Friday, November 28, 2008

Holy Sales, Batman!

QUICK "Black Friday" update before I go out and brave the live shopping world myself with my brother and his fabulous girlfriend (something in the past my family has avoided but I've always kind of wanted to do, just because it's there and entertaining in a sick, crazy way):

Lots of places will be pricing items below cost today. I used to work at Circuit City, and we could see what the cost to the store was of an item (they estimated in labor and crap, too). The day after Thanksgiving, one of the managers made a big deal out of showing us a bunch of the "doorbusters" and other random sale items that were selling for significantly less than the cost to the store. So why did the store choose to "lose" money on these items? These were not things that had been sitting on the shelves, where any sale would be making more money than the $0 they were currently pulling in (like I talked about last entry). For the Circuit City model (and many other stores like it), they pull you in with some main big fabulous deal that really is a deal, but then count on you buying accessories like batteries, remote controls, blank CDs, software, etc. where they charge way more than cost and make up for the loss on the initial item and then some.
Can you do that? I'm not doing it so much in my shop. I'm going with the "everything on sale, things that already exist can go to any price because they already exist and things that would need to be made can go very close to cost and no matter what it's good to get people into my store and buying because if I can get them hooked on my product while it's cheap then later when it's not on sale they'll come crawling back because my wallpaper envelopes are made out of crack and I use really nice papers that are laced with heroin*" method myself, but if you think creatively, I'm sure there are ways of using the Circuit City method in your shop, too. Or the drug dealer method. That works, too.

Now where are those leftover cinnamon rolls?

*no actual drugs in any of my products, I'm afraid, but if you're a paper or texture nerd like me, they are fairly addictive.

Photos (items for sale on Etsy):
grey gardens ava bag by cookoorikoo
brass mushroom earrings by carolinableu

Monday, November 24, 2008

PRICING superduper simplified

I've written about pricing before. I will probably write about it again. I was an economics major at Oberlin College for three years (my "taking time off" for a variety of reasons became permanent, but that's another story), so I do actually know what I'm talking about.

This is the unbelievably simplified version of how to price the things you sell. I should charge you for it, but I'm not, so go buy crap from my shop instead.

If you already made it and it is sitting around and there is only one like it
(usually paintings, sculpture, some jewelry, and anything else that is already done and you can't or won't be making more similar to it based on its sale) then you want to choose your price based on the most you think someone will pay in an amount of time you're willing to wait to get paid.
That's it. I don't care how much your materials cost or how much time it took or any of that. The thing is already made. You already spent that money and time. It's gone. "Sunk" as they say in Econoland. Now it's just a matter of how long it will sit on your shelf. Are you willing to wait a longer amount of time in hopes that someone will pay a higher price? Or do you price it lower so it sells faster? Your choice. But remember: 1) however much it finally sells for is more than the $0 it is currently making you and 2) unless you are selling milk and eggs, not everybody will want your item at any price, no matter how low. There may be someone out there who really wants and is willing to pay a higher price for your whatever, but if she never knows it exists, putting it on sale a dozen times for the wrong audience won't do you any good.

If you already made it but you will make more based on the sale of this one or if you only make it after it sells or if you adjust how much you make based on how much you sell in any way, shape or form, pricing is a bit harder. You're actually looking for the point where supply meets demand. I'm not going into how to collect extensive pricing data right now, even though that's the real way to figure this out. You need to know if you charge $20 and you sell 5, how many would you sell by charging $15? If you sell 6 at $15, you may think "great, I sold one more!" but it's not great because you make $100 selling 5 at $20 (5 x 20 = 100) and only $90 selling 6 at $15 (6 x 15 = 90). Can you still sell 5 at $23? $25? When do people buy less based on price? Data data data. And even that is hard to know for sure since there are so many other things going on, like how much you're advertising and holidays and the economy and and and!!

So! Here's the easy version for you: figure out how much each item costs you to make. I always like to figure in a little extra to account for my many mess-ups along the way, since they are a part of the cost of making my cards. Then figure how much time it takes you to make each thing. Give yourself a minimum wage (your particular government's, a "living wage," or sweatshop labor rates are all good places to start). Add those two numbers together. Now don't charge less than that. That's what it's worth to you to make more.

EVERYBODY: Look at what other people with similarish items charge. Look at how many sales they have and when. Look at what they're selling. Just because somebody is charging a lot for something in your category doesn't mean anybody is buying at that price. It can be scary to see the people at the ends of the pricing spectrum, but look at their sales numbers. How many more sales are the people at the bottom getting than the people in the middle? If it's not a lot, then the people in the middle are probably making more money. If the people at the bottom are selling two or three times more than the people in the middle, then maybe you should be pricing at the bottom, since you'll most likely make more money total. If the people at the top of the spectrum aren't selling anything, then it's not worth it to price at the top of the spectrum. But if the people at the top are selling regularly, it might be worth it to price towards the top because your sales will still move and that may be a lovely place for supply to meet demand.

Now go! Price things! And buy my business card sized "thank you" notes to include in all the wonderful items you are about to sell (I have tons more not listed, so please convo me if you're interested)

photos (all items for sale on Etsy):
Original Mixed Media Artworks by TwoHiddenHeads
1900 Story County Bank of Ames, Iowa, Check from Artouette
a paradox - super mario question block cufflinks by pixelparty
Money Bags Pinback Button, Badge by catlover1

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DIY Trunk Show Chicago visit and purchase

I bought art! Face Beans 7" x 5" by Luisa Castellanos of Pock-It Palz. I need to do that more often. I don't buy myself wall art with any regularity because it is a bit out of my current budget (food, clothes, shelter being the only things within my current budget, and even those are questionable). But basic functions be damned, bring on the happiness!

Yesterday, my sister and I went to the DIY Trunk Show as spectators. I always feel a little weird now going to shows as a non-vendor, but it's way more relaxed and you actually have time to look at things and go back and consider, and it's totally fun. I also like having a second person with me while poking at things (as a vendor, any second person you've bribed into joining you is back at the booth while you run through the other tables) so I can share my thoughts and opinions out loud and point at things and say "buy that for me." Plus, with my sister, we have her entire life's worth of history and development of style and taste and understanding, so it's particularly entertaining to jointly coo over the same table of funky prints or yet another amazing but $65 and we know we'd lose it hat, and then come to bags that I think are the greatest things ever as she stands quietly trying not to make gagging noises at me, and two minutes later we are in the same situation over necklaces or pillows but in reverse positions.

Ah, sisters. Ah, crafters. Ah, humanity.

My highlights for the day:

Pock-it Palz in general. Plush things that eat their own little baby plush things, and other great plush things, and the painting I decided I couldn't live without. I actually liked a number of her paintings, but the one I brought home was my favorite.

loosetooth. Her pillows pulled us in but the Talking Alligator print may be my next art purchase. You can't really tell from the website, but it's gold foily and feels very multi-dimentional somehow, plus they're all signed and numbered and very professional and delicious.

MAKA designs. Her Etsy site isn't doing her work justice. I really loved her necklaces, and I'm not a big jewelry person at all ever. Hammered nickel and a really appealing aesthetic. I don't need to buy myself jewelry since I hardly ever wear jewelry, but it definitely stuck in my mind.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Carnival WINNER!

Congratulations to Wehaf Urchiken, winner of FOUR thank you cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes. Since there were arguably 22 valid entries, 22/5 is a little more than four, so one of her envelope/thank you cards is the 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" size bigger minis (makes more sense when you see the photo). Also, she said she liked paisley, and lucky for her, I've been very paisley lately, so it's a whole paisley collection! In fact, I love damask, but I'm waiting for paisley to show up as its sister everywhere pattern. It seems like I'm not the only one. Let's get a trend going here, people.

Didn't win? There's more in my shop, and I'm always happy to take custom orders for any number and any general paper request. I have palm trees, rocking chairs, and deer heads. Right now I'm just trying to get more general ones listed and umph my visibility, but maybe some weird hunting scenes would do that, too...

A little endnote here: there's something terribly anti-climactic about a random number generator. It takes less than a second and then that's it. It's the fairest way (you should see all the statistical analysis stuff about the way they did the Vietnam draft because of how they didn't properly mix the drum of numbers), but way less exciting than if I had lottery balls flying around a glass vat or a big sparkly light board or models holding briefcases.

Monday, November 17, 2008

EtsyGreetings Blog Carnival Giveaway Spectacular

Step right up and see the Amazing Flexible Giveaway!
It's EtsyGreetings Blog Carnival time!
I don't normally do blog giveaways (and by "normally" I mean "ever"), but this one's for the team and I'm making it special.
Leave your comment to win anywhere from two to 15 business card/gift card sized "thank you" cards with recycled wallpaper envelopes!
Here's how it works: Leave a comment on THIS blog post to enter. One entry per person. I will take the total number of entrants and divide it by FIVE to determine how many card/envelope sets go to the winner, so tell your friends to increase the prize! Total prize will not be less than two sets or more than 15.
If, in your comment, you tell me your favorite wallpaper envelope (one from my shop, the photo, or something general you hope for like "pink floral" or "red plaid") I will do my best to include it in your bundle should you win!
Then head on over to everybody else's carnival booths and see how much EtsyGreetings goodness you can fit into your life.
Contest open to all earth addresses. Yes, I will ship outside the US. No, I will not ship into space. Contest ends 11:59 Central Time Thursday, November 20, 2008 so I can RANDOMLY select a winner (random number generator is my friend) and post Friday. Entries insulting my mom will be counted. Entries that are blatant ads for other crap will not.

Can't wait to win 'em? Buy 'em!


I'm working on a treasury of things that look like vaginas that are are not supposed to look like vaginas.
I'm not sure if I'm making a political statement about censorship and labeling things as "mature" or if I'm just being an 11-year-old boy and giggling at things that look like cooter.
Either way.
If you happen to find something that is an unintentional lady-bit (NOT your own items, please), send it my way. Thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Business Trip?"

I went to Brooklyn! I took silkscreening at the EtsyLabs! I met Etsy admin people! I silkscreened my "Why is a raven like a writing desk" Venn diagram onto a bunh of manties. I had wonderful good times! I will elaborate more later and upload pictures, but oh what fun! I want to live at my friend's apartment so I can go to Monday craft nights at Etsy all the time and craft and play with people and make things and have happy good times. Oh, the happy good times I had! Not just with Etsy stuff, but the Etsy stuff was certainly fun. I'm still beaming, and it's not just the hangover.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Artistic Nudes

The big question of "mature" listings and "artistic nudes" and "I don't want to be slapped in the face with a giant cock"* is buzzing again in the Etsy forums.
LovingLee's original oil painting, mouth-watering and available on Etsy

When you list certain things on Etsy, you have to include the tag "mature" so that people who don't want to see explicit content can opt out of it in their searches, while others can look for it directly when they want the dirty shit fast.
Give it a minute. This go2girl trinket treasure box actually is a nude. Should it be labeled "mature?"

From the "Dos and Don'ts":

Mature content

  • Mature content is defined as: sexual activity or content, profane language or graphic violence.
  • Items containing mature content must be tagged "mature".
  • The first thumbnail image should be kept appropriate for general audiences; additional images in the listing may show the item in its entirety.
  • Artful representation of the nude human figure is allowed. The context of the nudity determines if it is a mature content item.
  • Items are subject to review on a case-by-case basis. If Etsy evaluates the content to be mature, you will be asked to edit the listing to comply with these policies or remove the listing entirely.

Mature content listings will remain in all public searches by default; users can restrict results by using the exclusionary search term "NOT mature" ("opt-out" search status).

Some people are concerned that photos and other "artful" representations of things normally covered by bathing suits should not appear in the first photo of any listing. They don't want to be looking around at handmade mugs and jewelry and sweaters and then see a penis. They worry their children might be in the room when a boob appears on the screen.

Others site famous works such as the Sistine Chapel, Venus De Milo, and DaVinci's Vertuvian Man, only to be reubuked by parents who wouldn't allow their children near such art (or any television, movies, or life experiences they deem unsuitable) until they are "older." The United States was founded by Puritains. Some days that's clearer than others.

My parents chose to raise me by awkwardly explaining everything related to sex and sexuality in the most scientific way possible. But they never hid art from me. We went to the Art Institute all the time. I was embarassed. I wish I hadn't been. I hope if I ever have kids, they will be aware that they need to stay covered in public places and that no one has a right to touch their private parts unless they say ok, but that there's nothing ugly or dirty about a breast, penis, or vagina. I still think breasts look like udders and vaginas are the grossest, ugliest things on the face of the earth, and I have these parts. I see them daily. I'm used to my own, but it's a damned shame that something that shouldn't be seen as vile or wrong so frequently turns my stomach or makes me giggle.

It's funny, but the "mature" items are actually the least mature way of looking at nudity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for immaturity. I sell cards with swear words and poop on them, for fuck's sake.

For whatever reason, more conservative parents tend to like the argument that they should be the ones to decide what's best for their children. I don't know why this sentiment doesn't echo at the other end of the spectrum, since a stronger governing body is more likely to push towards the middle of the bell curve, alienating both "No seeing skin below the neck until he's 18" and "If I want to buy my 5-year-old a lap dance, you can't tell me otherwise." But while right wing totalitarian governments should theoretically scare the crap out of the "libral"-minded, "states' rights" and "parents' rights" and what're basically the great great great (etc.) grand-children of the anti-federalists in the United States all seem to be the conservative right-wing element. When an ideology that should, in theory, spread out in a much less partisan way, goes flopping quite so significantly in one direction, it means one of two things. 1) The other side is totally missing the point/oppertunity/hysteria of the ideology and should really start checking out the Kool-Aid or 2) the ideology is being used as a front or an excuse and isn't tied to the cause at all.

I think slavery and gay marriage are #2s (states rights my ass). I think this may be closer to a #1, since I really believe this is all an issue of control. But what the hell do I know?

*Not QUITE a direct quote, but dear lord I wish it was.