Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Renewal Experiment Results...

Okay. I hate numbers. I need an accountant! Thankfully my friend AvalonStudios helped me run these numbers and I trust her! :) So go check her shop out because without her mad math skills, this experiment would have died out!

Alrighty, in case you've forgotten here was my plan.
Renew the SAME item on Etsy at various times of the day for 1 month. I ended up skipping every Saturday because that's my 'churchin' day and I didn't want to turn into a pumpkin for doing work on the Sabbath. But it all evened out to more than 30 renewals because I listed new stuff on occasion also.

Now these are numbers ONLY from my Mama's Little Monkeys Etsy shop. TECHNICALLY my sales went up on Detash City also, BUT I can't prove it was from the renewal without drowning in hellish data from Google Analytics and honestly there's not enough vodka to make me do that. So since the test was really ONLY for the MLM Etsy shop, that is what we'll look at.

I started on 10/25/09 and went until 11/25/09. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I started selling more nearly as soon as I started renewing.
Here's the rundown:

Total Sales Without Shipping (as shipping is not profit):                   166.00
Total Fees (not shipping but, relisting, renewing, transaction fees):        25.08
Total "Profit":                                                                                        140.92

That looks great to me.

At first.

Here's the thoughts on this:

  • It cost me 25 bucks to run that ONE Etsy shop for the 30 day period.
  • It costs me, well, zero to run my MLM Artfire shop because I write for HandmadeNews and get a free verified account. I do pay for my Destash shop on Artfire. For ten bucks a month for 2010. BUT the sales were not the same on AF for that time period. Just a fraction of what they were on Etsy. 
  • That 140.92 in profit then has to factor in these things: the times I undercharged on shipping and I had to eat the shipping; the items I sold at clearance just to get them out of the house; cost of materials and time. 
  • I would have to sit down and really figure out the time it takes to create the items sold, and it varies. But for the sake of argument, let's say I sew/craft/work on the business for approximately 4 hours a day. Which is true. I may not be sewing that whole time, but I'm packaging, shipping, creating, promoting, organizing, doing books, etc. That's 24 hours of work a week (6 days a week) for 96 hours for 30 days. So, if I divide 96 into 140 I get about 1.45 an hour I got paid.
  • 1.45. Really?
  • I mean for real, I could work at fast food here and make 8 bucks an hour STARTING pay! (we pay a lot post Katrina).
  • And I haven't even factored in taxes in this equation. I need more vodka before I do that.

So what is one to do about this? Obviously sales went up when I started renewing. Ironically the very item I kept renewing (I renewed the same one to keep it consistent) NEVER EVER SOLD. EH??? So renewing, in theory, seems to equal sales. But at what cost?

Now, granted, I don't do this to roll in the dough. I do it because I like to create, I like to do something JUST for me, I like the online community, I enjoy the challenge and I generally enjoy doing it.

But what if I did NOT like it? I'd be slaving for 1.45 an hour?

So here's my plan:

Continually to occasionally relist. I have built a decent customer base, and there are items I repeatedly sell like my Swiffer pads. I will continue to promote my Artfire shop MORE than my Etsy shop (since I don't pay any fees there and I like AF better. There I said it!) and that is where my domain links to.

I have multiple shops, and those kind of take care of themselves. My soap shop is really more to show to wholesale inquiries because that's how I prefer to sell soap. My flower pens are just there...if they sell, they sell! :) Again, good for wholesale inquiries. My destash shops are a combo of purging my multiplying piles of supplies and of providing decent handmade supplies to other artisans.

Here are my thoughts for other artisans:

  • Use multiple venues to see which fit is right for you.
  • Etsy needs to lay off the damn transaction fees. 3.5% is too high when you sell an item for a high value! If you sell and item for 50.00 you paid 1.75 in a transaction fee, plus listing fee (and how many times did you pay to renew it?) PLUS paypal fees. Sure it SOUNDS like just pennies but when you start to add the up, your profit goes down and down.
  •  Artfire needs to step up the promotion. Sure they are growing, but they need to compete with Etsy. Etsy is still not a household name, although it is growing more and more popular. I have seen it mentioned in magazines at least once per month. Where is Artfire's mentions? I am the first to say that Artfire is doing a fantastic job in keeping sellers happy, making our jobs easier. BUT if we don't have buyers to promote to...what's the point? Etsy has buyers for us but crappy service, crappy favoritism, and admins to laugh at.
  • If you have a big enough customer base, consider just running your own website or domain. Or if you only sell for wholesale purposes, list your items and renew only when absolutely necessary. Then you can keep your Etsy bill low. 
  • Renew responsibly. The item I renewed was my Chalk Cloth bag. Thus far, no one else on Etsy in the first 10 pages of searches has one just like me. They have bags SIMILAR but no one has a lined back made of chalk cloth that holds a pack of chalk and wipe. Is it because of this unique item that I stayed on top? Would this renewal experiment have worked if I sold jewelry? Look at your competition and see what you have that is unique to renew. (but not SO unique no one thinks to search for it.
  • Get on TEAMS! Build your prescence online! Get your name out there!! Build friendships, comradarie and have FUN! If this isn't fun, why are you doing it?
  • Get prepared for competition. As handmade venues grow and grow (and you should also anticipate it might burst at some point) you need to stay current and on top of trends. Sites like Etsy are being touted in magazines as a great way for people to make side money. If you sell jewelry and 100 new jewelry stores open up ever day on Etsy, where does that leave you?
  • Be prepared to step away and say goodbye. If you are going in debt, not enjoying this, and it's stressing you, it is okay to take a break. Put your shops on vacation, take a break, and get back to creating because you LOVE to create, not for the almighty dollar.

I hope this helps some!! Remember to do what you love and love doing it!



2 Virgos Designs said...

Amy, this is a fantastic article! thanks for running the experiment. I will reread this one, much info here to consider.

C said...

Very good article. Much food for thought regarding the handmade selling venue. Thank you for sharing your experiment.

Anonymous said...

WOW! You said it all better than I was thinking it all...

Awesome, possum!!!

Miss ya girl...

DogsMom said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. Gives me more to think about, but that may not be a bad thing...maybe.


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