What is Etsy?
Etsy is an online market. I like to think of it as a large building with all sorts of cute shops in it. The kind of shops you might find in a tourist town. Only this building is online and has more shops then you could visit in a week or a month.
Etsy focuses on handmade, vintage and . You can find anything from jewelry, soaps, lotions, clothes, furniture, pottery and vintage patterns to .....well, you name it and you could probably find it or the supplies to make it.
How did you get started?
I am not even sure how I heard about Etsy. I am thinking it was probably from another homeschool mom on one of the forums I read. I just remember being very excited to find something already set up for me. I knew that I couldn't create my own website and didn't really know how/where to start. I had thought about Ebay but after spending time looking around at what was selling I realized that supplies do fine but finished products didn't sell very well. Although it is hard (especially with jewelry) to get seen on Etsy it really has a huge following and people are looking there more and more for quality handmade items.
How much time you put into it?
That is really hard to say. I honestly work most nights from about 9:00 PM to midnight (or later). I relax and watch/listen to the TV while I bead. I am one of those that can't just sit and watch a movie or TV very often without keeping busy too. I usually take an hour before we start school to list new items, answer emails, etc. Then I try to photograph at lunch time while the kids play outside or after school. If we don't have anything going on with the kids on the weekends I spend most of Saturday working too, in-between loads of laundry, of course! I have been putting a lot more time into it the past few months because we need a bit more in the grocery and gas budget these days.
How/When/Why did you start making jewelry?
I have sold jewelry locally for several years. I started when my third child was born (9 years ago) and I realized that getting to a pottery studio (my training was in clay and I was a potter for nearly 20 years) was probably not going to happen for awhile. I began selling online about 5 years later, after my fourth child was born. Not only didn't I have a lot of time to make things but I found it almost impossible to devote a weekend to a craft botique. Online seemed to be a natraul transition for me. As a homeschooling mom of four, I do most of my shopping online. Since I wanted to focus on stay-at-home-moms and one-income families, it seemed natural to sell where I normally shopped.
What advice do you have for newbies wanting to start an Etsy shop?
Do your research. If you have some idea of what you want to sell, go look around. Search for similar items. See what is selling, pay attention to details. Look at those shops that are selling every day. How do they tag the items, which photos draw you in and make you want to buy? What could make you stand out? Can you add in even one item into your shop that would go under a separate category? For example, I started making beaded bookmarks. I make them because I love bookmarks but also because they go under a whole different category and could draw in some new customers. It seemed to work too.
I recommend taking the time to set up a Facebook page and Twitter. They seem kind of silly to me at times but I am amazed at the increase in traffic and sales when I take the time to use them. An existing online presence can help, too. I have a lot of customers that I have gotten to know over the years because of the homeschool forums that I frequent. They have been my best support and I appreciate them so much. I will say that blogging helps, too, but I am a blog failure so I really don't use it very often. Something had to go and writing is not my strength, so the blog just sits there most months.
Make sure you really know what you want your user name to be before you sign up (you can't change it). I just picked my online nickname that I used a lot. I felt like it was a good choice for my online friends to be able to find. However, it does confuse my local friends and I really wish I would have picked something easy to remember and something that represented what I do.
Most importantly, take good CLEAR photos. No one is going to buy an item that they can't see.
What have been the rewards of doing this? And struggles?
I am so glad that I can work from home. I don't want to miss even a minute of my kids growing up. It is already going so fast. I want to be at their sporting events, ballet classes, I want to be the one to pray with them at night and tuck them in.
I don't contribute a lot but it does help. It pays for my girls to do ballet. It pays for things like homeschool skate days, field trips, and often it buys our groceries.
The struggles are there too. I often stay up too late and pay for it the next day. I struggle with the balance of online time and family time. I sometimes need to send emails to answer a question and my kids are waiting at the door and frustrated with me. But at least I am home where I feel like I need to be and I get to use some of my talents. I can't imagine a life without being creative in some way.
Is there anything else you would like to share regarding Etsy?
Etsy is just one of many online markets springing up one the internet. I suggest that you look around and see what you are drawn to and what you think would work best for you.
If you do end up on Etsy and you happen to be a homeschooler, please come find our homeschool team. Etsy has something they call teams. They are communities of people that have common interests or live in the same area of the country. Our homeschool team is called Schooling at Home Etsians or SHE. It is a great little community of artisans that all homeschool or were homeschooled themselves. I would love to have you visit our blog. We are so lucky to have some great bloggers that took over and post some wonderful stories and photos from our team. The blog is at http://sheetsyteam.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much Linda! I truly appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
How about you? Have you ever considered buying/selling on Etsy?