Monday, October 3, 2011

Winter Trend: Glitter

Walk through any craft store right now and you'll see one embellishment factoring into 90% of winter decorations: glitter. Yes, glitter. The material that never comes off your floor and clings to your skin like a parasite is even bigger this year than it was last year.

What does that mean for your shop? Go shiny or go home. Include metallic thread into your winter crochet. Add some iridescent glitter to snow in your craft scenes or ceramics. Choose those beastly fabrics with the shiny flecks woven throughout for accents in your sewing projects. Add glittery accents to your screen-printed clothing and accessories. If you can feasibly add shine, do it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

RJGOriginals Updates

Just a few quick updates to get you through the rest of the Halloween pre-season with our shop RJGOriginals.

  1. International shipping (not US/Canada) on all tombstones ends tomorrow. I will pull those options from all listings by Wednesday.
  2. All tombstone listings come down 1 October. Order by 30 September now to avoid being shut out till 2012.
  3. All Halloween-specific merchandise will lose international (not US/Canada) shipping on 1 October.
  4. All Halloween-specific merchandise comes down 10 October. Anything that could fit in a more horror vein year round gets re-categorized. Everything else is gone till 2012.
  5. That also means that the coupon code "SAVEHALLOWEEN," which gets you 15% off of your order, expires 10 October. It's good on everything in the shop.
  6. We will be adding crocheted hats to the shop by the end of the month. We are waiting on our local beauty supplier to get another shipment of foam wig heads in so we can photograph them in a professional manner. They're awesome. I want to steal them all for myself.
That is all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Planning for the Rest of the Year

Do you have your Halloween merchandise up in your Etsy store yet? No? Might as well forget about it now. By the time you make it, photograph it, and list it, people will be afraid of not getting their merchandise in time for the happiest time of the year. If you can be real quick about it, get the stuff up by Friday. Then you have a fighting chance at some sales.

What you should be looking at is Thanksgiving (if you do seasonal decor). What homey, earthy, turkey-minded things can you list in your store? Can you do place mats, napkin rings, centerpieces, dinnerware, or small decor for the holiday? Good. Get that done and list it by October to get a jump on the other Etsy sellers.

Everyone should be thinking about the holiday gift giving season. If you do Christmas decorations, get them up by the end of October. Make sure you categorize them as Christmas for the occasion option. Same with decorations for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa if you design for those.

More importantly, you need to take a good look at your shop. What items are you selling or about to sell that could be sold as gifts? Are they for men, women, children? Who is the target audience? Go through your listings and start to change out the Recipient category for the appropriate target. Onesies for boys are intended for baby boys; silk ties are intended for adult males; handmade teddy bears are perfect for all children; handmade diaries are great for teenage girls. You just need to look at what you have and think about who would want it.

The point of this is to optimize your search results. Much like tagging for relevancy, you want to optimize for the intended recipient for gift giving seasons. You don't have to do it for all of your listings. Chances are, if the person likes your line of pens for unisex adults, they'll click on your shop and see what else you have. You want to do everything you can to make sure that your items are the first things a potential buyer sees. Think about where you see your finished product or vintage item going and target it appropriately.

Then, by the end of the year, you better be listing your Valentine's Day merchandise and planning any year end/year beginning sales events.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sensitivity and Etsy

If you ask the typical Etsy seller if they are sensitive to the needs of others, you'll probably hear a resounding chorus of "yes." Yes, we care. Yes, we want to do good. Yes, we really are upset if someone says they're upset.

But if you ask the typical Etsy forum user whether or not its appropriate to exploit a natural disaster, national tragedy, or celebrity death for profit and you get a very different response. Instead of "maybe we shouldn't tag items 'hurricane irene' just to turn a profit," you hear "anyone who is against tagging non-related items 'hurricane irene' is for censorship." You'll see people sling around a bunch of big words that they don't know the actual definition of or question your use of a word like exploitation. We've been through this looking glass before and it's not pretty on the other side.

I could link you to a bunch of discussions on similar topics that have upset me in the past. I won't. I'll point you to the main one recently for context and get on with the point.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Opportunity: Kickstart the New Regretsy Book

Read all about it here.

Helen Killer, aka April Winchell, has written 10 original folktales about Finland that are most likely not even close to true. She hired Regretsy/April's Army illustrators to draw pretty pictures. The goal is to raise money to convert it into a full-color ebook, pay all the artists, and tour Finland.

In case you didn't know, Finland loves Regretsy.

This video explains it better than I can.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Treasury: It's Alive

I wanted to do another April's Army-driven treasury about Halloween. I figured I'd try to hit as many Etsy frontpage mainstays as I could without coming across as a parody. I think I managed it quite nicely.

For those keeping score at home, the Etsy mainstays are: 
  • objects photographed on books
  • objects photographed on library shelves
  • framed objects photographed on library shelves
  • stark white backgrounds
  • babies modeling hats
  • artists camping it up while modeling costumes
  • barnwood
  • things photographed on neutral backgrounds with a perspective line
This is not a commentary on these artists. I genuinely like all these objects. I was just trying to open up my mind to how to best appeal to a wider Etsy demographic with my more offbeat treasuries. It's working quite nicely so far. 

Don't be afraid of choosing items that fit the look of the frontpage. It might not guarantee a feature, but it could draw in some extra clicks, which could work their way back to your shop.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding Trends: In Store Edition

One of my favorite to do with design is to go shopping. I don't have to buy anything to get the most out of the experience. I'm just looking for ideas.

Big box stores--like Michaels, Home Goods, or Target--anticipate the upcoming season. They keep track of what the next big trend is supposed to be and fill their stores months in advance with the hot colors, patterns, and styles for the next season. Right now, if you walk into one of these stores, you'll see merchandise on the shelves to keep you busy until Thanksgiving. If you do an art or craft (or have access to a wide variety of on trend vintage items), you can capitalize on these window shopping trips.

Walk through the aisles of the store that are easily changed out. Does the store have a U-shape display area? Pods filled with merchandise in the middle of the aisle? Constantly redecorated end-caps? That's where you need to focus your efforts for anticipatory planning. Look at the colors, shapes, patterns, images, sizes, even finish--matte, glossy, satin, rough, smooth, dull, eggshell--to see what you can incorporate into your craft.

Halloween this year, for example, is going to feature a lot of black, purple, and red. Do you have items that fit that kind of tone--spooky but not violent--that feature those colors? Can you make items in purple, black, and red to fit that market? Do you have vintage items that fit those color schemes? Then get to making, photographing, and listing, because you can fall into the type of merchandise the shoppers will be looking for online.

They might not realize it, but they will be drawn to the colors they see in the store. Go ahead. Go to Michaels, Home Goods, T.J. Maxx, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, even K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and larger grocery stores and you will see fall and Halloween decor covered in red, black, and purple. Orange and green are still there, but they aren't the focus. You can't avoid these colors if you walk into any mainstream shop. Your potential customers will, subconsciously, be influenced by these in-store trends. This is why the products go out months in advance; the stores are telling the customers what they have to buy. Even if they don't shop for Halloween until a few days before the holiday, they'll want these red, black, and purple items. They'll want the glitter and they'll want the black silhouettes. They'll even be drawn to witches and zombies, two growing trends in 2011.

And you can hit that market just by thinking about what you can incorporate from the trends you see in the store down the street. If you're in line with the trends and offer a unique product, you might just snag a few extra sales than if you stick with what was in even a year ago. It's about researching and working with the manufactured trends. All it takes is a trip to the local store to get that edge.