After my recent posts on our different types of marketing we are doing on Ebay, Etsy and Amazon, I have had several people ask me to keep you all posted as to how things were going.
As most of you realize, these avenues (like any other advertising campaign) all take some time to develop and bring returns. I think that many people expect to go try one or two avenues and have immediate or near-immediate success. This just isn’t the case.
In the past weeks, we have not only explored Ebay, Etsy and Amazon, but we have also advertised on Facebook and Google. Those of you who have even explored one of these methods of marketing realize that it takes a decent amount of research and learning to figure out each of these separate entities. We have also been refining our website from the inside out so that our rankings will be increased by the search engines. There are so many small things that can be done that customers don’t even see that help with this a great deal.
Keith has done much of this work in between his regular designing. He is far better at the computer than I am and much of what he is learning and knows I don’t even begin to understand.
I suppose what I am saying is that it is a long and complex process that will be ongoing throughout the life of our business. Not only do we need a great product and excellent customer service, but we also need to let people know that we are here so that they can give us a try.
In the short time that we have been doing this, we do see some positive returns from our efforts. While Etsy seems to be rather slow, it is the cheapest of the avenues so the risk is low. However, not only are we not getting sales for our patterns there, but we are barely getting people to look. I am sure that the number of people that even viewed our items was mostly due to my link here in my blog last week and overall we are getting lost in the shuffle of the many people that are selling there. I wonder how others do there, as it seems that it is mostly a community of people who buy finished things rather than patterns to make things themselves.
But as I said, it is a low risk and it has only been a week, so we need to see what happens after a little more time. People who are selling finished wood products may do a bit better than we are there.
Ebay has shown us a greater rate of return. In the few days we have been there, we have sold several pattern, even though we only have a few things listed. This is good because on all of these sales, we are getting excellent feedback and comments and we believe that the customers who buy one or two patterns from Ebay would come to visit our site to see our full line of patterns there and make future purchases. The cost of the listings is reasonable, and while it is a bit of a learning curve to list products, once done they can very easily be re-listed with little trouble. For selling patterns like we do, this is ideal and it is actually cheaper advertising that Google or Facebook. We don’t have to sell many patterns for these listings to pay for themselves.
The Facebook and Google listings are both pay-per-click types of ads. This means that there is a lot of trial and error as to the right amount you wish to pay for someone to click on the ad and come to the site. Much research needs to be done as to keywords and what groups you want to see the ads. While you want to have a lot of people click through, you want those people to be qualified and really be sure that they are interested in what you are selling. It doesn’t pay to have lots of clicks and people come to the site if they are really interested in other types of woodworking. It not only wastes their time and money, but also your own. Finding the right formula and price you are willing to pay to bring a customer to your site is something that may take a bit of time.
As far as Amazon goes, that seems to be the trickiest of all. The fees are more stringent than the other venues and there are more rules such as shipping fees, etc. that may not make it cost effective for some of you to try selling that way. Right now we are waiting for approval to list products without UPC codes, as they are required unless they approve otherwise. That alone would eliminate many of you who read this, as most of you who hand craft items don’t apply for UPC codes for your products. There are exceptions though and we are going to give it a chance. We may have one or two patterns there just to see how things work.
As you can see, there are many complex choices you can use to advertise your products. I also want to mention that since we are selling patterns and many of you are selling actual finished products, we are comparing apples and oranges here. You may find you do better (or worse) than we do in a certain market just because what you are selling is probably geared to an entirely different audience.
If I have any advice at all to you, it is that you need to be PATIENT. My initial thoughts on all of these ways of advertising is that there is probably not one particular avenue that will sustain a business on its own. I think that a combination of several of them is needed to make a decent impact, and you need to be wiling to invest not only money into your own business, but also the time it takes not only to set up these accounts, but also to maintain them.
(That is part of the reason why my blogs here have been a bit bland lately!)
All these things take time. And even though we have only been at it for a just over a week, we do see a difference in our traffic to the site. Our mailing list is growing daily and our sales are doing good and we are starting the year off well. But a big part of that is because we have taken the time to do the homework and also take a risk with trying new things. (Knowledge is power!)
I suppose that is what I love so much about the business. It isn’t just drawing and cutting out patterns. It is all the many, many facets that keep things interesting and fun. Learning every day and figuring things out, as well as being able to express creativity and meet wonderful customers make all of this work worth it. Having a business is like a diamond, with each facet as interesting and as beautiful as the next.
But it is our job to keep them sparkling!
Have a great Friday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"