Grumbles from the shop #3: Etsy update

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 03-29-2009 03:54 PM 6115 reads 3 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Support your local cabinet maker Part 3 of Grumbles from the shop series Part 4: Splinters »

I’m going to throw a pity party and you are all invited. When I get some good news I’ll pass that along to. (First I’ll have to get my taxes out of the way). It has been three months that I’ve been running this Etsy shop. I know some artisans have done OK. I’m pretty sure if I dedicated the time and energy I would have had better results. First off the price is great. The time to setup shop and download photos is significant. I figure when all is said and done I’ve got 1/2 hour per project. At a shop rate of $35.00 and hour….I’m not getting paid for my time. By the way this was just an experiment. I didn’t expect to make much. Call it market research. Testing to see if my baskets or cutting boards would sell. The answer is no. Not a single sale. I’ve checked out the stats on a cutting board, 27 views. In the same time frame the one I had on lumberjocks got 495 views. 75% of the visits I got on my etsy site where from lumberjocks. My conclusion is that, once again we have more hype than substance. I would have been better off photocopying a flyer and posting it in the local Laundromat.
Just so you know I’m really getting a kick out of being a grouchy pessimist. It warms my heart.

22 comments so far

View gbvinc's profile


628 posts in 4116 days

#1 posted 03-29-2009 04:18 PM

Interesting to know.

At the risk of hijacking the thread, I wonder how other lumberjocks are doing on Etsy. Anybody want to fess up on their sales volumes via Etsy? Worth it, or should we all stick to sales flyers in the laundromat?

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4259 days

#2 posted 03-29-2009 04:19 PM

Hi Dennis.

Not one to miss out on griping, but here are some thoughts or suggestions.

I looked at your projects and you have awesome things for sale. I like the baskets in particular. Then I looked through some of the top sellers for someone who sells wood objects.

Here is one for example

They are writing not just a basic description of the item, but a story. That is how most catalogs work.

I know it would add more time to your work, but writing a story of the object might attract sales.

Example: The buffalo cutting boards.

Someone who buys a buffalo shaped cutting board is probably into the west, Native Americans, Log cabins, etc.

Sell them on the romance of the buffalo and the lost frontier. A little history of this rapidly vanishing great animal, formerly a fixture in the American West. Get them to imagine the board in the kitchen of their cabin, or as perfect for a steak bbQ. (Just brainstorming here).

Then tell how you made the board. This board is created by a time intensive process that includes …..yada, yada. The inlays are created from X rare wood. I applied a hand rubbed food safe finish. Such and such.

Also perfect as a gift or can be hung as art.

Marc Decou does a good job letting readers of his ETSY page know who he is by writing in first person.

If writing is not your thing have a friend write it for you. Pick up some catalogs at furniture stores and see how they describe their stuff. Here is a random potterbarn tray with a one sentence description that sells the piece:

Carry on. You have great products.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4484 days

#3 posted 03-29-2009 04:25 PM

That is good info, John. If I can refine my presentation to a point where I actually can sell my stuff then this experiment will be a success. To bad I can’t complain my way to success. Maybe I need a radio show…

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4269 days

#4 posted 03-29-2009 04:30 PM

I completely agree with John.

People are buying a piece of “you” when they buy from an artist or a piece of where you are from. The back story is important.

People from Ohio are intrigued by my stories of Montana and they are all true. I really hike and climb the mountains. They buy my work and then point to it telling everyone, “That guy from Montana made this! He climbs mountains, and hikes in the wilderness….”

I call this the “Montana Mystique” and it helps sales. Play the Idaho or western mystique for what you can. Many artists I know make lots of sales to Japan and Germany. These countries are mystified and intrigued by the “wild west” and it’s culture.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4152 days

#5 posted 03-29-2009 04:47 PM

As with any venture it usually takes a long time to build up a clientele and then a following. If you do what you enjoy then success is just a by product. If you really want to make money get a gov job at a mint <girn>

Good luck with sales. It is hard to make money turning wood into anything useful other than BTUs (mostly kidding – remember if you are not laughing your not living)

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4108 days

#6 posted 03-29-2009 05:13 PM

Dennis, I set up an Etsy store for about 6 months and had two sales. I tried the “Showcase” with no luck and came to the conclusion that Etsy is probably good for procesing sales transactions, but is not the place to actually sell anything. It was my impression that unless people are looking for exactly what you’re selling, there little chance that they’ll find you. Fortunately, the things I make are not my current livelihood (maybe someday), so I emptied my “store” and had better luck at small craft shows.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4044 days

#7 posted 03-29-2009 06:34 PM

Dennis – your gloomy sense of humor is priceless.

Marc DeCou seems to be doing pretty well with a LumberJocks/Etsy arrangement. You might spend some time looking at his presentation, and then adapt it to fit your products and personality.

-- -- --

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4496 days

#8 posted 03-29-2009 06:40 PM

Dennis, I’ve got to agree with the comments above. I think you need to sell yourself as much (if not more) than the items you have posted. Not to hop on the overhyped “green” marketing theme, but I think you should talk about your interest in working with natural materials and inspirations that bring you to create your baskets and coat rack.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4044 days

#9 posted 03-29-2009 07:02 PM

You might also look at some craft and decorating magazines and catalogs and look for “catch words” that are currently being used that you can use in your descriptions. A couple of years ago I was doing some “rustic” cabinets, and now I’m doing some “knotty” cabinets that are basically the same thing. The popular terminology changes as much or more than the styles do.

-- -- --

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4330 days

#10 posted 03-29-2009 08:14 PM

I love stories! I think that is a great tip.
Looking forward to reading what you come up with :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3759 days

#11 posted 03-29-2009 08:19 PM

I have an etsy store too and haven’t sold anything. People have favorited some items but nothing sells. I have jewelry and woodwork on there. I think the major problem is that there are so many people on there trying to sell things. There’s a guy that sales $5 items. How can you make something for $5? An hours worth of work should be minimum wage + materials at the very minimum. I have and never will understand how there could be tables for sale for $49 when the labor alone would cost twice as much. So what’s my thought on etsy? It’s just another time waister. Even if you sell something it’s at a price to cheap to make a profit. If you want to keep it though I’m sure marketing plays a significant role. You can’t just set up an account and expect people to buy. Nobody knows your store exists there, and with the thousands of other stores it would be by chance that someone stumbles across you. And that person is not looking for what you are selling. So you need to market. When you market your etsy store you are also marketing etsy. This gives the buyer the chance to purchase a similar product from someone else there. So you need to know your competitions prices and charge similarly. Your presentation needs to speak volumes of your work and personality. If you go to church say so and make a deal out of it. People will buy from someone they trust and everyone trusts people who attend church. You need to keep the buyers interest when they arrive at your store. If it looks simple or boring they will leave. So you need to “fruit” it up and make it appealing. Add a link to your store EVERYWHERE you post, whether its here or somewhere like myspace or facebook. If you want traffic get a myspace and facebook account just to advertise your etsy store. Post an item for sale on craigslist every few days and at the bottom of the description write “please see my other work at blah blah It’s all about getting eyes to your site. As for me, my pessimistic whiny lazy attitude keeps me from doing anything so I just complain. Definitely not the attitude to have in this economy. HHMMM if I know that why won’t I change… to think about it. Good luck.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3665 days

#12 posted 03-29-2009 09:02 PM

Good Post Dennis…........ I’ll jump right on with you, at least for now. I have an etsy site and have only sold 5 item in 3 months….................. however, having said that, and read the above comments to your post, there is alot of good info/tips here. I agree that marketing is probably the key and as well how you word your presentation of your item for sale. ( I need to work on that ). So I have some to do’s on this now and am hoping for better results. I only have about 6 items out there now, will probably add a few more in a week or so. The price is right so I’ll hang in there for now. I haven’t done any craft shows before so I may try that avenue now that the weather is getting good.
To add another aspect onto this, what does anybody think of EBAY? Even though their fees are outrageous!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4484 days

#13 posted 03-29-2009 11:29 PM

Fees! That will be a whole other grumble! I’ve done a few shows. (with results about equal to etsy’s) The fees for a booth were $$$.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4469 days

#14 posted 03-30-2009 12:15 AM

Hi Dennis,
I was thinking maybe you should have an outdoorsy, or natural background of your images on Etsy.

Maybe setting on a big boulder, or some river rock. If you have photoshop maybe you could use that beautiful sky for a background.

I wasted 3 months trying to sell my old bandsaw on craigslist, & finally put an ad in our local shopper.

I sold it the first day the shopper was delivered to the doorsteps.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4330 days

#15 posted 03-30-2009 12:30 AM

I’m seeing a “theme” develop.
Creating the image of who you are and what you do through the stories and the backgrounds – all backdrops to your products. Great tips. I’m getting excited to see what is next!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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