As stated in the earlier blog posts in this series relationships and bonding with people is really important to selling handmade jewelry. The more expensive the piece of jewelry the more important it is. I have always believed that when many people buy a piece from me they are just as excited about the story behind the piece as they are about the piece.
Creating a bond and a relationship online is difficult, however not impossible. Many of the suggestions I am going to give will be elaborated on in future blog posts this post is a general overview. Also most of me examples will relate to Etsy but this does not matter because most beginner sellers start on Etsy or a similar site like Art Fire or 1000 Markets. The vocabulary maybe slightly different among these online vendors but in general they have the same use. For all these places remember it takes a lot of time, the Internet is a very slow marathon not a sprint. Be patient and wait.
For the purpose of this article when I talk about buyers I mean people that do not sell online themselves, they are there just to purchase.
Relationships with Buyers Vs Sellers
When many people start selling on Etsy their first plan is to hang out in the chat rooms and forums in order to sell their wares. This is something I did myself when I first started. The problem is that most people in the chat rooms or forums are other sellers with the same idea. The proportion of sellers to buyers in these places is astounding. In general this is not good because most sellers are still trying to make a profit and won’t be looking to spend a lot of money.
Now you can get the occasional sale in these places. I have bought stones from Lapidarious because I met him in a chat room. I also bought a work apron from Georgia Marbles because I met her in a chat room. But in general the amount of time I spent in chat rooms and forums were economical not worth it.
At the same time the chat rooms and forums are good way to learn about Etsy or your craft from other sellers. It is also a good way for people who just started their shop to get added to the favorite lists in other people’s shops. The key part with Etsy is attracting lots buyers to your page and not lots sellers.
Etsy is a Community
The big thing to remember is Etsy is a community. A lot of the buyers that are attracted to Etsy over Ebay or Amazon is that Etsy is a kind of social network. Sellers have a bio, links and personalized written notes for the items they sell. As a seller if you want to be successful you have to become part of this community.
A good bio is really important. The buyer gets to know you better and feels closer to the seller if they see a good bio. It also makes your shop look less shady and more professional. The bio shouldn’t be too long because people will not read it.
The most important part of the Etsy community is you have to buy things from Etsy. Buyers like the idea that their sellers also purchase items from Etsy shops. I am not saying spend all your profit on Etsy goods that would be silly. Buy things you would normally buy from Amazon or a local store off of Etsy instead.
An example for me is when I bought my dad his fathers day present from Etsy. I got him a wooden pen, similar to one he lost a few years ago, and he loved it. So I bought a gift for my dad and I have the history of buying something off of Etsy and buyers like to see that history.
For creating a relationship with a potential buyer your shops rating score is extremely important, I might even venture to say the most important part. A rating score is more then a ranking or value judgment. The comments and appreciation photos tell a sellers story that make potential buyers feel closer to you and feel safer giving you their money.
Creating and maintaining a good rating score is easy but requires lots of little steps. For a newer shop with no rating score buy a few things on Etsy, this also has the bonus of participating in the Etsy Community. If you give quick payment the seller will leave you good comments and a good score. Sellers always leave feedback.
Remember the majority of buyers do not bother to fill out the feedback form most of the time. This is not because they are upset with you, this is because people get busy and just don’t get around to it. In the future there will be longer posts dedicated to this important and complex process.
Physical Appearance of Shop
The good physical appearance of a shop is simple and will be written more about in latter posts. The key parts are good photos, good descriptions and good grammar. Without good photos you will not sell anything. Learn how to take good photos and look at shops that have good photos, it might be worth investing in some real photo editing software or learning how to use a good open source one.
The description of the piece is really important. This needs to be concise and to the point. I came across a seller once that loaded hers with Merry Poppins quotes, and yes that might get her some Google searches but it was also really annoying. The most important part of the description is that it must have good grammar and no spelling errors. People will be turned away from your shop in an instant if they see terrible grammar and that someone didn’t bother to run spell check.
Repeat after me “I will not cold convo people on Etsy.” This is crucial do not spam people on Etsy. That is a quick way to get labeled as a bad member of the Etsy community. Now if you get a hot call then respond. Examples are if someone favorites my shop or an item I always send them a short convo thanking and asking if they have any questions.
I have gotten at least one sale this way and maybe more will come in the future. Also contact people that bought from you in the past about how they liked the piece and if they are interested in more. Maybe even offer them a discount because they left you good feedback.
Blogging and External Sites
Running a good blog or an external site that links into Etsy is a great idea. At the same time it is difficult and time consuming. I will write more posts on this in the future but in general there are a few things to consider. One, blogs and external sites take a long time before they start creating you sales. Two, who is the audience for your blog and are other people already blogging about it. Three, blogs are a dialog and not a venue to talk about your new pieces. Four, blogs and external sites are a huge time commitment to make successful and maintain.
This might seem like a lot but it is not. If done well it is very easy and seamless. Remember this takes a lot of time to mature. It is like planting a fruit tree. It takes years for the tree to grow, then even more years before the tree starts to have fruit and even longer before it starts to produce lots of fruit. The key thing to remember is to be patient and always be on the look out for new ways to attract buyers to your shop.
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