Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reason #1 to Not Give the 3-Year-Old the Camera

In the excitement of the craft show recap, I almost forgot to tell you guys some good news!  Before I left for the show Saturday, I got an email from a big blog (like SUPER big) asking to link to my fancy burp cloth tutorial.  I think it will be sometime next month, so I'll be sure to post about it, probably repeatedly so I can bask in my almost-fame.  The best part is I didn't even submit anything - they found me somehow, which is just crazy.

I got some product pictures taken this morning thanks to the sucker-bribery technique.  So cute, right?

However, my little monster has decided if I'm taking pictures of her, she's taking pictures of me.  Evidently this is what I look like when someone says, "Look at me, mommy.  Now make a monkey face and think about butterflies."

One part I really liked about the show Saturday is that people gave me lots of product suggestions.  I've got a few things in the works that I'll share with y'all soon.  I have to squeeze in loads of sewing time because (maybe stupidly) I've decided to do the Ben Davis Homespun Holidays show Thanksgiving weekend.  The people in the Etsy forums with all their enthusiasm pushed me over the edge, so I'm sending in the application tomorrow!

It makes me a little nervous to commit to another show when I just did my first one, but I figure it can't hurt.  I've been working on getting my stuff in to some more local stores, so what will probably happen is I'll get a ton of wholesale orders, sell everything at the Irvington Halloween Festival, and have to replenish it all for Homespun Holidays.  Gee, that would be a TERRIBLE problem to have!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My First Craft Show Recap - Rocky Ripple Festival

So the Rocky Ripple Festival was a success!!  I am so relieved to have my first craft show under my belt and I could not be any happier with how it went.  I love getting compliments from friends and family when I show them my stuff, but it's even better to get positive feedback from complete strangers! 

The festival started at 11 am, so we started setting up at around 9:30-ish and were done just in time for the first customers.  Things started out kind of slow, but I had lots of interest - people just want to pick up those bunnies, so that drew a lot of people in.  Also, my wonderful husband made me some apron and bib displays that drew shoppers like magnets to the crayon aprons, bibs, and the kids' aprons.

I started to get a few sales, and before I knew it, the booth was looking a little thin.  I gotta tell you, that cheap knuckle-buster credit card machine is a piece of you-know-what.  I had a HORRIBLE time with it (although Mom seemed to have made friends with it).  I felt really inept trying to swipe people's cards, but it worked out in the long run and I'm sure I made a few extra sales by taking cards.  Propay makes it super easy to process the cards, but I did have one card get declined - luckily it was only $18.

Some Things I'm Glad I Had
Granola bars (there was only one food area, and the line was SO LONG)
Diet Coke and Water (the drinks were with the food)
Stickers for the kids
Extra tags and signs (I had missed tagging a few things and had forgotten to make a sign or two)
My daughter's quilt (made a great colorful table cover)
My mom's old doll cradle (perfect place for the bunnies - people made a beeline for them)

Things I Wish I Had Brought
More business cards (I had around 50 and they're GONE)
More snacks
More crayon aprons
More gift sets (these were way more popular than I expected)

I use these spreadsheets on Excel to track inventory and sales, so before I left for the fair Saturday I printed out all of my inventory in a spreadsheet.  I checked off everything that sold so I could balance my money at the end of the fair.  This worked out especially well because Mom and I just put all our money together.  It also made it really easy to open my Etsy shop back up and remove everything that sold at the fair.

I sold probably a third of my inventory, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time.  Now I have to replace that inventory (plus add more) before the Irvington Halloween Festival in a month.  The kicker is I'm going on vacation for a week in October, so I really only have three-ish weeks.  It'll happen, right?  A few extra cartoons won't permanently damage the kids, right?  I don't need much sleep, right?

I'll give you some more details later this week - it was interesting comparing what sells on Etsy with what sells in person.  Let me know if there's anything else you all want to know about my maiden craft fair voyage!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last Minute Craft Show Prep

Yesterday my wonderful sister-in-law watched my kids all day so I could get some stuff done for the Rocky Ripple Festival.  I know I've said it before, but it is amazing what I can get done in an empty house!  I got everything tagged and ready to sell.  I also made some cute aprons - whatever's left after Saturday will go up in the shop next week after I bribe my little model with suckers.  I couldn't help but make myself a little apron to wear while manning the booth too.

I do have to run to Cash and Carry and pick up bags for those hundreds of sales that are surely coming my way.  I've been trying to prepare myself for the worst and hope for the best - even if I make (God forbid) no sales, at least it's practice selling at a craft fair, and it's getting my name out to people.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful - sunny and 72 - so if nothing else, I'll get to enjoy being outside all day.

Today I'm going to pile everything I need in the kitchen so Kenny can help me load my car tonight.  I went through this ridiculously comprehensive list yesterday and made my own (somewhat) shorter list of things to bring.  Let me tell you, I love a checklist - they make me feel organized.

Disappointingly, my SEO experiment seems to be headed toward failure.  My views are back down to where they were, and yesterday was even slower than normal.  It may be a combination of factors, though - yesterday I didn't add a new listing until almost noon, and my traffic peaks at 9 am.  Then, I was having Photoshop issues and didn't get my second listing up until 6:30 or so.  I'll give you a more detailed recap next week.

This weekend will be slow for views for sure - I'm going to put my shop in Vacation Mode Saturday so I don't have to worry about selling something on Etsy while selling the same thing at the festival.  For those unfamiliar to Etsy, Vacation Mode makes your listings inactive for a set period of time so no one can view them.  I'm pretty sure that's going to put quite the damper on my weekend page views.

Speaking of vacation, I'm not sure what to do when I'm actually on vacation.  Do I leave the shop open with a note that I won't be able to respond for a few days?  Or do I put the shop in Vacation Mode?  I probably won't have much traffic coming through when I'm not posting new stuff, but I'd hate to miss a sale.  I know sometimes buyers don't even read the shop announcement, so should I put a note in each listing?  If there are any Etsy sellers out there with advice, I'd love to hear it!

Look out for the Show Recap on Monday and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Changing up the Shop for SEO

Thanks to all that SEO research last week, I made some changes to my Etsy listings on Friday.  First, I added the line "bobaloo! unique handmade gifts for kids and baby" to the beginning of each item description.  Then, I added "handmade" as a tag on every item except for the prints.  I also tried to add more keywords to the item titles which I think looks a little awkward.  If the new titles bring in more traffic, I guess I'm going to have to learn to like oddly long comma-filled titles.

I also rearranged some item descriptions so the most relevant descriptive terms come first.  For example, instead of the Diaper Clutch description starting with "The Diaper Clutch is a stylish accessory for every mama on the go", it now starts with "This listing is for a Diaper Clutch in a 2D Zoo print by Alexander Henry, lined with a cocoa circle print".  I don't think I changed them all, but that's definitely something I need to be conscious of for future listings.  I gotta tell you, changing all that stuff was monotonous.  I had 37 items to go through - I can't imagine what changing 100 items would be like!

I think it's a little early to tell, but I think it may be working.  Here's a screenshot from Craftopolis of this month's views.  The number over the little purple guys is unique visitors, the number below that is pageviews.  See how much higher yesterday (Monday the 20th) was the than previous two Mondays?  I'll give you guys an update later this week.

This screenshot also illustrates the wonder that is making it to Etsy's front page.  See September 1st?  That's the day I was on the front page.  My views stayed up for DAYS.  On Friday the 10th there was a link to one of my products on Prudent Baby, so that's why there's a healthy spike in pageviews there.

I got a fun new toy last week - a little Zyron sticker maker.  I bought it with a coupon at Michael's on a whim since it was less than $15.  I made some cute stickers to hand out to kids at the Rocky Ripple Festival this weekend.  Hopefully I have enough left - my daughter has been sticking them all over herself and her brother all week.  I think I may make labels for my packages with it, too.  I read somewhere recently that the scrapbooking craze is grown women reliving their Lisa Frank and Mello Smello obsessions of childhood - maybe that's why having a sticker maker is so much fun? 

I have a blog housekeeping question for you guys.  Do you prefer I respond to comments right in the comment section, or email you directly?  I like the idea of responding in the comments section, but I know I forget to subscribe to new comments via email when I comment on other blogs all the time.  Plus I like everyone being able to see the conversation.  On the other hand, I don't know how often people come back after commenting to look for a response.  Any opinions?

Friday, September 17, 2010

SEO and Product Testing (which means something free!)

After that first rush of orders, my sales have pretty much screeched to a halt.  I did have one last night from a friend (hi Kara!), but my pageviews are slipping slowly and I gotta shore up the dam before things get ugly.  I think my experiment with listing at my busy times may be helping a tiny bit, but it's too early to tell.  I REALLY want to be in a good position shop-wise when holiday shoppers start buying, so I'm doing my research now.

I'm going on a tangent here, but the holidays are on my mind today and  I'm obsessed with this holiday fabric.  It's Colorful Christmas by Riley Blake and some is on its way to my house now.  It is rivaling my love for Michael Miller's Funky Christmas, and that says a lot.

Back to business!  I've been reading and reading and reading about search engine optimization, or SEO.  SEO deals with setting up your shop and listings so they show up as high as possible in Google (and other search engine) results.  I'm still so new at how all this works, but I have been changing a few things around in my shop announcement (the message at the top of my shop page) and my item titles to use more common key words that people search for.  This great article on Etsy was a big help, and I thought this blog post on how Google Instant affects SEO was so interesting.  I'm going to work on implementing some changes over the next week or so and see how the shop views situation progresses.

After reading for a while, I tried playing around on Google Adwords.  I'm still thoroughly confused about that whole thing.  If I'm understanding its purpose, I'm supposed to enter an item name (like burp cloth) and see what keywords people searched to get to that sort of item.  I did that.  I got a page of stuff.  What to do with that stuff, I have no clue.  I'll let you know if I get it figured out.  In the meantime, if you have any good articles about AdWords you can point me to, I'll love you forever.

I mentioned in my last post that we just found out our one-year-old is allergic to peanuts.  Now I have to carry an Epi Pen around EVERYWHERE we go, so of course I needed something cute to carry it in.  This little pouch is what I ended up with after a four rejected versions.

Then it occured to me maybe I should sell these in my Etsy shop for other moms like me.  Since I'm new to carrying this bad boy around and could use some other opinions, I'm doing my first round of product testing!  It sounds so official, right?

So here's the deal.  I already posted on Facebook and rounded up four product testers, but I'd like one more.  If you carry an Epi Pen or know someone who does, leave me a comment with your email address so I can contact you.  The first to respond gets a free carrier/pouch in the mail in exchange for a little feedback.  You even get to keep it - hopefully it's so great you won't want to stop carrying it!  Oh, and the pouch needs a name too, so if you've got any suggestions I'm all ears!

Thanks for your help everyone!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Product Photography and Renewing on Etsy

Another great blog linked to my Fancy Burp Cloth tutorial this weekend.  Go check out Crafts and Deals when you get a chance - there are lots of links to great projects and tutorials!

I got a lot of sewing and picture-taking done on Saturday.  I redesigned my lunch bags and made a stack for the craft fair.  What do you guys think?  On the left is the previous version, on the right is the new version.  I think the newer one looks cleaner, but I do love the contrast strap on the original.

I also made a few more crayon aprons.  Those crayon aprons confuse me - they are getting tons of views and hearts on Etsy, but they aren't selling.  I'm wondering if they're one of those things you need to see in person?  I also REALLY need to get pictures of a lot of the products being used, kind of like this picture I took for the apron set.  I think it helps to see the product being used in order for a buyer to visualize using it themselves.  I'm debating taking some pictures of the products in action to use on the Etsy store and to make into posters for the Rocky Ripple Festival.

Speaking of Etsy, I've developed a renewing/listing plan for the next month or so to see if it helps my lagging sales.  For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, when a product is newly listed or the listing is freshly renewed, it pops to the top of search results.  The theory goes that the more you renew, the more people will see your product, which means more sales.  I was kinda on the fence about this until I read this excellent post about a very detailed renewing experiment.  It's hard to argue with that kind of results.

According to Google Analytics, I have the most visitors to my Etsy shop around 9 am and 6 pm (that first big spike in the graph is 9 am and the little spike farther to the right is 6 pm).  I'm planning on renewing an item or listing a new item every day at those times.  I'm not sure my visitor timing is all that accurate - the shop's only been open for a couple of weeks, and that front page feature probably skewed my visitor data.  Also, I typically list around 9 am anyway, so it's very possible that's why the views are high at that time.  I guess time will tell - I'll keep you all updated on how it goes.

If all goes well I'll have a huge pile of inventory for the Rocky Ripple Festival to show you later this week, but we'll see.  Our household is increasing by two kids for the weekend and I'm making a wedding cake for a friend of my mom's on Friday.

Also, we just found out Graham's allergic to peanuts.  Anybody have any good websites or books for me?  I have zero experience with food allergies so this is all new to me.  Thanks!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Business Cards, Wholesale, and Signing up for Propay

I got these awesome new business cards in the mail a few days ago.  I know I've mentioned them before, but really does a great job.  This time I ordered the full-size business cards and put close-up product shots on the front.  I think they convey a lot more information than my mini cards - they'll be good for handing out to people who haven't seen my stuff.  There are six different pictures on the fronts, and the backs are all the same.

I'm excited to hand these out at the Rocky Ripple Festival in two weeks (two weeks?!  when did that happen?!).  I also want to put together a wholesale price list and some kind of little portfolio.  I'm not sure I'll need it AT the craft fair, but I've been wanting to get some wholesale info together since I started so this is a good time to do it.  However, I just wrote up an overly ambitious list of products I need to sew in the next two weeks so we'll see if the wholesale information makes it off my to-do list.

Speaking of the festival, I just signed up for Propay so I can accept credit cards.  It was surprisingly easy - it took maybe ten minutes - and super cheap.  If you sign up through this link I found in the Etsy forums it's only about $30 a year, plus a percentage of each transaction - maybe 3.5%?  I'm not sure how the money gets to my bank, so I need to dig around on the site before the show to figure out how everything works.  I know they do offer a debit card that you can use at an ATM.

Last week I dropped these super-cute aprons off at the Irvington Iris Tea Room.  I love how they turned out and I wanted to keep them all for myself.  Actually, the ruffle one and the full size one are copies of ones I made for myself a few years back.

After making these, I decided I wanted to make a few for the Etsy shop, so yesterday I whipped up a coordinating women's/girl's apron set.  They turned out so awesome.  I promised Bridget a sucker if she poses for some product pictures today, so keep an eye out for the set to hit the Etsy shop this evening!

I'm tossing around the idea of posting a book review every week on here - any thoughts?  I've been reading a good amount of crafty business books and marketing books lately, so I thought it might be helpful.  I'm reading Why She Buys right now, which is about marketing to women.  Being a woman and all I thought this book might not be much use to me, but turns out I'm learning a lot.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Custom orders, big blog mention, and Twitter

I have so much new stuff to share with you guys, I don't even know where to start!

Let's see... I'm up to 8 Etsy sales, which is so great.  Two of those were custom orders, plus one was adding some embroidery to an existing item.  I didn't realize that custom orders would be such a big part of sales on Etsy - is this always the case?  I think custom orders are fun, so I don't mind.  Sometimes someone else's ideas will trigger a new idea for me, plus I get to make someone exactly what they want.

Oh, and I was mentioned on another BIG blog on Friday -  Prudent Baby!  I love this blog.  I just discovered it a few months back and spent a whole evening looking through the project archives.  I don't know if I was behind on blog reading, but I totally didn't catch the link to one of my bunnies when it came through my blog reader.  I was looking at my Etsy store on Saturday and saw that one bunny had an obscene number of views, and I couldn't figure out why.  Thanks to the people on the super-helpful Etsy forums, I tracked the views through Google Analytics and found out all that traffic was from Prudent Baby.  Crazy, right?

And speaking of Google Analytics, I was just introduced to Craftopolis thanks to the Etsy forums.  This site is so great!  You can log into Analytics and Etsy, and it produces a calendar with daily info on views, purchases, and new shop hearts.  It is so addictive!  Also, you can search to see which treasuries your stuff has been in, plus what tags people used to find your products.  I know all this information will be useful when I know how to actually do something with it!

I'm finally on Twitter, too.  I find Twitter a little... I don't know, excessive maybe?  I guess I felt the same way about Facebook a few years back, so I'm sure I'll come around.  I know it's pretty essential to business these days.  You can follow me @bobalooKids if you'd like.  I'm thinking I need to hunt down a "Follow me on Twitter" button for the blog similar to my "Like bobaloo! on Facebook" button - does anyone know if that exists?  I'm also reading the book Twitterville, which was recommended by a friend.  I'm hoping it helps me get the most out of Twitter.

I'll save the rest of the new stuff for later this week.  Tomorrow is my baby girl's first day of preschool, so I think this afternoon we're going to do something fun to celebrate.  And on a completely unrelated note, go read The Help if you haven't read it yet.  It's SO GOOD!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grand Opening Discount!

In honor of my original Etsy Grand Opening date, I'm giving a 15% off discount to all my Facebook fans!  Click the link on the bottom left to like bobaloo! and let me know you're a Facebook fan during checkout on Etsy (there's a "notes to seller" area).  I'll refund your discount via Paypal right away!

Click here to go to the bobaloo! shop

Thanks for all your support and for reading the blog!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Exciting First Sales!

I think whining to you guys about waiting for my first Etsy sale was a lucky charm or something, because it finally happened yesterday!  I left for lunch with a friend (and also whined to her, come to think of it) and when I came back, there was my first sale!  One of those treasuries I was in ended up on the front page of Etsy, so I'm sure that's what did it.

But wait, there's more!  I ended up with a custom order and TWO MORE sales later in the day, for a grand total of FOUR!  Here's the screenshot of the front page I was on - it's that bunny on the lower left.  The screenshot is from Craft Cult, which is awesome - they track all kinds of cool things for your Etsy shop.  That shop widget on the bottom left of the blog is from there, too.

Funny thing about those bunnies - I wasn't crazy about making them at first.  I made one for Bridget when she was little, and Kenny LOVED it.  He convinced me to make a few when I decided to open a shop, so I did it just to humor him thinking they would never sell.  Boy oh boy, was I wrong.  That's ALL that has sold.  I should probably listen to my husband more often.

Now I'm trying to figure out packaging and shipping.  I hadn't ordered boxes specifically for my stuff yet, so I had to use a box I had here at home to ship the first order.  After I boxed everything up, my shipping came to about $3.50, but I only charged $3 for shipping.  Boo.

I ordered some boxes from (which has great prices on their boxes, but their shipping is crazy high because you can only do next day delivery) that are a more appropriate size.  Hopefully that helps on the weight, or I'm just going to have to adjust all my shipping rates.  I want to add in my cost of packaging supplies to shipping, but I also don't want to have super high shipping charges.  This whole shipping thing is still a challenge for me.

We have a local store that has great prices on packaging supplies, so I'm going to go there today to buy packing tape for the boxes and kraft paper to wrap the bunnies in.  I had just a little bit of kraft paper - enough to package the first one - but this place has the big huge rolls that I'm sure will save me money in the long run.  And of course I had like two square inches of packing tape in this place.

I'm excited to have a busy day of packaging and shipping and shopping for fabric for that custom order today.  I'm sure the excitement for that kind of thing is going to last about two seconds, so I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.  Oh, and we are taking our big girl to her very first Meet the Teacher Night tonight! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...