Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tale of Patience and Diligence... It's Worth All the Work (Part I)

I don't know about most people, but when I started selling my product online- I thought it would just fly off the shelves... I was wrong.

GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts officially opened an Etsy account and set up shop on May 28, 2009. Prior to that we had our items in my husband's shop and followed the area craft show circuit. My first and only Etsy sale that year did not happen until December 17th. While I was excited and grateful for the sale, I had no idea what I was doing. Etsy was supposed to be this great place where you put your item out there, someone found it, fell in love with it and purchased it. You didn't have to have a degree in computer science, web development or marketing. I was frustrated and basically turned my back on the shop.

Sunflower Ring Vase similar to the first sale from
GrapeVine Ceramics and Gifts on Etsy
Fast forward to August 2010, I've discovered that if I want to go to my sons' football games, I'm going to have to cut back on the number of shows I do each year. This is majorly going to cut into my ability to fund Christmas, not to mention helping to pay my other bills. I start to look at Etsy again. This time I do my research. I look at everything the Etsy website provides in the way of guides and suggestions. My personal favorite bookmark quickly becomes The Etsy Seller Handbook. If I had a question about how to list something, what my policies should look like, or just what was lacking in my shop - that's where I went. I read it through several times. I literally absorbed any and all information I could find on Etsy.

I discovered that Etsy is more than an online market, it's a community. If I wanted to succeed I was going to have to tap into and become part of that community. So in October I joined my first team. The Etsy D Listers is a team that was started to help new and struggling shops. To become a member you have to have a low number of sales and at least 10 items in your shop. I should note that one of my many mistakes was that I started my shop with five items that I would renew whenever they came due. This is one of the most supportive teams that I belong to. As your sales grow, you help others to succeed in their shop. We celebrate each others successes and help smooth over and correct the failures.

Good Ole Santa found himself a lovely home
with another Etsy D Lister
My dry spell lasted until December 2010. When a member of the Etsy D Listers bought a Secret Santa gift for another member. Within a week I had my third sale, this one like the first one in 2009 was from a complete stranger.
Purple Santacicle 
I spent a lot of time online trying to gracefully elbow my way into the Etsy community. My husband became concerned that I was wasting time and effort. He really wanted me to give up. I think he forgot how stubborn I could be when I put my mind to it. So to appease him, I set goals for 2011 and made a list of what I was going to have to do to meet those goals.

Goals for 2011:
25 sales from Etsy
50 listing in the shop

So begins my lesson in patience and diligence...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way...

Ever have the best of intentions and then just have everything fall apart?

Oval Dragonfly Jewelry Box
GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts
That's what happened this summer to my family and therefore the shop. My mother-in-law had a medical emergency that kinda threw a wrench into all our plans. We now have her settled into an assisted living center and everything is slowly getting back to normal.

What I've learned through this summer is not everything is what you expect it to be. We were in fear of basically a death sentence diagnosis and were presented with a much more manageable situation. I've personally discovered that you don't know if you are strong enough until you have to be. I've become a caregiver, money manager, and expert at researching "the rules," and have learned to say no when necessary.

We are in the process of getting back to the swing of things at GrapeVine Ceramics & Gifts; along with the launching of a vintage shop featuring some of my own finds and my mother-in-laws treasures.

Footed Tea Cup and Saucer
Granny's Treasure Nook on Etsy
If you have a chance, stop by and take a look.