Preface: The whole reason I thought to make a shop update post was actually because I made a bunch of additional winter holiday cards yesterday and today to use for my personal card-sending stash. Absurdly, I like some of them even more than some of my current listings. I wanted to share them with more than just whoever I am going to send them to. I guess the part that stopped me here is that, because they're casual-for-personal-use cards, I kind of just had fun and slapped stuff together and "made it work." I am willing to accept flaws in cards I use personally that I wouldn't accept in cards I list on Etsy. Yet some of these, flawed or not, casual indeed, I think I might like most! "I know," I thought. "I'll show them to the bored, long-suffering folks on Hubski. If it's too early for Christmas for them, well..." Then the wheels turned. I had an epiphany. "I bet I can fold this all into an Etsy shop update post!"
I'm not trying to trick you guys into admiring my not-going-to-be-sold cards by sprinkling them in among a tangentially-related text post! No, that's not it at all! This -- this all is about ART! Artistic progression, and growth! --- Oh my. OK, yes, you're right....I am sounding a bit much like Moira Rose now, I can feel it...
With further ado, here's my real etsy shop update post.
- I'm prepping for Christmas. I've made 80 sales (they count it by product sold) on Etsy now. I think my goal by EOY is 100. That kind of volume is crazy to think of even just compared to last year. But winter holidays are my busy season and I have like 20 cards already listed plus another 2-5 ready to put up -- and I'm making even COOLER and more varied gift tags this year that I think will go over well -- could I do it?
I think I could. Maybe. I really do.
It's been somewhere around 4.5 months since I made that post catching y'all up on the journey of my Etsy store. First of all, I want to thank everyone who read and/or shared that post, you guys are fantastic. The enthusiasm means so much.
I can't believe it, but it's 11/29 and I have an update for you. That tentative, "100 sales by EOY -- I think" goal -- remember that? (If you don't, that's why I quoted it up at the top of this post. I didn't even realize I'd made it a Hubski-public commitment, regardless of how wishy-washy I was in the post or no.
(photo commentary. one of these two cards (merry and bright) i accidentally made upside down. to read the writing, you have to flip the card so that the seam is at the bottom when you look at it. this is a perfect example of a card i can't sell but am still happy to use for my own mailing purposes. to my friends, this flaw can be enchanting. to an internet stranger buying cards for their family -- ehh, not so much.)
There's a month left in the year and I have hit 110 sales.* I have way surpassed my 2020 shop success goal! In July I was astounded and feeling blessed for 17 orders year to date, well since then I have racked up another 21*! That boggles my mind! That is AMAZING!! I've continued the hot streak that I mentioned, aka I have made at least 1 sale every single month this year to date (except for January, fuck you January, I don't actually mean that I accept that January is a post-holiday shopping dead zone and I can live with that. Quite happily considering how things have gone so far the other 11 months, in all honesty).
I feel pretty good about the odds of getting just one, at least one, c'mon lordt gimme just one of 'em, sometime this December. That would really crown my year.
(this card is made from the scraps of wrapping paper i made & used for last year's holidays. for the card, i put a little translucent heat emboss on in spots to give a hint of look-like-snow. you can't see it in the picture though.)
- In July I was astounded by my 100 listings. Today I have 134.**
- I was psyched by having 20 winter holiday cards up and 5 more ready to post, today I have 26 winter holiday cards up, 3 more ready to post, and that ISN'T including any of the sale inventory (some of the 20 July listings I ended up moving into the sale; another 4 I've sold -- so back to that whole, "If I'm not actively creating and replacing product, this stat should actually go down every time I make a sale" thing) (Am I humble bragging now? Maybe?)
- 2020 has indeed surpassed both 2018 and 2019 in sheer number of "holiday cards sold," right now we have a grand total of 7 such cards that I have moved this year. I am hoping that number goes up a bit more by EOY though, mainly because although in 2018 I sold 6 holiday cards and in 2019 I sold 5, in 2018 6 was all the holiday cards I had listed, TOTAL. In 2019 I had more listed and some of that inventory has carried over into this year, most of it has gone into the $1 sale bin at this point though. That means I am simply very nervous about the fact that I'm carrying an almost-30 card (and that's just winter holiday stock) inventory heading into December. I don't expect to sell them all but if I don't sell a good bit, that means I should really limit my feverish creativity in 2021 and it'll be disappointing. At best. And perhaps it'll indicate that this shop can't be the only outlet for my creativity, especially when it comes to weird, one-of-a-kind handmade winter holiday cards.
(disregard the card, what's cool here is the asymmetrical envelope, which was inspired by an antique art deco card my mom found and showed me because she knows I think art deco is really, RILLY cool and awesome. love how that turned out in practice here.)
OH HERE IS A BIG ONE
- Sharing my art from the rooftops and "Being brave, baby rabbit" actually seems to be WORKING. Y'all know I do linocarvings and print cards from them. And you definitely know about my bird art series. Well, I thought EVERYBODY in my life knew about it and had seen it all. I was wrong.
In August, I was printing final/perfect versions of the 6 birds I'd carved -- you know, for my mom's birthday present. I was feeling pretty proud about how they'd turned out and it was a while since I'd looked at the earlier ones. So I posted a live-making-art-just-bein-messy-hey-look-birds pic to my Instagram story thinking nothing of it.
By hook or by crook or by luck of the draw a girl I know reasonably well saw the pileated blackbird print I'd posted and hit me up. She wanted to know if I had the blackbird available as a print -- yup, that's right! A fine art print! Now there's a laugh -- me, a fine artist! slaps knee No, actually, a huge compliment. Anyway -- Now, she hit me up at like 1 or 2 AM on a Friday/Saturday. So I responded as soon as I saw it saying, "why yes of course I'm sure I do have some prints just gotta dig them up and list them" which is code for "No I've never made a fine art print before technically speaking but I know I do have all the supplies/materials to create some, i just didn't think anybody would ever want to pay a lot more than $5 for this image stamped on a piece of paper when I sell it cheap on stationery which is stuff you can actually USE and not just look at." And without waiting to hear from her, I figured, why the heck not if she is interested maybe some others on Etsy might be and I went to work pulling prints on mulberry paper.
Despite all my warning myself that she was probably a trifle drunk when she initially hit me up...SHE ACTUALLY BOUGHT ONE! She even left me a 5 star review despite my ridiculously paranoid, slid-into-a-sheet-protector-held-between-two-cardboard-boards-and-saran-wrapped-tight-together, shipping choices!
So there, y'all. Now I'm a fine artist, and I make fine artist prints. (I still owe mk one of the peacock in all glorious seven colors. I have finally got all the supplies I need to make that one. Soon, mk...soon...ha! Perhaps I can make YOU be my December sale?! Clever!!)
(one of the few cards I can replicate and which is listed at full price in my shop. thank god for stamps and recplicable images...you may notice, though, i still couldn't keep it quite so simple as ink it, stamp it, done and move on to the next one. it's heat embossed so, although i can replicate it, each card still has quite a bit of manual investment as I have to ink, stamp, shake over the embossing powder, and heat each card until the powder melts with a heat gun (blow dryer could also work.) Yup, that's right. I don't like it to be easy. If a machine could do it, why would I bother? next image -- close-up of the emboss, which creates a glossy, 3D version of the stamp image. it's very cool and unique in my estimation.)
All of this goes to say, it's been a very successful year on Etsy.
I was about to counter that comment by pointing out I still haven't made enough gross sales to recoup the amount I shell out to Etsy in advertising, but -- turns out that's false. Just re-did the math and it turns out I had it wrong the first time I checked the numbers this morning/for this post. Actually, gross, I'm up almost 20% above my ads investment -- which is absolutely the primary moneysuck out of this whole endeavor.
Turns out paper, and ink, and even fancy paper and fancy printing ink and fancy linoleum blocks to carve on -- aren't actually all that expensive when you factor in prices of a single sheet, a single printing session, and so on.
Some rough (but not really so rough) estimations I did earlier this year seemed to demonstrate that actually, my listings ARE priced such that I might could one day turn a profit. Mostly my problem right now is input doesn't match output -- like with spices, it's not like I can buy any of those things in the quantity I need just to create one or two products. There's an upfront investment but then I am stocked with material for a long time.
Guess it's almost too bad that I blew any pitiful monetary lead I might've had. I went and bought me an ipad. A fancy, schmancy, meant-for-digital-drawing-and-use-to-advance-and-explore-my-art-and-creativity-ipad.
It's pretty freaking great.
Hey, if most businesses take 5 years to turn a profit...well then. In that case, I guess I'm not too far off.
*Etsy counts sales and orders differently. One sale = selling 1 distinct listing. (The catch/bummer: If someone buys 20 of the same listing, it's only one sale.) One order = however many items ordered by a single customer at one time. It's definitely confusing.
**I should let y'all know a big reason why I now have 134 listings despite having sold 30 products/listings since July. First, in case you *weren't* wondering how that was possible, we should remember the context of the products I sell, which is that many items are one-of-a-kind and not replicable. Only the stickers, temporary tattoos, and gift tags are "mass"-reproductible. That means that frequently, when I sell a product, that listing is gone forever and I have to create a whole new product to replace it. I can't just print another copy. So, that all just made me sound even more impressive, huh? WELL...I'd decided I wanted to throw a massive sale after I hit my shop's 100th sale. The plan was to put up a whole bunch of product I hadn't listed before because I considered it just-not-quite-good-enough-to-list, certainly not up to standard enough that I could charge $4 or $5 for the product (cards, mostly). Basically, I wanted to purge my inventory and hopefully some people could enjoy some cards for cheap (yup, $1 cheap) while the low price would also (again, hopefully) temper their expectations about the perfection of the product they were going to get. Well, when I hit that 100th sale I did that, and I also pulled a whole bunch of listings out from "deactivated" which I had turned off because - they were off-season - they were old and had never sold, - i had become disillusioned with them, etc, etc, etc. Anyway, my disclaimer here is that although my inventory bumped pretty significantly between July and now, a fair bit of that was from existing products and listings that I had just turned off/didn't expect to sell at full price/maybe didn't expect to sell ever, tbqh with you since we're talking shop and all.
-- PS -- holy shit i actually even forgot -- OBLIGATORY shop link: www.broganbooks.com