Archive | April 2013

Some Things I’ve learned from my Etsy shop part 2

I posted recently about some things I’ve learned from running my Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop over the past year. Since then I’ve thought of a few more things I’ve learned (plus I’ve had my first sale to someone who didn’t already know me through other social networks, which felt like an important milestone).

So here are some ideas to add to the last post:

a) Be patient. It takes time to establish a shop on Etsy. Particularly now that it’s been going for so many years. New shops can be lost in the crowd, specially small shops run as a hobby (like mine is). It was six months before I sold anything (at which point I was wondering how many months to give it before shutting down shop) but since then I’ve had sales most months.

b) Great photos help sell products. However, as long as your photos aren’t blurred or otherwise really bad, they’re not necessarily going to prevent people from buying your goods. Great photos certainly help, but if you’re only running your shop as a hobby, you probably don’t need to invest in a light box and a fancy camera. If you’re hoping to make a living out of Etsy (and some people do!) then you probably should invest in this equipment.

c) Focus on only one line of products. This almost certainly helps, but so far I’ve sold: a selection of sea pottery; a beaded bookmark; a fabric chopstick bag; a collage inspiration kit and a greetings card. So my sales, apart from the slow start, haven’t suffered from my shop being so diverse. Again, it may be different if you’re wanting to make a living from your shop.

d) Have a Unique Selling Point. This is probably more important than c). I think if your products are held together by a philosophy (in my case recycling and repurposing) or by a theme (for example crafts inspired by rabbits) or by a unique style then diversity won’t hold you back.

e) I mentioned Give and Take in my last post. The most important part of this is networking. Join in the team discussions on Etsy. it took me a while to get involved in teams, because I’m not naturally a fan of online discussion groups but those on Etsy are a great mix of genuinely useful and fun ways of networking and getting to know other sellers, while subtly (or not so subtly) advertising your own products.

f) The other part of Give and Take is to buy from Etsy as well as sell. I mentioned in my previous post that it can seem unfair that you are more likely to sell your items on Etsy if you buy products there. It is unfair in some ways, but there are so many lovely things on sale on Etsy, that it really is a great place to find gifts.

g) It’s fun! I’m running my shop as a hobby, so I don’t need to worry about whether it makes huge amounts of profit. Luckily it hasn’t made a loss and is slowly moving towards making a small amount of money, but that’s not the point. It’s great to see people buying my crafts and crafting supplies. Knowing that I’m doing my small bit to repurpose materials that would otherwise become waste and helping other people to appreciate the whole ethos of reuse. Again, if I were running the shop as a proper business, then it would probably be less fun, and money would be more of a motivator!

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


Collaborations between Arts and Science

Earlier today, I attended the latest Insights and Ideas meeting, jointly run by Creative Scotland and Museums and Galleries Scotland. The topic this month was Art and Science and the meeting explored ways in which artists and scientists can work together to help communicate science to awider audience and to help bring new insights into science.

Jane Magill of the Scottish branch of the British Science Association talked about projects she has been involved in. She has worked with Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, relating science to the artefacts and paintings in the collection. Projects have included exploring how art works are dated and how they can be conserved. She talked about the Cosmic Way Roadshow which celebrated CTR Wilson, the inventor of the cloud chamber, with an exhibition that toured Scotland from Peebles (Wilson’s birthplace) to Fort William, where he did his first experiments. Cloud chambers are not only important scientifically, but the trails of the atomic particles are beautiful to look at. She also talked about the music that was composed specifically for the Cosmic Way Roadshow, which wasinspired directly by the physics involved.

Andrew Ormston of the art science collaboration ASCUS spoke next. He briefly mentioned a lot of projects where artists and scientists are collaborating together, including on an international scale. He focussed on one project that really interested me. Thisis the Grow Wild Project (still a pilot project at the minute), which will encourage people across the UK to plant wildflowers in unexpected places. Artists and creative people will be valuable in this project in helping communicate its aims and in choosing some more unusual places for planting the wildflower seeds.The project will work closely with the Kew Millenium Seed Bank to ensure that the flowers planted suit the local ecology and will offer guidelines to participants to understand enough ecology so that they know where is probably a good place for their wild flowers.

After a coffee break, Ninian Perry of the Paragon Ensemble talked about their project Torque. This interdisciplinary music and dance piece devised by dancers, musicians and scientists uses ideas from renewable energy, inclusive contemporary dance, and sonic arts to create a stimulating theatrical experience. The Ensemble also take ideas from this production into schools, using music and dance to encourage children to think creatively about science.

Finally, Professor Tom Stevenson of the Museum of Communication in Burntisland, Fife, talked about how their collections offer a very thought provoking insight into how communication has changed and how those changes affect our lives.

All in all a very stimulating and inspiring event!

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites, where you can find out more.

This post will be crossposted to Vrafty Green Poet tomorrow.

Some things I’ve learned from my Etsy shop

Just about a year ago, I set up the Crafty Green Poet shop on Etsy.¬† It’s a place to sell some of my recycled crafts and craft supplies and it’s always been intended as a hobby, rather than a business. (I don’t have the capacity to produce crafts at a commercial rate and nor would I want to!).

Judging it as a hobby and comparing it to a few Etsy shops of similar size and age, sales haven’t been too bad and although it’s hardly making a real profit, it’s not making a loss.Here are just a few things I’ve learned from Etsy so far:

Existing contacts are vital. All the sales have originated from people who either follow me @craftygreenpoet on Twitter; follow my Crafty Green Poet blog;  follow me on Pinterest or are facebook friends.

Give and Take. Etsy is a real community, it can be difficult to break into (specially now, when it’s already become a mature market and network). Making new contacts on Etsy, joining the teams (many of which have lively discussion forums) and naking treasuries of your favourite items made by other Etsy sellers can all help to publicise your work to other sellers and potential buyers on Etsy.

Everyone is a Customer as well as a Seller. More than anything  I think if you bought loads of stuff on Etsy yourself, then you would see a reciprocal increase in your own sales. (This can seem unfair in some ways.)

Help and Advice is never far away! Etsy itself is very useful, offering lots of advice for crafters wanting to ensure that their shops are successful and lots of ways for crafters to connect with each other.

Etsy sells handmade and vintage items and recycling and reuse is often part of the sellers’ ethos. There is a wonderful selection of upcycled and repurposed items on Etsy and there are teams that cater specifically for crafters who recycle.

Making new contacts! Etsy is a friendly community I have made some new contacts there who I have then also connected with on Twitter or Facebook.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.