Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I started out making jewelry and attempting to sell on Etsy back in 2007 when it seemed like EVERYONE was making jewelry. So one day I thought, I will sell supplies to make jewelry and from then on it’s “history”! I started on Etsy in 2007 and had my shop open for approx. 4 years. My oldest son started college in 2011 then my youngest started in 2012 so this Momma went back to work full time to help with the expenses of having 2 kids in college at once and closed my shop. I reopened it in 2019 when both my boys were done with college and “flew away” leaving me with an empty house and empty heart…so I immersed myself back into my shop where my passion was!! With my husband’s encouragement and support, I took early retirement in May 2020 and have been working my Etsy shop full time! I have another shop on Etsy also, The Resin Shanty which is my “creative outlet”!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I discovered Etsy when I was working in a Bead Shop part-time. A college girl was always coming in and making jewelry and said she sells on Etsy. Before then, I had never heard of Etsy, so one day I decided to take a look and thought, even with my limited technical knowledge, I think I can do this!
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 sell ALL supplies for jewelry design. Sterling, gold-filled, rose gold-filled, gunmetal, antique brass, antique silver, stainless steel, silver-plated, gold plated, leather cord, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystal beads, and components!! I believe my shop is attractive to many different levels of jewelry designers because of the way I offer products. For example, instead of an entire strand of gemstones, I will sell in packets of 1 – 10; I will sell a single silver plated charm even if it’s.25 just so ANYONE can afford to make jewelry! A beautiful handmade piece of jewelry does NOT have to be expensive to look beautiful! The silver and gold plated items I purchase to sell are VERY NICE quality for 1/2 the cost of sterling and gold-filled!! I want all customers that come to my shop to feel there is something for them to create their piece of jewelry!!
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 am self-taught or “YouTube Taught”.LOL!! Honestly, I am never satisfied with my creations, in jewelry OR resin art! The imperfections I see in my work are not obvious to the customer.
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?
My original goal was to just see if I could sell my jewelry which took an entirely different turn when I decided to start selling supplies! My online selling is now my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier!!
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 only concern when I first started selling jewelry was that my designs didn’t match up to the competition. But when I started selling supplies I made sure I WAS THE COMPETITION selling small quantities so that EVERYONE could afford to design their own jewelry!!
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 about a week for my first sale. I didn’t even have a goal, I was just doing it for fun when I first started but nowadays my goal is $500+ per week. I get an average of 25 – 30 sales per week.
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 no longer have a job outside Etsy, I retired early to commit full-time to online selling! My typical day starts at 8 am and usually goes to 9 pm on and off. When I first start in the morning, I answer any emails from customers, customer service is absolutely my #1 priority, and reading my reviews will show that I have so far accomplished that goal. I then print out and fill my orders, I KNOW I spend way to much time packaging my orders but I believe that EVERY package going out should be like a “gift” when the customer receives it, I try to add a little “thank you gift” and a personal handwritten note of thanks! I have gotten several compliments on my packaging as well which makes me very happy knowing that the extra time I take is worth every minute!! I like to have my orders out within 1 day of receiving them, if an order is placed by noon it is in the mail the same day!! Then in the evenings I usually work at my shop, editing photos, titles, SEOs, and placing orders for restocking.
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?
This question does not really pertain to my shop. But I have everything packaged in the correct quantities that I have listed and ready to go but seeing a lot of my items can be purchased individually or any quantity makes it kind of hard to have it all at my fingertips and ready to go so packaging takes a little bit of 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?
Attempting to make my shop appealing to ALL Jewelry Designers, I stock a large variety of items that are expensive – such as sterling and gold (which are CRAZY high right now) and I stock Silver and Gold PLATED items which are high quality and just as beautiful as the sterling and gold but significantly less expensive!! Honestly, I do NOT sell online to become the next online “millionaire” if you will…I sell online because I love working with jewelry designers that have the same passion as I do and making it possible and affordable for them to do so!
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 really don’t know what inspires me. I lay awake at night thinking about new products to carry and offer my customers. I look at the jewelry for sale on Etsy, Instagram, and Pinterest and try to keep up with new designs and order new items, and restocking that way.
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 ship internationally. I have set pricing $15 for International and $3.00 for Domestic Average time it takes from when the order is placed to delivery is 3-5 days domestically (if USPS is in a “good mood” LOL). I offer free shipping on orders over $35. I package my products with much care and love – whether it’s a $1.00 order or a $100 order!!
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 used to worry about competitors, but nowadays I really don’t have time for that! There are a lot of similar products or exactly the SAME products!! I make my own stand by offering AFFORDABLE OPTIONS!!! I am honest about my price hikes such as SILVER AND GOLD price hikes lately and POSTAGE! I let my customers know that I am in NO WAY attempting to price gouge, I am just trying to cover my cost following market costs.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Like I mentioned earlier, my top priority is customer satisfaction!!! I deal with disputes/bad ratings/feedback by reaching out to the customer, making it right, ie: a refund or a product replacement or both!! What I may have lost in the refund or product replacement is worth it to me to see that customer come back to shop with me!!! I don’t do many resale or post-sale communications unless a customer has a question or issue with their order!
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?
Since my boys have moved out and this Momma has suffered from the Empty Nest Syndrome, selling on Etsy has given me purpose and sanity. It is my absolute passion! I look forward to “going to work” every single day now!! I NEVER in a million years thought my shop would get this far but looking back over the past few months, the time I have put into “revamping” my shop and the outlook on my shop it has taken it to the next level!! I used to get stressed about dealing with customers but not so much anymore. It’s usually an issue that can be fixed easily and if not, it is what it is…I know in my heart I’ve done all I can to make sure the customer is happy.
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?
Eh…it’s hard to tell. I do posts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. I spend A LOT of money on Pinterest Promote, I believe that’s where a lot of my traffic comes from. I don’t really attempt to generate excitement/hype around my products…I will post new products on social media but that’s 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 wish there was A REAL PERSON you could talk to when you have an issue!! Trying to find “a contact” from Etsy is close to IMPOSSIBLE!! I understand that some people would call for every little thing, but most of us would just really like a PERSON we could talk to either on the phone or via live chat for major issues! The fees are getting to be a bit much, but you have to learn how to implement those into the cost of your product.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
At first, I didn’t know how to title and tag my items. So when people searched for a specific item your shop would pop up on the first or second page of their Etsy search. So, after reading up on titling and SEOs I finally figured it out and have doubled/tripled my weekly sales!
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Figure out who your target customer is, read up on how to title, tag, and do SEOs, don’t be afraid to include Etsy fees in your item total. It will raise the cost of your item quite a bit but believe it or not, people understand and LOVE HANDMADE ITEMS!!