Archive for the 'The Shop' Category

Free Shipping Poll

Please take the survey! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX9YXMJ

With Etsy pushing free shipping, and with the USPS price increase at the beginning of the year, I’m considering offering free shipping. It currently costs $4.12 (+) to mail out a package, but I haven’t increased my shipping fees past $3 since shipping went up to $3 a few years ago.

I can raise my shipping fees up to $4 and take the loss of a few cents per order

OR

I can increase cost of my items by $2 and change shipping to $0.

I don’t want my price increase to be too dramatic and scare people away. But with an average order size of 1, it would decrease the overall price for almost my entire customer base.

Current-
Average item cost: $14.50
Shipping:$3
Average total: $17.50

Shipping increase-
Average item cost: $14.50
Shipping: $4
Average total: $18.50

Free shipping- 
Average item cost: $16.50
Shipping: $0
Average total: $16.50

Please take the survey! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX9YXMJ

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Inventory on Fair Days

Last year, I started deactivating the bags in my shop that I was bringing with me to events. I liked that there were still items in my shop to view, but that nothing could be double sold. But the process of deactivating 100 or so listings every week is time consuming, and then there is the matter of getting the unsold inventory back in the shop quickly. Sometimes I would removed sold bags throughout the day and reactive everything else right from my phone at the end of the event, but other times I wouldn’t get to it until the following Monday.

For this year, I’m going to test shutting down the whole shop just prior to the start of the event. I’ll hopefully have time during the event to delete sold items form inventory, and then reopen the full shop at the end of the day.

I’m thinking I’ll save time during the week on “Fair Prep” and will have more time for sewing and fabric design. It also takes significantly less time to press one button and reactive a shop than it does to reactive 75ish listings individually.

To combat people thinking that my shop is on a permanent vacation, I’ll add a note to the shop announcement explaining what fair I’m at, how long it is, and when to expect the shop to reopen with full inventory.

My first fair of the year is THIS SATURDAY! So I’ll have the first wave of research in less than a week from now.

How do you handle Etsy shop inventory when you have a fair or a market?

How to Find Craft Fairs

NOW IS THE TIME! The time to start looking and booking your craft events for the year! But how do you find craft fairs and vending events to sign up for? A great question, and one I’ve been asked more than once! Here is where I find them:

1) Word of mouth.
Not always ideal when you first start out, but I’ve found some great events this way. Ask your crafty/ artsy friends and family about events they like to sign up for. If you’re already part of a regular market, ask the other vendors what shows they have coming up, if they’ve done them, and what they like or don’t like about them.

2) Check town websites and community Facebook pages.
My town started a Farmers Market last year, and I found that information on the town Website. I was the only craft-vendor to sign up! I also check the community Facebook pages of the surrounding towns just to see upcoming events and if I want to be a part of them.

3) Look for Facebook events.
Even easier than it sounds, and this is the number one way I’ve found events so far for this year. A friend will mark that they are “Interested” in an event, and it pops up in my news feed. I check out every single one, because you never know what you’ll find! If it looks like a fun event AND they are looking for vendors, I message the event asking how to sign up to be a vendor. You can also search through the Upcoming Events section on Facebook too, narrowing the search by area, month, and the type of event you’re looking for.

4) Sometimes, people ask you!
I signed up for a food truck festival in Worcester, and they asked me to sign up for their other festival in Spencer. I inquired about a town fair in Hubbardston, and they sent me the application for their Spring and Fall events. A blueberry farm down the street asked if I wanted to be a part of their Opening Weekend this year. Yes, yes, and yes!

 

Other things to remember:

Some events seem amazing and then you get there, spend 8 full hours in an under-heated room, and don’t even make back your table money (aka the money you paid for your table space). What a lousy day. And then next year, you’re invited to apply again. Ugh, no thanks. Whether you’re doing this as a hobby or as your full-time job, a wasted day is still a wasted day. You do not have to sign up for any event that isn’t a good fit for you.

The more you search for events, the better you get at finding them and at being able to identify a good fit for you and your craft. Some events will still be a miss, but you can make a notes about why it seemed great but wasn’t, and you know to avoid similar events in the future. I tend to avoid events where the contact person isn’t forthcoming with event information. So if I have to email someone and ask for more information and they send back just an attached application with no email content, I probably won’t sign up. I usually ask questions that are not always included on the application, and I don’t want to spend more time sending a second email with the same content as the first.

Similarly, if I show up to an event, that I paid to be a part of, and it’s hard to find the organizer and / or the organizer seems annoyed when I ask about my table location, the unloading area, or about anything that I do not know, then I won’t apply again. If your interest in me stopped after you cashed my check then why would I want to go back?

 

Anything I missed? Ask in the comments!

Moving to Monday Updates

For years, I’ve made bags throughout the week and then put everything on pause when I had a sunny day (love that natural light) to take pictures, edit, create listings, and then decide when I would add what into the shop. The process is good in that adding new items multiple times a week boosts your search analytics, but in all honesty it’s time consuming. On top of that, I share my work space with my husband and there are a couple of times a week where I will pause sewing so he can make phone calls.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t always manage my time well and it’s something I’m working on. So it would make sense for me to save the photo uploading, editing, and creating listings for those times when I’m respectfully not sewing. Making them live takes about the same amount of time for 5 listings as it does for 30, so I can save a little bit of time throughout the week if I do it all on one day. Enter in: Monday Updates.

I’ll take pictures when I have good light, work on the boring part during quiet time, and spend some time on Monday mornings renewing expired listings and sharing all the new ones. I’m not concerned with where my shop falls into search analytics right now because the “new and improved” system seems to only benefit shops offering free shipping. I tried it last week and actually was able to turn out more bags than usual!

Running your own business is a constant learning process. I know I make quality products, and now is the time to focus on quality time management.

Makeup Bag Re-branding

I’m calling them Flat Bottom Bags now!

I ran into some makeup bag related confusion last market season, such as:

Boy- “Dad! Can I get this bag! It has dinosaurs on it!”
Adult- “No, makeup bags are for women.”

Woman- “Oh I just love this bag! But I really don’t need anymore makeup bags…”
Me- “You can use it for other things, like-”
Woman-“Its says makeup bag.”

Woman- “This is a pretty big pencil case.”
Me- “Oh, that’s a makeup bag.”
Woman-“Never mind.”

This was totally new for me, and I changed them to “Toiletry Bags” about halfway through the season. It opened them up but still left them in a niche category that most people couldn’t see past.

So I’ve changed them across the board- in my Etsy shop and will make new in-person signs. In each Etsy listing, I started by listing 5ish things that the bags can be used for, and went on to update every bag listing in the shop to start with the same information. It will probably be beneficial to make larger price signs for markets, and include the “can be used for” list on them as well.

I’m hoping this will convert more sales and allow people to see the bags for what they are: bags with almost endless uses.

Etsy Advice: photograph your mailing envelopes.

I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2011, so roughly 7.5 years. And in that time, I’ve developed some habits to make shipping out orders as smooth as possible.

In the very beginning, someone complained about my packaging style, which was to wrap a ribbon around the order and tuck the receipt under the ribbon. Now, I wrap orders in tissue paper, still tie a ribbon around it, and tuck a thank you note under the ribbon. I don’t include the receipt at all, knowing that people can print it themselves if they need it.

I used to write out all the envelopes for orders, and then wrap all the orders and place them on top of the corresponding envelopes, and then close everything up. Then one time, I mixed up two orders and sent a bird bag to Australia instead of to New York. Now, I package each order individually and completely seal them up before starting the next.

And I used to just package up orders and send them off. Until two summers ago when a package got stuck in an undeliverable mail loop for 4 days. Yes, that’s a thing. Every morning, it would go to the local post office, get sent out for delivery, get marked as undeliverable, go back to the regional post office where it was resorted, and sent back to the local post office the next morning. And you could see this mess happening in the tracking info. The buyer was eventually able to collect the package in person, which was wonderful. But mid-week, I contacted Etsy to ask advice on this bizarre situation. And Esty Support said, “Oh, just send us a picture of the package!” And I was like, “You mean when it eventually gets returned to sender?” And Etsy Support was like “LOL no like the picture you took before you mailed it.” I think it’s clear that I didn’t take a picture before I mailed it.

So now, after I wrap an order in tissue paper, and individually package it into a bubble mailer, I take a picture of it. I hold it up against my computer screen so the picture shows the envelope’s address and the mailing information provided by the buyer, and also shows the time/date on the computer. I email the picture to myself, highest quality possible, and move it to a special folder just for Etsy Shipping Labels. Since I started this photographing process, I haven’t needed it. But if I ever do? I’ll have a photograph with a time stamp, in an email with a time stamp.

Not every shop is the same, and not every order is the same, and not every brain is the same, so find whatever way works best for you to prep and mail out orders. But definitely take a picture of your packages before you send them off.

Find me at EcHo!

Located on Elm Street in Wareham, EcHo recently opened in the Tremont Nail Old Company Store building! It’s run by Beth, who has just the front room open right now and is currently renovating the second room. She’s breathing new life into a building that’s been closed for a couple of years, and served as “The Old Company Store,” selling candy and crafts for decades. Beth has an incredible vision for the space, and for using the closed Elm Street bridge as a community space.

Enter: The Tragic Whale. MY STUFF IS HERE! That’s right, you can now buy Tragic Whale bags in an actual store. Holy wow! Just look at this cute little display! (Display was 100% Beth, I was already gone when she found a place for everything).

This is a HUGE deal for me. This past year has brought a tremendous amount of growth for me and my little business and this was the logical next step, but for a while I didn’t know how I would actually get here. I am so proud, and so honored that Beth has included me in her store.

Click HERE for more information about EcHo.

Click HERE and HERE for more information on the Tremont Nail Company.


Hello, I’m Kerry! Maker. Sewist. Fan of all things bright.

May 2019
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It's Fluff! Curious, master napper, likes to try new veggies.

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