Inspiration ramblings – lessons in selling by someone who is still learning how to!

Online selling is relatively new to me and one that is constantly evolving and ongoing learning process. The internet is contantly changing and evolving so if you sell online, you have to evolve with the changes. I am at a loss at times myself as I negotiate the internet, social marketing, and the how-tos of selling and marketing yourself online so I make it part of my business to research and to learn new things that are important to me. 


Now before you jump to conclusions I am not quitting. The reason I decided to write this blog is because I was scouring through the Etsy forums yesterday and I stumbled across a forum thread where a woman declared that after being on Etsy for 3 months and having  little views and  very few sales she was leaving.Most of the responses to the post were quite supportive, perhaps a little too supportive and kind. There is nothing wrong with this and its lovely to see people jump in with their thoughts and supportive statements to covince this seller to stay. But for me, with all the sugar-coated responses I found it quite frankly unrealistic in terms of someone telling this seller the truth.  In fact, I don’t know why this seller even bothered to even start the thread when she was hell bent on leaving anyway. So, it got me thinking….

Now generally I don’t like pointing people out but I decided to take a look at her shop. Now, mine is far from perfect, I know that because I know this is a constant learning process and I strive to always improve on it with better photos and presentation. Kind of like what we do in life – we all want to change, improve, learn from mistakes and grow. But i digress.

I took a look at this seller’s  Etsy store and this is what I found:

1) She sells crotchet scarves, woolly things etc, and she set up her shop at the beginning of summer. Why would anyone buy a winter garment at the beginning of summer?  You are not going to sell winter products during the warmer months. Nobody is searching for winter stuff in summer?!

2) Her photos quite honestly were terrible. Apart from the one photo which may have been a fluke, all were taken with a cheap instant camera with no lighting, composition or thought going into the photo. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but if you are going to ‘present’ your products online there is no way anybody is going to desire YOUR product with photos looking like they were shot by your Nanny with has no clue about cameras who drank a  little too much sherry at cocktail hour. No offense to Nannies who drink Sherry of course. So you have to wonder why anybody would feel inspired to actually buy something from this store!

At the end of the day (i love that line) YOU are responsible for your product and how you present it.


Artists ARE be responsible! You are not only creating, you are are marketing and promoting to SELL your work. This is part and parcel of online selling. In fact, this is the reality for any artist, whether on an online marketplace such as Etsy,  a painter or a filmmaker who wishes to sell a film recently completed.

Outdoor Markets

Take, for example a large outdoor market which takes place one weekend every three months. A market that draws 30,000 people, let’s say.

You rent a stall which costs $800 for the 3 day weekend. On top of that you have to decide on HOW you are going to present your products. Will you be throwing your products on a table or will you be putting them in carefully thought-out displays? Also note – the market organisers do not personally market your stall. That is up to you. And, you are competing with other stall holders and possibly other competitiors who make similiar products to you.

So I come back to Etsy. Esty is no different, except it is an online marketplace. Except for one thing – you are not just competing to sell you products from the same a geographic location, but worldwide. Imagine…there are thousands and thousands of online stores, millions of buyers out there all competing to sell. With Etsy, you rent a space – the rent is in the form of a listing fee of 20c. you pay a commission on the sale. It is no different to a shop which sells your item on your behalf (and takes a commission) or a market where you pay a stall fee. You profit from Etsy by the fact that they have a large customer base coming to buy products from their marketplace.

So with that in mind you have to present yourself with a nice stall i.e. nice photos and kick arse descriptions. Customers can’t touch your products so you have to present  them so that a customer finds it so irresistable that they must purchase it. And yes, you do have to take really good photos, the best photos they can be because this is the only visual way of convincing somebody to buy your product.

So here are my thoughts which I must read everyday to remind myself and motivate myself:

  • Take ownership of your business – Marketing is not someone else’s responsiblity but yours.
  • Online selling is a business and takes work. You are your own boss and you decide on the direction.
  • You have to advertise your product. People have to know about your product in order to come to your store. Simply reliying on visitors finding you, no matter where you are will not bring you kick arse sales.
  • You are your boss, you are in control and YOU have the power to make things happen!!

Good. Now that I have convinced myself (and I have to read this to convince myself each day) I am going to go out there and do my best to kick arse!

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Mad Sugar!

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  1. Kitty says:

    I totally agree with you !
    You’ve to be patient and you should work everyday, “adjust your tactics” too.
    I don’t believe in luck but in work and in grabing the right occasions.
    The most difficult part is as owner, we aren’t always able to judge our shop / our presentation.

  2. MadEmoiselle Sugar says:

    Hi Kitty, thanks for your comment. I agree it is difficult when you are a sole entrepreneur you do have to do everything. I think people are deceived by the idea that if they put something online to sell everybody will come rushing to buy stuff. Which is not true. I’m still learning, its trial an error. And I always appreciate constructive feedback. : )

  3. queenofcuffs says:

    How well you make this point – makes perfect sense and tells it like it is.Effort and thought – then more effort.
    It is so easy to think (at first) that filling an etsy shop will get sales. Reality is different. But I still believe it is a fantastic and affordable ‘gallery’ for work with the added hope of selling !! Lack of sales has not dulled my enjoyment or belief.
    Would love if there was a comment page in each shop where shop owner could leave a list of questions for feedback(without names)- might work better than hearts!

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