Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You're the Boss: Part 6

Looking for the Creme de la Gems  giveaway?  Scroll down or click here.

The next tip on my list is

Be Creative with your Packaging
Make your customer feel like they are opening a gift when their order arrives.

but I am currently working on some new packaging that I can't wait to share with you, so in the meantime we are going to skip ahead to

Use Inexpensive Shop Hosting Services
Etsy and Big Cartel are two great shop hosting services that offer very reasonable rates.  Until you know that your business is profitable don’t waste any money building your own website.

I have an adorably cute website.
But don't look at it.  No seriously... don't.  It's embarrassing.  Really.
Okay fine, look at it.

Did you notice that it says on the home page under the "Just In" section "The 2010 Calendar  Line is Almost Here!"?  Yeah.  We revealed that line 10 months ago.  That's how long it has been since my website has been updated.

I got an amazing deal on it, because it is really meant to be more of a blog.
However, at the time I wasn't a blogger, so I asked my Designer to use that design to make a website.
The problem is that it is not very functional.
I cannot do any updating myself.
Then my sweet, sweet, wonderful Web Designer went and had herself a baby and quit working!

I am working on solving this problem and I am hoping to reveal my new and improved website to you all very soon.  Stay tuned.  {I know you are on the edge of your seats.}

My point is... wait, what is my point?  What were we talking about?  Oh right... use inexpensive shop hosting services.

Let's talk about Etsy.

I am a big fan of Etsy.

Etsy has helped me take Much Ado About You global!
I have sold calendars in 39 states, and four countries... and that is in most part due to Etsy.

If you have no idea what Etsy is... you need to check it out.  Warning: in the beginning it is addictive.  There is a constant stream on the homepage of all the new products being posted.  I used to sit and stare at my screen, giddily {is that a word?} watching all the fun handmade goodies pop up.

Etsy is basically a handmade marketplace.  To sell on Etsy you have to sell either handmade or vintage items, or crafting supplies.  It is free to open a shop on etsy, and you get your own shop URL... for example, mine is  You pay per listing and then a percentage of each transaction.

Etsy is a great place for handmade crafters to start.  It won't cost you more than a few dollars to test the waters.

But if you are going to do it, do it right.
Here is my advice for starting an Etsy shop:

1. Get a Cute Banner
If you can't do it yourself, there are many shops on Etsy that sell banners.  Just type in "Etsy banners" in the search box and you will get a plethora of options, and it shouldn't cost you more than about $20.

2. Start Posting your Products, and Re-Post Everyday
When people do a search on Etsy, the most recently posted items will pop up first.  If you are not constantly posting, people may have 20 pages of other "girls' hair bows" that they see before your cute products.  Listings are 20 cents, so even if you posted one a day it would only cost you about $6 a month.  Once you start selling things consistently, you won't have to worry about posting, because you will be re-listing your items and that moves them back to the top.  Since I now usually sell at least one item a day on Etsy, I never have to worry about re-posting my listings to get my items to the front.  Make sense?

3. Answer your Convos in a Timely Fashion
On Etsy, a "convo" is when someone sends you a message.  If customers don't get a quick response to their convos, they may take that as a sign of poor customer service and move on to their second choice.  I try to respond to convos within a few hours at the most.  It is ideal when I can respond immediately, because they may still be sitting at their computer ready to order!

4. Know When it is Time to Move On
This is where I am at right now.  I love Etsy, and I am super grateful for how it has helped me grow my business.  But the volume of sales that I have grown to is starting to cost me a small fortune on Etsy.  My Etsy bill has been over $80 a month at times, and heading into my busiest season I expect it could get to over $100 a month easily.  At this point I believe that a lot of my business is coming from blog traffic, and I am hoping that that following will follow me to a new shop.  I don't plan on closing my Etsy shop completely {at least not a first}, but I need to find a cheaper option.

Which brings me to Big Cartel.

Now, I have not started using Big Cartel yet, but it is a big part of my Website Updating Plan.

Big Cartel has three pricing options: free, $9.99 a month, or $19.99 a month, depending on the level of service that you require.  I will be using the $19.99 a month option, which gives me 100 product listings with 5 images per product.

There are several reasons I am making this switch.
One is that it is $19.99 a month.  Period.  No listing fees.  No transaction fees.
Another reason is that it allows the use of discount codes.  Something that Etsy currently does not offer.
Also, it will be a part of my own website, using my own URL, which I think is very official.

I will keep you updated on the pros and cons as I go through the process.
If anyone else has any info they would like to share on Big Cartel or any other Hosting Services, please let us all know!  If I get some really good info, I will add it to this posting.

The bottom line is that Web Design is not cheap.  You could easily spend $3,000 to $10,000+ developing a website with a shopping cart.  For a small, home-based business this just doesn't make sense.  Take advantage of the many inexpensive options open to the little people like us.


  1. I'm enjoying your ten tips series, Emmy. The best tip for me has been "love what you do." I've been trying to think of something I make that I could sell, but the problem is that I really don't enjoy the process of making things. I enjoy having them be finished, but the journey there is painful and stressful.

    What do I love to do? Edit other people's documents. Seriously. I could proofread, correct grammar, and enhance clarity on tech docs all day. So that's what I'm looking into doing! No more angsting about cutesy things for me! I'll leave that to those of you with talent!

  2. I am loving your series... thanks for all the input. I look forward to reading more.

  3. thats great about using big cartel. you'll have to keep us posted! i dont sell enough right now to afford anything like that. boo :/

  4. yea etsy!!!!
    i've been thinking about big cartel. let me know how it goes for you once you're set up and running on there.
    GOOD LUCK emmy!!!
    xo, patty :-)

  5. i can't believe anyone would sit and watch the "just listed" stream on the etsy home page ... that is ridiculous ... i have never done that ... he heee he heehe ehe eh!

  6. Love this post! getting your from-home business off the ground is a daunting challenge! All these little tips are so helpful :)

  7. Big Cartel is Awesome

    If you have more than 100 items than check out It is a good solution for those with larger inventories. They are very reasonable $9.99-$19.99