[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Personalized Design
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/RYGDesigns
Website : https://msha.ke/ryg [/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My store started in 2017 but I didn’t really put any effort into it until September 2018 and I probably would not have if I didn’t get stationed for a year in South Korea. Prior to the Korea assignment, I did a 2016 tour in Afghanistan where I had ordered a laser engraver which requires some skill with graphics. So I was able to make a good side income in a short time creating physical products before I was assigned to Korea. Of course, I couldn’t bring my tools with me which left a hole in my creative soul. I had my iPad pro and pencil though. So I would spend my evening’s binge-watching Netflix on tv with my iPad creating and posting 1 new graphic a day. I’ve kept it going since and plan on continued growth.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Etsy has always been the standard for the Maker Market so it was a natural choice to turn to Etsy for my products. My previous experience with selling my wares was pretty much limited to social media and my personal network. Selling online gives a seller like me a massive reach into markets that aren’t accessible through local marketing. Selling online doesn’t lend to the restrictions of the seller’s physical location.
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 primary products are digital graphics that primarily go to T-shirt makers. Both professional and hobbyists. The graphics are used for a wide variety of user-created products beyond clothing. I’ve seen stickers, vinyl window decals, framed pictures, etc. It’s really gratifying to me when my customers provide feedback with a picture of what they’d created. I have a few layered mandalas which are really popular. There is a design for a board game. I also have a number of physical products such as a wooden toy tractor model kit.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003161″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003160″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003159″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
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’ve learned my skills primarily from just doing it. Everything is figureoutable. You only need three things to learn. 1. Interest 2. Investment in time 3. Effort
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 for an Etsy shop was simply to be a creative outlet. I can create without selling but half of the satisfaction for me is to share the creation. A little compensation helps too of course. Using Etsy was an experiment that I wanted to test. I had a question if anyone is actually earning a living by selling on Etsy. I’m certainly not there but I can see that there’s potential if I keep this pace over the next 3-5 years. I sell mostly digital products which is a beautiful thing. Digital products are infinitely reproducible and instantly available with zero overhead beyond seller fees. Etsy has been a great source to finance the growth of my woodworking business which is an off-Etsy business.
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 ventures with Etsy have been an incredibly low risk since I’m dealing with an overhead which is basically just a time investment. I was lucky in that my first digital graphic was a hit so it started selling right away. Of course, that was a driving motivator to add another graphic. If my first graphic didn’t sell then there would have been no loss but also, there would have likely been no further effort.
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?
My first sale was for a customized laser engraved cup which had almost no profit margin. I had a few graphics that were laser designs. Simple stuff. I learned that most people who need laser designs have the ability to make their own designs. But one of these listings attracted a different kind of customer who had a special request. So I made that for her and then offered the design as a listing. To date, it has been my best selling graphic and it’s inspired all the city skyline graphic which is what I’d say my store is known for.
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 am an active-duty Army officer. My Etsy day consists of responding to any messages, providing customer assistance, considering design requests, trend analysis, marketing, etc. At this point, I’m only adding 1 or 2 new listings a week.
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?
My best selling product a city skyline that honors the local pro sports team of that city without trademarks. Each listing takes me about 2 hours which I do on my couch while watching a tv show. I only have to create each graphic once but one advantage to my graphics is that the customer only needs to buy it once and I will provide the roster updates each season and for all the major trades etc.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
There is little overhead for digital products not counting the expense of whatever Computers are used and the internet etc. The biggest impact on profitability is the potential of copycats to steal your files or just the idea and then undercut me. Additionally, I have to do an occasional search for my own designs to see if that’s happening and then I have to confront that seller. If that goes sour as it usually does I then go to the Etsy Admins. So there is a time cost there. I price my products in a way that doesn’t cheapen my graphic but also doesn’t chase away customers. I’ve settled at $5. I do my best to communicate the value, maintain my customer service level, and foster the best feedback rating I can achieve.
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?
The skyline designs are great sellers for me. There are hundreds of sports teams in hundreds of cities and they are changing every week. So if I wanted to only focus on those I’d be constantly doing just that. I wouldn’t want to do that so I’m slowly shifting over to other graphics that don’t require updates. Additionally, I’d like to start shifting my focus over to designs for toys and games. In my woodshop, I have a CNC machine and a laser that I can test and verify all of my own designs.
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?
My products are delivered digitally.
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?
There are certainly a lot of competitors in the digital design space. I only get upset when I see the designs I created or the same concepts sold in other’s listings. I’m pretty protective of the city skyline sports roster concept. They dominate my page right now so it’s pretty clear that that is what my shop specializes in.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
If there is a poor rating, which there have only been a couple of, I always reach out to the customer and ask if there’s anything I can do to earn those other stars. Typically it’s just a technical difficulty that I’m able to walk them through. It actually helps me to refine my methods of communication in the actual product description and written directions. Typically, though, the customer will reach out to me prior to getting upset and results in a 5-star rating. The Etsy App is a must for any seller especially in regard to maintaining your customer service. If I have a customer that can’t be satisfied and they haven’t left feedback yet, then I will issue a refund despite my no refunds policy. Don’t fall in love with the sale. It’s not worth the poor feedback. Always be cordial and take responsibility for the failure whether it’s your fault or not.
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 a life-changer. I have learned a lot about graphics, marketing, and business in general. It’s provided a fair amount of additional income which has allowed me to pay some bills.
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 up to this point has not played much of a role in my success. Not that I’ve noticed, however. Recently, I began to bring focus to my Etsy shop through my youtube channel and focus on my youtube channel from my Etsy shop. I’m trying to grow my Maker channel and Etsy has great organic traffic that I’m trying to harness. I do not spend money on non-Etsy Ads. The best excitement for my products come from sports fans. When I do engage with my customers I usually ask that they post a finished product photo in the reviews. That helps immensely by showing potential customers the possibilities.
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 like that Etsy has great organic traffic and that the infrastructure for digital products is seamless.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003158″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003157″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”100003155″ img_size=”737×737″ onclick=”link_image” css_animation=”appear” bb_tab_container=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
One thing that I did to set myself up for success was to establish my branding standards. (at least I think it helped) When I create a listing I use a standard template. My product descriptions use the same format. The download instruction sheets are all the same. Consistency is the goal. All of that branding actually helps my shop to stand out and give it a professional look that inspires customer confidence.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Don’t fall in love with a sale and don’t hesitate to issue a refund it looks like you cannot satisfy a customer. When you have a satisfied customer, don’t be afraid to ask for a good feedback rating. I’ve generally seen that 10% of customers will leave feedback and 10% of those will provide a product photo. Feedback rating is important.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Thanks for asking.