(Photo: "A Look Back Down a Snowy Road" by Rhonda Morris Schley)
The December Challenge for the Blogging Business Artisans team was to look back over the past year and assess my Etsy shop. The challenge also poses this question: Can you think of one thing to do that will help improve your shop? This post is my response to that team challenge.
THE PAST IS PROLOGUE
This is my second year on Etsy. I opened my little shop, Pasque Flower Creations, in February of 2011. It took me three months to get my first sale, but I'm now at 366 sales and counting. (I had 1 to 4 sales per day every day in December until December 19.) I substantially changed the focus of my shop by the end of my first year from children's clothing to "fun and functional fabric items."
My biggest sellers have been boutique oven mitts. Who knew??? I've considered an all oven mitts shop, but I prefer to maintain a somewhat eclectic mix of product offerings.
As I look back over my second year on Etsy, I am generally pleased with the way my shop is growing, evolving and trending. My goal at the beginning of the year was to have 200 sales with $4,000.00 in revenue. I'm happy to report that I've met and exceeded that goal. As of December 19, I had 251 sales and over $5600.00 in revenue. Not enough to replace a full-time job, but not chump change, either.
POSITIVES -- THE SUNNY SIDE
1. The Shop Stats are trending in the right direction: views, favorites, sales and revenues are UP nearly 200% or more, and favorites have more than tripled.
2. My new banner and logo reflect my shop's personality and emerging product lines.
3. I now have over 100 listings in my shop. My shop sections help Buyers navigate the site.
4. My oven mitts have been included in Etsy Wedding Registries! Again -- who knew??
5. I was able to reduce shipping costs by buying Tyvec mailers in bulk and shipping most orders by First Class Mail. With postage rates going up again, I need to reassess whether I can continue to offer free shipping on domestic orders.
6. I have had an increased number of treasury features, in large part due to my involvement with the Blogging Business Artisans and Baby Boomer teams. Thank you! My photo editing has improved, although I still have much to learn. Better photos = more treasury features.
7. Direct checkout has been a godsend. Many of my customers prefer to pay by credit or debit card, and I love getting little Etsy paychecks direct deposited on Mondays.
NEGATIVES -- THE CLOUDY SIDE
1. My cost of goods sold plus fees leave me too little profit. I need to reduce costs (without compromising on quality) or increase prices. I'm working for less than minimum wage here. Fabric prices and postage costs keep increasing.
2. My sales dropped off precipitously in June, September and October. Need to fix that if possible.
3. I'm spending way too much time running to the post office and restocking supplies.
4. I underestimated holiday demand, so with inventories reduced after brisk November sales and two successful craft fairs, I found it difficult to restock supplies and keep up with orders in December - even working 16+ hour days. My shipping costs also increased as I used Priority Mail to "make up" for the extra days it took me to complete and ship some orders.
QUERY: WHAT ONE THING COULD I DO TO IMPROVE MY SHOP?
I plan to try some seasonal promotions ( a coupon code emailed to people on my Customer List or posted on my FB page and blog perhaps) possibly for St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, graduations, weddings, back to school/college, and Halloween in an attempt to fill in the "valleys" during the slow months. I believe that is the single most important thing I could do to improve my shop.
BUT WAIT, THERE"S MORE!
I also plan to explore direct checkout shipping options that would allow me to print a shipping label with postage, even for international orders. This would reduce my number of trips to the post office.
I also hope to create at least five items per week, one of them a "new" item, so that inventory stays fresh and so I have more ready to ship items throughout the year and especially during the 2013 holiday season.
I'll be looking for opportunities to buy supplies and fabric and product components in bulk or at a volume discount to reduce my cost of goods sold and increase my profit margin.
And last, but not least, I'll be looking for innovative ways to utilize SCRAPS! I literally have a scrap heap in my Girl Cave. Using scraps to make new products would substantially reduce my cost of goods sold and increase my profit margin -- not to mention reducing the clutter in my work area. Hmm - patchwork pouches, doll quilts, rag dolls, crocheted rag rugs, garlands, Christmas ornaments?? Speak to me, scraps! What do you want to be in your next life? (I'd welcome any scrap-friendly suggestions from you, too, loyal readers!)
2012 was a difficult year for me personally and financially, but the substantial growth in my Etsy shop gives me hope for a better 2013.
LeAnn aka pasqueflower