Setting up shop again

#tags #branding #props #paperKrafts #store #etsystore #etsyshop #mybrand #bygothamchick

Resurrecting the shop seems to be taking a little more effort than I had expected.  Once upon a time I had opened PaperKrafts which, as the name implies, was all about papercrafted items.b in the short run that the shop was active, I think it did pretty week with the 8 sales I managed, and then it faded into oblivion.

I’ve been making cards for friends and have developed a new line of paper embellishments and have found myself with a bunch of untouched artisan handcrafted paper.  Add to that a newfound love for using pressed rose paper petals as elements for floral collage.. My crafty side kicked in and I decided I would give the shop another try.  

I have the first dozen cards ready to post, and I’ve been refining my write up template. I have also had to rewrite my shop policies and other shop sections, and that has taken a while to whip into shape. I want everything to be ironed out before I post anything, rather than post my items for sale and then backpedal to fix the parts of the shop that need fixing.

People may think running an online shop is done with just a click of a button and then a few keystrokes here and there, but a lot of thought and planning, usually by one person (me), goes into each and every listing. For now, my biggest hurdle are the photographs which I’m trying to produce, and which aren’t quite as simple as just taking a regular photo. You think of components to make up the entire presentation beyond just putting the card against a plain background or what not. So what to do?  Everyone is harping on natural lighting.. And that is what I am working with.

There’s also the hurdle of figuring out the correct shipping charges. While Etsy now offers calculated shipping, there is the problem of figuring out the initial package weight to start with.  This may seem such a small facet of the listing but I had to learn how important it was the hard way.  A recent sale in my other shop resulted in my absorbing a shipping cost way more than I had allocated as part of the shipping and handling fee.  When that happens, I have no choice but to cough up the difference as part of good customer service.  

While postage is non-negotiable, I am trying to keep the cost down by being creative with the shipping packaging.  The card itself is professionally packaged in a cello bag, but my cardboard backing going into the envelope is recycled Manila folder or other chip cardboard.  The envelope, I have announced, will be handmade packaging made out of colorful newspapers or magazines or Kraft paper and packaging inserts.  I just love how major retailers are now shifting from plastic bubble wrap to ecoFriendly paper stuffing.  

It’s not really a matter of creating everything from scratch.  Like I told my good friend, EhawkinsIllustration, there is a lot to be learned from others already selling on the site.  I encouraged her to view other listings and look at “Terms of Use” documents to be able to define her own.  And her shop is up and running.  Of course we all want to add a personal touch that is truly our own into our shops — and we all do that, but it is never a bad thing to learn from others.

I like browsing other shops, not just to look at what other sellers are doing, but also to find out what other have created and are offering for sale.  I am not just an etsy seller — I am also an etsy shopper.  We have a not so small community of small businesses that share a passion for the crafts that we pursue, as well as the entrepreneurial vibe that inspires us to try and make a dent in this world of thousands of like minded business men and women.

I often feel envious of those entrepreneurs who have quit their day job and are able to sustain themselves through their Etsy stores.  But I am also well aware that that jump requires a huge effort to make the running of an Etsy Shop seamless from posting to shipping, and of having a consistent presence online not only on Etsy but in the other channels of social media as well.

As far as that last bit, I’m trying.  I’ve learned that the “social” in “social media” actually means real-time socializing.  You cannot just sit on your account and expect others to follow you or bump into you through your hashtags and awe-inspiring tweets or photos on Instagram or Pinterest.  So I ventured out and found others, and while I haven’t quite topped even a 1000 followers in either forum, I’m learning that follow for follow actually works, and helps you to grow your network faster.  It takes effort and time, but it does produce results.

I’m working on it.. and I’m hoping to post soon..rebuilding the shop one brick at a time.