Saturday, March 14, 2015

Is What You Make an Extension of Who You Are?

Yesterday I spent several hours reviewing the top 100 Etsy sellers of 2014 compiled by Handmadeology. My agenda was to check out products that are in high demand and what sets these shops apart from the rest.

What I found was a very bizarre mix!  There are many shops that sell headbands for babies with little flowers on them, one that sells buttons with words and sayings, one that sells junk jewelry for .99 cents, that they find at flea markets...

Contrary to what you're taught in every Etsy class-the photos for some of these sites are far from spectacular.  So what them makes them special?

The thing that I found they each have in common is that what they sell is a reflection of who they are.  What you make and sell must tie in to something you believe in and actually enjoy doing. If you're not genuinely into multiple piercing, selling nose rings probably isn't going to work for you, no matter how good your photos. Will you be able to write genuine posts about piercings that drive people to your site if piercings give you the creeps?

There was someone who sells sage and stones and energy kits which appealed to me in my "chasing shiny things" kind of way for a few hours, but then I realized that although it is a great idea for the artistic community I love to work with, it isn't "me" and what I include in my own daily life-but you bet it is for the shop owner.  Her products are an extension of what she practices and believes in.

There is a couple who sells jewelry made out of Scrabble tiles. They incorporate their love of reading and teaching into the images and quotes they select for each piece. Their unique personalities and interests are reflected in what they make and this was true for many of these shops. (The "about" pages on the site is where you tell your story and where you can connect who you are to what you make.)

If you're interested in having a look at popular Etsy sellers, I recommend you click on "sales" and go back to the very first sales to see how products evolved and changed over time.  This will be a mighty boost to your confidence.

Rather than getting deflated by comparison, I was actually really encouraged and excited by this exercise. I felt strongly that if they can do this (make and sell something they love + grow and evolve over time) then so can I and so can you.

Continue to develop your skills, work on your photography and share more of what you're doing.  When you get stuck about what direction you want to move in (like if you should add nose rings to your product line?) you can weigh this against who you are and what your ideal customer would want. 

I'm studying Etsy to learn as much as I can, but I'm not convinced it's the right platform for me.  We just had a local platform open up called "Folk You" and I may try that instead as I have had far more success with selling in local shops and I'd like to connect with other local artists.  
If you'd like to check out my own beginnings of an Etsy shop, stop over here.

If you're looking for some help with your Etsy Shop, here are some resources for you:
Creative Live Class-Etsy 101- Launch Your Handmade Shop with Marlo Miyashiro
The Art of Selling What You Make-Tara Gentile
Etsy-Australia-Tons of Good Info.

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