Monday, September 30, 2013

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 9 Social Media

Welcome to our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp! If you want to take part in Bootcamp and get one-on-one mentoring, or answers to any of your questions, please drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com.  

If you want to open an Etsy shop, just follow this link!



 

Then, be sure to check out:
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 1 How to Open an Etsy Shop
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 2 Branding & Shop Banners
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 3 Shop Profiles Bios and Photos
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 4 Make Listings Tempting
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 5 About Pages

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 6 Shop Policies
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 7 Communication
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 8 Shipping and Packaging
Remember: If you already have a shop, or you open one today, please let us know how to find it! We will be featuring some of our favorite newbie items right here. 

There are many topics we could delve into, but we're going to jump straight to Social Media today. Last week was Social Media week in Toronto. On Friday the Toronto Etsy Street Team held an informal Social Media Summit and potluck! We're keen to share some of the great tips and tricks team members shared. It was great to see some of our Bootcamp participants in person.

You'll recall that in Class 4 Make Listings Tempting, we talked about the most important ways you can enhance your listings to make them tempting and encourage sales were presentation (read: top-notch photos) and making sure potential buyers can find the listings. The main trick to being found on Etsy is to use all the tools they provide to your best advantage (including your Listing Titles, Tags, Categories, and Descriptions). An important extra tool in today's world, is of course, social media, which you can use to funnel traffic onto your Etsy shop.

There's a large assortment of social media tools, each of which take time - time you could be using to make more listings, run your business or generally enjoy your life. So, while these tools can noticeably increase traffic (which should lead to increased sales), you do want to make sure whichever tools you use work for you, not the other way around (you don't want to be working for them). One of the cues for which social media can have an impact on your Etsy shop's traffic, profile and sales is the built-in tools Etsy provides. Etsy is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. There are simple buttons to share any listing on Facebook (both profiles or fanpages), Twitter and Pinterest because these sites do direct a lot of traffic to Etsy. So, we'll start there. The general philosophy of how to use these tools to the best advantage for your shop can be applied for other types of social media too.


Now, we should define a few things here. When we talk about promoting things through social media, we don't mean shouting 'BUY MY PRODUCT!' What promoting your new small business using social media should be about is providing information about what you sell and make, making it easy for people to find, engage with and share this information, and connecting with people who may become fans and customers.

Facebook
It seems like everyone, their great-uncle Harold and even their dog Fluffy are on Facebook these days. Here in Canada, more than half the population is logging in at least monthly, and we have 14 million users daily. On a per capita basis, Facebook is even more popular in Canada than it is in the US!

For Newbies outside of Canada, Facebook may be more or less popular in your country, but since the majority of  Etsy buyers are in North America, this can be a useful tool regardless of where you are.

Etsy users can interact with Facebook in a number of ways. Each and every listing has a 'Like' button, so you can spread your love of an Etsy listing, directly to your FB feed. You can promote your shop and your listings using your FB profile - or better yet, your fanpage. You can connect your shop to your FB profile or fanpage, to let people follow you on FB and to post new listings directly to your page.


Next, the fanpage.  While you may wish to talk about your shop on your own personal profile, now that you're a business owner, an effective way to use FB for your business is to create a fanpage. Big brands all have FB fanpages, but artists, artisans, and small businesses have them too. Etsy has a useful tutorial for how to set-up your fanpage here.  Want an example of how you can use a fanpage for your Etsy shop? Newbie seller limberlina has a Facebook fanpage linked to their shop with a clear brand message. Both their cover photo and their profile photo tell you their name and some of what their shop is all about (things like paper goods and DIY craft kits). They do post listings, but also photos of their craft show displays and articles from their blog. They've not only connected their shop to their FB fanpage, they have also integrated their Instagram with the FB fanpage.

Tip: How do you generate all this contect for all these social media, without letting it take over your life? Interconnect your various media. An article you write for a blog can make an interesting FB post. Photos posted to flickr, pinterest or instagram can likewise be cross-posted to FB. When it comes to trying to boost the profile of your Etsy shop be sure that your do connect your shop with FB page.

So, how do you use your fanpage, and not just post all your new listings? Check out this Etsy article about what to post and how. Try chatting with people. In Class 5 About Pages we covered the importance of sharing your process; you can do this on your fanpage too. Ask for feedback  - it can be useful and get people talking. Include information on things which might relate to your own knowledge and interests, especially if that relates to the sorts of things found in your Etsy shop. Be consistent, without overwhelming people and chose a reasonable posting frequency which works for you and your fans. Unlike twitter, on FB, that's probably not more than once a day (and can be less). Be friendly, and yourself!

Automate it

As we mentioned in Class 7 Communication you can automatically tell buyers how to find your FB page, by including it in the information they receive with their receipt. You can also append a link to every email you send as part of your signature. You can connect your shop to your FB fanpage so that every time you make a new listing you'll be prompted to post it to your page. Also, new fans of your Etsy shop can 'like' your page directly from your Etsy shop's front page. If you're just starting out you can use FB's 'invite your friends' tools to get a few 'likes' right away.

Tip: Don't get sucked into the FB vortex or spend all your time on it and remember, not all numbers are equally importance. Having 10 devoted fans is better than 100 disinterested ones! Having 100 people interested in what you sell is better than 1000 who may have 'liked' your page, but don't watch your feed and have little sense of what you do. The numbers which are important to your business are those which measure whether any tool, like FB is directing buyers your way. Use Shop Stats to trace where your traffic is coming from (and stay tuned... we will cover Shop Stats in a future class)!

Tip: You can also use your fanpage to let your fans shop directly from your Etsy shop! In fact, there's a whole collection of 3rd party apps to choose from in Etsy's App Gallery. We'll be covering 3rd party apps in a future class too! For now, suffice it to say, that if you search for Facebook Apps in Etsy's App Gallery you can find several which will embed a functioning Etsy shop in your fanpage - often for FREE and generally with simple instructions for installation.

An example of a Newbie seller with an embedded Etsy shop on their FB fanpage is Slothmoth and Zing.


Tip: You can use hashtags to make FB page listings searchable, like #handmade, #art, or #vintage as appropriate. Hashtags in general are a useful way of making many different social media searchable (including twitter, pinterest, and instagram), but do be aware of hashtag etiquette: don't overdo it, make sure they are actually honest and pertinent, try searching the hashtags to make sure they are pertinent to other people (sometimes you can make up your own, but they might not serve much purpose if it would never occur to anyone else to use them).

Check out the Toronto Etsy Street Team Facebook Page here.


Twitter

Much of the advice above also holds for everyone's favorite 140-character sharing tool, twitter but each social media tool as its own style. Promoting on twitter is still about sharing and connecting with people, rather than simply shouting 'Buy my stuff!' Like FB, twitter can be integrated into your shop so that fans can follow you right from your Etsy shop front page.  Also, you can tweet any listing at any time, with handy built-in links. You should tweet more things than new listings, as explained above (including for instance, your process, your interests, interesting links, re-tweeting relavant things, photos and more). Most users are following very large numbers of people and only really see recent tweets whenever they happen to look. So, it's okay to post more frequently, and you might find a scheduling tool a great help.

Tip: Never flood your feed with many many posts all at once. If you decide to tweet every listing in your shop within 1 minute, don't be surprised if people unfollow you. People want an interesting mix in their twitter (or Pinterest!) feed, and dumping many posts at once can be perceived as rude, as if you were dominating a conversation, refusing to listed to anyone else. This is easy to avoid by using a scheduling tool.

Newbie seller Maybe By Catalfo has a great example of  integrating a twitter feed with an Etsy shop. 
Often Newbie sellers use the default settings, which is okay when you are first starting out. But, it's a good idea to be consistent in your branding and to customize all your sites. Maybe By Catalfo's background and avatar state their name and logo and are consistent with their shop. They have a succinct little by-line: "Canadiana fashion label designing dresses. Custom orders welcome" with the web address of their site. Their photos show not only their products, but Tim Gunn (with a funny pro-marriage equality sign), expressing how they feel and a love of fashion. Remember: your interests and things tangentially related to what you do also make great content. 

If you follow the Toronto Etsy Street Team, for instance, you'll see we post about our own events, our own blog posts, but also things which are relevant to our fans and members, like stuff about Etsy, Toronto, calls for artists and vendors, sales on supplies, art, craft or vintage shows, our members' events, and life in the city. We also just chat with our tweeps (our twitter people, our followers). We always try to acknowledge any mentions or retweets. We try to answer and questions. We follow a lot of people who follow us (while avoiding those who may simply be fancy spammers). We focus on groups of people who we are really interested in, like our members, by creating lists (so we can filter our feed to just read updates from members, for instance).


Like with FB, you can interconnect your various media with twitter. You'll find a link to our twitter feed on the sidebar of this blog and the feed is embedded in our FB page.

There are a number of 3rd party tools to simplify your use of twitter. I like HootSuite (but there are others) which lets me look at all sorts of different things on twitter on one simple dashboard - and perhaps most importantly for my sanity and time management, allows me to schedule tweets (or FB posts) in advance... so if I want to post a certain thing at various times (to catch different users), I can schedule a whole series of posts all at once. Remember if you do repeat the same information, change it up a little - use different words or highlight a different aspect so you don't bore those who happen to see things repeated. (HootSuite has both free accounts, which are sufficient for more individual's needs, even if you run a small business, and paid accounts.)

Do you have a favorite twitter tool? Let us know which and why in the comments below!

Pinterest
Pinterest bills itself the tool for collecting and organizing everything thing you love - but it's also another way to share photos and maybe even more importantly to the small business owner, links to items. Users 'pin' items they want to bookmark. A selected photo will show up in their feed (where their followers can see it, and re-pin it). They can organize the photos into various boards of their own creation. It's surprisingly addictive! It rapidly proved itself to be a major driver of traffic to Etsy and listings have a 'Pin it' button to make it easier to share on Pinterest. Some users were concerned about their intellectual property (their listing photos) being hosted elsewhere, but Pinterest has updated their policies about ownership of images and Etsy sellers will generally agree that this is a great way to bring buyers into your shop (without giving up any rights to your images).

You can join as an individual or a business. While they've worked to avoid letting the site devolve into a stream of advertising, you can use it to promote your Etsy shop, if you take the same definition of 'promoting' as we discussed above: sharing information and connecting with people. A useful tutorial for how you can use Pinterest to promote your products is here.

Newbie seller Slothmoth and Zing who make paper products for crafting and parties, stickers, plushies and crafting packs are using Pinterest to their advantage. They do post their own listings to an 'Our Etsy Shop' board, as well as their treasuries to another board, but they also gather other things which interest them, like Awesome DIY - because that's the sort of thing which would interest buyers of crafting packs too - and Sloths, because, well, based on their name, I'm going to assume they are sloth fans... and really, who isn't?

I use it for all of my image bookmarking; I pin images of my own artwork and Etsy items, I pin various types of art which inspires me, I have boards where I organize my ideas about future items I might make or future blog posts, I pin various types of DIY tutorials and ideas, I even pin things which might not be directly related to what I do (like ideas for how to make a tiny laundry room work) because it's useful for me. Even things that are tangential can express your aesthetic or be interesting to people. They also avoid the pitfall of appearing like a spammer who only posts their own things in order to sell them. You are also allowed to have private pinboards, so you can for instance pin gift ideas or store useful information which is not yet something you want to make public.

Another really useful tool are shared boards. You can set up a pinboard and invite multiple Pinterest users to pin to it. This is something we do as a the Toronto Etsy Street Team.

You can follow the Toronto Etsy Street Team on Pinterest.  If you look at our boards, you'll see we pin our members items, TEST ♥ Newbies finds, things about Toronto, handmade in general, Canadian handmade items, DIY tutorials, stuff for kids, supplies, vintage and other pertinent categories of items.

Last, but not least, we'd like to cover some of the social media built into Etsy itself!

Etsy's social media

Etsy has a number of built-in social media tools - many of which could warrant their own tutorials. Interacting with Etsy enthusiasts is a good way to develop a following and connect with buyers, so we found our discussion at the Toronto Etsy Street Team  informal Social Media Summit and potluck lead to a discussion of Etsy tools, and we think it would be useful to include some tips for Newbies here.

  • Etsy forums are where Etsians come together to chat, share information, ask questions and more. Much of the discussion has been segregated into various Etsy Teams pages, but the main Etsy forums are still the place to find Announcements from Etsy itself, Questions, general Discussion and to report Bugs. The forums are pretty straightforward to use, but you can find out more here and find the full forums guidelines here. As we pointed out in TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 3, every time you post in the forums, your shop profile picture, which is linked to your shop, appears. So, if you or your photo impresses your peers, you may find you get traffic from the forums! The flip-side, which we hope is obvious, is that undiplomatic or downright uncivil posts (which, like on every other corner of the internet, do sometimes occur) are unlikely to help you as a seller, and don't make people people look very professional.
  • Etsy Teams We may be biased, since we are a large, active team, but we think that Etsy Teams are a tremendous way for sellers, especially Newbie sellers, to learn about Etsy, network and find their niche! Everything you ever wanted to know about teams is right here. If you are a seller in Toronto, you can apply to join the Toronto Etsy Street Team via our forums by pressing the 'Apply to Team' button and answering the application form questions. You can find teams which relate to: your hometown or region, your medium (for all sorts of different handmade goods, as well as supplies and vintage items), and all sorts of other things like hobbies, interests, day jobs, you name it. Finding a tribe of like-minded sellers, or groups of people with experience to share can be a great boone. As with the general forums, every time you post to any team forum your profile photo and shop name and link appear, and you are linked as a member of a team. Often people are happier to buy from those they know, including those they know online via their teams, so participating in teams can also be a direct benefit to your business.
  • Your Feed and Favorites. Etsy lets you easily follow your favorite shops, see how others follow you, and follow how people are interacting with your shop (including adding your shop or your listings to their favorites and featuring your items in treasuries) through Your Activity Feed. Simply go to the top left of any page on Etsy and click on the circular icon for Your Activity Feed to see what's new with shops you have listed in your favorites, your followers and your shop. Your fellow Etsy sellers are also a good source of inspiration and spreading your love of Etsy items is likely to come back right to you, since people you favorite can check out your shop too. You can make organized lists of favorites; well curated lists can gain you many followers. Since your own listings appear in your feed, this can only help your shop!
  • Treasuries you make, or others make which include your listings are amongst the things which show up in your feed. These are collections of up to 16 curated items gathered by Etsy users, usually around a certain theme. This is another way of spreading the love, interacting with your fellow Etsians and possibly finding selected 'treasured' items appear on the front page. There are entire teams dedicated to making treasuries, and our own team has participated in Treasury Blitzes, where a group of participants agrees to make a certain number of treasuries featuring one another's items within a certain time frame. We've also featured team treasuries here on the blog (remember to tag TEST treasuries "Toronto team"). Instructions for making Treasuries appear here and the thousands of current treasuries ranked by relavancy are are here. If you want a treasury to have traction and gain attention, pay attention to the Trending Tags listed and Etsy Merchandizing posts on the blog. If you monitor your feed, you'll often find that treasuries are effective for directing Etsians to your shop and can even lead directly to sales. Many fellow sellers will return the favour of adding your items to their favorites and treasuries if you include their items in yours. Do be aware that not all Etsians appreciate convos about your treasuries, so don't overdo it. I make a habit of thanking anyone who includes my items in their treasuries, on the comments section (and replying to any convos). You can also add a treasury to your Pinterest by using Treasury Pin, add a link to your Facebook page or tweet about it. Edited January 2015: Etsy Pages are the way of the future, and treasuries are less important with the redesigned front page.
  • Etsy Pages are a new tool, like curated lists of favorites by invited brand influencers. In the future, Etsy with expand to wider participation (hopefully for teams!). You can follow Etsy Pages of brand you like, much like you can follow your favorite Etsians.
So do you have a favorite social media tool or tip? Do you find that people are finding your Etsy shop from your posts to social media? Which is your favorite? Which is the most useful? Let us know what you think! You can comment below or drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com


The Toronto Etsy Street Team loves Newbie shops! You can find some of our favorite listings from talented Newbie sellers, including those featured in this class in our new TEST ♥ Newbies section. Be sure to stop by often to see what's new in this evolving, curated treasury of amazing Newbie finds!



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vendor Call: Firsthand Fair

We just wanted to send you a quick note and tell you about the Holiday Edition of the Firsthand Craft Fair happening December 7th & 8th, from 11-5 at Sneaky Dee's.

Here's some quick info to give you an idea of what we're up to:

* The show is curated by last year's craft fair friends, the Nacho Mama's
  (Check out last year's event)
* It's a full day event with food, beer, arts, crafts and music.
* Awesome charity component and raffle supporting sketch.ca
* Plus, take note that we're accepting vendor submissions until October 17th!

Lots more info at firsthandfair.com! Apply here.


Vintage events: St. Lawrence Antique Market

vintage music boxes and salt & pepper shakers from clockworkfantasica
One of the great places TEST's vintage sellers can regularly sell their wares is at the Sunday St Lawrence Antique Market. One of our newest members, Ola from clockworkfantasica will be selling a vintage collection of music boxes as well as cute vintage salt & pepper shakers almost every Sunday at the St Lawrence Antique Market, located at Front & Jarvis, for the next few weeks. She writes that the music boxes are going fast! You can check her blog to confirm which weeks she'll be there.

If you are a vintage seller looking for Toronto venues where you can sell your wares, Ola writes, "It's a great market though for anyone with a large enough collection of items to make it worthwhile. It is consistently packed with treasure seekers and shoppers." If you'll be selling there, let us know below!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vendor Call: Candada's Permier Wholesale Marketplace For Artisans

ARTISAN APPLICATION NOW AVAILABLE

BY HAND TORONTO

JANUARY 27 - 29, 2014
TORONTO, ONTARIO

By Hand presents you with the opportunity to exhibit in a wholesale gift show among your peers. The selection of participants is juried to ensure a high-quality exclusive group of exhibitors. By grouping Canada’s best handmade together we deliver Buyers the finest product offering in the wholesale gift industry.
We have located By Hand just minutes from where the largest gift show events are taking place at the same time. Gift Buyers will converge on Toronto the week of January 27, and they will all be invited to visit By Hand for the BEST IN HANDMADE.
Read more at www.byhand.ca
DOWNLOAD YOUR APPLICATION HERE!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vendor Call: DECA Pop Ups















Ok, so it's not technically a vendor call, but The Danforth East Community Association (DECA) is now calling for proposals for pop-up shops to take place in otherwise empty spaces on Danforth between Monarch Park Avenue and Main Street.


A great opportunity for anyone looking to take their business to the next level and text the retail markets. 

You can find all the information and application forms here!
Deadline for submissions: Tuesday Oct 8, 2013 at midnight

Monday, September 23, 2013

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 8 Shipping and Packaging

Welcome to our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp! If you want to take part in Bootcamp and get one-on-one mentoring, or answers to any of your questions, please drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com.  

If you want to open an Etsy shop, just follow this link!



 

Then, be sure to check out:
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 1 How to Open an Etsy Shop
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 2 Branding & Shop Banners
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 3 Shop Profiles Bios and Photos
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 4 Make Listings Tempting
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 5 About Pages

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 6 Shop Policies
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 7 Communication
Remember: If you already have a shop, or you open one today, please let us know how to find it! We will be featuring some of our favorite newbie items right here. 

 Today we're tackling a topic which is a big issue for almost all Etsy sellers. Unless your products are strictly digital files which can be downloaded directly by customers, you need to figure out your best strategy for Shipping and Packaging. The learning curve for setting up your own optimal shipping practises can be steep, and it's one topic our Newbie members have told us they want to learn about.

Fragile Handle with Care Stickers by madeiracrafts

What you want to do to prepare for that 1st (or next) sale

  • Plan ahead and do a little research.  Hey - you're doing that, right now! Also, Etsy itself published a great article called Canadian Shipping Demystified.   (There are similar articles for several other countries. Try searching the Etsy blog if you're outside Canada). You'll want to have reasonable shipping policies set up and clearly explained in advance (see TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 6 Shop Policies for tips and details on how this is done). You may find that these are a work in progress - but that's okay. If your plans and pricing estimates don't work out perfectly the first time, you can always update them to better reflect your costs and experiences. Most sellers find that as they get more sales (and more frequent sales) the trick to both preserving their sanity and to being efficient is to streamline their shipping process as much as possible. Have everything you need on hand and a regular routine for both packaging and shipping procedures.
  • Set your shipping prices (and be fair to yourself).  Some sellers prefer to keep shipping costs low and would rather increase the cost of listings instead. Sometimes buyers are happier to spend their money on the item than 'wasting' it on shipping. I find that it's easier and more straightforward to have my shipping prices be pretty representative of my costs. As long as the cost of shipping is distinctly less than the item for sale, I think most buyers don't mind - but you may want to play with this balance and see what works for you. Wherever you put the shipping cost, whether it's hidden in the item cost or simply the shipping cost you need to make sure you're covering: actual fees (from Canada Post or other carriers, Etsy or PayPal), packaging, and your time (those packages aren't going to mail themselves!). To estimate fees from Canada Post in advance use their handy online tool: if you enter your postal code, the package's destination, dimensions and weight it will tell you your price options. (For Newbies outside Canada, most countries have some similar online tool. Check your nation's postal service website).
  • Packaging materials and plan. You'll want to make sure you have packaging materials on hand. Things which you should consider are: cost and hence bulk and weight, safety of the item, environmental impact (how much waste are you making? can you use recycled or biodegradable materials? can you use reusable items?), branding and labelling. In Class 6 we showed how BeaconsfieldCards' shipping policy keeps an eye on environmental impact and how highlighting that her clear card protector bags are compostable and biodegradable could gain the allegiance of customers. Newbie madeiracrafts offers Fragile stickers which might be just the thing for carefully packaging your wares. Sometimes these competing concerns can conflict; a fragile item might be safer with more packaging, but that might cost more and create more waste. You may find a little trial and error is in order to find the best solution for you. 
  • Clear policies and strategies for international shipping.

    Elephant Ellen by Iamcuriousmonkey

    Shipping internationally automatically increases your pool of potential customers! It isn't much more complicated than selling domestically. Check Canada Post's Delivery Standards in advance so that you can clearly communicate what customers can expect (see Class 7 for Communication tips). You'll need to fill in a customs form declaring the content, value, and origin of the items. Etsy has a great tutorial called

    Shipping How-To: Custom Forms, Duties, and Taxes

    Most post offices will let regular users have a pile of the self-adhesive Customs forms (CN22 and CN23), so you can do your paperwork in advance. They'll also usually give you sheets of 'Air Mail' stickers if you ask. Remember to alert customers that their nation's Customs can delay or charge duty on imported items; experienced sellers advise that you mention that Customs duties are the responsibility of the buyer in your  Shop Policies (see Class 6 for details). It is unlikely that your listings will include Non-mailable items but if you sell anything that could be considered dangerous, you'll want to familiarize yourself with regulations and restrictions. Most Non-mailable items are already prohibited by Etsy so you shouldn't be selling dangerous goods or restricted animal products anyway. If you sell something you suspect may be restricted, like food or anything containing animal products, you can look up any country in the world to see if the items which are prohibited. Most Etsy buyers are in the US, where in general, laws are similar to our own. A lot of information is available on the USPS website. If the shipping address of an American customer includes only a 5-digit zip cope, you can append the additional 4 digits by looking up the address in the USPS zip cope look-up tool. Since this helps them sort mail it can increase the speed of delivery. Other places Etsy is popular include the EU, and Australia. The EU does have some protectionist policies, and in the Etsy forums, you can find discussions about duties imposed on Etsy goods for EU buyers. Shipping to Australia, of course, takes a bit longer, but sellers report that Australian buyers are aware of this and are very understanding. Sales to other countries are in general less common. This means you can write standard messages regarding shipping methods and delivery standards for your customers and will likely only need to look up information if you get a purchase from an unexpected place.

SHIPPING PROFILES

If your wares come in standard sizes, or even a fairly controlled range of sizes, a good way to make it easier to create new listings is to set up some Shipping Profiles. Once you've made and packaged one fairly standard sized item (say, one dress, one Giclée print of a certain size, one necklace, or what have you) you can measure its dimensions and weight. Then, use the Canada Post online tool to figure out the shipping prices to likely destinations (or equivalent in your country for sellers outside Canada). There are flat rates for most international services like regular Letter Mail, Small or Light Packet Air US or International. It's actually more variable within Canada and can cost more than shipping internationally! Most sellers opt to list shipping within Canada at a more or less typical average price, and then use the flat rates for the US, the EU and Australia. Statistically, you are more likely to be selling to a Canadian buyer in a city, than in an expensive, remote region, so the risk of undercharging is not high. I like to also include an 'Everywhere Else' option; though I am making a guess at the shipping rate, it does allow buyers to purchase an item no matter where they are located. You can always amend your  Shipping Profiles if you find you have customer(s) from a new country or region, or Canada Post increases their rates. You can create a  Shipping Profile for each type of object you sell, with shipping rates for anywhere you are willing to ship your products. Every time you list a new Object Type A, just load your pre-save Object Type A Shipping Profile and you're set!

HOLIDAYS

Experienced Etsy sellers are preparing for the Christmas rush already and will have begun to stock and feature items accordingly. In fact, you can now sign up for Etsy's own Holiday Boot Camp 'your guide to prepping for and successfully riding the holiday wave.' Sign-up here if you'd like to receive their bi-weekly classes.

It's very difficult for a Newbie seller to predict how their sales will be affected, so the trick is to be as prepared as you can be. If you planned to offer anything especially for Christmas, get it into your shop, carefully tagged, and featured as soon as you can (see Class 4 Make Listings Tempting for suggestions). Stock up on your packaging supplies. The amount of time it will take for deliveries, during the holiday rush will increase considerably! Be sure to check the Canada Post website for their Holiday Mailing deadline guide (which will be posted by late October or early November). When they do post this year's deadlines, you should add that information to your Shop Announcement, Shop Policies, Receipts (via Shop Settings Info & Appearance), Shipping Notifications and any direct communication with your customers. 

Please note: while many sellers offer expedited shipping during the holiday rush, you cannot sell expedited shipping as a stand-alone listing. All listings must be for physical, tangible objects or downloadable files. You can sell a shipping upgrade if it comes with something, or you can let customers know you would be happy to provide a revised invoice. Hopefully in the near future, variable shipping rates will be something we can add directly to listings.  Edited September  25: Good news! Etsy has added variable shipping rates!

Branding and Packaging

The items available on Etsy vary greatly! It's hard to write a one-size-fits-all guide, but here are some tips which may help you.

Seed Swag
Cubit's seedpackets
Printing your own return address labels or other branding can be useful. The outside of the package is the first thing the customer sees!

The Etsy Packaging Flickr group can be a good place to look for creative packaging solutions. TEST's own Cubits for instance makes distinctive envelops for their organically-grown seeds.

Including a business card, postcard or other promotional material - maybe even with a coupon code for future purchases - can be a useful way to get repeat business. Small details make an impression: many Etsy sellers include little freebies or say, a handwritten thank you note.

Saving Money and When to Splurge


Join Canada Post's VentureOne to get a 5% discount on shipping.

Use a scale, rulers or measuring tapes to plan a package which fits within a smaller shipping size and weight category.  As Etsy points out "For Oversize Lettermail and Light Packet parcels where the 2cm thickness restriction is very key, you can purchase a special plastic template from Canada Post. Sellers call it the “slot of doom” because when you have one millimeter too many you pay the more expensive rates. The product number is 540008029." Cardboard jewellery boxes can be trimmed to fit within the slot of doom.

While American buyers might be used to Tracking Numbers, these are only available with more expensive shipping options. Most Canadian sellers stick with Lettermail, Light Packet or Small Packet service, but inform customers that they will be happy to produce a revised quote for special shipping service (including Tracking Numbers, Insurance or Expedited Service).

Occasionally the price difference between regular service and Xpresspost within Canada is small. You can really impress a customer by upgrading their service and delivering items before they expect them.

Interesting boxes, cardboard, foam board, brown package craftpaper can be found at affordable prices at various dollar stores and (for our Toronto sellers) many shops in Chinatown. A variety of online sellers provide things like cellophane envelops for cards or art prints; you can team up with other sellers to buy these items in bulk. Many businesses will give away their used, but strong, cardboard boxes if you ask (including grocery stores and the LCBO). You can find tutorials online for making your own mailers from recycled materials like cereal boxes.

Check out our other SHIPPING TUTORIALS!
Class 19 Shipping Snippets and Class 21 Setting Shipping Rates

 The Toronto Etsy Street Team loves Newbie shops! You can find some of our favorite listings from talented Newbie sellers, including those featured in this class in our new TEST ♥ Newbies section. Be sure to stop by often to see what's new in this evolving, curated treasury of amazing Newbie finds!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Social Media Week Toronto

September is the month to brush up on your social media skills!



From September 23 - 27, Toronto is home to Social Media Week's week-long conference featuring thought-provoking sessions with industry leaders, panel discussions on a variety of topics, hands-on master classes, and fun-filled parties – all in the celebration of digital culture! 

SMWTO's main hub is The Windsor Arms Hotel with other independently organized events around Toronto. See the Schedule for a full list of events.

One exciting event we'd like to highlight is Etsy Canada's The Digital Future is People-Powered panel featuring TEST's own thunderpeep designs as one of its guest panelists. Come down and join in on a lively discussion on why making personal connections in the digital world are so important. PS --> it's free to attend!

And for all you TESTians, don't forget our September meetup is this Friday, September 27th. Our first ever Social Media summit potluck. All the details for the meetup can be found here

Vendor Call: City Place Art Crawl (.com)

City Place Art Crawl (.com)

Calling all artists of one of a kind, unique goods in the fields of fashion design, jewelry, fashion accessories, artwork, photography, furniture, kids accessories and more!
October 19th 2013/ 12-7pm

Visit here for details.

City Place Fun Facts:
Situated next to the CN tower & The Rogers Center
32k residents in 14 Condo towers surrounding Canoe Landing Park (location of show)
Targeted Audience: 2500+
2 food trucks
5 dj's spinning live all day"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vendor Call: Fat Goose Craft Fair, Kingston

This is farther afield than vendor calls we usually post, but we've been asked to share this 5th anniversary Kingston, ON, event with you.


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The 5th Annual Fat Goose Craft Fair
Sunday 24 November 2O13 / 3pm-9pm (an evening event) 
Renaissance Event Venue, 285 Queen St. Kingston, Ontario

Back for its 5th year, the Fat Goose Craft Fair is looking for applications from crafters of all feathers. Find out more or apply via the Fat Goose Craft Fair Website.

Vendor Call: Signatures 2014 Spring Shows

SIGNATURES SHOWS Spring 2014 Applications.


Signatures Shows is Canada's largest and most experienced producer of fine craft shows. Our goal is to provide you with the best shows possible in which to sell your work. For over 30 years, we have worked in conjunction, with you the artisan, to promote and develop Canada’s craft marketplace. Based in Ottawa, we are a Canadian-owned and operated business with a dedicated team of professionals who understand the business and strive to meet the needs of our customers. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Craft News: Toronto Maker Faire



Toronto Maker Faire is a weekend festival of making, DIY-ing, tinkering, hacking & more. Come see and get tactile with amazing homemade technology at Toronto Mini Maker Faire! For two days, innovators, artists and hackers from all over the GTA are leaving their garages to participate in Toronto’s greatest show and tell!

Join dozens of makers as they show off their projects and share what they know. Whether you’re a newbie or expert, you’ll get the chance to make and learn through interactive activities and workshops. Don’t miss out on the two-day Faire which is guaranteed to be fun, inspiring and surprising!

If you’re a creator or want to learn to create, Toronto Mini Maker Faire is the place for you!

September 21-22 at Wychwood Barns!

Makers exhibiting and running workshops include TEST's own Jennifer Rong Designs: Upcycle it!

Let’s make beautiful things out of junk! Featuring one-of-a-kind, handmade, upcycled furniture, home decor, housewares and jewellery made from reclaimed wood, vintage items and found objects. Custom orders welcome.

Featured activities: make your own veneer business card or make an ornament out of junk! Techniques used: woodburning, engraving, glass etching, decoupage, etc.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vendor Call: Movies and Makers


Call for vendors! Movies and Makers!

A Holiday Arts and Craft Show at the Fox Theatre Wants You!

THE DEADLINE FOR THIS SHOW IS OCTOBER 5TH!

When? Saturday December 7, 2013

What? A diverse mix of local makers of fine, cool, funky, sassy art and craft selling their wares at the stunning Fox Theatre in the Beaches. The sale is from 11 am to 5:30 pm.



Fox Theatre together with GirlCanCreate is looking for a variety of makers. Whether you make jewelry, clothes, art, stuffies, zines, buttons…we want you.

Please note that we cannot accept any makers of food or drink due to building health codes.

SUBMISSION PROCEDURES

The deadline for applications is midnight on October 5, 2013. All applicants will be notified of participation by October 12, 2013.

Please email all applications to Lisa Pijuan-Nomura girlcancreate [at] gmail.com


Applicants must submit the following:

1. Information
• Name
• Address
• Phone Number
• Email Contact
• Detailed Description of what you create (250 word maximum)
• Price Range of Goods


• 3 to 5 digital images of your work
(please keep files under 500k in JPEG or GIF format.)These photos will be used for as on screen promotion at the Fox Theatre. If you have a logo please include that.


• Website (Etsy, Artfire, Blog, etc)

• Table Request
6ftx2.5ft table-$99
3ft round table-$55

Please note that some tables will be on a slight incline due to the nature of the theatre.

Extra lighting will be set up in the theatre. All vendors must bring one light to help better illuminate wares.

Acceptance

Upon receipt of your application you will receive an email confirmation. We will contact all applicants by email by October 12.

If accepted to the show, all must submit payment within 14 days.

Questions/Contact Information

Contact Lisa Pijuan-Nomura at girlcancreate [at] gmail.com with any questions.

Vendor call: Toronto Indie Arts Market

Toronto Indie Arts Market - November edition
Saturday, November 9th, 2013
10:30am - 4:30pm
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West

vendor call runs from September 15th - 30th
tables start at $20 for a 2ft spot to $60 for a 6ft spot

We're looking for vendors of arts & crafts, food, fashion, literary/small press, entertainment and more.

More info at www.torontoindieartsmarket.com

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 7 Communication

Welcome to our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp! If you want to take part in Bootcamp and get one-on-one mentoring, or answers to any of your questions, please drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com.  


If you want to open an Etsy shop, just follow this link!


Then, be sure to check out:

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 1 How to Open an Etsy Shop
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 2 Branding & Shop Banners
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 3 Shop Profiles Bios and Photos
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 4 Make Listings Tempting
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 5 About Pages

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 6 Shop Policies

Remember: If you already have a shop, or you open one today, please let us know how to find it! We will be featuring some of our favorite newbie items right here. 

Nautical "Hello Sailor" Canvas Tote Bag by CUBshop

Today we're going to talk about communication. To some degree, all the classes so far have been about communication, but today we are specifically talking about your shop's correspondance. Some of the tips we can offer might seem obvious, but as a buyer, a seller and team captain, I contact a lot of Etsy sellers, and I've been surprised, but some sellers do not answer convos! Convos are Etsy's internal mail system. When a potential buyer presses the 'Contact Owner' or 'Ask a Question' buttons, from your shop front page or a listing they get a text window to allow them to send you a convo. So, this brings us to the first tip:

Tip: Answer all messages, convos, or emails related to your shop! Be accessible and friendly.

Caveat: It is okay to ignore and not reply to phising or other scams. These are not common, but there are crooks on the Internet, so if someone tries to get you to reveal passwords or send them money or merchandize they haven't paid for or use their suspicious shipping method rather than following your own policies, don't do it. Just report it.

Not to say you have to be as flirty as CUBshop's Hello Sailor tote.... but anyone who writes to you is a potential customer and it just makes good business sense to answer them and be as helpful and efficient as possible. Shoppers may have questions about your items that need to be answered before they’re ready to buy — by responding quickly you can build trust and help inform their purchase decision. Even messages which do not appear to be from potential customers could lead to things which benefit you and your business, so it pays to communicate.

Now, Canada is a bilingual nation filled with residents who speak and write all sorts of languages. If you can effectively communicate in more than one language, use that to reach more customers!

Tip: If you are multilingual, list your items in multiple languages!

My own shop, for instance, is bilingual English/French. Under Shop Settings > Info & Appearance there is a Languages tab, where you can enroll in an ever-widening list of languages, in addition to English. Currently you can make listings in: French, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian (complete with Cyrillic characters). Buyers whose browsers default to any of these languages will see any of your translated listings in their native language. So, every time I make a listing, I see twice as many text boxes: English Title, French Title, English Description, French Description, English Tags, French Tags. English is my first language, so I tend to be more succinct in my French descriptions, but I can still use this as a way of providing better customer service. If it's easier for francophones to read descriptions in French, they will feel more comfortable making a purchase or sending an inquiry. My sales to Québec and francophone countries have definitely increased since this new tool was added and I translated all of my listings. There are teams dedicated to each of these languages, and it is possible to find sellers who can help if you are a bit uncertain about a translation. You may use as many of the available languages as you know!

Tip: Set up your Shop Info & Appearance so that buyers automatically receive information on their receipt

If you navigate to your Shop Settings (either from Your Shop > sidebar where you find Shop Settings Info & Appearance, or via your Dashboard), as well as setting up your Shop Banner like we did in Class 2 you can fill in a text box with a Message to Buyers so that they automatically receive a note with their receipts. Good things to include: thank you message; what to expect next (for instance, whether you will email to confirm receipt of payment, how and when you will ship the item, delivery information and so forth), encouragement to contact you with any queries, any other information you want customers to know (how to find your blog or other social media, how to sign up for a newsletter, what have you).

Tip: Always let customers know that their item is on the way

I like to email my customers to say thanks, that I have received their order and payment, when and how an item will be shipped, its expected delivery date, and that they should contact me with any questions or comments. I also like to confirm the address. This can also be done by convo (but I find that new Etsy users are sometimes unfamiliar with convos and email can be more effective, unless they have already contacted you by convo). You can also send an automated Shipping Notification, from Your Shop > Sold Orders. Buyers, like most people, do not like being bombarded with email, so I would suggest using one, not all, of these methods.

Tip: You may even wish to send a follow-up email, after delivery, to ask customers how they liked their item and to provide feedback.

This might feel like exceptionally attentive service. You may find you gain useful insights from your customers, say for how to improve, or what to make in your next line of products. Also, having a good feedback rating is particularly important for Newbies. So, this can be a good way to make sure you get those feedback stars under your shop name.

Now, I'm sure all of our Bootcamp recruits are lovely, even-tempered, polite and helpful people, so I don't really need to tell you to be polite. I hope I'm not bursting any bubbles here, but Internet users often do not read carefully, sometimes take the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach. On occassion, people are less than nice. Most people are good people, and with any luck all your communications will be easy and fruitful. But, we have another tip, for any lovely to not-so-lovely  communications, just remember:


Love Yourself First typographic print by lovelylittlepaperco
Tip: Stay positive! No matter how trivial, annoying, needlessly panicked or, on those rare unfortunate occasions, senselessly rude a message you receive, if you are positive, polite, clear and fair you're doing yourself a big favour! A sense of humour is a definite bonus.

There is an old adage: The Customer Is Always Right. But, is this true? Of course not. The thing is, it's a good idea to treat them with that sort of consideration and respect regardless. Here are some instances reported by experienced Etsy sellers, Where the Customer Might be Wrong:

  • "My purchased item has not made it to [THE END OF THE EARTH] instantaneously! Obviously, you never sent it and just took my money! Panic and freak out!" 

    This is where good records, clear policies and a polite explanation of when the item was sent, when it should be expected and what happens if it's lost come in handy.


  • "The listing [which clearly states dimensions] fails to state dimensions!"

    Thanks for your message! The dimensions are x by y. Substitute words for any other alleged missing information. Don't worry that you did provide the information already. Sometimes people misread things.


  • "Even though your Shop Policies clearly explain expected shipping times and that duties imposed by Customs are the responsibility of the buyer, you should mark my package 'no commercial value' so I don't get dinged"

    Sorry for any inconvenience, Customer, but I'm afraid that would be fraud.


  • "I love your artwork so I thought I would steal it and print it on [tee shirts or other items] and offer you one as a thank you"

    Sometimes it's necessary to politely educate people on copyright infringement and licensing agreements. You have a right to protect your intellectual property and it isn't okay, or legal, for anyone to simply steal your work.


  • "I think you should cut me a special deal and charge me less money because [I'm special or something or I can buy a cheap machine-made version which is vaguely similar]"

    This person is probably mistaken.... though, it's a judgment call. Don't let your handmade work be compared with mass produced items; apples and oranges. Occasionally, you may wish to make a deal if you get something of similar value in return. Sometimes charities ask for donations and you may wish to support them. It's good practise to check out any charities in question to make sure they do have charitable status and that you agree with their principles. As long as you're polite, it's okay to say no.


  • "Even though you make X I think you should make Y"

    Sometimes these comments are really useful and give you new ideas or insight into what people want to buy. Sometimes they are unhelpful or just plain nuts. Don't feel compelled to please everyone. If you are polite and thank them for their feedback that's enough. If you like the idea, run with it. If you would consider making them a custom order, let them know! Don't make a product which does not appeal to you on a vague promise from a random stranger that they'll buy it. There's a reason that the process for custom orders is to seek payment upfront.

I Love You - Restraining Order -A Mini Card by MsFebruaryDay

As MsFebruaryDay's card playfully reminds us, some people have issues. If you are reasonable, and treat everyone with consideration and respect, you can avoid or diffuse almost all conflicts.

What do you do if you receive a complaint:
  
1. Thank the sender for their message. It might not be fun, but you want an unsatisfied customer to contact you rather than open a dispute with Etsy or PayPal.


2. Go ahead, be Canadian about it; say you're sorry! We're notorious for saying "Sorry" to mean everything from, "Please speak up, I can't hear you!" to "Hey! You're stepping on my toes!" but regardless of any culpability, you are sorry, and disgruntled customers appreciate hearing it. You want them to have the most wonderful transaction ever and be so impressed that they become a lifelong fan and go around singing your praises to everyone, right? So, even if the complaint is shall we say, less than reasonable, you are sorry, and it takes little effort to say so. It doesn't mean you are admitting you are guilty, or it's your fault that it takes more than a few hours to ship items to the other side of the world. If, on the other hand, you did make a mistake, it's a good idea to acknowledge this and try to make it right.

Sorry card - nature by HafsaCreates

3. Provide any pertinent information (such as clarifying when the item was shipped, your shop policies, and so forth).

4. Let them know what you can do for them. Do you guarantee delivery, or offer replacements or refunds for lost or damaged items (see Class 6 Shop Policies for why you should)? Do you have another item or offer custom orders which might suit them better? If the complaint isn't reasonable (for instance, if you provided exactly what you described, or the complainer isn't a customer at all, but a troublemaker) you may have already done enough, by reading and considering their message. In which case, you can simply thank them for their feedback.

5. Invite them to keep the dialogue going, in case they are not yet satisfied. (Unless they are genuinely out of line... you don't wish to continue to communicate with anyone who is abusive).

6. Keep a record of all communication, just in case.

Most people are great, but in the unlikely event you encounter a troll, you can contact Etsy support. 

Get the Eat Sleep Promote Repeat - Typography Print from SnaptureThis
to inspire you and launching your new small business!

So, now that we've covered the tough stuff, what's the good news Etsy buyers are awesome. They are interested in buying from real people. They appreciate handmade goods. They collect vintage goods rather than cheaply made mass-produced new items. They are artists and craftspeople looking for supplies. The vast majority of communications you'll have with people on Etsy will be a pleasure! Note only do customers appreciate what you offer, they'll often offer compliments, thanks and write nice things about you. Sometimes people just write to tell you that they appreciate what you do. You might even get fan mail! This is the best thing ever. Save these messages for a rainy day, or to cheer you up if you have more challenging interactions. Being an artist or a small business person isn't always easy, but the customers that you can find on Etsy can really make it worth it, in personal as well as business terms.

So do you have any communication tips to share? Have interesting experiences you'ld like to tell us about? Drop us a line or leave a comment below!

The Toronto Etsy Street Team loves Newbie shops! You can find some of our favorite listings from talented Newbie sellers, including those featured in this class in our new TEST ♥ Newbies section. Be sure to stop by often to see what's new in this evolving, curated treasury of amazing Newbie finds!

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