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Selling Your Crafts & Art on the Internet: My new Strategy with Crosslinked Lumberjocks & Etsy.com

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 2018 days ago 4119 reads 13 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There is an ongoing debate about whether Lumberjocks should be the focus of a marketing plan by professional woodworkers. There are quite a few professionals on this site now, all of us trying to make a living.

I define “professional” as someone that makes all, or most of their income from their woodworking and craft work. Selling something once in a while from your hobby work really has nothing in common with “having” to sell something every day to buy food and shelter. So, it’s not an indicator of quality, per se, but whether you have to peddle the stuff to survive, or whether it just mostly for enjoyment. Sometimes, it’s the same, as it is most of the time for me.

So, if you are offended by a lumberjock using this forum for profit, then I’d suggest you read another blog before you get upset and send me another email, of which I won’t pay much attention to, just trying to be honest.

I’ve got Martin’s blessing, and that’s enough for me.

Ok, now that the disclaimers are over:
I’ve been using Lumberjocks to great success this past year (2008) to sell my work on the internet. I’ve had a website for many years, back when it was still cool and unique to have one. Never did sell much on it, maybe a handful of orders over 5-6 years, seriously less than five times.

Then, along comes ”Martin” with a new website called lumberjocks.

I was smitten from the start. He’s sort of like our Lumberjock “Jack”, or “Ben” on the TV show “Lost”, or maybe even “Jacob”, but I haven’t yet figured out who “Jacob” is in the show. Has anyone?

But, just like High School, and those confounding school girls, a guy being “smitten” doesn’t always lead to a successful relationship.

In this case it has.

Martin has done everything he could do to make this forum website the finest on the internet, and the membership growth has resulted from it. Honestly, I just really can’t stand using the other forums that I’m a member of, as they are all so archaic in design and navigating. Nice people in the forum, but the system is so poor, after being treated to the LJ formatting. It’s sort of like having to use Punch Cards after other people show you that you can just type programs directly into the computer screen. (For all of you young folks, that’s a reference to the old days, when using a computer wasn’t so easy to do as it is now.)

Ok, so it’s fun, easy, and its quick to load projects, and it’s great to get encouraging news from other woodworkers, BUT when a guy/gal only eats if they sell something they make, the process is a little stressful at times.

Substituting computer keyboard hours for shop time is a big risk for me, and for about two years, it didn’t pay off, not at all. Lots of new “friends”, but in case you haven’t noticed, us LJ’ers don’t buy much from each other.

Martin kept encouraging me that it would “happen”, just keep posting relevant and fresh content. Okay.

Then, along comes 2008, March to be exact, and things finally started to “pop”, or “snap”, whichever description you prefer.

I don’t really know what happend, other than maybe God and Google got their wires tied together, and the internet crowd started to find, and buy my work. Wahoo!

The Key is to “Find” my work. It’s been on the internet for years, just without any “finders.” I think that most of us have the same struggle. It’s not your work, or your quality, or you website name, it’s the lack of traffic that’s the problem.

Sure, we all get SPAMMED every week from a dozen companies trying to give us “huge traffic by optimizing your website, that only They know how to do.” Between those and the Viagra Spam and the Fake Watches, I’d have a fairly clean mailbox every day.

Give this method a try, and see if it works for you.

Ok, You Want Facts?
In 2008, 51% of my revenue came from internet orders, all resulting from lumberjock’s postings. Really, I know that because none of the work has been posted on my website, a problem I can’t seem to overcome at this point, until I get my website update guy to help me out. I know that, as I’ve spent a lot of this week trying to put my tax materials together for my accountant. I want my refund before the Treasury spends all of their borrowed money.

I started about a year ago by marking my LJ postings with ”For Sale” pretty hot-and-heavy, and cross-linking them so that folks finding my work on google searches could see other similar items I’ve made before they headed back to google to try another person’s website.

It was Martin’s idea, and quite frankly, it works.

Ok, so for about a year now I’ve been getting up to about a dozen inquiries a day from folks asking me about prices on things for sale, and about custom orders for things similar to what they’ve seen in my LJ postings.

Since the lumberjock website isn’t selling our work directly, I haven’t listed the prices on my postings, only an “email me for more information” type of comment.

And, for about 10 months, it has been fun to be encouraged and excited every day to get up and read the emails, and send prices, and get to know folks that want to buy, and those that just came to kick tires.

But, after all of these months, I’m tired.

I just can’t keep up with this anymore, answering everyone with the prices individually. And, to make it better/worse, I hope there are more of them in the future…..

So, I’ve been looking for another solution.

I did set myself up on Paypal in 2008 at the request of folks trying pass me money. I can’t stand paying their fees, but it is quick and easy, and folks can use their credit card if they have a paypal account.

But there is the real situation of all those emails every day, that have been hard to keep up with.

Not to mention all the folks that want me to tell them my craft secrets, and help them find special materials I use, and advice on starting up a business of their own, and other questions I get each week. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I enjoy the emails, I just can’t keep up with them all. I need to work.

So, for all of this time, I’ve been begging Martin to put a “Buy Now” button on the postings.

He told me this week that he just doesn’t have the time to keep up with the maintenance of what that requires, and so he has been unable to take the forum that direction, and it may just be a direction he didn’t want to go, bluntly.

But, I want to eat, and I need to spend more time in the shop, so I gotta do something.

Over in another forum in yahoo where Scrimshaw Artists congregate in a horribly archaic format (great folks – bad forum format), I heard about a website called www.etsy.com this week.

One of the members of the yahoo group sells her jewelry work at Etsy ( http://jaijohnson.etsy.com ), and she has spent quite a bit of time this week helping answer all my questions about this website.

Etsy is designed for handmade work that the artists actually makes themselves.

It is not designed to be a resale place for things you buy at garage sales, or warehouse closeouts, or from Asian Importers, or estate sales, or find’s from your granddad’s attic, all sold to the highest bidder.

There’s another place for that, actually several places.

I tried that Big Place one time to sell my work, and the high bid was 1/3 of what I routinely get for my work in galleries and online directly, so no more auctions for me.

There is no auction at Etsy.

There is just a stated price, and a ”Buy Now” button.

Planning Ahead:
And, I bought one of Jai’s jewelry pieces today, actually getting my wife’s birthday gift three weeks early, so she’s in shock.

So, a double bonus day for me. The Wife is tired of getting lousy woodworking things I throw together in the last week before “her big day”. And, she is equally tired of watching me leave the afternoon before “her big day” to get a gift certificate from somewhere to stick in her birthday card the next morning.

I always get accused of buying her gifts at the corner gas station. Which technically is not accurate at all. I go to Walmart, and eventhough it is the same imported junk, it is cheaper at Walmart. But, because of my foresight in gift buying today, I feel pretty good about myself, in that regard.

And, also because I took the first step of setting up an Etsy account, starting up a “Store”, and listing my first item.

My plan is to cross link the Lumberjock Postings to the Etsy sales page.

But why Cross-Link?

Well, there is a lot of stuff on the internet for sale, in case you haven’t noticed.

Getting folks to find the cool stuff you make is the challenge. Especially if what you make isn’t all that much of a niche. Good quality it might be, but getting people to find it is the key to success. Don’t believe me? Try peddling walking canes on the internet. Oh my gosh, everyone sells canes on there. But, not like mine.

Using lumberjocks as part of that process is my goal…..and it works folks.

How does it work?
So, okay, if a person finds my LJ posting by google, they can go with one “click” to Etsy, and hit the coveted ”Buy Now” button.

The money is transferred into my paypal account, and whizz bang, I box it and ship it, and pay the propane and electricity bills, or at least a portion of them.

It’s Gotta Cost Something?
Sure, there are fees to using Etsy. A $0.20 Fee per item, and a little under 4% commission, which sure beats the 30%-50% commissions I’m used to paying at consignment galleries. Those high commissions either raise the prices so high that the items don’t sell, or I take it in the shorts just to sell an item.

If you’d like to see how this is all set up in my new internet marketing strategy, go to this project by clicking the Widget picture of the Lumberjocks’ project

In the project posting, right at the top, there is a “weblink” to take you to the Etsy Page where the items is shown for sale with that big ”Buy Now” Button.

Click for details

Wish me luck (whatever that is), Taking the internet world by storm, one binary digit at a time…..

Mark A. DeCou
www.decoustudio.com
www.decoustudio.etsy.com
email: mark@decoustudio.com

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com



30 comments so far

View Karson's profile

Karson

34858 posts in 3002 days


#1 posted 2018 days ago

Good Luck mark. Nice job on the cross link.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

12851 posts in 2584 days


#2 posted 2018 days ago

good luck .. hope it works well for you

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2423 days


#3 posted 2018 days ago

That is slick, Mark. I wish you nothing but the best and if we can enjoy and share your postings AND you can get them sold I think that is a winning combination that benefits us all. Since this is just a hobby with me (and I am glad of it since I like to eat regularly) I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who do this on a professional level.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View mrtrim's profile

mrtrim

1696 posts in 2482 days


#4 posted 2018 days ago

great mark , cant think of anyone more deserving of some sucess than you . a comment some time ago that ill always remember was made i think by lee jessberger to tom angle when tom said he was closing up and going to wyoming to work . anyway whoever said it said , it should be near criminal for someone with your talent and craftsman ship to not have work . the more i think about that the more it seems so true .

good luck mark !

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1973 posts in 3007 days


#5 posted 2018 days ago

I felt the same way as Lee when Tom went horseback riding to Wyoming. I sat around and wrung my hands wondering if I was next. Truth be told, I heard from a lot of folks in 2008 that went “horseback riding” to find some income. It was a tough year, especially on those that made most of their income from folks buying houses and putting in new cabinets.

I wish I felt that 2009 would be better for the economy for everyone.

Stay strong, stay “free.”
“The borrower is servant to the lender” Someone very wise once said.

M

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View mrtrim's profile

mrtrim

1696 posts in 2482 days


#6 posted 2018 days ago

quite true mark , i know my patch aint near covering the hole for quite a while . im not much on horseback but im may be close to seeing if i can still handle a bicycle ! lol

View scottb's profile

scottb

3647 posts in 2928 days


#7 posted 2018 days ago

Good Luck Mark!

I’ve been thinking about doing this exact thing. Thanks for leading the way, your success is encouraging.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View closetguy's profile

closetguy

744 posts in 2493 days


#8 posted 2018 days ago

I’m anxious to see how it works Mark, so keep us updated. I’ve had a store on Etsy for almost a year with mixed results. It’s all about driving people to it. I’ve had better results from my separate web site which has a shopping cart that checks out through Paypal also. 90% of my traffic is coming from Flickr. When I started posting my product pictures to Flickr groups, my traffic tripled.

If you haven’t done it yet, create a googlebase data feed to your Etsy store. Etsy has also just added support for Google stats which gives us information on who is visiting our shops and what they are looking at.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com

View kolwdwrkr's profile

kolwdwrkr

2821 posts in 2192 days


#9 posted 2018 days ago

I’ve got an etsy site as well so if this is appropriate please visit it. It is www.azuremoons.etsy.com. My girlfriend makes jewelry and I make woodwork. I haven’t sold anything yet but I have my fingers crossed.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Dan M's profile

Dan M

121 posts in 2546 days


#10 posted 2018 days ago

Best of luck—2008 was a good year for me as well, just enough volume to stay busy but not too busy and – frankly – as a result of posting my hobby projects on this very site. I hadn’t considered the etsy angle but I am intrigued and wish you nothing but luck.

-- Dan M, SW Suburbs, Chicago IL

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2838 days


#11 posted 2018 days ago

I, too, have an etsy account although I’ve never sold anything on it. I think it’s about time the internet started giving back. If there’s a way to make a legal buck and use the net to do it, then by all means use it.

View majeagle1's profile

majeagle1

1416 posts in 2098 days


#12 posted 2018 days ago

Good luck to you and thanks so much for posting this blog !!!!!!!!!! What great infomation…..............

Between you and closetguy and others, I thing I am really ready to try and get this going for myself. I have an etsy account, no website yet but trying hard to get one going. I also have tried “the other big auction site”
and had a pretty good December but now back to almost nothing.

I’m going follow your advice and try to follow your steps…....... if I have any questions I may PM you if that is o.k…............

Thanks again for posting

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks, http://majesticeagleww.etsy.com/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/majesticeagle/

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2916 days


#13 posted 2018 days ago

Thanks for getting it all figured out so I can steel all your good ideas. (maybe more true than funny)

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2581 days


#14 posted 2018 days ago

Hi Mark;

First off, I have to commend you for sharing your “journey to success”, with us. What a very unselfish thing to do.

Many business men would say it’s foolish to give away your secrets, so for you to “test the waters”, and then pass on what you’ve learned, speaks volumes of your character.

I am fully aware of the difficulties you face, since I too “eat what I make”, or if things go right, eat what I buy from things I make. And, as you know, wood is a great source of fiber, but it doesn’t taste good.

I did make those comments that Mr. Trim pointed out, regarding Tom Angle. From deep in my heart, it does hurt me to see so much talent being passed over in favor of mass produced junk. I just can’t understand how it’s right.

Like kolwdwrkr having difficulties now, to me is a crime, as he too has talent that equals that of any rock star or sports figure. Yet I don’t see any of them selling their cleats or guitars.

Or politicians getting nice fat salaries, and outrageous pensions, and for most of them, lying is their skill. (maybe it’s unfair of me to say that so bluntly, when they’re doing their best to hide it).

For these guys I’ve mentioned, it is a unique combination of talents that make them the artists that they are, and that in itself makes them a commodity to be honored. At least in the Japanese culture, artisans such as these are highly respected. Maybe we should all move there.

Well, just maybe Mark, you have helped with your sharing. I surely hope so.

If I can help you out with your website, I would be happy to do so. Just let me know.

THANK YOU;

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View isetegija's profile

isetegija

762 posts in 2116 days


#15 posted 2018 days ago

Thank You Mark for this post.
I learned a lot from it.
Good luck whit your Etsy store.

-- Not my woodworking http://woodworkessence.com/

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