Friday, July 11, 2008

Business lessons

Several months ago I began a store at Cafépress, thinking that I would be able to use some of the pictures I had taken at various places.

I spent two weeks choosing, prepping, and uploading pictures and learning the system at Cafépress, only to find that not only was I not getting any traffic (which I found out from Google Analytics), but my Photoshop skills were lacking. I mean, I already knew that I wasn't extremely skilled at Photoshop, but still, this was a hard pill to swallow. And after two weeks of work, I had nothing to show from it. I still don't. It's a reminder, of course, of the business lessons we all have to learn. Just because you have something for sale does not mean someone will buy it. You have to find an audience.

So I entered the Etsyverse with trepidation. What if I put work into it, and again, it went nowhere? I was even more fearful when I realized that I would be competing with lots of people who were exactly like me: beaded jewelry creators, and bead sellers.

So I spent a gloomy week or two working on the listings (first I had to get past my perfectionist weirdness and just DO IT), and when I was done, I was rather shocked to see that I had 26 hits for one piece in under 24 hours. My Cafépress store gets one hit a month, in contrast.

Still, I was a little frightened; Etsy is, after all, a new game for me, one I'd never even explored before, and I wasn't certain which kind of reception I'd get there. Was I overpriced? underpriced? too boring? I was kind of expecting another repeat of the Cafépress debacle, honestly.

I've had the listings up for a month now, with only 28 items, and had hits for the jewelry in the 40-150 range, while the beads are getting 4-20 hits. On eBay, many of my beads only get 3 or 4 views, yet they still sell, so this isn't that disheartening; in fact, so far, I have had a few sales already, and that's without researching Etsy at all.

Now that I've researched, I've found some really great tips. I found a page on creating a banner, and I've read more about photography and making a unified shop. Right now I'm going to stick with the grey background even though it's boring, but in the future I'll be contemplating more interesting backgrounds.

I don't have time to play with it this week--I'm off to the PMC conference in Chicago--but when I get back I'm going to look into it. More business lessons to learn!

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