Thursday, January 07, 2010

Out with the old and in with the new... Selling Handmade Items Online - A Revamped ArtFire Shop and a word about Etsy and 1000Markets too!



Let's talk shop for a moment, shall we?   After re-evaluating my online sales this year and my selling venues, I decided to do some house cleaning.

First of all, I decided to expand my Etsy fiber shop by adding kits and supplies and open a brand new Etsy shop for my rubber stamp designs because Etsy has always been a very good selling venue for me, and I am happy selling there.  I will be honest and say that I've had my ups and downs on Etsy and how I feel about the site itself.  That being said, it has always been a constant selling venue for me.  And, I know that my business would not be nearly as prosperous as it is today without my presence there.  So... Viva La Etsy!  As long as you'll have me, I am there to stay.

I wanted to expand my horizons last year so I opened up a 1000Markets shop.  I was very flattered to have been juried into the site which I consider to represent more high-end handmade items.  Sadly my shop there did not do very well; therefore, I put it on vacation mode yesterday to re-evaluate what to do with it next.  On that note, I received an email from support at 1000Markets today stating that "Your shop on 1000 Markets has been returned to provisional (pre-approved) status."  In other words, they shut my shop down without notice.  While I understand the need to keep their shops "well-stocked" and looking good, my shop would have been just that if I had been actually selling anything there, but unfortunately I sold one item there - just one item in the last few months!  That didn't warrant me spending a whole lot of time with my shop there.  Don't get me wrong though!  I love the layout and features of 1000Markets - very upscale and clean in its details, but it does me no good if I can not sell anything on their venue.  That is a shop that I will have to let go for now and rethink.  I want to like 1000Markets and prosper there...  I really, really do!  I just cannot afford to waste time on a venue that is not furthering my business no matter how wonderfully pretty the site itself is or how nice the people are there.  Both of which I appreciate about it.

Moving on...  Today I finished opening up a brand new shop on ArtFire to house both my fiber items and rubber stamps.  Although I love both of my Etsy shops, I wanted a selling venue where I could easily combine the two ideas of fiber and stamps.  What I love about ArtFire is all the magnificent, and I do mean truly magnificent, features and tools that it offers to its verified members.  (Yes, my usual frugal self coughed up the 12 bucks to upgrade my membership, but it seems well worth it.)  The importer tool, to import your Etsy item listings, and the global editor, to bulk edit your items, are super easy to use and save so much time!  I am very impressed with those account features.  I just hope that my new shop there results in sells, lots and lots of items sold!  I had a shop there previously, just the basic membership, for my felted items that didn't do so well, but it was rather neglected with few items listed.  I'm hoping my full, new shop will be more prosperous.  Please take a peak at it and browse when you have the chance.

So basically, Etsy and ArtFire are where I am choosing to spend my time so far this year after trying to sell on several other online venues including 1000Markets.  I know that plans change, but for now, that is what I have in mind for 2010.

What are your online selling plans for this year?  Do you sell on multiple sites or maybe just your own website (which I haven't gotten up the courage to try yet)?  Please leave a comment and let me know...

13 comments:

  1. Congratulations, and welcome (back ;) ) to ArtFire!

    A couple other features you might like to try out, the ArtFire rapid cart which sort of looks like the Etsy Mini, but is checkout enabled and will let your blog readers purchase from you without leaving this blog.

    The other is the Facebook Kiosk which gives you a separate tab on your profile and/or business page that dynamically pulls your studio and let's your friends, family, and fans, shop and purchase from you without and account and without leaving Facebook.

    Good luck with all of your Ventures, and a happy new year!

    Kevin

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  2. I've done some of the same venue juggling in search of just the right balance. Good luck with your new ArtFire shop. They do seem to be doing everything right and the larger they grow, hopefully the sales will follow.

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  3. This is something I have struggled with for awhile. I have decided to focus my attention on Etsy. I will be looking at ArtFire - it sounds like they have a lot to offer. Good luck!!!

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  4. Hi Shalana

    Just wanted you to know that I checked your shop and it wasn't 'shut down'. It was simply moved back to provisional status because you put it on vacation until 12/31/10 and only had 4 items listed. As soon as you add at least another product, and come back from vacation, all you have to do is hit the "I'm Ready" button for reactivation.

    We really can't have shops that are on vacation for a year, where buyers can not purchase.

    Drop me a line if you want to discuss it, but I think it is important that you understand what happened. I was dismayed to read what you wrote and if I can help clear up any misunderstanding, I will be glad to.

    R.

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  6. Thanks for the info about the Facebook Kiosk Kevin! I will have to give that a try soon.

    And, I appreciate your comments Jenn and Kenleigh. Best wishes on your online sales this year!

    Rachel, I appreciate the explanation. Personally, I think that 1000Markets should reword their notification email when a shop is put back to provisional status. To me, I feel as if my shop was shut down. I had no notice, and if you try to go to my shop address link, no shop is there anymore making all the links to it out there that I advertised and spent time networking invalid - not even a homepage to say that I'm on vacation and will be back. That, quite frankly, is bad for my business. I put my shop on vacation mode until 12/31/10 (which is personal info about my account that I don't feel should be shared by the way) because I didn't know how long it would take me to rethink/revamp my shop. And, I had only 4 items there because I was forced to move my other items to venues where I was actually making sales during the holiday season. That is just the plain truth of it. I am not meaning to be ugly about the situation - just trying to explain. Although I wish that I didn't feel like I had to defend my decisions about my own shop.

    1000Markets should consider that sellers have a lot of other quality venues to sell on out there now online. It is just as easy to move shops than to deal with the lack of buyers and other issues on a site. As I said, I do like the site layout and community there though. I just wish I had some sales there to warrant me spending time building up a shop at the venue. With a new baby and a prospering business to run, I have to pick and choose what works best for me and really budget my time. No harmful intentions to 1000Markets were meant with my post. I was just telling the truth of my experience on my own personal blog.

    I highly respect your fiber art and beautiful wearables. I hope that this does not effect our relationship as artists! You have been such a great online friend to me :)

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  7. Nice write up. I wish you would expand a little more on why you upgraded your Artfire account. Could you not get those features with the basic?

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  8. Great post! I agree with you about ArtFire- so many wonderful features there!
    I had a similar experience with 1000markets that almost caused me to shut my shop there...I was a fully stocked shop, everything updated and in order BUT I had not logged in for several weeks (no need to, nothing happening there- I have had the same problem with sales there despite its being such a lovely site)
    ANYWAY= they shut down my shop RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!

    This was with NO WARNING- I had no idea that this was their policy. I have been on sites that do send a "hello you need to log in" email and that would have been no problem, but the first email I got from 1KM was that I was shut down. (provisional status is a moot point-my shop was effectively closed for business and not reinstated until several days later!)

    I decided not to be too grumpy about it, but any loyalty I had to the site or desire to prioritize my listings there above other site went right out the window with that little stunt!

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  9. Liz, in answer to your question, yes. I upgraded because there were certain features that I couldn't get with the basic account. The most important to me was the importer tool so that I could directly import individual listing or my entire product line from my Etsy shops. This has been a HUGE time save and well worth the extra money. Also, they have a wonderful global editing tool to edit several items at once - also a time saver. And, with the upgraded account, I have more options on my shop layout and color scheme which is a nice added perk. Hope that helps :)

    Thyme2dream, yep, in a nutshell, that is just how I felt as well about things there. It is really unfortunate though because the site is just so pretty! Perhaps things will change a bit there for the better in the future...

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  10. Hi Shalana

    I know that you moderate your comments so I assumed if you weren't comfortable with sharing something in my post, you would not have made it public.

    Information like you have given, regarding the wording in the announcement you received when your shop was made provisional, is invaluable. Sometimes it is hard to track down this type of invaluable info when the only place it shows up is on a blog. I would never known about how you felt, if I hadnt subscribed to your blog a long time ago. I will definitely make recommendation that the wording of the announcement which is sent out automatically when your shop is made provisional, be looked into.

    No need to worry about our friendship! That has been going on a long time and our personal relationship is not affected by business! I am an artist, first and foremost and I do treasure my friendships with fellow artisans.

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  11. Shalana, I do think you are right to concentrate on the venues that are good for supplies (and your own selling history) and agree with your assessment of 1000Markets, which I had hoped to make my main store location because Etsy no longer works for many handmade products.
    I have found that 1000Markets falls into the same habit of picking which items to promote on its front page, without giving sellers access to promotion tools on the site itself. It poses the same set of problems most sellers have on Etsy which is, if you are not promoted, you do not sell.
    I am also not convinced that the "market" concept works; it takes a lot of shopping to figure it out!
    It's very helpful to read the comments here from other sellers and people like me who have followed your blog.
    My hopes for 2010 is that sellers join to start demanding better marketing tools on sites we like, because, even after all these years, mistakes, and other longstanding issues, it's the sellers who suffer for lack of tools, lack of site support, and increasing competition with little help or support.
    The online landscape for selling handmade had changed rapidly, but most of the sites are loathe to make the changes sellers need! I don't understand why they all resist change that would help their sellers sell.
    I spent about 30 hours a week marketing my 1000M store, and had little to show for it. The fact that I was never featured in any of the holiday promotions was a huge factor.
    Site suppport includes seller recruitment and retention. The more sites treat sellers like a dime a dozen, the more likely we're apt to switch and pay our fees elsewhere. It's a shame that the sites don't listen to their sellers!
    Nancy Schwab, Nunofelt

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  12. I was quite disappointed that your shop was gone on 1KM. Your work belongs in Fiber Alchemy and we really miss you.

    I really wish that 1KM didn't backseat the market concept. Alot of us put a lot of work into it and I honestly felt there was a future for growth. You would have thought that the market managers would have been notified first. Maybe you'd still be there. I totally agree with you about moving some stuff to other venues. I put a couple items up on Etsy just to see what would happen. I liked the common bond factor of the market...well...maybe the problem was that we were one of the few markets that had a true bond. I'll have to decide what I'm going to do after tax season. It's a good thing I decided to put my blog address on my business cards :)...take care and talk to you soon!!!....Elise

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  13. Really sorry that you are no longer at 1KM. I realize that business has been a bit slow there, but I think that things will pick up eventually. I hope you will reconsider being part of the site and also the Fiber Alchemy Market.

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