Thursday, September 4, 2014

Made With Love: Labeling Your Handmade Products

Do you know what makes a handmade product even more awesome?  Cool packaging that sets it apart from its commercially made counterparts.  One of the reasons why people are shopping on etsy is because they value handmade objects and if you don't mark your product as such, you may be missing out on a great branding opportunity.

How and why you should be labeling your products as handmade.

In my own etsy shop, I use "made with love" as my label.  For example, when I sell wine markers, I tie a little "made with love" charm to the bag.  This is a super cute and super cost effective way to remind the buyer that they are getting something that was made by hand, not in a factory.

I bought the charms above at the craft store, or you can get similar ones on etsy, including these cute antique bronze "handmade" charms (only $1.50 for 50 charms!).  I used my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine to print and cut the kraft tags on the package above, but you can easily buy your own tags on etsy and use one of these cute stamps to put your own handmade message on it:

There are lots of other clever ways to brand your products as handmade.  When I package my buttons, I put them in a little glassine bag and seal with with "made with love" washi tape.  Have you ever thought of using a wax seal?  What about some stickers that you can print up at home for some instant labeling gratification?  (Or how about FREE printable labels??)  Do you want to DIY your own fabric labels for sewn items? (Or buy some really nice custom ones!)

You're a creative person - so use that creativity to come up with a clever packaging concept showing off a key element of your creation: that's YOU, the maker.

Do you label your products as handmade?  (feel free to leave a link to an item in your shop showing off your packaging!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How To Get a Free Critique of Your Etsy Shop Banner

Your shop banner is a huge part of your etsy shop and it is important to make sure it is conveying the message you want your readers to hear.  But sometimes it's hard to get objective feedback on these sorts of things.  You are probably too personally invested in your logo to meaningfully analyze it and it's rare to find friends who are going to tell you the whole truth without trying to sugar coat it just a little.  Wouldn't it be cool if you could show it to absolute strangers and get their first impressions about what your logo says about you?  You can!

Check out the Usability Hub.  It's a place where you can go to upload your logos to get some honest FREE feedback.  How does it work?  You upload your design and then prepare a series of questions to ask the people who view it.  Your random testers will look at your design for five seconds, then answer the questions.  How is it free?  You earn points by giving feedback on other people's designs and you can use these points to test your own designs.  If you'd like to control who is taking your test a bit more, you can get a link and just give it to who you want to give feedback.

So, I put my logo for one of my etsy shops to the test.  In my shop, Creative Counsel Blog Design, one of the main aspects of my business is providing tech support, so I was interested to know if my business looks like someone who provided that.  I also often need people to give me their passwords to their accounts, so I wanted to make extra sure that my logo made me look professional and trustworthy.

I'm going to share some of my feedback with you.  It helps to have a thick skin because the feedback wasn't as glowing as I wanted it to be, but I think in the end it was really helpful.  I always thought my logo was just fine, but now I think I'm going to make some modifications to it based on what I heard from the testers at Usability Hub.

Here is my shop banner:

Here are the questions I asked and some of the feedback I received:

What service do you think this company provides?
  • blog consulting
  • blogging capabilities
  • graphic design for blogs
  • blog design (6)
  • copy writing
I was happy that most people nailed what I did.  (Though, this was was sort of a gimme because the word "blog design" is right there in my logo).  However, some of the feedback was interesting.  I don't really think of myself as a graphic designer, yet, one person guessed that I what I primarily did (maybe because the word "design" is in there).  I do think of myself as more of a consultant because I do full blog makeovers as well as tech support, so I was happy to see someone suggested that.  I don't really want to change the name of my company, but I may add a second line saying in something like blog consulting or blog tech support so more people immediately associate me with that service.

Does this company look trustworthy?
  • not really
  • yes (x6)
  • not sure - logo as it stands is a little amateurish but could easily upgrade to professional
  • don't know (x2)
Yikes.  Someone said I don't look trustworthy?  That hurts.  I think the third comment I shared gives a little more feedback - it is a bit amateurish, but could easily be upgraded to be more professional.  I think a really simple way to do this would be to change the "blog design" text out of a handwriting font.  I never considered that before, but that does make me look a bit amateurish.  Maybe if the logo looks more professional, I will look more trustworthy.

Does this company seem professional?
  • no
  • yes (x6)
  • maybe
  • sort of, but the sketch design tells me its trying to look amateur.
  • getting there but not there yet
Six people said I look professional with two people on the fence, so that is promising!  I think I'm going to disregard the fourth comment I shared because I like the sketch design.  I chose it because I think all designs start with a sketch.  And I think it makes me look more technically-minded.  I guess you can't please everyone! The last comment is encouraging.  Again, I think replacing the handwriting font will help.

Would you trust this company to provide quality tech support as well as design services?
  • yes (x3)
  • no (x4)
  • not sure (x3)
Uh oh.  This is a big problem.  Not only is tech support a huge part of my business, it is also my favorite part of my business!  I think maybe the things I've already noted above would help: adding a second line to my logo indicating that I do tech support, and changing the handwriting font to something a bit more modern.  And, as I already said, I think the sketch font makes me look more technical... but maybe I'm wrong?

What do you think?  Are you brave enough to put your logo to the test??

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How To Market Your Etsy Shop With Instagram

I came across a great archived article on the etsy blog recently about how to market your etsy shop with instagram.  The article suggests six great tips to get started using instagram to market your shop, based on the experience of successful Etsyier Martha Porter of Buried Diamond.

How To Market Your Etsy Shop With Instagram

I hadn't really thought much about using instagram to promote my shop, but it could be a good option for me.  The reason I never considered using it before is because I don't release unique new products very often, so if I just used instagram to post pics of my products, it would get old really fast as you see the same seven sets of buttons repeated over and over.  But, I never considered that I could use my instagram feed much like I use my Pinterest account, to show images related to the creative hobbies I promote with my buttons.  Except, with my instagram feed, I could show aspects of my personal creative life.  I think I may give it a try.

Have you used instagram to market your creative business?  Was it worth the effort?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hello Again!

Oh goodness!  It has been almost a year since I last posted.  The other day I was thinking about this blog and feeling bad that I abandoned it because I thought it was really fun, so I'm going to try taking it up again!

I'm back in the saddle again!

When I last left you, I was half way through tracking my yearly goal to sell 200 sets of buttons.  Did I do it??  YES!  (Practically....)  I sold 194 sets of buttons through etsy in 2013 - a figure I am super proud of!  I know that 194 is not 200, but, actually, I had some wholesale orders that I didn't count in that total, so I feel justified in saying that I met my goal.

My most popular items were my knitting products, I sold 65 sets each of both my knitting buttons and more knitting buttons.  Late in the year, I released a third set, even more knitting buttons, and they have also been very popular.

I'll write some more posts later letting you know what else has changed!  Lots of fun stuff going on in the shop!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mid-Year Check In

Back in January I announced my goal of doubling my sales from last year, which means selling an average of four items a week to reach 205 sales by the end of the year.  I stopped giving weekly updates, but I thought I'd check in now at the half-year point (almost) to let you know how I'm doing.

I'm proud to report that I am on track to reach my goal!  So far I have made 77 sales, which comes to an average of 2.96 sales a week.  Why am I saying that I'm on track even though I'm down about 25 sales?  Because I would estimate at least a third of my sales for the year all happen in November and December.  I think the fact that I am already at almost 40% of my goal by the end of June is amazing!  I have no doubt that I will reach 205 sales at this point.  (Looks like I'm going to have to buy more envelopes!)

Also, in case you are interested, I'm getting an average of 144 views and 11 hearts per week.  (That doesn't include views or hearts brought in my my etsy search ads... for some reason etsy tracks those separately and I just ignore them because I don't want to do the math).

So far, my most popular selling items are still both sets of my knitting buttons, making up 78% of my sales (represented by the blue and mint green portions of the pie chart below):

And because I love graphs, here is a bar graph of how many units I have sold:

That is 30 sets of knitting buttons, 28 sets of more knitting buttons, 6 sets of crochet buttons, 4 sets of knitting magnets, 3 sets of quilting buttons, 2 sets of more knitting magnets, and 5 sets of various wine charms.

What does this analysis tell me?  Well, whatever I'm doing with the knitting buttons, I'm doing it right. So, now I need to focus on moving my other products.  I'm especially disappointed that I haven't sold a single set of my crafty buttons.  I think they are so freakin' cute!  Time to brainstorm ideas for how to boost sales of the rest of my products.  I'd love to see an explosion of sales for all the products this holiday season!  Wouldn't that be wonderful?

p.s. the charts are brought to you courtesy of Stitch Labs, which is an awesome way to track your orders, inventory, customers, profits, expenses, you name it!  They used to offer both free and premium accounts, but now they only offer premium accounts.  However, I was grandfathered in with my free account.  I think the paid accounts are a bit cost-prohibitive for a small etsy shop, but if you are a big etsy shop, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Frequently Bought Together" Items on Your Etsy Listings

Whoah!  I just looked at my etsy shop without being logged in to my account and I noticed a neat new feature!  At the bottom of the listing there is a little section that highlights items that are frequently bought together and invites your customers to add both items to their cart at once.  Pretty spiffy!  I've been reading about this in the forums and I can't quite pinpoint how long this has been around, but it seems to be a fairly recent addition, like since March.

I can't find a lot of information on it, but here is how I think it works.  If you have sold the item in the listing with another item in your shop, they will show up as "frequently bought together" (even if it's only happened once, I imagine).

I really like this idea and I hope it will lead to greater sales.  A lot of the items in my shop complement each other and this is a great way to get customers to drop them both in their carts with one click.

Here is a close-up.....
On the other hand, I have a listing in my shop that I have never sold before and the FBT prompt does not show up at the bottom of the screen, because it has never been bought together with any item.  Instead,  the old "related items in this shop" picture is there:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How to Save Big Money Using Etsy Shipping Labels

If you're not using etsy shipping labels, you're missing out.  I don't know how long this service has been around, but I only discovered it this year and I'm totally hooked.  It saves me almost 10% on postage, I don't have to address envelopes anymore, it fills out customs forms for me when I do international shipments, and I never have to go to the post office again. Oh, and it's totally FREE.  Thank you etsy!