Saturday, October 03, 2009

Finding our Market in Etsy: Whether we want it or not Change is what We Have

Finding our Market in Etsy or anyplace else for that matter.

Whether we want it or not, Change is what We Have.

I know how much the market has changed just since February 2009. The truth is people are being very careful how they spend their money. They are buying not out of surplus, like they were two years ago, but out of what they actually need. Those who have taken the handmade pledge understand that not only are people looking for something unique but something that will fill a void.

My problem is: how can I possibly sell a $100+ miniature for $5. The choice is: do you devalue your original work? Sell prints? or just change mediums until you find a way to feed the shrinking demand. Or do you box up all of your ACEO's and put them away until the economy gets better?

This morning I read something on Twitter that hit home: "I find what the general population needs and then I make it."~Henry Ford

The key to our success is not going to be giving up on what we are good at, but it will be finding a better purpose and diversifying our lines of products so they actually meet a need. (I’m still searching that out myself.) One of the greatest things about Etsy is this whole idea of repurposing. Of course I’m always shocked when somebody comes on here and spends 2 minutes sewing a little material puff ball then attaching it to a bobby pin and makes 100 sales in two months( saw that last night on Etsy too)

That same seller might double her sales if she
1. is using old goods she is recycling for the product and
2. is selling for a cause (and I mean a popular cause).
3. And by promoting that in key words she wins the search engine roulette and might even make it to the first page.

So what are we doing this for?
To make a living? put our kids or our self through school? to meet a need of someone else? Because we are greedy capitalists? Surely not the last (especially if you saw my electric bill last month.) For most of us this isn’t a hobby. Its a desire to be self-sufficient and to create, then share that creation with someone else. This for us is a way of life.

Its so easy to know what our own needs are but one of the keys is going to be finding our market and meeting the needs those buyers have. Im not going to make suggestions as to how to change anyone's direction. I think we each need to search it out ourselves.

It might be that the answer is not in the format but in the subject of our art. If you paint flowers.. search flower in “All items” on Etsy and see what comes up. Or go in a different direction if the market is saturated with little tiny art work maybe someone should come up with an idea to sell display or decorating ideas for those tiny works of art. ( you ever try to find frames for a ATC/ACEO?)

I can give you two clues right up front. Whatever we do
Our items have to be well done and Our items have to be unique.

On ETSY average usually does not sell well.

ETSY is probably never going to be the ultimate selling venue for everyone. However ETSY is an important tool in getting a well thought out program of salesmanship, craftsmanship and "needs met sales" in places to sustain us, enrich other people’s lives and in my case, I hope what I do blesses people too.

We should never put all our eggs in one basket, either with what we sell or where we sell. It’s too co-dependent and doesn’t give us enough options in case one or the other has slow sales for some reason.

Personally, I’m in a state of change. I’m even questioning my own ability to make good art, not because of the economy, but because of the stress it causes in not knowing what kind of income will be available in the next day, week, or month. Its distracting and crushes the creative spirit. Lets face it disaster is immediate but living after the disaster is moment by moment. We all feel it but we are doing our best to adjust to it.

I am inspired by what I see in the trends and the focus of young crafts people coming up. But I also realize that I must change my own perspective to adapt. What people wanted last year is so different. We will succeed if we figure it out. Search it out, Pray about it, read some good Etsy or online marketing books that show you how others adapted and succeeded. Don’t give up on what you do, repurpose it to meet a need no one else has even though of. But be frugal about your change. Don’t just throw everything you have behind a new idea.. Add to what you already have little by little. Sometimes its going to mean stopping what you are doing and taking a good look at what everyone else is up to that works.

Actually, I think we have to be patient and proactive and very flexible. We each have to make that choice though. Its easy to rush in head long and do the wrong thing that puts our self out of business. Its harder to be patient, but flexibility is the hardest because it makes us put aside our ego. The challenge is to have victory, not only over our situation, but over our preconceived notions as well.

Yes we can! We can make Etsy and our other combined business avenues work for us. But our philosophy might have to adapt to the times. Hang on Ladies this is going to be a wild ride!