December 6, 2017

The year in review - how am I doing in my webshops?


It's been quite a while since I last posted a blog post. I seem to have lost my blogging mojo unfortunately. And besides not being inspired to write anything, I have been busy creating new products for my web shops this year. It's an ongoing thing really. If someone ever tells you an Etsy shop is a form of passive income, kick their ass. You have my permission ;-)

Well, let's not promote violence in this season of love and light ;-) But really, there are people that think you can run a web shop 'on the side' while the money keeps flowing in. After almost 4 years of selling online I can tell you it is exactly the opposite. Even if you are not busy creating new products, your online selling venue has to be monitored on a daily basis. Now that the end of 2017 is upon us I thought it would be a good idea to share my online selling experiences of this year with you all. What went well and what went wrong? What did I learn and what am I going to change next year? Let's take a look...

 

WHAT I DID ON ETSY IN 2017

I have been selling on Etsy in two shops since 2014. One shop sells clipart and scrapbook papers, while the other shop sells Blogger templates, premade logos and Adobe Photoshop templates.

With both shops I tried to create a certain branding style this year. I guess after 4 years I kind of figured out what style suits me. So I created new product images and shop banners for both shops. And I am still happy with their looks, that's a good thing.

I also took a different turn in clipart style this year. I think I really found my own unique style, which is colorful, cute and with lots of golden accents. Maybe not for everyone, but dipping into a niche market is not always a bad thing to do.

In my other shop with templates I began focusing more on designs with watercolor accents. Not only is it really pretty, it's just the style in which I love to make things.

And, as an extra for my customers in my template shop, I created instruction websites. Clients that purchase a Blogger template, an Adobe Photoshop template or a logo design, can visit these instruction website for lots of background information and step-by-step guides. It's an extra service to my customers and at the same time I can quickly address topics when needed. You can find these instructions websites over here:

Blogger Templates Instructions Site - Installation & Managing a Blogger blog

Adobe Photoshop Templates Instructions Site - How to edit these layered templates to your needs

Logo Instruction Site - How to use and work with a logo image


HOW DID I DO ON ETSY IN 2017?

Of course my goal for this year was to top my Etsy revenue of 2016. And I can say that that has happened! Not by as much as I had hoped, but still, there is growth. Somewhere in October this year I passed the total revenue of 2016, so anything that I am earning after that date till the end of the year is considered growth.

Etsy itself was different though this year. Many changes happened and not all of them were beneficial to sales. In March Etsy changed CEO's. The guy that is now running the show has worked for Ebay, so while he's probably got a ton of knowledge on how to grow and online selling platform, a lot of Etsy sellers are afraid that Etsy will lose it's unique style and will become just another Ebay or AliExpress. I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime Etsy performed lots and lots of tests this year to see what tools and strategies would bring in more buyers. These tests are performed on actual sellers and buyers on Etsy. The result of this is that sometimes a test would work out great for my shops and I would have a couple of weeks with sky high sales, while during other tests my shops almost died. In the years before I experienced less of these extreme highs and lows, it seemed to be more constant. But change is inevitable in life, and it is certainly part of online selling.

What could also play a part in less constant sales is the fact that the competition is growing. Today there are many more digital design shops on Etsy than in 2014 when I started, and that number will only be growing next year. Instead of getting discouraged I needed to get creative: how to offer my customers a unique product with a good service? That is why I started focusing on my very own design style this year while also offering the instruction sites as an extra service.


EXPLORING OTHER ONLINE SELLING PLATFORMS

With the ups and downs on Etsy this year I realized it would be a good idea to put my eggs in multiple baskets. So I opened up web shops on two other venues: Creative Market & The Hungry JPEG.

Both platforms only sell graphic/digital design, attracting just the kind of client I am looking for. Since they are a lot smaller than Etsy, my revenue on these platforms is very, very small compared to what I make on Etsy. But it's and extra, and you should never turn down extra income, right?

While not bringing in as much as Etsy, these two venues have some very pleasant advantages:

- They don't ask for a listing fee of your products, so if you don't sell anything you are not out of any money
- They are fully designed for digital products, no physical products are sold through these sites. This means that all shoppers on these platforms know what they are buying. Resulting in less questions from customers and no upset customers that purchased something not realizing what it actually is. And that saves time, and stress...

Of course there are a few down sides as well:

- The commission fee is pretty high, 30% on each sale
- And payouts are only once a month, while on Etsy I get paid once a week


THE PLANS FOR 2018

If I want to realize some growth every year I will need to keep creating new products. I hope to grow my clipart shop from around 300 products to around 400 by the end of next year. That means creating about a hundred sets of clipart and scrapbook papers. Quite a bit of work, but lots of fun to do. The template shop has 230 products in stock as we speak and I hope to raise that number to around 300 by the end of 2018. 

Most new clipart sets and scrapbook paper sets will make their appearance on Creative Market and The Hungry JPEG as well, growing my products on there as well.

The biggest change however will be on Etsy where I will change currencies as of January 1st. As a seller from the Netherlands, my own currency is the Euro. On Etsy you can select any currency you want to sell in though. So when I started with the shops I chose to sell in US Dollars since most of my customers are from the US. That way they would always see a fixed price for my products, while I would have to swallow the conversion rate costs. 

Due to the current conversion rate between Dollar and Euro I am losing lots and lots of money on conversion costs. So after a good discussion with some fellow Etsy sellers that were facing the same issue I have decided to start selling in Euros next year. My clients from the US will still see the price of my products in US Dollars, however, there might be small fluctuations in the price amount as the value of the currencies changes from day to day. It's going to be a leap of faith because this could also put people off from buying my products. But it's worth a try for me.


A CONCLUSION

After almost 4 years of creating digital design and selling my products online I am still hooked on the concept. I've managed to create a nice additional income for our family while being able to work from home and having time to take care of the home and my teenagers. One of them has special needs and requires more guidance and help than the average 18-year old, and with this job setup I am able to do that.

Do I ever get discouraged or disappointed? Sure I do. I'm only human. When a client writes a nasty review, or when one of the Etsy shops goes days without a sale I question myself if I'm good enough, worthy enough... It's easy to get discouraged, especially when confronted with competitors that seem to do better. But then I remind myself that there is room for all of us.

To feed my family I don't need a million sales. I'm actually pretty content with how things are going and I hope that all my competitors and other self-employed online sellers are able to feed their families as well. And if you are thinking of starting your own Etsy shop or other web shop: just try it! It might surprise you how it works out 4 years from now...


Powered by Creative Market
Share if you like:

No comments

Post a Comment

© The Dutch Lady Designs | All rights reserved.
Blogger Theme Created by pipdig