Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Hello, my name is Germaine & I am fairly new to the internet selling world. I have always wondered how I myself could make money from home too. The biggest thing for me was finding a platform that suited my needs as a first-time seller I also wanted to have an advantage selling things I found creative or artistic that might not sell or have as much exposure which leads me to Etsy! Since I started, all the ideas I have in my mind can come to life and I can confidently get products to customers. My motivation is seeing the support for my small business & having fun as I watch it grow.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I have heard of Etsy being a selling platform but for handmade goods and it intrigued me because I have always been into creative works like knitting, drawing, craft booking, baking all things I never thought to sell, these things were just something to do with free time. Going through a quarantine has really made me re-evaluate what I wanted to do with all this extra time I had and how I could somehow make some money utilizing that time, the obvious answer for me was the internet. With Etsy being the easiest platform for me to set up everything I needed in a short period of time, it really made the actual selling part a piece of cake.
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What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My main products are things I originally made for myself but turned out nice enough to give me the confidence to start selling to people who like the same things that I do. Rhinestones have always caught my eye so wanting to work with them seemed natural and a learning lesson for the methods of adhesion For my custom handmade products I use AB rhinestones which I found the best to adhere to & shine. I think people are interested in the things I sell because they are everyday useful products with a little extra bling.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations?
I have always been interested in crafting since I was young, getting older for me decreased my confidence in the crafts I could do so I basically had to start over learning what crafts worked best for me. What made the most sense was what I naturally gravitated towards, I enjoy making a lot of things but I definitely had to figure out what crafts gave me the flexibility to create a beautiful product and not break the bank for myself. Actually putting the materials together is the most fun part for me! I spend a lot of time picking out the perfect color, mixing/matching rhinestones, and choosing what products would look the best, I am not satisfied with a new product until I have checked it over, tested its durability, & as a final step get outside opinions, I feel like a different perspective always helps me pick the best quality product & help me gain knowledge on what may work better next time.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
Since being in quarantine I had so much free time I did not know what to do with, the first thought was that I could be making money from home & my research to my selling journey began. Finding a platform to sell was easy, but a lack of confidence can hinder you especially when you have never done it before. First starting out I truly did not expect any sales at all my goal was to learn the platform so I could decide if it was something I was into. Unexpectedly it turned into something I could monetize monthly. I think the best part about it all is the fact you can scale your business to grow as big or as small as you would like it to be the control is within your hands.
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
My biggest fear was not making any progress in my shop, I knew that my products would be seen by many people but at that time had no confidence in actually making a sale. My main focus was never about money I did not have much to lose but a whole lot to gain whether I was profitable or not. I was really concerned about getting the product to customers, shipping, labels, taxes, fees, all of these things were new to me, and what kept me motivated to stay focused was the fact Etsy made it so easy for me from start to finish. I also used a good friend of mine YouTube for anything else I could not figure out on my own. Overall I gained my confidence through seeing other people just like me being able to start from nothing a grow.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
About 2 weeks from me launching my shop is when I had my first sale. I was shocked somebody took the time to look at & actually want my product. My confidence instantly went up. Per week I get 5-8 sales which are slowly but surely starting to increase. I did know within a year’s time I would have a little extra pocket money from selling which was more than okay for me. I am always thinking of new ways to expand my sales which is the long-term goal for my small business. I would love for a majority of my customers to be return buyers and for me to be a trusted seller.
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
I work for a security company on the weekends and a stay at home mom. My online work week starts Sunday. I plan what new products will be marketed, my sales that need to be shipped, and pictures for my product that need to be taken. Mondays-Wednesday I am physically making products to allow enough time to dry and set. Thursday-Saturday I am doing last-minute packaging, printing shipping labels, and shipping out to customers. There have been many instances, where there is not enough time for the things I need to get done, creating a negative domino effect. To avoid this my time is split into windows so I can make sure every aspect of my business has a time slot, which is important to me because essentially, TIME IS MONEY.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
All of my rhinestone products go through the same process: I pick the best shape and sizes for whatever material I am using, then I use my glue and picking tool to adhere rhinestones to the material. Once everything has its placements and I am confident in the look, it will sit to dry for at least 24 hours. Depending on the sales I get that week, I will group orders to make sure they will be shipped by the designated time.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I made sure I could use a product that would not be too much of an upfront cost while also keeping my eyes out for deals so I am not spending too much. Calculating shipping cost, labels, and material so that I could make a profit took me some time to adjust but once you find that happy balance you can use that as a blueprint for future sales. I price my product based on how much each individual product cost me. I figured if cost stays low my products price stays low as well, working with rhinestones cuts cost because I am able to buy a lot for a decent price that will last me through many products this is what keeps it easy to decide what price is best.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
I pull my inspiration from what I like to see/wear, I find beauty in creating my products & my hopes are that others see the beauty in it too.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
I do not ship my product internationally just within the united states. To cover postage I add it to shipping fees & always making sure it’s getting to my customer no later than a week this is why I prefer only shipping statewide. All of my products are free shipping eligible, depending on how much is being purchased. To make sure there is no issue with the products being shipped, I use bubble wrap sealers for small items then pack into padded mailers, a label is created then it gets shipped out on my designated day.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own stand out?
At first, I did worry about how other sellers would sell similar products or how many more sales they had than me. I would compare myself a lot, but now I realize Etsy is so diverse and focused on getting individually handcrafted products out that you truly are in your own lane. The only competition you need to worry about is yourself. To make sure my products do stand out I look into what is actually on the market already. Things like trends tell me what would be best to sell at what time so I can stay ahead of what products I need to put out for the week. This is an ongoing process for me, I find myself always tweaking or wanting to upgrade my product.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
If a customer is not satisfied in any way I have no problem issuing a full refund immediately I was told the customer is always right, so that is how I conduct my business. I take every review good/bad into heavy consideration so if there is an issue it can be resolved quickly. Sending thank-you notes has been a new thing & I do believe it helps with returning customers, they would like to know they are still thought about too. Building a connection is important.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Etsy has been an experience in itself, but also a stepping stone if you wanted to venture into bigger markets. It’s crazy to me that something like this exists and the average person does not even know. I really did not think I would be profitable every month just working online. I can combine my hobbies with my tech skills to essentially be my own boss, that in itself is the reward. I try not to stress about customers or complaints because I know there will always be a solution, if one thing does not work for me I can try something else that will.
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
I am not too big on social media, that was a constant worry that I had because I do not have a following like most popular people do. I rely on search phrases and weekly ads to get the exposure I need for my sales. I rarely spend money on outside ads but if a product is not doing as well as I thought I will buy additional ads through Pinterest which gets more traffic to the product I want. Every month I put out at least 2 new products, so if customers are returning they will be pleasantly surprised to see new additions.
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What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
If I could talk to the CEO I would bring up that I can not print labels on the mobile app. That has been the only issue for me. Everything else is on point.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Research, research, RESEARCH! you can never be too knowledgeable in something you are trying to build. If something did not make sense or I needed help putting something together I used the resources available to me and would not move on until I knew it like the back of my hand. One lesson I learned the hard way is to make sure you have enough product before you start selling. I remember a time period when I was always a day or two behind on my product which leads to delayed shipping, with the correction that issue was resolved thankfully.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Everybody always starts out new and unknowing, so never let that be the reason you do not try something out. You can always learn and create as you go. The technical stuff will come with time and practice. When it comes to selling on Etsy it’s you vs. you simply, you can go as far as you would like through your own dedication and perseverance.