Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Power of the Etsy Daily Picks

In addition to my own Mama Love website I sell my flower essence aromatherapy products on a site called Etsy which is especially for handmade products and the people who love them. Here's a link to my Etsy shop.

For me, joining Etsy was a total experiment. I rarely sold my work online. My business started as a wholesale operation selling to retail stores, mostly small boutiques focusing on handmade items or natural products. But when the recession hit hard I lost half my stores! Almost that many went out of business, a terrible fire crippled my biggest customer, and all the stores I had left cut back on reordering. I went from seeing how step by step I was increasing sales every month to losing most of my income through no fault of my own.

So, as part of my survival strategy I decided to find out how to sell online. (This, of course, is an ongoing process.) Etsy was the first site other craftspeople in my area suggested to me. As I said, I already had a website, but the power of a place like Etsy (or Amazon.com or eBay) is that it's like going to your favorite shopping mall. It's far easier to find a store you like that way than to hunt around for random places on the internet. It's the same strategy auto dealers use when they line up on the same street. You would think it a mistake to situate your shop right next to your potential competition but it isn't. If a person is looking for a car they know exactly where to find you! If a person loves handmade products they go to Etsy.

Setting up a shop online isn't easy. There are a lot of considerations to think about but Etsy makes it easier with tools to help you create a shop pretty much immediately with their shop-creating tools. Then any items you put in your shop are promoted through their online marketplace. If a person is looking for fuzzy bunny slippers they can type those words into their search engine and if you happen to make some really cute ones (and tag them with that name and have excellent photos to show them off well) you might make a sale. Not only that, if those adorable bunny slippers wind up on the Etsy home page -- which they will do at least for a few minutes every time you add an item to your shop -- your typical Etsy shopper will say: "Ooooh! Cute! What's that?" If they click on that item they'll get directly to your shop and voila! They know who you are and can make a purchase right away.

Occasionally an Etsy editor might feature your item on the homepage for a longer period of time. Or they might feature it in their Daily Picks email that gets sent directly to the email inboxes of those shoppers who request it. Then you're in for a treat. Front page advertising at your shopper's favorite site can't be beat but for most Etsy shopkeepers those moments of glory are few and far between. In fact, it's never happened to me. Until last week.

I sell maybe two or three items through Etsy a month. Yes, you hear me right! This is NO get rich quick scheme -- especially for a person who sells aromatherapy perfume. You can't smell my products online! (I have testers available in  all my retail stores.) But last week my Inner Strength and Protection formula was featured at the bottom of one their long Daily Picks emails (where only the most interested shoppers might look) and sold 10 items in about 24 hours through Etsy and made $175 (or so) simply by opening my email.

Some Etsy shop owners have this experience every day of the week. I hear if you sell art supplies that's nothing. But for me it was eye-opening. I could make a living at this alone if I sold that many items a day at my retail price.

Of course, how do I get my business to that point every day or better? The Daily Picks selection was a random gift. But I'm thankful for it because it's getting me to see the power of positive exposure to an interested audience.

My Mama Love Website
My Mama Love shop on Etsy

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