Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Spring Flower Outfit by AliJackClothing

So it may not technically be Spring according to an actual calendar, but we’ve had sunshine for a couple days in a row, the cherry trees are blooming and I saw a robin, so I’m officially in Spring mode. That means it’s time to start considering the ancient seasonal imperative of cleaning house. Today I thought we’d focus on some ways to approach this with regards to our Etsy shops. Team Member Rhonda of OddArtist posted on Facebook the other day that she is taking advantage of some downtime to photograph and list her older inventory, and that’s what got me thinking about Spring Cleaning. This is something that’s probably on almost everyone’s Etsy to-do list. 
 
While some of us have compulsive crafting disorder, or what I like to call “newprojecitis”, it’s always a good idea to take time now and then to take stock/ organize your inventory and address your older items before getting involved in making new ones. This article was recently posted in the Community section of Etsy, titled “How to De-Clutter Your Biz in 5 Steps” by Crissy Herron of IndieBizChicks.com. It’s a brief, general guide that’s worth the quick read. Specifically, when it comes to your Etsy shop, there’s one new feature that can make the two-prong approach of figuring out what you’ve got and getting it out the door easier.

Barn Art Sweden Spring Print by WatercolorbyMuren
Figure out what you have
Sadly, there’s no shortcut for this one. Pull all your items out & inventory them. Everyone has their own system- pen & paper, excel, even online inventory applications for small businesses are available these days. I personally use a plain old excel spreadsheet. Take advantage of this time to organize your items too. Last time I did this, it helped me sort random shipping & packing materials, sewing notions and art supplies that were intermingled with my finished products. If you need some kind of structure to start sorting items, consider repurposing old furniture you’re not really using, checking out freecycle or curbsides for some free items or hitting up your local thrift store. Going to Staples or OfficeMax is going to be unnecessarily expensive and should be avoided.

Spring Dream Earrings by CharmingPeacock
Get your stock listed & consider clearance
Unless you have a savvy photographer friend you can barter goods with for photo services, you may need to take photos of products you never got around to listing or want to try your hand at better photos of items you already have in your shop. In the few years I’ve been selling on Etsy, I’ve learned that I take better pictures every time I do a new round of shots. 

The two most valuable tips I’ve picked up from fellow Etsians are:

1. Not sure what makes an appealing photo? Start browsing Etsy and taking note of the images that catch your eye. Maybe they’re up-close detail shots, “scene”-type displays that show an item with props, or images with models. Try incorporating what you like about these into your own pictures.

Pink & Yellow Floral Apron by MrsTalbott
2. Some of the best lighting is indirect sunlight. Set your item on a table during the day near a window or take photos outside on an overcast day or in the shade (this is one of the best ways to get accurate color for artwork).

Before I suggest heaving your goods onto a digital clearing rack, let me first say that sales aren’t right for everyone. Perhaps you’ve figured out the best price you can offer already when you factor in your material cost and time. On the other hand, times are tight for most everyone these days- including you and your customer base. It could be that your items are priced too high to move in comparison to similar items right now. Or maybe getting something out of them- at least breaking even- will help you pay some bills, make space or budget for new business needs. If so, the recently added coupon code feature is a great way to get old items out of your shop and into new homes! 

Blue bouquet LEGO Ring by Legolomania
Read this how-to on Etsy for help with this feature.
Once you’ve created some codes, advertise them to your customer base through Twitter, your Facebook fan page, your shop announcement & item descriptions (if desired) and an email newsletter. I’ve just started using MailChimp (for free) and I really like the service, ease of use with the templates, and the stats it provides me so I can see what actions people took with my message.

While it can make sense to photograph everything at once or pre-write listings all at once, try spreading out the actual listings of your items. Shoot for a few each day at different times of day. Remember, it’s a big world out there- shoppers are logging in to Etsy at all kinds of hours and so are other sellers! Listing a few things at a time instead of all at once reduces your chance of having everything buried in a matter of moments. No point in wasting all that hard work! Now all I have to do is follow my own advice. ;) I hope these tips have been helpful to you. 

Items featured in today's blog post were found using the search terms: "sac etsy team spring". Make sure to add the "sac etsy team" tag to some of your items for a chance to be featured here and in team treasuries. Good luck, kiddos! Till next time!