Do you have a secret technique for staying focused on your shop and keeping life’s relentless onslaught of distractions from tugging you off course? In this episode, we chat with Carly from PendantPlaceStore about how she parents herself by holding herself accountable for the things she knows she needs to get done. We also talk about how she’s iterated through different Etsy shops, her experiences with promoted listings, and more! Join us next week for part 2 of the conversation with Carly where she shares results from an interesting experiment she did this last holiday season!
Carly’s hand making story begins with a charm bracelet course her Mom bought her from a local beading shop. After starting the class, the teacher noticed how talented and fast Carly was at making charm bracelets. While Carly was at the beading shop, she learned that there were tons of different occasions that you could purchase charms for. In the check out line, she saw a One Direction picture pendant. She thought it was really cool that you could use a personalized photo on the pendants.
The teacher of her class didn’t know how to put photos on the pendants, so this lead Carly on a journey of learning how it was done. She says this has been a very long journey. The main reason for this is because there are many different ways to make picture pendants.
At first, Carly was giving her pendants away as gifts to family and friends. People loved them! They were such personal gifts that everyone she gifted them to really connected with them. This was exactly what Carly wanted! She’d set out to find a product that was meaningful and something that people would want to purchase for those that were the closest to them. It would seem she’d found just that!
Hopping on the Etsy train
Carly can’t remember exactly who told her about Etsy. Once she found out what it was, she was excited to learn she might be able to sell her picture pendants and actually make a profit. She thought this would be the quick and easy answer to selling…but, it definitely wasn’t quick or easy. Her current shop is her third shop and her third attempt over the span of about five to six years.
Gordon asked Carly what she’d learned over the course of having three shops. What did she do in her first shop that changed in her second shop? And how has the second shop differed from the third? Carly says she still has that first shop. She uses it to purchase supplies, but it’s a non-open shop. Carly didn’t know much about what a shop should look like the first time around. She watched videos on YouTube trying to figure the whole thing out and did as much reading up on it as she could. Carly said her pictures in this first shop were horrendous, but this is clearly not the case in her current shop.
The way she makes her product now is vastly different from the beginning. Like any artist, Carly has grown and learned her strengths and weaknesses over the past few years. Her process is currently much stronger than it was when she first started. It was definitely a learning curve to understand her product and how to make it efficiently.
Carly had around ten sales total the first year she was open in shop number one. She says she really did try, but it was frustrating and felt like it just wasn’t working. It was around this time that she discovered some of our Etsy Jams and began learning that there was more to Etsy shops and SEO than she thought. So, she decided to start fresh with a new shop.
She came up with a really cool name for her second shop and started doing the flea market thing. Carly said doing flea markets never really worked for her in her area. This isn’t to say that it won’t work for other sellers with different products. But because Carly’s product is so highly personalized, it wasn’t something that worked well in the flea market setting. A lesson she took out of this was that this simply wasn’t her demographic.
Third time’s a charm
The third time around, Carly thought to herself that she was only going try this one more time. At this point, she felt like she had a set of products that she was great at making. She also had an idea of how to differentiate her products from her competition. Carly decided to take a step back from her second shop and close it. She took everything she’d learned from her first two shops, looked at other shops who were doing something similar and thought of how she could make what she was going to do different. How could she make it more specific to her and her shop?
Carly says for her the biggest thing in helping with this was Marmalead. She says that often she has a hard time learning new websites and how everything on them works. But she decided to really commit in our own way to learning the most she could and learning to use the tools well. In November she wrote on the Facebook group that she was SO excited that she’d made $500. In December, however, she tripled that number! This is the kind of thing we love to hear!
Diving back in and renewals
Carly recently dove back in with all the new updates we made to Marmalead. She says Marmalead was great before but it’s even better now! She’s trying a new renewal strategy based on the Marmalead data. She does say that you honestly have to go with where your business is at concerning renewals. If you’re selling things every single day, then the twenty cents needed to renew a listing is nothing. You do have to spend money to make money, within reason of course. Carly trusts that Marmalead can help in many areas, including renewals.
Side note from us
The renewal space is interesting. It used to be a much bigger factor on Etsy. The direction Etsy’s been heading with more personalized searches and search results has made it so they don’t need to lean on renewal date quite as much. In the newest updates to Marmalead, we actually deemphasized the importance of renewals a bit, because that’s what we’re seeing Etsy do as well. We are constantly trying to stay right in step with Etsy in order to deliver the most accurate and meaningful information to you as a Marmalead user.
Promoted listings and all that jazz
Carly has also done a lot with promoted listings. She started giving Etsy a dollar a day just to see how it would go. Carly knows if she’s spending roughly thirty dollars a month she needs to sell two products to cover the cost. She needs to sell three to make a profit. Realistically for Carly, selling three products in a month really isn’t that hard. She feels like the cost is well worth it because promoting her listings seem to help. As you’re searching on Etsy for specific keywords, if your keyword matches the search Etsy will put you on top. It will say it’s a promoted listing.
She does promoted listings with Facebook and Instagram as well. If she really likes a picture, she’ll pay around two to three dollars for a three-day promotion. Carly says she’s definitely noticed an increase in traffic for Instagram and Facebook when she’s done a promotion with them.
Every day, especially during Christmas when Carly had a ton of sales and was on a roll, she’d wake up and the first thing she’d say was, “I am grateful for all the Etsy sales I have today.” As well as running her Etsy shop Carly also babysits and walks dogs on the side. When she’s driving between houses to walk pups, she says there’s nothing but time to think these positive thoughts. If she’s bored and has nothing else to think about, she’ll take that time to repeat over and over that she is grateful for all the Etsy sales that she has.
She also tries to think positive and be grateful for the things she wants in the future. Carly might think about having a $100,000 dollar business. She then thinks about how grateful she is for the $100,000 she owns. Even though she might not have it yet, she’s still grateful for it. Carly says to keep it simple and allow yourself to think these thoughts because she feels that what you dwell on will come back to you.
This thought process is very important. As an Etsy seller, you will have those moments of frustration. Exercising how to step outside of those frustrating moments and practice gratefulness, then refocusing on your main goals will be useful to your mental and emotional health. Take moments to be grateful and let the small stuff go. It’s those tiny things that can drive you nuts.
On the flip side
Even though Carly tries to always be grateful, there are still struggles she’s had to face. One of those is her crazy work schedule. Normally she works Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m… This leaves only the late evenings and weekends to work on her Etsy shop. This is definitely a challenge. She has to take all her pictures on the weekends since she can’t get good pictures at night. She also tries to utilize tools that help her to be more efficient, like HootSuite. This way she can schedule all her social media posts and doesn’t have to worry about doing them every day.
Another challenge for Carly has been finding suppliers and learning how to make her product in the best way possible. She said she’s gone through so many different glues, paper, printers, ink, and materials, trying to find out what works best for her. Her biggest competitor prints images directly on glass. But this isn’t what Carly does, she hand makes every single piece. She looks forward to looking into this kind of printer in the future as her business grows, but for now not only is the cost very high, she hasn’t learned this technique. She’s concentrating now on having a strong system in place where she makes fantastic pieces that are the highest quality for her customers.
Growing like a beanstalk
Carly is always trying to learn more about her craft and grow herself along with her business. She says in so many areas, you might think you’re doing something the best way possible, but there could be an even better way to do whatever it is. She wants to be open-minded and accept anything new and better that comes her way and helps her business grow.
She’s had the fear before of having her business do really well and start to grow so fast she can’t keep up with it. However, she tries not to think about this. She wants to focus on growing steadily as opposed to growth that happens super fast. If you grow too fast that can be awesome on the one hand, but on the other hand, you can hit a burnout point a lot faster. Growing steadily allows you to keep up with what you’re doing. Growing along with your business and steadily making the changes needed to keep up with growth will help you to not become overwhelmed.
Parenting your business
Carly says that just like parenting kids, you also have to parent your business. Maybe your kids have an appointment with the doctor or a parent-teacher conference. Then you have to make them dinner, but your kiddos also want cake. They can’t have cake though until they eat their vegetables. It’s the same way with your business. You have to accomplish your appointments and eat your vegetables in relation to your business before you can have your cake which is relaxation time. You have to be your own parent in your business, telling yourself, “This is what I have to do today.” You also have to structure your time. If you can only work at night during the week, maybe you update your keywords like Carly does. Or maybe you read to gain knowledge about your Etsy shop and business. Be your own parent, figure out what you need to do and give yourself homework. Then actually do the homework.
Tricks for parenting your business
Carly recently bought a planner that is a digital download. Because it’s in this format, she can print the pages whenever she needs them. She’ll often dedicate one day out of her weekend to set up her pages and get organized. Every evening she tries to write down all the things she accomplished during her day. She’ll then compare her list to all the things she wanted to accomplish to see how productive she’s been. If she sees she’s accomplished everything she wanted or even half of the things she wanted, it really helps to build her confidence in knowing that she can make her business happen. It’s truly not just about making her products, it’s also about doing the business tasks to make it run smoothly and be successful.
This technique of reviewing what you’ve accomplished is also a great way to see what you need to do the following day. If something wasn’t done, put it on your task list for tomorrow and make it a priority. This also helps you to see where you might have become sidetracked. It’s a great way to learn how you need to change your actions to accomplish more.
A different perspective
Carly tried something out this year that allowed her to look at other shops from a totally different perspective than she normally has. Around Christmas time, she was brainstorming ways to push the algorithm in her direction even more. Since it was almost Christmas, she decided that she was going to buy most of her Christmas presents on Etsy. Part of the reason she did this was to see how other Etsy sellers were doing things and to help her improve herself and how she handles her own shop and customers. She started her shopping a little early to make sure she could purchase everything she wanted and ended up doing 85-90% of her shopping on Etsy. This experience REALLY opened her eyes to many different things…which we’ll be covering next week in Part 2 of Carly’s Jam!
We are SO excited to talk through the things Carly learned next week! We believe it’ll be things that you as a seller, might not even have on your radar. One last thought Carly had to pass along was this: when she started posting pictures of her working on orders or her at the dog park working and just more personal things about her life on social media, her traffic really increased! Letting your customers into your life and showing them the person behind the products helps to connect you with buyers. This makes you more human and your products more relatable. Buyers on Etsy want to know more about the person behind the shop. If they didn’t, they’d be shopping at Walmart or Target. Remember that Etsy gives you as a seller the opportunity to be personal. Use that to your advantage.
Make sure you check Carly’s shop HERE! She stays up with her shop updates which are awesome, so check those out as well. Also, be sure to listen to this week’s Etsy Jam as there’s always great info there that wasn’t captured on the blog. Also, this is your official reminder that February is now upon us, so listening to the Jam would also be a great idea because you just might find your first Easter Egg there….ya never know;)
Happy selling, everyone!