Monday, November 17, 2014

It Is What It Is

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, but instead of promoting my Etsy wares,  today I'm going to reflect on my Etsy slump.

My sales have been way off pace compared to last year ever since February.  I know I am not completely alone, but the stats don't lie.

If I knew how to turn it around, I would.  Seriously.  But I don't know how to turn it around. 

So --- it is what it is.


I don't know, really.  I started the year with optimism, coming off an unexpectedly busy holiday season with a huge spike in sales from November 2013 through January 2014.  I expected to hit 1000 sales this year, because  I naively expected to see the same steady growth in 2014 that I'd experienced the prior two years. 
Maybe I rode the chevron wave of popularity, and now it has ebbed.  And I haven't tapped into the next big thing.
Maybe the cheap factory-made goods that have taken over a bigger share of the Etsy marketplace make my handmade products appear to be overpriced. 
Maybe I've wasted so much time trying to promote via social media, that I sapped the energy I need to keep creating new things that people might want to buy.
Maybe my titles and tags and product descriptions aren't good enough.
My photos suck.  But they are no worse than the photos that produced increased sales last year and the year before that.
Maybe people can't find my stuff with the new Etsy search -- however that works.
I miss the old Etsy --- but the reality is, it's gone for good.


And evolution means



My "fittest" teammates are surviving and thriving despite the Etsy changes -- the hideous and hard-to-navigate front page, all the changes in formats, and "relevancy" searches.  So I can't lay all the blame on Etsy changes.  I am truly happy to see them succeed, and I wish them continued good fortune.
I've tried to adapt.  I've promoted.  I've spammed my friends and teammates with Facebook posts, Tweets,  and Pins.   I've Liked and Shared and Pinned and Tweeted until I'm blue in the face.
I've tried to be a good Team player.  I've made treasuries. I've commented. I've chatted.  I've made some great cyber friends, and I'm grateful for that.   But the Stats don't lie.  I get very few views or likes from teams, blogs or treasuries, and very, very, very few sales. 
I've listened to dozens of hours of webinars and I've read Etsy Success posts. I've tried to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization), branding, marketing, photography, finding your "ideal customer" and your "target market."  I've tried to diversify my product line.
But the crowd gets bigger and bigger -- and my little shop is getting lost in that crowd.

This old gray dinosaur is not able to effectively compete in the "new Etsy" environment. 


I'll limp through this holiday season and then I'll regroup --- possibly revamping my shop by creating product lines with items made only from fabric and scraps I have on hand.  I'd consider having a going out of business sale - -but who would know?  Maybe I'll just close up shop and donate the inventory to charity -- or maybe not. 
Maybe I'll just sew, and stop chasing after sales.
I don't know.  I haven't figured that out yet.   Maybe I need to take a sabbatical -- to clear my head, sharpen my focus, and muster up the courage to forge ahead---or not.






  1. You are definitely not alone, LeAnn. All I can say is that overall 2013 was much better sales-wise for me than this year (across all my shops) and I DO attribute this to the many, many confusing changes on Etsy. One thing I have done is written a personal note to each return customer, simply as a reminder that I still exist and also to ask whether they would mind if I add them to my upcoming newsletter list.
    Maybe it is also a matter of joining the right team and perhaps advertising in strategic places. I am still figuring it out myself :) Above all, don't give up just yet! The tide may turn any moment and it is best we are prepared :)

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Duni! And I wish you a successful holiday season.

  2. LeAnn, I'm in the same page as well! Do not give up yet! For me this year less successful in the numbers of sales, but more successful by opportunities. You will find out my little" bragging" soon :) ...
    As for now, it can be frustrating to see that etsy has so much of control over our income.... and sure you are not alone! I'm thinking to close up my first shop ( acrylic paintings)... it lost in the pool of "etsy favorites" this year and I have no control to fix it :(

    1. Congrats on your opportunities!! Your art is fantastic -- it's just a matter of finding the best market.

  3. Everything was great for me this spring and I was really excited and thought I'd finally "arrived," but then things pretty much fell off a cliff in early fall. It is really disappointing and frustrating. I can't help but feel like Etsy changes are part of it because when the big changes happened coincided with the dramatic decrease in my sales, but I feel like there should be something I can do to help myself! I know I haven't figured that out - I hope you can find answers for yourself.

    1. It's good to know I'm not alone, but I truly don't know how to turn it around. Hoping your sales pick up, too.

  4. Like others have said, you are not alone. October was a terrible month for me compared to months prior. Luckily the holiday sales have started to come in. And I think by adding personalized embroidery to your items will help as well. People always love when they can personalize an item...makes it that much more special.
    I hope your holiday sales rush starts any day now :)

  5. I said this in a comment here the other day, but you're definitely not alone. SO many of us are just treading water. I took a year off of Etsy while I finished design school and things are just so different now. I thought it would be like getting back onto a bike, but it's like chasing down a wild horse. I do have a Squarespace site set up for just my Room Kits, and I think I'm going to add the rest of my inventory over there, too. It can't hurt. I don't want to totally give up on Etsy yet, but I know it's time to start going after other markets. They definitely changed things and aren't owning up to it.

    Anyway, I hope your break gives you some insight on what to do next!

    1. Thanks, Paige. I've looked at Zibbet, but it has a small following. I tried Craft Is Art, but no sales at all, so I pulled the plug on that. Etsy has the market share. Where does an elephant sleep? Anywhere it wants to. Wishing you lots of success on Squarespace until you break into HGTV :-).

  6. I am hearing so much more about this. I think Etsy is getting so over-saturated that it's hard for shops to keep up. I know Etsy is just a small part of my sales and I think it's because of that.

    I don't think that you should stop, or close shop. If you feel you need some time away, I would take it. The first of the year will be a good time since things slow down considerably for everyone. But I think you would miss your shop if you closed. I do understand though how sometimes when you make your living doing what you love, you lose touch of creating for the fun of it. Maybe you should take a break and make some fun things for the house, or your family.

    One of the things that bother me is all the shops that shouldn't even be open at Etsy. If they were to shut down all the shops that violate copyright, and turned everyone's sales into the IRS, I wonder how many shops would be left there. If you've ever gone over to the business and bookkeeping forums, you'll know what I mean.

    OK, I'm done complaining now. Had a tooth pulled yesterday and perhaps the pain meds are making me a bit cranky!

    1. Good point about copyright infringers! Sorry to hear about your sore tooth. Ouch! I may take a sabbatical after the holidays (during tax season). I still need to finish my granddaughter's graduation quilt - now over a year overdue. I feel so guilty.