Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Our business grew from making display stands and bits and pieces for our daughter who runs a business called hello-sunshine.co.uk. We had been making things on and off for her for some time but then round about 2015 when Tony had to have two knee replacements shortly followed by redundancies and I had just given up work following the death of my father. We were then in a position to concentrate on making a go of running things on a more professional footing.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Again, we were aware of Etsy because it was one of the platforms that our daughter Jo uses for selling.
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?
We sell mainly display stands for craft fairs and markets. Our designs usually come from brain storming sessions. We think our products stand out because they are all hand made from quality responsibly sources timbers. They are always well made with great care and attention to detail.
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
All our products are made by Tony (we are a husband and wife team) in his garage. He is a retired wood machinist and has always had an interest in anything crafted from wood. Mostly, self-taught he has always made things for the home from toys for the children, garden gates, fences, furniture, garden furniture, planters, etc. Basically anything made from timber.
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?
Our original goal was to supplement our income but also to give us both a focus to sell our own products. It doesn’t make enough income to live on but we both get so much enjoyment from what little we do make.
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?
Our only reservation was that we wouldn’t sell anything at all! Our concerns now are mainly that we get the custom orders right and that we communicate with our customers in a way that is helpful and that we can interupet what they ask for correctly.
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?
Our first sale on Etsy came in January 2016 but we had sold a few items before that for friends and family. Tony had made a few garden gates and we had made some craft display pieces for friends who were involved in the creative community.
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?
Neither of us has a job outside Etsy so, in theory, we should be able to commit full time to online selling but it never seems to work out like that. We are kept busy with family life, grandchildren, etc. Also, we are both keen walkers and cyclists and try to get out most days. We manage our time by prioritizing tasks, talking to each other and planning our day’s first thing in the morning.
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?
We always have a small stock of our best selling products such as our Jewelry Display Stand Set which has proved to be quite popular. Most of our products lend themselves to customization and we work closely with customers to achieve what they request of us. The tools we use are mostly carpentry tools for the actual manufacturing but a computer, camera and other techy equipment also comes into play for the admin side of things.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We use a very simple pricing struture which is based around materials, time and postage. This has probably proved to be our most challenging aspect of what we do. To get the pricing right and to make the right amount of profit that enables us to keep going.
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?
This might sound cheesey but we have always been inspired by the people who use our products. Their needs, such as portability or uniqueness are things that inspire us. Sketch pads, measuring tapes, pencils, brain storming etc play a huge part.
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?
Our products come in a variety of sizes. Some are quite small but others can be huge and postage has always been challenging. We use free shipping for our uk items but when we ship internationally we tend to do more research to try and get the price right.
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 standout?
Competitors are always a worry but they will always be there. We think our products stand out because of the quality. Everything is made to an exceptionally high standard using quality reponsibily sourced materials. We will never compromise on materials or going the extra mile.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Good communication with customers is our absolute priority especially as a lot of our proucts are custom made. We try to answer messages within 24 hours and deal with any queries promptly and efficiently.
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 can be stressful at time. We find photographing products can be much harder than we expected. Also getting postage costs right, weighing large items etc. We also find Etsy’s pricing, the way we are paid etc is very hard to understand.
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?
We use Instram, Facebook and Twitter to share our products and lifestyle, but we are aware that we haven’t yet learnt to use them to their full potential and have a lot more to learn.
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 would like their pricing structure to be easier to understand and a lot more simple.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
In the very beginning we had a set of professional photographs done of some of our items which I think helped to start us on our way. Also, we learned the hard way to get our postage and packaging costs right, to do the research and make sure we are always in profit.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Research and communication are paramout!
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Setting up The WorkBenchShop and selling online has been a massive learning curve and we are still learning. We have a long way to go and find it challenging every day.