ETSY VS. YOUR OWN SHOP + BUY YOUR CUSTOM URL!

PARCEL_TWINE_BACK_BBI have discussed this subject in detail before and gave my pro’s & con’s on both.  Today, I am going to discuss why I am completely migrating to Etsy versus my own shop (for now). These last 2 months for Besotted Brand have been painfully slow, not working as much as I used to for the last six months because of my condition and  having two dead months doesn’t work for me.  I had to evaluate money going out versus money coming in and carrying two shops–an Etsy shop and a stand alone needed to be addressed.  My stand alone shop had no fees associated with it when a client purchased a product but I did pay a $30 fee each month to run it on the platform that I was using. I also had to pay an outside postage company for all my international shipping which ran $16/month to use their system.  Why would I need an outside postage company?  As of this writing, the U.S. Postal service does not have an option to send international first class mail from home you have to buy Priority mail to send even a single stamp and international priority mail is very expensive! Cutting both the platform and the postage company out I have started saving immediately almost $50/mo. it may seem small but it all adds up and over a year I will have saved $552. I don’t know about you but I could use an extra $500!  I absolutely 100% would not have done the move if I couldn’t have used my own dedicated url.  I did a very easy re-direct, it’s free and I can use my own custom website name on all my packaging and branding.  As much as I adore Etsy I would never put “my shop.etsy” on anything that I used to promote my brand, I think it confuses the potential client, (contrary to popular belief not everyone is familiar with Etsy). This is my word of unsolicited advice, if you have an Etsy shop, run don’t walk to secure your custom URL, what does that even mean?  It means your shop name.com ie. www.besottedbrand.com.  It looks so much more pro and keeps continuity with your brand, especially if you are say selling products that have labels that you want your site name, versus your name + etsy.  You should be securing you URL’s any way you slice it, whether you have an Etsy shop or just a company idea.  This may seem obvious but you should also try to secure your own personal name as a URL, you may want to use it one day and it would be a shame if you couldn’t because someone other than you bought it already.  I am going to segue here for two seconds and tell you to buy your custom URL if you have a blog as well.  Even when I was on the Blogger platform my blog had my custom url www.besottedblog.com versus besottedblog.blogspot,com again for the same reasons, it looks a lot more professional like you are taking this seriously, which are right?

INK_CLASSIC_BBSpeaking of familiar, my Etsy shop was out selling my stand alone shop 3:1, it was no contest, I was getting more exposure on Etsy. The thing I love about the Etsy shop is that I could print shipping labels directly from Etsy and my clients would get automatic shipping notifications upon shipment. I felt that for my International clients especially it is nice for them to have a larger entity (Etsy) to go to if there was a problem, I think it gives clients a sense of security that a stand alone shop would not. The biggest con is not being able to customize my shop as much as I like, but by migrating I can give the Etsy shop extra attention and hopefully generate more steady sales and eventually build a new custom shop!

I get asked about opening a shop every.single.day and I am happy to try to be of assistance via these little posts!  I also get asked where I source my packaging + products, do not email a store/business about this, it’s akin to asking a woman her age or weight, it’s not appropriate and can be construed as offensive.

P.S. I have had a 50% coupon ( 5050sale) on all custom stamps for a bit now, it’s only valid until August 30th so take advantage of it and stock up!

P.P.S. The images are some items that have been out of stock forever that are finally back in!!!!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

NEW FABRIC, WOOD, CLAY INK!

fabric wood clay ink besotted brand

I have some pretty lofty plans for the shop , even though they are temporarily on hold my enthusiasm can’t be dampened. A few months ago one of my suppliers developed an even better ink for fabric (and wood and clay, oh my!) I am always up for testing new products but I am super picky and not all new items get to come on board. This new ink delivered in spades! I am beyond impressed and couldn’t wait until it was available so I could offer it to my clients.  I love the current ink I carry (I think on fabric it gives a nice rustic/worn look) but this new ink works especially well on fabric as you can see from the before and after image above. The stamped impression is so nice, crisp and the color is so concentrated. A little tip here, no matter what ink you use you should put a piece of cardstock behind your fabric so the ink doesn’t bleed to the other side. If you want the stamped impression to last you need to set it with an iron on low heat (no steam). The only current drawback right now is the color options are limited and as mentioned it is concentrated so if you aren’t inking your stamps like I taught you, you could find yourself with an awful mess on your hands (literally). I’ve tried it on wood with great results (use a heat gun to set) and am anxious to try it on clay.  I know that the options of stamp ink can get confusing and the pigment inks I always carry are great for all sorts of uses (fabric included), but sometimes if you find something better it’s just too good not to share.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups.

YOUR OWN SHOP SITE VERSUS ETSY

OldStockPhoto-French-Shop-Sophie-GraphicsFairyBefore I do the big reveal of the city we chose I should keep my promises and discuss having your own shop versus utilizing a platform like an Etsy.  There are a ton of Pro’s & Con’s that might be better for me to go over to better illustrate my thoughts.  My first pro for having your own shop is to be able to have a dedicated url, ie. besottedbrand.com rather than besottedbrand.etsy.com.  For traditional branding purposes it looks much better to have a dedicated url.  Now the cons (or the price you pay for that dedicated url).  I knew when I launched Besotted Brand that I wanted to have a dedicated url and design my site the way I envisioned it.  I didn’t have a huge budget for the site but I knew that I might have a better chance of getting a price that I could afford if I worked with someone that would be willing to code and allow me to design.  Be prepared if you go this route to get clipped emails back. I contacted a fairly popular web development company and emailed that I would be willing to design but needed coding, they wrote back and asked my budget I told them and they told me to go somewhere else. Ouch. I eventually found a great coder, super professional and when I told him my budget he told me what he could do it for and we met in the middle. Now for the cons of that dedicated url besides the initial investment, you need to think fast on your feet of how the heck are people going to find your shop in the sea of other shops out there on the interwebs?  Now that you are out thousands of dollars and have no budget for PR you need to figure out a plan for exposure.  I being the genius that I am did not have a formal marketing plan in place (I do not suggest this). I find promoting myself extraordinarily difficult. What I did have prior to launch was a mailing list, it was a list that I had up for a few years. I sent an email to that list letting them know that I had launched. It had a pretty even across the board response about 50% were thrilled and shopped shortly thereafter and the other 50% forgot they signed up for the list and reported me as spam thus I got banned from my email campaign carrier. Ouch. I don’t like getting too many emails from companies so I am not a huge fan of the email campaign. I do send one out about once a quarter and I try to make it worth the recipients while. There was no Pinterest or Instagram when I launched but those are great ways to get your brand noticed, as are places like Facebook. I read that’s how the wildly popular Mae Mae Paperie got her start by networking via Facebook and contacting fellow alumni about her newly launched company.

Now let’s get into Etsy shall we?  With Etsy you could pretty much have your shop up and running in an afternoon, hooray! That’s a huge pro in my book. The other pro is having the potential to have millions of eyes on your brand each day without ever lifting a marketing finger! The flipside/con of that is those millions of potential consumers also have millions of competing brands in your same category to eyeball as well.  You are going to have to work extra, extra hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd.  Your photos will need to be first rate, as will your copy and once you get a sale you are going to have to jump through hoops to make sure that customer is thoroughly satisfied so you don’t receive any negative feedback which can adversely effect your shop status. Another thing I need to address are the fees.  When I answer emails about Etsy people are always irritated by the fees. That is indeed a pro for running your own site–no fees (but remember the bigger upfront cost). The way I look at it for a new business is 0% of 0 is zero. Meaning, if you don’t make a sale at all you have a big fat goose egg of nothing, but if you do and you have to pay a small fee it is worth it in my humble estimation. More eyes on your brand may mean more potential sales, you will have to decide what that is worth to you. Or do you have to decide?  I eventually opened an Etsy shop as well because potential clients were asking me if I had one. I  asked why and was told that they would feel safer buying from a place like Etsy. I ship a lot of international orders so I can see where having a big corporation like Etsy behind a shop would feel a bit more safe. I gladly pay my fees and consider it the price of running my business.  One last con for Etsy and it’s super unfortunate–there is a proliferation of copy cat shops and under cutting on pricing. My advice?  Ignore them. What? Don’t allow the negative to takeover what you created. If you priced your items accordingly + fairly than trying to meet the price of your lower priced copy cat is going to negatively impact your business model. Don’t get into sacrificing your quality because you are now trying to compete with a company that is copying you. Another sound piece of advice? Get some press, getting your brand in print will hopefully ensure that clients will want the original rather than a lower quality, lower priced counterfeit. In summary, they both have their pro’s & con’s, you will need to weigh both and find out what will work best for your current situation.

If you have anything you would like to add to this conversation please do so. And if you have any other questions I didn’t answer above let me know!

P.S. If you are wanting a huge does of ‘get yourself on the right track and follow your dreams’, this girl will be sure to administer it.

photo via the graphics fairy

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

YOUR ON-LINE SHOP | QUITTING YOUR DAY JOB

mr. cup besotted blogI get emails all the time from folks that want to start an on-line shop and have it be their sole source of income so they can quit their jobs. They want to know how I did it, can I give them advice, etc. For those that are new to Besotted it might read like all I do all day is design, write this here blog, practice my lettering, take photographs and move to random cities willy nilly. Although I love the idea of illusion, (I did after all start my career in advertising), I don’t like to be a phoney baloney (technical term). So, let’s dispel some myths here and then I can get into some specifics for you. Besotted Brand was not an overnight success, it has been more like a four year and counting success (‘success’ being subjective here). It took me a good two years just sourcing all my vendors which includes my packaging. That’s a lot of work to put into a project that I wasn’t even making a dime on. I worked a full-time job 95% of the time I ran Besotted Brand, which means I worked 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (and most nights longer) and then came home tested products, designed the branding, website, wrote copy for products and eventually started packing shipments into the wee hours of the night. The weekends were more of the same, meaning I was working 7 days a week over 15 hours a day just to get going. Granted most full-time jobs may not have been as stressful as mine (or demanding) so I think if I had a ‘normal’ job it would not have felt as taxing. Of course I wanted to make money, but this project is foremost a labor of love for me, I don’t think I could have kept up this schedule if I was doing this for any other primary motivation. While I was at my soul sucking corporate job I was able to amass a nice savings, not Rockefeller status but enough to make me feel comfortable when we moved to the middle of nowhere and I was running Besotted Brand full-time. I used a lot of my savings to get me through over six months of not having a steady job. I hated dipping into my savings, just hated it but I am happy that I had it so I could continue trying to grow the business.

So the specifics: When should I quit my job to pursue my on-line shop full-time? This is a loaded question, because there are so many variables but I would suggest not quitting your job until your shop starts to turn over a regular profit, enough where you feel that if you quit your job and could spend more time with your shop that it would have a positive fiscal impact. I also suggest if you are leaving your job you consider having a savings too (at least six months worth of expenses would be ideal). Because of the timing of our move, I didn’t have the luxury of turning a profit yet thus the reason for perpetual savings dipping. You may not think it is possible to work a full-time job and run a shop, but it is, you will just have to give up things like the gym, friends, family and generally any other extracurricular activity. It’s a huge sacrifice, but not impossible. You will also have to set specific parameters for both you and your clients. In the very beginning I only shipped one day a week and eventually I moved it to three and so on. Know your limits, it’s great to be a go-getter but know what is feasible to be accomplished without sacrificing quality or customer service.

You will want to figure out how much you need to sell to survive, plus set goals over that amount (you don’t want to be working your tail off for the bare minimum, right?) Once I had that survival amount in hand (this is the amount that will keep me from going homeless + hungry) it helped me to have items in mind that I needed to sell to get to that amount. For example for me it was selling six custom stamps a day. This would not make me rich, but it would keep a roof over my head (remember to factor in your profit. I do not make the entire amount of my sale for each custom stamp–a portion goes to Etsy, a large portion towards manufacturing, cost of shipping from the manufacturer, and packaging, after all that is subtracted that is my profit). For you it could be selling 3 of your custom vases, or 2 custom 10″ x 10″ prints. It helped me to put products to this base number because it made it more accessible, ‘Sure, I could sell 6 custom stamps a day!’ Do I meet this goal? Not always, some days I have no sales, but I know I have my savings (for now) so I just keep plugging away. That is why I suggest you turn a profit before you take the plunge so you are in a better financial position than I found myself in. Do I get scared? Often! Do I love what I do? Absolutely!

I hope this answered some of your questions about taking the on-line shop plunge. Part II I will discuss a community like Etsy versus running your own e-commerce site, the pros & cons. If you have a specific question just send me an email and I will promise to try to address it in future posts. If you have anything to add to the above please leave it in the comments, this is just my experience but I would love to here yours as well!

P.S. A great small business resource is Megan Auman’s Designing an M.B.A. she has a very active newsletter that is free and she’s great at breaking down the most overwhelming business details into comprehensible bite size pieces.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.

MCRN BAR + CUSTOM STAMP

I don’t usually get the pleasure of seeing where the stamps I make end up.  I assume they all go to good homes and are kept clean, happy and are honored to be of service to their new owners.  So, when I do get an email that proudly displays their new addition in its new habitat I am immensely proud like any Mama would be. Juley is the owner/brainchild behind the newly launched MCRN Bar, “an online, subscriptions-only baking company that delivers monthly Southern-inspired French macarons”. Is that genius or what?  I think it’s a sweet idea indeed.  I love the packaging and I am sure the macarons are every bit as delicious as they look, perfect timing to launch in time for holiday! Macrons seem to be the Blogista’s dessert of choice so I am sure we will be seeing MCRN Bar all over the blogosphere soon; I will be delighted to know that Juley’s new stamp will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure that her packages look that much prettier. Congrats + Big Thanks to Juley!

Okay, so what have I got baked up for you today?  I think you should have your own custom stamp with your own artwork on it, don’t you?  Yes, I do believe that would be a grand idea!  To enter to win let me know if you won this prize what you would want your stamp to look like, what would you be putting on it? And why?  Would it be a logo? A Bookplate? Return address? Your childs artwork?  Your artwork? A fave quote?  Leave a comment below or re-pin, tweet, FB Like (or whatever it is FB’ers do).  I am going to make you work hard for this one as I need to get you in ‘shape’ for the next giveaway (a big one).  This prize is (as always) open worldwide, good luck!  I will announce the winner next Monday, December 17, 2012.

P.S. And the Winners are… Last week’s winner is: Lois (she sent me a photo of what she wanted to do, now that’s motivation). And because I can never make up my mind I am going to give prizes of the flags to Michaela, MellieMel, and so you don’t think I am just picking people with ‘M’ names, Susan Hwang. Thank you all for playing!

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