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 changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com