The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Etsy/Zibbet/Artfire Business

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The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Etsy/Zibbet/Artfire Business

dangerous-threat-etsy-artfire-zibbetIf you’ve been selling on one of these sites (or one like them) for more than a few days, it’s probably a safe bet that you belong to some “support groups” either on facebook or forums.

It’s also a safe bet that you’ve heard people complaining that they’re not getting sales, or that they’re struggling with getting traffic, or that they don’t know if they’re pricing their items properly, or… or… or… any number of problems. All these problems are huge, but all too often what you see (even from seasoned “veteran” sellers) are words of encouragement or very basic suggestions. I’ve seen it first-hand, time and time again. People telling others not to give up, maybe offering a few suggestions for pricing formulas or how to take better photos, but outside of that, nada.

No one understands what the most dangerous threat to ANY online business is, much less to one where you’re selling handmade items.

It’s your ignorance.

I’m not talking about racism or not getting your GED. I’m talking about not educating yourself about how to run a successful online business, and using all the tools available to you. All too often I see people toss up some camera-phone crappy photos, a description that reads like the ingredients on an oatmeal box, and then they tweet out their listings (and only their listings) or put them up on their facebook profile/page, and then wonder why no one’s buying.

Your ignorance is leading you in a very bad direction. It’s keeping you reliant upon someone else’s site to do all your marketing and promotion.  Not for nothing, while they can be great tools and many have made a great living with them, you’re nothing more than a needle in the haystack if that’s all you’re doing is listing your items and playing FarmVille while you wait for those customers to roll in.

As of right now, Etsy has almost 300,000 sellers.

Zibbet and Artfire are considerably less, but both have almost 500k pageviews per month as compared to Etsy’s 5.8M per month.

And yet, many sellers go month after month without a sale.

The Solution

  • You need to own your marketing efforts, rather than relying on the popularity of these sites to do the work for you.
  • You need to know the right way to use facebook, twitter, pinterest, and the like. THE RIGHT WAY.
  • You need your own well-organized and designed website, with a blog, on your own hosting account.
  • You need to know what to put on the site, and how to do it yourself, because it’s not that hard anymore.
  • You need to stop wasting time and then claim you don’t have any.
  • You need a proper, opt-in mailing list, with an auto-responder – and you need to feed more than your blog posts to it.
  • You need to think outside the box, and develop additional streams of income, beyond your craft.
  • You need to stop sticking your head in the sand and then getting frustrated.

Taking control and actually treating your work as a real, bonafide business is the ONLY way to make things happen. Slapping items up on someone else’s site, and then waiting for the cash to flow, isn’t going to cut it.

How are you going to kill the threat of self-employment ignorance?

60 Responses

  1. Sabrina says:

    Very well said. A lot of people have the mentality of “If I List It, They Will Come” … and not put any more efforts into their shops, and relying solely on twitter and fb fanpages as their advertising. 3 months go by and they wonder why there’s a lack of sales. How are they getting to their target market? What effort are they really putting into ensuring that potential customers actually see what they have? The answer usually is not at all.

    Well written article for sure. Worth reading and keeping in mind.

  2. Sunfire says:

    Very valid points, and I am glad you weren’t afraid to bring them up. Soooooo many people need to hear and heed these points, myself included.

  3. Aaron says:

    Excellent point, very well made!

  4. nonnie says:

    Thank you for this article. I am contemplating launching a small jewelry business instead of a part time job. I have been reading the forums and hearing exactly what you cited in your article. This is *exactly* what I needed to hear.

  5. I have been thinking that maybe I should have my own site with a shopping cart. I have an informative site where I show a few photos and a location page, but everything is on etsy and artfire. I recently signed up with zibbet. But I am thinking of taking my jewelry off artfire and putting it on zibbet and keeping the etsy site. . I was on etsy in the past and ended up putting it on vacation mode for two years because I got frustrated. I only had 3 or 4 sales. I have my jewelry in one store for the last couple of years. I have great looking jewelry but that’s not enough. A big part is marketing and that’s my downfall. it takes time to make the jewelry but then the marketing is so time consuming also. I wish that I had a marketing rep to show my jewelry. And of course someone to handle the Internet marketing. Patricia (patti m designs)

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      I tried really hard to love Zibbet. However their lack of marketing and their absolute foot-dragging on this so-called “update” that’s been going on for over a year has completely turned me off. Which sucks, because I’m fairly certain that I bought a lifetime premium account. So for now, I’m just hoping they actually come through with something, someday.

      I’m not saying that etsy/artfire/etc aren’t great for finding customers. But I think it’s important to drive them to YOUR site. (And I do the internet stuff… ;) lol)

      • Elsie says:

        Zibbet has been working very well for me. I’m marketing my Zibbet shop through FB, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr, DeviantArt, etc. I have steady sales and I REALLY like where Zibbet is going and growing for the future.

      • HeartPortal says:

        All the points you make are accurate. If we’re in business, it’s our job to promote ourselves. The beef I have with online business is that the platform is always changing (a bit of make work for the employees of the different selling sites) If they would present a business model & leave it alone we would all profit more. Keeping up with all the ‘changes’ on the different sites while running our business is (to say the least) FRUSTRATING! That being said, You Are Right, use these sites as marketing tools to send traffic to Your Site! Marketing is part of our business & it is also a part of our Budget/Time to conduct business. It’s important not to get sidetracked by all the changes on these selling sites, but it’s also important to monitor your profit/loss on these sites & adjust accordingly. Focus on driving traffic to Your Site because, I wouldn’t ‘put all my eggs in one basket’ unless I’m the one carrying it ;) Thanks for the post!

  6. Saying it like it is, a good proportion of these people should not be selling at all, their items are not professional and do belong on a table at the local Church craft fair, but it is all of us that keep these sites going and prospering, I have found over 30 sites to sell your crafts on and they keep going. Today you do need to be a shrewd marketing guru, self promoter, sales rep, merchandiser, blogger, social media icon, I don’t know, what else? It’s work, alot of it, with no “sugar coating” allowed, Thank You,

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      Liz – Sorry for the delay in responding to you, but you’re absolutely right. I actually have a list I’m working on of over 150 sites, depending on what you’re looking to sell, of course. I’ll be publishing that very soon! :)

  7. Chris says:

    Hi Lara. I like what you’ve written! I spend lots of time trying to drive traffic to my Etsy site with It’s better handmade…which is great at getting my pics to the first page of google, but it’s not enough. I am serious about selling my jewelry as a business, not a past time. I have my pics plastered everywhere, but it’s time I bite the bullet and get my OWN website. Where to begin on a limited budget…that is the question.

    • Trac You says:

      Time one spends improving one’s store is a waste of time, unless one is making sales.
      Instead one should make a basic website starting at $5 a month.
      Placing pictures and descriptions and drawings to beautify the page along with the price and terms will be yours forever without others approval, except for the customer.

    • Chris Kelley says:

      I’m back! I would just like to say Lara, that your article is what spurred me on to get my own website. I did it! I spend HOURS…sometimes not sleeping or eating (I have to remind myself to do that :-) to keep tweaking my website and joining and posting on as many relevant sites that I can. I told my husband that this is it…THIS is the year it happens.
      Thank you for inspiring me.

      • Lara Kulpa says:

        Hey Chris! So happy to hear you bit the bullet and have really been working hard at getting your online presence up to snuff!

        I took a peek, and the site looks quite good! Keep it up, and stay in touch! :)

        • Chris Kelley says:

          Thank you so much Lara!

          • Chris Kelley says:

            NOW I have to get people to find my site.

          • Trac You says:

            Congrats on your new web page, would like to see it.
            But, at this time in the economy, jewelry, is not what someone will spend money on unless they can’t live without it. I know, I tested the market. I lowered my prices to half of what it cost me to make, but still no sales. I still have a few pieces on Etsy, but only as a place setting.

            I do have an idea, that those making handcrafted items might explore. Here it is!

            I know it may sound a bit awkward, but one might explain in the introduction to the webpage, that it is understood that money is tight. That someone should buy the product in order that the person making it will not have to be holding up a sign with one hand, and a cup in the other, at an intersection near them.

          • Lara Kulpa says:

            I must disagree with you, “Trac You” – If you continue to live “in this economy”, you will continue to live in a poor one.

            There IS money being spent on things like jewelry, entertainment, art, and anything handmade. I don’t know what type of product you’re selling, but the truth is that when you price too low, you automatically make people think that your work isn’t of high quality. Who wants to spend money on something “cheap”? The people who don’t have money. The people who don’t have an appreciation for handmade work. The people who shop at Walmart for jewelry. Catch my drift?

            In the scenario you’re speaking, you are your own worst enemy. Advertising that “it’s understood that money is tight” will ONLY ATTRACT PEOPLE where money is tight for them.

            I’m absolutely unapologetic about my prices. I work hard, I am original, and I have excellent skills and taste. I’d rather sell one painting for $250 than have to paint and market 25 paintings for ten dollars a piece. It would take the same amount of time (or longer) to sell more, cheaper.

            Take pride in what you do. Spend time, use quality supplies, and charge a premium. Trust me, I live and breathe the research. There are people out there selling earrings for $150 a pair. SUCCESSFULLY SELLING. Necklaces for $450. It’s happening, and you need to stop selling yourselves short.

          • Trac You says:

            My previous post, mentioned I tested the market by lowering prices to half of my cost, but that was only one test, not my final marketing solution.

            You may be correct in saying that people are selling, handcrafted earrings for $150 a pair and successfully selling necklaces for $450. Handcrafted jewelry going at those prices must be well worth it.

            Having also done research, I have not found the economy in which you refer to have done yours.

            I don’t post, on just any blog, but I find yours to be, rather interesting.

          • Trac You says:

            Thank you, for paying attention to the comments, and pointing me in right direction. You are awesome!

          • Lara Kulpa says:

            Awhh, thank you!
            I love connecting with people, and doing what I can to help. I’m glad you’ve gotten something out of what I do. :) Thank you for coming and please, don’t be a stranger!

  8. gayle wu wei says:

    While I absolutely agree that you’ve got to be proactive in marketing your business, coming from corporate business, I also know that part of what you’re paying for in using an established online marketplace like Etsy or Zibbet is their ability to generate traffic (eyeballs)…it lowers your cost of doing business which is what all businesses strive for to increase their profitability. It isn’t easy to build out your own web site, master all the intricacies of search PLUS market using social media etc to drive potential customers to your site which is why many of us consider online marketplaces to begin with. I think its legit to be upset when a marketplace can’t deliver eyeballs (their added value) but if it isn’t happening then it’s up to us to consider other ways we can improve our business results.

  9. I applaud you for this writing. Better yet a standing ovation! These community site are great source as a vehicle only, but the driver must be the seller. It thats a lot of work to sell on line if you really want to be successful. Thank you.

  10. Katie says:

    Great post, but you don’t explain what is the RIGHT way to use social networking?

  11. Good points! I have done all of it too! I actually started with my own website and blog before going to Etsy. I blog regularly and send out newsletters every so often. (something I need to do more of) Whenever I have an etsy sale I send the buyer a little gift bag that contains a business card for my Etsy shop and another one for my personal website. It really is alot of work getting your name out there. You really have to be committed and diligent. The internet is huge and it is easy to stay a little fish in a big pond!

  12. Chris says:

    I believe that when we believe in ourselves…no matter what or who tries to stand in our way…selling jewelry in this economy can and DOES happen.
    It has been only a month and a half since I opened my virtual doors and we (hubby and I) are doing great! Not only is our Alexa rank down to 795,733 , but both Etsy and our own website are flourishing and we sell rather unusual items; mostly pagan headbands, handfasting headdresses and the like.
    Just thought I’d come back and leave my 2 cents. :)

  13. Your article totally rocks :)

  14. shirley says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly! It is now November 24 and lots of changes on E has occurred, sufficient to force me to re-evaluate my online shop. I am now working hard on building my own website and presence. My only regret is that I didn’t do this earlier b/c I am literally starting over.

    Thank you for your article

  15. Jake says:

    I somewhat agree & disagree, smaller businesses especially niche sellers can also have many benefits using a 2nd or 3rd store as long as they take care of it.
    I dont mind paying for if they make me money in return for selling my handmade steampunk jewelry & art…why?
    I actually think targeted at sub-culture inspired & alternative people is converting prospects to sales much better than other marketplaces (even my own website sometimes – I gotta find out more about design, usability etc.).

    I am using them cos I just dont have the time to study digital marketing…it is its own science and by having my own website it will be in nowhere land forever unless you pay someone to make it better, more simple to use & convert .
    There are always benefits & disadvantages but I am happy with my RM store (Pls have a look at my reviews too) and acquire new fans and buyers who visit Rebelsmarket because they know it isnt mainstream…

    • Chris says:

      Nice shop Jake. Thanks for reminding me about Rebelsmarket. I’ve been trying to find my niche market for awhile. I sell about 4 pieces a month at Etsy and my indiemade store is slow, but steady.
      I just applied at Rebel.

  16. happygirl43 says:

    Good article – hit it on the head! :D Wish more people understood that all businesses require effort, personal responsibility, business ethics, lots of time and dedicated effort, etc. If you want someone else to do the work, pay someone else to do the business end of it. That’s why so many art is sold through a third party and commissions are high. It’d be great if I could just sit and create all day and my things could sell themselves, but alas…that’s why creating is fun and the business end of it, is well, w-o-r-k.

    Wow, judgmental comments on the term “handmade” – whether it’s for a church table as one suggested or a museum quality piece, handmade is handmade and that’s for a potential customer to decide what they want to buy. I see nothing wrong with having all things handmade being sold on a site designed specifically for handmade. As opposed to etsy, whose definitions were vague from the beginning (20 year old shoes qualify as “vintage”)… Etsy encourages “pretty” or “hip” , trendy and homogenous- forget about uniqueness or individuality or the fact that there’s an audience for every craft no matter how ‘polished’ or mature. Etsy is and always has been all about appearance and money. Really? Putting a k-mart $1 charm on a $1 necklace is considered handmade by etsy. Especially if the charm is a cogwheel, an owl, a vagina…whatever is trendy or the embodiment of a buzzword – THAT’s etsy!

    I’m sincerely hoping that Zibbet can remain viable (profitable for J.Peacock) while maintaining growth and keeping true to handcrafted and artisan pieces whether they be a simple safety pin angel or an intricate piece of expensive fill-in-the-blank — the very point of handcrafted is the heart and soul put into the creation, the creator’s need to create and not the desire to make a buck.

    There’s a target audience for EVERYTHING.

    • Martha Janson says:

      I very much agree with your last line: “… the very point of handcrafted is the heart and soul put into the creation, the creator’s need to create and not the desire to make a buck.”
      My husband and others have told me I under price my items.

  17. Jess says:

    You have a good point. However, calling etsy and other online sellers ignorant for not having their own website is the pot calling the kettle black. It costs a lot of money to set up a website, get a domain name etc. Etsy and other online venues give people a chance to get started at least. Sellers aren’t ignorant, they’re trying to start small. Why spend $1500 getting a domain and website going only to find failure and ruin? And if you really think etsy/ online sellers are ignorant for not having their own sites, you could have included in your blog a list of sites to help people set up their own site easily and inexpensively. But don’t call people ignorant for trying something.

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “pot calling the kettle black”, Jess. I DO have my own website, and I do sell on many different websites other than my own. So I don’t know what you mean that I’m the pot calling the kettle black…

      And if the only price point you have is $1500 then you’re looking in the wrong place. I offer basic setup for less than $500 plus domain registration and hosting, which shouldn’t run you more than $80-100/year. So please, if you’re going to criticize my article, you could have done some research about who I am as an artist, and what I offer as a web consultant first. Not for nothing, but choosing to ramble on without doing so IS ignorant.

  18. b miller says:

    We live in a world of panty waists and crybabies. Everyone is coddled now, there is no “tough love” around anymore because it might “hurt someone’s feelings”. This article has good information. However on a venue like Etsy or Ebay that has a huge following this is what it really comes down to. A lot of peoples stuff really sucks, it’s crap because they’ve been told their entire lives that their sub par garbage was good. This is continued in the forums where you see people continually dishing out the same advise to the same complainers over and over again instead of saying “Hey you need to go start that piece of trash over, it looks like crap and I’m suprised that your support group has done the injustice of not giving you real world advise on your craftsmanship”

    I put up some products that people are shopping for and guess what….. They sell. I don’t promote anything. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as supply and demand and in many cases there is absolutely no demand for the garbage that some sellers list.

  19. Jason B. says:

    Great information, thank you. Artfire is the most reliable place to sell your products. Also add to the list, they will be leading marketplace in near future.

  20. Velvet Lujan says:

    I agree that work needs to be quality. Those who have taken any art class know their pieces will be critiqued. We need to be honest with craftspeople and artist. To constructively criticize, does not mean to “put them down”. Constructive criticism helps them to be a better craft person. Sometimes, it just takes the craft person to look at their pieces one more time and see what could be better. Do your best and it shows. I think we need to have more constructive criticism in our life.
    Your article worked for me. I need t be told,get out there and do it. Marketing and art don’t match in my book. I need to overcome my fears and just do it. Thank for the article. I hope this gets read even though the article was written quite a longtime ago.

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      Hey Velvet! Thanks so much for your comment, of course it gets read! :)

      “Sometimes, it just takes the craft person to look at their pieces one more time and see what could be better. Do your best and it shows. I think we need to have more constructive criticism in our life.”

      Truer words never spoken! I think a lot of times people wind up like those poor souls that go on American Idol and get laughed off, but continuously say things like, “Everyone LOVES my signing! You judges don’t know anything!”

      Really? They’re music industry legends, and you sing at karaoke. Your drunken friends and family tell you you’re awesome because they LOVE you. But they’re hurting you.

      That’s what I want to say to a lot of people sometimes… hehe

  21. Jim Juris says:

    When you sell on someone else’s website THEY are in complete control. When you sell on your own website YOU are in complete control.

    One of the disadvantages to selling on Etsy is that you have to pay a listing fee of twenty cents for each product that you list and that is only good for four months. if your products don’t sell within that four month period you have to pay another twenty cents for each of your products that you relist.

    Once you do sell one of your products you have to pay a final value fee of 3.5%.

    Not everyone knows about Etsy so if your products are not optimized for the search engines you are leaving money on the table. Even if someone is familiar with Etsy that does not mean that your products will be found by shoppers doing an internal search on Etsy.

    That is why optimizing your product listings for both internal Etsy searches and also for the search engines like Google is extremely important, especially if you sell products in a highly competitive market such as handmade jewelry.

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      You’re absolutely right, Jim. I’ve got a few things listed on Etsy, but I certainly wouldn’t make it my basket of eggs, nor would I suggest anyone else do that. I think it seems “easy” for some people, and while there are tons of people having amazing success with it, there are a billion times more that aren’t, and that’s because they’re probably doing it because it’s “easy”. :/ Lose-Lose situation there…

      • Jim Juris says:

        Lara, yes it is easy, but, all for the wrong reasons. It is easy to PAY Etsy twenty cents per listing every FOUR months. Twenty cents may not seem like a lot, but 100 product listings X $0.20 = $20. Many sellers have 200, 300, 500 or more products listed on Etsy. If a seller has 500 products to list on that so called “HANDMADE” selling venue that is $100.

        Although $100 is not a huge amount of money, that is only part of the story. The other factor is that should you sell something you then have the “privilege” of paying them a 3.5% final value fee. Sell a $20 product and you pay a $0.70 final value fee. That works out to a minimum of $0.90 to sell that product on Etsy. I said minimum because that product listing may not sell within the first four months. If you have to relist that product that will cost you another $0.20.

        Speaking of relisting, some sellers spend a lot of needless money relisting a product early just to get their product seen. That means that they have to pay another $0.20 because they relisted their product before the product listing expired. Yes, Etsy makes it very easy to relist a product a month, two months or even three months before the product listing expires, but, for the wrong reason because relisting does not guarantee a sale.

        If you know how to optimize your product listings for both internal Etsy searches and for the search engines such as Google, there is no reason to relist or keyword stuff your product titles.

        When I say keyword stuff a product title there is a right way and a wrong way to keyword stuff. If you see a product title that reads like it was written by a six year old because they repeat keywords over and over again, that is the wrong way to keyword stuff a product title.

        Here is an example of what I am talking about-

        Black Hawk Old House Photograph, Black Hawk Digital photograph, Black Hawk Old House Digital Download Home Decor, Wall Décor.

        When I was helping sellers improve their SEO on Etsy by showing them how to properly keyword stuff their product titles I taught them to make their product titles read like a regular sentence. That way you don’t waste a lot of the allotted characters that can be put to better use by using a number of keywords and also allowing the potential buyer to know pretty much what the product is that you are selling by just reading the product title.

        Here is an example of one of the products that I was selling on Etsy-

        Old House In The Rocky Mountains of Black Hawk, Colorado, Digital Download, Printable Fine Art Photograph By Jim Juris, Wall Décor

        Notice that although I did keyword stuff this product title, I did so WITHOUT repeating any keywords.

        The second example is going to be found within the first two to three pages of the internal Etsy searches for most keywords, and more importantly that product listing will also be found on the search engines saving the seller $0.20 because they won’t have to renew early in order for their product listing to be found.

        • S7Jordan says:

          Hi Jim, do you know of any articles that discuss how to optimize your Etsy listings for both the internal Etsy search engine and external search engines like Google? I struggle with Etsy sales in the super saturated jewelry category, so I’d really like to bring in more traffic from the outside.

          • Jim Juris says:

            Sorry, no I don’t. I provide that information in my shop critiques, but, it is not an article. I basically analyze each Etsy shop and point out what needs improving such as the product title, images, tags, etc. and why.

            If you contact me by going to my website, I will rewrite one product title of my choice for free and without any obligation or any catches.

            The rewritten product title may not be all that is needed to have that product listing rank high in the search engines such as Google because there may be other things that need improving in your shop or for that particular product listing.

        • Jenny says:

          Well HI Jim! What a surprise (not really, I knew you would still be around.) to find you here. And what good post this is too. Both yours and the creator of this page.

          Now you need to hear the latest news on Artfire. Since you left, they started peppering our listings with google ads. Only in a sneaky way. If sellers were logged in you never saw it. Only after finding this out in their forums was I made aware that right next to say one of my hand made pens is a link to some made in China knock off for cheap junk. Every listing had 14 ads on it. I had over 500 listings so do the math. Let me tell you I was beyond livid. Stayed out of their forums for awhile. Whole thing made me sick.

          Latest news (sent right to my email so didn’t ignore it) was because of all the “feedback” they decided to let people opt out of ads in favor of a 3. something % commission on sales AND shipping. ON TOP OF THE MONTHLY FEE. The “locked in” fees included. I got one of their last locked in rates. Not locked in if they can suddenly add commissions too is it?
          Not sure how new customers will be handled. Mass confusion over the whole fee structure last time I looked. And no one answering questions since Tony left.

          Well… I probably over stepped when I posted in their forums how I’d like to personally rip John Jacobs balls off with rusty pliers. Yea that was a bit much. But damn. Dishonest is dishonest. I was mad and just venting. Could have deleted it if that was all that hurtful. And besides, their forums are self governing and only seen by sellers, not anyone shopping there. If people thought that was too much, in the next 20 or so pages of complaints I could have been dinged into mute mode. (Probably too many agreed with me.)

          Well yesterday, I got an email that I violated terms and my shop is gone. My account is gone. Not even a patron account left behind.
          WHAT TERMS? They had no forum rules. I had perfect feedback. Never a complaint. Support won’t answer, email has not been answered. Found a phone number on another site for “complaints” to AF only to get a recording that the box is full so no messages can be left. Not surprised. So my mission now is to finally get my own site rebuilt, and to let as many people as I can know that Artfire is no longer the great site it started out to be. Don’t waste your time.
          And my GOD. Put them up in a window next to etsy. I swear they look the same. And now act the same. Dumb and dumber.

          Good news, my daughter who is a programing whiz, offered to help me redesign my site with a working store section.
          I’ll be learning new code starting today.
          So advice given right here is good. Do this on your OWN domain. Artfire isn’t the first to go down the stupid toilet. I’m done with venue sites for good now.

          For everyone reading this, please know my site needs work and I’m well aware. All I got done yesterday was remove links to my now gone artfire shop and replace them with my heated rant. That will be deleted. I know it’s not doing me any good. Just felt good to put out there even if only for a little while.

          • Jim Juris says:

            Jenny, thank you for the Artfire update. As you know, I have been saying for a number of years that – when you sell on someone else’s website they are in control and when you sell on your own website you are in control.

            It may be better to start building your website from scratch, especially since that as of April 21st, your Google search engine rankings will be affected on Google mobile search results if your website is not optimized for mobile devices the way that Google requires.

            This only affects mobile device search results, at least for right now. Roughly half of your traffic could be affected by this now Google algorithm update. If you have noticed a large drop in your website traffic you are being slapped by Google because your website is not mobile optimized.

            Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this. You should be able to just click on Jim Juris and be taken to my ShopCritiques website.

  22. laura white says:

    Thanks for a great article! Instead of just taking the plunge, I have been reading, looking at sites, seeing how people provide links on twitter, facebook, and pinterest, checking out the photography, etc. My question is, how many pieces should one open a store with? I have been deciding between etsy, artfire, and shopify, and it sounds as is etsy is the best place for a beginner to start, and then expand to the others once you start making a decent amount of sales. Is my take on this correct? If not, please correct me! It would be awesome for you to provide a comparison chart, tips on creating pdf’s for tutorials, etc, tips for marketing, setting up stores, etc, then selling your guide online. I know I would buy it! Thanks again.

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      Hey Laura – Great idea! I’ll see about adding that to my list for the next quarter… thank you!

      I don’t think there’s a finite number to start a shop with, but I will tell you that you want to list as much as you can, just not all in the same day. Let me explain:

      Let’s say you choose Etsy to start with. Your listings are good for 90 days or so, before they have to be renewed. So by adding 40 pieces today, you’re going to have to renew whatever doesn’t sell in 90 days, but in the meantime, you’ve got no action. Nothing new popping up.

      Ideally, regardless of where you list, you should spread things out. Maybe make Sundays your “new listings” days. Some sites even let you schedule when your listings go live. Then use social media and your list to build up the anticipation with your audience about what’s coming up in the next shop update. I kid you not… you’ll get more eyes on your shop that way in one day than you would in 90 doing it the other way.

      Personally, I think it’s great to spread yourself out there. See what’s selling where, and for how much. See about how much time you’re able to put into marketing yourself and your stuff. And don’t discount the honest-to-goodness need for your own website, where you can sell anything you like without paying listing fees to anyone. I’d still do the same “launch” type sales that way though, and build the anticipation. But don’t forget to add a box to the site where people can sign up for advance notice and so on – in the event that they don’t buy that day, they’ll be on your list and may buy the next time you do a big shop update!

      Hope this helps, Laura… thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I’ll keep you guys posted on a guide like the one you requested! :)

  23. Marilyn says:

    I’ve had my own website and unfortunately I know nothing about SEO and Google + and Adwords. I have had someone professionally do all of this and still haven’t gotten anywhere, hence, I’ve been thinking of doing a Zibbet store and selling on Facebook. Do you have any suggestions other than this change of direction? I pissed away a lot of money, feeling very ignorant in this area. My product is top notch, and the prices are comparable to other sellers.

    • Lara Kulpa says:

      Hi Marilyn – I’m so sorry you’ve found yourself victim to the “spend money to make nothing” cycle. It really stinks, and I totally get where you’re at. It sounds like the person you hired wasn’t really great at working on your type of need, and while it’s not an uncommon occurrence, it’s still downright maddening. I get that.

      I think maybe it’s time for you to definitely try something new, and something budget friendly for sure! Zibbet’s had a lot of growing up since I first wrote this post, actually, and I think it might be a great place to start to get some attention, sure. The problem is, people don’t shop there (even ‘window shopping’) like they do on Etsy.

      First things first, though… You need to get your website shored up some. It looks like it really needs some help in the “pretty” department. It looks very outdated and doesn’t tell me anything but how to buy what you’re selling. My suggestion would be to get yourself on self-hosted WordPress with a shopping cart and start blogging there, too. Maybe show some of your process, let your potential buyers in on who YOU are, so they can form that ever-so-important bond with you (even if it’s only in their own heads). People buy based on emotion. Right now, your site is JUST a shop. Nothing grabs you. Does that make sense?

      That being said, I have one more piece of advice… Get yourself a decent photography setup. Most of your photos look like they’re more like something someone’s listing on ebay and not really showcasing your skill, artistic style, and the true beauty of what you’ve got. The color is dark and kind of dingy looking – so you need to make those photos POP!

      Other than that – I think you should try Zibbit (maybe stick with one style or product at first), and then get your website up to snuff. It’s possible to sell on facebook, but you’d need something like Shopify to really make it work, and it’s best to have your own site anyway. I’d rather see you get your site looking professional and get your photos up to par first – then worry about where else to list stuff.

      I hope this helps!

  24. cameramanjim says:

    For those of you that thing that all you have to do when selling online is to list your wares and people will come and buy them, you are in for a rude awakening. If you are creating and selling jewelry or bath and body products you are competing in two of the most saturated markets out there.

    When I first started selling soap making supplies for a soap making supplier online back in 2002 I had a beautiful website created for me. It would be something similar to having a shop on Etsy, but back then Etsy did not exist. But, the problem was that the business owner and all of his other affiliate sellers all used the exact same website template. Everything was identical for everyone except for their website domain name.

    I started selling the soap making supplies for this company back in May 2002. I waited, and waited and waited and waited some more for my first sale. I September of 2002 I decided to make my own website since I was not making any sales from my fantastic product website.

    I called up the owner of the soap making supply company and I asked him to supply me with material that I could use to put together an informational website, which he did.

    I never created a real website before. I had taken one website design class back in 2001, but I forgot almost everything that I had learned about website design because I was not using what I learned.

    I went to Wal-Mart and I purchased a book on how to design a website using HTML and I created a one page informational website. I linked my one page informational website to my product website back in September 2002 and by October 2002 I started making sales.

    Eventually I added a second page of useful information to my informational website. Over time I added a third, fourth and fifth page.

    Several years later the soap making supply owner told me that I was making more sales than any other affiliate for his products. The reason that I was able to become the top seller for this company was because I took initiative. Failure was not an option. I spent a lot of money educating myself about selling online, advertising, photography, creating websites and SEO.

    I also made a lot of mistakes, but I did not care because I used my informational website as a site to learn how to sell products online. I was not afraid to test different things. I used trial and error, with a big emphasis on “error” to learn from my mistakes.

    If I just sat back and waited for the sales to come in I would still be waiting. There are lots of things that you need to learn besides how to make your products. You have to learn how to properly price your products, photograph your products, write good product titles and descriptions, how to optimize the products for both internal Etsy searches and Google and the other search engines and how to market your products to your target market.

    As you can see, creating your products is only the tip of the iceberg. Just because you list your products on Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet or on your own website does not mean that people will automatically come and purchase your products. It takes work to make sales.

  25. Jim,
    There have been some major changes at ArtFire. Toni is no longer there. You may already know that. John has made the decision to allow commercial ads on all seller’s item pages and many sellers have left. But now he made a new policy: If we will pay 3% of our sale total including shipping, we can choose to upgrade and disallow the commercial ads on our pages.

    My question is this: If I quit ArtFire and open on Indie Made, would I be better off in the long run? We have a standalone site for our family manufacturing business (something other than my site on ArtFire). It took 3 years for google to list us on the first 5 pages and we get inquiries from our website for which I do absolutely zero advertising. It is not our goal to sell to every mom and pop gallery so therefore I do not advertise. I do an annual trade show to find new customers. That website is just a presence.

    I realize by moving my site off ArtFire I would need to step up the marketing of it. I have read that anyone can pay and upload their items to google shopping. I realize there is a price range for what sort of clicks you wish to draw upon from that as well. I just can’t help but wonder if my site in general is be inhibited by being where I am. I get a handful of incoming urls each day; sometimes only like 3. Recently, i read an article that says that google only allows views to a site if you pay for them.

    I respect your opinion and would welcome your thoughts on this idea. Another ArtFire seller and I are contemplating a move in the next couple months perhaps.

    Thank you,

    • cameramanjim says:

      Hi Karen,

      I apologize for not responding to your inquiry sooner. I get tons of emails from internet marketers every day because I purchase thousands of dollars of their products every year. I probably overlooked the alert about this comment. I have unsubscribed from many of those internet marketers emails but I still receive a fair number of emails daily.

      Thank you for letting me know that Tony left Artfire. That was a huge surprise to me.

      I guess that I made the right move by leaving Artfire at the end of last year.

      To be perfectly honest, I never relied on Google Shopping when I was selling on Artfire and I don’t care about Google Shopping for selling anything. I am not interested in paying to advertise on Google Shopping. You can do other things to get your products found. A few of the ways to get the word out about your products are by using Twitter, Facebook paid ads, and Pinterest. Even Twitter has paid ads now.

      Just as an experiment, I spent a whopping FIVE DOLLARS on a Twitter paid ad. I did not make any sales from the Twitter ad, but I was not expecting any. I did receive some traffic and I believe that I paid something like twelve cents per click. That was several months ago and don’t really remember anything about the ad, I was just experimenting for the heck of it.

      Why don’t you contact me through my ShopCritiques website so we can discuss this some more. You may want what call an informational website, no shopping cart. The website could then link to your Indie Made store. That is what I use to do when I was selling my photography products on Artfire. I redirected my website visitors to Artfire to complete the sale because it was easier than adding a shopping cart and it increased my web presence and also my chances of being found on the search engines.

      Also, be aware that Google now has a new requirement for their mobile website search results that went into affect on April 21, 2015. Basically, if someone conducts a search on Google using a mobile device and if your website does not pass the Google mobile compatibility test, Google may severely reduce your website search engine rankings in their mobile search results. This only applies to searches conducted by someone on a mobile device, but that could end up being about 40% to 60% of all searches. People are using mobile devices much more these days and that trend is continuing to grow.

      • Lara Kulpa says:

        Hey Jim – The reason you didn’t get the message sooner is because since this is my site, I’m the one who has to approve comments that come through. It was ME who missed the comment on MY site, until recently. Once I approved it, you were notified as it was a reply to one of your comments. Here on my site. ;)

        I appreciate your thoughts and feedback on the topic, believe me. But let’s remember where you are. :)

        • cameramanjim says:

          Lara, thank you for approving my comments and for letting me know that you accidentally missed approving a comment. I was wondering how I received the missed comment yesterday on another one of my email accounts. Mystery solved.

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