Friday, October 24, 2008

Hosting Home Parties- Focus On Jewelry Parties

If you have ever been to any kind of home party you know how much fun they can be. Let me reference some home party based companies: Tupperware, Pampered Chef and Mary Kay- just to name a few. The basis for all of these is a gathering of people (mostly women) at the home of a hostess to sell a product. The product we are discussing today is YOUR goods. Specifically your own handmade jewelry. Home parties are a perfect way to sell your handmade goods. During a jewelry party your product will be the center of attention, with no competition. This is why at home parties are the cornerstone of many direct selling product lines. Just think of your average sale price and multiply that by how many people you expect to come to your party. My most popular item is my sterling silver stackable band rings, their cost is $28. Say if I were to invite 20 people to my at home party and 15 people showed; if each person orders AT LEAST a set of those rings. If you did the math that would be a pretty decent amount for 3 hours of hanging out with the ladies.

The first step would be to choose a place to have your party. You can host your party at your own place or you can have a friend host one for you. (More on hostess gifts later.) To get the word out make sure you send an evite to anyone who has an email address a month or so before the event so they are well warned to save the date! Send your invitations a week later; This time line is especially important with the holidays coming. You can make your own invitations from a prefab invitation, have some custom made on etsy or even have some nice glossy ones made from a place like vistaprint. Postcards are good for invitations, or you can choose to use a more traditional card if you wish. Make sure to include a link from your online store or website so your guests can get a general idea of what type of product you sell as well as your pricing.

How much jewelry should you bring? Well that’s up to you. If you have ‘line’ of a certain number of items I would say to bring the entire thing! If your items are made to order, make sure people are aware of the amount of time it will take you to fill those orders, (more on that later). If you are planning on selling one of a kind items or items people will be able to buy and take home that night I would say abut 2-3 items per person. So if you’re expecting 10 people bring 20-30 items with you. Just a side note, ‘cash and carry’ is really what people prefer at these parties. If they see something they want to be able to have it in their hands right then and there, they don’t want to wait a week to have another made for them. For me personally I would bring a mix of items. For example I would bring items like necklaces and earrings that people could buy that night and my rings in the most popular sizes. (6,7,8) Then take orders on them if they are needed in any other sizes. Make sure you bring your boxes, bows and bags with you so everyone can take home their ‘present’ and it will feel really special.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week- Including refreshments, set up, what to do afterward and booking more parties!

About the author: I'm Julia Catherine from Julia Catherine Jewelry. I live and work in NJ, im very familiar with all aspects of jewelry creation, sales and even repair. I enjoy creating new jewelry items in my spare time and also work as a jeweler as my day job. My specialty in SASsy is listing creation and tagging, but am willing to give help in all aspects of etsy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Sellers Assisting Sellers Team is a Sneak Attack Sponsor!

It took some time to work out all the details, but I am so thrilled to tell you that we are now an official sponsor over at and will be organizing a Sneak Attack on the 1st Wednesday of every month.

Our first Team attack will be November 5th. The time will be announced later. To learn more about sneak attacks, visit You can read over some past sneak attack threads in the forums to get an idea of how fun they are.

If you would like to participate, leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact me via convo at Etsy. We need a different team member to sign up to sponsor each months attack and that seller will be responsible for selecting the "victim's" shop, promoting and starting the forum thread, and will have their shop name remain on the list of past sponsors on the handmade movement website. I need volunteers for future attacks so if someone had already volunteered to sponsor the next one, I'll put you on the list for a future attack.

I would love to see a real show of team members in the forums when there is a team attack going on. I'll send out a notice on the Yahoo Group to remind everyone. Lets have fun with this guys and make it a big success!

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. You can visit my personal blog if you just need to know more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Secrets of a Camera Novice - TUTORIAL

Well, maybe I'm not a novice, but I'm definitely an amateur. I'm Renovia from Endless Whimsy, I teach music and love photography,cats and polymer clay. I'm a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Mentor Team as well as co-treasurer of EFA Artists Helping Animals. I began taking photos for my Etsy shop with a Fujifilm CoolPix before I switched to a Nikon D40.

Here is one of the first photos of my sculptures: ------------>
(right) Pink Catnap Summer 2007
(below) Green Frolic Winter 2007

After I got my Nikon D40, I continued taking photos with my makeshift light box (two pieces of paper!). Only now, I had a better grasp on lighting – notice the background isn't as defined and the shadows are minimal – this is because I used indirect natural light. I also changed the angle of my photography.

Though my photography had improved, I still felt I hadn't developed my own 'style' yet. I looked at some really successful shops over on Etsy to see how they created their style in photos. They all had a way of photographing their items in a unique way that highlighted their beauty and functionality.

Alteration Tutorial

Here I'll walk you through my process of altering photos. I use Aperture (one of the best investments I've made next to my camera and my remote) but you can use Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Fireworks or a free program called GIMP. Either way, you'll need to do some fishing around to see what they call all the tools I refer to in the tutorial.

First, I chose my background for my photos. It's important to pick something that compliments your work. It should be simple and not take away from the object you are photographing. Here I used scrapbook paper.

Secondly, I set up my workspace. I chose my table because it has the most indirect natural lighting. I also have a tripod so I don't have blurry images. Sometimes you need to go a step further and use a remote or the self timer to eliminate camera shake.

***Remote Control and Tripod: it's a small investment for being able to take photos in a not so forgiving light – and NOT be blurry!

After I take the photos (at least 6 of each object) I settle in for some tea and alterations!

p.s. Take many, many photos if you want to fill your 5 slots on Etsy. I took 6 of each sculpture just to get my listing photo!

The Nitty-Gritty of Altering

Step by step alterations of a polymer oyster I purchased from Paula at PolymerPaws:

Photo: 1 Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Levels (not exposure) Photo 3: Up the Black Point
Photo 4: Up the Contrast Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop Photo 8: Tilt the photo



And one more example using my own Ivy Frolic sculpture:

Photo 1: Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Exposure Photo 3 Fix Tint to 'blueish'
Photo 4: Up the Black Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop



To get to this point, I read articles in the Storque on Etsy and also picked up some tips from tutorial sites on the internet. Amazingly, Etsy now has a mentor team that only existed in passing when I first started. When I started, I just asked for help and one amazing seller took me under their wing. Now there is a whole team of sellers ready to help you and answer your questions. Take the time to ask members of the Etsy Mentor Team for advice. They are your outlet for improving all aspects of your store, not just photography.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make It Pretty

One of the most important aspects of selling on-line anywhere is to take good photographs. A photo of your newest creation may be the one thing that decides whether a potential buyer comes into your store or moves on to someone else. So how do you get a buyer to come to you in the first place?

Here's just a few suggestions:

* Your first picture should entice your potential buyer. It has to be clear and eye-catching. If it doesn't make you feel like this gorgeous thing you've made is even more gorgeous, take the photo over. Some people say they would prefer a clear, plain shot of the item, but I'm in the other camp. I think an arty shot works just as well to get people to look. Really use your own judgement and play around with these ideas. I take many, many pictures to get one that I can even use.

* Get yourself the best camera you can afford. No doubt this is an investment in a business you've probably invested a lot in already. A good camera makes a difference though. Once you have a camera you can work with, if you don't know much about photography, find a class or someone to teach you. You can do this relatively easily without having to commit to three months of night classes. Find someone who will explain to you the basics, pay them some money and get used to using your camera a little at a time. Real photographers will take better pictures than those of us who aren't that skilled, but that doesn't mean you can't find ways to make your shop look great.

* Figure out lighting. Blurry or dark pictures hinder your sales. Some say use only natural light, some use light boxes, some even make great photos with flash. Play around and find out what works best for you.

* Try to go for a uniform look. Your overall shop looks best to a buyer when the background is working with the item you are selling. For some people that is plain white, some it is cool colors. Figure out what works with your style. Check out shops you admire. There are so many truly beautiful products that are photographed well on Etsy. Your goal, of course, isn't to copy them, but to figure out how they do what they do so well and then apply that knowledge to your own style.

* It takes some work. I no longer know the number of times I've re-photographed items in my shop. And, I still haven't gotten what I want yet. Realize that if you aren't an expert at this, it is a process just like anything else. Give yourself room to grow and learn.

* The most important advice I have? Make it fun. It is about becoming more proficient at running your business. That enjoyment will show up in your photos. It will make you happier and is a sure way to attract more buyers.

I'm Allyson from Maye Rain. I live in Richmond, VA and besides my Etsy business, I am an energy worker and life coach. I'm no expert at photography just obsessed with making things look pretty.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Custom Order Blues?

One of the most amazing things about Etsy is its overflowing wealth of unique, often personalized treasures, ranging in custom features from impossible to find sizes and fabric combination's in apparel to completely personalized artwork, born in the mind of the buyer, and projected, via the patient hand of the artist, onto the canvas. Custom work is an extremely exciting and satisfying process to be a part of for both buyer and seller, but often times we as sellers get a little overwhelmed in trying to accommodate. We end up selling ourselves short on design and tweaking time, and inevitably pay with our sanity. Hello, my name is Amanda, and I sold my sanity to custom embroidery. For like $2 an hour!

So how do we prevent this custom heartache? Set limits, my friends! If you sell kids' clothes, limit your fabric choices and sizes. If you sell embroidered pretties (ahem), limit your designs. This way, time in between orders can be spent building basic stock that can be personalized later. Most of my stress when I was still accepting custom orders stemmed from the frantic scrambling I had to do in order to create each item, from scratch, in the projected time frame. The key, I think, is coming up with as many ways as possible to minimize the work which must be done after the order is received.

What if you sell something that simply can't be started ahead of time? Don't worry, you shouldn't have to commit yourself to the asylum just yet. Just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the order. Think about how much time the item should take to complete, and double that time when responding to custom inquiries. There is nothing quite as stressful and guilt-casting as a convo from a buyer of a late item!

What about pricing? You may have sensed a common theme here. Custom orders are heavy on love and patience, but they're even heavier on precious time. Remember when you're pricing your item that you're not just pricing the materials and the literal time it takes to put the item together. You'll always spend an unforeseen amount of time on design work, both conceptual and physical, and more often than not, your customer will ask for quite a bit of reworking.

Bottom line, respect your time, respect your limits, and respect yourself. Happy crafting, my lovelies!

About the author: I'm Amanda of longwinterfarm and lwfidget. I live in Maine in a yurt with two toddlers and a slue of animals, so sanity is a precious commodity around here! This post of course is just the tip of the iceberg as far as custom orders are concerned, so please PLEASE feel free to contact me with more specific woes. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A few announcements for everyone

Anna over at TheHouseOfMouse has been busy (as always) getting our newest members added to the ever growing list. That list is taking on a life of its own, and in an attempt to make our team an active one rather than just an impressive list, she has suggested a few guidelines. Here is an excerpt from the latest forum thread.

Suggested membership requirements for new members applying to join Sellers Assisting Sellers.

1. At least 6 months selling on Etsy from the date of your first sale
2. At least 10 sales
3. Excellent feedback*
4. You must be an expert in at least one subject/category. That is to say you feel you can answer ANY question on that subject and you must give a short reason why with your application* (e.g. I'm an expert in promotions because that is my day job and I have been
doing it for 5 years).

* All applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Suggested participation requirements for members of Sellers Assisting Sellers. Every 3 months members are required to do a minimum of one of the following things for the team.

1. Write a blog post for our team blog

2. Take part in a live mentor critique in Etsy chat

Take part in a positive team action, for example: running a promotion to bring attention to the team, writing an article for the Storque about us etc.

Okay, I'm in trouble myself with the whole expert thing, since it is definitely out of my comfort zone to call myself an expert at anything. I'm sure that some of the other requirements might be a bit daunting to some of you as well. Just remember, the more that we put into this team, the more everyone will get out of it.

Also, I think that we are all set to sponsor a regular Sneak Attack with Visit the site to learn more. Sneak Attacks are getting alot of attention in the forums these days and are a crazy amount of fun but do require a bit of work. If anyone is interested in helping, we will need particular help with these areas.

*Choosing a shop that fits the criteria. Again, visit handmademovement to see what is required for a shop to be chosen. I have a list of new shops that I can send anyone who would like to screen them and of course, any shops that you all find would be much appreciated. We would need a shop (or possibly two) a month and its the hardest part of a Sneak Attack. Send me links in a convo if you have any suggestions.
*Members who would be willing to be that months "sponsor". Your shop would get a good bit of exposure for this, so its not completely altuistic.
*Help, lots and lots of help, keeping the forum threads alive and kicking. I would like to see everyone pop their heads in at least once to show support and "team spirit".
*Any members that blog, it would be much appreciated if you could be counted on to post a bit about the upcoming attacks, with dates & times, to help promote it.
*A successful Sneak Attack thread attracts a good bit of attention. If there are any members who would like to offer a discount to participants (someone who actually makes a purchase) in a particular attack, we could add a list of shop links right at the top of the thread. It wouldnt have to be much, maybe 10% off? I doubt that it would generate too many sales, but would show some group solidarity and give your shop a bit of free exposure.

♥And on a personal note, I just have to share this idea! I have been looking for some mini cards for kitsandcaboodles and havent had much luck. I ordered the most adorable mini cards from pixelbypixel for threadednest and I just loved them. They are so cute and different and they double as hang tags. Unfortunatley, I send out too many cards with kitsandcaboodles for those to be affordable for me right now. I need ALOT.
What I did in the end was to design a regular size business card that I could have printed and then cut in half! Personally, I thought this was a stroke of genius. I ended up ordering cards from VistaPrint. Yes yes, I know that many of you have had a bad experience with them, but this is the third time I have used them and I have had nothing but positive experiences. I uploaded my custom image, added some text to the backside, keeping in mind that each card was actually two cards, and ordered 1000. Yeah you heard me, 1000. That means that I actually now have 2000 business cards once I slice em up! I added some address labels to the order and still only paid an amazing $26 with free shipping! Thats with two image uploads and a upgrade to 100 lb cardstock. You know you wanna see them! Here you go.

I always google VistaPrint coupon codes before I order and just a tip: you can put all of your stuff in your cart and then click the coupon links and compare codes to see which offer is the most affordable. For my order it was 50% and free shipping. That actually came out better than the 500 cards for $1.99. I have to mention that VistaPrint, like everyone else, has insane shipping costs. But I always choose the "slow shipping" and though they say it takes up to 21 days, I've always gotten my order in about a week. So I would'nt recomment paying for the shipping upgrade.

Remember...if you have any team ideas just convo Anna or pop over to the team thread and leave a comment, and if you would like to write for this blog you can let me know and I'll add your name as an author. You get a free ad square over there ----> and your mini on the blog!

Also, if anyone could tell me how to STOP eating all the handmade caramels I ordered for my holiday packages, please share this info with me!

Have a great day everyone! Here's wishing you many happy sales.

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. You can visit my personal blog if you just need to know more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The fine line of pricing...

Pricing is probably one of the hardest components of running an Etsy shop. Etsy prices seem to be (confusingly) cheaper than you would find in a store, and with such a large amount of sellers can be very competitive! Being an international website also throws exchange rates and fluctuations into the mix – which makes pricing a bit of an art for those based outside of the US!

But wherever you are running your shop from, there are several things you must take into account before setting your pricing. Its all well and good deciding on a nice round figure, or ‘just charging what everyone else does’ – but if selling on Etsy is anything than more than a hobby to you, this approach won’t work.

When pricing, remember there are no hard and fast rules, but by taking the following into account you can break it down so that you’re not taking a stab in the dark!

The first thing you must do before looking at the money aspect are to answer some important questions about your shop:

1. Is your shop full time, part time, just a hobby?
2. Will this be an income or extra money?
3. Who do you consider your target audience?
4. Do you want your prices to be competitive?

It is very important that you know your target audience, and in depth. For example if you sell gloves – your target audience IS NOT ‘anyone who wants to buy gloves’. Think about it, many people want gloves, but there is a large difference between Paris Hilton and Mr. Average when it comes to buying gloves!

You then need to consider and note the following –

1. How much profit do you hope to make from each item?
2. How long does it take for you to source your materials? Make a pattern? Research?
3. How long does it take to make each item?
4. How skilled are you in your craft?

Now you’ve had a think about your shop, work timings, effort etc you can look at the actual costs.

I’m not going to note everything you need – I’m going to direct you to a free downloadable spreadsheet made for Etsy.

Chris Parry has put this together (and it has been used by thousands!) it includes everything you will need to factor in – take your time and work through it, the questions you have thought about will help you to decide on your preferences. It’s a very good starting point, and includes lots of factors you may have never thought to include.

The figure you will get at the end will be surprising – and again is not the be-all and end-all of pricing. Use this figure as a baseline, and apply the answers to the first three questions to this figure to get a price that you are happy to work with.

The only other thing I have to note here is to VALUE YOUR TIME. It’s very hard on Etsy to get caught up with the thousands of others who are fighting with each other to sell the cheapest item. You know yourself how much time and effort you put into your piece, make sure you charge for it !

lishlash runs her UK etsy store selling paper goods and jewellery. She is a frequent writer for this blog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fun ways to promote your shop

I've owned my own business before Etsy and every small business owner will tell you that the first thing you do is order business cards, and postcards, and tons of promotional material. So when I opened my first Etsy shop I did the same thing. That is how to promote your business, right?

The first shop did pretty well and by the time I opened the second shop, I was too busy to promote it and too strapped to order more than business cards. Guess what? It did well too. I will never know if advertising and getting promotional material "out there" is beneficial to business or not, it can't hurt I'm sure. But I am certain that developing quality products and providing great customer service are pivotal. And I'm also convinced that Etsy is it's own little biosphere. The more involved you are, the more your shop is seen and noted. Take great pictures, join some teams, pop in the forums from time to time, pester admin with your ideas, write articles for the Storque. All of these will help your shop be seen.

Recently I discovered a fun new way to give your shop some exposure while doing something nice at the same time. Michael over at has come up with a fantastic idea that fosters community spirit and gets a new shop some much needed sales and feedback. Plus its super sweet and funny. From his site you can sign up to sponsor a "Sneak Attack", which means that you will organize a seek and buy mission on Etsy. You scout new shops with few or no sales and choose one. Then you start a forum thread announcing the sneak attack will be in half an hour or so. Here is an example of a past sneak attack thread. At the appointed time, everyone pops over to The Handmade Movement site to see the name of the shop and hopefully, visit it a find something nice to buy. The last sneak attack made 39 sales in one day. Most in a matter of minutes. Can you imagine that sellers face when she logged in?!

I thought it sounded like too much fun so I volunteered to sponsor Thursdays Sneak Attack. Join me in the forums at 7:00pm EST, Oct. 9th.

I think it would be fun for the SASsy team to be a permanent sponsor. A different member could select and promote the Attack on "our day". It could be an effective way to promote our team and be active in the Etsy Community. Let me know what you think and if you would like to be a SASsy team Sneak Attack sponsor.

Have a great day everyone.

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. Also, I really like lists.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How blogging can help your exposure.

I am sure if you have been to the Etsy forums you have read your share of threads discussing blogs and how to blog more effectively. In this post I want to talk about how you can get your name out and have fun in the process.

Before starting your blog think of what you want as the focus. The best blogs are those that grab the attention of the readers and keep them coming back for more. Keeping your posts relative to your overall purpose and interesting will be a challenge in the beginning. Just write about what interests you the most and the juices will start flowing. Make sure you tag the posts with words that will help it show in search engines. If you post about a seller, including their shop name in the post labels so it is easier to find. You may also find that adding your feeds to programs like feedburner will expose your posts to even more eyes and allow you to have readers subscribe to your thoughts.

Now that we have the subject of the blog we need a look. This is were your creativity meets your hidden writer. There are many templates that you can add and alter to make your appearance unique and eye catching. not enough room for all the info you want to add? Here is a great site for turning Standard Blogger Templates in to a 3 column blog.

Pretty graphics, wonderfully written posts.. but where are my readers? You can't show off your blog if no one can find you right. So lets tell the world about this great read.

1. Joining a social network like Blogcatalog can help give your site the boosts it needs. BlogCatalog is a directory of blogs by category and theme. Once you post your blog to the site it will update each time you add a new post. There is even a great widget to add to your blog to show who stopped by and how long ago.
2. Leave comments on other great blogs. I like to see what others are writting and if I like it alot I always leave a comment. Those comments are linked back to your profile and all blogs associated with your name. Often times the writer will return to your blog, read, and leave a comment of their own!
3. Link to blogs you have read and want to read again. I am a bit nutty but I often search for my site name to see who is writing about me or linking back to certain posts. This brings me to the site and I always return the favor with a link on my blog.
4. Add your blog URL to search engines. Here is the link to add your url to google and yahoo. It is free and it brings your site to their attention. and
5. Adding a sitemeter counter can help you see where your readers are coming from and when.
6. Link to your etsy shop using the 'EtsyMini' located to the bottom-left under 'youretsy' in your shop. This is a window into your store front and will allow your readers to click and view all your products.
7. Last but not least add your blog url to your business cards, etsy shop announcement, forum signatures, and forum posts. Show people where they can find you and they will come looking =)

Okay you now have tools to help your blog thrive... what are you waiting for get blogging!

Come back often.. I will be posting more info on blogging basics.

About the author: I am Amanda, owner extraordinaire of Sygnet Creations. I have been selling on etsy for over a year now and I loving it! I am a full time mom and military spouse. I tend to know a little about everything and I am always a friendly ear and convo away. Ask me anything.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Free ad space and a mini too!

I havent been giving this blog the attention it deserves lately. I want to rally everyone (myself included!) together to make this something awesome. This is the hub of our team. A place to connect, support, and help out one another. We are almost there, and I've got some ideas to push us in the right direction.

I want to encourage our current authors to post regularly. I know we all get busy. A post doesn't have to be a big deal, so don't stress about them. Just share a little of what you know, or tell us about someone you see doing things right.

*As a bonus, all active authors will get free ad space on the blog! Yeah, you heard me. Free! Thats some incentive right there folks.
If you are part of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Team and have something to say, contact me and let me know and I'll add you to the authors list.

*Also, the author of the most current post will have their Etsy mini run for a few days. More free promotion. Are you typing yet?

One last thing, if you are a team member and also have a blog and would be willing to put a little link up to this blog, we would link back to you. An ad square should be available soon, which would be even better than a little 'ole link.

Thanks everyone for taking time out of your busy schedules to take part in this blog and the team. You all rock!

Just a note to current authors...the authors list over there ----> links to your blogger profile, so be sure to utilize that little space. Add your correct links and a little bio.

Update! I've added a little code to the site (which my amazing son wrote) which will automatically update the sidebar to display a mini for the author who has posted most recently. You wont have to send me your code for your mini! Let's get some posts up and see if it works!

Cheers- Andrea
Kits & Caboodles