Poking the bear

I don't remember the last time we - as a family - had a chance to actually sit back and relax. I don't know if it's because we just believe we don't have any time now that Maddy's getting older or if my work is taking away what free time I used to have, but it would be nice if we - Keith, Maddy and me - could just stop all the fussing and rushing and go-go-go for a few days.

But, then again, if we did stop and relax, I think I'd have a breakdown because I wasn't doing something. I used to slack off with the best of them, but in the last few years - especially since Maddy was born - nothing drives me more nuts than doing nothing. Idle hands, devil's playground... well, not really. It's more of a 'I know I can be productive - let's see how' thing. Gets frustrating sometimes... tiring, too.

With three months of an open shop under my belt, there are many, MANY areas of this business that I need to focus on and learn more about. Promotions and marketing, for one; time organization for another. It's not enough to just produce pieces, you have to sell them to people, too... and putting pretty pictures of them online doesn't mean a damn thing. People can't see you if you don't show them where you are.

There's been a debate - for lack of a better term - in the Etsy forums for the last few months about why sales and views have been down. If you told me that without any back story (or accusations), I would think that a lack of sales would be because:
  • the economy still sucks. The government and banks and economists can all say it's getting better, but all those people who were unlucky enough to lose their jobs 18 months ago are not going to be spending money on luxuries; they're going to be paying off bills or putting away some extra money just in case this happens again.
  • the handmade fad is starting to wane a bit. A couple of years ago, when the economy started to nosedive, lots of people turned back to homemade/grown/produced products to save money. Lots of those people sold their products, too... and now everyone and their dog makes something to sell. Add in a flooded market and you've got the perfect storm as to why no one is buying anything.
  • there's a lot of crap out their and people don't have time (or the desire) to sift through it all. I went to the big local craft show last fall and wasn't impressed at all. There was a lot of amateur "crafters" who really should have just kept their work in their garages or basements to save themselves the hassle. I'm not saying what I do is the best in the world and that everyone loves it, but there's a reason Regretsy exists. 
  • people got lazy and expected Etsy to do everything for them, including promotions and marketing. And solve their problems. Surprised some didn't expect Etsy to also tie their shoes and brush their hair.
I'm in the 'I don't blame Etsy' camp, mainly because I see Etsy as no different than the facility hosting a craft sale. It's my job as a show owner to make people see that I exist. I am in charge of promoting my shop and making people want to stay in my shop to make a purchase. Sure, it's nice when people find me through Etsy, but based on what Google Analytics is telling me, very few people do. I get more visitors from Twitter, this blog and other blogs I comment on than through Etsy.

Does that bother me? Nope.

Why not? Because the internet is a big place, and I count myself as lucky everytime someone finds me through Google or Craftgawker or some other method. I refuse to blame others for my failings, unless it's completely justified and provable. If I want people to see my work and buy my work, I have to do the work to get them, their eyes and their wallets to my shop. It's as simple as that.

And the internet is ever-evolving. People need to realize that. Things change, and usually it's for the better. What's the harm in letting people do their jobs and accepting that sometimes, "fixes" can take a little longer than expected because, well, they just do.

I know it's quite possible I'm going to end up slammed for what I have said and I really don't care. It's what I honestly believe and would have loved to say it in the forums, but anytime someone tries to say something like this (ie. it's not necessarily Etsy's fault you have no sales), they get ripped apart by the complainers. I'm willing to learn my lessons and try new things to get people's attention; I refuse to let other people force me to stand idly by and wait for "fixes" that I shouldn't need to operate a successful business.

So, yes... marketing and promotion. Need to work on that. And tweaking my photos, as well as gearing up for fall craft sales. I may be trying to come up with some new products soon and hope to post about them as they come along... although, based on my posting history thus far, there's no guarantee. Perhaps there's someone I could blame for that...

(the marigold pictured above is one of many that I picked up today at the best garden centre in the area - The Green Spot. I hate marigolds as a rule - something that dates back to when I was 5 or so and ate some of the seeds... pointy damn things going down... but these marigolds are going to be used in my battle against mosquitoes and aphids. Wish me luck:) )

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