Saturday, April 20, 2013

APRIL MEETING: Focus on Etsy

Introduction Time
     The meeting started right at 7:00 and we had 30 members present.  Two new faces that I signed up for the blog and hopefully I didn't miss anyone.  There were a couple of business items brought up, the first one being the collection of dues.  Twenty bucks is a bargain price for the information and connections we're able to make through the group.

Free Drill !!!
     One of the perks is that occasionally someone donates a tool or other goodie to Jamie who then offers it up for the members.  Not sure who scored on this "like new" Craftsman drill but that's an example of a really nice perk!
     Another item brought up was the class that I'll be teaching using primarily hand tools.  The class is limited to 8 students and there are a few spots left.  Here's a LINK to it for more information or to sign up.

Richard aka Photo DIY
 The final bit of business is that we had two of our members take on the responsibility of finding presenters for our meetings.  This is a huge part of the SCWW.  Ted Warren and Dennis Patchett teamed up to fulfill that responsibility, hmm could we call them the Presentation Procurement Posse? Could work, in any case they already have next month's presenter lined up, it will be Richard and since he has a background in photography he offered to give us tips and advice on how to take the best pictures of our work.

     Being able to take good photos of your work is important not only for your own portfolio but also if you decide to open up an Etsy store.  That was the focus of this months meeting and our presenter was Diane Eugster, my wife.  She began her own Etsy store which is on vacation until later this weekend.  Here's a LINK to it so you can check it out.  Admittedly, I've always been one of her biggest fans but she really investigates every venue when pursuing her artistic goals.  I've learned a lot from her about the Etsy process and owe my success on Etsy to to her.

Diane's Etsy Presentation
     There was a ton of stuff covered during her presentation and the follow up question and answer session.  I'll do my best to just cover the major points.  Etsy is a huge, on-line presence for people like us to sell our hand crafted items.  You can sell three types of things on it:

  1. Hand Crafted items of all kinds
  2. Supplies used for making these types of items
  3. Vintage items, requirement here is they need to be 20+ years old
     Etsy charges a 3.5% commission on each sale plus a .20 charge for each listing.  You'll need to establish a PayPal account to handle the finances and they also charge a 3.5% fee for each transaction.  We discussed PayPal at length and it is an easy way to handle all of the finances.  On Etsy your photograph is what sells your work and you're allowed to have 5 per listing. The pictures you take and the search terms you use to describe them are all that potential buyers have to find and then decide to buy your stuff so take the time to research that.  Etsy calls the search terms "tags".  
     What Diane suggests is to locate sellers on Etsy that sell the same type of item you'd like to market.  Successful ones have the most sales.  On their listing you can get the information they used, for example tags that worked for them.  She passed out a listing of websites and resources which will help you find tips for your success.  Etsy also tracks your statistics once you have a store on line.  I use them to see which of my items get the most views figuring that they have appeal.  Hard part is trying to figure out why and then duplicate what ever it is for new listings.
     Speaking of listings, they are on for 3 months but it pays to renew them from time to time so they show up on the first several pages of a search.  This has been successful for me.  Think about your own internet habits -- when you do a search how many pages do you look at before trying some other search terms?  If your item has slipped down to page 25, how many people will keep clicking Next until they find you?  You can also pay to promote them through Etsy for a small fee.  Another feature is that you can create coupon codes and feature your work with sales or free shipping for a time period that you select.  As an example, I offered free shipping for two weeks prior to Valentine's Day and featured presentation boxes.
     A great advantage to having an Etsy store is that you can purchase and print shipping labels from it. They're a little bit cheaper than if you purchase from the post office and you don't have to stand in line to do it.  Shipping is an area that you need to investigate as it can be time consuming and over-whelming at first.  Boxes can be bought locally (I use Box Brothers), on line, or provided free by the USPS.  The size and weight of your work will determine that so it's pretty specific to you.  Check out the free, priority mail boxes the post office has and consider tailoring the size of your work to fit in them.  Priority mail is not just for the post offices boxes, they can be used on other boxes too.  One last advantage to the Etsy label use is that they will give you free tracking and confirmation service so you know when the package has been delivered.
     I did a search for the Etsy group from Las Vegas and several things popped up.  Here is a LINK to the one that I believe we were talking about at the meeting.  Open this link and you can also see the items that Diane talked about during her presentation and recommended getting involved with if you do decide to open your own Etsy store.  The forums and teams are ways to ask questions and find information. You'll also notice the discussion panel in the center of their page which is yet another way to connect with the members of the group.  This particular group requires that your work is juried and has dues.  The ones I belong to personally aren't as organized and only require that my work falls into their category and no dues.  There is also contact information and feedback from other customers.  You can add your own website or blog on the shops pages which gets your name out there in the internet world.
     Diane suggested a book by Jennifer Lee titled Right Brain Business Plan.  My first go-to book source is always the local library but they didn't have it (they're free!).  My next go-to would be Amazon but it's currently out of stock, so the Dutch guys last resort is Ebay.  Hardly ever let me down with copies starting at $13.00!  Here's a LINK to that for you.
     To try and sum up all of the Etsy information given is difficult.  Kind of like a buffet, pick and choose what seems to be the best options for you and leave satisfied.  Find a way to make your store's banner attractive and, after checking out shops there already; develop a way to photograph your work that's easy for you to replicate and creates the visual interest you want your store to project.  Customer service -- answer all convo's promptly and ship your sales out as quickly as possible.  There's a wealth of information out there so take the time to research it.  Etsy is not a sure fire way to make a full time living, have that house on the beach, a cabin in the mountains, a Ducati for fun, and a shop full of the newest tools while sipping champagne and sucking down caviar! It is, however; a way to make enough money to help make woodworking affordable, pay for itself, and motivate you to keep producing the type of work you enjoy doing.

     On to the show and tell session.  Rich brought in this really interesting sculpture piece.

Rich's Sculpture/Stand
It features a Walnut burl mounted on a stand made from parts of an antique dentists chair and stainless steel parts from a boat shaft.  I can almost picture this as a stand up desk or lectern. The finish is a beeswax, turpentine, linseed oil blend and he did a really neat effect on the live edge of the burl as you can see here:

Paint & Sponge Work

     The other show & tell work brought in was made by Mike.  He brought in several pieces to share which included these carved wall hangings.

Sun Sculpture & Celtic Knots
    The Celtic Knots are carved out of a pieces of Quilted Maple.   There are copper pieces behind the openings and also some copper clavos.  The finish is similar to the technique he used on the boxes that starts out with an alcohol based dye.  Once the dye is set into the softer parts of the grain, the surface is sanded and the next coat is applied.  All of this is sanded down carefully and the layers begin to reveal themselves as you work it.  The sun is carved out of wood and the rays are cut from copper.  The design of them is repetitive but each layer is larger than the one below.  As you can tell, Mike also did a lot of patination work on it to add even more visual appeal.

This wall panel is carved out of a piece of Basswood.  As you can tell, Mike is pretty good with his painting and faux finishing as this piece actually looks more like aged and woven leather than it does of wood.

     These are two of the boxes he brought it as well.  Both are Quilted Maple and again, the finish work is what sets them apart from others you may find.  Good item to put on Etsy!

Quilted Maple Boxes

     This looks like a good picture to end the blog with --- Mike and the sun:

 May it continue to rise for and shine for you for many days to come !!

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