Sunday, September 7, 2008

One of a Kind, or Not

Many jewelry sellers on Etsy take pride in making "one of a kind" items and claim they will never reproduce the same item.While I admire their creativity, I must say I do not feel this is the best sales strategy most of the time, if you are planning to make MANY sales on Etsy.

First of all,selling on Etsy is time consuming enough, and selling "OOAK" only makes it more time consuming.Each time when a new item is created and up for sale,you need to photograph,do price calculation and list the item.I admit I do not enjoy the tasks mentioned above as much as I enjoy creating.

Secondly, if you only think from a buyer's point of view: would you rather buy an extraordinary design that will be reproduced, or an ordinary "one of a kind" item that will not be reproduced?It is a great feeling to know you are the only person in the world who owns that OOAK item, but that is probably NOT the first thing people care about when they shop, unless you have established your status as an accomplished jewelry designer.

Another reason NOT to offer OOAK is so you can lower your supply costs.If you make three OOAK items, one piece with material A and another piece with material B and yet another piece with material C, you will spend more money on these individual materials than offering only one reproduceable item and buying only material A in bulk.

Also, think of it this way: practice makes perfect.The prototype may be interesting, but it usually takes a while before you master a design and skill.While most of the items in my shop are to be reproduced, I do spend endless hours coming up with new designs.I can spend the whole day working on a lot of things (e.g. color balance, wire wrapping, and sturdiness) and end up deciding not to offer anything I worked on in my Etsy store.However, every once a while I would come up with a design that I know I can sell more than one, then I list it.

This nest ring is one of my earliest designs, and is still one of the most popular designs in my store.I was able to come up with the right technique to reproduce it, and I have made many of it.Every one who bought it loved it and many of them said the ring they received was "exactly as pictured".

In rare occasions I do offer OOAK designs, but I have come to a conclusion that this only works for high end jewelry(or designs over $100 in my definition) --

When pricing OOAK designs, be sure to factor in the time you spent on designing, photographing and listing to your listed price.This price also be a gauge for you to decide whether to reproduce the item or not.

Resources for new Etsy sellers

If you have just started selling on Etsy,here are some useful resources for new sellers.Check them out--

A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Shop on Etsy
Etsy Wiki
Etsy forum

and, of course,my blog :)

How I organize my To Do list

I make many custom sized rings and also do a lot of custom orders.This means I have to keep track of many convos from customers.I print out an order sheet(basically a copy of the "sold list" from "Your Etsy") for every 10-15 items sold, and write down the ring sizes or any special requests next to the specific order.I cross out the order when I finish it.I guess I can probably print out one sheet for each order but I prefer viewing orders on a larger scale.

Along with the order sheet, I use microsoft OneNote for other organization.It's basically like an electronic notebook which auto-saves as I type and delete notes(if you don't have this program, you can always use any real note book).I have pages named as

-with deadlines(as you can see, this is the most urgent)
-when time permitted
-supply orders

Understandably,things relating to orders and customer services are usually filed under "with deadlines". I delete notes in my OneNote as I finish those tasks, and when I finish everything under "with deadlines" I move on to "ASAP" and "when time permitted".I pretty much work a fixed schedule of 6+ hours a day, and try to make sure I always have something to do even if I don't have orders to fill.
Under "ASAP" and "when time permitted" are things concerning website update(which I am constantly doing), promotions and other tasks relating to long term business plans.
I just started doing the "supply orders" section (I really should have done this long time ago).This is the section where I remind myself what to order when I buy from my supplier the next time.I do A LOT of price comparison so I also write down the cheapest source to get my supplies here.

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