October 24, 2016

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My slowest month on Etsy since 2013 (and what I'm doing about it!)

I love Etsy. I do. It gave me the courage and confidence I needed to actually start my business.

But Etsy has been slowing down recently. My sales have been slowly drifting downward despite a positive uptick in new designs and new inventory. A quick check of the Etsy forums leads me to believe that a lot of sellers are feeling this slowdown. A quick, but negative rationale of this could be, "well, maybe my inventory just sucks," but thankfully my customers keep coming back and leave me glowing reviews for all my designs! They keep my spirits up and push me to fight for my business. 

So what does this "Etsy Slowdown" mean for my business in particular? Well, without getting into all the details, I will say that my sales for October 2016 have been the worst since 2013 (and in 2013 I moved cross country and had VERY little inventory to sell). I'm on track to sell only about 45% of what I sold last October on Etsy. Surely but slowly though, I'm learning that Kulayan can exist off of Etsy.

So what am I doing?

First of all I'm trying to not let it affect my life outside of business. As a small business owner, I tend to take things personally. It's hard to separate the walls of my life when me and my work are so intertwined.

When sales fall, it's hard to not blame myself and end up in a spiral of negativity. 

Try to see the silver lining in any situation

- I'm trying to not let it affect my business decisions either. Yes, I'm a maker and tend to take things personally, but I'm also the CEO of a small company. I can't get so locked up in the ebbs and flows of sales that I make business decisions based on the temperamental sales on one venue. 

When sales fall, it's so easy for me to think, "Well, maybe my stuff sucks and that's why I'm not making money." However I'm grateful to have wonderful customers that leave me positive feedback and come back to purchase again and again. I'm grateful to have had a few really excellent months, even a few excellent years on Etsy. So with this information I know that my stuff doesn't "suck" and I know that people like my clothes.  So what's the problem? Where's the disconnect between great designs, with great quality and low sales? In my opinion it's VIEWS. 

- Advertising is key. You can have the worlds best product, but if no one knows it exists, you're not going to make money. I started doing Etsy promoted listings a few months ago and I've made a decent return. I've maxed out my Etsy promoted daily budget, so what's next? Etsy just launched advertising on Google through Etsy, but here's the main reason why I'm not going to participate in that: You pay for the Google ads to be directed to your Etsy shop and your Etsy listings. However it's SO easy for the shopper (that you paid for), to be re-directed to other shops and other listings. Because the shopper can so easily jump from one shop to the next on Etsy, are you advertising your shop or are you actually advertising Etsy.com?

- Ok, so what else can I do? This is the single most important piece of advice I can think of to give someone just starting out so pay attention! --> Start your own website and advertise it like a beast! When you take out a Google ad for your website, and a customer clicks to visit your shop, your website isn't going to have ANY of your competitors items. Think about this and compare it to what would happen if you advertised your Etsy shop on Google.... Big difference, eh? I prefer paying for advertising that advertises my goods and *only* my goods. 

- What else am I doing about the low sales? I'm building up. Sounds crazy right? Why build up when sales are down? Well first thing is that I have a small but proven track record. I've had success on Etsy and I do have wonderful repeat buyers that leave me excellent feedback. That's what keeps me going in times of low sales. If I don't keep adding new things, then those repeat buyers are going to run out of things to buy from me and I'll lose my loyal customers. Not only will I lose them, but what about all my new buyers on Kulayan.com? They're going to want new designs too! It has to be a full circle relationship. Advertise to get them there for the 1st time, but entice their return with the promise of new content. 

So what am I doing about the low sales on Etsy for October? I'm ignoring them and redirecting my energy to my own website! It's so important to learn to take a step back from the details. As business owners we have to learn to not only look at the bigger picture, but to admire it for what it could be.