Today was the start of another outdoor craft show for me with a 6AM setup time. I got up at 4:30AM, looked at my outside temperature gauge, saw that it was 30 degrees, and went back to bed. Call me a wimp, but I don’t do below freezing. There’s something just not right about icicles hanging off a canopy, and my down comforter was beckoning me back to bed. The high today was 42 and windy, so if anyone showed up at that show, they are better men and women than me. I hated losing my $150 entry fee, but that’s business.
To make matters worse, I got turned down for the Sugarloaf festival in December. This was going to be my first big indoor show. It seems that they felt they had enough woodworkers represented in the wood category. I didn’t think you could ever have enough woodworkers. I have never understood why there are always a few woodworkers at these shows, but four times as many jewelry crafters. It must be a conspiracy.
At least the whole week wasn’t a total loss. I had around $600 in online sales this week from Etsy and my Appalachian Craftsmen web site. Most all of it was cutting boards and a couple votive candle holders. It’s funny that I am now on a first name basis with the UPS store people since I have made so many trips there this week. I hope this is an indication of increasing sales as we get closer to Christmas. There is a lot of anticipation with Etsy sellers right now about cyber Monday. I had never heard of this, but apparently the Monday after Black Friday is suppose to be heavy with online sales, so we’ll see.
I have no more shows this year so I need to concentrate more on my online sales to make up the difference. Up to now, Etsy had been a disappointment. I have had a store with them since May with some sales, but considering the volume of traffic at their site, I expected more activity. It’s a great site, well conceived and easy to use, but it’s become so big that things tend get lost and shoved down to the bottom of the heap due to listing volumes. I think 98% of the products on Etsy are handmade jewelry. The forums are a good source of information and can sometimes be entertaining. I have never seen so many women whining because they have not become millionaires in the two months they have been selling on this site. Everything aside, you can find discussions on any craft subject, except for woodworking. Of course, that’s what we have Lumberjocks for. Lumberjocks’ own Woodmosaics has done very well on Etsy, so it can be lucrative with the right products. I also have stores at shophandmade.com and handmadefuzion.com.
Shophandmade.com is only about a month old and has a very professional appearance. It’s free, but they ask for an optional donation as a percentage of each sale. You determine the amount as you list each item. It interfaces to PayPal and with time, may be a good alternative to Etsy. I’m not sure how they are driving traffic to their site, but since it’s so new it will probably take a while for all that to settle in.
Handmadefuzion.com caught my eye a few months ago before they opened. They billed this site as a juried site and everyone had to fill out an application and submit pictures. I was selected and had the first wood products listed. I thought this would be real good since it was juried and should eliminate all the flea market stuff that is listed on Etsy under the woodworking category. Their fees are similar to Etsy with a listing fee and 3% of sales. The site is clunky and has a low-tech look, so I elected to list one item and wait for them to fix the bugs and see if they would do a better job on the interface. Unfortunately, they seem to be allowing junk on it. Now I am usually the last one to criticize another crafter, but taking a piece of wood and painting some stupid slogan on it is not woodworking. This is flea market stuff. So I am no longer active on this site. I also tried handmadecatalog.com for a while, but dropped it after a few months. They charge a monthly fee plus a percent of sales.
The most consistent sales I have had online have been on my Appalachian Craftsmen site. It was initially dead for most of the summer, but when I started posting my pictures on Flickr groups, traffic increased significantly, as well as sales. Even Marc Spagnuolo has commented on some of my boards on Flickr. My web page stats also have shown an increase in traffic from Facebook. I have an account with pictures posted on my page. I also have a lot of friends and family that are very active on Facebook. They in turn, have friends, and their friends have friends, and everyone sees my pictures when I periodically post one on my wall. It’s kind of like a huge, growing spider web.
So what’s my point? Most online handcrafted stores don’t differentiate between flea market and quality wood products. Flickr is cool. Facebook is good if you have lots of friends that use it regularly. Your best online site will probably be your own site as long as you work constantly to promote it.
Oh, and it’s still cold outside…….
-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com