Postage Printing Tips for Endicia Users


A few years back, if someone had predicted that I would be writing an article about how to obtain absolute efficiency in the act of printing your own shipping labels, I would have had to wonder.  

If the vision also included the fact that I would be emotionally excited about the very same article, I would have had to object. Excited about shipping?  Impossible.

Yet it has come to pass. I really am pretty excited about this stuff.  Here’s why: Shipping is business.  I’ve always been a fan of business and I’ve always enjoyed anything that made a business run better, faster, smoother, cheaper, or more effectively for the people it serves. For anyone selling online, shipping is a huge opportunity in this area.

Tips For Endicia Shipping Users

1. Get Yourself a Dymo Label Printer

This is the nailgun of printers.  

Let me explain. I grew up in the construction business and spent summers and weekends working on my grandfather’s projects. Back in those early days, we used a cool vintage tool to drive nails into wood.  It was called a “hammer” and it worked just fine. one. nail. at. a. time.

One day Papa shows up on the job with a new tool. An air-compressor powered nail gun. The difference was as immediate as it was drastic. The increase in productivity was insane and we rightly wondered why we hadn’t splurged for that a year or two sooner! It felt great to be working fast and our (not-crushed) fingers still thank us to this day.

I felt that feeling again recently when I started printing shipping labels with the Dymo 4XL Label Printer.  I’m really not exaggerating.  Once it was all set-up, which probably took me thirty minutes, I was shocked by how much better, faster, smoother, cheaper, and more effective this new tool was. Check  out the video.

2. Use the “Test Print” Feature of Endicia

If you’re printing using the Endicia software on your computer, it has a cool feature that I use all the time called “Test Print”.  As you might surmise, this lets you print out any particular shipping label you’re working on without actually having to pay for it.  Any time you change layouts (such as from domestic to international, or from one shop/store to another)  you can run a test print to make sure it’s all lined up and working properly.

3. Take advantage of the ability to nudge labels a little bit this way or that.

When I ran a test print of my previous go-to layout (which already had our shop logo included) on the label printer, it was a little off.  A small part of the top QR code was cut-off on to edge.  Rather than doing a whole new layout, I was able to just nudge the label over a tad right in the Endicia software, resulting in flawless labels.

Overall, the process of using Endicia with the Dymo 4XL Printer has been awesome.  Just like that first air nailer.  See the video to get a better look!

Until March 31st — Click Here to get a free roll of labels and $20.00 off the LabelWriter 4XL shown above. (We checked this and the $20 discount is taken when you go to checkout)

Try Endicia for Free for 90 Days and Get a Free Scale

Even without the label printer, Endicia was already an important part of our process.  Using Endicia we can easily print USPS labels (on any printer, plain paper, or label sheets) and our labels have our shop logo and URL right on them.  Never stop building that brand!

Endicia also works for shipping packages that don’t come through Etsy.  They have a great 90 day free trial offer that also comes with a free digital postage scale.  Hard to beat that!

Etsypreneur.com/EndiciaOffer


Required Disclosure: Endicia is a paid sponsor on Etsypreneur.com and EverythingEtsy.com (made pretty obvious by the big advertisement in the sidebar). So we do get compensated by the company whose products I’ve promoted here. However, they don’t pay me to fabricate personal emotions of happiness and a feeling of a job well done in our Etsy business, which is what I’ve written about here.

Shipping With Endicia on Etsy or Off

shipping_with_endicia

Endicia, the company that provides the top-notch integrated shipping solution on Etsy, has teamed-up with Etsypreneur.com and EverythingEtsy.com to offer Etsy sellers a free non-usb postage scale and a 90-day free trial of their downloadable shipping software for businesses of all sizes (even individual use). The Endicia software offers convenience and flexibility as well as the ability to put your own logo on your postage labels. See the video below for more details or click here for the special offer.

Last Minute Filers Scramble On Tax DayLong time readers of Etsypreneur and EverythingEtsy.com know that we used to be big fans of using Stamps.com for printing all of our shipping labels, tracking packages, etc. We loved it because of the time we saved not going to the post office and the money we saved by getting the best business rate postage discounts.

But a few months back (almost a year now I think), Etsy unveiled an integrated shipping solution that changed the game for lots of Etsy sellers. What was previously a multi-step process became a matter of just a couple of clicks. We were impressed and obviously pleased with the simplicity. The trips to the post office were still (mostly) a thing of the past and we were still getting the discounted shipping rates and tracking was still super-easy and often free.

Unfortunately, the Etsy integrated shipping isn’t all most people need. For most Etsy sellers, not every single package shipped is an Etsy sale. Some sell on other venues, some sell direct from their own website, and almost everyone has other general shipping needs from time-to-time. The Etsy solution only works for Etsy sales.

The other problem we ran into with the Etsy integrated shipping was the billing arrangement. Postage costs are added to your Etsy bill, which we don’t love because it’s “after the fact” and it’s kind of lumped with other Etsy fees in one payment, making accounting a bit less precise. Also, if you happen to be shipping enough packages, you have to make a payment every time your balance hits $100.00, inclusive of shipping and Etsy fees. For some Etsy sellers, these little issues are a small price to pay for the convenience of printing postage directly from the Etsy dashboard (which the video demonstrates is VERY easy), but for us, we were still left with the need for an additional tool for printing postage.

The Etsy integrated version of Endicia is convenient but has a few drawbacks

The Etsy integrated version of Endicia is convenient but has a few drawbacks

Endicia, who is the company behind the Etsy shipping product, has been in the postage printing business since the beginning and has solutions for businesses who ship thousands of packages every day all the way down to a free product, Dymo Stamps, for printing your personal postage stamps. The Endicia product we’ve been using for a few months now, Endicia Premium, takes care of all of our additional postage printing needs, keeps our bill separate, and even gives us the ability to print our own logo and business branding right on the label!

As an exclusive offer to the Etsyprneur.com and EverythingEtsy.com community, Endicia is offering a free non-usb (non-exclusive) 5lb postage scale and a 90 day free trial of the software. I’ve been on the phone with them and I’ve read the special offer page they’ve set-up just for us and I don’t see any catch.  Endicia just feels strongly that you’ll find the product useful enough to keep using it. Even after you start paying for it 90 days from now, it’s only $15.95 per month for the version we use, which is easily justified if you can avoid only a couple of trips to the post office.

Endicia is offering a free scale and 90 days free to Etsypreneur and EverythingEtsy.com readers

Endicia is offering a free scale and 90 days free to Etsypreneur and EverythingEtsy.com readers

The special offer is available at this link: Etsypreneur.com/EndiciaOffer

Take a look at the video. We’re not talking about super-exciting stuff with printing postage here, so don’t make popcorn and you might not want to watch it when you’re sleepy, but the video does what I was trying to accomplish: introduce the product and company, demonstrate the software and compare it to the Etsy version, and point you toward a great offer from Endicia.

The Endicia Software is easy to use - the video demonstrates printing a label

The Endicia Software is easy to use – the video demonstrates printing a label

As for Kim and I, we no longer use Stamps.com primarily because of the customization offered by the Endicia software, which we’ve only just begun to explore. We currently use “Dazzle” (the Endicia software) for about half of our shipping and take the super-easy Etsy integrated shipping for the other half. Once I get my act together and set-up the shipping labels to print with our logo, we’ll probably switch to Dazzle for 100% of our shipping.

Questions from the video:

The video demonstrates the software, which is really quite simple to use in the “quick print” mode. In the video, I mention a couple of possible questions and promised to answer them in the blog post… so here those are.

1. Send an Email to Customer – The Dazzle software has the option to send your customer an email telling them you’ve shipped the product. (Etsy does this automatically which can be a pain if you’re not planning on actually sending the same day you’re printing postage). I ran into a problem with putting an email in this box because the software then tries to use the email client on your computer to send the email. In the days before webmail, this would have worked for everyone because everyone sent email through their own computer such as Outlook, Outlook Express, or Mail (Mac). However, if you use GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook.com, or any other web-based email service your computer’s email client may not be even set-up. If that’s the case, just leave that box blank.

2. Partial Weights in Postage Calculations - The scale will provide you with a decimal weight, such as 3.4 ounces. But when you go to select a weight in the software it only offers whole number choices, so you have to pick. In the case of 3.4oz, you have to go with 4, not 3. Postage is calculated on a “not to exceed” weight basis. So the rate for 3.1oz is not the 3oz rate, it’s the 4oz rate. Make sense? Just round-up and you’ll always be right and you won’t pay a penny more than you should.

Endicia has software available for both Mac and PC, so hit that link above and check it out.  It seems like a great offer with nothing to lose by trying it out.

If you have any questions, I’ll do what I can to answer them in the comments.

~ Tim

A Better Story Equals Higher Prices

A_Better_Story_Equals_Higher_Prices

If you want to charge higher prices, tell a better story.  So says a recent article in the Harvard Business Review which explores the connection between the price buyers are willing to pay for an item and the story (or lack thereof) that goes along with it.

The article tells of an experiment by New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker in which items purchased for next to nothing on eBay were flipped at huge price increases.  The average value of items increased 2700% simply by adding a story.  In this case the stories were written by professional writers and, I gather, were complete fiction, but the lesson is no less valuable.

You don’t have to hire a fiction writer to spin lies about your products to create a great story.  It’s already there if you look for it.  Why you make what you make, where you make it, how you make it, and why you started making it to begin with are all good material to start with.  If you sell vintage, the items you sell might have a story of their own, but even if they don’t there must be a historical “story” of a different time or place when the vintage find was brand new.  Sounds like a story to me.

For a story to work, people have to read it.  Here are a couple of tips that might help with that:

  • Keep it short – Generally speaking, the fewer words you use to get the key points out, the better.
  • Use descriptive language – Invoke feelings and senses the pictures of your products can’t, such as smell, temperature, texture, taste, and emotion.
  • Get some editing help – Have a friend or family member read the story and offer feedback. (if it’s your spouse you might want to motivate them by sharing that a good story can increase revenue by 2700%)
  • Don’t be afraid – Be willing to tell the story that goes with your item and don’t worry about it being a best-seller… you’re just trying to give some intrinsic and intangible added-value to the item you’re selling.

People shop on Etsy partly because they desperately want a great story.  They want something different than what everyone else has.  They want something that starts conversations and is fun to talk about.  Give it to them and you can increase those prices and start earning what you’re worth!

TellAStory EverythingEtsy

Free Printable – Download Link Below

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For more reading on telling a story and to download a free printable of the “Don’t Forget Tell A Story” image above, check out this post on EverythingEtsy.com

Word-of-Mouth Advertising {How to Get More of it!}

word of mouth advertising for etsy sales

Here’s something for you to think about…

If your products or service came up in a conversation between two people (neither of which is you), what would they be talking about?

It might take a little time or imagination, or it could come straight to mind. Hard or easy, you would do well to consider not just one, but many hypothetical conversations about the things you sell.

What adjectives do they use?

Do people talk about how useful your product is?

How pretty it is?

How fun it is?

How it makes them feel when they use it?

Do they have a story to tell about your product?

Where it came from?

What it’s made of?

Who made it?

How it impacts the greater good? (think Tom’s Shoes)

What is the answer to “Where did you get that?”

Obviously, it will include “Etsy”, but is your customer inspired to go further and mention you by name and direct people to your shop, blog, or social media?

The point of all this is…

Imagining yourself as the proverbial fly on the wall observing a conversation about your products can help you see your business from a new perspective.

I have to be honest, it can be frustrating and you shouldn’t try unless you’re willing to work to change the answers you don’t like.

The first questions above, the adjectives, will help you understand the physical selling points of your product. Words like cute, fun, pretty, strong, helpful, cheap, etc. will help you know what words to put in your product descriptions to get more conversions.

The second part, the part about having “a story” to tell is where you really graduate to another level of smart business. If you can master the art of creating a story that connects your customer to your shop and your products on an emotional level, that will take you very far indeed.

Tom’s Shoes did it by providing a free pair of shoes to a child in need with every purchased pair of shoes. The idea of “social responsibility” in business is strong and a good thing. The book Start Something that Matters by Tom’s founder Blake Mycoskie is a great motivator on that front.

But what if you don’t have the profit margin to be able to buy yourself a pair of shoes, much less give any away? You still can find a story to tell about yourself, your shop, your motivation, or your products.

I’ve always said Etsy sellers have an opportunity to tell a story about where their products come from and create an emotional connection that way. People like to tell others what makes their purchase unique. Offer them a story to tell.

The last part, Where did you get that? is a bittersweet pill.

On the one hand, the more people out there saying “I got it on Etsy!” the more overall shoppers will find Etsy every day. On the other hand, they just might completely forget to search for your particular item when they get to Etsy and they could even try to find it and find a competitor instead, which would kinda suck.

The best possible scenario would be for your customer to actually hand out a business card, so it might make sense for you to include a few extras in your packaging. I think the more likely “best case” scenario is your customer telling a quick story about you and your great “extra-mile” service, hopefully complete with your name and twitter handle!

It’s About Word of Mouth

The least expensive advertising you can get is also the most effective. Word-of-mouth advertising costs you very little (maybe some freebies in an order, or the cost of some thank you cards, etc.) but the value can be worth thousands of dollars in sales.

People love to talk about the things they buy and it’s very common to open a conversation by commenting on something you imagine the other person is proud of and might want to talk about. This is how word spreads so it pays to be thinking about it.

Perfection is Ever-Elusive

Go through this exercise today and you’ll immediately see ideas you can implement to improve your business. Go through it again next month and you’ll see more. Same thing next year.

No matter how hard you work to perfect your process, your offer, and your story, there will always be more to do. So let it motivate you to press on, not frustrate you into quitting.

Tips or Thoughts?

I’d love to hear your story about what you do to improve word-of-mouth advertising? What works? Am I missing the boat?

Branding is More Than Your Logo

branding is more than your logo

Search the Internet for information about building a brand and see what you find. Search results can be a little bit comical at times, such as the article I found which showed the McDonald’s logo as an illustration for the heading “Make your logo memorable!” and the Coca-Cola logo as an example of “Classic Logo Design“.

What a joke! Of course the McDonald’s logo is memorable, that’s where I get my Egg McMuffins and, oh yeah, there happens to be one on every corner; worldwide. And the Coke logo as a “classic”? Yes, I agree, considering it’s been around since 1886, which I’m pretty sure is about fifty years prior to the invention of the word “logo”.

I did that search because I was looking for a resource to include in a post I wrote yesterday at EverythingEtsy.com, Five Easy Tips to Build Your Brand on Etsy. That post included having a good logo as one of the tips. Obviously, the Coca-Cola/McDonald’s article was useless in regards to any real logo creation advice, but I did find a little eBook on Amazon that got my attention with its contrarian title which included the phrase “Your Logo is Irrelevant“.

That gave me pause for thought. Huh? My logo is irrelevant? Oh no!

Since it was a free borrow on Kim’s Kindle I decided to give it a read. At only 20 pages of actual content (not counting the intro and outtro sections designed to promote another book), the read is a little too quick for my liking, but the ideas were sound and, well, here I am writing a post about it so I guess it was worth it!

The gist of the logo related portion of the message was this…

People don’t choose to do business with you based on your logo.

The point wasn’t that logos are worthless, just that if a buyer is making a decision between two or more sellers, the logos aren’t going to be the deciding factor. Rather, says the author, it’s really about the overall relationship you build with your customer.

If you want to stay relevant then you need to be true to the customers of today. You must understand them, speak to them, engage with them. Those who buy from your competition are not choosing the competition because it has a better logo. What it has is better understanding of their needs. – Your Logo is Irrelevant

Even though I’m a fan of great design and I love the way a good logo looks on a website, a business card, or product packaging, I couldn’t help but agree that, at least for brands that aren’t fully established yet, the purchase decision has a lot more to do with other factors than it does the logo.

Which Factors Matter Most for Etsy Sellers?

  • Good photography shows you care about your products and the look of your shop.
  • Answering questions and telling stories about your products builds a connection.
  • Featuring community-centric points is important to today’s consumer; things like being eco-friendly product or your shop (brand) participation in a good cause.
  • Sharing yourself with shoppers in your shop through your about page and/or blog creates a relationship.
  • Maintaining that relationship through ongoing contact creates repeat customers.

Do Logo’s Matter or are They Truly Irrelevant?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover! Despite the title, this little eBook doesn’t lead me to believe that a logo is any less important than I already thought it was.

Your logo is relevant and it is very important. It portrays a message in an instant which, if done well, includes a wealth of information about you from your name (of-course!) to your design style, your target market, and maybe even your price point.

What I gained from this (tiny) book is that you can never do too much in the area of understanding and building a rapport with your customers.

If it Works for a Few, It Will Work for Many

As I’m finishing up this post, I’m thinking of the seller who says “How can I learn about or build a relationship with customers I don’t have?”

This is a challenge for all new businesses and one that all businesses overcome the same way, one customer at a time. If you don’t have customers at all, then you certainly have prospects… the people who SHOULD be buying from you. Learn about them and build relationships there.

Once you start to get customers, start learning about them and building relationships with them right away, from day one. Some of the things you try will fail but some will work and what works for a few customers can be built into the way you do business because it will usually work just as well for the customers you don’t have… yet!

What about you? How do you decide who to give your business to? If I was selling something you were interested in, what would make the difference?

Shopping for Ideas — How to learn from similar businesses

shoppingforideas

Would it surprise you to learn that most major retail operations have entire departments within their company whose main purpose is to “spy” on the competition? It’s true.

It brings a few thoughts immediately to mind:

  • There must be some value in doing this. It must add to the bottom line.
  • I’m happy to be online where visiting similar businesses is just a click away.
  • No wonder unique new ideas are so rare… they just copy each other.

As you can see, the last idea is a little bit contradictory to the first. Here’s another contradiction for you: the idea of similar businesses being called competition is wrong for creative online businesses. They are just similar. They aren’t you, and nobody has to lose for you to win. There is no competition. (read more)

So no further use of the word “competition” on this blog.

However, there is so much to be learned by watching what others do! Especially when those others are experienced and have paid the high price of learning the hard way. To not go out there and take a close look would be really kind of foolish.

How to learn from similar businesses

Reaching back to the comparison with a “real world” retailer, imagine yourself as the person assigned to “shop” the store down the block. You head over there, pull into the parking lot, and do your thing.

The key to doing your thing well is in being very, very, very observant. Every input your five senses receive can teach you something from the moment you approach the property.

We talked the other day about finding out who your customers are by looking at the customers who buy from similar businesses. But that’s not all you see when you visit.

  • How are the products arranged and presented?
  • Is the feel of the store more discount or more luxurious and high-end?
  • What is the apparent quality of the products?
  • How does the pricing compare to the quality?
  • Does staff welcome you?
  • Are you drawn in, or do you feel the urge to leave?
  • Is the store bright, or darkened for mood?

You also see who’s buying.

  • Who are the customers?
  • What do they wear?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they predominantly male or female?
  • Observe how they interact with the store and the products.
  • Observe everything you can about them.

Are you still with me? I’m giving you the keys to the kingdom here. I know you can daydream about shopping. Do it! I know you might not see the correlation between a real store and an Etsy shop, but trust me, there is one and it’s not tiny.

Imagine the job of shopping a real world store, or even go out and give it a try if you’re serious enough about this. Then you can bring that experience online.

Then when you visit similar shops to your own, you’ll know what to look for.

When you find an area that you see in the real world, but not online, such as “Does the staff welcome you?”; ask yourself this:

“How can I?”

“How can I make it feel like someone is welcoming people to my shop?” You’re creative, you’ll figure out something awesome.

Learn about your target market, but don’t stop there.

The genesis of this post was a discussion on identifying your target market. The great news is that you can learn much more while you’re out looking around.

Find and visit similar Etsy sellers. Read similar blogs. Pay attention to items similar to yours in regular stores while you’re out.

The whole-entire-time let your brain be a sponge for information. Absorb everything you can about what you like, what you don’t, and why.

Then, when you put your own unique and personal creativity into it and put it all together, you’ll end up with something far greater than you ever would have imagined!

Go for it! Pretty soon, you’ll be the success story and new sellers will be shopping you for ideas!

Three Groups of People Who Will Help You Identify Your Market

targetmarket

It’s an exciting time to be starting an online business . I’m just saying. It is.

One of the bazillion reasons for that is because it’s SO much easier to get to know your customers than it ever used to be. When I was a b’nessman-in-training fresh out of high-school companies used to charge astronomical amounts of money for information about local customers. And it wasn’t the most reliable information despite the crazy high prices.

Even so, they sold it. By the millions of dollars worth.

Companies paid the bill because they recognized how important it was to know as much as possible about the people they wanted to do business with. Information about people such as approximate income, favorite places to eat, most popular vacation spots, and levels of education were all for sale.

But you? … you don’t have to pay a dime. Information much better and more accurate than was ever available a decade or so ago is available to you, right now, for free.

Tons of it.

Why You Should Know Your Customer

Unless you’re looking to be the next Amazon.com, then chances are pretty good your business is designed to appeal to a certain particular group of people. Whether you designed it that way on purpose or on acccident doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.

You have a target market; a group (or groups) of people who are most likely to see the value in what you’re offering.  Knowing about your customers helps you make some really important marketing decisions.

  • Where to spend the most effort sharing your work
  • What types of media most appeal to your customers (video, audio, pictures, words)
  • What are the areas of common interest you have with your customer

So, how much do you know about your customers?  Hopefully a lot.

If not, I’m going to write a few posts that will help you learn more. We’ll get into each one of these areas in detail, but I’ll give you the broad strokes right now.

Here are three groups of people who will help you identify and get to know your target market.

1. Your Competitors

Well, duh. I know it’s obvious but let me ask you this: How much time have you spent prowling around your competition’s sites and social media lately? Probably not much right? Well, you should get to it!

Other people who sell items or services similar to what you sell can tell you so much about the people who are buying from them! Sometimes you have to read between the lines a little bit, but sometimes it’s right in front of you as clear as day.

I’ll get into detail about snooping out the competition in my next post.

2. Your Friends and Family

Have you ever been paid to answer a survey at the mall? How about one of those deals where you go to a meeting, listen to a presentation, then answer some questions; in return you pocket $100.00 for your time? That’s market research. It’s still big business. (though I’m not sure why… hello, start a blog and do a survey for free)

You can do the exact same thing with people you know. If there is one thing I’ve seen proven over and over again in my life, it’s this: entrepreneurial fire and energy is contagious! Most people love that you’ve got an idea you’re pursuing with all your heart.

Even if they don’t really think you’ll make any money with it, most of your friends and family would be honored to give you their opinion on your products or ideas and they’ll give you good common sense feedback about who they think your buyer would be.

Leave your pride at the door and humbly ask for feedback. You might have to sift through the results a little bit. We know there could be parts that are meant to direct you to what they think you should do, but good info is in there nonetheless!

3. Fans of Your Own Favorite Places, Things, Brands, etc.

Here’s a pearl of not-so-amazing wisdom: If you like what you make (and of course you must), then other people who like other things you like probably would like what you make too!

Too many likes in that sentence? Well that’s not entirely by accident. Does the word “like” conjur up thoughts of any particular social network? Facebook maybe?

The opportunity of Facebook and other social networks is that you can actually look and see who likes the same things you like. It’s all right there for anyone to see. There is so much information here that you couldn’t possibly assimilate it all.

But you can get some great ideas. You can get a feel of who your customer is.

Feel Who Your Customer Is – Intuitively

And that’s the ticket. Get to a point where you can look at a crowd on the street and pick out the one or two people who would buy from your shop. Once you can do that, and you can guess what they do for a living, and how many kids or dogs they have, then you’ll be well on your way to marketing greatness.

The same marketing greatness that will allow you to do what Kim wrote about today on EverythingEtsy.com…

Make it happen. Shock every single one of them!

As always, I know the real knowledge is in your comments, not just in my words. So here’s my questions… Who else can teach you about your target market? Where else can we get more knowledge?

Community Building Through Etsy Teams and Treasuries

teamstreasuries

 

How do you maximize the usefulness of treasury lists for Etsy promotion of your shop?

Do you recommend joining Teams, and if so, which ones?

These are two of the many questions sent in by Etsypreneur readers and the next step in our current Etsy Success Series of Daily Tips emails.

Treasuries and Teams have one major aspect in common so let’s look at that first, then take a quick look at the unique ways each can be helpful.

Community

If there was one word that I felt most correlated to success online it is this one: community.

This is true for huge success stories like Groupon or Pinterest and it’s just as true for an Etsy shop. Building a community of like-minded people around your name/brand/shop/blog is really the biggest goal you should have.

Even without great products a community will at least help you generate some income through your blog. But if you combine a great product with a great community, you’re sitting on a true winning opportunity.

Both Treasuries and Teams are community-based activities that increase your involvement with others and therefore can help build your circle of connections, friends, and contacts online.

Treasuries

When I look at Treasuries I think to myself… there is an opportunity we’ve never really taken advantage of. We just haven’t gotten very involved in that side of Etsy yet.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Treasuries, which you can read more about here, are a member curated list of 16 great Etsy finds. You pick out 16 items that you like and include them on a treasury list. Here is an example from an Etsypreneur reader:

Image

I’ll cut to the chase. The key opportunity here, both for the sellers who are featured in treasuries and in the creator of the treasury, is in the concept of “curation“. There is a huge opportunity online in anything that involves sorting through the giant mass of information and culling it down to only the best stuff.

This applies to blog posts, news articles, sales and deals, and shopping, especially in a marketplace like Etsy. Etsy is huge-ginormous. Nobody has time to look at everything and it gets frustrating to know that there could be some really incredible bits of awesomeness that you just don’t have time to find.

That’s what makes a trusted curator a major player in a market like this. If you build a reputation for creating treasuries that are exceptional, then you can build a community of people around those treasuries.

Eventually sellers will be thrilled to be included on one of “your” treasuries and more and more of your lists will hit the front page.

The ways being known as this “curator extraordinaire” can be good for your bottom line are many and too much for this post. But they are there and you’ll find them.

So the first and biggest opportunity I see with treasuries is in curation. But that takes a ton of time to build-up. Time browsing, time promoting, and time waiting for people to take notice. It’s a multi-year plan to really “get there”.

But there are also shorter term ways a Treasury can be helpful. The most important is the idea of reciprocity. You share someone’s items in your treasury and they are that much more likely to return the favor. The more times your items are featured anywhere, the more sales you’ll eventually ring-up.

Just don’t have your feelings hurt when people don’t acknowledge what you’ve done. Some sellers don’t see any value in treasuries, others just don’t do them. For a busy seller, it can be hard to even thank everyone who includes your items in treasuries. That may seem hard to believe, but the numbers can get overwhelming. Lots of people out there.

I encourage you to work with treasuries a little bit and we may try to bring them more into our day-to-day so if we do I’ll share with you. I think there is real long-term opportunity in the curator thing.

Etsy Teams

ImageEtsy Teams are another way to get involved with the community that is already established around Etsy.

Much like the site Meetup.com helps people find groups with interests and activities similar to their own within the borders of a certain city, Etsy Teams help you find other people who share your interests and are already on Etsy.

We have an Etsy Team for Etsypreneurs and members share new products, sale announcements, social media ideas and links, and talk about business tips and questions. If you’re not a member, I invite you to join us there.

There are thousands of Etsy teams set-up around every imaginable subject. And Etsy itself offers up some great ideas for teams on the “what is an Etsy Team” page. For example:

  • Shop owners can create local street teams to organize craft fairs
  • Shoppers can gather together to share their passion for a style or type of item
  • Shop owners around the world who make the same type of items can network and promote their teams
  • Members living nearby one another can meet and hold regular meetings
  • Bloggers and boutique owners can team together shops they’ve featured along with their readers and patrons
  • Members can rally for a charity or other cause
  • Mentors can volunteer to help others
  • Shop owners can run an online sale or promotion together
  • Members can come up with ways to use Teams that we haven’t even imagined yet!

Just reading this list of ideas gets me excited about the potential of teams.

Patience is Key

It seems like every time I write a post for Etsypreneur I feel a little overwhelmed. It’s because I don’t think in terms of just this one post. I’m thinking of the last twenty posts I’ve written and all of the “to-do” items therein.

It’s a pretty much impossible for one person to cover every possible aspect of online business building at the same time. You’ve got to focus on the things that you feel most comfortable with and that will have the greatest impact on your goals.

As you get one area “under-control” you can expand into more.

It’s also about knowing where you’re trying to go. The concept of being a great treasury curator has all the makings of a full-time job to do it at the highest level. So you have to decide if that’s what you want.

If it sounds like it could be, there is a ton of opportunity in being a respected curator. A TON. Just be prepared for a long-term effort.

A Great Bit of Reader Feedback

Here is what Heather from Heather McCaw Art said about treasuries and teams:

For me, treasury-building is a chance to tell a story. For that reason, many of my treasuries have a literary bent. My first such treasury was inspired by the novel “Swamplandia!” I remember digging through vintage shops on a scavenger hunt to find old Florida tourist paraphernalia and alligator teeth jewelry. You can imagine my excitement to join the new “Poetsy” team. Its purpose is to create and promote treasuries inspired by song lyrics or literature. I’m having a lot of fun with it and hope it continues to grow.

Although it seems the majority of featured artists never respond, I have made some very enriching contacts through treasury-building and those eventually led to wonderful conversations about our work and lives. Being an artist is a solitary pursuit, so it is important to make connections however you can. I can’t see that it has led to any sales per se, but teams and treasuries have personal rewards and they can give you a boost when sales are slow. I just think it’s important to avoid spending all your time involved with teams and treasuries, as it cuts into valuable time to create.

Great ideas and advice.

Malaika from HMD Designs wrote a great blog post on her Etsy in Real Life blog about her experience wth Etsy Teams. Check it out here.

Go Team! Build the Treasury!

What about you? How have you used Etsy Teams and Treasuries? I’d love to hear more thoughts and ideas in the comments!

~ Tim

Ten Steps to Great SEO and Why They Might Not Matter

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An awesome reader sent in the following question:

What are the top ten things I can do to to get more Google hits to my Etsy shop?

Here’s the thing with SEO: Search engines are looking for the best result available for the search in question. So the two steps to ranking well in search are first to try and actually BE the best result available and second to try to understand how search engines make that determination.

They guage this using a long and complex set of indicators. How long your shop has been online, how many people have shared or liked your shop or your items, how well your item titles match the keywords in the search, and how many other places link to you are all part of the equation.

You can only do so much. Focusing too heavily on search is a bad idea. It’s much better to focus on the customer and keep asking yourself how you can do a better job of showing, sharing, and telling about your products.

But as for good solid SEO, here are the top ten items (there really is no order):

  1. Create a blog and write posts about your products – See Using Your Blog to Promote Your Etsy Shop
  2. Engage in social media and build a following
  3. Provide tools for social sharing of your blog posts and images – see Like Building is the New Link Building
  4. Connect your Etsy shop to Twitter and Facebook
  5. Try to build links to your items within Etsy
  6. Use relevant and search optimized keywords in titles – See Etsy Shop SEO Video
  7. Write good item descriptions
  8. Syndicate your shop and participate in Google product search
  9. Pin images of your items (and try to get more pins)
  10. Increase the number of items in your shop

As I read through the list above and consider these steps I’m again confronted with the question:

What size do you want your business to be? What is your goal?

If your goal is to create a long-term business then you’re not going to dislike the idea of putting many hours into doing these things right. You’ll also be more comfortable with the reality that this is only a small part of success selling online.

Search is more likely to be a source of additional sales for a shop already on-fire than it is to be a source of a sustained level of sales for a shop that doesn’t get customers from many other sources.

In other words, don’t count on Google for success!

If you put too much weight in the items in the list above you might tend to make some mistakes.

For example:

  • You’ll write blog posts about your products that aren’t anything more than a picture and a link. That’s not helpful and too much of that can hurt you.
  • You might try too hard to build links within Etsy and end up essentially spamming teams and forums with links to your items. This is bad.
  • You might go too far with keyword usage and have titles that are flat and boring.
  • You might increase the number of items in your shop just for the sake of larger numbers, when an “improved selection” in the eyes of customers is what you need.

So to sum this idea up, the ten item list above can be a gold mine if you make it a part of your daily selling routine.

I’ll repeat that last part: Your daily selling routine.

Building your business on Etsy can help you to shape a perfect-fit selling routine for you, your life, and your products. It might seem unnatural at first, but it really doesn’t have to be. Selling is fun and it can easily fit into everything you do in some small way.

Remember that your products help people and are worth the money. Just keep your conversations natural. Tell people you have a business. Share your excitement for what you’re doing. Tell your story so we know why you do what you do. Tell stories about individual products and what they mean to you.

These are easy selling methods that are interesting and get attention. They work great over time because online, everything stays. Real conversations are indexed by search engines and people browse old posts of interest.

How do you feel about selling?

Let me finish with a question or two of my own. Is part of the allure of “SEO” because it’s automatic and you don’t have to “sell”? Are you comfortable with the idea that you are a “salesperson” for your little business? Does the idea of “selling” make you want to quit?

I’d love to hear your answers on these questions because it might give me some insight into how I can help you reach the levels of success you really want to reach with this. Thanks for taking the time to share in the comments.

Why Etsy Sellers Should Have Their Own Website

Having your own website is one of the most rewarding and fun parts of building an online business. It provides you with so many opportunities. For example:

  • A chance to create an individual space that is all you!
  • A chance to share your story in depth
  • A chance to tell more about your products and why you love them
  • A place to refer everyone to, without seeming like you’re trying to sell to them
  • A chance to learn something new and create a whole new set of skills
  • A place online that you control completely
  • An opportunity for future growth and expansion
  • A more professional image
  • Improved name and brand recognition

The list of reasons you’ll love having your own website could really continue for hundreds of items.

Fotolia 103588 Subscription L

The real question is “Why wouldn’t you have your own website?”

The only answers I can think of are cost, time, or techno-phobia (fear of the technology).

The cost is very low, the time investment can be spread out over years, and if you’re wanting to work (and make a profit) online, you better get used to technology or do like Kim did and trick someone else into learning it. :-)

You Need Your Own Website!

Your own website, hosted on a paid hosting account (rather than a free account such as blogger.com) offers you a list of advantages so long that I think if I wrote about them all, you wouldn’t finish reading this post till next week.

We set-up our own websites shortly after Kim started selling on Etsy and have learned the whole thing from scratch. It can be a lot to learn, depending on how far you want to go with it. But that’s the point! You can go as far as you want!

You can build a professional blog selling advertising, products, downloads, etc. You might find out, like we did, that the blog becomes as big a part of your business model as your actual store is.

You can extend your own site to have your own selling platform. One day you may become large enough that you would prefer to sell everything from your own site, rather than on Etsy.

You may come up with an idea of a web-based service you can offer your customers via your own site. You might develop an app of some sort.

The point is that when you have your own website, you look more professional now and you open up unlimited options for the future.

No website, or a free hosted website, simply don’t offer that kind of future opportunity.

What About Starting Off With Free Hosting?

Since the cost of having your own domain and website is so low (about $10.00 a month) it’s not worth the effort to build a whole blog at free hosting and then move it later.

There is lots of talk about “how easy” it is to move a site. It’s really not. It’s easy to move content, but not at all easy to move the look of your site, the arrangement of your site, or the content of your sidebars. It’s also not great from an SEO standpoint to move your site.

If you’re looking to build a long-term business online, then there isn’t really an option. I’m not trying to be a know-it-all here. I’m just trying to be someone who has been there and helped lots of others who have been there. Just someone pointing out the easiest and best path to where you want to go.

If you don’t have your own website hosted on a paid hosting account, and you really are serious about building your Etsy business long-term, then you should do exactly what I would do if I was in your shoes right now.

1. I would go to Hostgator.com and sign-up for the Baby Plan.

Again, I’m afraid if I go into all the details behind this advice the post will get crazy long. Here’s the bullet-point version:

  • We’ve tried numerous hosting companies
  • We now run our sites on Hostgator servers
  • Hostgator has awesome customer service – very helpful by phone or email
  • Hostgator has easy upgrades for when you grow
  • Our site uptime is excellent with Hostgator
  • Choose the Baby plan because you might want to add more domains
  • We have about fifty domains
  • When you have an idea, you buy the domain. If the idea sticks, you’re ready to go.
  • If you start a new shop, you buy the domain. If it grows, you’re ready to go.
  • Hostgator has easy month-to-month payment options

2. Once I had the Hosting Account Set-Up, I’d install WordPress.

WordPress is quick and easy to install for the first time. Here is a link to a tutorial Hostgator has put together for doing so on Hostgator servers: How to Install WordPress

3. Then you start learning!

It takes a little bit of effort to learn all of this stuff. Or you can hire people to do it for you. My advice is that if you plan to build your business up over time is to just take your time and learn it yourself.

We make changes every single day on our sites. It would cost a fortune to pay someone to do it all. It takes time to learn, but the knowledge can never be taken away. You’ll always be able to make your own changes and once you learn “how to learn” online, you’ll be able to figure out anything you want to do.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about WordPress themes which are the framework that helps you give your WordPress site some character and better functionality.

I’m so sorry if this is over-simplified. I’m just offering by best advice without going into pages and pages of detail. I hope you find it helpful.

~ Tim

Disclosure: When we purchase a product and find it helpful (such as Hostgator) we often look to see if there is an affiliate program. When there is, we sign-up for it because we know we’re going to recommend the service or product anyway, we might as well get a commission. Affiliate commissions is part of how we support Etsypreneur and Everything Etsy, so we appreciate you clicking through our links when you buy these services. It doesn’t cost you a dime extra.

The term "Etsy" is a trademark of Etsy, Inc. This site is not affiliated with Etsy, Inc.

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