Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Do People Want?

There is a cool program for Etsy sellers called Etsy Item Hearts. It can be found at . It gives you the number of views, the number of times items are viewed and the number of times each item in your store is "favored." It gives you, as a seller, a view of what items are viewed the most and more importantly, the ratio of viewed to favored. The information is here for you to judge the success of your creations of each item people look at, but more importantly, what items they especially like is at your fingertips. The one bad part though, is that once an item is sold, you don't have an historic record of it. It would be nice if they could add a tab that showed the history of your items. Its free so one can't ask for everything.

Mailbox Birdhouse
Is it accurate? Yes, it records the number of people who have looked at an item and the number of times it is favored as long as it remains on sale. However, is it a predictor of an item being sold? I have had many discussions about this; I think that my answer would be no. The irony of this whole process is that nearly 500 people have viewed one item, my Mailbox Birdhouse; 54 people have favored this birdhouse yet it remains unsold. It was such a favorite of mine that I use its image as the avatar on my Etsy store and it appears on my business card.

In fact, this is so much of a favorite item, if I ever was able to find enough of the blank mailboxes I would submit it to be taught in Las Vegas and as a kit online. It is a delightful piece. Don't ask me, ask the 500 who have checked it out!

The fact remains, I have been looking at these figures now for a few weeks trying to understand the market forces that work. I remain completely and totally unable to figure out what works.

For awhile, I was doing multiples of a project. I would buy three of something and make one design and hand sketch that design on each one. As you
Hearts At Home Birdhouse
might have guessed, they looked somewhat
alike but since I am not a robot, each one had it own character. The rationale was that by the time I painted whatever color I was using on the last one, the first one would be dry. I am impatient and was ruining single projects by not allowing the paint to dry. As I found out, even acrylics take time to dry! I thought this was an elegant solution and would increase output. And, it did. But did it increase sales? Only in one case.

The Red Hearts at Home birdhouse has been a success story. I adapted a quilt pattern I saw in one of my wife's quilting books. Taking the raw outlines, I filled in the rest creating a kind of 3D Pennsylvania Dutch design. The clay color was new for me and it was the first time I used a design on the roof.

For whatever reason it worked. I have sold two of the three. One even went to Australia. Was it the most popular design? No. But they were the ones that sold.

I guess that what I am saying here is that we may never know what will sell. You can create and hope but unless you are pandering to a very specific audience, in a very specific style, (I don't and it shows in the multitude of styles I create), your are throwing the dice with each new item and seeing what "shakes" out. For awhile I got discouraged but then realized I enjoy what I am doing, love creating in a wide range of styles and when the time comes probably will, like everyone else, settle in to what sells and forget the rest. In the meantime, I will continue to create what I want and hope that people will find me and enjoy what I have created as well. It only costs a twenty-cent listing fee, my time to create, photograph and post online.

Check out my store at . I have a new section of photography that many of you might find interesting.

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