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Blog 2 – Make an Extra 5k in 2019

January 7, 2019

Today is January 6, 2019 and it’s the second day in 2019 that I’ve had some time to work on the store. I wanted to update anyone who is reading where I’m currently at and what I’ve been up to.

Sales so far – $0.00 ( Just added product today )
Total Current Funds – $-106.19
Google Sheets of all finances for this endeavor

Store Stats

The store currently has 21 listings ( or designs ) that were done today. Currently have items in the following categories -Family, Hobbies, Pets, Professions, and Adult/Life . To drive traffic to the store I have opted into etsy advertisement . My current cost per click ( or how much I am paying per visitor) is 15 cents with a maximum daily budget of 2 dollars.

Current advertisement stats as of 9:29 PM

My total traffic stats for the day are:

We have also had a total of 4 items “liked ” ( Favorited )

Things I need to still do

  • Add Product: I think the obvious of them all is to keep on adding product. I’m not a huge proponent of making the PERFECT item and striking it rich. The perfect item may or may not come in 2019… Its all about numbers for me for this store. I would like to ideally have 100 items on this store by the end of the month ( honestly earlier ).
  • Fix Descriptions: In my haste to put the items up I was not able to do each and every listing 100% perfect. Although I don’t believe in perfection there are some things that just need to be done. Having a good item description or something for the customer to relate to is an absolute must.
  • Start a mailing list: Being able to engage customers a second, third, and fourth time is crucial to the success of this store. Having a mailing list will give me the ability to contact customers over and over again without having to invest additional funds.
  • Add additional pictures: Gear bubble does give you a mock up of your design but I’ve noticed that customers sometimes do browse through additional ones. I need to include an additional picture for sizing (so customers can see the different sizes of product I offer ), and a picture with all of my social media ( right now its just instagram and its empty ).
  • Shop Policies: This is another one of those absolute must. I need to put information on returns / lead times / also details on the store ( like work space pictures ) etc. On Etsy this seems to be important.

Thoughts on today

Considering today is the first “real” day of having product on the store I think its been a huge success. I wasn’t planning on having likes on any items and or visitors. Since this isn’t really a get rich quick scheme I don’t expect to get sales for a couple of weeks.

Business

The Start Of A New Adventure – 2019

January 3, 2019

In 2018, we started our second online store. In roughly 7 months my second store had somewhere in the range of 25k total sales.  At the top of my new years resolution is to add another 5k to our yearly profits. While adding another 5k to our existing store is in fact difficult, its definitively not out of the realm of possibilities. Whats the fun in that? With that being said I am going to completely start a new store from the ground up and document as much as possible along the way. The goal is to somehow motivate and show you the processes I go through while I try to take a store from 0 to hopefully at least an extra 5k a year ( because who couldn’t use an extra 5k a year?).

I would like to add that I will be all over the place with this blog series. I will post things that I am doing also explanations on what I am doing / what you could do.

List of things I need to do:

  • Select the name of the store.  Try getting one where the domain and Instagram are available.
  • Buy Domain Name. Important! – .com if at all possible. Privacy Protection is a MUST.
  • Register Instagram.   Name as close to store and domain as possible.
  • Register Facebook.
  • Select a niche.
  • Start listing product.

Track my expenses of the new project by bookmarking this.

Selecting a niche:

Targeting a niche should be your primary focus. Try to make and or sell products that are specific to a particular person or group of people. You’re going to want to target very loyal and borderline obsessive people within their hobby or niche. The best way to select the niche is to find something you’re passionate about. When you’re apart of the select few, you understand the terminology and can understand what is good and not.

If you decide to start your own store and cant find a niche you’re passionate about the best thing to do is start doing research! A quick google search for popular hobbies shows:

Popular Search Results on Amazon

Going over the list there are some that stand out to me. Knitting, Exercise, Sewing, Hunting, Dance, and Soccer.  Because what I try to sell I try to personalize I always look for niches or markets that tend to buy personalized items. I also tend to look for niches that might not have a lot of personalized items made for.

Whats NEXT?

So you have selected your niche…. Now what the heck are you going to sell? If you plan on going the personalization route, there are some defacto items you can do to start getting your foot in the door. Hats, Bags, and T-shirts are good ways to start getting into selling for these markets. If you have the capital, you could buy the machinery make the products yourself.

  • Make it yourself: The advantages of making your own product is the absolute full control of the entire process. The downside is that you have to do the entire process. From creating the item to shipment. Its all on you.
  • Print on demand: You create the design, drive traffic to your store, once the customer purchases the design you have the company ( IE: Printful) create the final product and ship it to the customer. This normally tends to be less margins…. But after the design is made you just do customer service and collect a paycheck.

Disclaimer: This is my journey to make another 5k a  year. I might not make it and I might lose out on all the money I invest. Online stores do take a lot of time at the start and progressively go down a little. This will never be a 100% passive way to gain money. You will at some point or another have to handle customer service and in some cases all of the production details.

5k logo taken from – https://www.khcpl.org/resources/databases/250-pebblegoanimals

Business

5 Things I’m Doing To Increase Etsy Sales

September 17, 2018

My second store, ubermugs, has been open for a couple of months. While its doing substantially better in its first months than our first store, its nowhere near where it could be. I have taken my experiences from Drink Everyday and have added a few new things. With that being said, these are the 5 things that I’m Doing to Increase Etsy Sales.

Customer Service –

While this is a generic term and one of the pillars of good sales let me just explain myself here. I’ve come to notice that potential customers tend to make rash decisions. If a customer sends you a request, and you do not respond instantly, they might be completely off Etsy by the time you respond. I unfortunately do not have any metrics to prove what I’m about to say so take it with a grain of salt. If you’re able to respond to the customer while they are actively browsing  your store or Etsy, it will increase your chancing at closing the deal. Some of my biggest deals were closed by having a quick response to answer the customer. Almost always, I receive a “Thank you for your quick response”. If you have not already downloaded the etsy sellers app you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Being prepared – 

Once again one of those generic and obvious things one should do. Hear me out…  I primarily sell coffee mugs on UBERMUGS. With that being said I do have some niche designs that can target holidays. Its imperative to be sure you’re setting up your store WELL BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS. At the time of posting it is September 17,2018. Right now I have the retail mentality and I am already posting and giving Halloween focus. Etsy themselves say that Halloween is one of the most important holidays of the year. If you target specific days its imperative that you pay attention to the Key Shopping Dates tab in your account.  Marketing > Key Shopping Dates.

Halloween is a big deal on Etsy: in recent years, more people searched Etsy for “Halloween” than “Mother’s Day,” or “Father’s Day.”

Halloween shopping starts in late September, so stock your shop with Halloween items and consider starting discounts up before then.

Establishing a Social Presence – 

I absolutely hate the rigors of actively maintaining a social media account. Back in my day, we had to walk 15 miles in the snow to update our friends! With having a full time job, being a full time parent, being a part time enrapture, it leaves very little time to do anything else. It’s extremely difficult to remember to post daily to social media and much less the defacto requirement of at least 2 times. I have recently signed up with BUFFER to alleviate some of the headaches. Paying for the single user “license”  grants me the ability to manage up to 10 social media accounts and schedule up to 100 posts in advanced. Not only does this grant me the freedom of not having to “post every day”. It gives me the freedom of queuing all of my posts at my own leisure.

To further touch on this subject I’ve also started 2 niche Instagram accounts. I’ve been able to actively grow my user base from 0 to over 1000 followers targeted specifically at my niche. As of right now, I have not used any of the accounts to promote any items and will not do so until it’s closer to Christmas. I would like for my accounts to focus and grow rather than annoy and attack.

Cross-Selling –

If you have a car you need gas and tires. If you’re selling hamburgers you should also consider selling fries and a drink. Cross selling is something I’m exposed to every single time I’ve purchased online. With that being said its absurd I never thought about trying to do the same. There have been countless amounts of times where I’ve gone out to purchase an Item and I ended up following the suggestions of some stupid algorithm.

For a brief period of time we sold only wine glasses. While they sold great, I couldn’t help but think we were losing out to people who might want the design on a coffee mug. As our sales grew, money came in, I decided to start the mug side of our business. The exact same designs we were already selling on wine glasses started selling on Coffee Mugs. Just recently, I decided to add similar items that are in the general vicinity of whatever we’re selling. ie: stickers ( Just more opportunities )

Managing my Time – 

Good and bad days are all around! I’ve been able to use some tools to help do some of the boring and annoying things. These are the following tips I can give you to manage time:

  1. Set a schedule – If you only have 20 minutes a day make those the most productive. Take the first 20 minutes on Monday ( or whenever ) to plan out the rest of the week.
  2. Automate the tasks you hate the most – I hate social media. I use Buffer to schedule posts. Captivate to add people on social media. Unfollow to remove dead accounts I’m following
  3. Invest into paid apps – Currently paying for Buffer, Etsy Rank, Paid for Captivate ( cloud ), and Unfollow.

 

Business

Upgrading from Cricut to Graphtec CE6000-60 Plus

September 8, 2018

The decision to upgrade from our tried and true Cricut was one with much hesitancy. Our workhouse has been faithfully working for us for the past year flawlessly! Thousands of orders, thousands of sales, and always ready for action is how I would best describe our Cricut. However, with that being said there were some instances where our best friend was giving us some headaches.

The problem with the Cricut in general for us was the online software. Having to be forced to be on the Cricut Design Space 100% of the time really did annoy my wife and I. The limited cutting lengths also left a lot to be desired. Granted, this printer is not made for commercial use and more of a craft based hobby, it could have been made more with a longer out feed. The final nail in the coffin was the stepper motor. While reliable, it just took way too long if we had to cut many pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I love our Cricut, we just needed more.

Graphtec CE6000-60 Plus

Graphtec CE6000-60 Plus

Enter the Graphtec CE6000-60 Plus. This behemoth of a machine gives you up to a 24 inch cutting surface ( extra 12 inches over Cricut ). Has the ability for variable cutting speed, passes, cutting patterns, and more. While the critic is catered to more of a hobbyist this is as professional as they come.

Software: The unit itself comes with its own proprietary vector software called Graphtec Pro Studio. I haven’t had much time to use it and become familiar with it but it does seem faster than using the Design Studio. Another alternative to using their software would be to install the drivers for Illustrator. So far I’ve found that using their pro studio seems to be just fine.

Footprint: Our home business consists of us working where the dining room table should be. We have since moved the table out and made this our permanent business location. With that being said this monster is quite large compared to the Cricut. We had the space to fit it but unless you have an area dedicated to it you might want to reconsider.

Cost: Apparently Graphtec has some exporters which will get an export pricing. After speaking to a representative I  was told that international models do not have the same standard warranty as those sold by domestic sales. The the prices given to me by exporters ranged from 1500 – 1650 where their domestic counterpart was 1715 – 1795.

Why did we buy a Graphtec CE6000-60 plus? I’m writing this post at the start of September. Since we started our store pretty much during Christmas of 2017 we can see how terrible it is to have to wait on a machine. We were getting roughly 25+ orders or more a day and it was causing us a lot of stress and many sleepless nights. In hopes of picking up production ( and not having to be next to the machine ) we went ahead with the more professional unit. This 1795 dollar investment should hopefully help us make that and more this coming Christmas.

Business

5 Must Have Items for Shipping Merchandise

June 25, 2018

Finding our what you need to handle shipments is an ongoing process that doesn’t need to be fully tackled right away. Some items are absolutely required and some just offer comfort / speed increases.

1. Weight Scale – The size of the products you’re selling will determine the scale you’re going to use. For our Etsy stores,  ubermugs and Drink Everyday we use the Ozeri Pro II. Our home business consists of selling customized wine glasses and coffee mugs that tend to not weigh over 14 ounces ( with box and packing ). The small footprint and ability to measure minute changes makes this perfect for our use. Being able to accurately measure the weight of your items also lets you give your customers their exact shipping cost with no added surprises.

2. Printer – Depending on the size of your store, and frequency of shipments, investing into a laser printer might be a good option. The printer we started using is a Ricoh C250 laser printer. The price point of the printer tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum and it gives us the versatility to print in color (if need be) and print our shipping labels.

A great alternative to buying a standard printer would be a thermal printer. Thermal printers work by applying heat onto specialty label paper which then exposes the content you printed.  The printers themselves are also a tad bit expensive if you compare them to standard home printers. The thermal printer we use is the Dymo LabelWriter 4XL, which lets us print on 4 x 6 paper ( perfect for shipping labels). The downside to using these printers however is the paper itself. Original (OEM) paper can be quite expensive in the long run so we went with an aftermarket source (linked below). The speed at which we can produce and apply shipping labels to our orders makes this a no brainier. It’s literally print, peel, stick, ship.

3. Bubble Wrap and Void Fill – A pivotal part of shipping process is making sure that it makes it in the same condition you sent it in. Leaving empty spaces in a box makes the boxes less dense and more susceptible to caving in. Make sure you bubble wrap your items whenever applicable and use void fill to help fill up the rest.

TIP: You can use newspaper and easily shred it into strips to use it as void fill.

    • Bubble Cushioning Wrap 175′ – This comes perforated every 12 inches. If you’re sending small to medium items make sure you get something similar.

4. Tape (and TapeGun) – From securely closing your boxes to sealing your shipping label ( if done on a standard printer) this is an item you must have. While the tape gun is an option and not a requirement its ease of use and increased speed make this essential for your small business. If you’re shipping items under 5 lbs then the quality of the tape inst really an issue. If your store / shop / business tends to send items a little heavier than that then consider investing into better quality tape.

5. Boxes – By boxes I don’t mean just any ole box either. A dangerous thing to avoid when shipping merchandise is both the over-sized and undersized box. Finding the right box for the items you are shipping is imperative to the success of your business.  The first thing to get hit before your item is always the box!

The right sized box for shipping

We ship our wine glasses and ceramic coffee mugs in single corrugated boxes that measure 6(L) X 6(W) X 6(H). Single Corrugated means one inner wafer like cardboard sandwiched bettween 2 flat sides. Depending on the value of your items this may or may not be enough!

TIP: If you’re sending items via USPS priority sign up for a USPS account. There is a supplies section where you can order  boxes in different sizes free of charge. However they must be used solely for shipping items using PRIORITY and with USPS.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking some of the links on this post will grant a commission sale which helps keep the site afloat.

Business

6 Tips and Tricks To Get Your First Sale On Etsy

June 22, 2018
6 Tips To Get Your First Sale On Etsy

There is no better feeling than opening your store and getting your first sale. The sensation, excitement, rush, is definitely something hard to replicate. Your first sale is the culmination of hard, dedication, patience, and perseverance. The problem however is reaching that milestone. These tips are suggestions that will help you in your quest to obtain the ever elusive first sale.

1. Have Patience.

Do not expect to be an overnight success story. My wife and I opened our first Etsy store, Drink Everyday , in early July of 2017. We didn’t get to experience the joy of  euphoria until the very end of the month. There were times of doubt, uncertainty, squabbles, and quitting ( my wife ). My stubbornness however didn’t allow me to give up!  It is absolutely normal for a store to not get a sale in the first couple of months.  Just like in life there is a learning curve to selling online.

2. Take better pictures.

6 Tips and Tricks To Get Your First Sale On Etsy | Take Better pictures with a photo booth / Lightbox

6 Tips and Tricks To Get Your First Sale On Etsy | Take Better pictures with a photo booth / Lightbox

While having a DSLR , studio lighting, and a professional take your stock photos is great it’s definitely not practical. Make sure you take hi-quality, professional, and white background (whenever possible) pictures. Etsy currently allows you to add up to 10 photos to display to your potential customer. Take as many photos as necessary to show your  customer every nook and cranny possible. Make sure you give your customer an in store experience online.

Additional TIP: Depending on the lighting conditions in your home you should consider investing into a product photo booth. I was able to purchase a small photo booth with LED Lights and camera port for less than 20 dollars shipped off WISH.

3. Add content.

Once you’ve managed to get someone to get  to your store you’re going to want to make sure that your have something for them to look at. Not having a logo for your shop or a picture of yourself  shows you’ve done the absolute minimum to start a shop. Visitors are more willing to buy when all of the options are used. You’re going to also want to add a few listings to your store. If you have variations for your products try to add them as separate listings vs one so it shows you have more than what you do.

Ideally you will also want to have compelling descriptions that connect with your customer. Try to ask yourself what would I need to know in order for me to buy this item? Make sure to describe the process,  lead time, and shipping terms.

Additional TIP:  There is no shame in looking at what someone more successful is doing. If you find someone with a similar shop, see which ideas work best for them.

4. Learn how to understand some SEO.

Advanced levels of SEO  ( Search Engine Optimization) take hours and hours of trial and error to perfect. Make sure you follow some generic SEO tips when it comes to having proper titles, keywords, and descriptions.

Additional TIP: Common best practices for SEO.

  • Make sure your most targeted keyword are towards the front of your title – both etsy and google will limit the search possibilities as they restrict the amount of characters they list. Having your strongest keywords in the front will ensure exposure to them.
  • Your description should mention your top keyword or keywords
  • Use all 15 of your keywords – Use word variations that describe your product.

5. Use promoted listings!

Getting traffic to an unknown store is a bit difficult at the start. Etsy tends to not “trust” you so-to-say so it buries you the search until you get some follows / likes. While promoted listings is an additional cost it should be something you consider.

Promoted listings are paid per click advertising. Your product will potentially be displayed on any of the 3 promotion panes etsy has per page. Deciding how much you want to pay per click boils down to you deciding if you want etsy to take the wheel or if you want to set a specified predetermined price. Your advertise will continue to run over and over until you reach your max daily limit (you set this when you start advertising). Advertisements are displayed in such a way where the highest bidder will receive more adverts until their daily limit is exhausted.

Additional TIP: Drink Everyday – Promoted Listing Details:

Our store has paid $505.22 promoted listings, has received 223 orders, and we’ve sold $3,615.66 worth of merchandise.

Depending on your bottom line this may be good or bad for you. Since we make our products our margins tend to be a little higher than most. We averaged, after cost for promoted listings, $13.94 per sale.

6. Use your tools!

Etsy provides you with some basic tools that will tell you a couple of things based on your visitors habits. It will include some of their searched terms, how many have visited, what country, and times of visits.  While powerful in their own right they definitely leave a lot to be desired.

There are 3rd party free / paid services that offer you a more in depth look into your business. One such company is called Etsy Rank. Etsy rank tends to give you some behind the scenes information that is not made readily available to the naked eye. Etsy Rank - 6 Tips to get your first sale on etsy

The most appealing features to me have been Missing Tags, Missing Images, Missing Attributes, SEO Score, and Tracked Competitors. There is no better way to optimize your store to the best of its potential without a tool similar to this. Signing up is free for a basic package and they also have a paid version. I high suggest signing up for at least the free version so you can see what is offered. *This is not a paid advertisement and there is no affiliate link for Etsy Rank*