Monday, 1 July 2013

Etsy On Sale Referral Code

   With Christmas in July coming up, I set up both Grumble Cave Monsters and Peaches and Pebbles'  sales through Etsy on Sale. Instead of paying for each event, you purchase credits. The minimum number of credits you can buy are 10 - this is enough for two sales events - and you can link up all of your shops to one Etsy on Sale account.
   Etsy on Sale is authorised by Etsy, and is fully respectable. Etsy on Sale will automatically change your prices by the percentage you have indicated, and will also add a prefix (such as ON SALE) to either your product descriptions or titles. It will also add a banner to the top of each product image indicating the original price, and then the new price beside it if you enable this option. Then, at the end of the sales event, it will put everything back to where you want it to be.

  I used them before in 2012, and found them to be amazing. The products that are included in your sale are also displayed on the Etsy On Sale website, furthering exposure. Signing up is free, and you get a free 5 credits when you join - enough to run a sale event and use the tag-tool. But, if you sign up with this link and use the code IL6MS04M1G you can turn those 5 Etsy On Sale credits into 10!

   Etsy On Sale is a really valuable tool for Etsy sellers when running promotions
and I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Tophatter Partner Auction Experience - Pros and Cons

   As some of you may know, I recently held a Partner auction over on Tophatter. They contacted me asking if I was interested, and since my own shop was moving so slowly at that point I decided to take a chance.
   I've put together a list of Pros and Cons based on my experience, along with some words about my specific auction, in the hopes of helping you make your decision if you were asked or thinking of applying.

Pros:
  • Great way to move a lot of your stuff and clear out your inventory
  • Perfect if you're more concerned about spreading the name of your brand and getting your products out to people than you are about money or any sort of profit
  • Can result in actual Etsy purchases
  • Gets more attention to your Etsy page
  • Good way to find out what people think your work is worth and get opinions, and see what can be improved
  • No listing fee

Cons:
  • Tophatter take a full 30% from your auction
  • Tophatter take a full 30% from any shipping you charge
  • People are not inclined to spend lots of money, seeing Tophatter as more of a bargain bin than an auction house
  • May get requests from Tophatter auction participants to offer extra things specifically to them for a lower price in the 'auction' spirit (ie lower prices)

   My auction went surprisingly well, but there were a few issues. A couple of people entered the virtual auction room and started saying rather unpleasant things about my work. You are, of course, at no different risk of this being on Etsy - if people wanted to, they could quite easily slam you through Etsy, but being in the auction does make it a little easier.
   Another problem that occurred was that one of my lots bugged out. Lots of bids were placed, but some people said they were unable to bid properly on it, and the person who, according to my invoice, 'won' the listing after about 10 bids didn't actually bid at all.
   Another issue was that several people didn't pay. Tophatter take this quite seriously, and since the buyers weren't responding to my messages, I cancelled the lots and left them negative feedback with the reason from the drop-down menu as "no payment". If the individuals do this frequently they will end up permanently banned. So don't get excited if one of your lots goes for a surprising amount, because there's a good chance that they may not be planning on paying. The individuals that didn't pay, I noticed, had all been silent throughout the auction. This isn't to say that if people are bidding but not talking that they won't pay, but the individuals who are speaking in the auction room while bidding are more likely to.
   The payment system is a bit weird, too. Unlike Etsy, you have to actually accept the money in Paypal, rather than it being automatically credited, so I had to click accept many, many times across 2 Paypal pages. But I suppose it was a nice nuisance :P

   I was quite angry, however, to see that Tophatter take 30% of your shipping price. They most certainly should not be making a profit off of shipping, as I certainly wasn't - in fact, I was charging less than the full cost of actual shipping to keep people happy. It wasn't until I payed my Tophatter invoice that I found out they take a cut from shipping as well, so I ended up getting only half of the money needed to actually ship everything. It may well have said in the fine print that they take 30% from shipping, but they did conveniently leave that information out while I was talking to their representatives.

   Overall, I wouldn't do it again, because I'm based in the UK, so I didn't make as much as I would have if I was in the US, and I lost out a lot on shipping, having to fill a lot of that in from my own pocket.

   These are all my real experiences and opinions after holding a Partner auction on Tophatter with 44 lots. 41 sold, but 7 ended up unpayed. I've posted this information through hopes of helping people make their decisions. If you go ahead with it, I wish you the very best of luck! It's a really fun experience, butI can't say I'd do it again, given the overall results. It wasn't financially worthwhile for me.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

New Etsy Coupon and Discount Options

   I'm quite excited about this. I happened to venture into my coupon section on Etsy yesterday to create a free shipping code for the Etsy UK free shipping month event, and I noticed that the page looked a little...different.


   There are now 3 new options, though only two are shown above. I'll go through them one at a time:

   First we have a new checkbox. This checkbox allows you to set a coupon code to be sent out to people after they make a purchase from you. This code is likely to be the one you would give them to use should they return - around 10-15%. You can only have one discount set up to do this, however, and it is optional to buyers whether they receive them. In fact, it seems to be default for them to opt out of it. To change the settings for yourself to receive such codes after you make a purchase, go to your account > settings > email and tick the box to enable you to receive them. Not all shops will have this feature set up, but some will have. It is all new, afterall.

   The second option shown above is a minimum spend. Now, I'm based in the UK, and all of my prices are in GBP. So it confused me to see a dollar sign beside it. However, it did become GBP, not dollars. This option means that you can create discounts such as free shipping or a percentage, on the premise that people spend a certain amount first before being able to use it. Many websites offer free shipping with purchases over, say, £45. Even some Etsy shops do the same, refunding the shipping manually. Now, however, you can set it up to do so automatically. By creating a code for free shipping, and setting the condition that it only be usable on orders over £45, you can freely post the code in your shop info/announcement box without worrying about people trying to use it after spending only £10. While they can try, the code will not work.

   Now, the third option isn't shown above because the drop down box would have hidden the minimum spend option, but this third option is by far the best.


   Fixed Discounts. They have finally implemented the option of setting an exact amount of money, rather than just a percentage. Many people have tried to create gift cards for their shop specifically, and they way they did it was by enabling the "other" option at checkout, and keeping a record of the code they gave out. It was a big hoopla, really, and it ended up with people trying to use the "other" option at checkout without having a gift card at all, creating problems for both buyer and seller alike.
   Now, however, we can use the fixed discount option and do away with the other method completely. Now, personally, I would also set a minimum purchase here of slightly more than the gift card, as shown above, but those are just the conditions I would use. The discount, however, will not be usable unless they spend the amount the fixed discount is worth, so you probably want to fill the minimum spend field in as the amount the code is worth.
   I recommend, if you are going to sell gift cards, using individual codes for each card, and deactivating them after a certain amount of time (say, 6 months - but you must state this on the listing and card/email containing the code itself), and deactivating after it has been USED. If, however, you are offering money off as an incentive to buy during, say, a giveaway, then one single code can be used instead.
   The fixed discount works the same way as the percentage - there is no expiry date, and you cannot electronically set one - yet. I expect that will come in time. If you wish to give them expiry dates you will need to manually disable them on the date itself.

   As with the minimum spend option, the dollar sign was still shown alongside GBP. I created a random code to see how it came out, and it is shown below (don't be cheeky, I deleted the code right away!)


   As you can see, the code turned into GBP. The yellow bar shown above belongs to the coupon above it. The yellow bar is given to the discount you have set to be emailed out, so you can clearly see which is currently set as a returning customer incentive.


   I hope this is of some use to you lovely people - I know that I'll be setting up my own gift cards in both of my shops within the next week! Good luck, all!



Wednesday, 23 January 2013

How To Handle Increase In Shipping Costs

   I've noticed a lot of people on forums talking about USPS's increase in shipping. Now, I'm in the UK, myself, and our shipping rates went up last year. It didn't affect my business, though. However, as an international buyer, higher postage prices might well put me off.
   There is a way around this.
   A lot of people are put off of buying things if the shipping price is too high. For example, if an item costs $15 and the shipping costs $10, that would certainly make me turn tail and leave. That much for shipping? No way. However, if the prices were adjusted to $20 for the product and $5 for shipping, the full shipping fee IS being payed for, and you still make the same money from the product, but by merging the prices, buyers are more likely to come to you.
   And because the price of the product has increased, you may be able to offer local shipping for free, assuming that the $10 shipping was for overseas, and shipping within your own country is only $5. That's certainly a nice upside! I'm always more attracted for free shipping within my own country.

   Now, some people I've spoken to don't like this idea. They consider it lying, and in a way, it is. But the buyer is still paying the same amount as they would before hand, and the seller isn't making any extra money. There's nothing sinister going on behind it at all, it's quite straight forward.
   This is usually how companies are able to offer "free shipping". Being businesses they get lower shipping rates, and are able to merge them into the price of the products and give what appears to be free shipping.

   Of course, the price of the shipping can be used to gauge how fast a product might arrive, or how safely. Higher shipping certainly suggests to me that the product will arrive quickly and safely. But at the same time, I often consider the fact that items shipped for a lower price arrive just fine! But if you don't want to split the shipping in such a way, and would rather your customers knew how high the shipping truly was, then leave the costs as they are. At the end of the day, the shipping prices are the shipping prices, and that won't change.

   This "solution" comes down to personal preference. I have merged shipping with product price in a part of my own shop, because I felt the need to add tracking to my more expensive products, and tracking is expensive. So instead of putting people off of buying with higher than expected postage prices, I split the price of tracked overseas shipping right down the middle and put half of it onto the product price. This has also meant that shoppers within my own country get the item shipped for free, also with tracking, because local tracking is half the price of overseas tracking. I see it as the right thing to do, for me, because it's what I would prefer.

   This post is merely my own suggestion and by no means should you feel you have to follow it.



Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Etsy Team Thank-You

   Today I received a package from Etsy, as Team Captain, much like last year. I accept it on behalf of everyone in the team, and hopefully the team and blog will continue to grow, and provide help for eachother and all other Etsians.

Happy New Year!






Thursday, 3 January 2013

Free Etsy Holiday Calendar 2013

   Holidays tend to sneak up on you, don't they? With Christmas having just passed, it took me up until a couple of days ago to realise that Valentine's Day is just around the corner. It might seem a little soon to be thinking about it, to some people, but to us Etsy sellers, it is never too soon. But it can be too late.
   Like I just said, it took me up to a couple of days ago to realise that Valentine's Day is only 1.5 months away - that's 6 and a half weeks. Translate that to a 2-3 week shipping time for overseas (which are the majority of my sales) purchases, and that puts it down to just 3 and a half weeks. 3 and a half weeks to get a couple of ideas, order in the supplies, put the pieces together, photograph and list them, and then try to generate some interest. For a few shops it's no problem, but I don't make 20 sales a day, so I rely on planning ahead.
   It is for this reason, and a post I saw on the Etsy Success forum about when to list for the holidays, that I decided to compile an Etsy product calendar for you all. Free to download and us, of course.

   This calendar works through January to December 2013, and has marked on it the popular western holidays (Valentine's, Christmas, Independance Day and so on), and when I would advise you begin preparation. At first glance it might seem hectic and absurd - planning Valentine's Day in November, when Christmas hasn't even passed? Madness. But it's for a good reason. This calendar can help you as an Etsy seller prepare for all of the big shopping holidays, and keep you three months ahead, and certainly on time.

   I have based all of the dates and timing on what works for me. Being in the UK, I mostly get sales from overseas, which means I need enough time for people in the US and so on to find my products, buy them, and receive them with time to spare. First of all, let me explain the times and why they are as so, using Easter as an example:

   Easter is the 31st of March this year, but the first date I would advise you start thinking about it is, as marked on the calendar, around the 17th December. The 4 weeks that follow (December 17th to January 18th) should be used to plan out new ideas, purchase supplies, practise with them if necessary, and photograph and list the finished products. The second date that comes up is 4 weeks later, the 18th January. This is the time in which you must begin listing your products if you haven't already. It might seem a bit soon, but treasuries, and Etsy themselves, will start plucking items out to use in curations from about 1.5 months before the event itself, and if you ship overseas, you certainly want your customers to have the chance to purchase your products and have them in time for the event. The third date on the calendar is the 31st January, and states that, by this date, you must have the majority of your listings up.

   There are 3 dates listed on the calendar: the first date, marked in yellow, is when you should start designing products. The second date, marked in coral, occurs 4 weeks later, which suggests that you begin listing what you already have, and perhaps retag and retitle pieces that you already have that are relevant. The third date, marked in purple, comes 2 weeks after that, at the end of the design and supply-purchasing month, and it is at this date that you must start listing. 2 months then remain before the event for customers to purchase from you.


Purchasing Deadline Dates:

   A note on gift-giving holidays, such as Valentine's and Christmas: there is enough room on the calendar for you to add other holidays you wish to commit your work to, and, of course, you can always disregard the holidays you don't wish to participate in, but if you are participating in a holiday in which demand may be high and products will be desired as gifts, you'll want to make certain that you have deadline purchase dates set out.
   If you ship overseas frequently, you should have a rough idea of how long it takes items to arrive in the recipient's possession. For myself, shipping from the UK to the US with standard air mail, it takes roughly 2 weeks. But because products may be required as a gift for a very specific date (25th December, 14th February, etc), then you'll want to be sure they have it before that date, not just afterwards. In this case, it's best to add a week or two onto the usual shipping times, and then create your deadline. For example: for something to arrive around Valentine's Day, I'll want to ship (overseas) around the 31st January. However, to be certain that it has the chance to arrive before the date, and subsequently "in time", I'll actually want to ship it around the 24th. This gives the product a chance to get briefly delayed, and then move on its way, and gives the buyer a chance to look the item over, and to also not start panicking about the item not being there in time.
   Long story short: it usually takes 2 weeks. To be safe, I estimate 3, which means that my own Valentine's deadline date for overseas purchases is the 23rd-25th of January.
   You'll also want a deadline date for local purchases, too. I don't know how long it takes for things to travel from one side of the US to the other, but in England it typically takes 2-4 days, depending on 1st or 2nd class. As a result, I would set my national deadline date within the UK as the 5th-7th of February. Also be aware of alternative local shipping options - Next Day is not an option for overseas orders unless they're willing to pay upwards of £100, but it is an option in my own country, so I can create an extra deadline date for that option. Be sure to state the deadlines clearly at the top of your shop announcement, but also in your shop policies. Not many buyers read shop policies - even I, as a seller, don't read shop policies. But it's always a good idea to keep them filled in and up to date, because if a problem arises and Etsy has to step in, those policies (and Etsy can see exactly when changes have been made to the policies) could save your neck as a seller.

   If, however, you're setting your deadlines for Christmas, you will certainly want to consult your courier's website, who usually give a list of deadlines, and then perhaps add a week to that time, just in case things are busier than they expect. Afterall, there is always a huge Christmas rush, and things frequently don't get through in time.


A Word of Warning:

   Do be aware, there will always be individuals who purchase after the deadline dates, either because they assume that you're in the same country, they don't check the deadline dates, just want to try to chance it, or, perhaps, don't mind if it's a week late. In these cases, assess them carefully. If there is enough time for communication, send them a message stating that the product may not arrive in time because they have purchased after the deadline date. Offer then alternative shipping or give them the chance to cancel.
   If there isn't any time for communication, then either ship it immediately and cross your fingers, or cancel the purchase. A lot of buyers won't respond to your messages, or even perhaps read them, for several days. In cases like this, they may respond a week later requesting faster shipping when it's already too late. Once you send a message, the situation is locked. If you ask the buyer if they'd like to chance it because it could arrive in time (if they respond within 24 hours), you can't ship it in case they decide to cancel it and not chance it. On the other hand, if they take too long to respond, they may still expect it to reach them in time. It's a very difficult situation, but you would be best resigning yourself to sending messages and holding the buyer entirely responsible, if they take too long to respond. If you decide to send them a message instead of taking the chance, be sure to mention the very last date you could possibly send it with any chance of it reaching them. If they read the message 2 days after that date then they should already realise it's too late. Be sure, if you have to contact the buyer, to do it both through Etsy, and through their paypal email address.


   I'll leave this here. The calendar below is free for any Etsy seller to use. Feel free to add your own dates. It's all colour coded to reduce the amount of writing and so to make for, hopefully, easier understanding. Dates marked with a yellow circle are dates from which to begin designing. Dates marked in coral are dates from which to make sure you begin listing. Dates marked in lilac are dates by which listings must be live. The colour code is stated at the top of each calendar month, and at the bottom of the calendar month the appropriate birthstone and zodiac signs are printed, giving you extra info to help you along.





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Disclaimer: this calendar was put together by myself, a rather sheltered English woman who doesn't celebrate strictly religious or unfamiliar holidays, and so I've not added them in. Instead, the holidays I've added are those that are popular in Western culture that usually involve gift giving or decoration. I mean no insult to anyone by not including all holidays. It is exactly the opposite, in fact: I don't wish to personally commercialise holidays that have strong religious ties. Of course there are some religious holidays that I have included, such as Easter and Christmas, but these have already been commercialised.



Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tips For Sponsoring Etsy Giveaways

   Hey there my Etsians! I just read a post in the Etsy Success forums about sponsoring giveaways - the poster was asking what to focus on (page views, followers, FB likes and so on), what to giveaway and what to expect, and from my own experience, and that of others, I replied.
   I decided that it would be a very good idea to share that info with you all, as well, so here we go:


What to focus on.

   Now, obviously you really don't want to do a giveaway for a blog with 10 readers and 15 page views a day. That's just a waste of time, even if you are just starting out, and if they ask you to sponsor a giveaway with them, they may just be using you to gain more views and followers. When you're just starting out as a blogger, followers seem so very, very important.
   However, you are not a blogger, you are a small business owner, but a business owner nonetheless. You need to be smart about giving stuff away for free.
   Not all blogs with 2,000 followers are a safe bet. Some blogs might only post giveaways, so 90% of those followers and facebook likes could easily just be entries from past giveaways, and who pay no attention any more. Always check the blog out before agreeing to sponsor a giveaway. You might see one of these giveaway-only blogs and think "Great! Then they have lots of people looking at their blog, right?" Right! But they're the wrong kind of people. 80% of the time, these people are only hanging around because they know that they can get free stuff from this blog. They are not interested in buying anything, they're not interested in originality and hard work - they are vultures. Like I said, not every reader of a giveaway blog is like that, but most certainly are.

   Instead of focusing singularly on numbers, have a look at content instead. Do they frequently post giveaways? How often? Do they blog three times a week, and only once a month do a giveaway? If they do, then that's perfect. Do they blog four times a month, and only once a month do a giveaway? That's not perfect.
   What you should look for is content. You want the blogger to post frequently, at least two or three times a week, and you want their content to lend itself to your product somehow. If you make infinity scarves, you want a blogger that talks a lot about fashion - not necessarily ONLY fashion, but you want it to be a big part of their blog. That way, you can rest assured that their readers will be interested in your product.
   Also consider looking at the number of comments their posts have - this isn't necessarily vital, but an active readership might mean they pay more attention to posts, and that your product won't fall on deaf ears.

What to donate

   How many times have you seen one of your favourite shops sponsor or hold a giveaway? Did you go over and get disappointed at the product they were giving away? Was it something small and obscure that doesn't reflect their shop well at all? Did you wonder just why they chose to give that away rather than something better that would get more people into their shop?
   How many times have you seen a giveaway on a blog you enjoy, and not given a second look at the item that's being given away? Or been drawn in by pictures of their wonderful products and found them to be giving away something not worth more than a fiver?

   Don't let yourself fall victim to this. The best thing you can do is choose something that best reflects your shop. If you decide to give away something small because you won't be getting any money from it, you are risking fans and sales, and few people will have a look in your shop except for tick off the entry that says to favourite it or choose a favourite item. Your target audience won't pay any attention to you.
   That's not to say that if you sell a mix of dresses, tshirts and gowns that you have to choose an expensive dress - though that would certainly grab attention - but you m ust choose something that reflects it well. For example, in a jewellery shop, there could be a range of items - rings and necklaces from £10 up to £50 - that doesn't mean to say they have to choose a £30 piece, but what it does mean is that they can't give away a £10 piece, or "make something special" using up old materials that are no good and put in very little effort.
   Choose something that is a best seller, perhaps - simple, but does very well for itself. Not necessarily the most expensive item in your shop, but not the cheapest. There's a reason it's a best seller. If you're not prepared to give something good away, why bother at all? You'll still have to pay postage, and there's a fair chance whoever gets it doesn't really want it, they just wanted to "win" something.
   Don't give away for free something you can't budge, it won't grab attention at all, and it will hinder more than help if people happen to remember your name for that single item.


What to expect

   Don't expect sales. Even if you choose a blog that does giveaways once a month and actively posts about other topics for the rest of the month, that doesn't mean you'll sell anything. For a start, if you choose something wonderful that can get people into your shop, they may well not buy anything, just in case they win - it would be a bit silly to buy something if there's a chance you might win it if you're patient for a week or two. Instead, you'll probably get lots of views, and probably hearts. Sales won't come until the giveaway has finished, unless you have a very wide array of items, and the item you've chosen to give away is specific - eg: blue silk scarf with sea shells. If you give away a gift voucher, you won't sell a thing to the entrants until it's over, if even then.
   All you can hope is that the giveaway will put you on the map. People will see your products, they will see your name, and they may heart your shop and like your facebook. You have to give a great impression so that they remember you. If no one remembers your name or your products, you have just wasted your time, money and product.


You have control

   You may not think it, because the blog is the one getting you the attention, but you are the one in control. Your product is what is giving them the giveaway in the first place, from which they will get follows, views and likes as well. In fact, they may benefit more than you.
   This does NOT mean, however, that you can pull out whenever you want or decide you're not going to send the prize. It will reflect VERY badly on you if you do that, and the blogger can easily publicly announce that the giveaway is over prematurely, with no winners, because the sponsor has pulled out giving no reasoning. Neither does it mean that you can let the giveaway run and have no intention of sending the prize out. The winner may well have a blog of their own, and can easily and publicly announce the scandal - it may only be a giveaway, but sometimes people genuinely do want the prize, and can't afford it themselves. They may also let the giveaway host know, and they may announce the same thing. You have to be careful who you cross, so it's best to be honest and not cross anyone.
   What this DOES mean, is that you have the right to request certain things as entries. You can request that hearting your shop be counted as an entry, liking your facebook, following your twitter and so on - or you can ask them NOT to. What I like to do is only ask for a facebook like and ask them to go into my shop and choose their favourite item, which they either link in the comments of that post, or in a box provided by rafflecopter. No hearts. What this means is the hearts are real. People are forced to come in and look if they want a better chance at winning, but they are not forced heart. They only heart if they truly like the shop, and truly like the products. Sure, some people will come in and grab an item from thevery top row and say it's their favourite for an easy entry, but not all will. Some will actually take the time to look.
   It also means that you have the right to state that you will only ship to a certain country, or you will only do it if the giveaway is international - such things usually always have to be decided by the donating sponsor.
   You also have the right to ask for the giveaway to last a certain amount of time, but not massively. You may be able to ask for a few extra days added or taken off from their usual duration on that particular blog, but that has to be done before it goes live. You cannot ask for it to be lengthened or shortened once it has started.


    If you agree to do a giveaway, you are obligated to send the prize in a timely manner. The winner may not have purchased the item, but if they like the product and your service, they may return as a paying buying one day, and maybe bring some friends. Taking a few weeks to ship the package, or poorly packing it because it's not been payed for, will certainly only damage your reputation and any chance of making sales from this person or their friends. If anyone has anything to add, let me know and I'll write it in.