Episode 51: Etsy Shakeup

 

In this episode we talk about some recent news out of Etsy as they release their Q1 earnings report and announce that Chad will be stepping down as CEO. Stick around to hear some highlights from their Q1 statements and our feelings about the future of Etsy!

Straight outta Etsy

Big news: The beginning of May Etsy announced their first quarter 2017 financial results! Along with this, they also announced other exciting changes coming to an Etsy near you! We wanted to cut through some of the Q1 things Etsy released and give you an overview of what some of the numbers buried in that report actually mean. The truth. Because, there are a lot of things going on and you might be wondering, “What the heck?!”

All about the timing

Let’s all take a deep breath, calm our nerves and remember, this was all planned. Even though it might feel like there are SO many changes SO fast, all of these changes have been in the works for a while. Etsy wasn’t caught off guard because those behind Etsy have been planning this. For months. They have been strategizing what to say and do in these press releases. So no, we don’t think that any of this news is a shock to anyone on the inside of Etsy. It is very normal for big companies to announce within the first quarter any changes and if senior level leadership positions are transitioning. It’s all part of setting expectations for the year. This also plays into the fact that Etsy is now a “public” company.

Exiting stage left

So, the white elephant in the room: Longtime C.E.O. Chad Dickerson is stepping down, to be replaced by former Skype C.E.O and Etsy board director Josh Silverman. Josh also has experience with E-bay and was the cofounder of E-vite. So, if Etsy has a five or ten year plan, which we’re sure they do, it’s very possible that what is required of the Etsy C.E.O. for the next several years is not what Chad felt like doing. Again, we don’t think this was anything surprising. Once a company has gone public it takes a different skill set to guide it down that path. Having someone step into the role of C.E.O who has gone through that change before is definitely a smart move. And really, it’s simply a different character role. Chad’s role while he was at Etsy was amazing! He grew the revenue of sellers by nine percent, grew Etsy’s revenue almost fourteen percent, and their operating profit almost fifteen percent. These are all fantastic numbers over a six year span. Chad played a huge role in getting Etsy to the place where it could go public. We wish him the best in whatever role he picks up next!

Etsy isn’t the other people

One thing Josh has acknowledged coming into Etsy is that it most definitely has a differentiated value proposition from other markets out there. This is great, because we want to see them stay different from everyone else. We can see how the change in leadership (along with all the other changes) would cause concern that Etsy might be completely changing who they are. Are their values out the window?! Are they still going to be focused on the community? Will they satisfy their sellers?? As well as satisfying their seller’s customers? It’s all kinda an unknown. Josh Silverman has stated these things will not change and will still be the values of Etsy. It would be a pretty bad way to start off as C.E.O. if he stated a bunch of stuff that he didn’t really mean. That would be more of a politician thing to do;)

There’s a net loss

The first quarter 2016 saw a net profit for Etsy. The first quarter of 2017 showed a definite net loss. A lot of stuff is rolled into these quarterly reports, however. There isn’t a ton of detail when you look at them. Making a general statement like, “Oh, they lost money so something must be wrong” doesn’t necessarily mean that is what’s happening. If you invest in things, it costs money. Buying infrastructure costs money. Hiring people costs money. If you buy other companies (which they did) it costs money. Those things temporarily bring down your income which could bring it down to a loss. This is a huge reason why companies go public, to sell out portions of the company so they can in turn, grow. The picture on Etsy’s quarterly report actually gets a lot better if you look at the line below the net loss. If you look to the adjusted acronym it says, “Earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization.” It’s definitely a mouth full and there’s a lot going on in there. It’s basically just a bunch of accounting. All of these things added together do add up to a net loss, which then helps Etsy to pay less taxes and in general, makes it more advantageous for the company as a whole. If you look at the line before all of this on the quarterly report, what you see is that yes, while it’s still down, the earnings are around $9.7 million. They’re down about thirty-four percent, not one hundred and thirty five percent. Why is it down…well, they bought a bunch of stuff! If you’re investing in the future, you’re bound to take a hit somewhere in the present. So, we shouldn’t look at that as a negative indicator for the future. Etsy did say they’d had a challenging February. I don’t think any of us will be surprise at this as it definitely was a slump kind of month. However, we’ve heard from some sellers that they had a great February on Etsy! It really does depend on who you’re talking to.

Clickbait: hook, line, and sinker

Let’s say you’re a journalist. A journalist looking for a story. And you’re a journalist, looking for a story when Etsy’s quarterly report for 2017 comes out. How do you write about it? Do you write in such a way that everything is happy go lucky and no one wants to click on your article after reading your title? No! You spin your story, looking for the most leading and exciting details and expound on those. You WANT people to click on your article, read your words and all the ads paying for your web space. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to be the whole truth, part of the truth, or any truth at all as long as the clicks are coming in. It’s very easy to look at a company’s net loss and the fact that there’s a C.E.O. swap and tell a story with that information alone. Suddenly, you can spin a tale of pandemonium with only a few facts. If one would simply look further into the numbers, however, they would see this simply isn’t the case. Yes, they did trade lower when everything was announced. But this really is the normal ebb and flow of running a company. Actually, it’s a great opportunity for the larger institutional investors to pick it up. The general public will read all the stories and headlines. They will take them hook, line, and sinker, quickly selling their shares in fear. Then, the institutional investors swoop in and buy the shares at a discount. They’ll hold onto them until they go back up. Suddenly everyone’s like, oh, I wish I’d kept them! It’s a pattern that consistently happens. 

Up, up, and away!

Active sellers has gone up a double digit percentage! Twelve percent to be exact. The even better news is that active buyers have gone up significantly as well by eighteen percent. You always want more people shopping on the website than people selling. And Etsy is absolutely doing that. The buyers are still outnumbering the sellers consistently. There are almost thirty million active buys compared to 1.8 million active sellers. Also, just because someone is an “active” seller on Etsy doesn’t mean their shop is put together. Their products may not even be selling well. The true competitive number of active sellers is even less than that 1.8 million would leave you to believe.

Picking up the phone

Another area on the rise are mobile visits. Often people ask just how much that means. Well, about sixty-six percent of your shop views are mobile visits. According to the Q1 report by Etsy, about fifty-one percent of all sales were from a mobile device! That’s over half of all sales on Etsy. This would make perfect sense as to why Etsy is investing in Etsy payments and offering ten different options. Two of these options include Android pay and Apple pay. Both of these payment methods are known to be more safe. The buyer and general public) doesn’t like entering in their card numbers on a bunch of different websites. One of the reasons Etsy is so popular with shoppers and continues to gain popularity is because there’s a history of trust between the buyer and Etsy. And shopping over a mobile device is now industry wide, not just an Etsy thing. The fact that Etsy is trying to keep up and accommodate this shows how forward thinking they’re being.

Investing in machine learning, search, and marketing 

If you’re a seller on Etsy this is always a fantastic thing to know. Etsy is investing in all of these areas in order to attract new buyers and drive purchase frequency. This is awesome, because it means you have a bigger company with a bigger budget continuing to grow their awareness. It’s a sign that Etsy feels secure enough to bring in what they’re marketing towards. Also a great thing for a company. It might feel saturated when you’re in it every day, but most people we talk to don’t even know about Etsy. So the market for incoming customers is huge, which in turn only helps sellers.

Optimizing data 

One of the things Etsy is doing with their machine learning, is to make category specific suggestions. This will help improve both the listing process and collecting more accurate data. As you can imagine, there are many sellers on Etsy listing many different things. You’re going to want the keywords, tags and titles that you’re basing your search platform on to be as relevant as possible. Etsy is trying to structure their data in such a way that it delivers more meaningful search results. This helps when someone types something in the search bar. What they’re looking for will specifically show up or at the very least has a higher chance of showing up. This gives Etsy and their sellers a higher chance of a sale. And this is a good thing for all involved.

A shameless plug 

One of the great things about Marmalead is that we’re independent of all that! No matter how Etsy is changing their search algorithms, machine learning and structured data, when you go to Marmalead and type in what you want the data we’re pulling back is down stream from all of those changes with Etsy. We are looking at the number of views, favorites and engagements the different keywords will bring in general. Any changes that Etsy is making in the actual algorithm behind the scenes is not impacting the work you’re doing on Marmalead. Now, it might change the way some keywords get better engagement down the road. So you definitely need to stay on top of those things. But you don’t have to worry about the data that you’re using Marmalead to find becoming irrelevant. We’re measuring engagement with a search term and not mechanically how to get there.

They spent how much?!

So, marketing expenses were up this quarter…by fifty percent to be exact. What does that look like in dollar signs? Oh, you know, just a measly little twenty-four million dollars  in Q1. Say what?! As Gordon said…I’m not exactly sure when he said it…but, where do they market cause I don’t see it! Well, Etsy is mostly marketing on YouTube and Facebook…and not to Gordon apparently;) Product development also rose a bit this quarter. As we said, Etsy is working on improving the market place, Etsy payments, shop manager, all that fun stuff. Along with those, Etsy also spent eighteen million dollars on product development in Q1. A lot of that is employee related costs.

Over all

Gordon and Richie think this a really exciting time for Etsy. With all the changes happening (did we mention the C.T.O. exited stage left as well…yeah, that was a thing too) and with Etsy going public, this is a fantastic time to be on Etsy! This is what everyone wants, to be part of the early days of a fast growing and successful company. It might not seem like you’re in the early days. But, usually that whole overnight success story we hear about is ten years in the making. Etsy is just ten years old…sooooo…at some point, people will be looking at you wishing they’d been in on Etsy at this point in time. New things are happening which is exciting! and the people that see that and stick with it are those that will bear the fruit of it. It’s a great direction and is the right direction for Etsy to be moving.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer

Of course we know it’s easy to see the other side of things. Maybe you’re just coming through a spring slump, which is partly a seasonal thing. Then on top of that, you’re looking at the fact that Etsy is swapping out their C.E.O.. Also, their projected revenue was higher than what their earnings came in at for Q1. However, when you really look through things (like we just have) it truly seems like they’re moving in the right direction. They’re investing a lot of their capitol back into the company. This is what you want to see a company do! You don’t want to see them liquidate everything. That definitely isn’t a sign of growth…that’s a sign to exit stage left and fast! The incoming C.E.O. is talking about all the values that Etsy holds close which are important to him. Honestly, the writing on the wall is all around a good thing.

Randomness

Make sure to listen to this week’s Jam, everyone! I obviously couldn’t cover everything here as usual. Some of the things the guys talk about are as follows:  growing trees, The 40 Year Old Virigin, captains, “legit” articles, the “real” reason Chad left, mossy mushroom rocks, writing Kevin about conspiracy theories (poor Kevs) and chill armadillos.

Bonus

Look forward to Gordon and Richie’s Flat Earth guide to Etsy SEO. I’m still trying to figure out if they’re serious about  that or not, but I’ll just leave it here as a teaser;)

 

 

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

Etsy Jam Episode 50: Naptime Hustling with Hilary from Shop231Designs

In this episode we get to chat with Hilary from Shop231Designs. Hilary started her Etsy shop in 2015 and in just over a year has more than 2500 sales! Stick around and hear Hilary coin the term “naptime hustle,” talk about time management, working to find a niche market and offering some really great advice for early shops or sellers who are just getting started – up next on this episode of Etsy Jam!

Back Story

Hilary is originally a graphic designer. In college she studied graphic design and commercial printing, so she’s always had a love of design and type. For a number of years she was in the commercial printing industry and after that she was a year book rep for which was really fun for her. She loved being able to do design while working with kids outside her home, but after she had her little guy a couple years ago she decided she no longer wanted to be on the road all the time. Staying home with her son and having that time with him was invaluable to Hilary. However, she wanted to figure out a way to make an income that would allow her to have flexible hours as a stay at home mom. 

How Hilary Got Started

Hilary knew that she wanted to design something and wanted to keep everything in house as much as possible. After playing around with different ideas, personalized laser printing was the niche she dove into! In November of 2015 (right before the holidays), Hilary took the plunge and started her Etsy shop, 231 Designs. Immediately, she was off and running! Hilary is convinced that November is an awesome time to start a shop, because the holidays are SUCH a busy time of year for sellers. Hilary’s first sale for her personalized laser engraved items came on her first day of being open…which is amazing! Within the first couple months she had around 400 orders she’d completed and it was then she realized she was really onto something. She says it was crazy and unbelievable, but it’s been onward and forward ever since!

“Naptime Hustle”

Since opening her shop, Hilary has made a point of doing as much as she can during nap times, early in the mornings, or later in the evenings. Her design work is mainly done in the mornings and evenings and the actual laser cutting process is usually accomplished during nap times. From the start, Hilary wanted to focus on the customer experience when opening her packages. Making her packaging really pretty and aiming for customers to feel like they were opening a gift was very important. She spent a good chunk of time tying ribbons, writing notes and perfecting the things that come along with a good customer experience. The first couple of months doing this was crazy! It was basically all hands on deck, inviting friends and family over to help and thinking, “What have I done?!” But, around January of that first year, things slowed down, which was a welcome relief after the holiday craziness. It was during this slow season that Hilary was really able to focus and think about what she wanted her shop to look like long term.

Navigating Growth

Starting out, Hilary had a small laser machine that made only one cutout at a time. After about a year, however, it was necessary to upgrade. Research and price hunting finally lead she and her husband to import a large machine (about the size of a mini coop) from a supplier in China. Though they saved a lot of money, navigating through the process of customs, broken english with Chinese manufacturing, literally having it sent over on a boat and learning the machine itself, all definitely came with challenges. Three days were spent getting it up and running and finally, right before Thanksgiving, Hilary was once again full speed ahead in her manufacturing.

Pricing Correctly

One of the first things Hilary did after she opened was to price her products low. She was aware of how new to the market she was and didn’t want to price herself out of her range. She started off selling her laser cut outs at $8.00 and now sells them at $15.00. Hilary suggests that anyone starting out should definitely build up some inventory and list them in October. If you’re looking at breaking into the wedding market, list your inventory in January or February. It can be very seasonal depending on what you’re selling. Doing your research and finding when you should break in is very valuable. Also, if you’re doing something like a crocheted item and want to sell it in February, try finding a way to give it a Valentine’s or Mother’s Day spin. Selling what people are looking for is very important. It can be very discouraging to have your inventory out there when no one is buying.

Only So Many Hours in a Day

For Hilary, finding the time she needs during the day to get everything done has been a struggle. She uses her phone a lot during the day (though she wants to do less of this as her toddler gets older) to keep track of notes and ideas while she and her son are playing. Once nap time comes, she refers back to the lists and notes she’s made to decide what her priorities are while she’s working. She’s constantly thinking about what needs to happen once she has some time to herself. Five minutes here or ten minutes there are used to respond to convos or to check her Marmalead app. She says when she gets a new idea, she’ll hop on the app to see if she can “get her greens” and if she does, she knows it’s something she wants to focus on. Her early mornings are spent focusing on convos and what orders have come in while her husband watches their son. Nap times are used to work as best she can and then follow up on anything else during the evenings. Hilary says there’s really no magic formula to any of what she does, other than just focusing on the time she has and making the most of it. One thing she does do, is to group like items. For example, currently she’s working on little wooden crosses with names on them because it’s baptism season. So, she’ll do eight of those in a day and out they go, before she goes back to ornaments the next day or whatever it may be. Grouping like items helps her to get more in a groove with whatever she’s working on before going back to “Mom life.” 

Think Outside The Box

Just like realizing that “Baptism Season” was a thing, it’s important to remember that there are many occasions that offer many sellers opportunities. The big holidays are not the only time to target your buyers with specific items. Hilary says for her, this has really helped in her success! Also, being sure to think ahead to any upcoming holidays helps. If it’s Mother’s Day or graduation, start thinking about Father’s day. If those have come and gone think ahead to Autumn or Halloween. Having her listings up early enough allows for more traction which helps with her sales. It also allows the Etsy algorithm to detect that you’re there with that listing. You have to give buyers enough time to find you, decide what they want, place an order, have it filled, and then ship it off to them. If you’re only allowing for a week or so, you’re cutting it really close. Listing your items early and then riding the wave as long as you can on those items is only ever going to help with your sales.

An Early Incident and Learning Curve

Not long after Hilary started on her first small engraving machine, she was engraving acrylic. Normally this wasn’t a material she used to engrave on. It was a custom request she was doing for a customer and she has since learned that when someone asks you for something custom you don’t think you can handle, just say no! So, she set her machine to begin engraving the acrylic at a slow speed, then left to do another task, and when she returned there were flames coming out of the top of the machine!! She quickly doused everything in water and immediately called her husband in tears. With orders still coming in and those needing to be completed, she had to have her equipment to make it happen! But there it stood, smoking and melted. Thankfully, her replacement came quickly and she was back in working order before long!

Streamlining and Being Efficient

Now that Hilary has her larger machine, it has allowed her to not just do one job at a time, but several! This makes her work much more streamlined and focused. Also, she says that within Etsy there are ways you can streamline your process more. Some of these are: using the calculated shipping profiles, putting all your like items with weights and packages in those profiles and using the preloaded convos (especially around the holidays) which allows you to not have to answer the same question multiple times. If you’re getting the same question about a listing multiple times, put the answer in your listing or shop announcement. Hilary also does a lot of copying on her listings, especially now that Etsy has added the new attributes function. If you get a listing the way you want it, then copy and change your SEO, title, and photos (especially if you’re doing a lot of similar things) it will really be a life saver and save you tons of time!

Five to Ten Minutes

Really, whenever you can sneak in 5-10 minutes here or there. For Hilary, staying on top of her convos  and shipping makes her feel like she’s won. She’s not always working on new products, so when she’s not, staying caught up on things and not letting them get behind is invaluable.

New Ideas and How They’re Executed

So far, Hilary only pulls new ideas off her shop after three months or so. She’s only recently reached a hundred items in her shop (yay!) and she feels like a shop should feel full. Getting your target market down is important, but Hilary still tries to offer a variety of things…even jewelry! She also has a separate Etsy account from her shop. On this account she follows other artists who do similar work to hers. This offers her a way to see what everyone else is up to and to get inspiration for her own work/shop. This is especially helpful to see what other shops are using for photos and fonts. However, Hilary is careful to always take what she learns and put her own spin on whatever it might be. She also watches very carefully what the trends are and what is selling. You want to offer what people will buy!

Selling What You’re Passionate About vs. What People Are Buying

Hilary says her heart really goes out to other artists who are super passionate about their work, but who aren’t getting any sales. Her advice for those who don’t want to adjust what they’re selling is to check Pinterest and Instagram. Or scour Etsy and look for places that you can tweak your item. This could help make your product something that people are going to want to buy. Hilary has definitely been there, trying many different things that haven’t sold. So, finally finding a niche of items that sell is definitely a beautiful relief for Hilary. It’s important to Hilary to cater to people who are like her. She designs what she would want to purchase.

Most Unique Thing Hilary’s Engraved

That would probably have to be a wine barrel lid that her sister in law purchased. Honestly though, she’s engraved so many amazing things it’s hard to choose just one. She could send a regular sized door through her machine and it would be ok..a door.

Find Events and Get out of Your Box

Another thing Hilary suggests is to find local events to participate in, as well as getting to know other artists. A great way to connect with and meet people is through the local Etsy team in your area. She really feels like this is a huge benefit. Finding other local people who are giving this thing a shot right along with you will help connect you. It could also be invaluable to you as a small business owner. You just never know where your next inspiration is going to come from. And Hilary always tries to say yes…unless we’re talking about engraving acrylic on a small machine of course! She especially says yes when it’s a different or weird requests. If her buyer is local that’s an even bigger plus! Recently she went into a jewelry shop to buy a sterling silver chain for a customer. While there she started chatting with the owner of the shop about what she does. She showed the lady a few of her pieces and the shop owner liked them so much she referred her to not one, but two clients! And each of these clients purchased several pieces from her! Hilary says to put yourself out there because you never know where things are gonna come from. If you never try, you never know.

Advice on Nap Time Hustle

As a stay at home mama Hilary has great advice for others like her. First off, if you’re going to approach your Etsy shop as a business and not a hobby, think about it that way from day one. If you’ll be selling in the Etsy market, remember the Etsy customer wants something special. They want an experience above and beyond what they would find on Amazon. If customers wanted to go get the same thing on Amazon or at a local shop, they would. They are coming to Etsy for a little something extra and special. So, as Hilary has tried to do from day one, strive to create that moment of “wow” when a customer opens your item. Hilary goes so far as to print beautiful designs on her shipping labels! She truly works hard to make each piece she sells and packages look like a gift. Hilary says when customers respond to the packaging alone that can be enough to send them back. Customer service and going that extra mile has been a huge secret to her success, along with trying to find things that people want to buy. If you need help, ask for it and just jump in and get started!

Where to Find Hilary

Hilary is found at Shop231Designs, on Etsy! Her shop is SO much fun and you’ll definitely want to go check it out:) Also, listen to this week’s Jam. I wish I could capture everything in this blog! But Hilary’s Jam with the guys was a TON of fun with extra details and stories throughout.

 

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

In this episode we get to chat with Hilary from Shop231Designs. Hilary started her Etsy shop in 2015 and in just over a year has more than 2500 sales! Stick around and hear Hilary coin the term “naptime hustle,” talk about time management, working to find a niche market and offering some really great advice for early shops or sellers who are just getting started - up next on this episode of Etsy Jam!

Etsy Jam Episode 49: You are Moving in the Direction You’re Looking with Monica from Crystal Relics

In this episode, the guys have the pleasure of talking with Monica from Crystal Relics. Monica shares some great stories from her motorcycle racing days, and lessons she learned which apply to selling on Etsy. We also chat about taxes, accounting, the power of positive thinking, positive energy and avoiding making decisions based on fear. Did we mention she used to race motorcycles?!

Back Story

Monica has quite the story! Over the last several years her life has changed dramatically. From the time she was seventeen, Monica’s life was all about racing motorcycles. In fact she basically worked to fund her racing, which she was super passionate about. Eventually, Monica was a sponsored rider, but always felt the catch twenty-two of her passion colliding with her work. She had to work in order to race. And when she was working she felt every minute that was being taken away from racing. Eventually, with only one scary incident to her racing career, she felt like she should take her stellar record and bow out while she was ahead. After her daughter came along, her priorities quickly shifted. Slowing down and being a mom were now more important than anything else. Now her days are filled with raising her daughter and running her Etsy shop (Crystal Relics) full time!

How she got started

Her passion for crystals and healing stones came from a gift given to her by a friend. It was a simple crystal, but she was immediately taken with it. After searching for wearable crystal jewelry, she decided that making what she really wanted was the way to go. Out of this simple interaction and search, Crystal Relics was born!

Energy and what you envision

Monica has had a great journey with Marmalead. We absolutely love that she found us early on and has been a customer for a while now! This has allowed her to get to know us and eventually to be part of our Jam! Monica is a huge believer that the kind of energy and attitude you put out into the universe is exactly what will come back to you. Your attitude makes a definite difference in your success. She is doing her absolute best to not allow any doubt into her mind concerning the success of her shop. Basically, whatever you envision in your mind, whatever it is you focus on and see, that is where you’ll head. If you look down, you’ll fall down. What you focus on expands, so if you focus on negative things, that’s exactly what will manifest in your life and work.

Lessons from her racing days

Monica has learned a few things from all those motorcycles ridden and races run. First off, what you focus on really does happen. If you’re coming up on a curve in a race and you’re not looking through the entire curve, you’ll definitely go off the edge. And she has experienced this first hand. You have to look at the end of the curve, focusing on the other side of it in order to navigate your way through it successfully. This is exactly what she’s doing with her Etsy shop. If it’s slow, don’t focus on that, don’t think only of the hypothetical negative outcome. Instead, focus on the end, envisioning what you want and navigating successfully through the end of the “curve.” Secondly, just like in racing, you shouldn’t follow other people’s lines. As Monica says in her interview: “You can follow other people’s lines, and they may be great lines, but you’re only ever going to be behind if you do. So at some point, you just have to change that line in order to make a pass and get around your opponent. It truly is about finding your niche, not focusing on what other people might be doing, and just looking ahead to the goals you’ve got in front of you.”

2 a.m. taxes and lessons learned

One area that Monica has been relearning a lot about recently is taxes. A few nights ago, she stayed up until 2 a.m. doing her taxes for the past year. She said a huge lesson for her about this has been, stay. on. top. of. your. book. keeping. You might feel like you’re not making a ton of money right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming soon! Good book keeping is essential to less stress and time saved along the way.  Making sure you’re on top of how much you’ve spent in supplies for your shop, the miles you’ve driven, anything like that, will help SO much in bringing down your taxable income. If you do this as you go along instead of waiting until the last minute and scrambling to find receipts, you’ll really thank yourself!

A great tool for this that Etsy offers is Quick Books. Monica says to be careful, however, as Quick Books with Etsy can double up your income and show you’ve actually made more than you have. What she means is, Quick Books with Etsy keeps track of each transaction made individually. It will also take into account how much is deposited every Monday (if this is the option you’ve chosen) into your bank account. Both of these things together mean that it can look like you’ve made twice what you actually have. But despite this, Monica does love how helpful Quick Books is for keeping track of everything as the year progresses.

Focus for sales

For Monica, focus is a big deal. The months she’s seen her sales go down are the months she’s been distracted and not focused on her shop. Again, you only get out of it what you put into it. Crystal Relics is always on Monica’s mind. She’s always brain storming new things she can do and how she can improve her shop. When she doesn’t allocate the time to implement these ideas however, she begins to think of what she’s “not” doing. And for her, this is where the negative energy can slip back in. This makes her concentrate on what she isn’t doing, instead of where she wants to be. She feels this kind of negative thinking definitely reflects back on her shop. Keeping a positive attitude, staying focused and taking the time to apply what she knows she should all has an impact on the incline or decline of everything she does in her shop and life. 

Transitioning to full time with Etsy

Monica says she’s easily distracted, so time management is her number one struggle. Things always seems to end up in the “same spot” for her. Along with running her own shop, she’s also a full time mom to a nineteen month old daughter! So, the struggle to actually stay focused and use her time wisely can be difficult. Monica is also a do it herself kind of woman. But she’s learning this isn’t always the best approach when you’re a small business owner. Taking help when it’s offered can be a wonderful thing.Outsourcing does not mean you’re not capable, it means you know what you can handle and what needs to be delegated. That’s an important lesson to learn early on!

Under promise, over deliver

Monica’s customers truly are important to her and she is deeply grateful for each sell. The awesome thing about what she’s selling is that it allows for deeper conversations with her buyers. Many people search Monica out for her bracelets and crystals because of issues going on in their personal lives. Whether it’s a need for anxiety relief or calm before a medical treatment, Monica’s knowledge and care for each individual she comes into contact with really shines through. Monica also sends a small gift with the purchase of one of her products. This also leads to her customers reaching back out to ask about the gift. All of this helps to solidify relationships with her buyers which is an invaluable practice as a seller. Over delivering in customer care is a great practice all the way around, but especially in the area of repeat customers.

Communication is key

Monica genuinely loves communicating with her customers. This takes a good portion of her time, but that’s just fine with her. She’s made some great professional relationships with many of her customers and she definitely reaps the benefits from her fantastic communication skills. By taking the time to do this she knows that many of her customers will let her know if they need anything and will return to her shop for gifts in the future! A perfect example of this would be recently when a customer, whom had previously bought one bracelet from Monica’s shop, returned to purchase fourteen bracelets for all of her children and grandchildren! That one sale turned into more than Monica could have imagined and she says this has happened multiple times over the course of her shop.

Photos 

If you go to Crystal Relics, you’ll really get a feel for how detailed and precise Monica is in all she does. Her photos are beautiful, natural, and taken with a soft flash. For Monica, truly representing what her products look like is very important. When she’s purchasing crystals for her shop, she says she really loves to handle and hold them to see what they really look like. She doesn’t like buying bulk crystals or purchasing from places that offer to send you one or two crystals out of a large bowl. So, as a seller herself, she wants her customers to feel like they can reach out and hold the piece they’re interested in. Representing colors, feel and look are all high on her priority list. This also ensures that customers are happy with what they’re receiving. She also stays very consistent with the background of her photos. She’s found this works beautifully for what she’s selling and the feel of her shop. However, she does mention that she’s browsed through other shops that break all kinds of “staying consistent” rules, and yet their photos are also incredible! It’s all about finding what works for what you’re selling. Do you, do your own thing, most importantly be who you are, and let this shine through your shop and photos!

Descriptions and reviews

She does this with her descriptions as well. Though her descriptions might be a bit longer than is normal, Monica would rather give more information and have someone decide a product really isn’t for them, than to give less information and have something returned. This helps with retention as well as ensuring her customers truly understand and are happy with what they’re purchasing. Her advice on writing descriptions is first off, keep them simple at the beginning. The first couple paragraphs should encompass a short intro on what the product is about, why it would be great for the buyer, what size it might be and dimensions if necessary. After that, you can get more detailed in the following paragraphs if you have more info available. Often times, buyers like skimming and just reading the first couple paragraphs, but seeing there’s more info tends to make people more confident in their purchase.

All of this is a great help with Monica’s reviews! She never specifically asks her customers for reviews. When they are written, however, she is quick to send a thank you with a coupon or discount code. Her policy is to always give gratitude where it’s due.

Selecting your words

Monica’s positive energy and mindfulness truly permeates all she does, even the words she chooses to use. She’s very careful about selecting her words, which she believes (and so do we) is a much broader thing than just Etsy. She has seen many people complaining about different topics on forums and social media and for her, it’s not worth reading or being a part of that kind of negative energy. She truly believes the energy you put out into the world comes back, often in the form of illness or mental fatigue. If you’re stressing and complaining, sickness can often follow, and for Monica it’s just simply not worth it. She has personally decided to step away from all forums and any form of social media. Focusing on the things that matter, the positive side of everything, bettering yourself and others, this is what is most important. Letting go of the little things that you can’t control, releasing stress, and staying positive is worth so much.

Don’t beat yourself up

Of course, the most enlightened of people will at times put out negative energy. Monica does her best not to, but you know, sometimes it’s raining and cold and just all around a crummy day. Maybe you stepped in a puddle and soaked your shoe or your package wasn’t delivered when expected. Whatever the case may be, everyone has those moments when you’re just frustrated and aggravated! However, checking that, being aware of it and trying your best to get your mind back in a good place is SO helpful! Also, as Monica says, don’t beat yourself up about your bad moments. We ALL have them, but the best thing to do is just keep moving and leave those bad moments in the dust. No one else has more potential than you. You have all you need to make your life, your Etsy shop, whatever it might be, a success!

Do your research and use your tools (hey Marmalead!)

If you aren’t experiencing the success you want on Etsy, Monica suggests really doing your research and using Marmalead! (Hey thanks Monica!) For her, Marmalead has streamlined a lot of the research she’d otherwise have to do on her own. It takes a lot of the guess work out on keywords, tags, placement for these, what is being used else where and what is being searched. Monica says feels confident in the results she gets when she searches SEO through Marmalead. She guarantees that once you get going with your shop and you can afford the entrepreneur package with Marmalead (hey look, she’s doing a plug for us without us asking!) it will be more than worth it. Until then, the dabbler package is also fantastic. Seriously guys, this is what we hope to hear! We love knowing our customers are finding more success and peace of mind through what Marmalead has to offer!

Do it because you just never know

Taking the leap to running your own store on Etsy can be scary at times. Monica is passionate, however, on encouraging others to just do it! Do it because, you truly never know when your last day might be in your current job or at this current place in your life. Do it because you’re passionate about it and because, honestly, life is just too short to not do what you love. Do it with a positive attitude and with the conscious thought to leave the negativity behind. Do it, not out of fear of what might happen, but out of the belief that you can! Because if you believe it, you absolutely can achieve it. Refuse doubt, don’t allow it in, and if it does creep back, release it as soon as possible. You truly attract what you put out.

Final thoughts

When asked about the challenges she’s had in starting up her shop, Monica said at first she thought, “Where do I start?” But, she really doesn’t like to focus on the challenges. She told us she’d rather talk about keeping a good attitude and having great energy, than about all that did and could go wrong. Don’t compare yourself to others or to someone else’s shop. Simply do what is right for you. Envision where you want to be, where you want to go, what you actually want, and believe it will all be yours. If you believe it enough and focus on it, it will come into fruition in the future.

Also, I promise you, you’ll want to listen to Monica’s Jam this week! I wish I could capture all the fantastic stories and hilarious moments she and the guys talked about, but I simply can’t capture it all in one blog post! Go listen to it! You’ll be so glad you did:)

Where to find Monica

Monica can be found at CrystalRelics on Etsy! She is totally open to possibly collaborating with other sellers and artists, so if you feel like reaching out to her, message her directly through her shop.

 

Etsy Jam Scoops

In this episode, the guys have the pleasure of talking with Monica from Crystal Relics. Monica shares some great stories from her motorcycle racing days, and lessons she learned which apply to selling on Etsy. We also chat about taxes, accounting, the power of positive thinking, positive energy and avoiding making decisions based on fear. Did we mention she used to race motorcycles?!

Etsy Jam 48: Spring and Summer Sales Slump? Try these things.

In this episode the guys talk about some things you can do to help during a spring sales slump. We will tackle ideas you can use to help set your shop up for success! 

April Fools

We just LOVE this time of year in the Etsy universe (and in all e-commerce really), don’t you?! Products are just FLYING off the shelves, there are all kinds of sales figures flying by, and people are just ROLLING in cash!…..wait….is it Christmas?! What are we talking about?? Ok, ok, yeah, it’s past April Fool’s, although that would be a good…or maybe a not so good, April Fool’s joke;) The truth is, this is a really hard time of year to be a seller. In fact, it’s been a really slow spring, not just for Etsy, but on several platforms. Amazon, Ebay, pretty much across the board, there’s a slump. 

It’s what all the cool kids are talking about

This slump seems to be all sellers are talking about. Our Facebook group has some great threads going on about said topic (shameless plug: go join our Facebook group), and the Etsy forums are filled with the same kinds of discussions. These conversations seem to be tied with all the search updates Etsy keeps talking about. People tend to think that Etsy is doing a TON regarding their SEO, and really changing stuff around. Maybe the slow down does have something to do with all these changes, BUT we really think it’s bigger than just that. Side note: Etsy more than likely anticipates that this will be a slow time of year, and what better time to update SEO stuff than when it’s slow? Obviously, they wouldn’t do this when things were going to be super busy. Can you imagine trying to make changes and monitor those changes during Christmas? How could Etsy possibly know if changes made were actually because of SEO updates they did or simply because Christmas is a busy time of year? Think about it. 

What to do when it’s slow as molasses

So, what are some practical things to do during the current slump we find ourselves in? 

 1.) Stop talking about it constantly

Now, don’t get us wrong, there is value in confirming things aren’t just slow for you, and discussing with other sellers some of their ideas and techniques during a slow down. However, if ALL you’re doing is talking about how slow it is, you’re wasting valuable time. You could be spending this time on “house keeping” and all the other things you didn’t have time for during your last busy season. 

2.) Improve your photos

We hear people constantly talk about needing to do this, but not having the time. Now is the perfect opportunity! If you’re new to a DSLR camera, watch some videos/read up on how to most effectively use it, how to get great lighting, honestly the list could go on and on for this alone. If you’re planning on hiring someone to do photos for you, reach out to people who can recommend someone great, research pricing, and find who you’re really happy with. Don’t wait until things have ramped up again, because you want to be ahead of the curve and prepared when you’re actually very busy.  

3.) Build up your inventory

One of our previous guests, Kyle, from Cigart Metalworks (another shameless plug: go check out his shop on Etsy, he has a great video and about page posted there), talks about how he really prepares for the holiday season. He created a spreadsheet of the things he wanted to accomplish each week and how these would help him get to where he wanted to be during the holidays. Some of that was just creating inventory so that he was prepared and wouldn’t have to scramble to complete his inventory when he was slammed with sales. So, months ahead of time he was planning out how many units he needed to make each week to be able to hit a certain number that he wanted for the holiday rush. What better time to do this than during a slump? 

4.) Beta testing

This is something else Kyle talks about. He’s a huge fan of testing his different products, so he sends things out to people to see how they like them and how his products stand the test of time. Well, during a slow period, you have time to do this! Talk to whomever you have in your life, whether that’s friends, family, or past customers. Ask them to test your product out, put it to “use” and get back to you about what they thought. This is a fantastic way to find out if you need to make small adjustments to your products ahead of time instead of waiting until the holidays to find out your customers aren’t happy with something that might have been an easy fix. 

5.) Add a new product and do your research

Adding in a new product to your shop might be a huge gain for you, so now is the time to do some research on whatever that may be. One of the things people use Marmalead for is new product research. Taking the time to sit down and look at what you have and what your skill set is, the materials you work with, and also checking out what people like and are buying, can be invaluable! Maybe you want to add something small that isn’t a huge jump away from what you’re already doing, OR maybe it’s something totally different that you want to learn to start crafting. Either way, now is a great time to try out some new product ideas.

6.) Reach out to customers

Obviously when things are slow you have time to reach out to customers and spend time chatting with them in order to build a higher touch relationship. This is fantastic customer service and will stand out way more than just a simple follow up email. It’s also a great time to get feed back on your products and find out how your customers like them and if there are any changes that could/need to be made. Are your products standing the test of time? Are they breaking down in any way? All of this is invaluable information for you as a seller. Now, don’t get us wrong, this is NOT the time to spam your customers or try and sales pitch them to buy more. We are only talking about reaching out for information on how you can improve your shop and products. 

7.) Coupons

IF you are using your own email list that your customers have requested to be on, this could be a great time to send out a coupon thanking them for their past purchase(s) and offering something off your current products. This could help you see a boost in sales during an otherwise quiet season. Just remember, your customer has to have requested your emails be sent to them, otherwise you’re just spamming them. 

8.) Work on your SEO across your shop

Go through all your listings and make sure you’re using all your tags, and that your titles make sense. Make sure you don’t have mistakes or mismatches between your titles or tags, and just clean everything up. In general, this is good SEO practice. It will also help to ensure that you show up at the top of the keywords you are targeting. Also, when Etsy starts changing things up, this is a good time to tweak and test some of your SEO keywords, tags, and titles. You certainly don’t want to do that during your busiest time of the year. You want to figure that out ahead of time. So, go slow, change maybe 5 to 10 things at a time (not everything at once), and see how those changes preform. 

 9.) Go back and look at your suppliers

If you’re buying supplies from other sources and you’re crafting things with those supplies, now would be a great time to revisit that and think about if you’re getting the best deal from your suppliers. Maybe you’re selling more than you used to, which means you need more supplies, and if you switch over to a different supplier you’ll save more money. Now is the time to make the switch! Whether you find a supplier that is cheaper, or one that gives you better quality supplies at the same price, either way you’ll be saving yourself in the long run. 

Bonus thoughts

So, we’ve covered house keeping, how to boost your sales, and practical SEO management. What else can you do during this time? Something we don’t talk about a ton is checking out what you have in your local area. Because remember, your shop isn’t something that JUST gets done in search, you can actually send your direct link to friends, family, neighbors, anyone that could be a potential customer to you. You’re probably not the only person that likes what you do in your city. There are usually lots of opportunities in your community for potential buyers. Also, if you’re not set up as a company and you’ve been doing all your Etsy stuff on your own, this might also be the perfect time to look into registering as a legit business. As a registered business, you would have the potential to save money on your taxes the following year by being able to deduct some of your business expenses. 

Last but not least, revisit your pricing! You can use Marmalead for this! It’s kinda like going through your keywords and seeing where things are at. Definitely familiarize yourself with market based pricing and just see where you’re at, and where you stand against your competition.

Bottom Line

Stay informed, but don’t get sucked into the trap of social media. Do some of the above practical things with your time, but most of all, focus on what you WANT to achieve! Because what you focus on expands. Focus on positive things like growing, and that is EXACTLY what will happen!

Etsy Jam Scoops

 

In this episode the guys talk about some things you can do to help during a spring sales slump. We will tackle ideas you can use to help set your shop up for success!