Thursday, September 30, 2010

Virtual Lab Highlights

So it's time for our next lab review...this time of the Seller Chat that was held on Wednesday, 9/29/10, hosted by admin HeyMichelle. For those who don't know, Seller Chat is a new Virtual Lab format that has been introduced to Etsy to answer some more advanced questions than are usually addressed in the Newbie Chat. There was info shared, links posted, and lots of advice given. Now...on to the questions and answers!

1. Why is listing a new item said to be better than renewing an existing item?

Listing a new items gives you all the benefits that renewing an existing item does, but it has an additional benefit: it adds an item to your shop! Both cost the same, both put your items higher up in the search categorie
s, but only listing a new item actually adds to your shop and gives buyers another option to purchase when they come to your shop. Only listing a new item helps to improve the variety of items in your shop.

2. When is it a good idea to consider opening a 2nd shop?

In the lab it was mentioned that generally, most wouldn't recommend opening a 2nd shop. It takes alot of time, energy, and hard work to make one shop really good; having two shops means twice the work with half the time. Frequently the quality of both shops suffer because there simply isn't enough time to devote to both shops. While some are able to make having 2 shops work very well, it is often best to try and consider another option.

Most of the time the reason people consider opening a 2nd shop is to be able to keep their first shop more cohesive. Having a cohesive shop is very important, but it doesn't mean that you can't sell different types of items within the same shop. What's most important is having the different types of items be cohesive through some means: having a similar style of photography for all your items, or having a theme that runs through those different items. Some ideas that were mentioned were selling cards but then also selling supplies that were used in making those cards. Selling clothing and jewelry in the same shop can work if they're the same style, perhaps vintage. If your different crafty loves are just too opposite, you may want to focus on one for your shop and keep the other as a hobby.

These two items are from the same shop by nightowlcraftworks, but due to the similar photography the two different types of items work well in the shop.

Another big tool that is great for creating a cohesive yet diverse shop is the Rearrange Your Shop tool. Arranging your diverse items in such a way as to show their cohesive thread can make a big impact on how your shop appears to potential buyers. A great Storque article was shared on this topic.

3. What about offering gift certificates in my shop?

Gift certificates are a GREAT option for any shop. They take relatively little time to set up, and can be very popular as gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Adding a time limit that the gift certificate is valid for was discussed and the audience polled, with the majority voting in favor of a 6 month valid period. Some important things to keep in mind are highlighted in this article from the Storque.

Some general tips and advice on increasing sales and views...
  • Photos: Don't hold back with your first photograph. Since that first photo will be the thumbnail, make sure you show everything that you possibly can in that first shot to hook the buyer. If your item is a set, make sure you show all pieces in that first photo. Then make sure that you've got great additional photos...showing the item from the back, side, other up-close details that show the value of your item. Jswrites shared two great photo links: a great video link on photographing for the holidays, and an article on Before and After Photos which showed how different Etsy sellers had improved their photos.
  • The importance of tagging and titling: the importance of these two couldn't be stressed enough. Tagging and titling are how most buyers are going to find your items. If you're finding yourself stuck with trying to use all your tags or tagging creatively, check out these two articles: Tag-o-Rama, and a Storque How-To on Tagging.
That's just a tidbit of the information that was shared in the Seller Chat...I couldn't write fast enough to get much more down! Hope you all enjoyed these highlights, and we look forward to seeing you in the labs. Squeek!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introducing......... Our newest members for September!

Introducing..... A Lab Rats Team Welcome To Our Newest Members!

Our team is growing and we cherish each member! We are happy to welcome our newest members by introducing them to the entire team. Here is our opportunity to meet our new teammates, make new friends and help one another in our endeavor to make our shops better.

Lets give a big Lab Rats Team welcome to our newest members!

1. What is your given name?
Jen Marlow

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller)?
Several years, but I've only decided to make a serious effort with a shop in the last few months.

3. How long has your shop been open?
 Not long. I posted my first items in late spring.

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
The plushie jellyfish. I created it because I love jellyfish and hadn't seen a plush one before.

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
  When not crafting, I chase my daughter around, work on a sci-fi comic project with my husband, raise dairy goats, garden, dance, and attend births as a doula.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
 I have so many! How broad a range of items is acceptable before it becomes preferable to have more than one shop?


1. What is your given name?

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller)?
November, 2008

3. How long has your shop been open?
UUmmm  October 1?  I'm working on getting it open.
4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
The first one I get listed.  It will be a primitive chicken feeder candy/potpourri dish
5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
Baking, preserving my own food, playing the piano.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
I don't have any questions   I do want to say I'm so totally thrilled at the reception I've received.  I feel really comfortable being a Lab Rat!


1. What is your given name?

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller)?
I joined etsy as a buyer in December/2008

3. How long has your shop been open?
Technically since January/2010 But I didn't start adding items to my shop until July/2010

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
 I love how the Beige and Black fabric Rosette statement Necklace came out.  It's the listing in my shop that most reflects my personal style.

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
When not creating, I like to spend time with my family, travel, and read.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
 (shop-wise) What has been your biggest accomplisment & how long had you been a seller?


1. What is your given name?

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller)?
I've known of Etsy for several years. I purchased under a different account, but I didn't purchase here nearly as often as I should have or will!

3. How long has your shop been open?
I opened my shop with my first item in late August!

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
I absolutely love my Crocheted Victorian Cotton Belt.  There is just something so romantic and soft about it, and it feeds my addiction for vintage patterns! I daydream way too much with this piece!

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
I'm a homeschool mom so most times I am wrapped up in the day to day tasks like baking and taking care of family. Having an Etsy shop allows me to skip the guilt that I had when I took the time to craft! I'm an avid reader! We love to geocache on weekends and visit with family, so that is typically how we spend our downtime. (However, you can also catch me most evenings, late at night, with a crochet hook in my hand watching something through Netflix streaming!)

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you when you were a new Etsy seller? (Though, "where's the chocolate" was a close second! ;)


What is your given name?

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller)?
I believe since January 10. I pretty much opened up shop after I bought the first thing.

3. How long has your shop been open?
Since February I think. And I sold my first item in March.

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
 My "shabby chic cat skull fascinator"

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
I am a part time free lance wardrobe stylist for alt fashion models. I am a full time mom of two. And I wait tables.
6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
I really don't have any..... yet :-)

Let's welcome these terriffic new members!  Leave a comment for them to welcome them to the team!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What the heck do buyers want?

Those wascally buyers are a mystery, right?
Sometimes, yes.
But when it comes right down to it, if you offer buyers something original, well made, well priced, well presented (photos and titles, tags and descriptions), and effectively promoted, you're on your way!

Some of the links often cited in the Virtual Labs to help reach those elusive buyers:
• 20 Questions Your Buyers Are Asking
• 5 Tips for Item Descriptions
• Using Social Media to Market Your Business

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feature Friday

Please extend a warm welcome to our Feature Friday artist of the week, Trish, from pixiedustfineries

Where can we find you?

1) Tell us about yourself, your shop and what brought you to the Etsy community.

Office and Packaging
My name is Patricia however I go by Trish, I am 52 years old, married, a mother of two beautiful daughters, and I have three wonderful grandchildren one girl and two boys. I live in Arlington, Texas, which has been my home since 1984, prior to that I was all over the world, my Dad was in the Army. I worked in the corporate world as an Office Manager from 1975, until I lost my job in January 2007. I originally started making jewelry for my family for Christmas, but I loved it so much I started selling on Etsy in March 2008. I started selling on Ebay (hated it) and then my daughter told me about Etsy, I checked it out and I was hooked.

I have always loved jewelry and I love the relationship that women have with their jewelry. It makes us feel beautiful, feminine, and powerful. It affects us in many ways, and even if a piece does not cost thousands of dollars, it is still precious to us.

2) Walk us through a typical day in your life.

I usually start at 8:00am, sometimes earlier, I stop by the kitchen to get a diet coke or coffee and then into my office.

I start out checking emails, once that is finished I begin to take pictures of items made the previous day and then I relist one item and list a new item every day. Once they are listed, then I start my marketing…twitter, facebook, Etsy Forums, stumbleupon, etc. that pretty much takes me into lunchtime. While eating lunch, I prepare the previous day’s orders for shipping.

Next, I will start working on my next project, this week it is Breast Cancer Awareness Jewelry items. I work on projects until 3:00pm, and then take packages to post office, return to projects until 5:15pm, cook dinner, rest until 6:30pm.

Back to the computer to write up cost worksheets, descriptions and Photoshop pictures I took earlier for the items to list the next day. I am usually done by 9:30pm. Oh, and thru out the day, probably every few hours I check Craftopolis to see how many views I have, if its not high enough, I do more marketing. Then it starts all over the next day.
With Etsy being my full time job I am always working, when I am watching TV or looking thru a magazine I look at the jewelry the people are wearing. Most people watch TV to watch the show or the news, I am only looking at the jewelry 80% of the time. It seems that I constantly have new ideas popping in my head, to the point that I get up in the middle of the night and make a sketch so I will remember in the morning.

3) Name your top 3:


I do not have a favorite book, but I have favorite authors, all are Mystery writers…Mary Higgins Clark, Iris Johansen, Patricia Cornwell


Everything Country and some of the 1970’s Rock

I have so many favorites, but Lost was my number 1, Greys Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, and anything on HGTV Channel.

Web sites...

Well the first one is easy Etsy, Face Book, Pogo Games (when I need to get away)

4.) What are your top 3 shops on Etsy?

I have many favorites, I do not think I can pick just three, and there are so many talented people on Etsy. Nope, can’t just pick three, sorry.

5.) What projects are you currently working on?

I am concentrating on Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Jewelry right now; I am going to run a sale on them thru the month of October, which is BCA month. My sister is a BC Survivor, and I lost both of my parents to Cancer so awareness is very important to me.

6.) Where do you hope your shop will be in a year?

Wedding Collection

Like everyone else, I hope to be a successful shop with daily sales. In addition, I hope to improve my skills by going to workshops. I recently attended two wire wrapping class and really liked it.
I have created my own Bridal line called “Aglow” and I have already had good success with it, I have done jewelry for four weddings ranging from two bridesmaids to twelve bridesmaids. I see myself concentrating more on Bridal jewelry and bridal shows.

7.) What suggestions/tips would you offer to someone new to Etsy?

Come to the Virtual Labs you can get tons of information from them. Be patient. Do not just list and item and then sit and wait for a sale, you have to work for it; you have to get your name out there. Focus on what you love and you will be successful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


After our blog button contest was finished and the winner was announced, here on the team blog we made that button available for you to grab and use as you see fit. Some of you might be wondering how to do something like that for your shop or blog. Well, at least MollysMuses wondered.

How do I make a button/badge for 
my shop to put on other blogs?

First off, you need to make an image for your button. 11m2 designed and made an amazing button for the Lab Rats. If you have a logo that's a great option, otherwise you can simply use one of your product photos. You'll have to decide on a size as well. Our logo is 200 x 200 which fits great in our wide sidebar, but may not work for everyone. 150 or 125 pixels are also good widths. When you're satisfied with your image, upload it to an image hosting site such as imgur, photobucket, or flickr.

Now for the technical side of things. You will have to create some coding so you can display your image and make the code visible for others to take and add to their site. This article has easy to follow information for doing just that. Follow the instructions there adding in your image and shop urls where directed and you'll have your code and badge set up in no time. 

Getting others to feature and use your badge may be a tricky process. One possibility is to find other shops and blogs that are a similar style to yours, but not competing and offer some cross promotion. You put up their blog button and they put up yours. Another option is the next time you are doing a giveaway or similar promotion, grant extra entries to followers who are willing to put your badge on their blog. These are the two that come to my mind first. Hope this gets you started!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Treasury Challenge Winner!

Congratulations to VintageNowandThen!

Your back to school treasury was particularly inspiring and won over the voters. Thanks to all who entered. See you for next month's challenge!

Mosaic Monday - One for the kids...furkids too :)

Summer Dress by HappyLittleRaincloud

Dog Play Coat by TerrierTrousers
Summer Sets by thecheekyprincess

Jova Sockmunki by funkisockmunki
Almond Teddy Bear by seventytwostitches

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Virtual Lab Highlights

Since we can't all make it to every Virtual Lab session, we thought we'd start alternating the Ask-A-Rat column with highlights from some lab sessions. This week the questions and answers come from the Newbie Chat lab that was held on Wednesday, September 14, hosted by HeyMichelle and anee. There were lots of great questions and answers, both from our lovely hosts and the crowd gathered in the lab. Links were shared and one and all had a great time. Here's a smattering of questions and answers from the lab...Read and enjoy!

1. I've had my first sale, and am listing more and more, but I feel I've hit a wall. Any ideas?
This is a common question for lots of newbies. First of all would be congrats on that first sale! We all know how it feels to wait and wait for that very first one and then get it! One of the links that was shared by jswrites was a forum thread started by HeyMichelle about "Getting Views and Sales". Also shared in answer to this question were the links "Tips on Tagging", "How To Take Feature-Friendly Photos", and an Etsy help guide to "SEO: Search Engine Optimization". Both of the hosts recommended adding more items to the seller's shop, and raising their prices. In the case of this particular artist's shop, in which original artwork is sold, it was suggested that they look into selling prints as well as original pieces.

2. What's a good
amount of inventory?
Anee mentioned that the answer to this question largely depends on what kind of items you are's all about having a shop that is full & beautiful, one that will give the buyer a place to explore once they get there. Shops that sell smaller or simpler items should have at least one full page of items, maybe two. Supplies shops may have thousands of listings, which works well for them. The main thing is to make sure you are listing regularly. One tip that was given was to check out other successful shops in your category and see what kind of inventory they have. This can give you an idea for where you want to shoot for.

3. Do you think having more people favoriting your shop helps with sales & marketing or is it just a feel good measure?

It was mentioned that alot of people, sellers and buyers, will use their favorites as a kind of bookmark. They may be items that they want to return to buy, shops that they really like, or they may use them to mark shops/items that they want to feature somewhere. Hearts can be used to help tell how popular an item is, and also if something in the listing needs adjusting. For example: if an items has lots and lots of hearts but no sales, something may be off with the listing. Maybe the price needs to be adjusted, the description or title may need to be tweaked.

Those are just a couple of the many questions that were asked and answered at yesterday's Newbie Chat. Our hosts did let us know that more Seller's Chats are in the works, which excited many of the not-so-new people in the group. Hope you enjoyed these highlights!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life of a NEW Item

Usually at this time of week we'd be taking a close-up look at the creation of a specific item, but this week it's a reminder of some of the information available to help Etsians develop those items.  As always, if you can walk your fellow Team members through how you devise, design, make and market an item on Etsy, please be in touch!

Long before you pick up the camera, or begin to write a description, it starts with creating an item that's fresh and original, that meets an emerging need (or want), or that puts a new twist on something already out there. Here are some Etsy resources to help jump-start that creative process:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Treasury Challenge Finalists

This challenge brought out some amazing entries, but here are your top four. Congratulations to SweetlyFallen, EvenAndy, VintageNowandThen, and RoseysDollTreasures!
Teacher's Pet by SweetlyFallen
3 R's by EvenAndy
Back to School by VintageNowandThen
Back to School by RoseysDollTreasures
The winner will receive a feature in our Rat Spotlight. So be sure to vote for your favorite treasury by Saturday, September 18th. 

Vote for Your Favorite Lab Rat Back to School Treasury
Teacher's Pet by SweetlyFallen
3 R's by EvenAndy
Back to School by VintageNowandThen
Back to School by RoseysDollTreasures free polls

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Meeting Tonight!

Don't forget - our September team meeting is tonight! That's 7 EST in the Sky Room! Sky room - so the pictures is a sky. Get it? The point remains - meeting tonight.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feature Friday

Let's give a warm welcome to Karen Lain, the creative mind behind AuntKarensCreations and this week's Featured Friday artist!

1. Tell us about yourself, your shop, and what brought you to the Etsy commu

I have friends who
kept bugging me to sell what I was sewing. One friend told me about Etsy...I gotta tell ya the first look made me a believer! It took several weeks for me to actually post anything, but I sure was happy as I posted my first tissue box cover!

2. Walk us through a typical day in your life.

...And we're walkin', we're walkin'...oh, sorry!

I get up pretty early and must have my coffee before my eyes even open. While I'm waiting for the coffee to kick in I pull up my laptop and log in... my home page is my Etsy store so I can see right off if I had gotten a sale. I answer convos and begin thinking about what creating I'm going to do (by now the coffee has kicked in and I'm not bumping into doors and walls and such.) Then I pull up the sewing machine and get to work.

3. Name your top 3 Bookes, Music, Movies, and Tv Shows:
  • Book - "A Woman of Substance" by Barbara Taylor Bradford. This is the start of generations of strong women who endure heart rending and serious challenges.
  • Music - Gimme the classic rock 'n' roll please...but Country is good too!
  • Movie - There's actually two - "Steel Magnolias" - I've only watched it about 30 times, and "The Bucket List" - This makes you laugh through tears!
  • TV Show - "The Deadliest Catch" - Ok laugh now! I don't care for TV much it's usually just on for background noise but Deadliest Catch makes me stop and watch. Hmmmm Mythbusters is good too come to think of it.
4. What are your top 3 shops on Etsy?

I honestly don't have a top shop on etsy... each one is unique, wonderful and worth my time to wander through. But I love the off-the-wall type shops like one that sells Exploding Frog soaps. Another sells hand sewn body parts to send to someone who has lost an organ???? Those I really appreciate and wish that I had that kind of imagination.

5. Where do you hope your shop will be in a year?

I am hoping for regular sales. I opened my shop to save for another trip to Hawaii. At this rate? LOL I'll be 87! BUT I have twice the amount that I started with in my account so I am making headway. That includes the supplies that I've bought.

6. What projects are you currently working on?
I'm so glad you asked! I have started a men's line in my shop! Right now I'm selling men's paperboy style hats. I am so excited about these! I've never really followed the "fashion" world but when I saw three news stories on the new fashion being hats for men, I KNEW that this was what I needed to do! I try to use fabric that I already have and there isn't much male type fabric but I found that I had some wonderful 100% wools that men would like. THEN I ran across a couple of my husband's old suits...he'd had them for over 20 years! (Yup the tags vintage and upcycled will be on those hats!) ... he'll never miss the suits (big ole grin going on here.)

7. What tips/suggestions would you offer to someone new to Etsy?

There are so many things that you need to do once you open up your shop. It truly becomes overwhelming at times. Don't let that hinder you! You are doing something you love, right? Just take a step back, pick one thing to fix or work on... do that right and then move to the next thing you need to improve. Etsy isn't a race at all, it's the place where you can offer your lovely work! I listed just 3 items to start with. I thought that that was a lot to start with. But I am glad now that it was so few because when time came for me to have to change pictures, descriptions, shipping etc etc I didn't have 50 to go fix!
It's ok to take it slowly because then you don't lose control over the shop or lose patience with yourself. Enjoy the process, enjoy your shop, enjoy life...........You are worth it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life of an Item with Emptynestegg

I would agree that I really don’t need more beads. Sometimes you can not resist the temptation. Surely I can go to a bead show and just look…

Ok so I can see how Manhattan was sold for beads.

I really didn’t buy that much and I think they came out well.

First I found some great green rectangle stones.
At the next booth I found the seed beads. I really can’t resist seed beads.

But still how to put them together as something to wear? You can’t just throw them on your arm and expect they will stay there.

Shapes, Mary, think shapes. Rectangle and Circles they will look nice together.
And a nice peyote toggle.
Beads, how I love beads.
So, the shapes are done now to put it together. A little bit of crystal for flash.
And viola an eye catching bracelet.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And the winner is...

Congratulations to 11m2!!

Thanks to everyone for participating by entering your designs and voting! Our new button will be up for grabs shortly in the sidebar so you can add it to your blog.

Edit: I figured it out and the code is now available to add the button to your blog! For Blogger, just insert this into an HTML/Javascript gadget and save.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to School Treasury Challenge

Welcome to our treasury challenge for September! Using the theme "Back to School" we want you to create an amazing treasury to showcase Lab Rat members. Here are the rules of the game:

  1. Use at least 8 Lab Rat members. You can use our members list in the sidebar
  2. Include "Treasury Challenge" in the title of your treasury
  3. Tag your treasury with "labratsteam"
  4. Tag your treasury with "labratchallenge"
  5. Tag your treasury with "Back to School"
  6. Link back to this post to encourage others to participate
  7. Leave a comment on this post with a link to your treasury for official entry
  8. Promote! 
This week Sara from BySaraLynn and guest judge, Garrick from senioritis, will be selecting the top treasuries to face off in a vote. That also means they're sitting out on the treasury making fun this time around. The last day to enter is Friday, September 10th. Until then you can enter as many times as you like. Non-members can participate, too. The winner will get featured in our Rat Spotlight! Head over to the Treasury to get started or take a few minutes to read up on How to Create a Treasury first. Remember that each treasury represents the team so keep it clean and make us proud. And a treasury etiquette note - don't include yourself or your other shops. Your items are lovely, I'm sure, but let's spread the love. Don't forget to have a little fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ask A Rat

As crafty-business-teurs (yes, that is an official term) we are it. We make, market, and fulfill orders. And respond to emails. And do bookkeeping. And order supplies. So I imagine that this week's question from Raven's Whimzy is a common one.

How do you balance "production" 
versus "creation"?

First, I have to explain what "production" and "creation" are in relation to this question. Raven's Whimzy explains that she "end(s) up doing so much shipping, bookkeeping and production" like making multiples of items that she finds herself with "very little time for actually creating new things." Production vs. Creation. Pretty simple.

With the holidays coming up we can all use a lesson in time management and prioritizing which, in my opinion, this is all about. I suggest setting aside a certain amount of time, no matter how much you have to do and how many orders you have to fulfill, to just create. Spend this time brainstorming, sketching, and making prototypes. The technical sides like researching material costs, pricing, market research, or planning a launch shouldn't be included in this time. While this is all part of bringing a new product into being, it isn't about creating. By prioritizing time for creation, you may have to extend the time period for order fulfillment and make your customers aware of that. This may especially be the case if items are made to order, but a simple statement along the lines of "please allow 1-2 weeks for item completion" can help everything.

Following the footsteps of linkmaster, jswrites, here are a couple of links to help. There's "Organizing for the Holidays (And Beyond)" and Lillyella's recap of her virtual lab session on Organization and Time Management. While everyone has different commitments everyone can find a chunk of time to commit to creation. Whether its an hour a week or an entire day doesn't matter. Use what time you can!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blog Button Challenge Finalists

All who contributed did an awesome job, but we've narrowed down the choices for voting

Here they are...the top 3 Blog Button Challenge Finalists!!!


Yarnabees, Squier, and 11m2!!!

Now it's time for YOU, each and every LabRat, to squeek for your favorite!
Voting will begin on September 1 and continue through
September 4.

The winner will:
  • have their blog button design used on the LabRats Blog
  • have a long-term link to either their shop or blog in the LabRats Blog Sidebar
Check out the entries below, and then vote for your favorite in the poll at the end!





Vote for your favorite LabRats Blog Button!!
11m2 free polls