Thursday, October 7, 2010

Etsy Tips - Personal Attitude and Outlook

Continuing in the spirit of my "Etsy-Versary" this week, I thought I'd share a few things.

Not like I am one of those super-successful Etsyans who have thousands of sales and have employees; and are always on the front page like it's no big deal; and get to be featured sellers and whose crafts end up in magazines like Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens and stuff.

I'm just a measly little vintage seller.

However; I have had some amount of "success" in just one year; and I thought I'd make a little list of all the things I did to get those sales.

If you're not an Etsy person, you may be bored to death by this post and I'm sorry. To you Etsy lurkers, this may help you. I hope so.

I look at my Etsy success past, and future - in these categories:

1. My personal attitude and outlook
2. My product
3. My product presentation
4. Customer service and satisfaction

I am going to do this one part at a time, as it would be a super long post if I did all four points at once. Today I'll discuss topic one:

My Personal Attitude and Outlook
I'm sure everyone has heard that cliche about "success comes from within"; and I really believe that is true. Even the Bible says (and I am paraphrasing) "As a woman thinks in her heart, so is she."
So even though my Etsy shop began as a n experiment to "see what would happen", soon after my first sales, I changed my attitude and began to look at my Esty "experiment" as a business. No, I didn't file for a business licence or register my business with the county or whatever; I decided to do that once I outgrew my house and moved to a location - which is in the cards as we speak.
I thought of what I did as business, not a hobby. When I bought things to add to my inventory - it was a business expense. When I took photos, I thought of it as a "photo shoot". I created an office space in my home, with my desk, computer, reference materials, receipt books, pens, shipping materials, etc.
Every morning for a couple of hours I work on my shop, respond to convos, pack orders, edit photos, list new items, write descriptions, and participate in the forums. And occasionally (more than occasionally, actually) I shop on Etsy and buy from other sellers. It may sound fruity, an dorky, but it's all about how you think.
And if having an "office" in you home helps you think of yourself as a business person and not a yard seller, than make an office space and respect it. Make everyone else in your household respect it also!

If you think to yourself: "I just need to get rid of my junk and my mother's junk" than your shop will seem like an on-line yard sale.

Success comes from within. So, start within. Start by thinking "I am going to make this a success, or I'm not going to do it."

Make goals for yourself. When I was a full time professional horseback riding instructor, I required my students to state their goals when they began riding. They wrote their goals down, and as they progressed, their confidence was boosted as they achieved their goals one by one and even added new goals. So decide what your goals are, write them down, and work at it! If you want to make the front page, study the front page and whose shops get there, and keep tweaking your items and photos to look like what gets chosen for the front page. I'm not saying "be like everyone else", but if the front page is your goal, you have to have a product and a photo that is popular for front page selections.

Don't be afraid to be proud of your achievements and successes. By "proud" I don't mean "puffed up"..... just be excited about what your accomplishments! Let the feeling of accomplishment feed your drive to succeed and achieve your goals. (But don't be puffed up.)

Get inspired.
Especially if you're a crafting person! I have no idea what it's like to be a crafter on Etsy; and vintage is a whole different thing. As a vintage seller, I do not have to create my pieces; I just have to find them and buy them. I know from reading the forums that crafters can get "crafter's block" and not know what to create next. I can imagine how frustrating this may be, as you're trying to create items folks will want to buy, but you've run out of cool ideas. ARG!

Even as a vintage seller, sometimes I lack inspiration. I lack inspiration for photos; I lack inspiration for writing descriptions, I lack inspiration for Facebook Fan Page posts, I lack inspiration for blog posts....

So when I am feeling all un-inspired, I usually break out my Victoria magazines, my Country Home magazines; my Victorian Trading Co. Catalogs, or I look at beautiful blogs on line. Beauty inspires me; beautiful things inspire me.
So even though I am not creating my actual product, I try to present my product with beautiful inspiration! That, and it helps me feel better.
I also watch movies - like all the various Jane Austen films, and of course, old black and white movies with all the clothing styles in them that I now seek out and sell.

Be confident.

I know it's one thing to say "I am confident" and it's a totally different matter to actually feel confident.
Sometimes, you're just not going to feel it.
After I got my first negative feedback (from a non-paying buyer that was just being nasty to me because I refused to ship her item before she paid)I was mortified. There is no way to ever erase that negative feedback. Ever. I was so down about it. Was she right? I started questioning myself. "Was I "unfriendly"? (As she said I was.) I looked back at the email and convos I sent her.... no, they weren't unfriendly. One was to the point - "I cannot ship until I am paid for the item" kind of thing. Business like - not unfriendly. Nevertheless, I started to feel myself question everything. "My customers aren't happy", "My shop looks awful", "I don't have good vintage in my shop", "No one is going to buy from me now that I have a negative", etc. etc.
Finally after about a day, I changed my tune and decided to ignore the nasty feedback and go on. I purchased some things from other sellers, the positive feedback started rolling in, along with more sales - despite the negative blot on my feedback list.
Give yourself a pep talk every day if you have to. Don't let negative words about your business ever cross your lips!

Don't Think You Can't
I don't know if this is a problem for anyone else, but I have an issue with it. I would have started my Etsy shop sooner than I did except I thought I couldn't take photos of my things by myself. I didn't even try; I just assumed I couldn't take photos. I wanted someone else to take my photos for me.
That, and I am generally intimidated by computers and the internet. Or, I was. I have gotten over much of that now; though occasionally I have to ask dumb questions about simple stuff. Like re-arranging the number of pixels in my photos so they wouldn't be blurry on the Etsy thumbnails. That kind of thing.
Once I forced myself to get over my intimidation in the computer/internet department, I was good to go. Then I just buckled down one day, got out the manual for my camera, and learned to use the features on it - like the timer. That's how I get all my photos of myself. I love the timer feature. :)
I could have said "I can't do this because all I have is my little point and shoot that is 2 years old", and I wouldn't be writing about my first year on Etsy today!
Just DO it.

This kind of thing works well for every day life also, come to think of it.

Well, that's all I got on this topic. Feel free to ask questions and discuss with your comments.

Happy Etsying!


Sarsaparilla said...

What a wonderful post! I've been an off-and-on part time seller on eBay for a while, but just decided to give Etsy a try. Posted my first item yesterday, and will slowly add some more items over the next weeks. This is so helpful and inspirational! Thank you.

You mentioned rearranging the pixels so the thumbnail will look right. What do you suggest? I was disappointed with the first photos I loaded. For some reason, the full view of the photo isn't showing in the thumbnail - they're all cropped. Any suggestions?
- Susan

Hosanna said...

Even when I re arrange the number of pixels in my photos, sometimes Etsy crops my thumbnails.
I rearrange the number of pixels to keep the photo from being too blurry. Mine are all between 600 and 1000 pixels.
For the Etsy thumbnail crop, I crop my pics so there is a little bit of equally dispersed surrounding background all around the item; that way you can still see the whole item and not have things cut off.
Unless I have intended to only show a close up part of a piece, as in some cases. Then crops are ok.
If I were you, I'd just keep messing around with your pics until you find out what works for you/your items.

Sarsaparilla said...

Thank you Hosanna - this is so helpful!