Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why Am I Not Famous Yet?

What am I doing wrong? Why isn't this selling? Why am I not a millionaire yet? Okay, I haven't actually seen that last question yet, but the others are asked seemingly every hour at Etsy. I assume the same thoughts swirl around at DeWanda, ebay, icraft and all the other handmade marketplaces online. We, as a culture, have been infected with the, 'if you build it they will come' mentality. This, I'm afraid to tell you is a fallacy, a lie, complete untruthiness.

Let's explore why it might be that no one is buying your goods. Without even looking at your shop, the first thing that pops out to me is your product. It actually might not be worth buying. Harsh, you say, but perhaps it's the truth. Are you making jewelry in the same style as a hundred other people with the same beads? Are you knitting dish clothes with the pattern off the back of the yarn label? Are you making candles or soap from a kit you found at the craft store? I could go on, but you get the point. If you are doing these or dozens of other simple and unoriginal things, you have your answer. Unless you do these things with amazing skill and flair, they are not worth buying for most people. Don't take other sellers word for it in the forums either, they are not likely to tell you the truth. They are simply too nice and too supportive. Most of them honestly want everyone to succeed even when they know not everyone can.

If you've past that first test, then you're ready for the analogy portion of my diatribe. Imagine if you will, a mall with 10,000 jewelry stores. I really shouldn't have to go on, it should be clear where this is headed, but for arguments sake, I shall continue. If you were to walk into that mall,with no preconceived agenda you are probably only going visit the first few stores you see. So that's 9995 unseen stores. Maybe you're an organized shopper so you check out the directory. You're looking for stores that stand out in some way, a great name, a description that includes exactly what you're looking for, or something familiar and you're still only going to visit a few stores.

Here's the lesson in all this. If you want to be one of the first stores they see, you need to list or re list often enough to see seen easily. You don't need to go crazy, just once a day could help a lot. If you can't do that, then you need to catch the organized shopper. To do that, you need to use all your tags wisely so you come up in all relevant searches. Ah, tags, the illusive grail of shopping. You know that they are the key and yet you can't seem to use them right. I have a tip, pretend you're a shopper and searching for something that you sell. What words do you actually use in a search? I've looked for formal jewelery, casual jewelery, beautiful, elegant, simple, unique, soft, bright, dark, etc. Are you using those kinds of words to describe your pieces. This is how you can use all your tags without resorting to tag abuse, which doesn't help your cause at all.

I hear a lot of people responding to these "why" questions with the horrible phrase, "You just need to wait for the right buyer". This akin to telling the needle in the haystack, "you just need to wait for the guy with the magnet." What you need to do is make that needle so cool and easy to find that people don't even have to try to look for it. There are plenty of buyers out there for everyone making a quality product, but most of them are not looking for an expedition. They want stuff to fall in their laps, so make sure you're throwing it out there where they can find it!

35 comments:

Precious Quilts said...

Thank you for a very 'plain speaking' article. I do wish people would stop asking the question, why! I often tell them to imagine themselves as a small shop on the local high street... how would they make themselves more attractive, interesting to persuade the casual passerby to stop passing them by!

Many people come to other sites from Ebay where basically you list and just sit back.... here you have to work, and I mean work at promoting if you are going to sell anything at all.

Rubbish in.... rubbish out!

Annie said...

Excellent entry and very true!

Kate E. Austin said...

Good advice!

Judy Signoriello said...

Great blog/article, I totally agree with you, I have a jewelry shop as well as my painting shop... tough to sell in either category and especially tough to list or re-list in my artwork shop on a daily basis!!! But I finally have my first sales in each so I'm keeping my head up....

shezarealgem said...

Great advice. Honest and accurate.

~Mel

Astrida Naturals said...

This entry really makes a lot of sense. I'm a new seller on Etsy, so I think this is good advice. I like the mall analogy, and you are right, many people in the forums seem to be too nice and quick to complement a shop, when it really doesn't stand out. Thanks for saying it plain. I will try to remember this advice as I expand my shop.

Rachael said...

I second your very well written, well observed, honest and refreshing article.

LieblingArtCrafts said...

Great article. I'd rather use my energy to retag items, or sit and make an original piece than sit and whine about low sales on the forum. You get out what you put in!

Jess

http://www.lieblingartcrafts.etsy.com

http://www.lieblingartcrafts.wordpress.com

fe-mailler55 said...

I so agree with everything you have written. It is 'plain speaking' and sometimes I would like to say things on the forum but am afraid to.

savonara said...

Wise words. I try to remember that it is a process, and that I can't "do it all" instantly. I feel like I have a lot of work to do to get sales moving and 99% of it is completely off etsy.

Valerie said...

True, nobody will tell people that their stuff doesn't stand out =/ I'm not affraid to say it, at the beginning, my stuff sucked. Really bad. But I improved, learned new techniques, practiced them, looked for new styles, and applied them. Etsy is also not my only venue. Don't put all your eggs in the same basket they say... that's true.

I now sell my stuff in boutiques, and I am very busy with my craft, but I still don't sell as mucha s I would on Etsy. Oh well, I'll keep on listing frequently =) Making new items is fun anyway !

Valerie said...

Imeant "I don't sell as much as I would like, on Etsy"

Too many thoughts at the same time !

Hot Rocks said...

I totally agree with you! That is why I am constantly striving to create different designs from everyone else, to stand out.Relisting is key!
www.hotrocksglassjewels.etsy.com

Sherry said...

Thanks! Good advice.
http://purplecrafthouse.etsy.com

Waterrose said...

What a great article. You should submit it to the storque as an article. Also thanks for the reminder on relisting and tagging.

Mary Ann said...

Thanks for the great advice. When people ask what is wrong with their shop and people go on and on about how wonderful everything is and I'm thinking -"Well, your pictures are really bad", but others are posting about how great the pictures are I then start thinking that there must be something wrong with how I'm seeing it.

Scott Bulger Photography said...

Nicely said.

Caroline said...

What an awesome post! Thank you so much for pointing out things that people don't wish to hear and things that people are too polite to say. You didn't mean me, right? LOL! :-) Great, great post.

germandolls said...

well said! yeah, it is kind of difficult to give store critiques. Often people don't realize that their work does not stand out. I like that part of your article where you point out that in order to make it you have to bring some special skill to etsy!

Carol said...

good advice and good reading!!

Mrs.Kwitty said...

Oh so true! Nicely put (I like the comparison to the big mall) A helpful post, and food for thought.
Smiles, Karen

Patti said...

This is such a great article. There are times when I would like to have you sitting over my shoulder when I list!

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

Very straightforward; I like that.
I don't hang around the forums but my answer to the question is, if your motive is to become rich and/or famous you're doing "it" for the completely wrong reason.
My advice to artisan's is "just do what you're passionate about."....... period!

LittleSalem said...

Thanks for talking about this. You are so right about the mall analogy.

Cindy said...

Wonderful article! I agree with Waterrose that you should try to put it in the storque. Good job.

twiddlestix said...

Fantastic advice. Love how you lay it all out there! Thanks!

Gina said...

I don't even sell here plus I seldom buy even but I look a lot. What you say is true....so much of the same thing and to hunt for that one unique item you're willing to pay for is often more time-consuming that most people want to invest. While my own work is of high quality, I don't see it selling here. As I look over the various shops, many are low quality, some are outrageously expensive for what is offered and some are undervalued. If it's something I can get at my local craft bazaar, why would I order it and pay shipping on top of that? I think the odds are against the average seller - but it's still a fabulous opportunity.

Your advice is excellent.
:-) Gina

Rocki's Rock 'n Beads said...

Very good read and excellent advise. I cringe whenever I see the 'boo hoo why haven't I...' threads. Buyers read the forums too and it just seems so unprofessional to me.
Thanks!
Rocki

GrayEyedScorpio said...

You're speaking bibles of truth here!

Azhure said...

Yay for someone who isn't afraid to speak their mind, and for that matter, speak the truth.
Another thing that I think matters, and I get told all the time "I would buy your piece if I could afford it" the economy is hurting everyone

BabyLyons said...

very helpful and well said

ElegantSnobbery said...

Love this post! You really say it all, in a funny yet no-nonsense way! Thanks, I enjoyed this!!

beadinbythesea said...

Thanks so much for your honest and informative post. I see those threads everyday as well! I'll have to rethink my tags to include words that describe the overall feel of my pieces.

talia said...

Absolutely. Love it. Agree!

Kanna said...

when I first saw this link in the sidebar of your blog the first thought I had was "you are famous" your work and username is pretty much synonymous with needle tatting as far as I've seen, everyone that is looking to learn to needle tat is sent to your blog and your videos. after I read the article however I have come to the conclusion that you are a reality check for people that need one. thank you so much for your point of view and sharing your skill with people that wish to learn... I love needle tatting and you made it very clear and easy to learn. you may or may not sell very many items in your etsy shop but you do influence a lot of people to try something new for that I applaud you.
p.s sorry if this really long rambling comment posted twice my browser is being a little wonky.