Tag Archives | Etsy

Building Websites with Etsy’s Pattern

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Etsy can be a great venue for beginner and veteran creatives alike to sell their work online for a lot of good reasons. Setting up a shop is fast and easy, listing and selling fees are reasonable, and for lovers of handmade items it’s the go-to website for artist made work.

As great as Etsy is, it also has its drawbacks. For one thing, all Etsy stores pretty much look alike. It can be difficult to completely express your brand on Etsy, even if you have a strong one. And having a strong brand is a necessity on Etsy, because it’s a pretty crowded venue. It’s very easy for a creative business to be lost among the thousands of other artists on Etsy.

Last year, Etsy made a big step towards tackling those drawbacks with the introduction its website building service, newest service, Pattern.

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If you’re an artist or creative that loves the ease of running your online store through Etsy, but also longs for more design flexibility and ability to stand out more, Pattern might be a game-changer for you.

What is Pattern?

Pattern is Etsy’s website building service that enables you to create a standalone website that’s powered and managed by your existing Etsy store. Using current listings and store information, you can set up a Pattern website with a customized theme, colors, and branding within minutes. And all without any extra technical expertise.

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Customizing Pattern

Pattern has ten distinct themes that you can apply to your standalone website. You can preview what each theme will look like on a full sized computer screen or on a mobile device using listings from your existing Etsy store.

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Once you choose a theme, you can customize it in the “Style” section. In the Style section you can choose fonts for your headlines and body copy, set the background color for your website, and select a color for buttons and various accents within your theme.

The branding section has options for displaying your brand elements on your Pattern website. You can choose to display your store icon, your store name and your icon, or simply display your store name.

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Next you can select how you want your Pattern shopping cart is displayed. It can slide out from the side of the screen, appear as a dropdown display from the top of the screen, or be displayed in the middle of the screen as an overlay.

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There are also two styles to choose from for your store listings. The first style is a photo gallery that visitors can scroll through photos of your listings one by one. In the second style, your listings are displayed as a vertically stacked column that visitors can view by scrolling down the page.

In the Content section, you can customize your website name, your About Page headline, and the text on your Story Page.

Unlike your normal Etsy store, there aren’t any links to other stores on your Pattern website other than a small link to Etsy on the very bottom of the page.

Custom Domain Names In Pattern

All Pattern websites come with a default website address:

yourstorename.patternbyetsy.com

You can further brand your Pattern website by using your own domain name instead of the default Pattern address.

Don’t have a domain name already? You can purchase one directly through the Pattern website for $13 per year. You can create your own domain name and see if it’s available or can use one of the suggested available domain names. If you purchase a domain name through Pattern, it’s yours to keep even if you stop using Pattern in the future. You can also use that domain name to create a custom email address for your Pattern website.

If you already have your own domain name you can connect it to your Pattern site, though it will take a bit of fiddling with your domain name settings. Pattern has a guide to help walk you through the changes. If you’re nervous about doing this by yourself, you can have your domain registrar support team help you out.

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Marketing Your Pattern Website

In the Marketing section, you’ll find a couple of tools to help you market your Pattern website. If you have a custom domain name, here’s where you can set up a custom email address.

You also have the option of setting up an announcement banner for your website. Similar to the Store Announcement feature on your Etsy store, you can use the banner to feature sales, offer promotions or to simply welcome people to your website.

When it comes to the typical Etsy store, one of my biggest pet peeves is the lack of email list building support. Since building an email list of interested buyers is an important part of building a customer base, this is a really big deal. That issue has been solved with Pattern’s integration with Mailchimp. All you need to start building and email list on your Pattern website is an account with Mailchimp (which is free up to your first 2,000 subscribers). Once you have that, you’ll be stepped through that process of connecting your Mailchimp account to your website. Don’t have a Mailchimp account? You can sign up for a free account here.

(Full disclosure, I am a happy user and affiliate of Mailchimp!)

You can also verify your Pattern website with Pinterest so that you’re able to track pins and other Pinterest statistics from your Pattern website. You can learn more about the ins and outs of verifying your website with Pinterest here.

Blogging With Pattern

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the world of blogging, you can do so with Pattern’s fully integrated blog.

Once activated you can write and publish blog posts on your website. Visitors can leave comments on your blog posts, which are powered by Disqus.

Statistics on views for individual blog posts and overall traffic to your blog is included in Pattern’s website statistics feature.

Pattern Works Alongside Your Etsy Store

Once you’re all set up, Pattern will run in conjunction with your Etsy store. So in actuality you’ll have two websites that work side by side. Whenever you add a new listing to your Etsy store it will automatically appear on your Pattern website as well. There are no additional fees for your Pattern listings and all of your store data automatically syncs between your Pattern website and Etsy store. Etsy features like Guest Checkout will also work with your Pattern website.

You will still use your Etsy store to manage orders and shipping. Plus your Pattern website will have it’s own set of statistics to help you track traffic to your Pattern website.

Pattern Pros

Excited about Pattern yet? There are good reasons you should be:

1. Greater customization– If you’ve been itching to customize your Etsy store, Pattern will be just the ticket for you. With the option of ten themes, customized fonts and colors, and a customized shopping cart, you can make your Pattern website look pretty much the way you want it.

2. Ease of use– Setting up your Pattern website will be just as easy as it was to set up your Etsy store. No technical expertise required.

3. Email list building– If you’ve frustrated with not being able to contact your buyers after a sale or not being able to contact potential buyers at all, Pattern’s integration with Mailchimp will be just the answer for you.

4. No branding competition from Etsy– There’s a lot of competition on Etsy, both from other artists and from Etsy itself. With Pattern, the focus is all on you. Combined with a custom domain, it looks just like a regular website.

5. All of your store data is located in one place– Because Pattern is powered by your Etsy store, you have one single place to manage your listings, your orders, and your shipping.

6. Multiple locations without all the work– If you’ve been thinking about building a separate website in addition to your Etsy store, then Pattern may be a no brainer for you. You’ll have the benefit of another website presence without all the work of duplicating your listings or maintaining two websites.

Pattern Cons

A great as Pattern is, there are a few caveats to consider:

1. Customization options still somewhat limited– While Pattern gives you a wider range of design options, it’s still quite limited compared to using a service like Squarespace, WordPress, or Shopify. You’re also not able to customize which listings appear on your Pattern website. If a listing is on your Etsy store it will also appear on your Pattern website. If you’re hoping to put some listings on Etsy and some just on your Pattern store, it doesn’t look like there’s any support for that as of yet.

2. Additional cost– A Pattern website will add an additional $15 per month to your Etsy bill along with your normal listing and transaction fees. While the cost is fairly reasonable when compared to the technical aspects of hosting your own website or using a service like Shopify, you do need to budget the additional costs before you consider signing up.

3. No integration for an existing blog– Pattern’s blogging feature is great for artists who haven’t yet started a blog and wants to see what the fuss is about. It’s not so great if you already have an existing blog. At this time, there doesn’t seem to be a way to import your existing blog to your Pattern website, nor is there an easy way to link directly to it in your Pattern store navigation. The store announcement banner does allow one link, so that seems to be the easiest workaround at this time.

Conclusion

If Etsy is already a good fit for you but you want greater control over how your store looks, then adding a Pattern website may be a good choice for your creative business. You can test drive Pattern before you commit by signing up for the free 30-day trial here.

So what do you think? Have you tried Pattern yet? Do you have a site built with Pattern? If so, how has it been working for you? Share your thoughts and your Pattern website by adding a comment below.

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How well is your Etsy store doing?

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How well is your Etsy store or your online shop doing?

If you’re starting out there’s really not an easy way to answer that question. If you’re making some sales…then that’s good…right?

If you’ve been selling online for a while you may have a general feel of what number of sales is “normal”.

But is normal is good as it could be? Is there an objective, measurable way to tell if your website or Etsy store is doing well or needs some work?

The answer is yes. It just involves a bit of simple math that you can use to figure out if your Etsy store, online store, or individual listings are doing well or you need to improve a few things.

How well are you converting?

Big retailers use sales numbers all the time not only to tell them how forecast how much inventory they will need for the Christmas rush, when to start stocking certain merchandise, and how much they need to spend on advertising and marketing. There’s one statistic in particular that you should pay attention to when you’re selling online. It’s called a conversion rate.

Most people don’t simply arrive at an online store and just buy something. Only a fraction of the people that visit your Etsy store or online shop will become a customer. The percentage of people that are converted from being a visitor to a buyer is called a conversion rate.

Figuring out conversion rates involves some really simple math. Take the number of sales you’ve gotten during a particular time period and divide it by the number of visits you got to your website during the same time period. If you’re on Etsy you’re going to divide the number of sales by the number of views you got to your store. Then take that number and multiply it by 100. That will give you your conversion rate.

# of sales / # of views x 100 = conversion rate (%)

So, if for example you got 100 views to your Etsy store last month and you got 4 sales, your conversion rate would be 4%.

4 sales / 100 views x 100 = 4%

An average online conversion rate for the entire retail industry is approximately 2 – 3% (thanks to Lisa Jacobs for that stat!). That is, if you get 100 visitors to your website, on average 2 to 3 people out that 100 will buy something. Try running this formula for last month’s sales and see what figure you come up with.

Okay…so what does this number mean?

Did you figure out last month’s conversion rate for your store? If it’s higher than 3% percent, then it’s likely that you’re doing fairly well. If it’s below 2%, then this can be an indication that there’s some work that needs to be done on your store, whether it’s improving your product photos, your listing copy, or your pricing.

It’s important to remember that this number is just an indicator. When you’re looking at your conversion rate you also have to consider other factors as well. If you’re selling higher priced items, then your conversion rate will likely be a bit lower because a high ticket item can be harder to sell. Seasonality may be a factor.

Your sales conversion rate can indicate:

  • If your store is underperforming– A low conversion rate can mean that your product pages or your store overall isn’t doing a good job of convincing people to buy.
  • That you need more traffic– If you have a good conversion rate, but your total sales still seem low…then this can be an indication that you need to get more people to your store.
  • If a particular item is doing well or underperforming– You can calculate conversion rates for individual items to see what your real superstars are. It may seem like both items are performing the same, but you may find that one is converting better than the other. Or it may be an indication that a particular product listing or page converts better.
  • What your overall trends are throughout the year– You may find that your conversion rate dips to about 1.5% in the summer, climbs to about 4% during the holidays, and flattens out to about 2% during the months between. Tracking your conversion rate month by month will give you a clue as to when you need to increase your marketing efforts and when you’re likely to already have momentum.
  • Which venues are performing better– If you’re selling your items on multiple online venues…say your selling items on Etsy and on your own website…comparing the conversion rates of each venue can tell you where you should be spending most of your effort.

Forecasting with conversion rates

If you ever tried doing a business plan, there may have been one section that was probably the rear. The financial part where you had to predict how much money you were going to make in a year. Unless you have a track record of several years, that’s a hard one to forecast.

Fortunately you can use conversion rates to do just that. Simply divide your conversion rate by 100, then multiply that number by the number of your average views.

# of views x (conversion rate / 100)

Let’s go back to our first example where our conversion rate is 4%. Let’s say that you look over your Etsy stats and see that your store averages about 400 views per month.

400 views x 0.4 = 16 sales per month

Now, let’s say your typical order is about $25 per sale. You then use that number to forecast out your average monthly sales:

16 sales x $25 per sale = $400 per month

To get a rough estimate for the year, simply multiply that number by 12.

$400 x 12 = $4,800 for the year

Now of course this is a rough estimate. This isn’t a guarantee of what your sales will be…it’s only a forecast. Factors like spikes and dips in traffic or views will effect whether you met or exceed this number or not. If you know that your sales are seasonal, figuring out the highs and lows in your conversion rates can help you be more accurate.

Now what if you want to work towards making a certain amount of sales? Perhaps at the beginning of the year you resolved to make a certain dollar amount by the end of the year…or you resolve to increase your sales by 10%. What would that take really? If you want to take your yearly sales from $4,800 to $12,000 how can you do that? Your current conversion rate can give you a clue.

So, if your goal is to make $12,000 in one year, let’s figure out your sales amount for the month:

$12,000 x 12 = $1,000 per month

Again, assuming that your average sale is $25 per sale, divide that by your sales amount for the month:

$1,000 / $25 = 40 sales

Instead of 16 sales per month, you’ll need to make 40 sales per month to reach your goal of $12,000 in a year. Now how much traffic do you need to your Etsy store to make 40 sales a month? Assuming your current conversion rate of 4% (remember to take your conversion rate and divide it by 100), let’s figure it out using the conversion rate formula:

40 sales / .04 = 1,000 views per month

So order to increase your sales to $12,000, you need to increase your views from 400 to 1,000 views a month.

Remember…that this is a forecast. But it’s also a useful because it gives you a specific target to aim for other than just sales. It’s a little easier to aim for increasing your views or traffic than it is to aim for a specific number of sales. And breaking things down into a specific number can also help you figure out if your goal is realistic.

Great…but is there an easier way to do this?

Remember that this is all just simple arithmetic. But when math of any type is involved I like to make it as convenient as possible. One tool that I set up for myself is a conversion calculator in Excel (also works in Google Sheets). I simply plug in some numbers and the calculator automatically figures out the numbers for me. I included sections for the entire store and individual listings as well. I even included the traffic forecasting calculator as well.

I used this calculator to forecast how much inventory I needed for the holidays based on past traffic and I was surprised at how accurate it turned out to be. I shared this tool in my holiday giveaway 12 Days of Goodies. If you missed it you can still download the calculator here. Just add your name and email and you’ll get a download link to the calculator.

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TLDR
Keeping an eye on your conversion rate can help you monitor the health of your Etsy store or your online shop. Take 15 minutes or so to calculate your current conversion rate and make it a point to check it once a month.

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Business and Marketing Planning Tools for Creatives

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If you haven’t yet signed up for 12 Days of Goodies…why?? You’re missing out on some handy stuff for your art business. What stuff? For starters, content marketing tools for emails, blogs, and Instagram…oh there’s a some great ideas Pinterest in there as well.

But before you even get to creating great content you need to have a plan behind it. What’s the purpose behind your blog? What do you want to accomplish with your email list? Why are you on Instagram? Should you even be on Instagram?

And hey! The 12 Days of Goodies giveaway has some great tools that can help you plan your marketing, sales, and the direction and goals for your business.

How to Create an Annual Plan

Annual_Plan_CoverThe end of 2015 is just around the corner! This is the time slow down, reflect on the past year and make plans for your personal and business life for the upcoming year…and there’s no better way to do this than with an annual review.

An annual review can help you spot where you’ve been successful, where you need improvement, and it can help point you in the right direction for 2016. The very first goodie you’ll get is an Annual Review template and guide that you can use to start planning the path for your business and life in 2016.

KPI Tracking Templates

Every good plan has goals. And every good goal is something that you can track and measure…like how many email subscribers you get a month…or how many sales you made on your Etsy shop, or how much traffic your blog gets. Why measure your goals? Because goals are a funny thing…once you really start paying attention and regularly track your progress…the easier it gets to achieve them.

So how do you track the goals you set for your business? By using the KPI Tracking Templates you’ll get in your 12 Days of Goodies of course! (What’s a KPI? It’s short for Key Performance Indicator…which is just business-speak for measuring goals) There’s a sheet for sales, for traffic, for your email list, etc. In addition to being easy to use and handy, these trackers automatically fill in stats and percentages…so you don’t have to do the math yourself.

How to Get Traffic to Your Art Website

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So are one of the things you want to improve for next year is traffic to your website? Because traffic is one of the most important things that will determine whether or not you’ll succeed with promoting or selling your art online.

If improving traffic to your website is one of your goals, then “How to Get Traffic to Your Art Website” will be just the thing for you. It’s a 20-page strategy guide and planning worksheet the will help you build a traffic building plan and strategy for your website.

Etsy Sales Calculator

Do you sell on Etsy? Here’s a question for you: are your listings are as effective as they should be?

Answer: if your listings aren’t converting at least 2% of the views it receives, it’s underperforming. Simply put, your listings should be getting about 2 sales per every 100 views.

Now you could do the math yourself or you could simply use the Etsy Sales Calculator you’ll get as part of the 12 Days of Goodies giveaway to do the math for you. Plug in a few numbers and find out which of your Etsy listings need attention, which listings are doing great…or check on the effectiveness of your entire Etsy store. There’s even a sales forecasting calculator that you can use to see how much traffic you’ll need generate to your store to make a certain amount sales. (Psst…this is a great tool to use with your Traffic Guide)

2016 Holiday Promotion Planner

Holiday_Promotion_Planner_CoverIt’s the holidays, and if you’re anything like me or the rest of our creative tribe, this is the time of year where you’ll get the bulk of our sales. But it kind of stinks to have that big lovely flow of sales come in for two to three months and then slow down for the rest of the year.

What to do? Check out the “2016 Holiday Promotion Planner”. There are a ton of holidays and special events throughout the year that you can use to promote your work and even out those “slow” sales seasons. The planner includes a list of common and uncommon holidays and a handy worksheet to help you build your holiday marketing plans through the whole year.

Oh yeah…and there’s a weekly drawing

So as if the Annual Planning template, the Traffic Guide, the 2016 Holiday Promotion Planner, the KPI Tracking Templates, the Etsy Sales Calculator and the 7 other goodies you’ll get aren’t enough…there’s also a chance to win more free goodies. There’s a weekly drawing to win one of these awesome books:

Want to hear about last week’s winner?

Joan C. was the lucky winner of Lisa Condon’s, “Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist“. Joan is an artist who creates images that celebrate food and the culinary world for wall decor and licensing. Be sure to check out her work on her website at: http://www.jchamberlaindesigns.com

FYI: This week’s drawing will be for Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Dayby Sam Bennett

So is there REALLY no catch?

Really…no catch…this is all free. Just sign up below to get your 12 goodies and your entry into our weekly drawing from now until December 30th. Simple as that.

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Etsy, website, or both? Part 4: Let’s break it down

Now that we’ve gone over the pros and cons of Etsy, building your own website, and doing both…it’s time to decide which path to take.

Believe it or not, the decision isn’t based on the pro/con lists outlined in the last three posts. The decision is based on something far more important…your goals.

What are your goals? What are your goals for your business the long term? What are they for the short term? Where do you envision your business is going to be in the next 5 years? What do you have to do between now and then to get there?

In reality, the platform you use to sell your work, whether it’s Etsy or your own website, or a combination of both isn’t really isn’t the issue. They’re both simply tools. The important thing is deciding what direction you want to take your creative business…and then choosing the right tools to get you there. For some that might be Etsy, for others it will be their own website. For many it will be some combination of the two.

How do I plan to achieve my goals? The next step is to clarify how you’re going to achieve your business goal. If your goal is to go into wholesale and get your work into galleries and shops across the country, how do you plan on achieving that? If your goal is to build your business into a well known brand, how will you do that? If your goal is to simply sell enough of your work to bring in some extra money into your household, how are you going to get that done?

The plan you create for getting your work into galleries is going to be different than the plan you create if your goal is to make a little bit of extra money…or to build your business as a recognizable brand. Once you decide on what your overarching goal is the next thing you need to be clear on is what steps you’re going to take to achieve that goal.

Decide where you want to take your creative business, then choose the right tools to get you there. Click To Tweet

What method will help me achieve my goals? Once you have a goal and an idea in place and a plan on how you’re going to achieve that goal, you’ll have to pick the tool best suited to help you achieve that goal. If your goal is to build your business into as a well known brand, Etsy might not be the best tool for you. If your goal is sell your work with a minimum of hassle and fuss, then building a website probably won’t fit the bill. If your plan requires you to be flexible and have the ability to control certain aspects of the buying process, you might find that Etsy will hinder you in that area. If your plan requires you to spend less time on technical aspects and more time with other tasks, then the potential complexity of building your own website my slow you there.

You get the point. First the goal, then the plan, then pick the right tools for the plan.

Are there compromises? With a bit of thought you can figure out how to maximize the advantages of any one platform and minimize the disadvantages. If you’re leaning towards making Etsy your home, but building an email list is also high on your list (as it should be), you could create a blog instead of a full blown website and use that to build your list. There’s also an app called Handmade Newsletter that you can use in addition with your Etsy store to help gather email addresses from your listings.

If you plan includes building your own website, there are a number of ways to build a website that doesn’t include a great deal of technical expertise…this includes using a service like Squarespace, Shopify, or Paypal, or Ecwid. If you can’t afford to hire a designer right now and you don’t have a lot of technical expertise…or time…there are alternatives out there.

Where are you in your journey? Remember that your plan is going to change and evolve throughout the lifespan of your business. Jeweler Megan Augman first started selling her jewelry on Etsy. As she realized that the goal for her jewelry was to appeal to a certain niche and attract a certain type of customer, she migrated off of Etsy on to her own website because it was a better tool for her goals.

You might find it to be the same for you. When you’re first starting out, Etsy may act as a “starter home” for your business. As you evolve you might do as Megan did and transition to your own website. Or you might decide to transition from a simply writing about your work on a blog on to an Etsy store because at that point in time it’s the perfect tool for you.

Remember that you don’t have to start your business off with everything all at once. Building slowly and improving bit by bit is the best way to achieve your goals and to build up a sustainable business. Use the best tool for where you are now, then improve as time goes on.

Conclusion: Remember that it’s about the plan for your business…not the platform you use to get you there. Plan first…then pick the right tool to achieve that plan.

Homework: Get out a piece of paper, or grab a notebook or a journal and answer the following questions. What is my main goal for my business? Where do I want my business to be in the next five years? How about in the next year? What’s my plan for achieving these goals? What tools will best help me in achieving these goals? Share some of your answers below in the comments.

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