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My first two months on Etsy.

Always craftin’.

At the end of August, I opened up my Etsy shop: The Bitter Lemon Shop. I have always thought about opening up an Etsy store, not because I have an abundance of things to sell, but because there are times when I really enjoy creating things and I always get really excited when they turn out as I’d planned.

For years, I’ve kept a Pinterest board with DIY projects that I hoped to get to “someday”, and in August, I finally had a window of time and started making earrings. They turned out cute, so I decided to put them on Etsy and see what happened.

Like most people starting an online adventure, it seems like when you publish your first blog or post that fist item to sell, the world is going to shift. And then… there’s silence.

I’d heard about this happening with lots of Etsy sellers – that you work so hard to create an inventory of products and take pictures, write thoughtful descriptions… and then you never make a sale.

But it didn’t take long before I made a few sales, mostly from people I knew. But hey, a sale is a sale, and it was good practice on simply using Etsy to see how things work.

Before I knew it, I had several orders, and then I had a slight frenzy when shoppers caught sight of one item: my Holly Golightly sleep mask – a popular Halloween costume accessory, especially now thanks to “Big Little Lies”.

I sold 30+ of the handmade sleep masks, staying up very late (one night i stayed up until 4 am) to hand-sew each item.

I’m proud to say I’ve made it through my first “Holiday rush”, and I didn’t even mess up any of the shipments, which is a MIRACLE.

So, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about Etsy so far – I’m sure this won’t be the last post about this side hustle, business-venture of mine.

Use the Etsy app. The app is easy to use, but most importantly, I get an alert on my phone when someone makes a purchase (it sounds like a cash register), and when someone messages me. This is super important and I know I won’t go online and check my store every day.

Respond to customers. Quickly. A few weeks after I opened my shop, I heard a radio host talking about how she once had an Etsy shop and she hated it because she didn’t make any money and it was more about customer service. Hmm… well, yeah, most businesses – especially small businesses – ARE all about customer service.

We are at the mercy of our customers, because if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have a reason for a shop. As for not making money, I would venture to say she didn’t have a good enough product, because my revenue has surpassed $500. It’s nothing to quit my day job over, but it sure isn’t “nothing”, especially for a side gig.

Most of the time, customers don’t message me. If they do, they just have a question about the product or arrival. 9/10 times, they are really nice and DO want to make a purchase – so I do try and respond within the hour. You never know what other products they are looking at in order to make their decision.

I’ve found that this is what helps me make sales and get 5-star reviews. I’ve had customers tell me how grateful they are that I simply replied and did so with kindness. What’s up Etsy sellers? Respond to your customers!

I do have a professional background in marketing and I know how the average person shops – they do a lot of research, and making contact is one of the last things people do before pulling out their credit card. So reply!

Price it right. A lot of items on Etsy are expensive. Which is okay – if you’re using fine materials. I disagree with adding in a bunch of labor costs to your item. I figure out my prices by looking at materials and shipping costs (I offer free domestic shipping), and also how much I would pay for a similar item. I ask around, too, or look in stores to see what they are charging for similar items. I’m not going to charge someone double just because it takes me a day to make it – people will move right on over to Amazon. Now, don’t make things cheap – price them at what they’re worth; a price you feel comfortable with. You don’t want to give things away, but don’t rob the customer either.

Be honest with yourself. I have a 3-day window from the time a customer places the order until I have to ship it. I make items to order – I do not have a shop or a place to store ready-made items. So, be honest – don’t put 1-day turnaround if it really takes 4. People will understand, and they don’t want to be tricked.

Create a system for shipping. I don’t have a room, or really even much space, to dedicate to shipping. But, I do have a method to how I create labels and pack my items so nothing gets mixed up. It probably isn’t an issue when you have one or two orders, but trying packing 14 boxes for shipment – it’s a process!

Give customers a reason to come back. I know customers do NOT have to shop on Etsy – in fact, it’s been years since I’ve purchased anything on Etsy. But I know I need to get sales – not for money, but because Etsy displays the number of sales you’ve made – and if it’s a low number, people aren’t going to have confidence in your shop. So, I’ve been giving each customer a coupon for a percentage off their next order. I want them to come back – whether to shop, or to see what new items I’ve got in the store.

There you have it! Etsy has additional resources for succeeding in your shop – a message board, tools, and even a podcast, but I have yet to tap into any of these resources. I’m going to try a few new things over the holidays and will also continue to post new items and sales on my Instagram account (@Orangejulius7), but so far I’ve found that sticking to traditional business and marketing tactics has worked quite well!

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The Bitter Lemon Shop!

Beads, beads everywhere!

I know I’ve talked a little bit about my recently-opened Etsy shop: The Bitter Lemon Shop, but I wanted to dedicate a post about it. I didn’t really intend to open the shop and fill it with so much STUFF, but it happened that way – once you start creating, I guess I can’t stop!

At first, I just wanted to make some DIY earrings I’d saved on Pinterest. I have always toyed with the idea of having an Etsy shop, because I really like to make cards and have always liked to make beaded jewelry.

But when I made the earrings, they turned out so cute I thought other people might like them. So, I took pictures of them (although I don’t really know if the photos do them justice) and opened my shop. At first, it was a struggle to get 10 listings – but 31 listings later, here I am, with a ton of ideas!

Currently, the shop is mostly bracelets and earrings – I am really into tassel jewelry right now, so there’s lots of those happening. The bracelets are all beaded so far – I am having so much fun with all of the great beads out there!

One thing I think is important to note is that everything I’ve made is something I would wear (and actually have been wearing); I wouldn’t put out a product that I didn’t like myself.

I am also naming each piece after a place, or a thing that is really special to me. As I write this, I’m wearing the “Back to Black” beaded tassel necklace as a tribute to Amy Winehouse; my sisterhood bracelet (sorority vibes), my Charleston bracelet (s/o South Carolina summers), and my “Saints & Sinners” bracelet as a call to New Orleans.

There’s also a keychain and an essential oil blend roller in the shop – keep your eye out for many more of these to come! I’m thinking a sleep blend, focus blend, an immunity blend, and something for allergies. I also have ideas for costumes, clothing, and of course, more jewelry!

It’s not like I all of the sudden have so much time on my hands, but I’ve found that just sitting and watching TV (or rather, listening to it) while I make jewelry is pretty relaxing. I think it’s an easy way to escape – and I like trying to figure out how to make things or how to fix something. And then at the end, I have something cool to wear!

Blanche is also partaking in the shop, of course. I cleaned out my linen closet and set up a table with my printer, along with a little shelf. I organized my beads and put all of my shipping supplies in a handy container. I even have a few pieces of “Bitter Lemon” wall art along with a scented candle to make my craft area fun. The table is big enough for my supplies, but anytime I’m in the “craft closet”, Blanche scrambles to the table and takes a giant nap – and she takes up at least half the table. So, there I am, stringing beads using a small corner of my table.

I’ve had 11 sales so far, after being open for about three weeks, and it’s cool to think that people in other states are wearing things I made.

If you have ideas of things you’d like me to (attempt) to make, I’m always willing to try. Take a look at the shop, ask me questions, or shop awaaaaay! Visit the shop here and let me know what you think!

BBC: ‘Into the Water’.

Happy Friday before a holiday!!! Wahoo! What is it about that extra day off that just makes life so great? I’m not going to analyze it, I’m going to TAKE it and run with it. Actually, I’ll probably be in bed, but who cares?

Anywho, let’s get into this week’s read: “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
 
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
 
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
 
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Ohhhhh man! I was so excited to read this book. When it came out, I immediately put my name on the list for a reserve at the library. I did have to wait awhile, but either way – good deal.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I didn’t end up loving this book as much as I loved “The Girl on the Train”. And, you know, that’s ok. Not every book from an author is going to be the same – obviously.

Is it good? Yes. Chilling? Yes.

I have admitted many times that I don’t do well with lots of characters in a book – it’s just hard for me to concentrate and if they are alike, I get them confused. This was the case for this book. So, you very well may love it!

The reader reviews on the Amazon page for the book has mixed reviews as well. I know it’s easy to assume an author is going to pump out books that are similar and equally likable, but it’s just not that way. Plus, I don’t like it when books are advertised as, “If you liked ‘The Girl on The Train’…” because then you go into thinking it’s going to be just like that and you usually just end up disappointed.

So, there you have it. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Saints for All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan. Read it with us!

Meanwhile, The Bitter Lemon Etsy Shop is having its first S A L E in honor of Labor Day! Enjoy 15% off  (+ FREE shipping anywhere in the US) all of the items in the shop today through Monday!

I’ll be doing a little shopping of my own this weekend – some for myself and some for Hurricane Harvey victims. And hopefully I’ll be making some more jewelry! I’m really enjoying this hobby as it’s a good way to just zone out and have a finished, wearable piece of fun at the end.

So, happy weekend y’all! Do something for Harvey victims – anything. Texas needs your help & get used to see that here. We need to help each other, no matter where you live. Do good.

I’m taking Monday off from the blog, but I’ll be back on Tuesday with a fresh recap of “Siesta Key”! Bye y’all!