Five years ago today I opened a shop on Etsy. My original Etsy shop name was “Moonlighting Jewelry.”
I knew long before then that I wanted my business name to be Paisley Lizard, but making a logo that went with the name was beyond my abilities. So I went with a name even I, with my limited PhotoShop skills (and help from a more graphic savvy friend), could create a logo to represent.
That’s before I found Lauren of OMG designs, the graphic designer who turned my concept into the most adorable logo ever, if I do say so myself. By the time I had my logo and was ready to change my shop name, someone else had taken “PaisleyLizard” as their user name on Etsy. So, on Etsy, the Paisley Lizard is known as “PaisleyLizardDesigns.” (I couldn’t find other Etsy shops with Paisley Lizard in their title, but Etsy admin says that name, as well as ThePaisleyLizard, my second choice, are taken, perhaps by a buyer.)
What’s “Etsy,” you ask? Where have you been? According to them, “Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.” In more practical terms, it is a collection of individual artisans (and sellers of vintage items and supplies) with independent store fronts all using the same basic template for showcasing their wares. It’s like a giant on-line craft fair with everything from jewelry, art, photography, and clothing, to bath and beauty products, pet accessories, and furniture. T
To buy from my shop on Etsy, you need to “register” which simply means you need to give them an email address (or sign-up using your Facebook account), choose a user name, and set a password. There are no fees, and no spam. Once that’s done, you can log into Etsy and go wild and lose track of time and money. You can search Etsy by category (like jewelry, art, vintage) and sub-category (necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches). If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for in my shop, you can also use the “request custom order” feature to contact me via Etsy about a custom design.
Putting items in your cart, and checking out, are about as straight forward as any online transaction can be. Etsy even has this short tutorial on how to purchase an item (with screen shots) if you want to see it before you try it. I currently use Paypal to accept payments. It’s safe and secure for me and you; and you can pay by credit card even if you don’t have a Paypal account.
You can make wish lists on Etsy. You can share them with people in your life who might need helpful hints about what to get you for the next gift-giving occasion. The lists are called “favorites” and you create them just by clicking on the heart in an item’s listing.
You can create numerous lists and give them names like “my wish list,” or “baby shower” or “George” or whatever. You can also make a list of your favorite Etsy shops the same way (click the heart next to a shop name), so you don’t have to search for them the next time you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy. (Be sure to favorite PaisleyLizardDesigns!)
I tell you these things about Etsy not to promote Etsy, but to encourage you to visit my shop there if you haven’t already. It’s simple and I promise never to sell or share your contact information or send you a single email that isn’t in response to an order or message from you. I won’t bombard you with catalogs either. Unless you tell me you want one. In which case, you can choose from Fire Mountain (where I order some of my jewelry supplies), King Arthur Flour (though I may have cut out the recipes), Only Natural Pet (where I get some of my cats’ food), or whatever else may be in a pile on my coffee table at the time.
That’s enough about them (Etsy). This blog is about me (the Paisley Lizard) and how it’s been five years since I started selling my handcrafted jewelry, ornaments, and keepsake boxes online. I won’t say my online shop has been a huge success, nor would I consider it a failure. As of this writing, I have a total of 58 sales: that’s about 10.6 sales per year, or almost one per month. That’s not including the “direct” sales to friends and co-workers who prefer to conduct their transactions “off-line” but found the item they wanted by first browsing my on-line shop.
Before setting up shop on Etsy, I attended one or two small craft fairs a year, and sold about the same amount, maybe a little less. The difference is, I made all these Etsy sales without spending 6-8 hours manning a booth or hauling all my wares and display materials around. Some sales were made while I was sleeping or watching a movie or making jewelry. That’s the beauty of an on-line storefront. I can be “open” 24/7 to accommodate the busy schedules of my customers, and keep up with my own life.
The limited success of my Etsy shop is due largely to the lack of effort I have invested in promoting it. There are thousands of sellers on Etsy offering jewelry of any kind imaginable. I don’t know what the top sellers do to gain their spots, but I imagine they do more than I have, which is to list new items, let my Facebook fans know I listed new items, and passively let the sales come. Or not.
I’ve been modifying my approach in the last few months. I’ve started blogging, and tweeting, and I joined a team on Etsy: the All Handmade by ME team, which is for artists and craftspeople whose items are “genuinely handmade.” (more on that in a future post)
Being on this fast growing team has increased my exposure, at least among other Etsy sellers (who also happen to like supporting handmade when they shop), by orders of magnitude. Where I used to be featured in one or two Treasuries a year, I’m now seeing my items in at least one per week.
Whether or how that translates into more sales remains to be seen. But I expect to learn from my more successful teammates about improving my shop, my blog, etc. Hopefully all of that will lead to more sales. Because the more items I sell, the more beads I can buy to make shiny new things! (You did know I have a bead habit, right?)
You, with your hand up in the back; do you have a question? “What’s a Treasury?” It’s a collection of items, created by an Etsy seller, or buyer (yes, you can make them too) usually centered around a theme like a color, a season, a holiday, etc. You can see the completely overwhelming list of them here.
When The Powers That Be at Etsy like a Treasury, they feature it on their front page (the home page for Etsy) for a brief moment of time. I was in one once (back in my Moonlighting Jewelry days) that made it there. I didn’t notice any change in sales or traffic to my shop. But I did enjoy my 15 minutes of Etsy fame.
And …oh shoot, I digressed into more discussion about Etsy. Let’s get back to me. I have plans for Paisley Lizard on Etsy in 2014. They include taking a more active approach to promoting my shop and offering some new product types. I’ll be looking for more way to engage with my fans too, on Facebook and Twitter, and through this blog. I hope to see you all there, commenting, sharing, liking, tweeting, and generally expressing your opinions about and ideas for Paisley Lizard’s jewelry and more.
I will be playing with clay more in 2014, so look for more polymer clay covered keepsake boxes, brooches, and ornaments in my shop. I’ve been making polymer clay buttons as custom orders for The Country Crab (which you may have seen if you follow me on Facebook) and may open a shop section to offer them to the rest of the whole-wide-world.
I have lots and lots of design ideas (and some badly drawn sketches) for a line of accessories for the dudes: cuff links, tie tacks, and manly bracelets and necklaces. I may even get that section stocked in time for Father’s Day 2014, so stay tuned.
And I absolutely do solemnly swear to not wait until November 2014 to begin making ornaments for Christmas 2014. I will definitely probably at least try to get that started by July. Or maybe September.
My sincerest gratitude to everyone who supported my Etsy shop for the last five years, especially the buyers who don’t know me personally and took a chance based solely on my product photos and item descriptions (which I take/edit and write myself). I hope to maintain my five-star seller rating by continuing to earn positive feedback based on the quality of my products and my customer service.
I resolve to make 2014 a creatively productive and engagingly interactive year for the Paisley Lizard, so stay tuned via Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on new products, sales, and give-aways. And, of course, follow this blog to learn more about the Paisley Lizard’s journey, creative process, designs, and more. I wish you all a Happy 2014, and look forward to seeing you in my Etsy shop for your next gift-giving occasion, whether that’s for a special someone, or especially for yourself.