Thursday, August 28, 2008
Let's talk PROFIT!!
There's an interesting thread on Etsy right now about the percentile of sales $$'s that go to fees. I thought you might like to see how it works for both hand crafted items as well as eBooks /ePatterns that I market which are in my MKDesigner store on Etsy:
First, an eBook ...
Craft Fair Survival Guide: $ 4.00
40% Ad Budget: - $ 1.60
Base Profit: $ 2.40
Listing Fee: $ .20
Etsy Transaction Fee: $ .14
PayPal Transaction Fee: $ .42
Base Fees: $ .76
40% Ad Budget: $1.60
Less Base Fees: - $ .76
Additional Ad Budget $ .84
For each sale of 1 Craft Fair Survival Guide, I can renew it 4 times on Etsy at $.20cents per renewal. If there are special promotions going on at Etsy, I may renew more than that. At times, I've offered my Craft Fair Survival Guide as an SNS Secret (Saturday Night Special) either totally free or maybe for 50% off. Granted, I don't make as much, if any, profit on that, but usually other sales accompany or follow closely to that special.
Now for Hand Crafted items like I have in my KnitsNMore Etsy store:
Water Bottle Cozy: $5.00
25% Ad Budget: - $1.25
Gross Profit: $3.75
Materials: - $ .45 (minimum 10 out of 1 extra lg ball yarn - on sale)
Misc. Supplies & Expenses: - $ .65 (average per 1 machine knit item)
Net Profit Per Cozy: $2.65
Listing Fee: $ .20
Etsy Transaction Fee: $ .18
PayPal Transaction Fee: $ .45
Base Fees: $ .83
25% Ad Budget: $1.25
Less Base Fees: - $ .83
Additional Ad Budget: $ .42
I can renew this item 2 times per single sale. Granted, there's not as much in the ad buget for a hand crafted item since it's at 25% as opposed to the 40% for ebooks. BUT, I do more aggressively market the hand crafted items on other venues to drive traffic to either my KnitsNMore Etsy Store or my website where I have an Etsy Mini with these items in my Gift Shop.
Some might think ... "YIKES! That's an awfully small profit for all your work." Not really.
On the eBooks/ePatterns, it took me hours & hours & hours to do all those patterns up and write those ebooks. Granted. BUT, in just 2008, I've already sold 103 of my Craft Fair Survival Guide through various online venues, so that's $247.20 in profit (103 x $2.40) for that ebook alone. Sales of that eBook, which I update on a regular basis, have consistently averaged around 100-125 per year. I can live with that.
What about the Bottle Cozy? I machine knit those using my Brother 390 in Bulky Mode. I can easily knit up 8 in one hour with minimal interruptions (our cats love to watch me knit - and ~'help'~) so that would come to $21.20 per hour (8 x $2.65 profit potential each). Not bad. I can live with that, too.
I normally knit 12 with NO interruptions - 12 x $2.65 = $31.80 per hr -- I can definitely live with that!
I don't count the final sewing time since I take those along with me to appointments so I've got something to do in waiting room.
I sell my items on numerous online venues, (as well as locally/regionally) many of which do not have a listing fee nor final transaction fee. Free is good. :-) Etsy's a tremendous place, but it's not the only game in town. Expand your profit potential by exploring other venues.
Friday, August 22, 2008
How many times have you wandered through the listings on Etsy or any other keyword based selling site and found totally WRONG tags?? I do just about every time I look into the items on Etsy. It's nice to have several bases covered for keyword / tag searches, just don't run amok with tags! I see that soooo often in listings and they put me right off purchasing. You've already used the description to give good, solid info on not only the item but also its uses. You don't need to slip those uses into the tags as well. It's bad form and can get your item flagged quickly.
Take a look at the tags/keywords used by successful sellers on Etsy or whichever site you are selling on. Or get into the forums and look at some of the threads that talk about over-tagging. Take a look at some of the shops for those sellers who applaud the use of proper tagging in your category. What did they use? And what was the order in which they used them? That can be very important to buyers searching for items such as yours.
Another online tool you can use is Google AdWords. No, you do NOT have to sign up with them, you can have limited use of their keyword program to help find what folks are searching for on the net. This can assist you in determining some of your keywords in your ad text as well as possibly the order in which you will be using the proper tags.
Open up one of your inactive listings and head to the tag section. First thing to remember is, the FIRST DROPDOWN MENU IS THE CATEGORY!! It is NOT a tag!! Folks get very confused with that. I wish Etsy would make that crystal clear. We've asked for it in the forums, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears. Sigh. We'll keep on nattering at them.
Now, once you've chosen your primary category, take a look at the structure of subsequent tags and their sub-headings. Which one suits yours the best? When there are more than one ways to do tags for my product, I'm apt to put up one product with one way and another product another way ... keeping a close watch on views can tell me which way is best.
Is this against the rules? Certainly not! Not if I am sticking strictly to Etsy's Tagging Guidelines. If I'm not sure, I've brought up the quandary in the Critiques forum. Lots of good advice in there. Sometimes that advice is not germane to my product, but usually I can get a general feel for what I should be doing.
Along with tags, make good use of your Materials Used section. Why? As a buyer, I like to know what you used to construct your item. If it's paper, put acid free if that fits. If it's yarn, put acrylic/wool/silk, etc. I want to know that too. Sometimes the materials used gets lost in an over-enthusiastic description so having those materials noted down in that section is a big help. Having NOTHING down in the Materials Used section of your listing could tell potential buyers that you don't care enough about your product to let the world know what you used.
I keep hearing from sellers that 1. - they don't have the time, and/or 2. they simply forget. If you want the sales, TAKE the time and make it part of your routine. Surely you have already done up your ad ahead of time so all you have to do is copy/paste, right?? So add a section in your text file for tags and also for materials used.
Properly tagged items mean searches will result in increased page views.
More traffic to your other listings!
Next time ... Pictures!
~ Marge ~
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I've been lurking on not only the Etsy forums, but several other message boards for crafters / sellers around the net. It amazes me the number of artisans who claim they just can't think of anything 'neat' to put in the description and they let their pictures do their talking for them. Phooey. I feel that is wrong-wrong-wrong.
What do you do when you display at a craft fair? Slap your stuff out on the table, cross your arms and sit in your chair in the back corner of the booth, put up a sign that says:
"Don't Talk To Me, I Won't Tell You Anything Of Importance About My Craft, Just Look At My Superb Quality, My Items Speak For Themselves.
Can't You SEE THAT???".
THAT will not work! Either in person at a craft fair or online in an ad.
Keep it simple and FOCUSED on your item's merits! Not sterilized to the point of losing the potential customer's attention, though! You want to inform them about why they should buy your item by giving enough detail to answer possible questions the buyer may have. If one of your pictures highlights a specific feature of your item, be sure to tell them so and point them to that picture as well.
If there are multiple uses / occasions for your item, this is the place to let them know alternatives to fire up their imagination ... and maybe put a few of your items into their shopping cart! They're redundant in the title and will get you flagged if you put them in your tags.
What's crystal clear to you as the crafter, may not be at all clear to the potential buyer. Assume they don't know much about your craft and are 'thinking' about buying from you. Be concise, give details and enough information for them to make an informed decision, but don't talk down to them. That's a good way to lose a sale.
Mention the construction materials (be creative - BUT HONEST - in how you tell them about the materials.) For instance, I use some high-end chenille yarns in my wine bottle bags in my KnitsNMore Etsy store.
"These elegant bags are knit with Dutton Mills top quality Rayon Chenille yarns. The color is a deep, Matador Red and it is embellished with a thick white polyester blend cord. These beautiful bags are available in assorted colors in Rayon to give it that super-soft, slinky feeling of luxurious velvet."
See what I've done? I've painted a picture in words that tells the buyer I used top quality products, that it's Rayon, is a dark red color and it is akin to velvet in its texture.
Pretend everyone's pictures in their ads have suddenly disappeared (I know, horrid thought, but bear with me). A buyer for JUST your type of craft is online for a very short period of time and doing some serious shopping. You've created a spot-on, attention grabber title. They click on your listing. WOO HOO!! Is YOUR description sufficient to paint a picture in their mind so they'll add that item to their shopping cart?
Add complete specifications (when applicable) - sizes - length - width - weight (important for heavier items and postage determination for the buyer's budget). For my medium sized wine bottle bags, it's not enough just to say 'medium' ... you need specifics. So this is the portion of my text that deals with that:
"The MEDIUM Wine Bottle Gift Bag is suitable for a wine bottle that is up to 10" tall and approximately 10 1/2" to 11 1/2" in circumference."
If possible in your craft, give them some choices. Do you offer other colors? Perhaps alternate sizes? Do you have additional items in your store that would compliment this item? Tell them! What about custom orders? Are you 'open' to that? Do you have the parameters of your Custom Orders policy in your Profile page? Or in your Shop Policies page? Specify ANY added charges for those choices - if you don't charge extra, TELL THEM that in your ad!
One last thing ... I have cats. If you have any possible allergens in your workshop / home that may transfer to the item(s) sold, be up front with potential customers! Numerous times I've had emails / convos from buyers who thanked me for letting them know in the ad. This is what I have:
"PLEASE NOTE: We have cats. 4 beautiful, aggravating, adorable and nosey felines. If you or the person you are buying for has allergies, we strongly recommend you do not purchase."
Next up will be TAGS!
~ Marge ~
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"If you want $ALE$ - DO IT RIGHT!"
The title of your ad is vital in driving traffic to your shop. Use pertinent keywords that are directly related to the item. The title you choose is the description of your item in its shortest form. You need to tantalize those potential buyers with that title.
With that said, this doesn't mean you should have 3 lines of text as your title! Pare it down to its MAP (Most Accurate Part). You can start out by writing a loooonnnng title, then go back and choose the most relevant words you really NEED to get the point across. Be sure to make that title make SENSE to the buyer. You don't need grammatically correct sentences in your title, but at least have it in long-hand, not short-hand. I saw an ad recently that had text message short-hand words! I don't have the time to translate so I moved on to another shop.
On the reverse side of titles, too FEW words can also put me, as a buyer, off. There are ads on several sites that just have something like: Pair of Earrings as the title. Well, I'm in the jewelry section and chose a sub-section of earrings. So ... DUH. A buyer wants to know more and may pass up some lovely earrings because they have this preconceived notion that a poor title may equal poor quality product.
Try to avoid the 'fluff' words if at all possible. First of all, I can probably tell by the thumbnail picture that it's cute/adorable/sensational/etc., you don't need to tell me that in your title. DON’T try to pack all of your possible categories and tags into the title – it’s sloppy and unprofessional. You can tell the potential buyer about the possible uses of your item within your description section.
Next time we'll talk about descriptions
Monday, August 18, 2008
What are some of the things you do with swatches?
Doubled-Up & lined for Pot Holders or hotpads
Doll Cloths / Doll Blankets
Cut 'n' Sew Quilt Pieces
Doll Hair (kill & ravel out for great krinkle doll hair!)
Pet Blankets / Bedding / Sweater Pieces
Casserole Carriers (great with knitweave swatches)
Ravel out the knitting, wind it firmly into a ball, then use it for creating I-Cord.
Those are only a very few of the wonderful things you can do with your swatches. You'll notice that many of the items require certain sizing. Well, if your gauge is not going to be compromised by making that swatch wider or narrower or longer, then pre-plan to use that swatch in something else from our list above.
~ Marge ~
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
When searching around the net for something ENTIRELY unrelated, I ran across one on Horse Drawn Carriage Rides. That one link led me to so many more and I thought I’d list some of them here for you.
Horse drawn carriage rides in downtown
If you’re planning on travel to the
Step back in time in
Planning to make
Do a Google Search for Horse Drawn Carriage Rides ... bet you'll find something very close to where you live!
~ Marge ~
Monday, August 11, 2008
I live in Reno, NV. Now you might think that with all of our casinos and nightclubs, we would have an endless source of amusement for out of town visitors. That was the usual fare folks wanted when they came to visit us. It was a scramble then, when friends were due in from out of town recently and they’d indicated they did not want to do the casinos this time around. (whew!) It certainly made us happy not to squire them through an endless sea of casinos. We've been known to gamble a bit, but when our $20 is done, so are we. :-)
Besides sports (which didn’t interest them), what else did we have to offer? A bit of research was called for and we delved into many resources we hadn’t previously considered. The first thing I did was call my Chamber of Commerce. They generously sent me numerous brochures, maps and information on a wide variety of events. There are 6 Museums within easy driving distance, we discovered. We’d only ventured to 2 or 3 ourselves in the 14 years we’ve been here. What else did our community have to offer that we’d missed before? The Native American Cultural Arts center, 3 upcoming flower shows, numerous art exhibits, the symphony was putting on a special program, several sporting events, Hot August Nights would still be in full swing, and so very much more jumped right out at us from the brochure pages.
Oh, we were “aware” that some of these things went on, usually after the fact when listening to a news reporter’s segment on how wonderful it was. We’d go next year. But somehow, ‘next year’ never materialized.
We’re fortunate to have a large convention center here in town and we looked their schedule of events up online. Two events would be held during our visitor’s timespan. Good! Those went on our list too. All these were only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Once we found that online resource, we began delving more into the information on the web. Our local newspaper had a site with a wealth of information on upcoming events. As did the sites for local television and radio stations. Then we started looking up non-profit agencies within a 50 mile radius. Several events not mentioned through other resources began to surface. Even more goodies to put on our list.
When our guests arrived, we sat around the kitchen table pouring over all the brochures and our list which had grown to 6 pages. It was such a treat to decide on an itinerary, filling our days with spectacular, innovative activities and events from dawn ‘til dusk.
The best part of all was re-discovering our own town and the wonders it holds.
Maybe it’s time you began re-discovering what’s in your own back yard?
~ Marge ~
Friday, August 8, 2008
With my original designs I sell to other machine knitters, those are making a very good wage for me. They're constant sellers on my websites and I add new items all the time. They're also ePatterns, where the machine knitters download them. I'd cleared this with Lori (Thanks, Lori !!) at Etsy before listing any of them since some sites don't allow ebook stuff. I was thrilled to find a wealth of talented designers who were marketing their ePatterns on Etsy! I try to have something for each season year-round in my patterns and it has really helped to give a decent profit margin.
Over all, I'm making a fairly good wage off of my knitting machines and hand knits as well as my newest line of Cross Stitch patterns (also ePatterns). I try to target market the Cross Stitch (like the one at the left) to Renfaire folk, SCA, Historical etc. They are the most likely to consider purchasing these patterns. Some are extremely large, like the Celtic Harp and the others are much more suited to banners or an addition to clothing. But I also have Cross Stitch for the standard seasonal market such as Halloween and Christmas. This gives me a much broader range and a better profit margin.
The profits are good ... until you factor in the odd and end knitting machine I buy or when I order large amounts of yarn just 'because' I have to have it!!
Many times, I see listings with lowered prices that don't really have much of a description and I try to have good descriptions of my items. Poor or incomplete descriptions and dark pictures are a sure way to NOT sell your items online. Especially on Etsy since there is a good deal of competition for most types of items. Buyers scan the listings and only have a small thumbnail to look at as they go down the list of items in a specific category. So if your pictures are not going to catch their eye, you're not going to catch the sale.
As crafters, we know that a lot of our time and effort which goes into making such lovely items is not compensated well. We know that going in to the whole crafting world. But our love for the craft keeps us plugging away and sometimes selling at a profit, sometimes selling at a loss. Each individual item you produce should be priced on its own merit. Just because you have earrings that sell fairly well at $10 a pair which have silver plating as their key element, doesn't mean the same design in earrings with STERLING silver needs to sell for the same price as PLATED silver! If you do have different components (i.e. Jewelry's Silver, Copper, Silver Plated, etc.), have different sections in your shop so those who are looking for sterling will easily find it ... and purchase!!
I do different hand-knit scarves for craft fairs as opposed to the ones I sell online in my Etsy Store. The more expensive yarns (Alpaca, mohair, etc.) are displayed at craft fairs. Not online. I make up swatches of the various yarns I use for craft fair scarves so they can do the touchy-feely thing. THAT sells scarves!! My hand-knit scarves are in plastic bags so they don't get soiled at craft fairs. And I get my pricing, too. With specialty yarns, I have a general rule of $1 per inch. So a 50" Alpaca scarf is $50.
Find some of your own 'general pricing rules' and try your best to stick to it.
~ Marge ~
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
©Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978©
"A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter."
©Works Originally Created before January 1, 1978©
"Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published with a copyright notice or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), making these works eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years. Public Law 105-298, enacted on October 27, 1998, further extended the renewal term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total term of protection of 95 years."
~ Marge ~
Monday, August 4, 2008
"If you purchase through PayPal, PLEASE be sure you have your current mailing address on your account. I only ship to confirmed addresses. I value your business. This is for your protection as well as my own."
Also, when I send an email acknowledging their order, I double-check to make sure the address on PayPal is where they wish the item sent. That extra little bit of courtesy is not wasted. I've had numerous 'Thanks for checking.' types of comments from the buyers. And a few -- 'Oh, I forgot to change my address on PayPal!' Then they will very often go into their account and make the change right away, giving me a heads-up that the item(s) can now be shipped.
I realize that many feel the Etsy address is the most current and go with that. But I personally prefer to use the address that has some sort of protection for me, which PayPal does. I've had to use that protection a couple of times in the distant past on rather expensive transactions (i.e. knitting machines & supplies), hence my reasoning behind only shipping to confirmed PayPal addresses. But it's to each his own, this is just my reasoning.
~ Marge ~
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I generally do juried shows now - they can cost a bit more, but why waste my $$ on competing with the mass-merchandise crowd?
Or, I'll sign up for organizations doing fund-raisers. Schools, Non-Profits, that sort of thing. Their space fees are usually very low, we have a lot of fun and they have a huge database of folks who support their causes, so it's usually a good turn out.
At those ones, I always have lots of little things that are for sale for anywhere from $.50cents - $3. Those non-profit fund raisers usually want donations for raffle items. I always give them at least 2 items, one in the $25-$50 range and one in the $10-$15 range. That donation is tax deductible for promotional purposes.
These raffles lead to additional sales for me since I attach/include a percent-off gift certificate to the donated items for additional purchases at my booth and my mini-flyer is also included with those raffle items with ALL my contact information.
Let them see you actively involved in your craft. They will often stop and make comments on something they are currently working on if they also do a similar craft, or they will ask you questions which can lead to sales. When you’re working on bits of your craft, it can help relax customers.
[Excerpts are from my eBook: Craft Fair Survival Guide]
~ Marge ~
Friday, August 1, 2008
Think carefully and don't get yourself locked into a timeframe deal like 6 months or some such thing. You are in charge. You determine the parameters of the dropship agreement. NEVER sign one of those boiler-plate agreement forms you can pick up at the local copy store. They're laden with lots of language which may not be relevant to your city/state/country and could create problems.
Just be sure your contract / agreement is clearly spelled out for the shipping fees for US, Canada and overseas and that it includes delivery confirmation or insurance if you usually require those.
Your dropship agent is responsible for getting the right mailing address to you. Be sure THAT is in there somewhere! Only once have I been bitten by that and I had to send another items out -- thankfully it was a medium sized basket and I had another in stock. Now I make sure THEY are responsible to either refund the customer or re-pay me if they screw up.
Most dropship agents don't want you to put any info in or on the package so their customers can bypass them and order directly from you. If that's the case, then they need to supply you with business cards to tape to the return address place on the package and put inside as well. Some will email you an invoice to put inside the package. I make my tags for dropshipping very plain so all it has is fiber content, etc., and my copyright symbol for instance: (c) 1990 MKD. I use the initials since I've also got that registered with the state of NV as mine in my DBA.
Like I said earlier, it's not for everyone. You are the only one who can make that final decision. It can be lucrative IF the marketer knows their stuff and advertises/promotes vigorously. Think carefully, get opinions from your friends, relatives, online friends you can TRUST. Then sleep on it for a day or two before making that final decision.
~ Marge ~
It doesn't bother me in the least to buy from crafters or to sell to them. I've been buying custom soaps and several other items from crafters for years to put into my baskets. This one is an example of some items I include that are purchased from other crafters who are not fellow knitters.
When I get inquiries on wholesale purchasing of my baskets, it depends on the quantity they're requesting. I give them a fair market discount for bulk purchasing of just the plain ones, with no ribbons or flowers, etc., so they can decorate as they wish. Do I mind if they re-sell? Nope, don't mind that at all.
And they often do the same for me. I can often get the 'brick' of soap from them and then cut to fit what I want to display with my baskets. I do advertise their soap company on my price tags and generally they do the same for me.
Cooperation and networking will not only net you more sales, but more importantly, great friends.
~ Marge ~