Monday, May 24, 2010

Spotlight On: Amazing Etsy Seller Whimsywares!

Today we have a special treat.  It's a love story.  A love story between a husband and wife team, their love of soap-making, and my love of their soaps!
       My first purchase on Etsy was from Whimsywares and as soon as the soap arrived I was hooked!  I am now the proud and pampered owner of several outstanding soaps from Whimsywares - with an eye to own them all! It is with great affection that I present an interview with one of my very favorite shops on Etsy!


Price range: $2 - $75
Sells: soap, sugar scrubs, bath fizzies, bath salts, jewelry, ceramics, whimsical art, and coming soon….bath jellies!

Open since: December 17, 2009
Custom items: Yes- bring it on!

Featured Item: Garden Herbs Loofah Aloe and Olive Oil Bar 

How long have you been selling on Etsy, and what products did you start out with? How have they changed over time?
We’ve been selling on Etsy since mid December 2009. We began with a few bars of rather primitive looking soaps and added a dash of ceramics and a splash of jewelry and art for good measure. Over time we have realized that our jewelry doesn’t sell well and begun focusing more on our bath line. We have expanded from a few soaps to many soaps and have added in scrubs, salts, fizzies, and are currently working on adding bath jellies. 

What made you to decide to sell what you sell? (for example, did it make sense from a business perspective, or you just love it, or both etc.) 

When we were planning our wedding we were stumped on what we should give guests as their reception gift (you know that usually worthless item you find on your table at weddings that you either eat right away or throw away when you get home). We wanted something semi cost-effective, very creative, and universally usable. Our families made fun of us when we had the “we should make soap!” a-ha moment. They told us that people would laugh and think we were saying they needed a bath. We went with it anyway. Everyone loved it! There was not a soap left behind and for the next year when we saw people who had attended our wedding they would say “oh my gosh we loved that soap” or “we don’t let guests use that soap from your wedding because we don’t want it to be gone!” or “it’s been almost a year and we still haven’t used up that bar of soap. It’s awesome!” So…..we figured why not make more. It makes our apartment smell awesome, is fun for us to make together, and people love it. That’s how we started making soap.

What is one thing you would like to go back and do differently in your first month?
I would definitely have marketed better. Selling on etsy is not an example of “you build it they will come”. It takes a lot of effort to reach the ears and eyes of others. However, that being said, I believe that with anything you do, creating is a learning process. You will never begin perfectly and because of it you get to look back to where you were when you started and be glad at the progress you’ve made. 

What do you like most about selling on Etsy?
We love the community. It’s so amazing to see all the fun personalities and amazing talent that exists on etsy. We also love knowing that people we’ve never met all round the world notice us every now and then and enjoy what we do.

What do you like least about selling on Etsy?
There’s a lot of talented competition which sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish yourself. However, we don’t truly consider this a negative because there is also a wealth knowledge you can get from others as well as many lasting friendships!

Do you market your Etsy shop elsewhere online? If so, where, and why? Have your efforts been successful?

We do have a facebook fan page ( It’s been helpful in letting others know we exist but has produced minimal sales thus far.

How do you come up with ideas for your products?
All our products are nature inspired. Sometimes though we come up with scents we want to do and research additives that will go well with the scent as well as benefit the skin. Our Cucumber and Green Tea bar is a good example. We wanted a scent that would be earthy yet cool and refreshing. We thought it would be an interesting touch to include natural tea leaves. We researched the benefits of tea and found that it contains natural anti-oxidants which cleanses the pores and promotes skin elasticity (great for anti-aging!) So our Cucumber and Green Tea Shea Butter Bar was born!

What is your favorite item (in your shop)?
The Duckie Scrub Cubes for sure! We’ve wanted to make them since we opened our shop. 

What is your take on "Relisting"?
If we don’t post a new item one week we might relist one or two items but in order to respect other sellers we never relist any more than this in one go. 

do you have one POWER TIP for getting business rolling to share with us?
MARKET MARKET MARKET! The Etsy forums and chat rooms have been helpful for us. Constantly making an appearance shows others that you care about your shop and are involved in running it well. Customer service is big as well. Maintaining good communication with buyers or other etsy sellers is important.

Many thanks to Chris & Lauren of Whimsywares for participating in my Seller Showcase!  I love these products and the creativity that goes into them.  It's always a joy to get to try out their latest achievement in soap making.  My favorite so far is the Spiced Asian Plum  & brown sugar Shea Butter bar It smells incredible and the textures are fabulous.  I absolutely recommend these products for gift-giving, or for spoiling yourself!  LOVE IT!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Craft Tip Of The Day: Get The Glue OFF!

Hi all!  I just thought I would add a quick craft tip today!

As crafters, we tend to get ourselves into some sticky situations with our glue.  The year is 2010- and we, as a civilization, have not yet come up with the technology for a glue nozzle that doesn't get at least some glue where it's not supposed to be.  This can be especially annoying when dealing with super glue or "crazy" glue, which bonds to the skin and seems to form an impenetrable plastic sheath of doom that no amount of scrubbing can remove.  Well, here's one handy little tip I've been taking advantage of for years, ever since the super-glue disaster of 2006.

The key is simple:  Nail Polish Remover!  It has to be acetone, however.

Getting all sorts of glue off of hands or fingers:

1)  Soak it.  Saturate a paper towel or cotton ball with nail polish remover and gently press it over the affected area - be careful not to use it on broken skin!  Some of the nail polish remover may drip so it would be wise to do this over the sink.  If you had a major glue disaster, and got it on a large area of skin, consider pouring the polish remover into a small container you can stick your hand into.  Let it soak in for about 10-15 seconds.

2)  Scrub it.  Grab another piece of paper towel or cotton ball -  this time making sure not to fully saturate it with the remover.  Now begin to rub the affected area in a circular motion, and the glue should begin to dissolve and/or peel off.

3)  Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all the glue is gone, and then be sure to wash your hands.  You do NOT want to get Nail Polish remover in your eyes from rubbing them absentmindedly, so you'll want to get all that residue off of your fingers.

This will not take off your skin, it works really well, and if you buy a "moisturizing" variety of nail polish remover, it actually makes your skin pretty soft!

Getting glue off of metal (such as purse frames).

Soak a cotton ball or towel in nail polish remover and then squeeze out the excess.  Gently rub in a circular motion, be careful not to get the solution on the fabric!  This should shine up and remove glue from any metal purse frame!  Now no one will ever know what a mess you made!!  haha!

Happy Crafting!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spotlight On: Amazing Etsy Seller - BUTTONHEAD!

This is the first in a series of interviews I am conducting among my favorite Etsy sellers. To kick things off I am honored to introduce my readers to BUTTONHEAD I am a big fan of her pin-back buttons and magnets!


Price range: ($1.75 - $150.00)

Sells: pinback buttons, magnets, pocket mirrors, cards, and temporary tattoos.

Open since: September 2, 2007

Custom items: Oh yes!

Featured Product: Custom Classic 2.5” Temporary Tattoos  


Hi Buttonhead! Thanks for sharing your etsy experience with us!

So, first of all, how long have you been selling on Etsy, and what products did you start out with?

Hi Joan! I have been a loyal Etsian since late 2007. I started out selling a few one-inch pinback buttons on the side. Today, I operate Buttonhead full-time. I’ve expanded the business to offer three sizes of pinback buttons, as well as magnets, mirrors, cards, and temporary tattoos. I have a retail line of items, and I also work on custom orders for other artists, small businesses, organizations, and events.

What made you to decide to sell what you sell? (for example, did it make sense from a business perspective, or you just love it, or both etc.)

I like buttons! They are little wearable pieces of art. Plus, they are the perfect outlet for my weird and random sense of life and style.

Buttonhead, you've had a great deal of success selling on Etsy, what's your number one hint or bit of advice you'd give a newbie?
Focus on repeat business, just as much as new business. I’d say 30% of my current sales are customers who enjoyed working with me and are excited to do Buttonhead again. It’s important to make sure that you are offering an amazing handmade item, as well as a personalized shopping experience. If a customer feels a special connection from the time they purchase an item to the time they use it, not only will they come back, but they will recommend you to their friends. You can’t buy that type of advertising.

What do you like most about selling on Etsy?
It allows me to connect to a worldwide network of artisans and aficionados. I’ve met so many cool and talented folks through my association with the crafting world. I truly love my Etsy friends!

What do you like least about selling on Etsy?
I really don’t have a single complaint about Etsy. I’ve always had a positive experience with the website, the administrators, and the community. I really think you get out of it what you put into it.

Do you market your Etsy shop elsewhere online? If so, where, and why?
Most of the marketing I do is independent. I promote the shop through my various art projects: videos, music, podcast, blog, photography, Twitter. Feel free to check it all out at Outside-of-the-box advertising all the way!

How do you come up with ideas for your buttons?
First, I smoke some weed. Then, I talk aloud to myself. Then, I write down the key ideas and make them into buttons. Rinse and repeat!

What is your favorite item (in your shop)?
I have a soft spot for the Animal Identity Crisis Pinback Button Set. They are one of my first and best-selling button sets. Also, they represent my sense of humor. I enjoy the unexpected.

What is your take on "relisting"?
I’m all for it! I relist 5-6 times per day. It keeps my shop looking fresh and keeps the browsers coming.

I'd like to thank BUTTONHEAD for taking the time to participate in my shop & seller profile series!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tricking Out Your Etsy Shop - The Appearance Tutorial

Here I have compiled what wisdom and experience I've gained regarding Shop Appearance - for your viewing pleasure! Tips and tricks and a touch of advice on the subject for the new (and even not so new) Etsian!

Appearances Can Be Misleading:

Etsy gives you a few simple options when it comes to customizing your shop's decor. Your Banner, your shop announcement, your avatar, and they've also added a feature that allows you to rearrange the order in which your items appear. Although it doesn't seem like these would be controversial, this is where opinions tend to diverge the most. So again, experiment, and find out what works for you.

Banner: They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but your shop and its merchandise will often be judged by the sort of first impression given by your banner. The conventional wisdom here seems to be that banners should include photos of what you sell. This is particularly true in a case where the title of the shop doesn't hint at what the shop's contents may be, but otherwise, I don't really see the point. (I mean, if they're in your shop - they can pretty much see what you sell, right?) Right. But it really is up to you. It is my opinion that a shop banner can have anything the seller wants on it, as long as it looks well-done and professional. Fuzzy, stretched, or disjointed photos make your banner look unprofessional. Etsy is a HIGHLY competitive marketplace, and you need every advantage you can possibly find. An unprofessional banner will immediately turn off any prospective customer, as it gives the impression that the seller's products may be equally shoddy. If you owned a brick and mortar store, would you want a dirty old sign made of cardboard that is about to fall apart out front? Of course not. So take the time to make a really good professional-looking banner. If you don't have access to the right software to create your own, or you just aren't that interested in doing it, Etsy is full of graphic designers who would be more than happy to custom design one for you, or you can even buy pre-made banners for your shop on the cheap! It's Easy! And as always, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, until you do! I personally like to keep a repertoire of different banners, and swap them out depending on what I have in my shop, I like to make sure the banner doesn't clash with the items in my shop. Ideally it should all fit together quite seamlessly, and give an impression of what your style is all about.

Avatar: Your avatar is a 75 X 75 pixel image that identifies the shop owner. It appears next to your posts in the forum, and also identifies you in the chat rooms, so make it "clickable" (tempting to click on) as it links to your shop. Again the conventional wisdom says to choose a photo of a particularly hot item in your shop so that others get an idea of what you sell, however, that is not always the way to go! For example, your avatar will appear even smaller in the chat rooms, so words and images can look busy or garbled or just a blur of color and lines. A white background is usually best if you decide to use a photo of an item for your avatar. Keep it simple, keep it stark, keep it identifiable, and definitely make it clickable. Trial and error is what has worked best for me. Even when you think you've gotten it right, double check and ask for a critique in the Etsy Forums The key word is "simplicity".

Your Shop Announcement: Your shop announcement appears below your banner and is one of the very first things a person lays eyes on when he or she visits your shop. There are infinite ways in which to use this space depending on your needs, but think carefully about the benefits and drawbacks of each style! Some people put a lot of information in their shop announcement, others think it is better to keep it short because the shorter it is, the more room there is for your items to show up on the front page of your shop. Some people use the space for special offers and deals, others simply welcome shoppers to their store, or write an introductory paragraph about their goods. Again, it is up to you to figure out what works best for you. Some people lay out a few of their shop's policies there, but there is a separate tab specifically for store policies, and many sellers use a link to refer shoppers to that in their announcement.

Rearranging Your Shop: If you don't use a "custom" setting, your items will appear in the order in which they were listed, with the newly listed items at the top. Personally I like to select items to showcase the broad range of prices available in my shop. And of course, the items I consider my best "eye candy"! There is also an option to "Feature" three of your listings, and I recommend you use all three! These three listings will appear at the top of your shop, side by side, and the photos will be larger than the little thumbnails below, so choose wisely! Those featured products should be your most spectacular items, but don't be afraid to switch it up now and then and give other items some time in the spotlight! Shuffling your items can help shoppers notice things that perhaps didn't stand out their first time through, so don't underestimate the power of the shop shuffle!

Playing with all of these components is a good activity to try while you are waiting on sales. It keeps you busy and improves your shop all at the same time. The more you familiarize yourself with these settings, the easier it will be to decide how to customize your shop. Don't be afraid to look around at other shops and see what makes you want to buy, and what turns you off, what seems to be working for them, and what doesn't. But be sure to invest some time and thought in the appearance of your shop!

Good Luck and Happy sales to you! Hope you found some useful tips today!
-Joan of JoanHunterHandmade on Etsy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Adventure # 1: Basic Training

I opened my Etsy shop on March 24th, 2010. Since then, my shop has undergone several complete overhauls, and continues its metamorphosis each week. In fact, if I had known how much commitment, resolve, effort, time and energy were going to go into this project, I may never have started! But I am glad that I did! Hopefully this blog will provide the newbie Etsian with some shortcuts!

Now, my first question after opening my shop was "How can I get people to check out my shop!?". Initially I consulted the Etsy forums, and with a lot of help from the critique section, my shop started to improve, and so did traffic. So to our first stop:

Adventures In The Etsy Critique Forum:

It is very important to keep an open mind when receiving criticism from other sellers. Obviously, an opinion is just an opinion and should be weighed as such, but if you maintain a positive attitude and an open mind, you can really benefit from some helpful, honest advice. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear criticism when you've spent HOURS AND HOURS working on perfecting your photos, your banner, your avatar, your shop announcement, your sections, Etcetera, but no matter how much energy you put into it, there is ALWAYS a little room for improvement, so even when it's hard, just grit your teeth, smile, and say "thank you". You never know, you might find the key to your success! If you keep an open mind about the suggestions you receive you will quickly learn what works and what doesn't, and begin to familiarize yourself with the many different options you have as an Etsy seller. As an added bonus, you'll get a little traffic from other forum-goers and you could even make a sale!

Adventures in Photography:

There are all sorts of ways to maximize your sales online, but you will get nowhere fast without GREAT photos of your merchandise. Having the right picture of your product should be rule number 1 for any online marketplace. The right picture can be the difference between "that's cute" and "GOTTA HAVE IT!". When I first opened my shop I, like most other sellers, thought all i had to do was slap some pics up online and the orders would just roll on in! Unfortunately, it's not that simple! But it doesn't have to be a big to-do either. Here are some photography tips and tricks I've learned along the way:

-The best thing I ever did for my shop was to build myself a home-made light box out of an old cardboard box and some wax paper. It only took me 20 minutes! Do a google search online and you'll find step-by-step how-to's to make a good, inexpensive light box of your very own! The box itself isn't much to look at, but it helps me take clean, effective, professional-looking photos of my items, and that really helps your product stand out amongst the competition!
- I highly recommend the use of a white background in your photos. Some printer paper will do the trick! Personally, I like using props and other decorations in my photos, but since the size of the thumbnail is so limited, my pictures just wound up looking messy and my product difficult to pick out. I save the more elaborate photos for my posters, which we will discuss in an upcoming section!
- Just like any other new endeavor it can take some time and experimentation before you get the result you're looking for. It's okay to get frustrated and do a little foot stomping and mutter some naughty words under your breath, but don't give up! Keep trying, experimenting and learning, and in a short time you will have a system in place that saves you time and energy, and you will have gained experience and skill along the way!

Adventures in Marketing:

This is the Etsy mystery of mysteries. Where, how, and with whom to market your new Etsy shop! Ask any Etsy seller and you will get a hundred different answers from different folks. Since a lot of it depends on what you are selling, your target market, and your particular price-range, there is no ONE right way to market an Etsy shop. The best advice I can give you is EXPERIMENT. TRY EVERYTHING, and find out what works best for YOU. Be prepared to throw a little money away in the process. If you're not willing to waste a few dollars on an ineffective avenue, you may never find out what really DOES work. Listed here are a few of the techniques I have tried, as well as a few suggestions I've picked up from others. As you can see, there are MANY options available to you!

Some sellers make lots of sales from twitter, and some don't make any. There is one way to find out which category you belong to - try it! Signing up for a twitter account is free and easy. (Go to to find out how.) My personal experience with twitter has been mixed. At first I was super excited that whenever I sent a tweet (with a description and a link to a listing), my item's views would instantaneously go up y 20-40 new views!!! Unfortunately, I soon found out that 99% of these new views were generated by roving internet bots, that is computers with software which perform repetitive tasks, and NOT actual people who might be interested in buying my product! So, I haven't bothered too much with twitter since. However, once you send out a tweet, your listing has appeared in another *fairly prominent* place on the world wide web, thus increasing the chances, however slight, that the right customer will find it.

Facebook Fan Pages:
This is where the majority of my sales have come from, and many other sellers have had success with their FB Fan sites, as well. As my shop was extremely new, and internet shoppers hadn't found out about my wonderful goodies yet, my friends and family were becoming aware that I had a shop, and discovering what was in it thanks to my FB Fan Page, and I am happy to report a number of sales have transpired as a result! It took some time, however, before the Fan Page picked up steam, and at first I was discouraged, but I'm glad I kept with it, because it has dramatically increased my internet presence and has provided all of my facebook contacts with easy access to my shop and my products.

Purchasing Ads on Facebook: I've purchased items from shops who advertised on facebook, so I thought I would give it a try myself and see how it went. Facebook has a really nifty system that helps you easily create an ad and target exactly the people you think would be interested in your merchandise. Unfortunately, depending on your target audience, this can get expensive pretty quickly. Facebook's default system is done on a "per-click" basis. You, the seller, will place a bid on the maximum amount you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on your ad to visit your store, and based on that bid, you compete with other advertisers to have your ad displayed on a potential customer's Facebook Ad space. Generally, bidding under 50 cents per click wont get you anywhere. Unfortunately, this can add up quite fast, especially if you take into account how many people have to view your shop before you actually get a buyer. I continue to advertise on facebook but I keep my bids really low these days, because 50 cents per click isn't going to get me the number of views I need in order to make a sale before I reach my limit! So again, mixed results there. But exposure is exposure! Some other places to advertise, probably a bit less pricey:

Joining Other Craft Sites:
This is an easy, inexpensive way to do some show-and-tell, network with other artisans, make friends, and increase your internet presence. Some great sites include:
Just to get you started :D

Etsy Chat Rooms:
Last, but certainly not least, the Etsy Chat rooms are a MUST for networking, marketing, and having a LOT of fun. You can find the chats by clicking on the "community" tab in "your etsy" or from the homepage. I've made a sale in the chat rooms, and I've found some "gotta have it" items, too! I've also made lots of new Etsy friends, increased my views and hearts, and gained a lot of wisdom and encouragement. Definitely worth checking out!!
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Adventures of the Heart:

Be generous with your Hearts, not only will you be able to keep track of your favorite sellers and items on Etsy, you'll connect with people who share a similar esthetic taste, and thereby form a community from which you may potentially get some sales. You know how nice it feels when you see new hearts for your shop or your lovingly hand-made items! Give others the same thrill when you see something you love! Before you know it, you'll be part of a huge mutual admiration society :D and getting seen by new people doesn't hurt your business, either!

Adventures in Listing Items:
Etsy makes listing items a piece of cake. The main ingredients in a good listing include a good Title, description, tags, photos, and of course the right price!

Titles: I always want to give my items artistic and flowery titles that I think capture the "mood" of my creations. Unfortunately, that really doesn't help your item get seen by people looking for exactly what you have for sale! The trick to item titles is to touch on color, material, and of course, what the item is. For example, instead of an abstract title such as "Gentle Forest Breeze necklace" it is better to have key words that identify the listing like "Orange Aventurine leaf necklace OOAK". I know it sounds boring and utilitarian, but how many people are going to search for a "gentle forest breeze" when what they are looking for is an orange gemstone necklace or leaf pendant? Not many! You can add as much poetry and prose as you want in your item's description!

Description: A basic description should always include color, materials used, and measurements in both inches and centimeters - those are the bare minimum. Additional information can include what inspired you to make the item, any special features that might not be self-evident, links to matching products, and other descriptive details you'd like to share with your customers.

Tags: First, a word of caution, customers and Etsians alike really get their knickers in a bunch when they see inaccurate or misleading tags. It's tacky, and it's sort of cheating, so DON'T DO IT. It's not worth any extra views you may get, because it's going to tick people off. Instead, cover the basics, especially COLOR. Tag every conceivable color in your item, and use all 14 available tags, don't leave any empty. Another crafty little trick is to imagine you are a customer looking for exactly that item and do a search on Etsy using key words that you'd use like "Green knitted sweater" for example. See what comes up, and take a look at the tags for that item. If they fit your item as well, use them! Also keep an eye on what items are getting the most views in other shops, check out those tags, and if appropriate, use them! No shame in copying tags, as long as they are correct and appropriate to your item!

Price: It can be tempting as a newbie to under-price your items, in the hopes that they will sell more quickly. In my experience, lowering the price doesn't do a thing to help me sell. What helps my items move is just having the right person see the right product, and boom! So when considering price, take into account how much time and effort it took for you to make that item, factor in how much the materials cost, and don't forget the time and effort you put into photographing and presenting your item, because you should expect to be paid for that as well, that's just overhead! Another important activity is checking out how much other people are charging for similar items. Visit other stores and scope out the prices. Try to price things based on what it is worth, how much you think shoppers would be willing to pay, and what the competition is doing with their pricing. A synthesis of these methods will produce a perfectly priced item every time :D

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Finally, let me close this post with perhaps the most important advice I have to give:

Starting an Etsy shop is a lot like planting a seed. At first you will be very impatient so see it begin to sprout, but you can't rush it, you simply have to wait, water, nurture and love what you've begun. As you wait, continue to cultivate, till the soil and pull weeds. Being a member of the Etsy community, you will gradually grow strong root systems that will go deeper, and deeper into the marketplace as time goes on. Soon your shop will start to sprout! Don't stomp on it and say "Hey! There aren't any flowers on you!" Instead, applaud your little seedling for the new growth and continue to patiently and diligently garden until one day your shop will be in full bloom!! Good luck! :D



Well this post kicks off my Etsy Adventures blog, where I share my experiences owning a shop on Etsy - a place to buy and sell handmade items. I will record my various efforts at marketing and making sales, as well as profile some of my very favorite Etsy sellers. This blog will hopefully be full of helpful hints, tips and tricks to Etsy success. Thanks and happy reading!!