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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #330: Many Business Decisions to Make

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 05-05-2011 01:35 PM 2488 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 329: Just Plain Busy (and a New Toy!) Part 330 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 331: Still Deciding »

Yesterday we spent most of the day updating the website. Although there were not loads of new items, there were enough to give people a variety of new items to work on. I also switched the free pattern that I am giving away. This month I am offering a couple of mini songbird plaques that are self-framing. They have the option of coloring them in with some acrylic paint and hopefully it will encourage others to get their feet wet with painting a bit. I suppose the teacher inside me always wants to encourage others to expand their creativity.

While updating the site, I began thinking about some things and I thought I would ask you all for your opinion on something that I am trying to decide.

Most of you know that I also paint. When I first acquired a website, I naturally wanted it to focus on all of the things that I could offer people, both in the scroll sawing and also the painting areas. When initially setting up the site, I had everything pretty much meshed together. For several years it did not seem to be a big issue, as my site was very much an afterthought in my business and I spent little time updating it or developing it at all. Naturally, the sales reflected that and they were quite bleak.

A year or so ago, when we decided that we were wasting a valuable resource for my company by not working regularly on the site, we began the process of revamping it and reorganizing it. My partner is a wonderful organizer, as you all have seen and he felt that there was too much distraction to have so much painting stuff enmeshed with the woodworking side of the site. I did agree with him, as woodworking is my mainstay and the sales from my woodworking patterns are a priority for my business.

However, that isn’t to say that there is not a need (and desire) from my woodworking customers to want painting information, supplies and patterns. After all, the two fields are closely related. There are many painters that are looking for interesting wood to paint on and also many scroll sawyers that want to explore ways to add color and interest to their projects. Just last week I had a customer tell me that he sells many candle tray sets that I have designed, and every one he sells are the ones that are tinted. He wants me to include coloring instructions in more of my patterns, and he is not the first one to ask me to do so.

I also saw more evidence of this when I attended the show. Most of the painting class participants were those who already did woodworking and were looking for new ways to make their wood stand out. Many of them also just wanted to learn to paint. I see the need of pursuing both is definitely there.

I suppose that the perfect answer would be to have two websites. Although that is far from perfect as far as I am concerned. Besides the cost of my time in maintaining two separate sites, there is also the financial cost. Also, it would channel customers to one or the other and I feel that I would lose potential business on both sides.

I have divided the painting portions of my site and tried to keep them quite separate from the woodworking side of my website, but I think they still need to be right there for those who are interested. As I am developing more patterns in both scroll sawing and also painting, I want (and need) a forum where they can be showcased and my crossover customers can easily enjoy both aspects of my business.

With the addition of patterns such as my Skating Pond Set and soon Snowflake Puzzle that I designed for Monika Brint (the decorative painting artist) they will bring more new people from both areas to my site. Monika just informed me that she is using the other snowflake (she made two) for a project she submitted to The Decorative Painter Magazine, the publication for the Society of Decorative Painters which has many members world wide. She is naming my company as the source for the wood, and it should bring in an entirely new clientele from all over the world. I also want to use this surface and develop patterns myself and sell both them and the surface to all those potential customers. There is lots to consider.

I need to get to an appointment today, but I also wanted to ask you if any of you have had experience with selling on Etsy. Many say it is better than Ebay and I was wondering if you would share your opinions with me. I have prints and note cards of my fine art paintings and I wish to market them the best way possible. I don’t know whether to just have a link on my site to an Etsy account, which is where I am leaning and then I can link back to the site from the Etsy account to gain more exposure to new people and perhaps bring more to my site ultimately. That way it won’t water down the site either and will keep the finished items separate. What do you think?

As my business continues to grow, I know I have many decisions such as these to make. It is sometimes difficult to have such a diversification of things, but I also feel that it is a good thing. I have many other prototypes and one of a kind things that I would like to sell instead of having them wind up in a box or ruined. You can imagine the pile of things that I am accumulating.

Any thoughts from you are welcome. I always appreciate your input and ideas. I hope you all have a great day today.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



5 comments so far

View Maveric777's profile

Maveric777

2691 posts in 1821 days


#1 posted 05-05-2011 02:35 PM

Morning Sheila… I been asking around lately about ETSY as well. So far most the feedback I have recieved was quite positive about it. Cheap to list a product (believe it is 20 cents) and they charge 3.5% of sale for commission. Now don’t hold me to that seeing how I don’t even have an account, but I did talk to quite a few folks about it. I hear a larger store does better (more stuff for sale) and it has a pretty decent traffic through it. I even heard from some friends how much they love it from the buyers point (which is good for us who build the stuff). I am sure there is folks on here with much more info than what i came up with. I been debating doing the same thing…. With my small projects….

Good luck and ask around everywhere ETSY…. More info the better…

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

215 posts in 2249 days


#2 posted 05-05-2011 03:32 PM

Good morning Sheila, I have an Etsy account that I let go dormant due to the lack of sales. Dan is right, it is inexpenisve to list and commission. I just couldn’t keep going with it and a website. I may reactivate at a later date. As to your web site, it is my opinion it should stay as 1. Even though I am a woodworker I enjoy your painting too. My wife (the Toler) keeps track of it also. So my vote is 1 site.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View MrsN's profile

MrsN

942 posts in 2271 days


#3 posted 05-05-2011 07:33 PM

I have an ETSY account and have had a few sales. The nice thing about ETSY is that they have a lot of traffic so you have the potential to be seen by lots of people who are looking for cool hand made stuff.
It can be a little hard to stand out from everyone else on the site. I have read that the solution to this is lots of posting on their forums, I don’t take the time for that (but I don’t have to sell, I don’t know what it would be like if I needed to make sales). I love the low fees.
I think that as a buyer the atmospher at ETSY is far better then EBAY. I have also been suprised at the number of times I have told people I’m on ETSY and their response is “I love ETSY”.

-- ----- www.KNWoodworking.com ----- --

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7886 posts in 1665 days


#4 posted 05-05-2011 07:39 PM

Thanks, to you all. So far, I am still debating on whether to do one or the other (or BOTH!) The Etsy site would be mainly for my note cards and prints of my original paintings, and then have a place to sell the one of a kind prototypes that I make of each design. I just have BOXES of stuff around here and it either gets damaged or I give it away. It is sad to see how much of it falls into the damaged category. Even if I priced things kind of low, I would rather see them go to a good home than be ruined. I am not sure if there is a place to sell these type of items on my own site. I don’t want it overwhelming. The new site is quite easy to navigate though and since re-doing it, the categories are quite clear. I am leaning toward trying both, as the new people from the Etsy site will possibly be drawn to the regular site. I appreciate all this information! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

112 posts in 1659 days


#5 posted 05-05-2011 09:29 PM

Sheila -

If you are getting a fair amount of business directly, you probably don’t need Etsy as an additional marketing channel. You should think of it more as a way to market your work, and you have a big advantage in terms of being published in magazines and being visible here.

While it is sad to say this, you should probably blog on your own web site (more than here), set up a YouTube channel, and cross post blog entries to Facebook, Picasa, and Twitter and elsewhere (as long as they don’t get mad at you). A blog gets you subscribers and direct customer interaction – after all, this article has been read almost 100 times today, so far.

Don’t start another web site. It will just split your brand. Create multiple sections on your site for different products and services and don’t be afraid to cross-link them and tie them together.

You may want to experiment with Google Adword ads, but I’m not sure what scroll saw/decorative painting template phrases would cost.

There is no need to add additional channels if your own is doing well. Work on increasing your visibility and see what works. Create promotions with different sites and channels to see where people are coming from (those who buy, not just visitors). See if your magazine’s will throw in a promotion code in your articles (10$ off before June 30th or some such) to see if you are getting real customers there. The magazine would like that kind of data too.

Ask your customers how they found you. You may be surprised. (needless to say, look at your web site stats for referrers, etc.)

Measure and track everything. A good friend got a deal on the local newspaper/magazine, put a promotion code in for tracking and had no conversions… and stopped that marketing effort pretty fast!

Heck, add a code for your Lumberjocks buddies :)

Best of luck.

-- Steven Davis - see me at http://www.playnoevil.com/ and http://www.stelgames.com/

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