Online R Us #1: Pack Them In

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Blog entry by closetguy posted 04-09-2011 12:47 AM 2227 reads 17 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Online R Us series Part 2: Take the Plunge With Etsy »

What a great business! I get to spend time in my shop making widgets while listening to Led Zeppelin. When done, I take pictures, post them on a web site, and sit back and watch the money pour in. Yep, it should to be that simple. The reality is that selling online is a little more challenging than one would think.

A lot of people make the mistake of placing their widgets online and going on a walkabout for a few months. They come back, check their traffic, and wonder why no one has visited their store, let alone had any sales. You get out of it what you put into it. Working to generate traffic is the same as generating leads in any other business. No leads, no sales. With online selling, no traffic, no sales. It’s not rocket science.

I’ve been selling online since early 2008. I started out with my own e-commerce web site, and after months of no traffic, I migrated to Etsy. Even after moving to Etsy, I didn’t get my first sale for 6 months. It’s safe to say that my frustration was high and I almost pulled the plug on everything by the end of the year. The increase in sales during December, albeit small, was the only reason I decided to stick with it a little longer. Being stubborn can sometimes be a virtue because I now feel fortunate that I stuck with it. I spent some time (actually a lot of time) in early 2009 reading Etsy forum posts and Etsy seller blog articles to try to find out what it was going to take to increase sales. I finally realized that I needed to drive traffic to my store myself. Etsy was becoming very large and I was a needle in a haystack. I was seeing 3 or 4 visits a day back then. Today I get anywhere from 50 to 100 visits a day with significantly higher sales.

However, high traffic does not guarantee sales. Here it is eight days into April and I haven’t sold anything yet this month. I had my highest single day of visits for the year yesterday at 132. That’s pretty high for this time of the year. I’m use to these ups and downs because it seems to be the nature of the business. But overall, I am up for the year over the same time last year so I don’t worry much about it. All I can do is continue working to keep traffic up so the odds will work in my favor.

If you open a brick and mortar store, you advertise, put up signs, and find ways to spread the word so customers can find you. Selling online is the exact same way. If no one knows you are there, then you won’t sell anything. Millions of potential customers visit Etsy each month, but it’s easy to get lost in the multitude of jewelry, clothing sellers, and other woodworkers. Unless someone is looking specifically for your type of product, it’s easy to be overlooked. Whether it is Etsy, one of their competitors, or your personal e-commerce site, you have to work just as hard to promote your site as you would a brick and mortar store. The only difference between the two is promoting your online store doesn’t cost anything except your time.

Think back a couple of years ago during the housing boom. Every street corner had multiple signs advertising new subdivisions. You would drive a block down the road and see the same signs again. You couldn’t seem to get away from them. It was actually tacky looking, but it worked. They helped potential home buyers to find new homes that were being built on small roads that they normally would not have driven down. This is the type of marketing that is needed to drive traffic to your online store. Instead of signs all over the place, you need links all over the place. The potential ways that people will find your store are:

1. Blindly stumble across it
2. An Etsy treasury, new listing, or relisted item
3. Turns up on a search engine page
4. Referenced in an article on someone else’s blog
5. A Twitter tweak
6. A Flickr picture strategically placed in an appropriate category
7. Facebook fan page and/or your family and friends page
8. Cross link from other sites (I’ll link to you if you link to me)
9. Lumberjocks Projects

The quickest and easiest way to get views and potentially more sales on Etsy is to list a new item or relist and old one. All the others take time for the search engines to start indexing your links and moving you up in the page rankings. I’m not going into a technical discussion on SEO and search engines. It’s boring, and in my mind, voodoo magic. I do know that a when I typed a keyword into Google a year ago, my links would show up on the 100th result page. They now show up on the first or second page, so I’m seeing positive results from these actions. It just doesn’t happen over night unless you want to spend a lot of money to be placed high in the pecking order.

I’m still not done with all the things I’m working on with promoting. I don’t think there will ever be a stopping point. There are many other areas yet to explore and I’m sure that like the ones I currently employ, it will take time before I see any results. I tend to look further down the road, hopeful that new things I try today to increase traffic will pay off in the near future.

Moving on to the details…..

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

7 comments so far

View darrenjttu's profile


83 posts in 3086 days

#1 posted 04-09-2011 12:53 AM


View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3490 days

#2 posted 04-09-2011 01:35 AM

With baited breath I await the coming details …..................... !!!!

Always such wonderful input regarding your own experience, thank you so much !

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#3 posted 04-09-2011 04:11 AM

I have actually did a lot of OLM, that’s “on line marketing” for an on line store I had selling Pet supplies and carried 3000 items in my shop but everything was drop shipped, I did the whole nine yards. I had the shipping modules from UPS and FedEx, credit card module as well as a first class web site. When my Dad passed away I let it go and decided I did not want to spend that much time in front of the computer or be on the phone 2 hours each day I must have spent 10 hours each day for almost 8 months at the computer. I belonged to all the social networks and even subscribed to a few SEO “Search Engine Optimization” services. All I can say is its a lot of money and a lot of work but they do produce results for traffic and they teach you how to convert traffic into sales. But it was killing me with record keeping, snotty people, phone orders, drop shippers that screwed up orders and credit card frauds. I felt like I was working for everyone but me and hated it. I like the way you are handling your business and not letting it drag you down. You seem to just be able to balance the whole thing with out it driving you crazy. I respect that and envy your tenacity.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3886 days

#4 posted 04-09-2011 05:12 AM

The term “Be careful what you ask for, because you may get it” is a true statement. I spent a few thousand dollars with a company a few years ago to get top placement in Yahoo and Google searches. Prior to this, my custom closet company was getting about 10 leads a month. Once I got top placement, I was getting swamped with 80+ leads a month. As a one man shop, I want steady sales, but not and avalanche. Christmas sales are intense for about two months and I would not want to have that kind of activity all 12 months.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View degoose's profile


7231 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 04-09-2011 10:07 AM

I do look forward to every post you make… and now onwards and upwards to the next episode..
Thank you very much for bearing your soul to us…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 2908 days

#6 posted 04-12-2011 06:42 PM

Thanks for doing this series!

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View Panga Design's profile

Panga Design

117 posts in 2772 days

#7 posted 04-29-2011 12:12 AM

very imformative and sounds just like what I am living…..right the moment!

-- Al Carscadden, Panga Design,

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