Tuesday, October 29, 2013

T.E.S.T. Interview: Jennifer Rong Designs

We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 57th in our series with Jennifer of Jennifer Rong Designs.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What inspired your to start working with reclaimed wood?

I love the look and feel of reclaimed wood. I prefer it to new wood, and also believe in upcycling old material in order to keep production sustainable.

Is this your day job? What do you do when you’re not crafting?

I would like this to be my day job, but I do try to work a bit here and there, freelancing in the area of graphic/web design. When I'm not crafting, I'm thinking about it! My brain never stops thinking about my projects (and I have many on the go).

How do you source and choose your materials?

My materials come from a variety of places: parks, beaches, the scrap bin at the workshop, found objects at the side of the road, in the garbage room of my buidling, etc. Often friends will give me wood they have or random objects they don't need. My parents are also a great source; they help me find material as well. I choose wood based on character, type and quality. Everything else is usually based on need, type of material (I prefer metal and glass), and style/overall look and feel.

What inspires you when designing a new product?

A lot of the time the inspiration comes from a piece of wood, or an object and then just grows from there. Sometimes when I look at a piece of say driftwood, I can see what it will become. I fulfill their destiny. Other times in comes from out of need, to make something to serve a certain purpose. Design out of necessity, but never forgetting about aesthetics. Asthetics, function, and sustainable production are the core pillars of my business.

What is your creative process? What are your favourite and least favourite parts of that process?

My creative process is very random and quite ADD. I have at least 10 projects on the go, and often new ones being started. Sometimes I have to stop myself from starting new projects so I can finish up old ones. My favourite part is that I enjoy the spontaneity of it. I often don't know exactly what the end result will be (though I have an idea) and the piece may transform during production as the design stage is never quite complete. They often are in tandem with each other. I enjoy this approach, but sometimes than can lead to writers block that may halt the production of one piece for weeks or even months.

How long does it take you to create a piece?

It varies. Small projects can be done in a day, others could take months. There are still projects I started over a year ago that I have yet to finish.

Do you listen to music while crafting? What kinds of music help make the magic happen?

Sometimes I listen to the radio, often I'm in a woodshop where it's loud and that's not possible.

What are the most important things you’ve learned about business, your craft, and yourself through Jennifer Rong Designs?

It takes faith, determination and dedication. You have to believe in what you do before you can expect anyone else to.

What one item or design are you most proud of? What piece caused you the most agony (creative or otherwise)?

I grow very attached to every piece I create. it's hard to choose one but one of my favourites is my 3 tiered shelf/stand that's made from an apple wood branch and maple cookies.

A piece that has caused me a lot of agony is an unfinished ottoman which also turns into a coffee table. it's almost complete but has been in the works for a year now due to writers block.

Do you think living in Toronto has influenced your work in any way?

I think most of my life has led me to where I am today. I've always had a love for wood, I just didn't realize it until recently.

What future plans do you have for Rong Designs?

Hoping to become the next Eames or Miles van der Rohe (I believe in dreaming big).

Are there any resources you’d like to share with those starting out?

The internet! Ask it anything and it has answers. Also try to get out to as many craft/flea events as possible and network, network, network. Your peers are the best resources.

Do you sell anywhere other than Etsy, either online or in retail stores?

A number of my pieces are currently on consignment in a shop in kensington called A HOMERUN (165 Augusta ave). I've also been asked to sell on a French e-shop and to expand into the retail stores in France. I also sell at various festivals and craft markets.

What’s your theme song?

Work by Iggy Azalea (motivates me to work!)

Check out the other items available from Jennifer in her Etsy shop! You can find more of her work on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Interviewed by Maggie of GiroofasaurusVexed in October 2013 in Toronto.

Monday, October 28, 2013

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 13 Getting Press

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
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 9 Social Media
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 10 The Dark Art of Pricing

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 11 Shop Stats
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 12 Holiday Prep in Bite-Sized Pieces
So far, we've covered opening your shop, making it look its best, making it easy to find, easy to interact with and practical skills like pricing your items appropriately, how to get products to customers, how to monitor who visits your shop and how to get ready for the holiday rush. Today, we're going to cover something which might also be particularly important this time of year: getting press.

In particular, when you're just starting out you want people to be able to find you. You're probably wearing many hats: creator/fabricator/curator; photographer; shipping; sales and being your own press agent and social media rep (see Class 9 Social Media for our tips on promoting your shop through your own social media). It's important to use your own network, but it can be very useful to reach out to someone else's network too. 

The good news is that you've probably already signed up for this Bootcamp, and so, you may find that we select one of your items to feature here or in our TEST ♥ Newbies section. How else can you get a little press for you and your shop? Well, let's start with a big one for Etsy sellers: blogs.

Pitching to Bloggers or Editors

Don't feel ready for pitching your shop? Good design and good advice:
Fake It Till You Make It Typographic Print by JessWestDesigns
So, like the internet in general, the trick is being found. The first time someone other than you writes about your Etsy shop, it might very well be someone you know, and they might not have a large following or the clout to drive a lot of traffic. But you shouldn't underestimate the utility of any post. Each one can incrementally increase your SEO (search engine optimization), each one might introduce a buyer to your wares, and each one might introduce your Etsy shop  to a blogger with a larger audience or an audience of 'your people', the ones who understand, appreciate and love what you do. Also, write-ups on small blogs lead to write-ups on big blogs (and the converse is also true so one write-up and spiral out to all sorts of press)- and magazine editors read blogs too! So, here are some helpful tips:
  • Be open and friendly. You don't have to say yes to every request. Your time is important. You want to nurture your brand. It is possible you might have a reason to refuse a request (especially if free merchandise is requested for a give-away), but it's always good practise to make a connection and be polite. Give-aways or rebates can be effective, but it is important to make decisions that work for you and your business. Barring any specific concerns, any blog press can help your Etsy shop so why not! You may know specific blogs you want to target, but if bloggers approach you, it's like getting something for (basically) nothing. Yes, please.
  • Make great photos. Check out Class 4 Make Listings Tempting for our advice for making your listings look their best. Listings which tempt buyers, may also tempt bloggers (or even print magazines). Watermarks and logos can turn bloggers off. See  Class 12 Holiday Prep in Bite-Sized Pieces for advice about using some seasonal flare and props in photos - this can strike the right note for what bloggers might be seeking too. See the Etsy blog article How to Make Your Photos Publicity-Ready for more tips.
  • Do your homework. Identify your five favorite blogs and look for publications which are a good fit for your brand. If you're going to pitch to your favorite blog (or magazine), make sure you've read the blog, you know its scope, and you are familiar with what has been recently posted (so you don't suggest something inappropriate or redundant). Read the blog's About page and any guidelines for submissions. Let your message show that you care; you've read the blog and you're following their guidelines.
  • Like a snail mail letter, a personalized pitch will feel special
    and be more likely to get noticed - like this Vintage German
    postage stamp glass tile pendant from dandytigerdesings
    Be interesting, polite, personal, brief, and helpful. Your email subject line should be original and specific to catch someone's attention. Don't pitch the world all at once - make a personalized pitch to a specific blogger. You're trying to suggest something mutually beneficial - great content for them, press for you. Tell a story! Don't be demanding or have large expectations, but do make it easy for them: include all pertinent links and embed (rather than attach) a few low-res photos, with the offer of high res upon request. Keep your pitch to one or two (carefully proof-read) paragraphs. People are busy. Particularly for any daily publication or TV show, content might be in flux until deadline and stories can be ditched at the last minute; don't take it personally.
  • Think ahead. Bloggers may be working a full season in advance.
  • Be available and answer any questions promptly. Bloggers and editors might be a) working with tight deadlines and b) have hundreds of other pitches to choose from. If you're unavailable, they will move on. Volunteering your cell phone number might be a wise move. 
  • Be persistent. You can follow up an unanswered pitch after say 10 days, or return later with further pitches about new products or ideas. If you are featured, thank them!
  • Find more tips and example pitches on the Etsy blog articles How to Win the Hearts of Bloggers, Seller How-To: Get Noticed by the Blogosphere, How to Pitch to Bloggers, Holiday Boot Camp: Get Some Blog Love and Top 5 Tips for Getting Press.
Sometimes people find you. You won't always be the source of any profile of your shop. So, do be sure to make things easy for people: good photos, clear and accurate text, fill in your profile and About Page. Also, sometimes press can come to you indirectly, as a by-product of something else you do.

Other things which can get you press:
Stand out from the crowd, like this Vintage Bright Pink
60s Mr Mort Dress from KikuyeJeanVintage
  • Join a Team. Yes, we might be biased, but we know that joining a team like the Toronto Etsy Street Team will introduce you to a large collection of fellow Etsy sellers (all of whom may have their own blogs, social media and networks) and give you an opportunity to get profiled by that team and blogs like this one.
  • Participate in an art, craft or vintage show. Shows are a great way to meet buyers (some of whom also have blogs), network with fellow sellers and get some press. Any fee to participate is something you could consider an advertising cost.
  • Competitions. Many fields of art and craft have competitions. It's good experience to put your work out there. You might win a prize, gain fans and get some press.
  • Share your skills. If you teach a class or a workshop, you'll meet a group of people interested in your skill set and you might also get some press.
  • Getting press! That's right, getting press will generate more press. If someone writes an article about you share it through all your social media channels and with your network. That way, fans of the publication and your fans both might pass it on.
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. 

 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!


Friday, October 25, 2013

T.E.S.T. Interview: Silver Fox Designs

We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 56th in our series with Brenda of SilverFoxDesigns6.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and Silver Fox Designs?

I come from a family of artists, musicians, singers and dancers. Under the circumstances they all expected me to follow in the family tradition. So training in all of the above arts was duly undertaken. I took dancing, singing, guitar and piano lessons. High school saw graphic arts, fine arts at university and fashion design in college. For all that, I ended up working in an office. :( When I found myself facing the prospect of being left unemployed when my boss retired, I decided that enough was enough with the office. I needed to do something I loved. You can browse through the books on starting a business on a shoestring for hours on end but nothing clicks. I had started making jewellery for myself - it was something I enjoyed. Family and friends admired my work and kept telling me “You should sell your work”. I considered it, but it wasn’t until a friend asked me to make her bridesmaids’ jewellery, that I actually took the leap. Silver Fox Designs was born shortly thereafter (though not under that name at the time).

What’s the story behind your shop name?

Funny you should ask. The first part of my second name actually means silver (you pretty much have to speak Welsh to be able to pronounce my second name properly), but the silver part of my shop name comes from my silver hair. The fox comes from a young man who told me that my age had nothing to do with it, I was still a foxy lady (which is how I discovered the Silver Fox within).

When did you start Silver Fox Designs?

About two or three years ago.

Can you tell me a little bit about your studio space?

My studio space.... lol. To tell you the truth, I don’t have a dedicated studio or any dedicated space at all. Every time I try to set up somewhere in the house, I get moved out of it. So I just work wherever I can find the space. It’s not the best way to work, but until I can successfully claim space for my studio, it does the job.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Silver Fox Designs?

Patience with my work. One of the hardest things is to not get frustrated when either the materials or my hands don’t co-operate. I see some of the most wonderful designs in my head, but sometimes either the materials won’t take the shape or work as I want them to or my hands refuse to function properly (the joys of arthritis). Either way, I had to learn to take a deep breath, step back and not throw the piece against a wall (patience is not my strong suit).

Where did you learn to make jewellery?

I’m mostly self-taught. I took a night school course which provided a few tips on technique, but otherwise went over things I already knew.

Do sell your work outside of Etsy? If so, where?

I do craft shows (mostly in the Toronto area), mainly during the holiday season.

What’s your favourite form of social media?

Personally, I’m not a fan of social media of any description. I tend to work with Twitter and Facebook for the most part. I’m slowly starting to work with Pinterest, Wanelo, Picsity and It’s Better Handmade. I find it difficult to tweet or post for strangers to read.

What’s your favourite material to work with?

Semi-precious stones, pearls and wire - sterling silver, copper, brass. I love the feel of them in my hands as I work.

Is Silver Fox Designs your day job?

Unfortunately no. At least, not yet. I’m a litigation law clerk during the day.

What advice do you have for other small business owners?

Be patient and never give up. It takes time and a lot of effort to make it all work.

Do you have any upcoming craft shows?

Not in the immediate future. I am booking my space in a number of Holiday shows. So far the only one that I have confirmation for is the Christmas in the Bag Craft Sale on Sunday, November 24, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Applewood Shaver Homestead, 450 the West Mall, in Etobicoke. I have it listed in the Events section on my Facebook page and will be listing the other shows as I get confirmation. I will also be tweeting the information as the days get nearer.

What’s next for Silver Fox Designs?

I’m going to be working on developing Silver Fox Designs into a full time business so I can leave the day job and focus on what I love to do.

Check out the other items available from Brenda in her Etsy shop! You can find more of her work on Facebook, Twitter,

Pinterest, and Picsity .
 
Interviewed by Robin of FitzyDesign in October 2013 in Toronto.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Did you know you can follow the Toronto Etsy Street Team on Facebook


You can keep up with TEST on Facebook. Just 'like' our page for access to our latest events, news and announcements from the nearly 700 members and friends. Help us reach the 1000 Like milestone - we're almost there.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vender Call HOLIDAY ARTISAN MARKETPLACE

VISUAL ARTS MISSISSAUGA PRESENTS
HOLIDAY ARTISAN MARKETPLACE

CALL FOR ENTRY

Saturday November 23 & Sunday November 24
10 am to 5 pm      free admission to the public      free parking   

Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM) invites artists and artisans to participate in our new holiday artisan marketplace 2013 in the pre-winter splendor of Visual Arts Mississauga’s Art Centre in Riverwood.

Guests will enjoy a unique variety of art and handmade gifts created locally like jewellery, ceramics, smaller paintings and mixed media, fibre, glass and woodwork. HOLIDAY ARTISAN MARKETPLACE is a juried two-day weekend event featuring works that are suitable for gift-giving!

CLICK HERE for this year`s Call for Entry. The cost per booth is $100 for the two-day event. Applications to participate are due by Friday November 1 by 5 pm.

(Note: applying as an exhibitor does not guarantee acceptance into HOLIDAY ARTISAN MARKETPLACE - applicants will be notified of their application status no later than November 6).

T.E.S.T. Interview: FitzyDesign

Hand Painted Leather Cube Earrings with
Solid Copper Earring Wires by FitzyDesign

We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 55th in our series with Robin Fitzsimons of FitzyDesign.

How did you get started making jewellery and other goodies?


In September of 2012 I started a 365 project as a way to bring more spontaneity to my artistic practice. (I’m an artist by trade and hold a BFA in Sculpture/Installation from OCAD University.) Since then, I have been making something every single day, and posting it on my tumblr (robinfitzsimons365.tumblr.com) by midnight. The pieces I’ve made so far run quite a wide range of media including drawing, graphic design, textiles, video, and a whole bunch of leather craft. Many of my daily pieces have been various styles of leather jewellery, and so after numerous comments from friends and fans who follow the blog, I decided to start selling my jewellery, and Fitzy was born.

Leather Hair Bow by FitzyDesign
What influenced your choice of materials?

I have always loved working with natural, hardwearing materials. When I first started working with leather, I knew that I had found my perfect material. Leather has so many of the qualities that I love about wood, it’s natural, durable, develops a gorgeous patina as it ages, but is much easier to cut with an x-acto knife, a huge plus since my current studio is my living room.

What inspires you in your designs?

Hand Dyed Leather Key Chain by FitzyDesign
I have always employed a clean, simple visual aesthetic in my work, and Fitzy is no different, this way my materials speak for themselves.

What is your process in making jewellery and other goodies?

I’d rather keep my processes under wraps.

There's usually a story behind a shop's name, so could you tell me the story behind the name Fitzy?

I wanted to choose a name that was short, simple, and related to my name, Robin Fitzsimons, but without being a direct copy of my name, and so I settled on Fitzy.

Is your career making jewellery and other goodies or do you have a day job as well?

Wide Mystery Braid Leather Bracelet by FitzyDesign
Right now Fitzy is my full time job. I’m lucky enough to have a great support system, so that I can put everything I have into making Fitzy a success.

What goals or plans do you have in store for your business over the next 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?

Six months from now, I hope to have a number of steady wholesale accounts, at stores across Canada, a year from now I hope to be spending every weekend at summer craft shows, and two years from now I hope to have my own studio.

Hand Stitched Leather iPhone Case
with Removeable Cord by FitzyDesign
How do you promote yourself? Do you find social media an effective form of promotion?

Right now my primary form of promotion is social media. On any given day you can find me tweeting, tumbling, instagraming and facebooking all the goings on at Fitzy. I think social media is a great way to keep Fitzy fans updated, but I still believe that word of mouth is the best way to get new customers.

Do you do craft shows?

Leather Cycling Leg Strap by FitzyDesign
I did my first shows this summer: the Parkdale Flea (July 7th) and Big on Bloor Festival (July 20, 21). My next show is the Junction Flea on October 27, at the Evergreen Brickworks


Leather Headphone Cord Keeper by FitzyDesign

Check out the other items available from Robin in her Etsy shop FitzyDesign! You can find more of her work on her website Fitzy.ca, on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Interviewed by Brenda of SilverFoxDesigns6 in 2013 in Toronto.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vendor Call: Toronto Indie Arts Market


Toronto Indie Arts Market - Small Press & Literary Festival
Saturday, December 14th, 10:30am - 4:30pm
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West
admission $5, partial proceeds to Parkdale Project Read

Vendor call runs until October 31st - looking for authors, zines, small press, micro press, comics, indie magazines and more.

Full details at www.torontoindieartsmarket.com

Monday, October 21, 2013

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 12 Holiday Prep in Bite-sized Pieces

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
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 9 Social Media
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 10 The Dark Art of Pricing

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 11 Shop Stats
Looking for something just right for Hallowe'en?
Check out "An Edgar Allan Poe Tale" by IAM67
So far, we've covered opening your shop, making it look its best, making it easy to find, easy to interact with and practical skills like pricing your items appropriately, how to get products to customers and how to monitor who visits your shop. Today, though our thoughts might be with Hallowe'en, costumes, candy and spooky celebrations for the end of October, as  Etsy shop owners we need to be thinking about being prepared for the holiday rush. If this is your first winter* as an Etsy seller, you won't really know what to expect but by breaking the preparations into manageable pieces, you can be ready for anything (*with apologies to readers in the southern hemisphere, who may find it extra strange to see since most Etsy buyers are still in North America, the build up to the holidays not only come early, but with the opposite seasonal connotations).

We planned our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp in what we hope are bite-sized weekly pieces, so that all our Newbies can tackle -or at least investigate- one thing per week. But, we do have people joining all the time, and trying to play catch up. Also, we've been visiting your shops regularly. We've seen a lot of our Newbies improving by leaps and bounds and making more and more of those tweaks which can make a shop look its best and make for the best buyer experience. Nonetheless, we find that most shops haven't had the time to tackle all the topics we've covered, so let's start off with a check-list of things you can do to increase sales and better handle those sales as the holidays approach. We want you to read through this list and check off anything you've already done. Already you should see that you've done a lot of work, and are well on your way! Then, every time you have an hour to spare, try to check off one more item. Preserve your sanity, and do one thing at a time!

Putting The Best Face on Your Etsy Shop Holiday Prep Check-List

Open that Etsy shop! Here's the good news: if you're reading this, chances are good that you have already done the most important thing. You've opened a shop and listed something. If not, never fear! We'll walk you through it in Class 1 How to Open an Etsy Shop

Set up your Shop Banner and consider giving it a Holiday Make-over! Most of our Newbies have indeed set the tone for their shop with a great banner which identifies them, their shop and what they have on offer. As the holidays approach, you may want to create a special banner to set a festive spirit, include information about any special sales or services (like gift wrapping or cards included with gifts) or tips about getting expedited shipping or meeting shipping deadlines. See Class 2 Branding & Shop Banners for details on how to make and upload a shop banner and find tips and useful links for your shipping strategy in Class 8 Shipping and Packaging

Let buyers know who you are! If you haven't done so, now is the time to complete your Shop Bio and Profile and to make a fabulous multimedia About page. With the update in Etsy Policies, your About page is more important than ever. Remember: Transparency is the name of the game. Let the world know what it is you do and how! You've got something special on offer; letting buyers know is one of the most important things you can do to make your listings enticing. See Class 3 Shop Profiles Bios and Photos and Class 5 About Pages for all the information you need to get your Shop Bio and Profile and About page up and running.

Let buyers know what to expect with clear, thorough and fair Shop Policies. Chances are good that the next two months will be your busiest all year. Make things easy for yourself and your potential buyers by letting them know upfront what to expect, especially in terms of shipping, exchanges and return policies, as well as rules about payment. People are busy this time of year. If you make them search for answers, rather than clearly spelling things out, they may just visit one of your competitors instead. Though, on the flip side, because buyers may be rushed, expect to get increased questions regardless of whether you made information available. See Class 6 Shop Policies and Class 7 Communication for tips and details. Then, visit your shop as if you were the buyer (or ask a friend to do so for you) and take a critical look. Is anything unclear? Could a policy be improved to enhance your buyers' experience? Would anything make you hesitate? Remember: Make it easy for your buyers!

Make listings look their best! Does every single listing use: all 5 photos; all 13 tags; have clear, accurate titles starting with the most pertinent words; have a clear accurate description beginning with the vital information; include dimensions; include reasonable pricing and shipping options; put tags and keywords to their best use? Does your shop have a coherent look? Are there listings you can improve? Take the time to polish these! See Class 4 Make Listings Tempting for tips on making listings look and work their best. See Class 10 The Dark Art of Pricing for tips on pricing and Class 8 Shipping and Packaging 

Have a shipping strategy ready to go! Make sure you have plenty of supplies for packaging and things like business cards for branding to include with packages. Consider ways you can appeal to customers by making their life easier. Do you offer Expedited Shipping? Gift-wrapping? Cards? Is a shipping address different than the buyer's address? You might inquire if it is a gift, be sure to avoid including receipts and make sure your buyers have reasonable expectations of feasible delivery times. See Class 8 Shipping and Packaging 

Introduce and feature any Holiday items! Christmas is the single biggest driver of sales, so if you would like to offer anything related to Christmas (or which buyers might particularly like to buy for Christmas) put those things where everyone can see them: in your Featured Listings).  Check out Etsy's advice for launching a new product line. You can hardly do this too early: magazines looking for holiday content might be working as much as 6 months in advance! Though, don't worry - it's still early enough to catch most buyers. Etsy sellers are all over the world, and have all sorts of different traditions of course - but don't assume that the holiday rush is limited to though who celebrate Christmas or have items directly related (like cards, gift wrap, ornaments and more). Any item might make a great gift, and you should take a look at your shop pretending to be a Christmas shopper. You'll need to be prepared for buyers who want items delivered pronto (and perhaps even those with unrealistic ideas, who think that like Santa, Etsy sellers can deliver packages anywhere, overnight, as if by magic reindeer-pulled sleds, dashing through spacetime at relativistic speeds). There are also other holidays and events towards the end of the year which can drive sales. These include Hanukkah (November 27 through December 5), US Thanksgiving (November 28th), Black Friday (November 29th, when Americans 'officially' start their holiday shopping and the inspiration for many sales), Cyber Monday (December 2, the online equivalent),  Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1), Boxing Day (December 26th, which is HUGE here in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, and often extends throughout January), and New Year's Eve (December 31). Don't forget that while most people who celebrate Christmas want to give gifts on or before December 25th, some traditions don't celebrate until January 6 or 7. There are also several other religious and cultural celebrations and holidays during this time, so you may need to plan ahead how you'll balance your time, or consider how this may delay shipping to and from certain places.  Remember: In most of the world, mail delivery will be greatly affected in November and December. Be sure you're aware, and make your customers aware of Shipping Deadlines. Review Class 8 Shipping and Packaging and  Class 7 Communication 

  Let buyers know about any special holiday enticements you may offer! These include things like Holiday Sales, Discounts, Expedited Shipping, and any extras like gift wrapping, cards or freebies.

It's still a good time for featuring spooky, autumn and Hallowe'en
flavoured listings, like the Telegraph Pole art print by TheKittenAndTheCrow
but by November, we move onto the build up to the holidays
The longer you run your shop, you'll see there are certain rhythms to the year and you'll get used to working a good season in advance. You'll start to take advance of many different holidays, seasons and events, and feature appropriate listings. Even if buyers are looking for masks and costumes for Hallowe'en, fine art like we're featuring today will be extra tempting for people making treasuries or blog posts. So the trick is to have your Christmas items ready to feature November 1, but feature your Hallowe'en items until then (and similarly for other holidays).

Tip: Things can get hectic this time of year, so a good calendar and check list is really useful.

Tip: You'll want to keep careful track of inventory! If you are making a lot of sales you can run out of items you sell or shipping supplies unless you're monitoring them carefully. You never want to get caught out, not being able to deliver something your customer requires as soon as humanly possible.

Next, here's a checklist of specific tweaks you can make to optimize your shop for holiday shoppers. Each item is something you can do in a small amount of time. Plus, you can pick and choose items which appeal and might work well for you. The trick is not to get overwhelmed and to do things in small steps.


Tweaking Your Etsy Shop to Tempt Holiday Shoppers Check-List

Use Shop Sections and Tags in your  Etsy which match the way holiday shoppers think. You can sort your listings by gift categories (think 
  • Decor and Entertaining
  • Gadgets and Games
  • Useful and Utilitarian
  • Personalization
  • Keepsakes
  • Novelty and Stocking Stuffers
  • Favours and Thank Yous
according to the Etsy blog article Holiday Merchandising Guide: Winter Trends and Tips. You can also create new Shop Sections by price range as holiday shoppers often have a budget in mind. Remember: this does not mean you should under-price! Sometimes a gift might not seem 'good enough' unless it costs a certain minimum. Also having a variety of price points is always a good idea!

  Use your tags to suggest a gift recipient. People buy gifts for: Men, Women, Kids, Babies, Teens, Friends, Coworkers, Parents, Grandparents and more. If you think your listing would make a great hostess gift, point it out!

Highlight other big trends, like winter decor/fashion or weddings. Etsy predicts these will be important holiday trends:
  • Personalization
  • Glitz and Shimmer
  • Pictures, Photos and Portraits
  • Greeting Cards and 2014 Calendars
  • Gadget Cases and Accessories
  • Seasonal and Holiday Home Decor
  • Hostess and Entertaining Solutions
  • Wine & Spirits Carriers and Accessories
  • Holiday Fashion and Accessories
  • Winter Fashion Accessories
  • Cocktail and Statement Jewelry
  • Stocking Stuffers, Gag Gifts and Novelties
  • Bath, Beauty and Edible Gift Sets
  • Woodland Animals
  • DIY Kits
If you have items in your shop which match these trends, consider making them Featured Listings, tagging them appropriately and making an extra effort to promote them during this holiday lead-up time.

Time any planned sales and promotions to go with events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day

  Consider shooting some extra holiday-themed listing photos, with festive props. Want people to consider your item as a stocking-suffer? Show it in a Christmas stocking.  Evergreen foliage, wrapped gift boxes and wintry scenes can also rapidly get the idea across.

  Offer personalization and custom orders. If a buyer is on the fence about your item the idea that it can become a personalized gift might convince them!

  Place groups of items together to make gift set listings. 

Get that cozy for winter feeling with Waysofwoodfolk's Icelandic Wool Sweater
So, do you feel ready for the holidays? Nervous, excited, working on a plan? Have any questions, ideas or tips to share? Let us know what you think! Comment below or drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you.

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. 





 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!

2013 Mississauga Artisan Studio Tour


Come out to the Annual Artisan Studio Tour, where artisan's works are displayed in homes throughout Port Credit. Map and participants can be viewed at http://www.artisanstudiotour.ca/

Participants include TEST's own Alison Syer of Eyespot Designs.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vendor Call: The Bazaar of the Bizarre Frost Bite 2013


Not your average craft show - The Bazaar of the Bizarre : a marketplace for all things, different, interesting, weird, strange, one of a kind, macabre, whimsical or just things to flip your brain out!

When: SUNDAY December 15th, 2013 open to the public from 11am - 8pmWhere: 6 NOBLE st.Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement (NEW LOCATION!!!)

Artists, clothing designers, craft-folk, publishers and other independent makers of all things, exotic, whimsical, creepy, interesting, strange, fun, different and macabre are encouraged to join us for this marketplace of curious crafts, to be held Sunday, December 15th 2013 at our previous venue Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement, 6 Noble street.

Vendor application DEADLINE is Monday, October 28th 2013. (last day to apply)

Apply here

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vendor Call: Gifts of my Hands Holiday Show


The second annual gifts of my hands show is looking for all different kinds of artisans (no jewellers unfortunately). 

Show Date: December 7th
Location: Sorauren Park field house (ronces area). 
The table fee is $55 and that includes a 6x2.5 ft table. 

Email me at giftsofmyhands@gmail.com to apply!

Monday, October 14, 2013

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 11 Shop Stats

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
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 9 Social Media
TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 10 The Dark Art of Pricing
So far, we've covered opening your shop, making it look its best, making it easy to find, easy to interact with and practical skills like pricing your items appropriately and how to get them to customers. Today, we're covering the ways to measure your success in getting people in the virtual door of your online shop, and knowing how they found you. Shop Stats are a built-in tool provided by Etsy to let you measure traffic to your shop and whence it came.

Using Shop Stats: Nuts and Bolts

You can find your Shop Stats by navigating to Your Shop and using the pull-down menu to select Shop Stats. You can also see a summary of some of the most vital stats on your Dashboard (which is also found on the pull-down menu from Your Shop).

What you'll see is data, both numbers and plotted on (time series) graphs for views, favorites, orders, and revenue. Choose the tab which interests you to learn more. Select the date range with the pull-down menu.


  •  View is all about visitors to your shop and listings in a given time period
  •  Favorites is your collection of ♥'s - the numbers of people adding your shop or listings to their favorites lists
  • Orders is the number of orders received - the number of individual customers not the number of listings. Multiple listings purchased by a single customer are lumped together.
  • Revenue is the net revenue you've made from your sales (taxes and shipping are not included - this is one reason you may not wish to 'hide' shipping costs in your prices, but to list actual item and shipping costs separately - see Class 8 Shipping and Packaging)
You can track those ♥'s using stats
and wear your heart on your back with the
Black Bamboo Jersey Drop Waist Dress with
heart cut-out back by MaybeByCatalfo
See the little green triangles along the bottom? Those are events. If you move your cursor along any graph, when you pass a green triangle, events tracked on that day will be revealed. These include new or renewed listings posted,  and things you've shared on social media directly from Etsy. That way, you can see directly how these sorts of things correlate with changes (and spikes!) in views, favorites, orders, and revenue.

Below this you'll see three sorts of lists of traffic sources: Etsy's full list of traffic sources, a break down of sources from within Etsy (hover over the question mark for explanations) and keywords used to find your shop from within Etsy

Using Shop Stats to Better Promote Your Shop
  • You can use the top traffic source data of course to measure what promotions are already working. Is your blog on the list? Great job! Is someone else's blog on the list? Write them a nice thank you email, and you can even ask these bloggers if you can add their contact information to your PR list, so you can gather an effective and engaged list of people to contact next time you launch something new! (See this Etsy blog post for more tips). If you see a lot of Direct Traffic, that means people know your actual URL and promotional material like business cards are working. If you don't see Direct Traffic, you might want to increase your efforts off-line. You want to see Google in your top traffic sources - if it isn't there, you need to work on SEO (see Class 4, Class 9 and stay tuned for future classes on Search Engine Optimization). 
     
  • Your traffic sources within Etsy let you gauge how your Activity feed, Teams, Treasuries, Browse and things like Search are working for you (or maybe what can be improved). You can keep people moving within your shop by using links to other listings within listings - consider directing buyers to similar items! You can experiment to find out how participating in Teams and Treasuries can increase traffic. Class 4 should help you maximize your chances of being found in Search, as well as increase your chances of being featured in Treasuries and Favorites.   
  • Your keywords can be revealing. Do the keywords you think make sense show up in the list? If your list matches what is actually happening then you've got a good handle on what is bringing people in. If you see keywords that had not occurred to you, you should consider changing tags and titles (see Class 4), to include these words! After all, those are keyworks which already work and this can improve your SEO. Are you using tags which do not appear in your keywords list? You might want to rethink these and replace them with the way buyers actually find you. Sometimes sellers use categories and tags which are really idiosyncratic. Choosing funny words or descriptions can be a fun way of setting the tone for your brand, but you want to choose your tags based on what is accurate and effective. Save the funny and idiosyncratic for the end of listings. Note that keywords, like tags, can be word phrases and that these are more effective, since they are more specific and buyers who use these to find something specific, rather than a general idea, are more likely to buy.
Remember to stay focused and centred,
and don't get too caught up. Fun yoga gear like this
Yoga Sheep: Cobra Pose - Mens T-shirt - Sand
by DesignedToLife
might be just the thing.
Tip: Don't get too caught up! Watching for sales and ♥'s can be addictive, but it's better to stay focused on and centred on doing what you want to do and acheiving longer-term goals. Especially when you're just starting a business, every sale feels very important and it can be tempting to read too much into whether or not something sells, or a promotion appears to work. But, the thing about the statistics of small numbers is that they are not always representative. Your Shop Stats will become more meaningful over time. It will likely take months before you can really get a good sense of what works for you and your business. You want keep a eye on things, but remember that the larger the sample size the more meaningful.


Tip: On the other hand, if you are really interested in seeing everything that Etsy can track for you and offering your two cents' worth about what statistics would be most useful, you can join the Shop Stats Beta Team  which will allow you to participate in testing new features will may be rolled out to all Etsy sellers.

Google Analytics

Seeing maps of plotted visitor location can be irristable to map lovers,
like the License Plate Map of Canada by Route401
A third party app which is very popular and can be used for your shop (and other websites or blogs) is Google Analytics. Etsy has a tutorial for how to set up the web analytics for your shop, if you don't have an existing account, and a tutorial for adding analytics for your Etsy shop to an existing account. There is a lot of overlap in the sort of information you can glean from Google Analytics and Shop Stats (though you may see some differences because their sampling methods differ) about how people are finding your shop. Unsurprisingly, Shop Stats has more thorough information about how people move within Etsy and what they do. Google Analytics on the other hand, provides more flexibility in how data are plotted and more information on demographics. By adding Google analytics to your shop you can learn, for instance:
  • what proportion of your visitors are new or returning visitors (which tells you about customer loyalty and whether you are successfully driving new traffic to your shop)
  • how much time is spent and how many pages within your shop are visited on average (which gives you a hint as to whether you need to do more to engage casual visitors and link within listings to encourage them to explore your shop further)
  • where geographically are your visitors located (which can help you plan your shipping policies and tells you something about how your promotion efforts are working)
  • your visitors' browsers' default languages (which is most useful if you are posting listings in multiple languages)
  • what sort of platform and browser they use (you may want to have a look at your shop in different browsers and follow advice to optimize your shop for mobile buyers)
  • you can even set up custom variables to track or set goals and track your success at meeting various metrics
  • specific data about how social media directs traffic to your site (see Class 9 on Social Media)
and more. Also, you can use a single dashboard to organize any tracking you might want to do for any of your sites - for instance, you can use Google Analytics for your shop and for your blog.

You can find the Google Analytics Help Center here.

So, are you using  Shop Stats (or GA) to track your progress with your new shop? Have you found something particularly revealing? Is it something you've integrated into the time you spend on your shop? Have any tips or questions? Let us know below!

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. 

 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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