Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are You A Spy?

When I first started selling on Etsy, I was the one and only tatter on the site. That is one of the reasons I chose to sell tatted jewelry as opposed to my knitting or crochet pieces. As Etsy grew, a few tatters migrated over and I would be lying if I said I didn't panic greatly. Was I good enough to handle competition? Would the other tatters mock or hate me?Almost every day, I would check the other tatting shops, not only to see how they were doing, but also to make sure I was doing something that they were not. I figured the only way to stand out was to be different and the other way to know if I was different was to spy.

There are some great reasons to spy on your competition that have nothing to do with copying designs. You can really grow as a seller by really looking at how other shops are doing. Look at their prices, their sold items, color choices, and stock numbers. Look at how they describe their items and how they take pictures. Compare your sales with theirs and try to make better items than them. Try doing searches for your products using your tags and see what else comes up. Never copy them or bad mouth other sellers that you feel are doing something wrong, just point out what you are doing right and use this info as a jumping off point. Never stop spying, because there is always more to learn.

Today there are quite a few more folks selling their tatted jewelry there, but I'm not nearly as stressed out about it and I'll tell you why. Most of us have dramatically different styles that would not appeal to the same buyers. We have each carved out our own niche and I know this because I'm still spying on their shops on a regular basis. I swear it's a good thing. Sometimes a shop will make me giggle because they have designs suspiciously similar to my own making me think they must be spying on me too. For some reason I enjoy watching someone else try so hard to compete with me, perhaps because it makes me feel like I've arrived.

You'd think I'd be upset that someone might be copying me, but most of the time I'm not. I know my work is original and my workmanship is as good, if not better than anyone I've seen doing similar designs. There are a few tatters on Etsy that I really admire for their skills, some that hand dye thread, others that make beautiful shuttles, and some that make designs I don't like at all, but I appreciate the skill and time that goes in to making them . I'm not afraid of the competition anymore, but that doesn't mean I'm not watching...always watching.

Now for Something completely different:

I got featured on not one, but two treasuries yesterday:

15 comments:

stilettoheights said...

I loved reading this, I feel like I could have written it too....and yes, when I see the items and titles that are very similar to things I have sold in the past....I know I am not the only spy out there.

xoxo

Crickets Creations Handknit Scarves said...

Great points! I challenge anyone to try and copy me...first you've got to buy thousands of dollars of yarn 'cuz I often use 10 or more different yarns in EACH scarf (with over 80 styles to choose from, that's a LOT of yarn)...anyone still there?? Okay, now you've got to get as fast as I am in order to make any moolah at my low prices (I make 2-3 scarves daily)...but the one thing you can't pretend is to be as cool as I am, so you might as well give up now, lol! ;)
Celeste (Crickets)

CastoCreations said...

honestly...no. I can't. It gives me panic attacks to see others' works that are better than mine. It freaks me out. :) And if I see work that is cheaper than mine (no matter the quality) it freaks me out. So I try to avoid looking around the jewelry items.

Not only that I fear the unconscious seeping of ideas into my head ... I want to create my own work with no other jewelry influence from others. It's hard though. :)

GracieBird said...

You are, by no means, the only one! You have nothing to worry about though, your tatted jewelry ROCKS!

Barbra said...

Watching and spying are good. Great blog.

sMacThoughts said...

Jeepers, I am a ding-dong. I never 'spy'...though, I would call this part of knowing my competition/educating myself about the current market and the customers who purchase there. Not "spying." :))

I think, however, I might start doing my own Etsy research. It actually is a sorta smart thing to do.

Helen said...

Congrats on the treasuries! Good post too. I don't think anyone can duplicate your pieces but you should be flattered that anyone would want to! Tatting is really a lost art and it is an art that isn't easy to master!

Susan said...

I was in product development for 10 years for a few MAJOR industry leaders in commercial products...we always would buy competitive products to dissect and analyze. Everyone does it. I had an R&D budget for such purposes that was over $100K a year!

Waterrose said...

OH yes, I spy too. And you are right for the most part many of whom I would consider competition make things differently. I also check out the prices to make sure that I'm competitively priced. I have in many cases thought wow...that is a great idea. But I would never copy ..I think there is enough creativity in my own brain to last a lifetime!

Sandy said...

spying, market research, covert ops... it's all true!

Orion Designs said...

I think it's healthy to be aware of what else is "out there". Spying doesn't have to be a negative thing!

woolies said...

I used to spy a lot, but found that it made me really anxious. (especially with my new pendant shop). so now I don't even look. I just concentrate on my own shop, promoting, etc.

Joann said...

I wish I could tat.....always admired it. But I know what you mean - I'm feeling like I'm the only china painter on Etsy! It's lonely when you can't find your own.

Anyway enough of my problems....loved reading your blog! You do beautiful work.

Jane Eborall said...

Heh, heh, heh. Your post made me giggle. I'd love to be a spy but don't have the inclination. My Etsy shop stinks cause I don't pay it any attention!!! I'm an Etsy failure but very pleased to see you are a winner!!!
Jane
http://www.janeeborall.com/ - Tatting Patterns
http://janeeborall.blogspot.com/ - blog

Toni said...

I'm sitting here smiling. I love your work, I always check to see what you have that's new, I aspire to your level of expertise, and I don't think you have anything to worry about. You are light years away from your competition. You are an outstanding craftsperson. That all said, isn't it amazing how much tatting is being sold on Etsy these days? It's growing by leaps and bounds! Same with little dog sweaters. :)