Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Social Media Checklist

I just happened upon this awesome checklist for your social media marketing strategy.  I try to do something on each channel every day, but it never occurred to me to make up a checklist like this.  Very helpful!

WBG Sensible SocialMediaChecklist v2.0 Sensible Social Media Checklist for Business v.2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Courtesy of: The Whole Brain Group

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 3: Seven Sales (woot! woot!)

I'm overjoyed to report that I had seven sales last week!  That's almost double my goal!  For a little etsy shop like mine, seven sales in one week is definitely cause to celebrate!

When I see a rise in sales like this, I always wonder, what caused it?  Is it just luck or did I do something differently?  This is an extremely difficult question to answer, but one thing I do to try to figure it out is to keep a marketing journal.  Every day I write down anything I did to market my business, for example "tweeted pic of crochet buttons," or "mentioned my shop on my knitting blog."  Then the following day, I check my etsy stats and record my views, hearts, and sales right next to that date.  (I used to do this on a weekly basis, but this year I started doing it daily and I think it is more effective).  I keep track of all this information in a spreadsheet so I will eventually be able to analyze the data with formulas and charts and stuff.  As a bonus, keeping this log is a nice reminder that I should be doing at least one thing every day to market my shop.

How do you try to make sense of what is impacting your sales?  Do you keep a journal too, or have you figured out some other great method?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Product Photography Tip: Using Levels in Photoshop

I know that one of the key things I need to do to increase my sales is improve my product photography.  I am not a skilled photographer and I also have kind of a crappy camera, but luckily I have photoshop, which helps immensely... when I take the time to learn how to use it!  I found a neat tip the other day about how to use the levels adjustment in photoshop when you are photographing against a white background.  I tried it out this week and I'm really happy with the results!

Here is an example of my knitting wine charms in what I thought was a perfectly nice photo:

And here is the same photo with the levels adjusted:

Can you believe the difference??  I was blown away!  Read the article.  It tells you how you can play with the levels in your picture even if you don't have photoshop.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That's a lot of envelopes!

I am committed to making 205 sales this year.  I believe that once you set a goal like that for yourself, the best thing to do is to find a way to make yourself accountable for it.  One way I am making myself accountable is by starting this blog, but I wanted to do something more concrete.  I wanted to find a way to put my money where my mouth is.  And then it hit me....

I am going to buy 205 envelopes.

Once I have 205 envelopes sitting in my office, it is no longer going to be a lofty goal that I am going to make 205 sales, it is going to be a reality - something that I planned and am prepared for.  The envelopes are there to serve as a tangible reminder of the commitment I have made to myself. (Not to mention, it will be fun to watch the pile shrink as the year goes on!)

What about you?  How do you hold yourself accountable for your sales goals?

p.s.  I did a lot of research on the best prices for a quantity of 200 envelopes and it looks like the best deal is right there on etsy itself, through the Shipping Guru.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Week 2: Four Sales

I was in doubt last week that I would make my sales goal, but.... I did it!  The numbers this week are looking pretty good.  I got in four sales, which less than last week, but four sales a week is all I need to be on target for my yearly goal, so I can't complain.  I also managed 419 views and 46 hearts, which I'm psyched about (especially for all those hearts!).

So, I guess the lesson learned here is: believe more, doubt less.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fear of Rejection

I did it.  For the first time, I asked my a customer to sign up for my mailing list.  This is something I have avoided doing it because it's scary to try to build a mailing list.  Why?  Because you have to ask for people's permission to contact them... and they might say no.

So, I asked.  And what happened?  She didn't sign up.  There you go:  I got rejected.  But, hey! The worst happened, and I survived.  From now on I'm going to ask every new customer for permission to add them to my email list.  Eventually one of them has to say yes, right??  Besides....

BTW, I'm using Mail Chimp to manage my direct email campaign.  More on that later.  But, in the meantime, go ahead and take a look at this beautiful newsletter I sent out to my mailing list...  even though I'm currently the only one on it....

Friday, January 11, 2013

International Shipping for your Etsy Shop

Ooh la la!  I just got my first order from France!  I just love getting international orders.  Since I started the shop, I have shipped to 15 different countries.  (Just for fun, I keep track of them all on a cool shipping map that I created using TravBuddy!)  Last year 25% of my sales were international and so far this year, half my sales have been outside of the United States.  If you're not shipping internationally, you really should consider doing it.

Here were my concerns when I started shipping internationally:

1.  It will be super expensive to ship the packages.

This hasn't been true for me.  My items are small so I am able to ship them first class international mail, which only costs about $2 more than it does to ship domestic (and less than that if it's only going to Canada).  With etsy shipping options, you can charge different shipping rates to customers in different countries, so it is easy to just pass the extra shipping expense on to your international customers.

2.  I have never shipped anything internationally and I don't know how to do it.

Sometimes international addresses look a little funky, but just copy it onto the package exactly as your customer entered in into etsy and you'll be okay.  Then, all you have to do is fill out a customs form, which is super easy.  You can find them at the post office with all the other forms for things like insurance and delivery notification, etc.  It takes less than 2 minutes to fill out.  OR, if you use etsy shipping labels (and you really should!) etsy fills out all the information for you!  Easy-peasy!

3.  I don't want to deal with all sorts of international customs fees and stuff like that.

You don't have to.  From what I've been told by the folks at the post office, anything like that is actually your customer's responsibility, not yours.  If there are any fees to be paid, the customer will get the bill from their own country when they accept delivery of the package.  (And they said in most cases, there wouldn't be any fee unless you are shipping something that is very expensive, but it all varies on a country-by-country basis).  Just to make things super clear, I include a statement in my shop policies that says this: "For international purchases: custom fees, duty fees or import fees and taxes are the responsibility of the buyer and not included in the shipping fees."

4.  I don't know how to attract international customers.

Don't worry, as long as you have it entered into etsy that you ship internationally, they will find you through their country's etsy site.  One thing to consider is that your product might be called something different in other countries, so you want to be sure you include different terminology in your listing keywords.  For example, I sell pinback buttons, which are called "badges" in other English-speaking countries, so I need to be sure to include the word "badges" in my listings if I want to get those sales.

That's just a summary of what I have learned through my own experience shipping internationally.  I think it's a great business strategy to get more customers and it's just really neat to know that people in other countries want your stuff!  If you have any additional insights into this topic, please feel free to share in the comments!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Build a Better Business Giveaway from Marketing Creativity

Have you checked out the blog Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs?  I love it!  She is so inspirational and has great advice for etsy sellers.  I bought her book, Shop Fundamentals, and I highly recommend it!  I fully intend to blog more about this great resource in the future, but for now I'm just here to tell you that she is having an awesome giveaway!

I have so many questions for Lisa, which is why I would be so psyched to win her Build a Better Business Giveaway because the grand prize includes a mega-coaching package with Lisa!  Sweet, huh?

My Shoptimizer Grades

I recently heard about a cool tool called the Etsy Shoptimizer where you can plug in the name of your etsy shop and have it "graded" based on the advice proffered in the Etsy Seller Handbook.  The tool is free for a one-time grading and it costs $9 a month to upgrade to a pro version that will let you refresh your grades any time you want.

So, I ran my shop through the Shoptimizer and I'm pretty happy with my grades.  Go ahead and take a peek:

I've really been focusing on improving my SEO, so I was psyched that I got (almost) straight-A's in that category....  but I was even more psyched to see the C grade that I got in that category because it never even occurred to me to optimize my shop announcement for SEO.  So I fixed that oversight now.

The rest of my grades contained very few surprises.  For example, I got an F in having multiple photos per listing, which I already knew is something I'm lacking and I intend to fix as soon as I get my new photography equipment.  The Shoptimizer also doesn't like the way I have used the "attributes" and "materials used" sections, but I'm not too worried about that.  I honestly don't think anyone is really interested in the materials I use and I don't really have any varying attributes to list.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my grades and I found using the Shoptimizer to be a worthwhile experience.  I really only gained one valuable insight from it, but that is enough for me.

Did you use Shoptimizer to grade your shop?  Any surprises?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Discouraging Thoughts.... Turned Upside Down!

It's been six days since I have made a sale and I'm starting to feel a little discouraged.  I know I shouldn't feel discouraged, but it is hard not to be sometimes, isn't it?  I've had dry spells before.  Last year I went three months without making a sale, so I really shouldn't be fussing over six days.  I think I've just spent so much time thinking about my shop this week that I've become a little hyper-aware of my stats.  I just need to calm down and remember...

So let's take a deep breath and turn those discouraging thoughts upside down!  The truth is, other than sales, my stats are actually looking pretty good.  In the past six days I have had 353 views and 23 favorites!  In the previous six days, although I had more sales, I only had 198 views and 15 favorites.  So, at least MORE people are looking at my items.  Now I just need to convert those views to sales!  And the best part is, I have a plan to do just that!  The immediate plan involves updating my listing photos and tweaking my item descriptions.... I also have an even better GRAND PLAN, but I'm not quite ready to put that into motion yet for various secret reasons that will soon be revealed. :)

Does focusing on your stats ever make you feel discouraged?  Does it help to look at the stats from a different perspective, like I did here?  I hope so!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week One: Six Sales

It's one week into the new beginning for my etsy shop and I have had four orders already, selling six sets of buttons.  If I want to reach my goal of having 205 sales this year, I need to make roughly four sales a week, so I'm on track!

The "More Knitting Buttons" were my big seller this week.  And the cherry on top is that I recognize one of the names as a repeat customer from December!  My guess is that she bought the knitting buttons last month, loved them, and came back for "more."  In the past I haven't really tracked return customers, but I'm going to start from now on.  In fact, when I shipped out the orders this week, I included a little note in each package offering a 10% discount on their next purchase.  I hope I see more familiar faces this year.

This week I ran search ads on etsy for both sets of knitting buttons, as usual.  And according to etsy, this resulted in two of the orders.  I am also running an ad on Ravelry and I have had 34 people click through from that ad, after about 9,300 impressions.

I also added two new products this week: I converted both sets of my knitting buttons into magnet sets (Knitting Magnets and More Knitting Magnets).  No sales on these so far, but the first set of magnets were my most popularly viewed item this week with 70 views and 2 hearts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Beginning for Buttons and Things

Hello and welcome to my blog!  I have a really cool etsy shop called Buttons and Things where I sell pinback buttons and other little trinkets that are created just for the creative people out there: knitters, crafters, quilters, crocheters, and more.  I've had my etsy shop since 2007 and I have made 205 sales.... I'm proud of that number because, honestly, I haven't put a lot of effort into the shop until just recently.  But that's going to change.  It is my goal for 2013 to double that number.  Are you ready to join me in my journey?

I'm starting this blog to talk about etsy and to connect with other creative people.  I'm doing a lot of research on business management and marketing.  I'm trying a lot of stuff out and seeing what works.  I'm hoping to share my insights with you and get some feedback from other etsy sellers about what works for them.

So, thanks for reading and I hope you'll come back soon!