Saturday, November 24, 2007

After Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I've actually just finished up my second Thanksgiving meal of this holiday weekend. Went to the in-laws on Thursday, and then I cooked the whole meal today at home for friends and family. Visiting for the holiday is nice, but having the leftovers here is even better!

I took Friday off of work...and even though I'll likely pay for it by being doubly busy on Monday, it was so nice to not have to deal with the stress for an extra day this weekend. I so needed that day off.

On the crafting front: due to all the cooking and cleaning needed for this holiday, I haven't been too productive on the crafting front. I intend on spending tomorrow to get finished with a couple of special orders I'm in the middle of....and maybe even finish up the two teddy bears that have been in pieces for the past two weeks (no promises though).

I wrapped up the first phase of my Etsy promotional experiment today. I promoted 98 items this past week...that's 98 that were not mine. I saved each one into my favorites, so I could keep track of them. As of a few minutes ago, 16 of them had been sold. I can't say that my promoting them contributed at all to them selling...but it was nice to see the prices flip to "sold". My PayPal account has decided that I also need to go back to promoting myself as I'll now be trying to evenly promote both my own shop/items and those of my fellow Etsians. Of course with everyone fussing over in the forum about the new Gift Guide feature.....I'm not sure my promotions will even get noticed. I also decided to run a sale for the next ten days....all of my crocheted items are 25% off. That took a lot longer than I thought to edit all of those items....probably close to three hours (guess I didn't realize how many of my items were crocheted!). Maybe this will generate a few sales for my holiday shopping money....we'll see. to check-in on the forum, and get to creating. That is if I don't fall asleep from all of the turkey eaten at dinner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Update on the experiment

Well, it's just about 3 1/2 days into my current experiment. So far, I've promoted 78 different items in the Etsy Promo forum. I'm not sure if there is any direct correlation, but out of those, 9 have sold since I promoted them. I'm truly happy for the sellers of these items...even if my promotional effort didn't contribute to the sale. Every day, I'll continue to promote my fellow Etsians, and I will be just as thrilled to see the "sold" sign appear on my favorites listings as I would to see my own items sell.

Here's hoping that the upcoming holiday shopping season is an overwhelming success to all who are actively trying to make their Etsy shop's a success.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Experiment

This is the time of year that we remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have (Thanksgiving), to realize that it is better to give than to receive (Christmas), and to start new chapters in our lives (New Year's). It's also a good time to reinforce to ourselves that by helping others we ultimately help ourselves. You know...that whole "good Karma" thing.

I've been feeling a little down on myself for the past few weeks, and doubting my crafting abilities since my sales lately (both on and off Etsy) haven't been where, in my mind, they should be. Instead of continuing to wallow in self-pity I've decided to try something different.

I've been thinking alot lately about an idea I've been pondering for some time, and today I'm going to put that plan into action. It might seem pretty small, and likely won't even get noticed by anyone else, but that's OK...I'll know. The idea involves Etsy...specifically promoting in the Etsy forums.

Starting today, 11/17/07, at noon EST I will no longer directly promote my shop, or my items in the Etsy fora. I will still promote...but only OTHER people's shops and items. I'll still participate in the forum...but in any thread where item and shop promotion is the goal it will be a fellow Etsian's link you will see in my posts. And I think I'll make even more of an effort to visit the Promotions topics than I do today...just so I can promote even more shops. I'm pledging, here and now, to continue this at least through the Thanksgiving weekend...and maybe even through the end of the year. It might seem like a crazy idea to some, and it may mean I won't personally have as many sales as I might otherwise have had....but I don't care. If my efforts help someone else to make a sale, and make them erase their own self-doubts about their abilities to succeed, then my experiment would have been a success.

The only exception I will make to the above pledge will be to announce my weekly Saturday Night Special in the appropriate thread if I decide to participate that week.

Anyone else want to join me in this experiment?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thank God It's Friday!!!

Think the title says it all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Random ramblings

When I can't fall asleep, which is most nights, random thoughts and questions start to ramble around in my brain. Tonight's ramblings are pretty typical:
  • I really need a haircut. I've been putting it off for a couple of months now, but I guess I'll have to breakdown and go get it cut soon...have to go to my hubbies work Xmas party on Dec 8th...can't go looking like this, and I'm not sure he'd approve of the paper bag over the head look. And I have no idea what I'll wear to that party...nothing fits anymore.
  • I wonder if the two days I just spent setting up an eBay store will pan out to at least making enough sales to cover the monthly fees. Going to try it until at least the end of the year, then I may end up closing it.
  • Why can't I seem to get even a little excited about the fact that Christmas will be here soon. I know I don't have any money to buy presents with...but Christmas isn't about giving and getting stuff....wish I could convince myself of that.
  • I really should vacuum the rugs tomorrow
  • Think I'll turn the heat off's supposed to be near 60 out.
  • Why is there never anything to watch on TV after midnight....over 200 channels, and nothing on worth watching.
  • Should I keep making things for my shops? At what point should I stop adding things, when the ones I have there aren't moving?
  • I probably shouldn't have spent the $50 on 500 business cards in September....I'm thinking they'll last forever since I really don't go anywhere to give them out.
  • I forgot pizza sauce at the market the other day. Guess I'll have to make my own....wonder if I still have tomato sauce in the cupboard?

As you can see....most of the thoughts come in no particular order, and are generally unrelated to each other. Maybe it's because I spend my days (at my job), creating and following detailed step-by-step project plans and following an organized schedule. When the 9 - 5 is over, my brain just wants to ramble around in an illogical, random fashion. Randomness can be a good thing...just wish I could also sleep. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Winter's arrived here

Even though, calendar-wise, winter isn't supposed to be here for almost six weeks it decided to make an early appearance here in upstate NY last night. Woke up this morning to a nice dusting of snow on our 2 1/2 acres of yard. It's beginning to melt now that the sun has come out...but the fact that it was here at all is just a reminder that the long months of cold, grey days are coming. Have I mentioned that I hate winter? I'm really looking forward to the time that I'm able to become a "snowbird" and spend the months of Nov thru April somewhere with endless sunshine and 70 degree temperatures.

On the crafting front, after many hours of discussions with myself (see an earlier blog post on that process), I've decided that some changes to my business need to be made. The slave laborers of my business (me, myself & I) have finally convinced the irrational management (again, myself) that they should be paid at least minimum wage for their efforts. In return, they have promised to keep delivering high quality, well made, unique works of art. At first I didn't understand their argument - what's wrong with making $3 an hour...waitresses do it all the time! Afterall, they did get the satisfaction of seeing their completed work sit on my store shelves for many weeks...they got to admire them everyday. It was likely the many hard slaps to the back of the head that convinced me...or maybe it was their threat to strike, but in any case management (me) has given in and will make the adjustments today. Hopefully the act of pleasing the worker-bees won't alienate my potential buyers.

OK....I'm off for now. Off to go and pay bills (payday from job yesterday)....but off to find the Advil and Kleenex first since that juggling act usually invokes the same reactions as reading some of the Etsy forum threads (see yesterday's blog post).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why do I continue to read forum boards?

When I first opened my Etsy shop, at the beginning of August 2006, I immediately found the forums (the same day)...and since then usually spend several hours a day, every day, there. This was/is not the only forum I follow regularly, but it was the one that I used to find the most fun and the most helpful. "Used to" being the operative phrase in that sentence.

I still sometimes find out a lot of useful information there...sometimes. And sometimes it is even fun. But lately, more often than not I usually just find myself getting angry and upset by what I read. People really aren't as helpful as what it appears on the surface. Yeah, people are quick to help with basic site navigation issues, and cheer each other on for the most part when something good happens to them, and sympathize with them when times are tough. But there are also an awful lot of times when people can say things that are really hurtful, and they don't even seem to realize that they are doing it.

The topic that usually ends up having me in tears (literally) is the subject of the one that is currently an ongoing discussion. This is not the first on the topic, nor will it likely be the last...they seem to appear at least a couple of times a month. And they usually are always insinuating that if a person's work doesn't reflect that they pay themselves at least $10 an hour in labor then their items are low quality, crap and the seller isn't proud of their work. That the seller themselves really shouldn't even bother to try and sell anything because these lower priced items are bringing everyone else's sales down. I don't think these people realize how awful, and hurtful those comments are to the person reading them that doesn't "pay themselves" that rate.

In almost all of the discussions on the topic of late, I try to make the point...without pointing to particular categories....that the buying market will NOT always support that kind of pricing methodology. Jewelry and "Fine" art maybe....but the types of things I make - seriously doubtful. In every one of the threads I've tried to make these points and my points are flat out ignored or countered with comments regarding how worthless the person is who "underprices" is.

Maybe I should try an experiment....maybe I should price all of my items using the formula of #hrs X $10 an fees...times 2 for retail. I'll put a notice in my shop announcement indicating how my prices are calculated, and then in each item description I'll indicate the materials cost, plus the number of hours each took to complete......that way the cost of $68 for a 5" crocheted teddy bear, and the $22, 3" refrigerator magnet, can be justified. How many of those teddy bears and magnets do you think I'd sell at those prices???? Will the people that put folks down for not pricing "what the seller is worth" buy them? I seriously doubt it!!

Sure...I absolutely want to make money...that's why I'm in business. And yes, I do take pride in my work, I make very good quality products, very much feel that I am worth at least $10 an hour (hell, I make $44 an hour at my RL job) and I am not a worthless piece of crap seller purposely trying to bring down the entire crafting industry because I won't put prices on my items that are totally unreasonable for the type of item that they are. Maybe I should go into the jewelry making I could create a lot of bracelets, necklaces and earrings in the same amount of time it takes to crochet a teddy bear or a scarf, or to hand-embroider a doll's face. And people are more than willing to pay high prices for jewelry, especially quality made jewelry...that's just a reality...society has placed a higher perceived value on a beautiful necklace than they do on a cute little bear.

So will I continue to read an participate in the forum? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes...I'll just keep the Advil and Kleenex handy for the headaches and tears.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The search is on

I've decided I really need to rake the next step with my crafting....and have it turn into a "real" business. And real businesses don't have sales just once every few weeks.....not if they want to survive. Although I love as a selling venue, I don't think my items actually "fit" there and I need to expand my horizons and find other venues to sell on in addtion to Etsy. I've added several to, tried eCrater...but it was way too un-user-friendly for me so I deleted my shop. I also have items featured on Craftersbuzz and a couple on I'm even considering an eBay store....but that options seems like I'd just be throwing my money away (of course that's what Etsy is starting to feel like too).

So the search is on for other additional selling venues. I'm giving myself 'til the end of the year to find a place/way that I can start making consistent sales.....53 more days. If nothing significantly changes by then...then maybe it's time to face the reality that it isn't in the cards for this crafting stuff to pay off.