Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

When I first started selling online, pretty much all of my free time was consumed with setting up my Etsy shop, learning about taking product photos and writing good descriptions, and trying to figure out as many of the Etsy "tricks" as I could to make my business successful. It wasn't long before I got into the swing of things and managed to trim down the time it takes me to list a new item from 45 minutes to 15, learned how to photograph an item using 12 shots per piece rather than 50, and had enough practice with creating jewelry that it didn't take me forever to make a pair of earrings.

Once I had a system in place, I found that I had more free time on my hands. And when I thought about what I wanted to do with that time, I realized that photographing and listing the items and promoting my Etsy shop were not the activities that really called to me. I just wanted to make more jewelry. Jewelry that didn't have to be photographed, measured, written about and promoted. The perfect outlet for that came when my dad was in the bookstore at the college he works in, noticed that the woman there has jewelry displays by local artists, and brought up my name. She was very excited to get in more product, so I started making earrings like crazy, and my mom and I beaded a bunch of necklaces and bracelets.

The bookstore woman wanted a little placard with a short bio on us and our business, and a bunch of business cards to put out in addition to the jewelry. It took me a few weeks to get it all together. Learning how to design and print off earring cards took awhile, and making little tags and attaching them to each of the necklaces and bracelets was time consuming, too. Once I had a boxful ready to go, I handed it to my dad and he took it in for me. The woman was over the moon, and bought almost all of it to put out in a little glass display case with only my jewelry in it.

That was back in May. She didn't need anything for June, which was too bad because I'd been hoping that a good sale like that could be a monthly thing, but she does want more product now in July. Apparently, my earrings just flew off the shelves, and now the only items left in my display are a few necklaces on leather cording. It seems that they're not the leather cord crowd, so I'll stick to tiger tail necklaces with this order.

Because the earrings did so well, I'm making them the majority of this order. She bought 9 pairs before, but considering how well they've done, she wants a lot more this time. So I have about 14 pairs made so far, and I'm hard at work on many more.

I love the freedom that comes from knowing that I won't have to photograph, measure, write about and promote these creations. I can make whatever design I want, try it out a couple of different ways without thinking about how similar the internet listings would have looked if I listed three pairs of garnet earrings that look so much alike, and I can concentrate completely on making the earrings without worrying about whether or not they'll photograph well. All I have to do is create them, print off and label the earring cards, and attach the earrings. I can make them look fabulous without thinking about the settings of my camera, and the customers will be able to clearly see what size and colour they are without the mystery that the internet lends to one's pieces.

And best of all, the college bookstore gets WAY more traffic than my Etsy shop. Try as I do to advertise, renew and list, I'm still competing with thousands of other sellers. There are hundreds of thousands of pairs of earrings on Etsy. The college bookstore has me and about three other artists. So at any given time there are probably only 100 pairs of earrings to choose from. And there is also the factor of the impulse buy. You're in the shop for a totally different reason, but you see the shimmering rainbow of labradorite calling to you from a display case called Genuine Article. In person, $20-30 doesn't seem like a lot of money, especially when you can pick them up and twist them in the light. And you also have the added bonus of removing the postal service from the equation. Pick the earrings up, take them to the counter, pay for them and take them home. You could put them on right away, if you wanted. Instant gratification.

So all in all, selling my product to a local store has been an amazing addition to my online business. I have had, and am continuing to have, an incredibly positive experience, and I definitely recommend it to others. Find a local shop (or 2, or 10), take in some of your product and ask if they're interested in selling it from their store. If you choose a location that's appropriate for whatever you make, and they're open to local artisans, you just might wind up with them being your very best customer yet. :)

See the fruits of my labour.

1 comment:

fly tie said...

great post and makes perfect sense.