Thursday, March 20, 2014

eBay & Etsy.... decisions... decisions... Part #1

I've been selling on eBay since May of 2002 - a very long time.  I took a hiatus for a year or so, the fees were making it not as viable and I was in a place where marketing it was too much work.  My Etsy shop is fairly new. 

I am toying with where to put my energies: either or both.  I thought it might be of interest to those of you on who don't sell there to learn a bit about how it works - maybe you'll want to try it yourself!  Or... maybe you'll think we're crazy and let it go!  :)

Today I wanted to share with you what it takes TO list and sell on line - I call it:  "Part 1" .

Ebay, Etsy, all on-line venues have some things in common:

    • For me, it's a trip to the wholesaler (2+ hour drive, one way) to pick up and pick out fabrics.  Oh... darn... too bad, right?  The traffic around Boston can be a bit sticky, so it's all about timing: when do I leave so that I am after the worst traffic going in and on my way home before it gets bad again (assuming there isn't a special stop off at Ikea...)
    • There's the sorting and organizing of bolts and "end-of-bolts" when they arrive... 
    • Selling on either (or any other) site requires you to have images of your items - that means setting up how you are going to take good quality photographs because we BUY based on what we see.  I prefer shots using outdoor lighting... but the 6 months of winter we have (...just kidding... sort of...) makes that hard.  I've seen people create some pretty cool places inside to take pix - that might be in my future.
    • The act of listing is also time consuming.  Whether you are filling in forms on Ebay OR Esty, you and typing things in and checking things off.  You have decisions to make even there: what category will attract attention?  What name/title/etc will get people to take a second look?  What key words should I use to get the most draw from searches?
    • Storing your items in an organized way, so you can find what you are looking for once it's purchased, takes time.  A couple of times (OMG... I am so embarrassed when that's happened!) I've lost something I listed - it's fabric...I've got it everywhere...sigh... I am working diligently on this one and we are trying to set aside a space dedicated to my fabric/craft word.
    • Communicating with potential buyers with questions or buyers who want to order something in addition or are asking about shipping, takes a bit of time.  Communication is sooooo important and I try to make that happen as fast as I can.  That being said, I have a "regular job" Wed-Fri during the week and Mon-Fri from mid August to October it's field hockey after school and mid November to mid March it's basketball, so sometimes questions have to wait for answers.  We live in a society were instant information is the norm.  Sometimes I do have to slow it all down.
    • Once you sell something, you have to process it: locate the item, get the packaging, go into PayPal to print shipping, attach it to the package and bring the whole thing the the post office (which is closed for lunch mid day, locally, and at 4:30 in the afternoon at the end....I know this because....).

  • You are dependent on others to decide they want what you have.  Do the folks you reach out to have the money for what you have to offer?  Is it in their budget?  Are they in the mood to shop?  Are they willing to buy based on your photos and description alone?  In my case, is there a quilt shop nearby?  If so, buying on line might not work... unless my pricing is better, which is what I shoot for. 

  • That brings you to the whole pricing piece.  How does one price their materials and work?  How do you put value on creative endeavors?  My fabric is pretty straight forward: it costs $X, the market will support my charging $Y.  It's my baby, so I can run sales when I want, set my prices at what seems fair and overall be in charge.  That being said, why I pay in the first place regulates how low I can go.  The projects I make and sell though?  That's a whole 'nuther kettle of worms, as the saying goes.  There are all sorts of formulas out there for that, but in my mind it comes back to what will the market support?  I also think it might depend a bit on how you were able to spend the time it took to create the item.  Were you knitting while watching TV or chatting with friends?  It might be easier to make a decision on the value of something you made that way vs something you gave up a piece of your life for. Then again, maybe not.  If you do sell items, how do you go about deciding?  I am curious.

So there you have it: Part 1 - What does it take to sell on line, in my experiences.  If you've sold on line, leave us a comment to tell us about it.

If you do, I will ADD you to the drawing (I can do that!) and if you want to do any of the others, great!

If you are new to the site today, I am having a drawing for a gorgeous set of batik squares.  You can enter below - drawing is Sunday night.  :)

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