Thursday, March 31, 2011

Craft Shows - How to get your competition to be an asset

Now that craft show season will be upon us shortly, I thought this would be a good time to write about this. Most people, when doing craft shows, stake out the competition and want to one-up them. I have found that getting your competition to work with you actually becomes an asset!

A friend and I started doing the same shows but had separate booths even though we made similar items. Most of the time, we were right across from each other. Sometimes people would swarm her booth, other times mine. But one thing was for sure was that if they went to one booth, they would pass by the other. Even going to the bathroom or getting food was tough because one person had to watch their booth while keeping an eye on the other. One day we just decided to work the same booth.

Surprisingly this worked awesome. We always had another person to help set up, another person to split booth costs with, and another person to split gas costs with! We found that although we both made jewelry (mine being simple and feminine and hers intricate and androgynous.) Sometimes one of my pieces would draw someone in, sometimes hers. The same person would buy some from her and some from me in the same transaction, where if we were apart, this was not happening.

We also had a lot less stress about our inventory. We no longer had to make 600 pieces each, we could make 300 each and have 600 total to fit our booth. When one person was taking care of a customer, the other was keeping an eye on what was going on in the booth (no matter what you think, you WILL have items stolen, unfortunately.)

You may want to go to your competition as talk to them. Ask them how they are doing?... if they have difficulty taking care of everything on their own?... who watches their booth if they need to eat or use the restroom? Get them thinking about these things and suggest trying to do a show together. You'll be able to eliminate your competition and benefit from them at the same time!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Entire Heartsy Experience, Part 3

Read part 1 here
Read part 2 + download the free organizer here

Would I do it again?
With my bags and sewn items, I doubt that I would do it again. I barely made 50%, which for wholesale is fine, but not handmade wholesale (IMO.) Sewn goods take SO much time to make plus the cost of materials and electricity for my sewing machine and iron. I have a low profit margin on my bags and that could be because people don't want to pay a lot for bags and/or my bags are priced low. I can't say which it is as we all struggle with pricing.

Now, with my jewelry shop, I have a different opinion. I know Heartsy would be worth it for the sheer fact that my profit margin is much higher. Plus, it takes a fraction of the time to make an average piece of jewelry than it does to make even a small bag.

Money aside, though, I'm glad I did it for exposure of my shop alone. I have yet to see a bag shop be featured (I have seen some sewn accessories, but not bags and purses.) I had tons of views and 25 people buy my certificate. Even if someone did not buy a certificate because they could not afford it at the time, maybe they hearted my shop (I had 15 new shop hearts) and will be back in the future. Only time will tell I guess.

Think you might want to apply?
In my opinion, the best items to be featured are those that have a higher profit margin and those that are light to ship. Some things that I think would work best are jewelry, art prints, accessories, needlepoint (art?), spices/teas, patterns, paper goods, and maybe some vintage.

Items that would be good for advertisement but not really profits would be heavier items or those that are very time consuming. It would be rough for pottery, bath and body, candles, books, clothing, bags, and baked goods/food.

Now, if you've decided that you want to apply, I do have some advice for pricing. Heartsy requires a minimum of 50% off. Now, they will accept you with that but they might not pick you for their Daily Deal, rather their Featured Deals at the bottom of the page.

Okay, for pricing. Say the average cost of one of your items is $15 plus $3 shipping, you would not want to do something like $19 for $40. You would not want to do this because people would end up buying just two of your items (plus shipping) which would total $36. To them it would be worth it to pay the $19 to get $36 worth of merchandise for free rather than going over that amount or coming back to redeem their $4.

Instead, you may want to do $5 for $12 so they HAVE to pay some money (it would help with shipping a LOT) or something like $24 for $50 to get them to spend over the amount. They may even want to get gifts for someone and something for themselves, therefore spending more than the certificate.

My Purchasing Stats
I've purchased 4 heartsy certificates so far, 1 of which I have not used. Out of the three I have used, only one was under the amount ($50) certificate simply because I could not find anything else that I wanted. The other two certificates I did go over the amount, by just a little bit though. It was not on purpose, it was just because that *happened* to be what exactly what I wanted. I would assume this would be similar for sales in any shop.

If I left anything out or if you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I will try to get back to you asap!
Monday, March 28, 2011

My Entire Heartsy Experience, Part 2 + Free Organization Spreadsheet

Part 2, if you'd like to read part 1, click here.

My deal started around 11am EST and ran for approximately 12 hours. Now I see that they've upped the time a bit and start way earlier. Soon after my shop was featured I started to get sales. You have to choose 'other' in your shipping options to be able to accept the Heartsy certificates. The customers should put the certificate # as well as the amount. If the customer went over their certificate amount ($50 in my case) I invoiced them via PayPal using the email address in their Etsy account. Most people should pay you immediately; I think only one person took a few days to get payment to me.

After your deal is completely over, Heartsy will send the entire amount of money for the number of certificates you sold to your PayPal account. *Remember, you will incur fees here too!*

I actually used a spreadsheet to help me organize everything. I kept track of what each person bought, certificate #, fees paid, how much was due, etc. ((If you'd like to download the spreadsheet, click here)) It helped me see how much I was dishing out as well as what came in. Also, it was much easier to see who owed me money (after the certificate cost) so I could invoice them and I eventually could extrapolate the data to break down into statistics.

MY Statistics (via Google Analytics):
852 total visits
783 unique visits
5148 page views
6.04 avg. page views
3:15 avg. time on site
23.83% bounce rate
15.96% new visits

MY Monetary Statistics:
The Good:
Average amount OVER certificate amount: $6.31 (not really that good imo)
Certificates sold: 25(x$20) = $500 immediately sent to my PayPal account

The Bad:
Etsy Fees: -$41
PayPal Fees: -$23
Shipping: -$69 (and most of my items are quite light! If your items are heavier, this will be much higher!)
Total Costs: -$132

Edit: Now I didn't put up the value of all my items, what I would have gotten if I sold them retail, etc. I do not calculate the per item costs of each of the items I make because it's just too difficult to calculate each piece of fabric, interfacing, zippers, snaps, etc. that I use per bag. I can, however, tell you that the retail value of the items that sold (with shipping) totaled $1100, so the percentage really ended being closer to 50% than the 60% off certificate (for the 21 out of 25 certificates that have been redeemed.)

I don't know how many potential customers I may get in the future because of their purchases via Heartsy or even Recently Sold Items on Time Machine 2.

Part 3 - My personal thoughts on Heartsy, who I think would do best and how to price your deal.
Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Entire Heartsy Experience, Part 1

I wasn't one of the earliest features on Heartsy, but I guess it was rather early. I was featured on Friday, March 11.

The process starts with you submitting your shop to be voted on. You put your proposed deal, a blurb about your shop and photos of 5 of your items. As soon as you submit your shop, it goes into the voting stage. While Heartsy takes a lot of things into consideration, remember that your photos ARE important. They do not want to have blurry, dark or poor quality photos on their front page!

In order for Heartsy to even take a look at your shop, you need a minimum of 30 votes. If you receive your votes, they will review the submission by hand. But you have to remember that as a business, Heartsy must take into consideration the demographics of the voters because they want the maximum amount of certificates to sell.

They check the votes for "definitely yes" by past buyers of certificates, non-buyers (or who have yet to purchase), everyone, and if applicable, people who buy your specific type of item (i.e. if you sell bags, they would see how many people who have purchased bag certificates in the past voted for you).

After passing this point, it says it may take anywhere from 3-14 days to be contacted to see whether you were selected or not. They send you an email either way. If you are selected, the website says that it will take another 1-2 days for them to work with you to decide on the deal and the date. This was NOT the case for me.

Negotiations for me started March 4th. I did request to put an expiration date on my certificates but they told me I could do that. They also tried to get me to do free shipping on top of my already low deal, I HAD to say no to that!

Negotiations continued through March 7 and I was told I would be featured on March 12th. On March 9th I got an email saying that I would be featured the next day. Early that morning it changed again and finally I was told I would be featured on the 11th, and I was.

Now, that was my experience with scheduling. Maybe it was a fluke and just happened to me? I have not heard it happening to other sellers, though I did not talk to ALL of them.

Part 2
: Dealing with customers, getting paid, shipping, and fees
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I would take one of each of these...really!

'Lace' by nitelilyglamour

Old, new, vintage, fabric, metal.... oh, lace.

Lingerie Ring 002

Lace sweater - roma...

xandra lace earring...

Queen Anne's La...

Faded Dreams Vinta...

Vintage Lace Handma...

Petit Lace Fans - E...

Romantic Necklace v...

hand dyed vintage l...

Long White Circular...

Rustic Linen and La...

Antique Bottle Asse...

Spring Lace Crochet...

That Vintage Lace -...


Lace Bird Clock- 6 ...

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