etsy series no. 4

We have another awesome Q & A with Cyn from The Joyful Cup. I stumbled upon her store a few months back and am smitten with her straight forward store that sells all the necessities for the everyday crafter. She has great products and supplies to help you complete all those projects on your list! 
Read on to see for some great tips:


What made you decide to open a store through Etsy?
I originally opened my Etsy shop as a destash venture--a way to get rid of some of the craft/scrapbooking supplies I had optimistically--and might I add unrealistically!--bought after having baby #2. I had no plans to sell anything other than my overflowing supplies. I never did actually start scrapbooking, but I bought a basic Cricut on sale for $79. There were so many great tag shapes available on my few cartridges, that I cut out a few different sizes and shapes of blank tags, and listed them in my Etsy shop. Surprisingly, that quickly blossomed into large orders making custom tags. My shop just kind of steamrolled from there! I began adding more items to my shop, and couldn't keep up with the tags, so I eventually decided to discontinue selling diecuts, and focus on supplies like paper bags and twine. Although I rarely find the time to actually create anything from my own supplies, I just love the idea of other people seeing the possibilities!



What are some helpful tips to remember in regards to shipping?
It's definitely worth it to buy a digital postal scale. It would have saved me a lot of frustration in the beginning! Spend a little time on the USPS website, and familiarize yourself with package weight and size guidelines. Do some research before you decide if you want to offer international shipping. When I determine my shipping price for an item, I factor in my costs for mailers and tape, as well as ink and paper for printing my shipping labels.

What are some ways to make your shop stand out and draw customers in?
Diversity makes a big difference. I try to offer a little bit of something for everyone. Photos sell the product on Etsy most of the time. I always take more photos than I think I'll need, and I use, (it's free!), to make my photos look their best. I try to make my shop the place where I would go for supplies. It'sIt's important to me to have a low price, and a wide selection.

Do you have any tips or last words of advice?
I try to remember to have fun with my shop. It's relaxing to browse other shops, join a team, or participate in a BNS or BNR. Etsy is a marketplace like no other!


thanks, Cyn, for all the great tips!
happy tuesday, my friends.


just a simple up-cycled notebook

i've been on the hunt for a notebook but didn't want to spend any bucks. tough situation, eh? at work, we use notebooks all day long and there's nothing better than having a good pen and a good notebook. seriously, it's the small things....
here is what i came up with....with no money being spent, mind you!
finished notebook
this is rather simple and can be completed in a matter of minutes.
i used a stack of paper that was going to the recycling bin and cut them in half. the paper size varied a little here and there but that's okay. for the cover i used a piece of cardboard as the base and adhered a pretty piece of cardstock with some simple glue. to pull it all together i punched two wholes along the side and secured it with some twine. this will make it easy to reuse the notebook and swap out the used paper. if i make this again i'll try and be a little more precise with the paper cutting. but hey, it's handmade and helping with environmental waste so i'll embrace it!
{the etsy series will be back next tuesday!}
enjoy your tuesday, friends!

washi fridge

i have a little love connection with washi tape. its just so happy. i love it and love all the fun designs. the fridge is such a tricky little thing. so easy to display recents pics and sweet notes. but also easily cluttered and can be an eye sore. but, i love pictures of my family and friends too much to worry about the eye-sore-ness of the fridge. starts my day off right seeing our friends greet us as i make the coffee. so glad they can all join me!

this tape was purchased from cute tape

{if you stopped by yesterday and saw this bloggy-blog in shambles....thanks for your patience as i swapped some things around...!}

happy thursday, my friends!

etsy series no. 2

i came across bekuh's blog several months ago and knew she had a great knack for putting things together. her blog is well organized and that has translated well over to her etsy store. it seemed appropriate to have her share some thoughts on packaging. i'm excited for you all to meet her & pick up some great tips.
thanks bekuh!

Secondhand Sundays / Store / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram @bekuhdoo

 Hello Thompson readers, my name is Bekuh and I am a full-time Office Manager, part-time blogger, and co-owner of a vintage & handmade store on Etsy called the Button Factory. Ali asked me over here to share some of my insight and advice on packaging for Etsy sellers. I thought I'd start by sharing a little of my history on Etsy and how my methods of packaging have changed over the years.

I opened my first store on Etsy in 2009, as a way of making a couple of extra dollars while in college. I was an art major who happened into a large group of friends who all decided to get married at once. Suddenly I was making wedding decorations, planning showers, and hosting events; and I became enamored with the idea of breaking into the wedding scene as a crafting goddess. I way underestimated the amount of work and knowledge you need of the craft field before buying supplies and opening an online store front. I had never thought of organizing a standardized shipping package, buying supplies wholesale, or how to write shop policies, and I quickly became overwhelmed by the seeming maze of information on Etsy's website, and across the internet. 

To make a long story short I never created a standard branding method for that shop, but instead spent countless hours branding and rebranding on a whim trying to find my footing. In early 2011 I put that shop on the back burner as I planned my own wedding, and thought further about my next step.
Fast forward to November 2011, I finally decided to close my first shop after two years of barely breaking even on my supply costs. This was the best decision I could have made for myself. I realized that the crafts I was making were too time consuming for the perceived worth of the customers I was selling to. Luckily I wasn't away from Etsy for long, in September my friend Katie and I made the decision to open a new shop focusing on our love of vintage and handmade jewelry. You can read more about our shop on my blog Secondhand Sundays.
Taking the knowledge learned and experiences from my first shop, we decided that branding would be our top priority when meeting about the Button Factory last fall. A huge portion of branding your products is the packaging. The customer's experience does not end at purchase, it is important to think about how your products will look when they arrive at the customer's home. Think about your favorite stores, do they have pretty bags, tags, stickers, and wrapping? I bet they do! 

So why should your Etsy store operate any differently?

When deciding how to package your products for shipping I suggest considering the following:
1. Have you done your research?
I highly recommend reading the articles on Etsy's seller handbook, and buying a book or two on selling handmade. Other online resources include HandmadeologyEverything Etsy, and Design Sponge's Biz Ladies feature. All a great place to start before you open up shop.

2.What is the over all feel of the products in your shop (or hopeful shop)?
Are they country, minimalist, bohemian, vintage? Picking out packaging the reflects your products style is important for creating a "feeling" in your shop. the Button Factory is both vintage and handmade so our packaging combines both of these loves by using scrapbook paper with vintage prints and old dewey decimal system library cards, that we print and cut ourselves.

3. What can you do yourself? What needs to be sent out to others?
We do a large majority of the work on our packaging by ourselves. I'm lucky enough to have a business partner this time around that can help me paste, cut, and print anything we might need. If you're doing this on your own it might be worth having a company do a majority of the work for you.

4. How can you set your packaging apart from your competitors?
I highly recommend researching stores with similar clients, or desired clients. If they have a blog look at what they post about their shops, buy an item or two in a similar genre to yours, and poke around to see where your competitors are advertising.

5. Can you buy any of your packaging supplies in bulk?
There are so many great resources online for bulk packaging. From envelopes to stickers, to stamps, you really can find it all. We use Uline for tissue paper and large white envelopes. We'll save over $100   on our first 100 orders thanks to bulk purchasing.

6. How can you incentivize repeat customers?
Pretty wrapping is only one way to encourage customers to shop in your store again. Think about using coupon codes, small gifts with purchase, and free shipping to incentivize them to come back. We are employing a combination of these methods in our shop currently and have already seen a positive effect from these tactics since opening up shop in April.

7.  Create a shipping sample
Once you think you have your branding and packaging worked out create a sample of your shipping and double check that everything looks cohesive, well planned, and easy for you to manage on your own. Your completed package should reflect both your creativity and organized business sense.

It takes a lot of time, and energy to create a shipping style from the onset, but once created it will make shipping a much easier and pleasant experience for you and your customers. I feel like I learn something new every day on Etsy and that this learning curve will never end, but I choose to see this as a fun opportunity to use my art skills in an ever expanding way.

Have fun, keep things cheap, and get out there and sell. big kiss, bekuh (Secondhand Sundays)


{brought to you by}
perch shop

etsy series no. 1

today we are going to hear some awesome feedback from kelly over at mint afternoon. she has some great tips to share on international shipping. this is a topic that just seems so daunting and mysterious...! i'm so excited to share her tips and hopefully relieve some worries about the "everywhere else" shipping.

be sure to check out all of kelly's awesome goodies:

how did you decide to grow towards international orders/shipping

I used to read the forums religiously and there were so many posts from international customers telling how they had fallen in love with an item but were unable to order it because the seller only shipped to the US.  There were enough of these posts to make me think that the number of international buyers was substantial enough for me to take on shipping internationally.  And I am so glad I did!  I'll also admit to thinking "How cool would it be to have my products all over the world?" Now that I am based in the UK, international shipping is an absolute must.  The majority of buyers on Etsy are American, so it not be feasible for me to only ship within the UK.  In fact, I've had less orders from inside the UK since I moved here than I did when I was in the US. 

how do you determine shipping costs

Since it is too complicated and time consuming to figure out the exact cost of shipping to each individual country, I look at the approximate weight of the item, how much the packaging costs me, and which international counties I ship to most often.  When I was a seller in the US, most of my international orders came from the UK, Australia, and Germany.  I took the average of those costs and used the "Everywhere else" option to set my price.  This system works pretty well for me.  Sometimes the shipping ends up being more, sometimes less, but I figure it evens out in the end and I am also gaining exposure for my products every time I mail a package.  Some sellers worry that the cost of shipping internationally will be too high for customers to pay and so don't offer it.  My view is that even if the shipping cost is high, if a seller wants the item bad enough, they will pay it. 

is the postal service the best company to work through or is fedex, ups, a better option

I sell paper goods which are all flat, fairly light, and re-creatable.  I use the postal service since I don't need any special handling, packing, or insurance and are the cheapest option.  I can't give any first-hand knowledge of using any other service, but I have heard from sellers that sell one-of-a kind, breakable, or expensive items that the post office often is not the best option, especially if you are insuring your packages.  The post office in the US doesn't offer insurance for international packages unless you are sending them express which is very expensive and not worth the price for me.  Since moving to the UK, I've been using the postal service here and have been very satisfied.  The only obstacle is the extremely expensive rates for international shipping.  I've dropped some of the least expensive products from my shop since they were not selling over here due to the cost and effort of shipping far outweighing the cost of the item.

have you seen an increase in your customer base since you expanded to international shipping

When I first started shipping internationally as a new seller (a few months after opening my shop) I saw an immediate increase in sales.  In 2011, international buyers made up near 20% of my sales.  Now that I am in the UK, international buyers are the vast majority of my sales (most being in the US).  So far in 2012, only 5% of my buyers have been in the UK, so not offering international shipping is just not an option for me.

any suggestions, tips or things to consider with international orders?
is this as daunting as people make it out to be?

International shipping is definitely not as scary as people think.  If you are really looking to expand your shop and increase your sales, adding international shipping is a great way to find new buyers and is a huge opportunity for growth.  Do your homework.  Look at the rates for shipping internationally (in the US, especially look at the UK, Australia, Canada, and if you are in the UK, look at the US, Australia, and EU countries).  Once you've figured out average costs, you can set your prices and don't have to worry about it again unless the shipping rates go up.  I go to the post office anyways to mail domestic packages so it isn't much more effort to mail international packages. 

One thing I would urge sellers to consider is buying in a scale.  I purchased an inexpensive food scale online which allows me to weigh items and packages at home so I don't have to guess on the weight and then find out at the post office that I am either charging way too much or far too little shipping. 

Another tip, don't be nervous to ask the customers questions.  If the address looks like it is missing something or you aren't sure how to write it, ask.  Customers want their packages to reach them as quickly as possible and will be happy that you took a minute to double-check details with them.  It also allows you more interaction with them and you might learn something new.

any last words of wisdom?

Make sure you fill out your shop location accurately and using the drop-down list that appears when you start typing your city on your public profile page.  This allows your shop to show up when buyers use the "shop local" or the "ships to" option while searching for an item.  I've definitely used the "ships to" function while shopping for myself since so many sellers don't ship internationally and I wanted a specific item.  Your shop will stand out as being international-friendly! 

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good morning!
i went into summer with high hopes of being really productive with projects around the far, not going so well. things came to a screeching halt once we had to replace to hvac unit. that took all my fun project money away. oh the joys of owning a home.........
so instead, I’ll sip my grande americano and flip through my design sponge book

i have a few things i'll piddle around with:
vintage post cards, new projects with perch and finding a home for the globe pictured above.i'm being reminded daily to be content and patient. please don't hear me wrong.....i'm so thankful for all the wonderful provisions we've received day in and day out.
see, i'm rambling.............

{make sure to check back on tuesday for the next post in the etsy series!}