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rebuilding my etsy shop during the "new normal"

 
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With the new normal here to stay, it's time to rebuild my crowing hen farm etsy shop.  

I have three wheelbarrows overflowing with wool that I'm washing, dyeing, carding, spinning, and weaving to get ready for sale.  I'm really excited about having all this extra time to play with fibre and hope it can bring enough money to rebuild a buffer in my savings account in case things get worse.

This thread will be where I ask questions about the selling, marketing, and other business aspects.  I may also talk about what went into making some of the decisions I make in this business venture.
 
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Hi R;   Liz has an Etsy shop.  But there is a new venue starting up called Goimagine.com
She has been accepted but has not yet opened a store.
It sounds very cool ,100% of the profits are given to charity!
Worth looking into.
She has not been very happy with etsy lately with their fees and forced advertising.
She is hoping this new venue will attract many buyers as it gets out into main stream.
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r ranson
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A question of locks:

These aren't selling and I think they should be.


jewel cotswold locks
creamy cotswold locks
grey cotswold lamb locks
rainbow dyed locks

I should mention that the dyed locks were only added this week, so they will take a while.

When I price my locks I look at material costs plus time to make the wholesale price, then add the standard markup (in the textile supply industry in canada) to get to the retail price.  I compare this with two different existing prices; the going retail price for a large company and the cottage industry price.  Then I make a decision on how much to charge.  

My price (before shipping) is on par with the large manufacture price.  However, when you look at the cottage industry price, it's complicated.

I sell by the 100g and most people don't.  The cottage industry prices go for around $9 - 12 per oz (I'm selling at $12 for 3.5oz) and some are about $12 per 50g (I'm selling 100g for the same price).  The shipping rates on these are much higher than my shipping rates, at about $20 with no offer of free shipping over a certain amount (Which I offer for some countries).

So... am I pricing too low and thus the perceived value is lower?  




 
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I bought from Etsy for the first time this year.  I was amazed to discover all the unusual plants you can buy there.  I was looking online for galangal root, and the ones sold on Amazon had sketchy reviews.  I did end up buying lemongrass on Amazon, though, and that turned out fine.  But then I found the galangal on Etsy.  

It was sold by a guy who is an artist, and most of his shop is jewelry and paintings.  Then a couple turmeric, galangal, and other tropicals.  Funny thing  is, I never would have looked at his art of jewelry (I don't tend to buy those things) or discovered his shop if he hadn't had the galangal root.  Do you think that is a good strategy to be seen by more people on Etsy?  Selling that hard-to-find plant is certainly boosting his views, but I wonder if it helps any with the sales of his core product(art and jewelry)?

I'm appreciative though!  He sent out great galangal rhizomes.
 
r ranson
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi R;   Liz has an Etsy shop.  But there is a new venue starting up called Goimagine.com
She has been accepted but has not yet opened a store.
It sounds very cool ,100% of the profits are given to charity!
Worth looking into.
She has not been very happy with etsy lately with their fees and forced advertising.
She is hoping this new venue will attract many buyers as it gets out into main stream.



Sounds like a great idea for a new thread!

Yeh, etsy has it's problems and they are getting worse in some regards.  However, they are one of the best options out there at this time as they have a lot of customer trust.  This is worth a lot to me.

But I'm set up with them now and cannot afford the added stress of finding a new platform.  So I'm going to focus first on rebuilding my etsy store.
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What do you guys think about these locks?



How do we get these to sell?  
 
Kim Goodwin
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On the jewel dyed cotswold locks, I think the second picture looks better.  Sometimes it's just as simple as that...  The pricing seems great.  Hmmm.

The rainbow locks, the first picture does look best to me.  So that's already set.  

Have you considered putting an image of what you can make with the yarn?  Like a cute finished item?  Or would that confuse people into thinking that came WITH the yarn?  I'm just thinking that maybe it would help for people to see what could be made from the raw you sell.  Actually, putting those sorts of items in your shop header photos might be the way to go.

I don't know how Etsy works.  Are you charged a flat fee per shop of whatever size, or a per listing fee?
 
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Kim Goodwin wrote:On the jewel dyed cotswold locks, I think the second picture looks better.  Sometimes it's just as simple as that.



Photos!

Lock photos especially!

I put those up as a quick place holder but what I want to do is to find a consistent way to photograph locks for sale.  So that if you see an image of colourful locks, you know it's by the same seller.  

For example, this person always photographs her Teeswater locks like this




Here are some more examples of hand-dyed locks for sale on etsy (and some great colour inspiration)







As a crafter, I find the last one most appealing as it gives me a good idea of how the locks will behave when I use them.  That shop has some great images so pop over and have a look.  The locks look a lot like mine but are priced about 3 times higher.

As a crafter, I don't like the other images as much and I'm not sure they are one-pot dyed as they look like solid colours with variation in the dye prep.  They are very good for what they are, but they are missing that depth of colour that you get with one-pot dye that I love so much.  It's personal preference.  


I want to use a white background and a clean white background for my main photo for many reasons, but mostly because the etsy and google algorithms favour this.  There are also some studies that suggest this sells better.  

I tried the basket in the early photos, but I'm looking at these now and I don't like it.  I want something that looks better quality.  

 
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Any ideas on a way to photograph my locks?
 
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I've attempted to change the price on my rainbow locks https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/797430349

Would anyone be able to have a look and tell me if it looks like they can buy by the oz or by the 100 gram?


But now I look at it and it's way too low compared to the others on etsy.  So that will probably have to go up because with online sales the perception of quality has a lot to do with the price.  

 
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r ranson wrote:I've attempted to change the price on my rainbow locks https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/797430349

Would anyone be able to have a look and tell me if it looks like they can buy by the oz or by the 100 gram?


But now I look at it and it's way too low compared to the others on etsy.  So that will probably have to go up because with online sales the perception of quality has a lot to do with the price.  




 
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I managed to sell some locks today, so that's a good sign that I'm on the right track.

Since the price gives me enough margin to work with, I'm going to keep it where it is for now and try listing the other locks with the same variations (1oz vs 100g).

Now to focus on the photos!
 
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I looked up raw wool on Etsy to get a feel for the competition and see what comes up first.  This person: https://www.etsy.com/listing/773047019/hand-dyed-teeswater-lincoln-locks-wool   has tons of sales, and some of her pictures are terribly blurry!  Sheesh. Maybe pictures don't matter as much as I would have thought...?  

She's also selling in the US, which I imagine has more buyers...(?)  

Maybe Etsy is like Amazon, where to get a lot of sales it comes down to advertising the heck out of something until you get to the top.  Then it's easier to stay at the top.  Until Amazon private labels your product, and competes with you, of course.

As far as pictures go, I like the ones that show the curls of wool in an evenly laid out fashion.  Other than that, a light background is nice so you can see the color better, imo. Unless it's white wool of course.
 
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I changed the image for the rainbow.  How does it look now?



I'm frustrated because I can't get the background white enough.
 
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Oooohh!! Lovely.
 
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Kim Goodwin wrote:I looked up raw wool on Etsy to get a feel for the competition and see what comes up first.  This person: https://www.etsy.com/listing/773047019/hand-dyed-teeswater-lincoln-locks-wool   has tons of sales, and some of her pictures are terribly blurry!  Sheesh. Maybe pictures don't matter as much as I would have thought...?  

She's also selling in the US, which I imagine has more buyers...(?)  

Maybe Etsy is like Amazon, where to get a lot of sales it comes down to advertising the heck out of something until you get to the top.  Then it's easier to stay at the top.  Until Amazon private labels your product, and competes with you, of course.

As far as pictures go, I like the ones that show the curls of wool in an evenly laid out fashion.  Other than that, a light background is nice so you can see the color better, imo. Unless it's white wool of course.



yep, those blurry photos bother me.  

The kind of sheep is comparable to mine but their price is much higher.  I think I will have to raise my price because underselling is a big no-no.  It's a pity because I think my price is fair.


There are tricks to sweet-talking the etsy search algorithm.  They are a lot of work and I find that even when I do so, I get more customers from outside etsy than internally.  Most of my sales are return customers which is lovely!  
 
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The new rainbow image looks much better!  Glad you thought of that.  I didn't think the first one looked bad, but now that I see it in that really orderly fashion...it's more clear now what you get with the purchase.
 
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Back to the price issue with the locks

The price I was working from was 4 years old and apparently these have increased tremendously!  Most brick and mortar are selling at $8 an oz and $28 per 100g.  WOW!  And I haven't found anyone with stock.  

So, um, yeh.  My price was too low and that was affecting my sales.

This evening probably, I'll add the new photos and up my price to $8/oz or $24/100g.  I'll also be looking at my undyed locks and up them accordingly.  So if you are interested in snatching up this deal, get over there quickly!  (with the caviot that if you live outside Canada, check your customs requirements first.  It's fine for me to sell these, but some countries have restrictions on importing organic matter)
 
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Kim Goodwin wrote:The new rainbow image looks much better!  Glad you thought of that.  I didn't think the first one looked bad, but now that I see it in that really orderly fashion...it's more clear now what you get with the purchase.



Great!  I'm looking forward to doing some photoshoots today and standardizing my images.

How about the background?  Do you like the darker corners or do you think I should put more effort into making it white?
 
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r ranson wrote:

How about the background?  Do you like the darker corners or do you think I should put more effort into making it white?



It looks great.  I didn't even notice the darker corners until you mentioned it.  The rainbow grabs the attention completely.  Lovely!
 
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Kim Goodwin wrote:

r ranson wrote:

How about the background?  Do you like the darker corners or do you think I should put more effort into making it white?



It looks great.  I didn't even notice the darker corners until you mentioned it.  The rainbow grabs the attention completely.  Lovely!



If you have a quick moment, could you look at the etsy shop and on the listing page?  They have a white background on their page so the image looks different.  https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/crowinghenfarm
 
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r ranson wrote:

If you have a quick moment, could you look at the etsy shop and on the listing page?  They have a white background on their page so the image looks different.



Sure!
Oh, I see what you are saying.  It still looks good.  Your photos look very professional.

I just looked at another store to see how their photos on white backgrounds work, and your photos look much better than theirs.  Theirs are blurry on my screen:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/756631543/merino-wool-hand-spinning-roving-hand?ref=listing-free-shipping-bundle-1
 
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I like this theme.  Going to go play some more
 
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Just placed my order!
 
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Carla Burke wrote:Just placed my order!



Thank you kindly.
You got them just in time for the old price.

Tomorrow is my post office day.  I'm packing them up now.  
 
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Having a successful shop myself, I would say a few things;

1.  Pricing; I stick to my guns.  I say [how much did it cost to produce] + [how many hours of my time went into it * a living wage] = my price.  
If it's above market value, people buy from me because they want to support me and they understand I don't buy/resell crap.  They are paying me for my time and work and I make that known.  If it's below market value, SWEET. I get to wreck an entire corporate market and still get paid a living wage.  That's my fav.

2.  Etsy in general; Etsy's screwing sellers right now.  Doesn't matter how awesome your item is, or how much people will like it.  In my experience there are only 2 ways to get people to find your product:  
First, pay Etsy to advertise your stuff (at the cost of most of your gross income...).  
Second, wait until buyers find it and start buying.  The REALLY CRAPPY thing about this is that it only works for listings of multiple quantity.  So listings that have x50 available, for example, once purchased, suddenly start getting way more views.  Purchased again, even more views.  Next thing you know you're sold out on that one item (hopefully!).  But then the crumby thing, again, is that if you re-list/refresh that sold out listing, it starts at the 'bottom' again and must be re-discovered.  Listings that are OOAK are rougher to market because Etsy's search engine thing can't push it as a 'popular' listing to buyers.  Because it only sells once.  Obviously.
The work around is to have a couple best sellers, a few REALLY popular items of relatively unlimited quantity that bring buyers to your shop to see all the little things that aren't popping up in their searches.

Another work-around is social media advertising.  Push your goods to your clientele digitally so they know it's there.  Unless you have a super niche market, you're just gonna sit at the bottom, as most mom-and-pop businesses are now discovering.  Etsy now panders to factory outlets and wholesalers, not small business owners.  Woohoo!  That's what happens when the richest man in the world takes over.

On a side note, your shop looks neat and tidy, very lovely  

Exposure or Advertising.  Those are the two ways to get noticed on Etsy these days.  Alas.
 
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re: 2.
Etsy is just being Etsy.  I've been with them since '07 and I know how to play the Etsy game and get love from their algorithm without spending money. And more love for money.  I think I've spent about $20 on Etsy advertising over the years and it's okay but I can get a lot more customers by putting the effort into improving my shop with things like better images, keywords, descriptions.  There are a few other tricks to sweet-talk the algorithm into sending love your way, but they take daily engagement which I don't always have.  A lot of times people spend money on advertising without doing the basic free stuff that makes the shop more visible - which means they get very little value for their dollar.

At best, Etsy has only brings in 40% of my viewers and a tiny number of sales.  Customers that follow me from elsewhere on the internet have a much higher conversion rate.  Although most of my sales are return customers because I don't usually have this much time to spend on the things that improve my visiblity.

 
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Jen Fan wrote:
1.  Pricing; I stick to my guns.  I say [how much did it cost to produce] + [how many hours of my time went into it * a living wage] = my price.  
If it's above market value, people buy from me because they want to support me and they understand I don't buy/resell crap.  They are paying me for my time and work and I make that known.  If it's below market value, SWEET. I get to wreck an entire corporate market and still get paid a living wage.  That's my fav.



I find it quite different.  Undercutting other peoples prices did several things to hurt my shop

1. the algorithm doesn't like it so we rank much lower on searches
2. it hurts the perception of the thing we are handcrafting in general
3. it hurts the perception of the individuals' ability to create quality items.

Most importantly: Since most of my sales are wholesale and not through Etsy, I also have to be conscious not to hurt the sales of my wholesale customers.  Undercutting their prices is only going to hurt me in the long term.  

The price change today was after several long discussions with my brick and mortar customers.  They gave me a price range, I took the lower number.  But there is a strong feeling among the retailers that I should go higher still as these locks are quite difficult to get in Canada right now.  
 
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r ranson wrote:
Most importantly: Since most of my sales are wholesale and not through Etsy, I also have to be conscious not to hurt the sales of my wholesale customers.  Undercutting their prices is only going to hurt me in the long term.  



This is a VERY permie attitude! Keeping prices competitive is healthier for everyone, in the long run. I kinda feel a little guilty for getting my Cotswold wool now, instead if waiting till after the price change. Knowing it's a one-time thing (plus current events are hitting our wallets hard, too) is why I went ahead. Otherwise, I generally prefer to pay a price that makes both me *and* the seller happy.
 
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The white locks have been a lot harder to photograph
crowing-hen-white-cotswold-locks.jpg
crowing hen white cotswold locks
crowing hen white cotswold locks
 
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or maybe this is better?

I tried it on a black background but it looked terrible
white-cotswold-locks-better-background.jpg
white cotswold locks - better background
white cotswold locks - better background
 
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I think both are beautiful - but maybe on a contrasting background, they'd 'pop' more?
 
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Carla Burke wrote:I think both are beautiful - but maybe on a contrasting background, they'd 'pop' more?



I agree, both pics are great.
 
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for my own record, my conversion rate is 4% before i began the changes.

I do not know what a conversion rate is or why it is important.  
 
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There we go, the last of the lock photos are done.

I spent much of the day reading those pages on "15 ways to increase your etsy sales" and I've come to the conclusion that the next thing to work on is to make more things to sell.  I've got some lambswool washed-up but again it's creamy instead of white so I'm thinking of dyeing it.  I'll have a peak at it tomorrow.

Also, I want to look through my yarn inventory and see what isn't photographed or listed yet.
rainbow-15.jpg
lambswool
lambswool
 
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My order is due to arrive, Tuesday - all things considered, I'm impressed with that speed! I probably won't be able to do much with it, right away, because my does are due to kid (so I have to shear the elder doe - which I've never done, before, get the winter-dirty, deep-bedding barn cleaned out, and repaired), my broody hen is getting closer to ready for me to swap out fake eggs, for chicks, and spring foraging is happening, with a lot of botany lessons involved. I may have to stick to the fishing I know, and just focus on the botany of what I don't. But, I hate to not be able to take confident advantage of so much of the wild, free bounty, here. Ha! But, I also want to play with fiber!!! Maybe rainy days can be split between fiber, processing harvested herbs, and botany... Seriously - how do people ever get bored???
 
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I'm a bit worried about the mail once it gets to the USA.  I've been hearing lots of bad things about slow and lost mail during this 'new normal'.  So I sent your parcel with extra speed and tracking in the hope that it makes things get there better.
 
Carla Burke
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r ranson wrote:I'm a bit worried about the mail once it gets to the USA.  I've been hearing lots of bad things about slow and lost mail during this 'new normal'.  So I sent your parcel with extra speed and tracking in the hope that it makes things get there better.



Thank you! If it eases your mind any, our mail - unless it goes through the Kansas City post office(nothing to do with the virus - just always that post office, for some reason), our mail has been coming regularly, timely, and without interruption. For some reason, the Kansas City post office, almost without fail, slows down our deliveries, often by as much as a week. We've simply adjusted our expectations, and consider it as them taking lots of extra care with our packages, lol.
 
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Location: Southwestern Ohio
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for your paler locks, a darker background might help. I know you said black looked bad, but how does it look against something gray? The second picture of your pale locks looks nice, but the ends are still hard to see. If a solid dark background looks bad, maybe just a quarter or less needs to be dark, just something to make the ends pop
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