Thursday, 27 February 2014

Post-fair fizz

Ok, so I'd meant to do another Etsy school blog earlier in the week, but then couldn't work out what to write, then realised I could've written about the craft fair I did at the weekend, but then that would interrupt the flow of Etsy school blogs....and now it's Thursday again o.0
I shall do a final Etsy school blog next week, when I've worked out what to say about it, honest guv!

Right. Decision made, moving on...

On Saturday I attended what felt like my first 'proper' craft fair in Brighton (the previous one being the internal work do at Kineo before Christmas). This was the Brighton Craft Fair, held at the Friends Meeting House in the South Lanes.

I went in wondering what the day would be like, given the time of year and recent weather and all that sort of stuff - would there be lots of people? Or would it be nought but inexplicable tumbleweeds blowing through the hall?

We had an hour to set up, which seemed like a lot given my relatively simple table layout but actually proved to be about right - unpacking all the jewellery is surprisingly time consuming!

Here's how my table ended up (and no, there wasn't an earthquake or anything, I just managed to take a horribly blurry photo and not realise -.- )

I was pretty happy with how this worked out, given I failed to organise decent stands to support the jewellery boards. I definitely need to work on getting more height in the display though - there were some individual earring stands at the back that got a bit lost for having no real base or back drop.

Here's a considerably less blurry look at the left side of the table. Having that one open pouch at the front seems to have been a good idea - a lot of people reached to feel the leather of that one first, like it was an 'open sample' or something.

I think I might need to find a tidier way of showing price tags - they looked ok on the necklaces, but the earring & charm clusters look sort of messy. Not sure how to improve that yet... or do you think it actually looks ok?

Here's the right side of the table. I used that little dish for my Moo mini business cards - I think it's handy to have something people can 'safely' interact with near the front of the table.

The notebook covers got a fair bit of interest, although other than a couple of people who said they liked them it may have just been people looking to see what they were!

I think the jewellery board on this side looks a bit busier at the necklace end, but spreading the earrings out more seems to have worked.

One thing I definitely need to sort out for next time are some prominent labels declaring what things are, like 'Sterling Silver' by the jewellery, and 'Genuine Leather' by the leather items. Possibly also 'Notebook Covers' would be handy! It might seem obvious, but actually when you're in a room with a mix of jewellers, it's worth making it clear what your stuff actually is.

So how did the day go? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the footfall through the hall - as I said I wasn't actually sure we'd get much traffic at the tail end of February - although as with any fair I've ever been to people seem to arrive in small swarms, with quiet periods in between when all the stall holders go in search of tea, or just end up smiling nervously at each other in that 'let's hope that wasn't the last swarm' sort of way.

I had a reassuring amount of interest in the table, though I shall confess I had but one sale... still, I'm actually kinda happy with that - First Fair, First Sale. I'd be far less relaxed if I'd sold nothing at all (also, I only need to make a second sale next time for things to feel like they're improving!). Meanwhile, I ended up chatting away quite happily with the seller behind me, Liz of 'Like Never Before', who makes up-cycled denim jewellery (here's her Etsy shop if you're interested!). I believe it was Liz's first fair, and unfortunately she was suffering from the February-casual-browser effect more than me. Hopefully that hasn't put you off Liz!

If you'd like to see more pictures of the fair then you can check out the Brighton Craft Fair Facebook page - there's even one of me in there, failing to look at the camera!

In summary then: February Fair = kinda quiet, but not all bad, and I'm looking forward with a bit more confidence to the next one on Saturday 29th March.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Etsy School week two/three

Right. I was supposed to write on Monday about how last week's Etsy school stuff went, which was all about photography.

Let me summarise: Rain, rain, gloom, storm, rain...wait for it wait for it... sunshine!...gloom. Or something like that, anyway.

Saturday, granted, was mostly quite pleasant - however I was also out of the house for most of the day so couldn't use the opportunity to take fresh product photos. At one point the sun managed to come out at the right time of day to actually light up the area I use for photos, so out came the camera...and then about ten minutes later said camera's battery died. You can imagine the look I gave it, knowing full well that by the time it was properly charged again the sun would be gone.

So yes. Photography week has been a bit of a flop for me - at least in terms of getting new photos taken anyway. I confess I have also failed miserably at communicating with my partner to go through the School exercises for the week, and frankly I don't think I can claim to have done any better this week - I mean, when did we reach Thursday? o.0

At least I do feel I've made some progress with how I want to compose my shots, and the few products I managed to get pictures of gave me some practice using props and trying to find my '5 shots' for jewellery items - which I find a bit awkward. Also at least at the start of the week the communication thing was going well and my school partner supplied a really good idea for props that simply hadn't occurred to me at all, so that was good.

My only defence (aside from blaming the Good Old British Weather) is having been busy preparing for my first craft fair of the year. I'll be selling at the Brighton Craft Fair this Saturday, 22nd Feb, and am currently rushing headlong into that panicky state of 'ohmygodwhatifI'mtotallyunderprepared'. In reality, I suspect my display kit will indeed be upgraded and improved over the year, but should at least get me through this weekend as it stands. As for stock levels... one minute I'll say "yup, I'm happy with what I've got to take, I reckon I'll be fine", and the next minute I'm back to "Oh gawd, do I really have enough stuff? What if I don't? What if my table looks utterly empty compared to everyone else's?".

I suspect I will still be switching between these two attitudes every other minute right up until I'm set up and can no longer possibly do anything about it. This is kinda normal for me, although I hope that by this time next year I shall be able to say it's a thing of the past and that I am now totally in control, with fully stocked boxes of lovely things ready to be beautifully displayed at the drop of a hat. That'd be nice.

This third week of the month was supposed to be going over SEO stuff. I should, y'know, probably take a look at that... >.<

Monday, 10 February 2014

Etsy School - Shop Critique

I mentioned last time that I'm taking part in an 'Etsy school' event this month, which involves working with my Etsy team to review and improve my shop.

The first week was about setting goals, and to do that we needed to critique our own shops - much easier to work out what you need to do after you've taken a good hard look to see what needs improving or changing.

I actually found the critiquing bit fairly straight forward. Possibly this is because my shop is pretty new and I'm still working out how to do things, so there were already bits I'd been thinking I needed to improve anyway.

Etsy provided a worksheet with some key questions to help us with our critiques, and it certainly made life easier! I think I'd have spent a lot longer trying to do this, and getting a lot more wound up worrying that I was missing important things if I hadn't had the worksheet.

This part was a bit hit and miss.
Etsy suggest that you use 5 photos for every listing, trying to show scale and size. So far, I'm not sure I've used 5 photos for any of my listings... so that's definitely a no to point 1! I'll have to work something out - I already have a few ideas in my head, so we'll see where we end up after Photography week!

Size and scale... well I normally mention sizes in my descriptions - things like 'comes on an 18" chain', or 'this pouch is approx. 6" x 6" when laid flat', but I suppose this might be one of those 'a picture tells a thousand words' moments, and including a shot with something readily identifiable for scale would probably be a good plan. (It would also count as one of my 5 photos per item, hurrah!)

I am however happy with my backgrounds - or rather, happy with the most recent layout, which has so far only been applied to one listing... Lots of replacement photography to be getting on with this week. I've started paying more attention to the cropping for the main images too, so ok there.

The next part of the worksheet was not so good...
I think I started off on the wrong foot with my titles and tags - I'm not getting enough keywords into my titles, and I regularly fail to use all 13 possible tags.

I also started off using 1 word tags - which are essentially far too generic so don't really help at all. Tagging a green pouch as 'green' and as a 'pouch' my be correct, but it'll also make it come up if someone searches for anything green at all, and presumably if they're looking for a 'blue pouch' too. So, much work needed on tags!

Asking yourself what keywords you would use is one of those 'well duh' ideas that seems to have flown past without me noticing up until now. Whoops. I also apparently should be testing my keyword ideas by typing them into Etsy's search bar to see if they come up - which would suggest they're popular terms - and also to see what other products have those keywords - are they similar to my own? So yes, lots of work to do here.

The next section covered 'Cohesive Branding'. I found this bit a little tricky. 'Do I have a range of products at varying price points?' ...well I think so... but how much of a range counts? You could have 5 items, costing £1 - £5 at £1 increments, and that would be a range wouldn't it? I figure I have a variety of different types of jewellery (earrings, pendants, bracelets) as well as the leather pouches, and most of the jewellery items are of differing designs. That sounds reasonably varied. My pricing ranges from £17 to £40 - which again seems like a fair range, so I reckon maybe I'm ok there for the moment.

One question that threw me a bit was this one: "Are the items telling a story and communicating a style?" Erm...I....uh...dunno? I suppose I could say my work is telling the story that I like twisty bits of wire? Or is that a definition of my style? How do the leather bags fit in to that? Do they just label me as being somewhat confused? Or can I say they show me to be more than just a 1 trick pony, as it were? Still not sure about that one.

"Are your shop policies filled out..." Yes. "...Do they instil trust in a buyer?" Um, I hope so? How am I supposed to know? I'd guess that the fact they're there is good. Have I written them well though? I confess I haven't really thought to ask anyone to look at them - which is perhaps something I need to do this month, so I can better answer that question.

Well, at least I was fairly happy with the last bits. I'm pretty settled with my pricing system, and I'm fairly happy with postage so far - ok, so I don't list prices for anywhere beyond the UK in the individual listings, but I do say in the policies and on the main shop page that people can contact me for a quote if they want stuff shipped further away.

Overall... I basically need to overhaul all the current listings. Photography, titles, tags and descriptions. I'm actually sort of happy with that though. It's been a good experience to go through the critique, and now I've got some goals in mind for the month.

Retake all listing photos. (I think that's going to be this week's job)
Re-do all listing titles & tags.
Re-do all listing descriptions.
Set a personal profile avatar, so I'm no longer just a mystery face.

Phew. Long blog... although maybe this time I had a good excuse? :D Besides, I did just assign myself what is looking like a ton of work to do this month.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Etsy Teams

Thought I would bubble about Etsy for a bit...

I set up the Etsy shop back in September, although I don't think I actually got as far as having a full page of stock until January. I also neglected to look into the Community side of Etsy, which I now think was pretty daft of me.

In early January I got a message from an Etsy Admin telling me about the 'Brighton Team' meet-up - to which my initial response was pretty much "Eh? What?". Turns out, Etsy Teams are not made up of Etsy staff members (as I had vaguely assumed without bothering to look at it properly), but rather are collaborations of people who buy or sell (or both) on Etsy.

The Brighton Team has a surprising number of people in it, including at least one person I recognise from a craft fair last year. Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising - Etsy is after all a pretty well established online selling platform, and Brighton's not so small either.

The best thing though? I AM NOT ALONE. Hurrah! (Can't help but be amused at myself here... "so you want to be self employed, be your own boss eh?" "Yes! ...oh wait...kinda lonely now...")

Suddenly there are all these people I can talk to who also Like Making Things. This is awesome. Also, there's a good mix of new and old hands when it comes to selling on Etsy, so suddenly there is all this advice and support available from people who are trying/succeeding with something I am now trying to do.

This month for instance Etsy are running a 'school' program through the Team networks - Etsy provide some guidelines and materials for us as a team to work through, all aimed at improving our shops. I signed up, and am now facing the fun of Shop Critiques (there should be some ominous music here, I'm sure).

Being me I got a bit nervous about this at first, but actually a lot of what we're supposed to look at this month is stuff I was thinking about looking at anyway, like photography and item descriptions. So now I have someone else to help me actually get on with it, and to help with idea when I get myself all in a muddle, which means that by the end of the month the shop will hopefully have undergone a bit of a makeover.

You know what? I think I might even go so far as to try and commit to blogging about it along the way. One a week, shall we say? Maybe two this week - this one plus one to go over the results of the shop critiquing exercise.

...heh, I'mma gonna have me a montage! *gets Rocky montage stuck in own head*...