Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Business Chat - And the magic secret to success is...

They looked at me as if I had the knowledge of the universe within my grasp. With bated breath they asked, 

“So what’s the secret to Etsy success? What’s the trick?” 

You really want to know? The magic trick is....
(drum roll...)

Doing the work. 

Lots and lots of hard work. 

As their faces fell, I suspected that was not the answer they wanted. 

Lately I’ve been asked versions of this question a lot. As I stand in my tent at craft shows it takes the form of, “gee, I want to do this too, it looks so easy”. Online I get emails about “tell me what to do so that I can make lots of money”. 

Here’s the secret trick. 
20% of my working time is spent making work. 80% of my working time is spent doing the “boring” work. Sending out emails, updating my facebook page, updating my website, taking photographs, writing product descriptions, building a booth, standing in a booth, bookkeeping and all those other icky tasks. This is what will lead to your success. 

Let’s break that down again. For every one hour I spend making a piece of jewelry, I spend 4 hours running the business infrastructure needed to sell that piece of jewelry. 

“Oh but I don’t like doing that stuff,” one woman said, “I just want to make things”. I had asked her about her website. Turns out she didn’t have a website, or online store, or facebook page or mailing list. She couldn’t figure out why she didn’t sell well at shows. She assumed it was because she was getting into the wrong shows. No, it’s because she wasn’t marketing herself. 

If all you want to do is make things, then go ahead. Give the to your sister, your best friend and all your work colleagues. If you are interested in actually selling work, then read on.

You need to market yourself. 
You need to advertise. 
Marketing and advertising leads to sales. 

It’s not really complicated, and doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does take some time. 

When people tell me they’ve opened an Etsy store and are disappointed that the orders aren’t flooding their inbox, my first question is “how many people did you tell about your store?” There are 800,000 registered sellers on Etsy, without telling anyone how do you think people will find you? And if that is just on Etsy, how many websites selling handmade work do you think there are? 

Imagine if you opened a brick and mortar store. How do you get customers? You advertise. Selling online or selling at a craft show is the same thing, you have to tell people that you exist. You also have to tell people what you do.

Before I go to a craft show I have sent out an announcement about my participation to the 1,000 people on my mailing list. I have listed the show on my website, blogged it, put it on Facebook and maybe done a Pinterest board of the show. There are lots of other ways of advertising that I could do but I only have 2 hands. So for those of you standing in my booth wondering why I have a line up of customers? That’s why. I told people. I also made sure that I told people how to find me online in case they couldn’t come to the show. 

For the record, I do not sell on Etsy. I do have my own online shop (I use Bigcartel)  which is selling nicely, (could be more) and improving as I do more to promote it. 

Sales are when you exchange money for your work with a customer.
Advertising is how you get your message to people. 
Marketing is what you tell people about yourself and your work. 

So if you aren’t selling as well as you’d like then ask yourself these questions. 

What have you told people about your work? 
Do they know why they should buy your work? 
Have your shared your enthusiasm and your passion? 
Do people know what you do? 
Have you made it easy for people to give you money? 
Do they know where to find you in person? Or online? 
Is your online shop easy to buy from? 

Sometimes it is time to put down your pliers and pick up a pen or a mouse. Think of creating your marketing message as just another version of being a craftista. Grab your camera and get creative. Write yourself some flowery product descriptions. Play a game of “how many facebook likes can I get in a week?” Have some fun with marketing and then the real fun comes in. The orders will flood in and you’ll actually get to make some work!!! Yay!!!

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