have been planning this. For months. They have been strategizing what to say and do in these press releases. So no, we don’t think that any of this news is a shock to anyone on the inside of Etsy. It is very normal for big companies to announce within the first quarter any changes and if senior level leadership positions are transitioning. It’s all part of setting expectations for the year. This also plays into the fact that Etsy is now a “public” company.

Exiting stage left

So, the white elephant in the room: Longtime C.E.O. Chad Dickerson is stepping down, to be replaced by former Skype C.E.O and Etsy board director Josh Silverman. Josh also has experience with E-bay and was the cofounder of E-vite. So, if Etsy has a five or ten year plan, which we’re sure they do, it’s very possible that what is required of the Etsy C.E.O. for the next several years is not what Chad felt like doing. Again, we don’t think this was anything surprising. Once a company has gone public it takes a different skill set to guide it down that path. Having someone step into the role of C.E.O who has gone through that change before is definitely a smart move. And really, it’s simply a different character role. Chad’s role while he was at Etsy was amazing! He grew the revenue of sellers by nine percent, grew Etsy’s revenue almost fourteen percent, and their operating profit almost fifteen percent. These are all fantastic numbers over a six year span. Chad played a huge role in getting Etsy to the place where it could go public. We wish him the best in whatever role he picks up next!

Etsy isn’t the other people

One thing Josh has acknowledged coming into Etsy is that it most definitely has a differentiated value proposition from other markets out there. This is great, because we want to see them stay different from everyone else. We can see how the change in leadership (along with all the other changes) would cause concern that Etsy might be completely changing who they are. Are their values out the window?! Are they still going to be focused on the community? Will they satisfy their sellers?? As well as satisfying their seller’s customers? It’s all kinda an unknown. Josh Silverman has stated these things will not change and will still be the values of Etsy. It would be a pretty bad way to start off as C.E.O. if he stated a bunch of stuff that he didn’t really mean. That would be more of a politician thing to do;)

There’s a net loss

The first quarter 2016 saw a net profit for Etsy. The first quarter of 2017 showed a definite net loss. A lot of stuff is rolled into these quarterly reports, however. There isn’t a ton of detail when you look at them. Making a general statement like, “Oh, they lost money so something must be wrong” doesn’t necessarily mean that is what’s happening. If you invest in things, it costs money. Buying infrastructure costs money. Hiring people costs money. If you buy other companies (which they did) it costs money. Those things temporarily bring down your income which could bring it down to a loss. This is a huge reason why companies go public, to sell out portions of the company so they can in turn, grow. The picture on Etsy’s quarterly report actually gets a lot better if you look at the line below the net loss. If you look to the adjusted acronym it says, “Earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization.” It’s definitely a mouth full and there’s a lot going on in there. It’s basically just a bunch of accounting. All of these things added together do add up to a net loss, which then helps Etsy to pay less taxes and in general, makes it more advantageous for the company as a whole. If you look at the line before all of this on the quarterly report, what you see is that yes, while it’s still down, the earnings are around $9.7 million. They’re down about thirty-four percent, not one hundred and thirty five percent. Why is it down…well, they bought a bunch of stuff! If you’re investing in the future, you’re bound to take a hit somewhere in the present. So, we shouldn’t look at that as a negative indicator for the future. Etsy did say they’d had a challenging February. I don’t think any of us will be surprise at this as it definitely was a slump kind of month. However, we’ve heard from some sellers that they had a great February on Etsy! It really does depend on who you’re talking to.

Clickbait: hook, line, and sinker

Let’s say you’re a journalist. A journalist looking for a story. And you’re a journalist, looking for a story when Etsy’s quarterly report for 2017 comes out. How do you write about it? Do you write in such a way that everything is happy go lucky and no one wants to click on your article after reading your title? No! You spin your story, looking for the most leading and exciting details and expound on those. You WANT people to click on your article, read your words and all the ads paying for your web space. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to be the whole truth, part of the truth, or any truth at all as long as the clicks are coming in. It’s very easy to look at a company’s net loss and the fact that there’s a C.E.O. swap and tell a story with that information alone. Suddenly, you can spin a tale of pandemonium with only a few facts. If one would simply look further into the numbers, however, they would see this simply isn’t the case. Yes, they did trade lower when everything was announced. But this really is the normal ebb and flow of running a company. Actually, it’s a great opportunity for the larger institutional investors to pick it up. The general public will read all the stories and headlines. They will take them hook, line, and sinker, quickly selling their shares in fear. Then, the institutional investors swoop in and buy the shares at a discount. They’ll hold onto them until they go back up. Suddenly everyone’s like, oh, I wish I’d kept them! It’s a pattern that consistently happens. 

Up, up, and away!

Active sellers has gone up a double digit percentage! Twelve percent to be exact. The even better news is that active buyers have gone up significantly as well by eighteen percent. You always want more people shopping on the website than people selling. And Etsy is absolutely doing that. The buyers are still outnumbering the sellers consistently. There are almost thirty million active buys compared to 1.8 million active sellers. Also, just because someone is an “active” seller on Etsy doesn’t mean their shop is put together. Their products may not even be selling well. The true competitive number of active sellers is even less than that 1.8 million would leave you to believe.

Picking up the phone

Another area on the rise are mobile visits. Often people ask just how much that means. Well, about sixty-six percent of your shop views are mobile visits. According to the Q1 report by Etsy, about fifty-one percent of all sales were from a mobile device! That’s over half of all sales on Etsy. This would make perfect sense as to why Etsy is investing in Etsy payments and offering ten different options. Two of these options include Android pay and Apple pay. Both of these payment methods are known to be more safe. The buyer and general public) doesn’t like entering in their card numbers on a bunch of different websites. One of the reasons Etsy is so popular with shoppers and continues to gain popularity is because there’s a history of trust between the buyer and Etsy. And shopping over a mobile device is now industry wide, not just an Etsy thing. The fact that Etsy is trying to keep up and accommodate this shows how forward thinking they’re being.

Investing in machine learning, search, and marketing 

If you’re a seller on Etsy this is always a fantastic thing to know. Etsy is investing in all of these areas in order to attract new buyers and drive purchase frequency. This is awesome, because it means you have a bigger company with a bigger budget continuing to grow their awareness. It’s a sign that Etsy feels secure enough to bring in what they’re marketing towards. Also a great thing for a company. It might feel saturated when you’re in it every day, but most people we talk to don’t even know about Etsy. So the market for incoming customers is huge, which in turn only helps sellers.

Optimizing data 

One of the things Etsy is doing with their machine learning, is to make category specific suggestions. This will help improve both the listing process and collecting more accurate data. As you can imagine, there are many sellers on Etsy listing many different things. You’re going to want the keywords, tags and titles that you’re basing your search platform on to be as relevant as possible. Etsy is trying to structure their data in such a way that it delivers more meaningful search results. This helps when someone types something in the search bar. What they’re looking for will specifically show up or at the very least has a higher chance of showing up. This gives Etsy and their sellers a higher chance of a sale. And this is a good thing for all involved.

A shameless plug 

One of the great things about Marmalead is that we’re independent of all that! No matter how Etsy is changing their search algorithms, machine learning and structured data, when you go to Marmalead and type in what you want the data we’re pulling back is down stream from all of those changes with Etsy. We are looking at the number of views, favorites and engagements the different keywords will bring in general. Any changes that Etsy is making in the actual algorithm behind the scenes is not impacting the work you’re doing on Marmalead. Now, it might change the way some keywords get better engagement down the road. So you definitely need to stay on top of those things. But you don’t have to worry about the data that you’re using Marmalead to find becoming irrelevant. We’re measuring engagement with a search term and not mechanically how to get there.

They spent how much?!

So, marketing expenses were up this quarter…by fifty percent to be exact. What does that look like in dollar signs? Oh, you know, just a measly little twenty-four million dollars  in Q1. Say what?! As Gordon said…I’m not exactly sure when he said it…but, where do they market cause I don’t see it! Well, Etsy is mostly marketing on YouTube and Facebook…and not to Gordon apparently;) Product development also rose a bit this quarter. As we said, Etsy is working on improving the market place, Etsy payments, shop manager, all that fun stuff. Along with those, Etsy also spent eighteen million dollars on product development in Q1. A lot of that is employee related costs.

Over all

Gordon and Richie think this a really exciting time for Etsy. With all the changes happening (did we mention the C.T.O. exited stage left as well…yeah, that was a thing too) and with Etsy going public, this is a fantastic time to be on Etsy! This is what everyone wants, to be part of the early days of a fast growing and successful company. It might not seem like you’re in the early days. But, usually that whole overnight success story we hear about is ten years in the making. Etsy is just ten years old…sooooo…at some point, people will be looking at you wishing they’d been in on Etsy at this point in time. New things are happening which is exciting! and the people that see that and stick with it are those that will bear the fruit of it. It’s a great direction and is the right direction for Etsy to be moving.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer

Of course we know it’s easy to see the other side of things. Maybe you’re just coming through a spring slump, which is partly a seasonal thing. Then on top of that, you’re looking at the fact that Etsy is swapping out their C.E.O.. Also, their projected revenue was higher than what their earnings came in at for Q1. However, when you really look through things (like we just have) it truly seems like they’re moving in the right direction. They’re investing a lot of their capitol back into the company. This is what you want to see a company do! You don’t want to see them liquidate everything. That definitely isn’t a sign of growth…that’s a sign to exit stage left and fast! The incoming C.E.O. is talking about all the values that Etsy holds close which are important to him. Honestly, the writing on the wall is all around a good thing.

Randomness

Make sure to listen to this week’s Jam, everyone! I obviously couldn’t cover everything here as usual. Some of the things the guys talk about are as follows:  growing trees, The 40 Year Old Virigin, captains, “legit” articles, the “real” reason Chad left, mossy mushroom rocks, writing Kevin about conspiracy theories (poor Kevs) and chill armadillos.

Bonus

Look forward to Gordon and Richie’s Flat Earth guide to Etsy SEO. I’m still trying to figure out if they’re serious about  that or not, but I’ll just leave it here as a teaser;)

 

 

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

Etsy Jam Episode 50: Naptime Hustling with Hilary from Shop231Designs

In this episode we get to chat with Hilary from Shop231Designs. Hilary started her Etsy shop in 2015 and in just over a year has more than 2500 sales! Stick around and hear Hilary coin the term “naptime hustle,” talk about time management, working to find a niche market and offering some really great advice for early shops or sellers who are just getting started – up next on this episode of Etsy Jam!

Back Story

Hilary is originally a graphic designer. In college she studied graphic design and commercial printing, so she’s always had a love of design and type. For a number of years she was in the commercial printing industry and after that she was a year book rep for which was really fun for her. She loved being able to do design while working with kids outside her home, but after she had her little guy a couple years ago she decided she no longer wanted to be on the road all the time. Staying home with her son and having that time with him was invaluable to Hilary. However, she wanted to figure out a way to make an income that would allow her to have flexible hours as a stay at home mom. 

How Hilary Got Started

Hilary knew that she wanted to design something and wanted to keep everything in house as much as possible. After playing around with different ideas, personalized laser printing was the niche she dove into! In November of 2015 (right before the holidays), Hilary took the plunge and started her Etsy shop, 231 Designs. Immediately, she was off and running! Hilary is convinced that November is an awesome time to start a shop, because the holidays are SUCH a busy time of year for sellers. Hilary’s first sale for her personalized laser engraved items came on her first day of being open…which is amazing! Within the first couple months she had around 400 orders she’d completed and it was then she realized she was really onto something. She says it was crazy and unbelievable, but it’s been onward and forward ever since!

“Naptime Hustle”

Since opening her shop, Hilary has made a point of doing as much as she can during nap times, early in the mornings, or later in the evenings. Her design work is mainly done in the mornings and evenings and the actual laser cutting process is usually accomplished during nap times. From the start, Hilary wanted to focus on the customer experience when opening her packages. Making her packaging really pretty and aiming for customers to feel like they were opening a gift was very important. She spent a good chunk of time tying ribbons, writing notes and perfecting the things that come along with a good customer experience. The first couple of months doing this was crazy! It was basically all hands on deck, inviting friends and family over to help and thinking, “What have I done?!” But, around January of that first year, things slowed down, which was a welcome relief after the holiday craziness. It was during this slow season that Hilary was really able to focus and think about what she wanted her shop to look like long term.

Navigating Growth

Starting out, Hilary had a small laser machine that made only one cutout at a time. After about a year, however, it was necessary to upgrade. Research and price hunting finally lead she and her husband to import a large machine (about the size of a mini coop) from a supplier in China. Though they saved a lot of money, navigating through the process of customs, broken english with Chinese manufacturing, literally having it sent over on a boat and learning the machine itself, all definitely came with challenges. Three days were spent getting it up and running and finally, right before Thanksgiving, Hilary was once again full speed ahead in her manufacturing.

Pricing Correctly

One of the first things Hilary did after she opened was to price her products low. She was aware of how new to the market she was and didn’t want to price herself out of her range. She started off selling her laser cut outs at $8.00 and now sells them at $15.00. Hilary suggests that anyone starting out should definitely build up some inventory and list them in October. If you’re looking at breaking into the wedding market, list your inventory in January or February. It can be very seasonal depending on what you’re selling. Doing your research and finding when you should break in is very valuable. Also, if you’re doing something like a crocheted item and want to sell it in February, try finding a way to give it a Valentine’s or Mother’s Day spin. Selling what people are looking for is very important. It can be very discouraging to have your inventory out there when no one is buying.

Only So Many Hours in a Day

For Hilary, finding the time she needs during the day to get everything done has been a struggle. She uses her phone a lot during the day (though she wants to do less of this as her toddler gets older) to keep track of notes and ideas while she and her son are playing. Once nap time comes, she refers back to the lists and notes she’s made to decide what her priorities are while she’s working. She’s constantly thinking about what needs to happen once she has some time to herself. Five minutes here or ten minutes there are used to respond to convos or to check her Marmalead app. She says when she gets a new idea, she’ll hop on the app to see if she can “get her greens” and if she does, she knows it’s something she wants to focus on. Her early mornings are spent focusing on convos and what orders have come in while her husband watches their son. Nap times are used to work as best she can and then follow up on anything else during the evenings. Hilary says there’s really no magic formula to any of what she does, other than just focusing on the time she has and making the most of it. One thing she does do, is to group like items. For example, currently she’s working on little wooden crosses with names on them because it’s baptism season. So, she’ll do eight of those in a day and out they go, before she goes back to ornaments the next day or whatever it may be. Grouping like items helps her to get more in a groove with whatever she’s working on before going back to “Mom life.” 

Think Outside The Box

Just like realizing that “Baptism Season” was a thing, it’s important to remember that there are many occasions that offer many sellers opportunities. The big holidays are not the only time to target your buyers with specific items. Hilary says for her, this has really helped in her success! Also, being sure to think ahead to any upcoming holidays helps. If it’s Mother’s Day or graduation, start thinking about Father’s day. If those have come and gone think ahead to Autumn or Halloween. Having her listings up early enough allows for more traction which helps with her sales. It also allows the Etsy algorithm to detect that you’re there with that listing. You have to give buyers enough time to find you, decide what they want, place an order, have it filled, and then ship it off to them. If you’re only allowing for a week or so, you’re cutting it really close. Listing your items early and then riding the wave as long as you can on those items is only ever going to help with your sales.

An Early Incident and Learning Curve

Not long after Hilary started on her first small engraving machine, she was engraving acrylic. Normally this wasn’t a material she used to engrave on. It was a custom request she was doing for a customer and she has since learned that when someone asks you for something custom you don’t think you can handle, just say no! So, she set her machine to begin engraving the acrylic at a slow speed, then left to do another task, and when she returned there were flames coming out of the top of the machine!! She quickly doused everything in water and immediately called her husband in tears. With orders still coming in and those needing to be completed, she had to have her equipment to make it happen! But there it stood, smoking and melted. Thankfully, her replacement came quickly and she was back in working order before long!

Streamlining and Being Efficient

Now that Hilary has her larger machine, it has allowed her to not just do one job at a time, but several! This makes her work much more streamlined and focused. Also, she says that within Etsy there are ways you can streamline your process more. Some of these are: using the calculated shipping profiles, putting all your like items with weights and packages in those profiles and using the preloaded convos (especially around the holidays) which allows you to not have to answer the same question multiple times. If you’re getting the same question about a listing multiple times, put the answer in your listing or shop announcement. Hilary also does a lot of copying on her listings, especially now that Etsy has added the new attributes function. If you get a listing the way you want it, then copy and change your SEO, title, and photos (especially if you’re doing a lot of similar things) it will really be a life saver and save you tons of time!

Five to Ten Minutes

Really, whenever you can sneak in 5-10 minutes here or there. For Hilary, staying on top of her convos  and shipping makes her feel like she’s won. She’s not always working on new products, so when she’s not, staying caught up on things and not letting them get behind is invaluable.

New Ideas and How They’re Executed

So far, Hilary only pulls new ideas off her shop after three months or so. She’s only recently reached a hundred items in her shop (yay!) and she feels like a shop should feel full. Getting your target market down is important, but Hilary still tries to offer a variety of things…even jewelry! She also has a separate Etsy account from her shop. On this account she follows other artists who do similar work to hers. This offers her a way to see what everyone else is up to and to get inspiration for her own work/shop. This is especially helpful to see what other shops are using for photos and fonts. However, Hilary is careful to always take what she learns and put her own spin on whatever it might be. She also watches very carefully what the trends are and what is selling. You want to offer what people will buy!

Selling What You’re Passionate About vs. What People Are Buying

Hilary says her heart really goes out to other artists who are super passionate about their work, but who aren’t getting any sales. Her advice for those who don’t want to adjust what they’re selling is to check Pinterest and Instagram. Or scour Etsy and look for places that you can tweak your item. This could help make your product something that people are going to want to buy. Hilary has definitely been there, trying many different things that haven’t sold. So, finally finding a niche of items that sell is definitely a beautiful relief for Hilary. It’s important to Hilary to cater to people who are like her. She designs what she would want to purchase.

Most Unique Thing Hilary’s Engraved

That would probably have to be a wine barrel lid that her sister in law purchased. Honestly though, she’s engraved so many amazing things it’s hard to choose just one. She could send a regular sized door through her machine and it would be ok..a door.

Find Events and Get out of Your Box

Another thing Hilary suggests is to find local events to participate in, as well as getting to know other artists. A great way to connect with and meet people is through the local Etsy team in your area. She really feels like this is a huge benefit. Finding other local people who are giving this thing a shot right along with you will help connect you. It could also be invaluable to you as a small business owner. You just never know where your next inspiration is going to come from. And Hilary always tries to say yes…unless we’re talking about engraving acrylic on a small machine of course! She especially says yes when it’s a different or weird requests. If her buyer is local that’s an even bigger plus! Recently she went into a jewelry shop to buy a sterling silver chain for a customer. While there she started chatting with the owner of the shop about what she does. She showed the lady a few of her pieces and the shop owner liked them so much she referred her to not one, but two clients! And each of these clients purchased several pieces from her! Hilary says to put yourself out there because you never know where things are gonna come from. If you never try, you never know.

Advice on Nap Time Hustle

As a stay at home mama Hilary has great advice for others like her. First off, if you’re going to approach your Etsy shop as a business and not a hobby, think about it that way from day one. If you’ll be selling in the Etsy market, remember the Etsy customer wants something special. They want an experience above and beyond what they would find on Amazon. If customers wanted to go get the same thing on Amazon or at a local shop, they would. They are coming to Etsy for a little something extra and special. So, as Hilary has tried to do from day one, strive to create that moment of “wow” when a customer opens your item. Hilary goes so far as to print beautiful designs on her shipping labels! She truly works hard to make each piece she sells and packages look like a gift. Hilary says when customers respond to the packaging alone that can be enough to send them back. Customer service and going that extra mile has been a huge secret to her success, along with trying to find things that people want to buy. If you need help, ask for it and just jump in and get started!

Where to Find Hilary

Hilary is found at Shop231Designs, on Etsy! Her shop is SO much fun and you’ll definitely want to go check it out:) Also, listen to this week’s Jam. I wish I could capture everything in this blog! But Hilary’s Jam with the guys was a TON of fun with extra details and stories throughout.

 

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

In this episode we get to chat with Hilary from Shop231Designs. Hilary started her Etsy shop in 2015 and in just over a year has more than 2500 sales! Stick around and hear Hilary coin the term “naptime hustle,” talk about time management, working to find a niche market and offering some really great advice for early shops or sellers who are just getting started - up next on this episode of Etsy Jam!

Etsy Jam Episode 49: You are Moving in the Direction You’re Looking with Monica from Crystal Relics

In this episode, the guys have the pleasure of talking with Monica from Crystal Relics. Monica shares some great stories from her motorcycle racing days, and lessons she learned which apply to selling on Etsy. We also chat about taxes, accounting, the power of positive thinking, positive energy and avoiding making decisions based on fear. Did we mention she used to race motorcycles?!

Back Story

Monica has quite the story! Over the last several years her life has changed dramatically. From the time she was seventeen, Monica’s life was all about racing motorcycles. In fact she basically worked to fund her racing, which she was super passionate about. Eventually, Monica was a sponsored rider, but always felt the catch twenty-two of her passion colliding with her work. She had to work in order to race. And when she was working she felt every minute that was being taken away from racing. Eventually, with only one scary incident to her racing career, she felt like she should take her stellar record and bow out while she was ahead. After her daughter came along, her priorities quickly shifted. Slowing down and being a mom were now more important than anything else. Now her days are filled with raising her daughter and running her Etsy shop (Crystal Relics) full time!

How she got started

Her passion for crystals and healing stones came from a gift given to her by a friend. It was a simple crystal, but she was immediately taken with it. After searching for wearable crystal jewelry, she decided that making what she really wanted was the way to go. Out of this simple interaction and search, Crystal Relics was born!

Energy and what you envision

Monica has had a great journey with Marmalead. We absolutely love that she found us early on and has been a customer for a while now! This has allowed her to get to know us and eventually to be part of our Jam! Monica is a huge believer that the kind of energy and attitude you put out into the universe is exactly what will come back to you. Your attitude makes a definite difference in your success. She is doing her absolute best to not allow any doubt into her mind concerning the success of her shop. Basically, whatever you envision in your mind, whatever it is you focus on and see, that is where you’ll head. If you look down, you’ll fall down. What you focus on expands, so if you focus on negative things, that’s exactly what will manifest in your life and work.

Lessons from her racing days

Monica has learned a few things from all those motorcycles ridden and races run. First off, what you focus on really does happen. If you’re coming up on a curve in a race and you’re not looking through the entire curve, you’ll definitely go off the edge. And she has experienced this first hand. You have to look at the end of the curve, focusing on the other side of it in order to navigate your way through it successfully. This is exactly what she’s doing with her Etsy shop. If it’s slow, don’t focus on that, don’t think only of the hypothetical negative outcome. Instead, focus on the end, envisioning what you want and navigating successfully through the end of the “curve.” Secondly, just like in racing, you shouldn’t follow other people’s lines. As Monica says in her interview: “You can follow other people’s lines, and they may be great lines, but you’re only ever going to be behind if you do. So at some point, you just have to change that line in order to make a pass and get around your opponent. It truly is about finding your niche, not focusing on what other people might be doing, and just looking ahead to the goals you’ve got in front of you.”

2 a.m. taxes and lessons learned

One area that Monica has been relearning a lot about recently is taxes. A few nights ago, she stayed up until 2 a.m. doing her taxes for the past year. She said a huge lesson for her about this has been, stay. on. top. of. your. book. keeping. You might feel like you’re not making a ton of money right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming soon! Good book keeping is essential to less stress and time saved along the way.  Making sure you’re on top of how much you’ve spent in supplies for your shop, the miles you’ve driven, anything like that, will help SO much in bringing down your taxable income. If you do this as you go along instead of waiting until the last minute and scrambling to find receipts, you’ll really thank yourself!

A great tool for this that Etsy offers is Quick Books. Monica says to be careful, however, as Quick Books with Etsy can double up your income and show you’ve actually made more than you have. What she means is, Quick Books with Etsy keeps track of each transaction made individually. It will also take into account how much is deposited every Monday (if this is the option you’ve chosen) into your bank account. Both of these things together mean that it can look like you’ve made twice what you actually have. But despite this, Monica does love how helpful Quick Books is for keeping track of everything as the year progresses.

Focus for sales

For Monica, focus is a big deal. The months she’s seen her sales go down are the months she’s been distracted and not focused on her shop. Again, you only get out of it what you put into it. Crystal Relics is always on Monica’s mind. She’s always brain storming new things she can do and how she can improve her shop. When she doesn’t allocate the time to implement these ideas however, she begins to think of what she’s “not” doing. And for her, this is where the negative energy can slip back in. This makes her concentrate on what she isn’t doing, instead of where she wants to be. She feels this kind of negative thinking definitely reflects back on her shop. Keeping a positive attitude, staying focused and taking the time to apply what she knows she should all has an impact on the incline or decline of everything she does in her shop and life. 

Transitioning to full time with Etsy

Monica says she’s easily distracted, so time management is her number one struggle. Things always seems to end up in the “same spot” for her. Along with running her own shop, she’s also a full time mom to a nineteen month old daughter! So, the struggle to actually stay focused and use her time wisely can be difficult. Monica is also a do it herself kind of woman. But she’s learning this isn’t always the best approach when you’re a small business owner. Taking help when it’s offered can be a wonderful thing.Outsourcing does not mean you’re not capable, it means you know what you can handle and what needs to be delegated. That’s an important lesson to learn early on!

Under promise, over deliver

Monica’s customers truly are important to her and she is deeply grateful for each sell. The awesome thing about what she’s selling is that it allows for deeper conversations with her buyers. Many people search Monica out for her bracelets and crystals because of issues going on in their personal lives. Whether it’s a need for anxiety relief or calm before a medical treatment, Monica’s knowledge and care for each individual she comes into contact with really shines through. Monica also sends a small gift with the purchase of one of her products. This also leads to her customers reaching back out to ask about the gift. All of this helps to solidify relationships with her buyers which is an invaluable practice as a seller. Over delivering in customer care is a great practice all the way around, but especially in the area of repeat customers.

Communication is key

Monica genuinely loves communicating with her customers. This takes a good portion of her time, but that’s just fine with her. She’s made some great professional relationships with many of her customers and she definitely reaps the benefits from her fantastic communication skills. By taking the time to do this she knows that many of her customers will let her know if they need anything and will return to her shop for gifts in the future! A perfect example of this would be recently when a customer, whom had previously bought one bracelet from Monica’s shop, returned to purchase fourteen bracelets for all of her children and grandchildren! That one sale turned into more than Monica could have imagined and she says this has happened multiple times over the course of her shop.

Photos 

If you go to Crystal Relics, you’ll really get a feel for how detailed and precise Monica is in all she does. Her photos are beautiful, natural, and taken with a soft flash. For Monica, truly representing what her products look like is very important. When she’s purchasing crystals for her shop, she says she really loves to handle and hold them to see what they really look like. She doesn’t like buying bulk crystals or purchasing from places that offer to send you one or two crystals out of a large bowl. So, as a seller herself, she wants her customers to feel like they can reach out and hold the piece they’re interested in. Representing colors, feel and look are all high on her priority list. This also ensures that customers are happy with what they’re receiving. She also stays very consistent with the background of her photos. She’s found this works beautifully for what she’s selling and the feel of her shop. However, she does mention that she’s browsed through other shops that break all kinds of “staying consistent” rules, and yet their photos are also incredible! It’s all about finding what works for what you’re selling. Do you, do your own thing, most importantly be who you are, and let this shine through your shop and photos!

Descriptions and reviews

She does this with her descriptions as well. Though her descriptions might be a bit longer than is normal, Monica would rather give more information and have someone decide a product really isn’t for them, than to give less information and have something returned. This helps with retention as well as ensuring her customers truly understand and are happy with what they’re purchasing. Her advice on writing descriptions is first off, keep them simple at the beginning. The first couple paragraphs should encompass a short intro on what the product is about, why it would be great for the buyer, what size it might be and dimensions if necessary. After that, you can get more detailed in the following paragraphs if you have more info available. Often times, buyers like skimming and just reading the first couple paragraphs, but seeing there’s more info tends to make people more confident in their purchase.

All of this is a great help with Monica’s reviews! She never specifically asks her customers for reviews. When they are written, however, she is quick to send a thank you with a coupon or discount code. Her policy is to always give gratitude where it’s due.

Selecting your words

Monica’s positive energy and mindfulness truly permeates all she does, even the words she chooses to use. She’s very careful about selecting her words, which she believes (and so do we) is a much broader thing than just Etsy. She has seen many people complaining about different topics on forums and social media and for her, it’s not worth reading or being a part of that kind of negative energy. She truly believes the energy you put out into the world comes back, often in the form of illness or mental fatigue. If you’re stressing and complaining, sickness can often follow, and for Monica it’s just simply not worth it. She has personally decided to step away from all forums and any form of social media. Focusing on the things that matter, the positive side of everything, bettering yourself and others, this is what is most important. Letting go of the little things that you can’t control, releasing stress, and staying positive is worth so much.

Don’t beat yourself up

Of course, the most enlightened of people will at times put out negative energy. Monica does her best not to, but you know, sometimes it’s raining and cold and just all around a crummy day. Maybe you stepped in a puddle and soaked your shoe or your package wasn’t delivered when expected. Whatever the case may be, everyone has those moments when you’re just frustrated and aggravated! However, checking that, being aware of it and trying your best to get your mind back in a good place is SO helpful! Also, as Monica says, don’t beat yourself up about your bad moments. We ALL have them, but the best thing to do is just keep moving and leave those bad moments in the dust. No one else has more potential than you. You have all you need to make your life, your Etsy shop, whatever it might be, a success!

Do your research and use your tools (hey Marmalead!)

If you aren’t experiencing the success you want on Etsy, Monica suggests really doing your research and using Marmalead! (Hey thanks Monica!) For her, Marmalead has streamlined a lot of the research she’d otherwise have to do on her own. It takes a lot of the guess work out on keywords, tags, placement for these, what is being used else where and what is being searched. Monica says feels confident in the results she gets when she searches SEO through Marmalead. She guarantees that once you get going with your shop and you can afford the entrepreneur package with Marmalead (hey look, she’s doing a plug for us without us asking!) it will be more than worth it. Until then, the dabbler package is also fantastic. Seriously guys, this is what we hope to hear! We love knowing our customers are finding more success and peace of mind through what Marmalead has to offer!

Do it because you just never know

Taking the leap to running your own store on Etsy can be scary at times. Monica is passionate, however, on encouraging others to just do it! Do it because, you truly never know when your last day might be in your current job or at this current place in your life. Do it because you’re passionate about it and because, honestly, life is just too short to not do what you love. Do it with a positive attitude and with the conscious thought to leave the negativity behind. Do it, not out of fear of what might happen, but out of the belief that you can! Because if you believe it, you absolutely can achieve it. Refuse doubt, don’t allow it in, and if it does creep back, release it as soon as possible. You truly attract what you put out.

Final thoughts

When asked about the challenges she’s had in starting up her shop, Monica said at first she thought, “Where do I start?” But, she really doesn’t like to focus on the challenges. She told us she’d rather talk about keeping a good attitude and having great energy, than about all that did and could go wrong. Don’t compare yourself to others or to someone else’s shop. Simply do what is right for you. Envision where you want to be, where you want to go, what you actually want, and believe it will all be yours. If you believe it enough and focus on it, it will come into fruition in the future.

Also, I promise you, you’ll want to listen to Monica’s Jam this week! I wish I could capture all the fantastic stories and hilarious moments she and the guys talked about, but I simply can’t capture it all in one blog post! Go listen to it! You’ll be so glad you did:)

Where to find Monica

Monica can be found at CrystalRelics on Etsy! She is totally open to possibly collaborating with other sellers and artists, so if you feel like reaching out to her, message her directly through her shop.

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

In this episode, the guys have the pleasure of talking with Monica from Crystal Relics. Monica shares some great stories from her motorcycle racing days, and lessons she learned which apply to selling on Etsy. We also chat about taxes, accounting, the power of positive thinking, positive energy and avoiding making decisions based on fear. Did we mention she used to race motorcycles?!

Etsy Jam 48: Spring and Summer Sales Slump? Try these things.

In this episode the guys talk about some things you can do to help during a spring sales slump. We will tackle ideas you can use to help set your shop up for success! 

April Fools

We just LOVE this time of year in the Etsy universe (and in all e-commerce really), don’t you?! Products are just FLYING off the shelves, there are all kinds of sales figures flying by, and people are just ROLLING in cash!…..wait….is it Christmas?! What are we talking about?? Ok, ok, yeah, it’s past April Fool’s, although that would be a good…or maybe a not so good, April Fool’s joke;) The truth is, this is a really hard time of year to be a seller. In fact, it’s been a really slow spring, not just for Etsy, but on several platforms. Amazon, Ebay, pretty much across the board, there’s a slump. 

It’s what all the cool kids are talking about

This slump seems to be all sellers are talking about. Our Facebook group has some great threads going on about said topic (shameless plug: go join our Facebook group), and the Etsy forums are filled with the same kinds of discussions. These conversations seem to be tied with all the search updates Etsy keeps talking about. People tend to think that Etsy is doing a TON regarding their SEO, and really changing stuff around. Maybe the slow down does have something to do with all these changes, BUT we really think it’s bigger than just that. Side note: Etsy more than likely anticipates that this will be a slow time of year, and what better time to update SEO stuff than when it’s slow? Obviously, they wouldn’t do this when things were going to be super busy. Can you imagine trying to make changes and monitor those changes during Christmas? How could Etsy possibly know if changes made were actually because of SEO updates they did or simply because Christmas is a busy time of year? Think about it. 

What to do when it’s slow as molasses

So, what are some practical things to do during the current slump we find ourselves in? 

 1.) Stop talking about it constantly

Now, don’t get us wrong, there is value in confirming things aren’t just slow for you, and discussing with other sellers some of their ideas and techniques during a slow down. However, if ALL you’re doing is talking about how slow it is, you’re wasting valuable time. You could be spending this time on “house keeping” and all the other things you didn’t have time for during your last busy season. 

2.) Improve your photos

We hear people constantly talk about needing to do this, but not having the time. Now is the perfect opportunity! If you’re new to a DSLR camera, watch some videos/read up on how to most effectively use it, how to get great lighting, honestly the list could go on and on for this alone. If you’re planning on hiring someone to do photos for you, reach out to people who can recommend someone great, research pricing, and find who you’re really happy with. Don’t wait until things have ramped up again, because you want to be ahead of the curve and prepared when you’re actually very busy.  

3.) Build up your inventory

One of our previous guests, Kyle, from Cigart Metalworks (another shameless plug: go check out his shop on Etsy, he has a great video and about page posted there), talks about how he really prepares for the holiday season. He created a spreadsheet of the things he wanted to accomplish each week and how these would help him get to where he wanted to be during the holidays. Some of that was just creating inventory so that he was prepared and wouldn’t have to scramble to complete his inventory when he was slammed with sales. So, months ahead of time he was planning out how many units he needed to make each week to be able to hit a certain number that he wanted for the holiday rush. What better time to do this than during a slump? 

4.) Beta testing

This is something else Kyle talks about. He’s a huge fan of testing his different products, so he sends things out to people to see how they like them and how his products stand the test of time. Well, during a slow period, you have time to do this! Talk to whomever you have in your life, whether that’s friends, family, or past customers. Ask them to test your product out, put it to “use” and get back to you about what they thought. This is a fantastic way to find out if you need to make small adjustments to your products ahead of time instead of waiting until the holidays to find out your customers aren’t happy with something that might have been an easy fix. 

5.) Add a new product and do your research

Adding in a new product to your shop might be a huge gain for you, so now is the time to do some research on whatever that may be. One of the things people use Marmalead for is new product research. Taking the time to sit down and look at what you have and what your skill set is, the materials you work with, and also checking out what people like and are buying, can be invaluable! Maybe you want to add something small that isn’t a huge jump away from what you’re already doing, OR maybe it’s something totally different that you want to learn to start crafting. Either way, now is a great time to try out some new product ideas.

6.) Reach out to customers

Obviously when things are slow you have time to reach out to customers and spend time chatting with them in order to build a higher touch relationship. This is fantastic customer service and will stand out way more than just a simple follow up email. It’s also a great time to get feed back on your products and find out how your customers like them and if there are any changes that could/need to be made. Are your products standing the test of time? Are they breaking down in any way? All of this is invaluable information for you as a seller. Now, don’t get us wrong, this is NOT the time to spam your customers or try and sales pitch them to buy more. We are only talking about reaching out for information on how you can improve your shop and products. 

7.) Coupons

IF you are using your own email list that your customers have requested to be on, this could be a great time to send out a coupon thanking them for their past purchase(s) and offering something off your current products. This could help you see a boost in sales during an otherwise quiet season. Just remember, your customer has to have requested your emails be sent to them, otherwise you’re just spamming them. 

8.) Work on your SEO across your shop

Go through all your listings and make sure you’re using all your tags, and that your titles make sense. Make sure you don’t have mistakes or mismatches between your titles or tags, and just clean everything up. In general, this is good SEO practice. It will also help to ensure that you show up at the top of the keywords you are targeting. Also, when Etsy starts changing things up, this is a good time to tweak and test some of your SEO keywords, tags, and titles. You certainly don’t want to do that during your busiest time of the year. You want to figure that out ahead of time. So, go slow, change maybe 5 to 10 things at a time (not everything at once), and see how those changes preform. 

 9.) Go back and look at your suppliers

If you’re buying supplies from other sources and you’re crafting things with those supplies, now would be a great time to revisit that and think about if you’re getting the best deal from your suppliers. Maybe you’re selling more than you used to, which means you need more supplies, and if you switch over to a different supplier you’ll save more money. Now is the time to make the switch! Whether you find a supplier that is cheaper, or one that gives you better quality supplies at the same price, either way you’ll be saving yourself in the long run. 

Bonus thoughts

So, we’ve covered house keeping, how to boost your sales, and practical SEO management. What else can you do during this time? Something we don’t talk about a ton is checking out what you have in your local area. Because remember, your shop isn’t something that JUST gets done in search, you can actually send your direct link to friends, family, neighbors, anyone that could be a potential customer to you. You’re probably not the only person that likes what you do in your city. There are usually lots of opportunities in your community for potential buyers. Also, if you’re not set up as a company and you’ve been doing all your Etsy stuff on your own, this might also be the perfect time to look into registering as a legit business. As a registered business, you would have the potential to save money on your taxes the following year by being able to deduct some of your business expenses. 

Last but not least, revisit your pricing! You can use Marmalead for this! It’s kinda like going through your keywords and seeing where things are at. Definitely familiarize yourself with market based pricing and just see where you’re at, and where you stand against your competition.

Bottom Line

Stay informed, but don’t get sucked into the trap of social media. Do some of the above practical things with your time, but most of all, focus on what you WANT to achieve! Because what you focus on expands. Focus on positive things like growing, and that is EXACTLY what will happen!

Etsy Jam Scoops

 

In this episode the guys talk about some things you can do to help during a spring sales slump. We will tackle ideas you can use to help set your shop up for success!

Etsy Jam 47: Do or Do Not. There is No Try With Rebecca from AegeanDrawn

In this episode we have the pleasure of chatting with Rebecca, from Aegean Drawn. Rebecca has been on Etsy since 2015 and recently found her niche selling some awesome crochet dog costumes and hats. Rebecca shares some Yoda inspired life changing advice she received, and how it helped her get her shop on track for success. Join us for a conversation about customer communication, selling original art on Etsy, international shipping strikes, and more.

Back Story

Rebecca was originally born in Illinois and from there went to California and then Germany. It was in Germany that she got her lovely dog, whose original name was Kara Van Winkle, but was renamed Lola. Lola has inspired much of Rebecca’s current costume and hat designs! Rebecca’s husband was in the military and they were stationed in Germany four and a half years. After her husband finished with the military, they moved back to Illinois, and then on to Turkey, where they currently reside. 

Getting Started Story

In 2015, after being in Izmir, Turkey for a little while, Rebecca realized that the options she had for work were “teaching English and teaching English,” which she gave a shot, but quickly realized it was not her passion. She had always been interested in art and crafts (if you can name a craft, she probably gave it a try), and she decided to try and sell some of her stuff online. She started off doing a basic google search that said something like “How to sell your art online” and one of the first things to come up was Etsy. A friend had recently bought all of their wedding supplies from Etsy, so Rebecca decided to give it a shot! So, in March 2015, Rebecca opened her shop, Aegean Drawn.  

How did she pick what to list?

Basically, she listed everything. She had a back log of work that she’d been doing for a while such as, paintings and local jewelry…and it didn’t go very well at first. After about three months of trying out different Facebook groups she was starting to get pretty frustrated. She hadn’t had a single sale, even though she was getting lots views and favorites. The turning point was when the admin of one of the groups she was asking for help finally gave her the “Yoda” speech she needed, which was basically this: If it’s something you love, DO it. Go after it! But, if it’s something you don’t care that much about, just don’t. You either have to commit to it or walk away, it’s your choice. If you want it, then go get it.

After hearing that, she committed to really trying her best for a year, and then if needed, she’d reevaluate everything. Obviously, that year proved to be a fantastic decision.  

International Shipping Observations

After a few weeks, Rebecca started to think that maybe some of the “international seller stigma” might be getting in her way. What she’s talking about is assuming that just because something is coming from China makes that item automatically cheap, which may not be the case at all. Or maybe the shipping cost just seems to be too high to some buyers when purchasing internationally. So, after reviewing what her audience viewed, liked, and favorited, she started looking into what she could offer digitally, to get around this whole assumption, and at this point she got into crocheted patterns. This was actually her first sale, which then lead to her first “real” sale for a crocheted product. This all happened around months 4-6. 

Finding Her Niche

One day, she was on one of the Facebook groups she had joined, and someone posted a photo of a chihuahua in a crocheted hat, and she realized: Hey! She could do that! And as they say, the rest is history:) (Definitely go check out her shop! The pictures of Lola modeling the hats are pretty spectacular!)

Using Social Media To Your Advantage

Rebecca has put a different spin on the normal social media give-aways, which engages her audience and prospective buyers more fully. Instead of doing give-aways that ask you to “like and follow my page/shop for a chance to win” Rebecca got far more creative. She asked that people would tell her what pattern/idea for a costume they wanted to see her make, and the catch was, they also had to send in measurements of their pets. This way, she received valuable information in return for giving away one of her hats! This also helped her to better understand what people were interested in seeing listed in her shop. It also helped her engage with her audience by not just having them click a button, but actually getting them involved.  And not only dogs are involved in the process, the last winner of her giveaway was a sheep! 

What’s The Craziest Thing She’s Made?!

Santa hats…for rats! Seriously. But, the crazy requests are just an opportunity to help her learn. There really are no inquiries that you can’t learn something from, she says. It definitely can be an adventure as a seller on Etsy!

Key Things That Worked

  • Working hard and not stopping, making improvements and changing things up on her shop regularly. 
  • Working on SEO, which is something she NEVER stops doing.
  • Changing the pictures up and redoing them regularly, which helps WAY more than you’d believe.

What Does She Use To Get Good Photos? 

A DSLR is what she primarily uses to get her photos, and then she really waits until the lighting is right. This can be a bit difficult as she lives on the coast, and the lighting at her home really requires that she wait until it’s just perfect in order to get a good photo. She does do some editing afterwards as well, but not too much, as she doesn’t want to lose any of her colors. Lastly, she crops them down so they look good for an Etsy preview, and then lists them up!

Doing What People Like

For a while, Rebecca tried selling her artwork on Etsy, and she found that even though she got a lot of likes, nothing was selling that she listed. Her custom pieces, however, would sell faster than something she just painted on her own. This got her thinking about what people actually liked as opposed to what she was inspired by and wanted to do all the time. Being able to custom make things has been a big thing for Rebecca, and still is, even though her crocheted work sells faster than her artwork ever did. Sometimes, you have to capitalize on the commerce you see in front of you, as opposed to ONLY doing what you want, she says. 

Breaking Down Etsy Admin

For Rebecca, these are the details of running her own Etsy shop:

In the off season, she spends 30% of her time fulfilling orders, 30% designing new products and 30% doing promotions and social media.

During peak season, she spends 90% of her time fulfilling orders. Her peak season is around Halloween and Christmas.

What Didn’t Work

The one thing that’s been a huge struggle for Rebecca, is shipping internationally. Though the cost of living in Turkey is very low and shipping rates are low as well, it’s the shipping time that has been a struggle. Even though it only takes about 1-2 days to complete an order, shipping from Turkey to the U.S. takes on average, about two weeks. Rebecca says the best way around this is customer communication, and just being upfront with her buyers.

This is also the advice she offers for not only international sellers, but any Etsy shop owner. Provide good communication, keep your buyers aware of the process and that line of communication open, which will defuse more tension than not. Rebecca herself got a good lesson in communication with her buyers a couple years ago, when there was an international shipping strike! However, despite the initial panic, she just kept communicating the best she could. She even bought a tracking app so she could update and then follow up with her customers. This created trust between her and her buyers, and earned her 5 star reviews during this stressful time. 

Passion vs. Reality

Rebecca is definitely still very passionate about her artwork, and she says it was a bit of a struggle to let it go where her shop is concerned. The reality of her situation is that, despite being passionate about art, she’s truly found her niche and what works for her, and for now, this is where she wants to put her passion and energy. She says it’s  hard, finding the balance between doing what works and what you’re passionate about. Carving out a niche for yourself when you want so badly for others to catch your current vision can be daunting.

However, being open to new possibilities, maybe something you’ve never thought seriously about before, can only help you! And as for Rebecca, we might see her one day with a new Etsy shop with custom artwork available. But for now, however, you’ll find her crocheting away in her little home by the sea! 

We wish you all the best, Rebecca! Thank you so much for sharing what you’ve learned with everyone.

Where To Find Rebecca

You’re definitely going to want to check out Rebecca’s fantastic shop (along with her model, Lola) especially if you have pets of your own! Find her at:

Aegean Drawn on Etsy

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

In this episode we have the pleasure of chatting with Rebecca, from Aegean Drawn. Rebecca has been on Etsy since 2015 and recently found her niche selling some awesome crochet dog costumes and hats. Rebecca shares some Yoda inspired life changing advice she received, and how it helped her get her shop on track for success. Join us for a conversation about customer communication, selling original art on Etsy, international shipping strikes, and more.

Etsy Jam Episode 46: Shots in the Dark

In this episode, Gordon and Richie take on more quality questions from our Facebook group, BUT these questions are a bit trickier and don’t really have clear answers. Soooo, in just a moment, you’ll get to hear the guys “fumble” their way through them, while providing as much guidance as they can. Quality questions with fuzzy answers…oh boy, here we go…

Warning: Basically, the upcoming questions are NOT black and white. They don’t have a tried and true method, or a 1+1=2 sort of equation. These are the toughies, the questions you’re not sure how to ask, because I mean, what if you get ten different answers back?! Personally, I think is all pretty brave for anyone to try and tackle…or ask for that matter! So, as your writer for this Jam, I’ll be trying to shine some sort of flashlight into this dark and fuzzy episode. Just remember, Gordon and Richie are giving their opinions on all of this, they’re taking questions that don’t have solid answers and trying to give you the BEST hypothetical answers possible. So, if you’re ready, let’s start navigating!

1. At what point do you stop tweaking your SEO for a listing and move on to the next? When do you know your SEO is good enough for that listing? 

…As soon as you get bored with it;) (I mean, am I aloud to put wink faces in a blog post…because, I feel like with the way this is starting off, I’m gonna need them…)  I mean, semi seriously here, you don’t want to burn yourself out with it. If you feel like you’re getting to a point where you’ve tried a lot of different stuff and you’re not seeing anymore improvement, it’s probably a good idea to move onto the next one. Take a break! Eenie meenie miney mo…or something like that;)

Seriously though, you honestly don’t want to keep using the same SEO and essentially, spinning your wheels and burning yourself out. If you keep things constantly moving, changing, and fresh, if you see changes here and there or maybe large changes, this is all positive and exactly what you want! Obviously, if all of this is happening, you’re not going to get bored and frustrated. If you see things aren’t improving, the best thing to do is move on. Go back to the drawing bored. If you do, you’ll more than likely come up with new ideas. Or take a breath and step away. Do whatever it takes, grab a shower, drink a cup of coffee, but just allow yourself a breather whatever you do.This is one of the best things you can do to get your creative juices flowing again and new ideas spinning! Also, the time to go back to previous SEOs used, would be seasonally, or if something is now trending that previously wasn’t. Pay attention and know it’s ok to use something old if it’s now caught on.

2. How is ranking affected when 99% of your orders are custom? (Meaning, you created the order in a conversation thread using the “create an order” feature inside Etsy)

…Well….that’s gonna be a fuzzy answer! Ok, so these are almost completely custom orders, which means they’re not being searched or clicked on. These really aren’t part of that listing quality score that Etsy talks about for search. 99% custom orders are A LOT. Which makes me wonder if there are a lot of other listings in this shop? If there are, they aren’t being bought, unless there are some sort of instructions within the shop that says, ‘Hey, wait, don’t buy this, because you don’t want this one, what you really want is to message me and create an order and buy that one.’ So, is any of their traffic actually coming from search? This kinda leads to extra questions, which is interesting, because this is the first time we’ve had anyone say that 99% come from custom orders…which to us, sounds like a lot of extra work. It’s VERY labor intensive and high touch to have a shop set up this way. Ideally, you want your literal buyers and perspective buyers also, to search for your product and simply purchase it.

While we DO say it’s important to talk to your customers and learn from them, if this is basically the only way you’re getting sales, it would appear that you’re burning TONS of extra energy doing this. If buyers are finding you in search, but messaging you and asking you to change just one or two things, have you noticed a pattern there? Have several buyers asked for the same one or two things to be changed? If so, you might want to go ahead and make those changes on your actual listing(s) and see how the sales work after these changes are made. This would cut out some of the fuel you burn talking to everyone individually. Sometimes, less is more, as opposed to infinite options given. If you can receive even better results by narrowing your listings down or simplifying them, this would be the way to go.

We know you originally asked about rank in this situation. This is SUPER fuzzy. Unless you’re looking at the code behind the Etsy algorithm for how they rank things, there’s really no clear way to know exactly how this plays into that and what the Etsy strategy is for handling situations like this. Now, if we want to take a fuzzy stab at this thing and take a wild guess at how it MIGHT be set up, this would be my answer: I think in search, when Etsy does their search results and they decide how to rank things, there are things that are definitely tied to the individual listings, such as the performance of that listing, how many favorites it has, how many sales it has, when the last time that listing was renewed, tag title match (which is obviously tied to a listing) and ALL of this will impact how a listing will rank. I think there are also things tied to the shop, like whether or not you have your shop policies filled out, the general performance of that shop, what its overall conversion rate looks like, and things like that. It’s all of this that Etsy will use to offset each other. Also, the number of orders you have, whether they’re sold through your shop or set up as custom orders, would be something that Etsy would measure as being part of the shop criteria. Something like that could be having an effect on the ranking of your other listings. You might get a boost in rank for your normal listings if you’re doing a ton of custom orders, because that shop factor is helping raise everything up.

Another thing to keep in mind, and what we like to say a lot, is that SEO works while you sleep! There’s a TON of truth in this. While you have SEO set up and promoted listings, or ads, or anything else that you’re doing, that ALL works while you sleep. However, if your sales REQUIRE that you have a conversation with someone, that’s a lot tougher to happen while you’re sleeping. Make sense?

All of this is definitely fuzzy, but plausible for sure!

3. In regards to sales of an item boosting your position, what about one of a kind items?

This is kind of like the previous question, except, maybe these are one of a kind listing items, instead of one of a kind custom order items. If you’re selling vintage items, that will more than likely be a one of a kind sale for you, because you might only ever find that item once to sell. Again, you’re going to be competing with other one of a kind listings in a lot of scenarios. And this type of market and competition, isn’t heavily weighted formula wise, as other more main stream markets are. It really is VERY relative to what your competition is doing. If someone is searching for something that’s one of a kind, everyone in this unique, one of a kind market, are all kind of on the same level playing field at that point. It’s kinda like the story that Richie tells, where a guy puts on running shoes to outrun a lion that shows up (dude, you need to move to the city, bro) and another guy tells him that no matter what kind of running shoes he puts on, he absolutely won’t outrun that lion…to which Mr. Running Shoes says, ‘Yeah, you’re right, I can’t outrun the lion, I just have to outrun you!’ At which point I’m sure he sprints off. Basically, this question is an example of this story. You don’t need to completely crush everything and make sure you’re one of a kind listings are recreations of other ones, or copies, or whatever people try to do to give these things a bump, you just need to make sure you’re outrunning the other people that show up for the same search results as you.

Whew, ok everyone, we’ve come to the last question…how’s my flashlight shining going?? I’m definitely gonna be looking for some validation in the comments section of this blog;) Ok, here we go…

4. Which counts more, a listings individual conversion rate or a shops overall conversion rate? (Shameless plug time: if you haven’t already, read my previous write up that I did on Jam 45! The guys talk more about conversion rates there as well!)

We first want to remind people what conversion rate is: it’s the number of sales divided by the number of views. Basically, you’re trying to figure out how many views it takes to get a sale.

So, which is Etsy using, the individual views on a listing, or the shops overall viewings for all listings? Are they more concerned with how the individual listing is doing and what the conversion rate is for each of those listings when they decide to rank them? OR are they more concerned with the shop’s overall performance? Well, surprise, surprise, it’s hard to say because it’s, you guessed it, fuzzy! It’s really tough to know how much that difference matters. Did they factor in that someone might have a ton of really horrible listings and then one really fantastic listing? Um…well….I don’t know. Maybe they did, or maybe they didn’t. Or maybe Etsy figured out it’s all gonna come out in the wash anyway. Obviously, there are things that have VERY strong factors in Etsy search. We definitely know that conversion rate HELPS and listing quality HELPS and shop experience HELPS, but does it help as much as having your target keyword in the very front of your title? Does it matter as much as having that target keyword also in your tags? It doesn’t seem like it helps AS much. Since there’s a lot to it, we’re not sure that you can really distinguish between whether it matters more to have a really high converting listing, or not to worry so much about this and just try and lift them all up to have a higher conversion rate. We’re just not sure that you can hold everything else stable in one spot to say, ok, THIS is really where it is, and THIS is the tie breaker. You’re competing with SO many other shops and listings for those spots anyway, everyone else isn’t going to have everything else the same and then this one particular thing (whatever that might be) is the tie breaker.

One of the other things that could come into this too is how long a shop is considered new, (hey look, another plug! Want to hear more about how much the newness of your shop matters? Go listen to/read the blog write up for Jam 45) because the longer your shop has been on Etsy, the more data Etsy has about it. This could come into play with conversion rate as well. If we think about it in terms of how Etsy is deciding to rank things that come back because they have strong tag/title match (which we think is the number one thing they’re looking at), we can see how Etsy would want to use the most data that they can. As Richie has said before, for something to have statistical relevance, you need to have thirty data points or more. So, for newer shops where a listing itself might not have a whole lot of data points behind it, they might put more weight on your shop’s conversion rate, your shops performance and how many views and sales your shop has overall. This will then impact what kind of bump or negative impact that is applying to your listings that are coming back in the search results. Now, once an individual listing has been around for a while and has a whole bunch of views and sales and its own statistics, we can see Etsy putting more weight on that individual listing instead of the overall shop. At the end of the day, you really want to be pulling the highest performing listings up to the top, especially the ones that have the best chance of making a sale, so that the buyer will find what they’re looking for and are happy with.

Ok dear readers, if you haven’t listened to the guy’s jam yet, now would be a fantastic time to do so, and make sure you make it to the end because, they basically challenged me to write this thing up clearly after their fuzzy answers;) Which is why I have now resorted to winky faces and letting you know that there’s another person over here, desperately trying to shine a flashlight on all this dark and fuzzy content…ha! Seriously though, I personally think they did a fantastic job, and I will be applying this stuff to my own shop in the future! And, unlike the guys at the end of the jam (where they talk about after parties, planets, jokes, and Gordon’s extremely intelligent mother), I’m officially signing off for now, while hoping I didn’t make things even more confusing…Until next week, here’s to hoping your sales skyrocket from what you learned here! Happy selling!

 

 

 

Etsy Jam Scoops:

In this episode, Gordon and Richie take on more quality questions from our Facebook group, BUT these questions are a bit trickier and don’t really have clear answers. Soooo, in just a moment, you’ll get to hear the guys “fumble” their way through them, while providing as much guidance as they can. Quality questions with fuzzy answers…oh boy, here we go…

Etsy Jam Episode 45: Your Questions Our Answers

In this episode, we tackle some questions, submitted by you, our Marmalead family! We touch on topics like how to maximize keywords, how important conversion rates are, and the ever mysterious, search bar. So, continue on for another great Etsy Jam blog post, and make sure you check out our actual Jam for ever more in depth answers!

Without further ado, let’s jump right on in…

1. What do you do if your shop has 100s of listings, all shooting for the same 5-10 keywords?

Find other words. There’s really no other option. Most shoppers won’t go passed the first 3-5 pages of search results, so that really only gives you about 5 spots for any given keyword…so, if you decide to go with more than that, you just gotta understand, you’re competing with yourself, right? If you have hundreds of listings that are shooting for the same keywords, you really have to “cast a wider net” as we like to say. Get more niche. Attract people who are looking for something super specific. For example if you have thirty  listings with thirteen tags each, do the math here, that’s about 390 unique keywords you could be using. Talk about a wide net! It’s totally possible and very doable, you’ve just got to get creative…which is why you started an Etsy shop to begin with, right?

2. I found the PERFECT keyword, Richie, but it’s more than 20 characters long…what do I do?! Richie Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope! (Duh, duh, duuuuuuuuh!) 

Well, young padawan, you’re gonna split it up! Not in your title, but definitely in your tags. Now there are two schools of thought here, but this is the one I agree with: 

Cut it in half. If it makes sense and you can read the tag split in two, go ahead and do it that way. But remember, if you DO split it in half and it doesn’t make sense, it really DOES NOT MATTER! It’s for the search engine NOT the shopper. No one shopping really looks at the tags anyway…I mean, unless you’re into a little light tag reading by the fire in the evenings. So, basically, it’s for the machine not the people, which sounds more Hunger Games than Star Wars, I know. Just make sure you understand that you can split them apart and they don’t have to make sense, because they really are for the machine/search engine at the end of the day.

3. After using your targeted keyword right at the front of your title, is it best to use less specific keywords like “gift for her” or should you keep with specific details long tailed keywords after that? 

I would say, stay more specific and here’s why: You HAVE to do this really intentionally. Basically, the more generic you go, the more competitive it is, the more competitive it is, the LESS likely you are to rank that listing the further back in your title it goes. So, let’s say you’ve taken your generic keywords and put them in the very front of your title. You’ve also done everything right to target them. Basically, you’ve put them in the front, you’ve matched everything, you have a renewing strategy and great, you’re showing up! Now, put the generic keywords half way through your title, and you’re probably not that competitive anymore because you’ve lost that competitive edge. Don’t do that. Put the less competitive keywords, the specific and unique one here, because you actually have a fighting chance with this placement. Otherwise, you’re kinda just filling space. 

Now, you’re struggling to find other keywords to spread across your listings, you could shoot for putting more generic keywords toward the front of your titles and target more competitive and generic markets and spots that you can still rank for. But, you definitely want to be careful when you do this. Make sure you’re using keywords that actually work for you, even the generic and competitive ones. And don’t just leave them there, double check and see if they’re working for you! Don’t leave words hanging out that aren’t helping you rank. If this is the case, find something that’s slightly more specific to you but still generic.  

Bottom line here: Make these things work for you. If you’re listings aren’t showing up where you think they should be, you MUST change what you’re doing. The beauty of it is, you can tailor your title and keyword placement to work in your favor. Experiment! Switch stuff up! See what gets you the best results!

4. Why are some texts duds when they are all green in Marmalead? I rank on the first page, it’s a relevant keyword for me, and my listing prices are within the average price range. So, why are these keywords not working for me, even if I’m ranking?   

Well, this could be a couple things. First, if you’re using an “average” price range, that could be your first problem! You could be disappearing into the average. Maybe there are forty plus other results on the page, plus ads, and you’re just blending into everything. Also, if your pictures aren’t standing out, that could also be an issue. A couple ways to tell if your pictures aren’t that great are if you’re showing up on the search page AND you’re ranking, but people just aren’t clicking. You MUST stand out! So, make sure you have unique, appealing pictures that entice buyers to click on your listing.

The other thing too is, if you’re targeting keywords that are too low of competition, that could also be a problem. For example, if you’re targeting something that only has ten results that come up, or maybe the buyer really did type your VERY rare keywords in, still, if there are ONLY ten results that pop up, they could be thinking…huh….is this it?? Are these my only choices? Maybe I should be searching for something else with more options. Because, the truth is, we really DO like options! 

Bottom line here: There really isn’t some black and white answer to this question. It definitely depends on what you’re selling and the audience you’re selling to. If you’re competing with a lot of other artists because you’re less specialized, concentrate on price range, standing out, and having awesome pictures! However, if you’ve found your own extremely specialized niche, add some other more general keywords that relate in, and don’t get discouraged if your sell rate is slow at first. If buyers actually know what you’re selling because you’re so specialized, this DOES increase the chance that they’ll actually purchase from you. Super low views, maybe, but more than likely, a very high conversion rate! 

5. Is there any merit to checking tags in both Marmalade AND the Etsy search bar? If it’s green in Marmalead but it’s not showing up for me in the Etsy search bar, is that a false positive that it’s a good keyword? 

Basically, if you’re looking in both because you have extra time, by all means, go for it! But, you’ll probably end up with more questions than answers. Can you imagine if every good search really populated in the search bar…what that would look like as a user experience?! You type in the letter “S” and get 25,342,185.456 search results….aaaand, how would Etsy seriously populate every single search on this letter? Also, how would it be politically correct…?! I mean, look what happened with Microsoft’s A.I Bot on Twitter…..oh, you don’t know about that? (Ahem, as your writer, I totally wish I had time to cover it, but since I don’t, here’s a shameless plug to go listen to our Jam for more fun details on this!) 

Soooo, back to the search bar. We’ve talked to a lot of sellers who have said it’s best if you can stay in front of trends that are about to happen. A good example of this would be to set up all your Christmas items BEFORE Christmas, BEFORE people start to really search for them.

We know the Etsy search bar is based on things that have been searched for recently. How recently, you might ask? Well, we don’t really know. Etsy doesn’t share that with us, BUT the point is if you’re only looking back at things that were popular in the last month or so as the seller, you’re really not setting yourself up to be successful in the future if Valentine’s Day is coming up.

And honestly, it doesn’t have to be as obvious as an upcoming Holiday. It could be a trend that you’ve caught onto that’s coming up, but it isn’t showing up in the Etsy search bar yet. Should you incorporate it? Absolutely! Definitely jump on it! Especially if listings are getting good engagement, clicks, and views! It that’s happening, keep at it, keep doing what you’re doing, because that’s what it’s all about. 

Also, an important thing to remember is that, yeah, while you may be able to do a search in Amazon, Google, Ebay, or anywhere else with a search bar and find lots of results (because they show you popular searches above all else), that does NOT equate to being a good thing for you as a seller. If you’re simply counting the number of searches an item has, and not taking into account if said item has action on it from the buyer, like viewing and buying, that will NOT get you to where you want to be sales wise or engagement wise. 

Bottom line here: You want to find the terms and searches that people are actually engaging with. Repeat after me: Engagement. Clicks. Views.

6. Should my conversion rate be the same for higher priced items, specifically ones whose use is primarily decorative? (Basically, does conversion rate change based on my target market, my target price range, my quality or my products vs. other products that buyers might find on Etsy?)

Sometimes it can very much based on the market and honestly it depends on what you’re selling. In general, retail has a very stable conversion rate, and yeah, some people convert really low. In case you didn’t know, Etsy gives a baseline for conversion. They want to see shops at 3%…now, remember, Etsy isn’t looking at each individual category, which if they could I’m sure they would and that would change the percentage given. I mean, if you’re selling something that’s again very niche and unique, you may not be getting as many views BUT your conversion rate might be WAY higher than normal because you get less window shopping and more purchasing. Again, it all depends on where you’re selling, and where you’re selling depends on what keywords you’re using. 

It’s important to be in the correct “neighborhood” within Etsy. Just like in the real world, you can set up shop in a higher end neighborhood and you’ll probab;y sell more expensive products and items. This  is also true goes for lower end neighborhoods. Switch the two around, however, try selling the higher priced item in a lower end neighborhood, or the lower priced item in a higher end neighborhood, and the chances are, you’re just simply not going to sell as much. Better move neighborhoods! And the way to do that on Etsy, are keywords. Your conversion rate is directly related to how you price your items and where you setup shop with your keywords.

Bottom line here: It’s not HOW MUCH you have things priced at, but WHERE you’re trying to sell them. Pay attention to your audience and who exactly it is you’re marketing to. And if necessary, “move neighborhoods” to fit your items needs.

7. Which counts more, a listing’s individual conversion rate, or a shop’s over all conversion rate? 

Short answer? It’s not just about conversion rates. That’s simply one piece of the puzzle. So, to ask which matters more, this conversion rate or that conversion rate, isn’t really what you want to focus on alone. Think about it all. How are your keywords, how are your search results, how is your engagement and based on that, how is your conversion rate? Renewals also carry a lot of weight on individual conversion rates, which play back into the whole search bar thing. 

Bottom line here (with a shocking black and white answer): We can’t isolate that ONE variable…make sense? As a seller and shop owner, make sure you’re not obsessing over one piece of the puzzle, but that you’re taking a step back and looking at this thing as whole.

Well everyone, we’ve come to our very last, but certainly not least BONUS QUESTION (duh, duh, duuuuuuh):

How long is a shop considered new?

Ok, the simply answer is, you pretty much have to show up to the party. What I mean by that is, you can’t open a shop and just kinda leave it there…that’s only going to keep you in neutral territory. It would seem that being new isn’t on a time based scale, but rather on the activity and action that you have going on. According to Etsy’s “How It Works” page, their listing quality is described as this: you’re showing up on the search page and people are clicking on your listing.

If Etsy continues to put your listing or shop up high on the search page, but you consistently get far less views than the shop right next to you, what do you think is gonna happen? That’s right, they’ll choose that other shop and more like it to rank higher than your shop. So time really isn’t a factor, activity is. 

In this episode, we tackle some questions, submitted by you, our Marmalead family! We touch on topics like how to maximize keywords, how important conversion rates are, and the ever mysterious, search bar. So, continue on for another great Etsy Jam blog post, and make sure you check out our actual Jam for ever more in depth answers!

 

Etsy Jam Scoops: