Posts Tagged 'etsy seller'

By special request…

Historically, The Tragic Whale has been my creative outlet. And while I’ve entertained suggestions and occasionally taken on special orders, I’m mostly in this for me. I make what I want, when I want. I develop new items that I think are a good idea and at my own pace. And it’s worked out overall. But if I’m going to continue to grow as a business as well as a person, I need to be open to more of a push than just what I can give myself.

I started with a baby step earlier this year when I introduced PUL-lined bags to the shop. People have been asking for them for AGES, and in true-Kerry fashion, I waited until I was fully ready to explore this new and wild material. Why did I wait so long? I have no idea. It hadn’t previously worked into my “bigger picture plans” and didn’t seem like a good way to spend my time. That was 100% WRONG! The snack-size bags I’m making are selling excellent at events, and multiple people have asked to special order a print they loved in person but with the easy-to-clean PUL as a lining instead of cotton.

Another baby step is to buy fabric with the customer in mind. Why? Because they are the people buying things from me! This is a “Duh, Kerry!” moment, I know. A lot of people are asking about bee fabric, so I started scooping up every one I come across. They don’t last long in the shop and sell even faster in person, so instead of buying more bees after I sell out of all my bee bags, I’m actively seeking it out and consciously picking designs that I haven’t see elsewhere. The idea is that 1) I won’t run out and 2) I’ll have especially fun bees to offer.

My last baby step is to make more in prints I already have / self designed. My shark print is pretty popular and people ask for more size options. And I’m over here like, “Well I *had* that in a small and I sold it. So I don’t anymore.” But it’s MY fabric and the whole idea is to buy more when I need it. Why am I waiting to sell out before thinking about the next bag? I made some shark bags last week, and some sheep bags (which is another frequent request)! And I’m currently working on a restocking list for the designs I’m running low on.

What’s next? Well, these baby steps all come together to form a shift in focus for me. I’m planning to add a Made to Order section to the shop within the next year (probably sooner) where people will be able to select bag size, outside fabric, zipper color, and lining. I’ll only offer them in my own prints, because I can restock on fabric when I run low. I still have to work out some details, such as turnaround time and pricing, but it feels like a natural next step and I’m excited about it!

Have any suggestions? Noticed a change in focus in your life recently? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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The results are in!

With a record-breaking 12 votes, and 100% support for free shipping, The Tragic Whale is moving to free shipping!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to weigh in on this!

This feels like a HUGE step for me, and the price differences see so drastic, but I just keep reminding myself that it’s only $2 and that I came to this decision with input from my customer base. Here’s to the next thing!

 

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.

Year End Clearance Event

Oh shoot, it’s a sale!

I’m calling this the “First Ever Year End Clearance Event,” but in actuality I have no idea if I’ve done this before. I certainly haven’t offered 70% off of anything ever, so that part is confirmed new. Anyway, please enjoy 70% off select items (bags, sweater pins, magnets) now through December 31st.

Here’s a not-great group picture of some of the things on sale:

$2.55 for sweater pins? $4.65 for a small makeup bag? $3 for a zipper pouch?! What is this?!

It’s the Year End Clearance Event, that’s what.

Find everything here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTragicWhale/items?section_id=1

 

New in the Shop: Pin Cushions

A few years ago, I made a pin cushion out of a plastic dinosaur. It was fun, and it quickly became my most-used pin cushion. I made an extra and put it in the shop, and since then have wanted to add more. So I (finally) did!

As an aside: most people know that it takes me AGES to finish projects for them. Like, YEARS. Like, HALF A DECADE. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to take on custom orders for my shop. But even my own projects take me forever, so at least I’m consistent?

Anyway, I made a couple of dinosaurs:

And a couple of other animals:

You can find them now in the Housewares section!


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

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

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