In this episode we talk with Nora from BeesHandStampedGifts and BeePrintableQuoteArt . Nora is a professional musician who has had shops that range from crocheted hats to pillows to polymer clay jewelry to keychains. She shares how she first realized that her customers typically weren’t buying for themselves. And as a special treat, Nora agreed to help us kick off this episode with some of her musical stylings. Enjoy!
Nora’s background before Etsy
Where I was before Etsy? I wasn’t anywhere, really. My background story is that I’ve been earning money as a professional musician for 18 years. I’m always teaching guitar or playing in gigs; basically. So then I thought “Okay, let’s try something artistic and entrepreneurial”. I started crocheting. I crocheted a few hats, then put them up on Etsy. I didn’t have any sales because I didn’t know anything about Etsy or anything about SEO.
So I put up these hats, and then the season was over and no one were buying hats anymore. So I tried something else. The next thing that I started crocheting are pillows. I put them up and since I still don’t know anything about SEO, not many people bought them and it’s not really working out – so I tried something else again.
I dove into making jewelries. I ordered polymer clay except this time, crafting jewelries is something I have not done before. Took me a while to get the hang of it. So basically I was learning to make jewelry while also learning to sell in Etsy at the same time.
Since I don’t know anything about SEO, I was basically experimenting all the time. I was researching stuff on Etsy, listening to all kinds of podcasts, watching, learning, and reading. Then in my research, I realized that polymer clay jewelries isn’t what sells in general. Jewelry sells in Etsy, but apparently there isn’t much demand on polymer clay kinds of jewelry.
Then I hired a virtual assistant once. He was trying to do something with my shop to make it better. As he was doing that, I researched all kind of things and discovered that hand-stamped stuff is where the gold is. So I ordered the letters and started doing it.
So after all that trial and error, I opened up a new shop. I called it BeesHandStampedGifts and the reason I opened a new one is because one of the things I’ve learned in my previous shops is that people like one of the same stuff in a shop with not so much variety.
I did learn a couple of things about photos, design, and how to write good descriptions that tell everyone everything about my product. Then I discovered Marmalead and started fiddling around with keywords. After a month I had a sale and sales started going since.
Did you already know how to crochet or did you teach yourself along the way?
Crocheting was something I tried when I was young. I still memorize some of the bits and maybe a watched a few Youtube videos – but not too much because I still knew how to do it anyway.
How did you figure out that your customers buy your products as gifts and not for themselves?
First, I don’t know if that will work for all the shops out there, but it seems like my stuff is what it is – a gift material. Because the quotes – for example; “I hope your day is as nice as your butt” isn’t something you’re going to buy for yourself but you are gonna buy it for someone else. So things like that and other quotes too that people would want to give to someone. I actually use more ‘gift’ keywords than ‘key rings’. I didn’t use really obvious terms like ‘handstamped key rings’ but instead different variations of the keyword ‘gifts’.
Why do you think you have such a high conversion rate?
I think people just like quotes. Also maybe the fact that they are stamped by hand. And it’s a good gift, I guess. So when they search for keywords like ‘boyfriend gifts’ they see my listings and maybe they just like what they see.
How do you do your product photography?
I’m taking them myself. I like photography as well. That is one of the million hobbies that I have! Sometimes I ride my bicycle around London by the canals and sometimes I take a lot of photos. I actually was thinking of selling photography as well but I did my research and it didn’t seem like it’s something that people will buy.
But regarding my photos, I do it myself mostly. I have a camera and a professional light. I just put it really close and take photos and fiddle it around with the colors. I go to Pixlr and then I edit my pictures to make them brighter. Make it really close so people can see it and not too far. Also I make all my backgrounds of the same color and all my listing photos looks almost the same because I discovered that’s what works as I did all these researches. The shops that have everything very similar are what works.
What are some mistakes that you have made along the way that you think can benefit newer sellers?
Research keywords in Marmalead is one of the things on top of my head. Regarding the pictures, the best thing is to make them pretty similar to each other. I’m sure there are shops out there that don’t do that and still have success so I don’t know if that is a crucial thing but I kinda notice that in a lot of shops. If they have very similar designs it looks better and more professional.
I also have blue backgrounds. I used to think that white backgrounds are the best but blue worked for me. I think that white are better for shops on the web but Etsy is a handmade place so people are more into things that are interesting and unique.
There’s something to be said too for standing out. So if someone is doing a search for boyfriend gifts and they’re presented with a page full of search results and thumbnails – white backgrounds are popular so almost everybody will have either white or a light-colored background. So if your listing is standing out in blue – their eyes are gonna go right to that first because it stands out and that gives you a bit of a competitive advantage.
What do you think might be the next area you might dabble in?
A lot of things have been popping in my head. I’m going to try drop-shipping but also keeping the design aspect of the quotes. Because I figured out that quotes are what people like. So I’m trying this drop-shipping thing now with quotes on all kinds of items like mugs, t-shirts, etc. I tried blogging as well but I got bored on it because it feels like you have to write on it all the time. But I might get back to that one day.
The other thing was that I was just thinking of selling guitar lesson videos.
What are your goals in 2016?
I’m gonna put up Christmas gifts when the Christmas season comes in!
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t think that you have to know everything in order to start. Just jump in.
The only way to really know if something works is to try it. You can do a little bit of research before you fully jump in but if it looks like it might work – give it a shot! Don’t feel like you need to understand all of it before you give it a shot. There’s always one more book to read, one more article to read, podcast to listen to, piece of advice – always. You’ll never be done learning.