Monday, December 7, 2009

Featured Artists - Heidi's Handmade and Two Seaside Babes

December finds us in full swing of the shopping season, and we can see this through the number of sales from our shops. Homefront Team's theme for our featured artists in December encompasses our fellow members with the highest number of sales, and maybe some of us that are feeling a bit of the Blue Christmas, can get some great advice and maybe even a little inspiration!

First up is Heidi Price of
Heidi's Handmade, who has accured 1172 sales (as of 12/7/09) of her wonderful natural bath and body creations.

Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Heidi Price and I currently live near Pensacola, FL with my Marine hubby and 3 kiddos. I've been making soaps since I took a class in 2000. At first I mostly made soaps with my kids to use in the tub. Then I began making gifts for friends and family. Once my kids got a little older I decided to start my own business. Someone told me about etsy and I opened a shop in 2007. I have loved etsy, it has been a wonderful selling venue for me!

What do you think lead to the success of your Etsy Shop?
I really value my customers. I give my repeat customers special deals or enclose special little gifts with each order. They keep coming back for more and more. I think customer service is very important. As a buyer I have come across shops that have no communication, and late shipping, boring packaging, no thank you note, etc... and I don't want to be that kind of seller. I want to be a shop that buyers enjoy, along with enjoying my products.

What advice might you have for those shops new to Etsy or low sale shops?
All of the things I just mentioned. You have to go the extra mile if you really want to be a success. Make your best products, take your best photos, write your best listings, communicate your best with customers etc...

Is there anything else you would like to add?
If you feel burned out or overwhelmed, take a break. Your customers will understand. Take a few days off from your shop. If you feel bummed that your items are not selling... stop beating yourself up and DO something about it. Go make some new products, advertise your shop at the forums, run a sale. When things were slow for me at first I used to go and play the BNS and BNR games (Buy and Stay, Buy and Replace) at the forums. Those were fun, I go to know people, and they got to know me, and I have gotten lots of repeat customers that way! Overall, if you love what you do, your joy will come through in your work and your shop. So, make sure you love what you are doing!

Our second featured artist is Jessi from Two Seaside Babes, who has amounted 982 sales (as of 12/7/09) of her much desired crochet hats and gifts.

Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Jessi and I am the owner/artist of Two Seaside Babes. I am a stay-at-home, self-employed, single mama to two bubbly tots, alas endeavoring to keep temper tantrums at bay. Outside of the small amount of free time that presents itself when I’m not kissing scraped knees, crying over spilled milk, and sopping up an entire bath’s worth of water off the bathroom floor, I create crocheted pieces from my own patterns. I personally and solely make all of the pieces found in Two Seaside Babes.
We are from a small, middle-of-nowhere town, set amongst the cornfields of Indiana. Really, we like to call Indianapolis home more than anything. We like to consider ourselves a military family, despite my no longer being in the service. I have deployed to both Kosovo and Afghanistan and hold those experiences deeply in my heart. Those two deployments, although entirely different, have shaped me, and hopefully my children, into who we are today. While I no longer have a direct affiliation with the service, I now consider the Homefront Team on Etsy my military family.

What do you think lead to the success of your Etsy Shop?
I believe there are many things that have lead to the success of my Etsy shop. The most important thing though is treating my shop as a business and not a hobby. As soon as I did this, my views, hearts, and eventually sales increased dramatically. I had always turned a small profit each month but it wasn’t until I approached this as a 40+ hour a week job (trust me, it’s WAY more than that), that I started seeing tremendous results. You can’t expect to sell without putting money into it first…I spent a lot on supplies to build up my inventory. You can’t expect to sell without putting in the work…I spend at least 40 hours a week creating my product. You can’t expect to sell without doing all the other grunt work…I spend over 20 hours a week packaging, shipping, listing, photographing, getting/maintaining contacts, and SEO’ing. If you want to reap rewards of a business, then you have to accept the fact that doing something you “love” is not necessarily something you’re going to want to like to do every single day.

There are other things that need to be done, which anyone can do. First and foremost, you need a signature product, something that is entirely your own. It can be anything that you put your own “little spin” on. It has to be something that is recognizable and stands out from the thousands upon thousands of other similar items on Etsy. Secondly, you need to have good photos. While I am far from an expert, I’ve found tons of tricks to help me…knowing which light helps certain colors, adjusting exposure/color/cropping, and having different views/angles of the product. These two alone are what help me to stand out from other “similar” sellers.

What advice might you have for those shops new to Etsy or low sale shops?
For those shops that are new to Etsy or that have low sales I recommend going OUTSIDE of Etsy to promote. Everyone believes that you need to stick around in the forums to see results. This is only true if you belong to a team or if you need help. Promoting yourself and your sales does virtually nothing by going into a forum and trying to do the same thing that thousands of other sellers are trying to do. Admit it; once you go into a forum to promote yourself, you most likely never go back in. Virtually everyone else is doing the same thing. You hardly ever see a “buyer” (one that is strictly an Etsy buyer and holds NO shop) in a forum.

You need to market outside of Etsy. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are a few of the social networking sites that I use. Using these sites, and hundreds others like it, allow your store name to be seen in search engines. If you do it correctly, the results can work dramatically in your favor. A lot of people think that I just create a product, sit back, and let the sales roll in. This is absolutely untrue. I blog. I Tweet. I get contacts through Facebook and MySpace. I’ve registered my store name for every social networking site under the sun. 35% of my traffic comes from outside of Etsy. Which may not sound like a lot, but that is 35% of people that would not have found my store otherwise.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Always remember to never hope more than you work. Hoping that you will make a sale today; hoping that you will make the front page of Etsy; hoping to be picked by admin as the featured seller. Hope will never get you as much as hard work will.
Wow, great advice from both of these stellar Homefront Team shop owners!

3 comments:

Papillon said...

Great advice from both of the shops! Wonderful blog post!
-Jess

PaperOnParade said...

Thanks so much for sharing your expert advise with us! Wonderful shops!

paperbella said...

This is so true, I have alot of work to do :) Thanks for sharing!