Selling Online With Etsy

By Evelyn Ward de Roo

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How do you grab that 20-30 year old demographic who aren't strolling through your shop doors to buy custom framing?

Have you been contemplating how to expand your market with online sales but just haven’t known how to go about it? Perhaps Etsy is the answer for you.

It is the go-to site for artisans, crafters, DIYers and Hollywood designers. Touted in all the major design blogs, such as, Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, 100 Layer Cake, and Style Me Pretty, the Etsy platform is a well-known and very accessible portal to online retailing.

Etsy is all about art and decor; so it is the perfect fit for frames and framing supplies. And it’s reaching that market which you have been missing.

If someone in rural USA wants a handful of random-sized frames for wedding decorations the chances of them thinking about your shop or finding your website (even if you do have one with e-commerce) are pretty slim. More likely they will google "vintage wedding frames" and find this:

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In the top three rests Etsy. Etsy is an internet shopping experience which specializes in handmade goods, craft supplies and vintage finds. Similar to eBay, but without the auction aspect, Etsy allows anyone to open a virtual shop to sell handmade items, art, commercial craft/DIY supplies, and vintage (anything over 20 years old).

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Etsy provides you with an easy-to-use interface and a worldwide marketplace of over 42 million unique monthly visitors.

According to Forbes Magazine, Etsy is an online international craft fair, which has become a filter, "bringing together like-minded crafters and their customers." It boasted over $500 million in sales in 2011 (the last year for which stats are available) and it's growing exponentially.

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Because it is an online community plenty of information and marketing advice is available from forum discussions and teams.

Making the effort to set up e-commerce through your own website proves futile if no customers actually find your site. Etsy already has huge visibility and fantastic search engine optimization (SEO) so why reinvent the wheel.

Etsy affords traditional frameshop owners the opportunity to expand sales and attract new clientele on a stable site with excellent SEO.

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Marlowe Hill, Black Rabbet Framing Studio, Altanta has had modest sales since he opened his Etsy shop in 2010. He has a unified shop appearance showing off his handmade creations. His photography is excellent, one of the most important features of any online marketplace. He takes full advantage of the five available photos, showing all aspects of the item for sale: front, reverse, closeup.

Etsy gives you the ability to put a badge or Etsy Mini on your own website. This will give you the e-commerce you so desperately need. This is exactly what Mindy Studer, Fan Addict Frames, West Palm Beach, FL, has done. Her website features an Etsy Mini portal. In other words, she’s using Etsy for e-commerce.

She is making the most of her CMC investment by selling custom mats online in her Etsy shop.

You might as well face up to the reality that traditional frame shops are now competing with successful woodworkers like Signed and Numbered with a whopping 10,000 sales on Etsy since 2009.

Competition also comes from carpenters like 2DogsWoodWorking, Tucson, AZ. These online shops are grabbing the 30-something customer from right under your nose without you even knowing. Why not go head-to-head with these new competitors?

Delta Girl Frames, Nashville, TN, gets really creative with her handmade frames with black and white groupings.

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Susan Fae at The Art Tree, Calgary, AB, links her Etsy shop on her website to sell commercial supplies such as bumpons, ATG tape, security hangers, Roma readymades and even matboard drop outs!

A homemade ATG tape gun stand, picture hooks, or any commercial supplies you might use in creating a piece of art is fair game. Someone was even using old discontinued corner moulding samples for bird house roof edging!

What do you do when your customers want something reframed? Do you give away or throw out their old frames? Why not up-cycle them by spray painting them like this or this.

See what The Distressing Girl, Mobile, AL, has sold in less than one year.

Smith Picture Frame Co, Niantic, CT, sells moulding footage.

Just like any brick-and-mortar store, your virtual storefront will take some effort to set up and daily attention. Most good custom picture framing POS software will be able to track these online sales. Etsy gives you excellent stats.

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Good photography skills, but not necessarily an expensive camera, and clear titles with good listing descriptions will be needed to make your store really profitable. And, of course, familiarity with your postal system!

Etsy is not a panacea. But any attempt at new marketing techniques are bound to stir things up, if not by gaining new customers, at least with your staff.

For the low risk price of 20 cents for one four-month listing (think of that as your advertising budget), and the Etsy sales transaction fee of only 3.5% (based on the item price), you have pennies to loose and the whole world to gain.

Now is the time to up your risk factor.

Evelyn Ward de Roo, technical editor at SoftTouch Solutions Inc and WaveSong on Etsy, has been selling her mixed media art, knitted chair pads, and nostalgic vintage finds ever since her 30-something daughter got her hooked 3 years ago. Contact her to engage her Etsy coaching services.

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