Etsy!

I've been in the business of selling handmade jewelry for several years now, and until 2009, I was selling almost exclusively at craft shows. I could only afford to do a couple of them a year, and no matter how much I  managed to sell each time, after I paid the $25-75 table fees I had to shell out for a one day show (I couldn't afford the more expensive shows), I rarely made enough money to buy myself a halfway decent night on the town.

Then a friend told me about an online marketplace called Etsy, and I decided to give it a try. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn't understand much about online marketing, and I had never heard of SEO (search engine optimization). A perfect start! To say I was fumbling around in the dark would be putting it mildly. I'm also more than a tad timid when treading in unfamiliar waters, so even after I finally got up the courage to register for a shop on Etsy, it took me another entire month to get a banner in my shop and conjure up enough nerve to actually list an item.

I'm not exactly sure what I was afraid of. Fear of the unknown. Fear that no one would like what I was making. Fear of falling flat on my face and having to give up my jewelry business entirely. I think it was a little of all three. Somehow I got up the courage to shake off my unfounded fears. I got my questions answered directly from Etsy articles and by the friendly sellers on the site, and one by one, I began adding items to my shop. Slowly but surely, people began to find me, I began to relax, and sales began to dribble in.

Every time I got an email from Etsy letting me know I had a sale, it was like Christmas--each and every single time! It was like validation that I was doing all right, and at the same time, I felt a sense of pride that I had made something that someone else loved enough to want for their very own. I have to admit, two years later, my heart still does a happy dance when I see the words, "Etsy Order Confirmation" peeking out at me from somewhere in the middle of my emails. I don't think that will ever change. You may not believe this, but I swear those words have the ability to smile at you. ;)

Last year, I made an actual profit from my Etsy sales, and I was thrilled. I'm holding steady this year, and if shoppers have some spending money this holiday season, I'm hoping to increase my profit a little over last year. Of course, there are sellers on Etsy that sell much, much more than I do, but a better year than last spells definite success in my book.

I love that things are going in a direction that will allow me to keep doing what I love to do, largely due to the fact that I've found the right marketplace for my business. I love working from home. I love that Etsy's fees are affordable, even for small businesses. I love what I've learned from Etsy. I love the friendships I've made on Etsy. I just feel at home there. I've even started my own Etsy team, the Handmade Harbor team:  http://www.etsy.com/teams/7817/handmade-harbor-team In a relatively short time, I've gone from a shy, insecure would-be seller who was afraid to open an Etsy shop to the Captain of an Etsy team. Who woulda thunk it?

The moral of this story is whether you're a handmade artist, a collector of all things vintage, or a craft supplier, Etsy is a wonderful place to show the world what you've got, and there's no reason to be intimidated. If you don't know how or where to begin, there are on site tutorials and any number of caring and generous sellers who are ready, willing and able--no, eager--to answer any and all of your questions. Just go ahead and ask. Then fling open the doors to your shop and hang that "OPEN" sign in the window ... you know you want to, and if I can do it, you can, too!

21 comments:

  1. I love your entry, NaLa! I can relate.

    ileana

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  2. It's comforting to know I'm not alone, Ileana ... ;)

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  3. WOW! Na La! Loved your story! I felt like I was reading my own..except not a caption of a team..probably neve will be..But, I am a leader in one.. I feel the same way about getting orders..just like it is my first and am thrilled to death! Congrats! you do beautiful work!

    Inkie Annie

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  4. This is a great post NaLa!!!! I know exactly what you mean!

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  5. This is just lifted my spirits!! so inspiring!! I think I should look around and find a craft show and have a go. :)
    Thank you so much for shearing!!

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  6. Yes.. very familiar! Thanks for sharing with us!

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  7. A well written post that I agree totally with ! Diana
    Lunaessence.etsy.com

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  8. Thanks so much Annie. You're definitely one of those caring, sharing people on Etsy I was talking about. I hope anyone who reads this and is thinking about joining Etsy remembers your name, not only as a person who makes beautiful greeting cards with original artwork, but as one of the friendliest, most helpful people on Etsy.

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  9. Excellent post! ...especially for a relative newbie like me!

    I share a lot of your feelings (especially seeing "Order Confirmation")about Etsy and know that I will just have to hang in there!

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  10. Hang in there indeed Barbara! Your artwork is just amazing! You know I have a special place in my heart for those rocking chairs of yours!! ;)

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  11. Alert! Mary of Euphoric Charms is another "must know" person on Etsy who's always willing to lend a hand. I'm surprised at how many of my friends here have had the same feelings I did in the beginning. It's comforting to know so many others were having the same thoughts and experiences I was back then ...

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  12. I know how that feels for sure, but I really enjoy the cameraderie of the other sellers and the friends I have made amongst my team mates and knowing that if you put a question out there someone will always come up with a helpful answer. Great blog post

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  13. Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing. It is inspiring.

    Crazed Momma

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  14. Thank you, Crazed Momma, I'm glad you enjoyed it ... ;)

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  15. Thanks, Monique, and you are so right about the friendly and generous nature of the Etsy community ...

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  16. Ms Nala, Hello. Came to read your blog. Wonderful story. I think most of us feels the way you did in the beginning: fear, worry, anxiety, and failure. You can never know how far you can, if you never try. i'm so happy for you, your gaining profits on Etsy. That's great news.
    I've tried art shows as well, but never got very far and disliked all the fees. Etsy is a great place to make friends, gain knowledge and find support. The low fees and easy tools for posting made it easy to take a risk. I found Etsy as well, through a friend. If I failed, I wasn't loosing much. I not a top seller or anything, but I sold my glitter art across the USA and to Australia. It is exciting to see "Item Sold" does make my heart sing.
    All the kind things you do for others as Handmade Harbor, treasuries, to promoting others is a great act of kindness. I'm a true believer of KARMA, do good and good will return. Plus, your jewelry is beautiful. Glad to have you for a friend. Congratulations.

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  17. Love the beautiful, sparkling glitter artwork and keepsakes from Artistic Will Studios ... thanks for your comments, your friendship and for sharing your own story!

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  18. No stopping you now my Nelly Baby !!
    You deserve success my sweet and funny friend ;)
    Proud of you and proud to be involved in the fabulous Handmade Harbor Group XOX
    Vicki

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  19. It's wonderful to have so many of the caring and sharing people I mentioned in the article stopping by to share their comments. For those who don't know her, Vicki Diane is one of the finest people you'll find on Etsy--or anywhere, for that matter. The lady herself is even more beautiful inside and out than the gorgeous jewelry she designs. I'm happy to know each and every one of these fine people, and so very proud to have them all on my team.

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  20. Yay, Na La! Proud of you, lovely lady!

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  21. Ever so lovely to see you here, Amanda! ;) xo!

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