01 January, 2016, I jumped!
What is Etsy?
It’s an online shopping platform for makers around the world to sell their unique handmade goods… and it’s huge!
Wikipedia says in 2014 Etsy had 54 million users registered as members, and a revenue of US$195.6 million.
(Seems pretty huge to me.)
In mid 2015 I became aware of a story I was running about my painting and the art world. I wasn’t creating art, I was creating suffering (for myself). I decided to put down the brush and do something different with my creativity. That’s when the indigo and textile journey started, which evolved into wondering about ways to share and sell this new artistic endeavour, which Etsy calls ‘making’.
I’d heard about Etsy over the years, and even had a previous attempt with some jewellery, but lost interest in the process. And yes… it is a process. There’s a lot to learn about setting up your shop, and I did go into a bit of a melt down in the beginning.
There is the mind numbing keyword SEO thingy to get right. The taking of professional photos for every product… thank god for iPhoto on my Mac and Snapseed on my iPhone. The branding and writing of engaging material for the product descriptions, including more of those high ranking keyword SEO thingyees. Eeeeek! I ended up using the brilliant services of Shelley Treml of Betsy Editor to get this mastered. Then there is the creating of clear shop policies on refunds, returns, shipping and packaging for both local and overseas markets. Deciphering the Australia Post pricing booklet on sending parcels overseas was a feat in itself, and even then I had to go into the post office two or three times to make sure I got it right. Some days I have to say… it did do my head in.
I signed up for a 30day online ‘Set up Shop’ course with Jess Van Den of Create & Thrive, for a heads up on how the Etsy internet biz thing really worked. Again I went into melt down from daily instructive emails and a list of actions that needed to be taken. In the end I created a folder and just put all the emails into that, took a break, and came back with an attitude of ‘take your time – there’s no customers banging on the shop’s cyberspace doors just yet’. My 30day course took me about two months to complete and was invaluable. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of opening an Etsy shop. Jess’s Create & Thrive online business is full of inspiring information and podcasts for self-starters in the ‘making’ business.
I increased my engagement with social media on Facebook and Instagram to promote my designs, shop and branding. I joined groups on Facebook that aligned with my interests and found some generous help from fellow makers in the Etsy Resolution 2016 group. I have to say I am not a big user of FB but it is wonderful for connecting with like minds… or finding ‘your tribe’ as they say in social media lingo.
My shop, mbpblue, has been open for six months and I have had a steady flow of people stopping by to take a look. (My Etsy traffic statistics tell me this… a whole other world again). And I’m happy to say I’ve even had a few sales via both the Etsy shop and social media platforms.
I’ve come to enjoy the challenge of developing an online presence with the ‘making’ side of my creativity, and I’ve particularly enjoyed connecting with people from around the globe that give such positive and encouraging feedback. I’ve found the ‘making’ community to be generous to the core with support and sharing of information, and a strong culture of ‘joy’ and ‘play’ in their creativity. It has helped me reconnect to my roots of artistic expression and restore my faith in sharing my gifts with the world. I’ve even begun to hear the whispers of paintings pass through my awareness again.
ps… if you would like to visit my Etsy shop to browse the sustainable handprinted indigo textiles and minimalist pearl and stone jewellery designs, please click here.