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Do You Etsy?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Bob Carter, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I know there are several Grumblers I communicate with that have Etsy stores; several look pretty active

    Most appear to offer products that are not 'core' picture framing offerings

    We are growing our biz (too slowly for me lol) and am struggling to fully utilize the many areas of social marketing

    Anybody else with a success story? And how you got there?

    Do you use/recommend any other online venues? We used ArtFire with very unsatisfactory results

    anybody else?
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  2. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Was just watching the local news and there was a blip about a California housewife that was grossing 70K an month on Etsy. During the blip they also mentioned that 65% of Etsy sellers were grossing less than $100 a year.
    cjmst3k likes this.
  3. tedh

    tedh SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Friend of mine was on Ebay, then set up his own site, then moved to zazzle.

    He was blown away by the success of zazzle.
  4. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Larry

    I track 4 stores that have something comparable. they do about 350 units a week; about $50K/mon. what's interesting about your figure is that about 35% do over $100K. remember all shops are suppossed to be selling hand made wares

    my concern is creating followers. This one shop has sold almost 30,000 units in just a little over 3 years with about 20,000 followers. A lot of these stores are serious businesses. One shop sells knitted scarves and her sales are unbelievable. I track these stores looking for 'Best Practices' to steal, er, adapt. I love a success story

    Hey Ted-thanks, i'll check zazzle out. I have spoken to several ex-ebayers that all have found better success elsewhere
  5. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    The figure I quoted was 65% do less than $100 per year, not $100,000. SO if the figure I heard on the news is correct, 35% do more than $100 per year.
    cjmst3k likes this.
  6. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    If the shop that sells the unbelievable amount of knitted scarves is the one I'm thinking about, many folks say that she cheats the Etsy system.
  7. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Larry-Rule 1 ought to be 'Read Twice, Respond Once LOL. Not sure about <$100yr. That's $8/mon. I can see some folks trying it, having little success and dropping out. I do a ton of 'snooping' and just can't say I see any that show that little sales. But, could be. Our first year, the numbers were disappointing but we improved

    ThreeBirdNest is one of them. Not sure how she 'cheats the system' unless it's not all 'hand made'. In that case a whole bunch of shops might not qualify LOL. She has sold almost 100,000 units. I'm impressed. On my last trip to Italy Sandy bought a couple of dozen really neat scarves she gave a gifts to her girl friends. We got a pretty good 'street' price but if we could get a 'dealer' price, I'd put them on Etsy in a heart beat. The woman used as her model has gorgeous eyes and that helps in the visual presentation. There are three others I track weekly that are truly remarkable

    obviously I have a lot to learn about finding that 'secret sauce'

    Perhaps other Grumblers can share their experiences, but I think it's a great platform and think a lot of frame shops might see an opportunity
  8. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm with you, I think she has a brilliant strategy. She isn't toiling away in her home, hand-knitting her items from scratch. She's a 'reseller' - she buys her stuff in bulk from China and India (sometimes slightly altering it, sometimes not), then she has her sister model it, a professional photographer photographs it and she markets it. Awesome.

    The main gripe I'm hearing about with her shop is that her wording gives the impression that her things are all handmade domestically by a team of moms knitting away, when they are actually mass-produced 'by hand' in China.

    You know, hand-sewn in a 'factory' like those hand-made shirts from Indochina we discussed on the Grumble a few weeks ago (wink).

    Here's one of her 'handmade' Etsy shop items

    Here's the same thing being sold by someone else on Amazon

    And, just for kicks, here's her source in China

    So, is she misrepresenting? Does her stuff 'cross the line' when it comes to being a reseller of mass-manufactured goods on Etsy? Who knows? And, other than those folks who are painstakingly crafting their stuff one-at-a-time for sale on Etsy, who cares?

    Personally, I think she (and some others on Etsy) have hit upon an excellent strategy. They have taken a page out of the 'website content' book and used it to sell physical goods.

    They are basically CURATORS of 'handmade goods' sourced from around the world. Good job and GREAT model, I say.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  9. josephforthill

    josephforthill MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There was quite a flap about Etsy a while back - they decided that you didn't actually have to make the items - since I don't do anything with them, not sure how far they may have even lowered that standard, but it did have the more artisanal people annoyed (and while it lasted, the blog "Regretsy" was merciless about this.

    What I find interesting about Etsy is that there are people making and selling things that they cannot possibly be making any money on. While that is their own lookout, it can be difficult to compete.
  10. snafu

    snafu MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    In 2014 I sold $5,492.90 on Etsy that's a lot better than ebay or Bonanza.com
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That's great research, very thorough. Thanks! It's the entrepreneur in me that draws me like a moth to a porch light when I see great success stories. Makes me think 'Why can't I come up with that?' LOL

    Again, it's just the 'merchant' in me that looks at her prices and think cost has nothing to do with her Selling Price; Market does. I would love to sit down with her and just listen. My huge hurdle is creating her level of followers. Just think of all those 'silent salespeople' out there Pinning her stuff. All my grandkids are too young to be my Social Marketing Director and i'm too old built out of brick and mortar LOL. Aside: Contacted local High Schools and Community College posting Job Offering for someone to do things like that and didn't get a single response

    I too look at a bunch of pricing and think the same thing: they can't be making any money. Proving that someone else will always under price you. Key is to develop pricing that is profitable and competitive (Pretty true in all biz). Anybody spend much, any, time researching competitors for ideas, pricing? I do it pretty much daily for 30-45 minutes. Learn a lot; mostly, how little I know

    Getting back to thread, anybody else have some good success stories on alternate venues? We tried ArtFire and were in the 65% LOL

    Perhaps if anybody wants to share offline that might be fun to establish a community of Grumblers on Etsy

    one of our Goals for 2015 is to improve Visual Merchandising to include better photography and staging. We are using Gimp and recently stumbled upon a few tools that are a huge improvement. Anybody want to share 'Winning Techniques' for publishing?

    Hey Joe-thanks for sharing. If you (or anyone else) would like to share links for a little 'friendly critique', a fresh set of eyes might be helpful

    Lastly, anybody shop on Etsy? Other venues?
  12. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Bob, do you have a link to your Etsy site?
    :cool: Rick
  13. troyveluz

    troyveluz MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Etsy, like the framing business is very visual. Your on the right track in improving the photos and staging of your products.
    Take a look at how ThreeBirdNest is staging/modeling their products. If I were you, I would invest in Photoshop (it's only $10/month subscription - It's a lot user friendly than GIMP), Decent camera and lighting / backdrop equipment.
    From my experience with Etsy, to gain followers, you have to have great photos of your products, it's the photos that they "Like" or "favorite". The same goes wth Pinterest and Instagram. It is the photos that they follow/pin.

    Another important aspect in Etsy are the Tags for your productions. The tags are the "SEO" of Etsy. I took a quick look at your tags, and they seem to be almost the same for every product. Make them more specific to the product.

    my 2c.
  14. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hi Troy

    appreciate your help

    Gimp might be default. It's taken me sooo looong to get 'proficient' that a learning curve of a new product might be a hurdle too high. You know me, old dog, new tricks LOL

    I'll work on tags this weekend, so please take a peek next week

    bought a new camera recently and bought light stand so work is quantum leaps of a year ago and I have images older than that

    took your advice on Pinning and just started; you know me and too many irons in the fire

    Rick-I sent PM; Look forward to some 'unvarnished' critique

  15. susang

    susang SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Etsy is vintage also. I am not sure how old the item needs to be. It's something like 20 years or older, but don't quote me on that.
  16. Rick Bergeron - CPF

    Rick Bergeron - CPF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hi Bob,

    Nice looking etsy shop. Wasn't hard to find.

    The best improvement we made in the product photography area for setup, quality and speed of photography sessions was purchasing the DSLR controller app for our Android tablet. What previously took hours, now takes minutes from start to finish. We seldom use our lightbox; just the color corrected, trumpet bulb fixtures and background.

    Question: What basic, google words (unrelated to etsy) would I use to find products similar to yours anywhere on the internet? What position do you fall when using those words? Next comments would be dependent upon those answers.
  17. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Rick

    This is an area where I am embarrassingly ecommerce challenged

    Here is where I have gone so far

    I have searched for 'best' competitors (there are several that are huge) and examined what they seem to do looking Tags and for other things that might work. Thanks to Troy I am revisiting with fresh eyes and seem to be developing a pattern that I am implementing right now. One glaring lesson was all my tags were repetitive and one word whereas others used phrases

    I'll follow up with PM as it might be awfully dull to everyone

    Iappreciate all the help from my grumble friends and if there is a lesson to be learned for all, it's no more complex than 'Just Ask for Help'
  18. Rick Bergeron - CPF

    Rick Bergeron - CPF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    What you've done so far is more than the average person, so that's a plus.
  19. FramerInTraining

    FramerInTraining MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There's a chance the Chinese source has copied this etsy shop's pictures. I've dealt with Chinese factories many times in the past. Based on my past experiences dealing with them, they practice dishonesty as a matter of normal business. They won't hesitate at all stealing pictures from other web sites.
    It's possible the etsy web site is not buying its products from this Chinese source.

    I'm going to stop trolling now.
  20. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Let's just say I think she has hit it out of the park. She has 15 employees doing things, maybe embellishments?

    Bottom line: if i could buy a widget for $6 and sell it for what she does, her source is irrelevant

    plenty of items on Etsy have components purchased elsewhere

    Another of my favorite 'competitor' shops sells frames readily available for $1 in stores we've all shopped in. She 'embellishes' product and resells for $30-40. she sells 300-350 most weeks

    The point is these very successful people have figured out 'how to do it' and are reaping great rewards. Too often people want to figure out the negative instead of 'adapting' the positive

    I want to figure out the 'how' also LOL

    Special thanks to those dropping me PM's.
  21. framesrfun

    framesrfun Grumbler

    I've had an Etsy shop for years (since 11/2008) for my artwork: bethanybryant.etsy.com . It's a great way to become visible to a wide audience. It took me years to start selling regularly and have more than 100 items, now I'm only down to a handful of listings. Now with two young children and a business to run, I'd rather have the pieces in our retail shop. I have also taken down my custom painting listings. Responding to lots of messages and shipping items takes away from my time to create art. I create printed greeting cards of my art, and those I have taken off the Etsy site and just sell in our storefront.

    We've considered opening an Etsy shop to sell mats and framing items, but am wary of how much of a time suck it can become. Time spent to create the item, photograph it, list it, pack it, ship, adds up. I think it's a great idea if you have a regular inventory of items. When you sell a piece you can simply renew the listing.

    There are definitely people selling items that don't fall in the approved categories: handmade, vintage, supplies. Unfortunately the honest sellers lose out because they get lost in the sea of shops. I'd guess many of the small shops' prices barely cover their cost of materials, but are doing something to help finance their hobby.

    What makes me crazy is having customers bring in a rolled canvas painting "from an artist in FL" found on Etsy. When I look at the return address on the tube, it says China or Mexico and looks like the painting someone bought "from a street artist in London" last week. And don't get me started on the local "Starving Artist" sales held at the local convention center! If someone wants to come in and put a $500 frame on one of these paintings, though I would be happy to!

    There's my two cents! ;)

    susang likes this.
  22. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hey Bethany

    I hear you on the time element. And for sure, some prices are ridiculously low. But, don't we see that with some frame shops, too?

    Took a look at your shop and 88 sales put a few shekels in your pocket, Good for you. You might 'review' other sellers doing what you do and you might be doing very well in an admittedly narrow market.

    Rolled canvas? I'll bet Jeff gets happy about seeing that client lol. Truth is, your direction of marketing is the great benefit of owning your own biz

    Honest sellers losing out? Not so sure. Consumers probably see those knee socks and think 1) those are cool, 2) looks like a great price, 3) under $30?, 4) what the heck, I'll get it. Im guessing lots of clients are driven from a FB page or Pinterest.

    I'll bet those consumers don't much care where it comes from or look for other sites to compare

    To me it's Marketing 101. Not every product reaches that type of demand level

    But, 88 sales is 88 more sales than if you weren't participating. Good for you

    Your challenge is just like mine; how do I reach a wider base?
  23. snafu

    snafu MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Where Etsy has really helped me is by getting leads higher volume of work. I have one customer in St Louis that found me on Etsy now she is buying 5 to 10 a week, she sells her artwork on etsy and her website and I supply her frames & mats. Also Siemens in North Carolina found me on etsy, so far they have purchased about 120 frames and mats in the past 12 months. My previous Etsy sales figure didn't include either of these customers.
  24. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If one has a very narrow definition of "handmade", and is proud to consider themselves to be among those who do such, I can see that person being offended by mass produced items, even if they are made by hand. The thing is, where do you stop? If you are at all successful, you will quickly reach your limit, as there is only so much a single person can do during waking hours. So instead of making your own stretchers and stretching your own canvas to do your painting, you buy prestretched canvas. Is the finished product no longer handmade? Artists used to make their own paints; if you buy your paint is it no longer "art"? Or handmade?

    Regarding "Chinese paintings", I think they are remarkable. Of course, they are not "art", but they can be nicer than a print, and they are made by hand(s). The average person will look at one and recognize that it's an actual painting, and be more impressed with it than most other decorative wall items. Selling them as if you painted them is another story, but deception happens in all types of business.
    FramerInTraining likes this.
  25. troyveluz

    troyveluz MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    When Etsy started, their motto was "Handmade by me", not handmade by someone else. They have expanded the definition of "Handmade by me" to "Designed by me, made be me or someone else".
    You have pointed ot Etsy's dilema about "Handmade by me" products. There is a limit on how much a single person can make. In order to sell more and more, eventually that "single" person has to eventually hire or outsource some, if not all, of the production and sometimes even the design.
  26. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I guess 'fabricated by me' best describes my product that includes a frame, glass, matboard and backing by someone else LOL

    Even most designs and messages are rampant on the sites.

    There are several Grumblers taking same/similar images and printing on canvas. Just the face of competition

    Search for 'frames' and you'll get 1000's of results

    All of which brings me back to creating exposure and identity where unique and difference simply isn't an option

    kind of like framing? LOL
  27. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's typically not the Product itself that will set a seller apart - but the Presentation & Promotion.
    This is especially true if you wish to move higher volumes (which seems true in your case).
    If trying to sell like products, Price, (on certain platforms) will be the decider.
    Also, and please do not take this the wrong way, consider hiring a young, online in-tune person, to help with marketing.
  28. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I do take it personally but from myself because I am waaay challenged in this area. I guess I'm one of those retailers that has brick and mortar running through my veins LOL

    Don't know if you read my post on trying to hire a 'with it' high school or college kid with no one even applying?

    If you might have any suggestions, PM me. I would love to hear any. Like Mickey and Minnie, I'm all ears
  29. troyveluz

    troyveluz MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    One way I figured out how to stage my product photos in etsy is by looking at other "modern design" websites like westelm.com and myhabit.com.
    The viewers of these websites are what I think my target market is.
    I look at the photos of their products that are similar to mine and try to take or stage my photos the same way.
    It is somewhat similar to designing a frame for a client. I equate mat colors to the background color, mat size to the negative space around the product, etc.
    I also try to make sure that the thumbnails of my photos does not get crop so you still see the whole product in the thumbnail because that is the first thing they see when they do a search.
    I am still learning and still have a lot of improvements to do with my product photos.

  30. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    thanks Troy

    i'll take a look

    how is that other project coming? ready for more?
  31. troyveluz

    troyveluz MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Sent you an email.
  32. StompingGrounds

    StompingGrounds True Grumbler

    We have a Etsy shop for our vintage reprints and another for books and original maps and ephemera (some framed). We do pretty good with it, but have delusions of being able to get traffic to our own website one day.
  33. Smile with Style

    Smile with Style CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

  34. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    While searching for something else I came across this 4 year old thread. I opened my Etsy store in May 2015. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I opened my Etsy store after initially reading this thread. 2974 sales later I probably owe this thread a commission (try collecting :p).


    Anyone else open an Etsy shop since then?
  35. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    we opened about same time but tinkered around and found a new path about 2 1/2 yrs ago. We have reached a plateau with new product line that is making me consider hiring someone:eek: to help. Problem was etsy didn't allowing combining stores/reviews so our numbers aren't as powerful as combined. Just got taxes back and have to reschedule EST Taxes. Doing about 1000 pieces a year and still don't understand e-commerce:D

    It's still small enough to keep mind/body active, but it's ready to take off if i quit pumping the brakes

    bottom line: it's been easy and I know several here are doing biz, too

    found lots of 'pretenders' and 'posers' masquerading as ecommerce gurus; be careful in seeking paid help

    Larry haveyou found etsy staff helpful? on a 1-10 scale most in 3-4 range, a few 8's. Can I ask why you have such goofy price points? anybody willing to pay $86.04 will easily pay $89.00:)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  36. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Kinda surprised no one pointed this out earlier (myself included).

    That million dollar place that employs 15 people to do embellishments - $1,000,000 / 15 people = $67k per year per person.

    Assume a 30-50% COMS and you are left with $40k/year less overhead. So those people are being paid, what, $10-15 per hour? And the owner may be making $50-75k/year? Better than welfare, but not what it sounds like at first blush.
  37. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    What Etsy staff? Like all the other godzilla sites like eBay, Amazon, et all, the staff isn't there for ordinary mortals. Us ordinary mortals use the Etsy forums for help.
  38. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Etsy makes pricing goofy, and awkward. No importing of listings and prices, everything has to be done manually. I have 23 sizes for each moulding. With over 180 mouldings listed, that a lot of prices. And they all have to be entered manually.

    I generate all my prices via an admin website (run locally on my PC). I could easily export them to whatever import file for Etsy, if Etsy supported importing. But they don't. So I had to sit there entering 23 prices for each moulding. So maybe initially, my prices were a little more sensible. But what happens when its time to raise prices. Go in and manually change 180 x 23 prices. Not this boy. I use one of the bulk editing tools available for Etsy that raise my prices by a percentage. And since I've adjusted my pricing more than once, I get weird prices like $86.04. Whaddagonnado.

    Definitely a weak point in the Etsy system.
    cvm and Bob Carter like this.
  39. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    trying calling etsy-no phone number anywhere. i searched all over net and found one, when i called a very surprised person asked how i got the number:eek:

    I find the forums very ponderous and slow; very imprecise. glad it works well

    will say, we tried several venues but none even close to etsyin fees and effectiveness

    just can't understand why they can't reformat entire platform to my needs:p

    I 'hire' 'experts' periodically to review my acct and theytell me the algorithms change frequently. I'll bet ispend about same time daily on etsy as here tweaking, reading. I track 10 really big competitors looking for that 'silver bullet' as to how they do it so much better and I am just too technologically and chronologically challenged to be a force, i suspect

    Bit, i'mhaving fun and making a few shekels allowing for daily Judge Judy fix
    Framing Goddess likes this.
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