Monday, November 8, 2010

Do you ever get discouraged?

Just curious. If you are trying to sell your handmade items on etsy, do you ever get discouraged by lack of sales? I realize you can't just list your items on etsy and expect buyers to come flocking to your virtual doorstep. I know it doesn't happen by magic, and that it takes time and marketing strategies to get people to notice you.

Giveaways on my blog? Check.
Giveaways on other blogs with a lot of traffic? Check.
Networking? Check. I've made some really good friends this way, so that's been a huge plus, sales or no sales.

Sponsorship for specific events, like Bloggers Quilt Festival? Check.

Being published in a magazine--even with a cover photo? Check.

Any sales from the last two?

Nope. Not even one.

A lot of positive and encouraging comments, but nothing that has translated into a sale. Wow. Is that humbling to confess.

I'm feeling discouraged. When you hit a slump, what do you do? How do you get your creative mojo back? Do you think of quitting, and instead just sewing for the fun of it?


05 08
Brenda said... #

you've nailed it....sometimes it is more fun to quilt or sew because you want to,not because you want to make money from it. you're doing all the right things in marketing yourself but sometimes it just takes time.

Terriaw said... #

Yes! I do get discouraged like this too. I've done many of the same things you have done (except for getting published in a magazine). I've taken a couple blogging and marketing courses this year to get outside help. From everything I have read from etsy and many other makers, the key is to believe in yourself, make what you love, love what you make, and keep plugging away. It's a matter of time to find the right market/audience for your products. So keep on keeping on!

Anonymous said... #

I think it's a tough market to be in - there are lots of people who would love to turn their passion into a career but there is so much competition. I had an online shop for a while and whilst lots of people raved about it I only got one or two sales and found myself trying to think more of what other people might like (and therefore buy) which just took all of the fun out of it for me. I decided to craft purely for the enjoyment of it and put my energies into making things for my home and gifts I knew would be appreciated by friends and family rather than stress myself out about it all... But having said that you are doing all of the right things and if you enjoy it then don't give up :0)

Anonymous said... #

Now that you have painted one of your walls "battle ship" gray you have to hang in there like a battle ship. You might have lost a battle but you have not lost the war! Too bad you painted over those cool sayings on your wall you could read some of them today.

Hang in there you have way too much talent and gifts to give up.

A Double Diamond friend

P.S. how about a blog on your new decorated sewing room?

Needled Mom said... #

That is discouraging. I guess that I would just continue to dive into a fun project. You can't take it personally because your work is fabulous!

Jen said... #

I'm sorry to hear this! Don't get discouraged though! Unless you don't want to do it anymore. And always sew for fun and enjoy yourself! I always wonder about etsy shops and how they do. I have so many "non-quilty or crafty" friends that see my stuff and tell me over and over that I should get an etsy shop and sell some of it. But all I think in my head is that there are so many people out there that do and I wonder if they actually sell anything? I contemplate it sometimes, starting an etsy shop, but then chicken out. I may do a post in the future to get feedback from people that do have an etsy store and how they do. Mainly because I've got lots of quilts in progress that aren't really for anyone or anything. So what do I do with all these quilts that I make now??

Well good luck with whatever you decide!

Grandma G said... #

We've discussed this a bit already, so you know my thoughts. I wish I knew what to say to ENcourage you. I like what the others have already said (and especially your Double Diamond friend, except don't start a whole new blog about your sewing room... just do a 'post'. Or is it a screen saver? ;) )

Love ya, girl. Just keep doing what you love. You'll know what to do about Etsy when the time is right. And Christmas is coming... maybe sales will pick up for that!

soggybottomflats said... #

I get discouraged with my etsy shop too. Do you read their emails on etsy? I always feel hopeful after reading them. One of the tips I try to adhere to is to quit stalking my shop, lol! I have even started putting overseas countries in my items, "Will ship to Australia....", and that works too! I just hope it picks up during the holidays. I loved your getting published in a magazine, how cool is that? Lets all wish each other better luck. Elaine

Asiyah said... #


I gave up my Etsy shop for this reason specifically. Now I make commissioned quilts based on word of mouth and repeat customers. My client gives me colors and a "general" look they are going for but the design/final product is all my vision. It's a nice way to parlay a hobby into a business without going crazy over it. So far, so good.

I hope everything turns out okay for you, Etsy or not.

randi said... #

it's hard to hang in there sometimes! i don't really have any advice except to keep doing what you love. maybe you could try some new products with your "signature" look. that would help with repeat customers.

i do hope the sales pick up soon!

Cynthia said... #

One thing I have discovered about Etsy and the online quilting/crafting blogging community in general is that a lot of the people who see your blog/Etsy shop are crafters and bloggers as well. There are pluses and minuses to that of course--yes you make a lot of great friends who share similar interests, but then you end up also trying to sell to those same people --who see your ideas and have the skills to make it themselves, rather than buy it (hence the millions of patterns also available on Etsy). The trick is finding the people that would rather buy what you're selling than take the time to make it! Holy cow this is a long comment--I looked at your Etsy shop and I have several ideas of things you could do to mix it up marketing wise that I was about to write on here...but I hate to give unsolicited advice in an already super-long comment! If you care to hear rambling from a random girl who stumbled on your me. :) Good luck!

9patchnurse said... #

I know what you mean. I can't even get comments on my blog. I have thought about an etsy shop but hesitate because of what you are saying. But, zowee!!you got into a magazine! That's awesome. Congratulations and good luck. Hang in there.

Anonymous said... #

I'm sorry you're feeling low. I love what you do, I'm sure if you keep going you will make progress.

Kaye Prince said... #

I'm sorry Cindy! I know it must be really hard, I've thought about starting my own shop but when I see people struggle like this it does get really discouraging! I feel sort of the same way when I put a lot of work into something and only get a couple of comments on the blog. I mean I don't blog to get comments but it would be nice to get the validation every once in awhile!

Letterpress said... #

Maybe people are like me. I don't use pincushions, never have. The one you made me I use daily--but I use it as a weight to hold my books and papers (I'm a teacher).

So, maybe diversify? Reach out with different products? I'd LOVE to see an iPhone cover made with your bits of whimsy. And maybe a further foray into paper weights (the other weight I use came from an architectural shop--they use weights all the time to hold down their blueprints). My mother's getting an iPad for Christmas (shhhh, don't tell) and is that a market you might explore? As an adjunct, I use a pencil case--I have no office so I have to carry my office in my bag. Have you thought about those? All these little cases lend themselves brilliantly to your creativity with selvages and words.

I used to sell my crafty things, and should be selling a different type of product--my writing--but as I see my friends "market" their fiction and non-fiction, I see it's a tough world for sales of quality work of any kind. And I'm a big chicken.

My major professor used to say that the world is a big NO. You just have to chip away at the edges until it goes away. Thanks this post, because it allows us to reach out to you and say, Hang in there!

Contact me if you want to work with some of these ideas and I can explain what I mean further. In fact, I'd like to place an order for a pencil case for my friend right now! I'll email you, or send me a note.

Elizabeth E.

Anonymous said... #

Have you tried marketing outside of the world of quilters? I think your pin cushions are lovely but as I am a quilter I have a giant bag of selvages and think "I can make that myself" (though realistically I can see that yours are much nicer than anything I could make.)

I also have to say that I've never followed a link to something in a giveaway (I usually enter the giveaway, thinking I will look into buying one if I don't win and then forget all about it) and I almost never bother to visit sites listed in a magazine (I can't be bothered to remember to check out sites next time I'm at my computer.) What does work for me? Coupon codes. I am a sucker for 20% off codes or free shipping.

Katie said... #

Your marketing is working for me, because I was your third sale! It was the flea market fancy that got my eye, and that i could use the pin cushion every day (i do).

What about selling a pattern or how to on the selvage pin cushions? you market to sewers, and we like to sew. You could specify that anyone buying your pattern couldn't reproduce for sale (to limit folks stealing your idea).

you can do it!!

sewtakeahike said... #

I agree with Randi wholeheartedly! Keep doing what you love and you will get noticed (like your pincushions! getting published is a huge victory by the way)! I can always tell when someone is creating from their heart, or just making something to check off a box. Keep marching to the beat of your own drum, there's only one you!!

Xandi said... #

It sounds like all your marketing is to people who could sew the items themselves, if they wanted to take the time. What about the millions of people who are afraid of sewing machines?

Brighton Breezy Sarah said... #

I love your pincushions and you are so inspiring ...

... but I think Xandi and Letterpress have good points - a few non-pincushion items would provide gifts for us stitchers to give to non-stitchers, for example!

When I was selling my prints I also sold in a few key gift shops locally - it brought in more online business (but that was over 10 years ago when things like etsy didn't exist)

Speaking internationally, the whole customs charge for anything over $28 is a real pain here in the UK and stops me from ordering such loveliness as I've been badly stung ...

Please don't be disheartened - keep on going but maybe widen your horizon to reach more potential customers?

Nicki Lundeen said... #

You should try craft will have a lot better luck there. (I'm the one that sent the earrings). I struck out on Etsy and pulled my items. Don't get will find your niche.

Jennifer said... #

I've thought a lot about this over the past day and I think when I get discouraged, I have to remind myself why I started making things to sell in the first place. For me, I did it because I enjoyed making items and wanted to share something handmade with someone else.

Etsy has gotten huge and it does take time. Have you considered setting up a shop on your blog? I have had far more success on my blog than on Etsy...

Just remember that YOU are unique and what you make IS special; you are not your Etsy sales!

Christa Wiens said... #

Others already mentioned this, but when I saw your post and that you already had 22 comments, I thought, "well she's getting good responses." And maybe there was a little envy in there. I say that to tell you that you are doing lots of things right!

I love the ideas from Kate and others for selling a how-to or pattern!

Mary said... #

Here are a couple really great resources I've discovered recenlty:

Best of luck to you- I know it's SO hard!