Friday, July 28, 2017

Better Not Leave Home

I was talking with a good friend of mine about our  blog and she is the most uplifting person I've ever known.  She encouraged me to start writing more in here so  here I am and today we are going to talk about Shopify versus Etsy.

As you may remember in our ongoing drama, Sandy, Linda, and I decided we'd had it with all of the changes on Etsy along with having absolutely NO control of our websites and for that matter, of our promotions or customer relations. And it is damned frustrating as 98% of us know.  The constant "tests" they run, awakening to find a message telling us to do this or that differently, it is NOT ideal. HOWEVER ..... let's look at other places (I'm sorta like a gypsy, roaming around and trying different sites). 

I had read about Shopify for over a year and everything I heard was wonderful.  AND Shopify is NOT bad ... its' the best site I've found but it's only for those who have lots of expendable cash and can BUY every app they offer, and for those of you who have the utmost patience, AND for those of you who are ready to start all over, from scratch, just like starting over at Etsy again.  Remember those slow days, weeks, and months until sales started coming in on Etsy? And then how long it took to get a LOT of sales each week?  Well, I can say from experience, I grew my shoppers much faster on Etsy than on Shopify.  AND we all three had mailing lists and emailed all of our existing customers. 

I did the building and it took me about three months.  IF you are a computer guru (and I'm pretty darned good) you might be able to do it in two months, but I doubt it.  The one GREAT, absolutely GREAT thing about Shopify is their support and service.  I called them more times than I'd ever called my kids when they moved to their first apartments!!  In fact, I'm sure the support personnel knew who was calling when they heard my voice.  It was awful .... I would be flying along, getting one part of the site set up and then I'd hit a snag; time to call.  They would explain what I'd done wrong and would remote in to show me things.  But picture yourself thrown into completely new environment after spending months or years in another -- nothing LOOKS the same, the terminology from the techs is different (small example -- home page, front page, title page are all different there). 

Then I had already tried WIX where you can import your items and which was a disaster ... so we did NOT import at Shopify -- we spent another three months copying our things over.  THEN messages pop up daily about "trying this" or "trying that" to "grow your audience".  AND they are NOT inexpensive. Google is like a big green monster waiting to get you into his/her talons ... been there, done THAT.  There are so many apps which Shopify talks about .... and we did end up paying for one which was in-house marketing --- at this point about six months had gone by. 

The day we opened we emailed our customers.  In the first week we had six sales (between the three of us -- actually between two of  us).  Then we sat.  We sat for months.  We sat for a few more months. I am NOT one to keep emailing my shoppers and neither are Sandy or Linda ... so we sat.  One of Sandy's reeally great customers followed her to Shopify and she DID have quite a few sales to her,  but the shopper herself said she found Etsy easier to use. 

It took me MONTHS to be able to move around in the shop without having to stop and think "now where do I go next?"  BUT the big thing was  NO TRAFFIC. I know Etsy's search is a mess but at least there ARE shoppers who come through every day.  AND if you've built a relationship WITH your shoppers they WILL find you. 

IF you go to another site to build your shop, it's up to YOU AND your POCKETBOOK to drive traffic.  AND sales are always slow in a new place so your pocketbook gets more and more slim.  PLUS no stand alone website is as intuitive as Etsy for the shoppers.    

If you happen to watch "The Sharks", nearly all of the websites of the contestants they invest in are built on Shopify.  BUT The Shark's technical team builds the website and teaches the store owner how to use it.  MUCH easier than on your own and trying to teach two other people what to do .. and two of them findings things and telling me about it.

SO we moved back and I sent another email to my shoppers .... and within a week my sales were back to normal.  Several of them told me they were sorry they hadn't bought in our new shop and all gave the same reason .... shopping on Etsy seems "safe" and "easy".  They hurried to say they did not mistrust me because most of my shoppers have been to my shop a lot more than once ... but they didn't like the idea of "putting their money" into someplace whose name they didn't even know (we had simply called it our website, which is what it was).   

AND I may yet again try Shopify but I've learned one extremely important lesson -- bounce around the internet. Look at shops.  And IF you decide to try another site, have only ONE kind of inventory. I have all of my "categories" in Etsy filled with very different items -- sort of like a department store. THAT does NOT work anywhere on the web (except for Amazon and Etsy).  If you specialize in one item your chances of success are better.  If you have enough money put back to buy into all of the Shopify  apps AND into google, your chances of success are much better.  (and I'm talking LOTS of money --- some of the apps are $100 a month).  AND if you do handmade and you have to sometimes fill "custom orders" forget it.  People shopping on-line are NOT going to wait for a custom order unless you are in Etsy where many things ARE handmade and they are expecting  the delay. 

I am definitely NOT an Etsy fan but after trying (I'm counting) four other sites, with the most time spent at Shopify, I would think long and hard before leaving Etsy.  You may, however, find a shop with my name on it out there it the gruesome internet -- but you will find only ONE kind of item in it!

my shop:  AnnsWhimsey

Sunday, July 16, 2017


If you sell on Etsy, and if you watched the NBC news  tonight you found out what I did ... we, Ettsy  sellers, have "come a long way babies".  The tag line for "coming up" on tonight's newscast was "what do Etsy and Uber sellers have in common?"  

FIRST think about that --- 10 years ago the lead-in would have been "what do EBAY and Uber workers have in common?"  and you can bet I'm right on that.  WELL tonight it was Uber and ETSY.  And they gave us a name which I've already forgotten (if you saw it, let me know what it was).  Basically the story was about what those of us who work part-time on Etsy (or for Uber) should do.  Their advice was #1 do NOT burn out ... limit yourself (like any of us can or will) and the second was make sure your money is going to pay off loans, or pay the bills ...  if necessary.  ANYWAY my favorite part of the spot was that it wasy "Uber and ETSY" and not "Uber and EBAY" -- :+)

Monday, July 10, 2017

If It's Good Enough For Amazon ----

FIRST ... don't miss our new slideshow ... to the right of this post ... and be sure to click on the "speaker" so you can enjoy the music!

Tonight Sandy told me "Christmas is selling" and I guess being on Etsy for five years has JUST ABOUT made me into a seller.  BUT I'm still hesitating on putting out my Christmas ornaments (for sale) and my restored Halloween and Christmas art.  I think it's because I've spent more than half my life married to a man who has a complete, total meltdown every August --- he has to run to the store and comes home saying  (not yelling .. he never yells) -- but saying with disgust -- "WELL the August Christmas trees are up".  It drives him batty.  BUT Amazon is having IT'S first big sale ... their "Christmas in July" so I guess I have to take that last tiny step to becoming a REAL retailer huh? 

This has been quite the year for both Sandy and me.  She went to Texas for her first visit as a mother-in-law.  And she had a wonderful time with her married daughter and her new son-in-law.  We saw our last grandchild graduate this Spring.  That was very bittersweet.  AND out oldest granddaughter graduated from college this year.  And the middle child, our grandson, starts his second year of college this fall.  Where DO the years go?  My grandma used to say that all the time, and the older she got the more sadness there was in her voice.  I'm starting to understand.

And my first announcement here of an upcoming event:  I WILL be starting my SECOND shop soon.  I know, you've heard that before ... twice ... once from three of us, once from two of us ... and we're down to just me :+)  Sandy, of course, HAS two shops ... and I certainly can't let Sandy outdo me!!!   BUT I have ALWAYS wanted that supply shop and this time I'm doing it alone.  I'm having FUN loading it up with all sorts of goodies ... and keep making myself wait until I get at least 400 items in there.  I'm not a patient person!!!

SOOO I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer -- looking at the calendar, within a month the kids will all be back in school!  Where DOES the time go???