Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I wish I could call myself a craftsman, but every time I use the table saw all I can think about is keeping my fingers attached. So waiting for more confidence/experience to come across my workbench first.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I actually was asked to join a virtual bridal shower for a friend (around April this year), it was in a talent show formation. I thought I could build something for the “show”, I ended up landing on making a squirrel picnic table (highly recommend giving it a google if you’re in need of a laugh). From there I posted it to craigslist and instantly had multiple orders. The next logical step was Esty for me.
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?
I primarily use wood and enjoy running the design ideas through my head while doing chores. I try to sell some funny products (My Joe Exotic Hook and Ring Game, Squirrel Picnic Table) at my store to draw a little attention it’s the way so that I can show off some of my larger pieces. Right now that is the nightstands that I am selling.
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 started working with wood around the house growing up. My dad was extremely handy and maintained the house on his own, with me holding a flashlight. From there I would start to cave boats our of 2x4s. Today when I’m tackling a new project I turn to youtube, it’s incredible the library of knowledge people have put up there for free.
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?
The goal has always been to keep getting better at woodworking, and if I can keep making more products, I’ll keep getting that experience. COVID certainly impacted this decision, I found so much more time in my hands and thought this was a great time to buckle down and really try to improve my skills.
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?
No, I didn’t have any fears. Its a pretty low risk, low-cost upstart to open an Etsy account. I think my concerns just lay it trying to get my first couple of sales/reviews.
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?
I think it took just under a month to get my first sale. I know for a fact I will not make much my first year, and I believe that this is just due to the number of reviews/sales a shop has. I hoping as time goes on it becomes a question of compounding (more reviews/sales start to generate even more).
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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 do, I work full time as a Customer Success Manager. Which is essentially customer support for very technical software. I work a typical 9-5, then I hit the woodshop in the afternoon. I’ll have to admit the commute is pretty nice when you’re WFH.
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?
It all depends on the size of the product. If it’s small and easy to store I’ll pump out 10-20 of them, but for larger items, I’ll only keep 1-2 in stock. This just prevents overcrowding. My main tool is a table saw, which allows for even straight cuts every time, making for quality goods.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Haha, I’ll let you know once the shop is profitable. But woodworking is great because you can spend $1 PBF (per board foot, the measurement used for buying wood from a mill) to $30 PBF. Products are typically priced by the cost of materials and labor.
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?
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?
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?
I can’t worry about competitors, there are so many woodworkers on Etsy and they all have their little niches at this point.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I haven’t had a dispute yet (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen tomorrow now), so I’ll probably just do some research online once I have to cross that bridge. I think a thank you and a status update does a world of difference, just keeping a small line of communication open lets the customer know you appreciate them.
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?
I get a lot more questions from friends on how to fix items made of wood nowadays. Which is fun, because I get to share the knowledge I learned with them. I haven’t gotten stressed yet, and that something I’m trying to stay away from, woodworking is something I enjoy and I’m going to keep it that way.
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 don’t have any social media presence. I think I should start some social media marketing now that I think about it.
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?
I don’t have any negative comments about the platform so far. I think it’s fairly intuitive and takes a fair cut from sellers.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Sell small cheap products when you start out, no one is going to buy a $120 nightstand from a shop that has zero reviews.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Just have fun with it!