Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
My name is Syanne Watkins, I live in Australia with my partner Harley, our puppy Trooper, and our pet yabby Jeff. From as young as I can remember I was always crafting but never could stick to any one craft without losing interest in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. Starting my Etsy shop started out as just a new hobby of mine, I researched for hours, days, maybe even weeks just trying to find everything I could about Etsy to see if my product would fit the market place, I decided to jump in and give it a go. Creating pet portraits is not just about making art it’s about the emotional reaction my customer’s experience when they see what may be the last photo of their beloved pets turned into something more than just a photo, I believe when we look at our pets we see them differently to other people, we see the way their lip curls up at the side every time they hear the word treat, we see their scruffy hair with that patch of brown below their eye, we spend our days seeing all those details but sadly sometimes the photos we have just simply don’t capture that detail, it’s my job to bring all those details alive and capture not only a persons pet but a person’s best memory of their pet.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I have known about Etsy for years I first discovered Etsy when browsing Pinterest looking for gift ideas for my mum. I did indeed have previous experience selling online but only on Etsy, I started my first Etsy shop a couple of months prior selling handmade party supplies, when starting that Etsy shop I hadn’t done enough research to know my audience nor had I done enough research to know how to market that Etsy shop. The decision to create a new Etsy shop was based on the fact I didn’t want two different niches’s in one shop.
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 digital pet portraits using photos of people’s beloved pets, all of my pet portraits are digitally illustrated using software such as photoshop. I’ve always been a very creative person, always in my head, my mum likes to joke I’m in my own little world, so coming up with new designs is always the easy part for me, the hard part is bringing that design to life and I must admit sometimes when I see that design comes to life I can’t wait to delete it. I couldn’t tell you what makes my products stand out, maybe its the weird and wacky ideas in my head or maybe it’s the details I try to create from just a photo.
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
It was a bumpy road.. haha, filled with lots of frustrations and fails. I taught myself everything I know but used research tools like Google and YouTube to learn new techniques, I’m not that tech-savvy so learning something completely digital was a challenge, I’m still no expert and I still have lots to learn but it took me a couple of months of playing around, spending hours just trying to bring my designs to life for me to be satisfied with my creations.
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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?
For me goals were pointless i just wanted to focus on creating new designs first so i could see if I really did have a chance of Etsy, I see my Etsy shop as a hobby right now but if I could turn this into something bigger I’d definitely be excited for the new journey.
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?
Oh for sure! I had many thoughts and fears around it as I had proven that my first Etsy shop was a flop. Profitability wasn’t a concern, my items are digital so I didn’t need to put any upfront investment into it. My concerns were more about putting myself out there, I’m a major introvert so dealing with customers was a nerve-racking part for me but I knew the only way I could see if I liked it was giving it a go. I overcame my fears by simply telling myself that if I didn’t try I wouldn’t know. I’ve had many customers now and am so grateful I did start my Etsy shop because most customers are fantastic, lovely people!
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever thought you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was a goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
I got my first sale within hours which was an absolute shock, I didn’t have any expectations or goals when opening my shop but was grateful for the sale, I’m still very new and every week is different but id say an average of 4-7 sales a week currently I’m hoping to grow that to a much larger number but well see how we go!
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?
Currenltly I am not working and if the opportunity was there id definitely love to turn Etsy into a full-time job. All days are different but currently, I’m working on a schedule to really get the most out of my days and working hard to make sure I’m not going to burn myself out and lose that passion i have.
How does your manufacturing process looks 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 tools that you are using in manufacturing process?
I currently have around 80 listings of different styles of my pet portraits, all fully customizable to fit different customer’s preferences and styles. Once a customer purchases a listing I await for the photo they would like to use of their pet, from there I let them know ill be sending them a proof photo within 48 hours and I am excited they choose to shop with FurryFotos. I get started by checking what size the customers want and if there is a name on the print what font they would like it is when I start creating their personalized pet portrait. once I have finished the portrait I send it to my customer for approval and once approved its emailed to the customer ready to be printed.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
When I first started I found it very hard to price my products due to the fact it was a digital item only When first listing my products I priced them so low it wasn’t worth my time, Thankfully I did more research and found a more comfortable price range that was still affordable for customers but also made it so I could be making a profit.
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?
Like most girls Pinterest is my best friend, I pull creativity and new ideas from the simplest things and tend to look at what’s trending in digital artwork but most of my ideas are just random thoughts I think of while in my own world. When thinking of ideas I put myself in the customer’s shoes if the portrait I want to make is for a pet that has passed away I think about how the customer would like to remember their pet I think of what colors may represent that feeling they have when thinking of their beloved best friend, for everyone it is different that’s why I have different options for customers and I make all of my pet portraits fully customizable but having that base to work off is always a good place to start.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is 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 can’t say much for shipping as I only have a small number of items in my shop that aren’t digital and they are still new. But if I were to transition into making physical products I would definitely ship worldwide and probably would offer free shipping as my products are lightweight, mostly no bigger than A3 and I could easily add that cost into my pricing. I love Christmas and that feeling you get opening up presents so I would want to make receiving a package from FurryFotos like a small piece of Christmas.
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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 will always have new competitors with new ideas that I just didn’t think of. I personally think there is enough room in the market place for everybody to create beautiful pet portraits but I choose to only focus on my product and my customers. My products aren’t just products, it’s an experience when you purchase a portrait from FurryFotos I want the experience to be a fun, stress-free and easy.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Very lucky to say as a new seller I haven’t had any bad ratings/feedback yet, when working with a customer I do everything in my power to understand their wants when it comes to the portrait of their pet, I understand how much this means to a lot of people so I find a lot of communication and working with my customers always makes the experience an easy and fun experience for both the customer and i.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever thought you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Oh for sure it has, creating the products warms my heart, to see the reaction of my customers when they see the portrait of their pet is truly beautiful. I’m a bit of a stressor so sometimes I stress myself over nothing but the easy part of having my Etsy shop has always been making beautiful portraits for my lovely customers. When starting I didn’t see myself hitting 30+ sales within a bit over a month but I’ve definitely learned a lot and can’t wait to learn more.
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?
Social media marketing is something I’ve just started and as someone who’s not that tech-savvy its been a challenge, I believe social media is extremely important for an Etsy shop or any online shop as a matter of fact as it helps to drive customers to your shop and the more eyes you get to your shop the more sales you will make.
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 customers satisfaction?
As a new seller i cant say i have to many complaints about Etsy so far apart from fees and how much you can customize your Etsy shop. But i also understand that Etsy is running a business and they need to bring in a profit.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I’ve learned the hard way that the little details are the most important, sometimes my customers are new to Etsy and it can be challenging to understand so having a very descriptive description and having photos in my listing that tell the customer how they can communicate with me among other things always make the process a bit easier. Another thing is communication! with so many different opinions from different sellers its hard to know what that sweet spot is with communication but in my instance the more communication with the customer the better, after customers purchase I like to follow up with a message of how long it will take and any other things they should be aware of.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering to sell on Etsy? How can they avoid beginners mistakes?
Resarch SEO before you even open your shop, it is something that will be hard to understand if you haven’t done enough rescarch. I cant tell you how to avoid the mistakes because i have made many and probably will make many more but embrace them and grow from it.