How To Sell Your Crafts Online featuring The Clever Comical Creations of Yellow Bug Boutique

by PaperbackWriter

 
 
This week I’m really pleased to be able to feature Cindy and Randy Green from Yellow Bug Boutique. Their Bacon Periodic Table Pillow caught my eye for the work of genius it truly is! I love their creations – they’re vibrant, witty and clever. And I think their experiences of selling crafts online will resonate with many artists and crafters.

A Periodic Table Bacon Pillow

Six Quick Questions

How did you come to Sell your crafts online?

Cindy had a thriving business for over 20 years making miniatures for doll houses, type trays and the like. She sold exclusively to one wholesaler here in Dallas and had a great run, employing other stay-at-home moms like herself to assemble the items. This worked out well for everyone involved, as she and her team were making good money and staying home with their kids. Also, since – by definition – miniatures are small, it was a business easily run from the house.

Then one dark day, manufacturers from a certain region of the world (sort of rhyming with ‘Fly-Lawn’) decided that they could make exact reproductions of her work and sell it at ridiculously low prices This was easy for them to do, as (1) it was simple to copy the original work of others, (2) ethical or copyright considerations were not in their vocabulary, and (3) it was OK for them to pay their workers just enough to cover a daily bowl of gruel. Not that we are bitter.

So the miniatures business slowly ground to a near halt. We still do a few items for our wholesaler, but for all practical purposes the business was crushed by foreign competition. Some might use the word ‘theft’ rather than competition, but we would never use such a harsh word. Even though they deserve it.

Fortunately, at about the same time, our two boys were bursting into the particularly high maintenance period of their tweens and teens. Randy’s career was taking off, and for several years Cindy was able to concentrate on the raising of two wonderful, handsome and intelligent children. About two years ago, however, we got the firstborn bundled off to college, and the maintenance level dropped drastically. But while the emotional and physical maintenance level dropped, the financial maintenance requirement did not. Cindy was both bored and wanting to get back into the business world to make some dough.

We went through a process of deciding what she liked and didn’t like about the miniature business. She has always loved to sew, but the idea of brick and mortar retailing didn’t appeal to her, and wholesaling would put her back into the world of manufacturing and not creating. After researching the web, she stumbled upon Etsy, and the magic happened.

Pink Periodic Table Beer Koozie

What inspires you to make your creations?

We both have a rather bizarre sense of humor – see our Etsy bio. We grew up in the days of classic Looney Tunes on TV, Monty Python every Sunday night, and Star Trek TOS in re-runs. We laugh a lot in our house, and spend time looking for the ridiculousness in the world around us (fortunately , we don’t have to look very hard). We love gadgets, gizmos, science and technology. In short, we make things we like, and if someone out there likes them too, so much the better!

Do you sell your crafts online with the goal of creating a full-time business? (or do you sell online for personal fulfillment or as a hobby?)

We don’t think those are mutually exclusive. It’s really cool when you can do all three at the same time. Etsy has let us do that.

A Periodic Table Pillow by  Yellow Bug Boutique

What advice do you have for how to sell your crafts online?

We haven’t ventured into realms other than Etsy yet, so our thoughts are limited to just what works there. We see a lot of people on the forums bitching and moaning about how their lack of sales. If you go look at their shops, however, you see they have 3 items, sucky pictures, few (or no) tags, and aren’t part of any teams or circles. Apparently, the idea is that internet shoppers are supposed to go on some sort of virtual archaeological dig, Indiana Jones fashion, until they find your creation amongst the (literally) 10 million items listed on Etsy.

Good luck with that.

Here’s a few things that have worked for us:

(1) Spend some time and do your homework. Figure out who you’re trying to sell to. Think about what you would do if you were trying to find items like yours on Etsy. How would you search? What would catch your attention? What would make you unique, and not a ‘me-too’?

(2) Take good pictures. Better yet, take great pictures. When online, pictures are the only thing that really matters. They are the gatekeeper – if your pictures suck, nothing else about your item – price, quality, style, workmanship – will matter. Not only do pictures speak about the quality of your item, they make an impression about your shop in general. Would you want to buy something from a shop with out-of-focus, poorly lit and/or boring photos?

(3) Learn the technical ropes. Learn about SEOs, Google analytics, blogs and social media. Trying to sell online without understanding the space is like being thrust into the cockpit of an airliner and being told to fly it. It might be a good idea to understand what the hell all those gauges mean! (BTW, should the words “thrust” and “cockpit” ever be used in the same sentence? Just wondering.)

Periodic Table Pillow by  Yellow Bug Boutique

Do you have one quick tip for online crafters who want to get started?

The single best piece of advice we can give a new Etsian is to join a team. If you want to be successful in this space, it would be a good idea to learn from others. Teamies can give you good advice, additional visibility, and a shoulder to cry on when you need one.

What has been your most rewarding and positive experience with selling your crafts online?

Hard to pick just one. We love that we are a real live global business (last month we sold to Germany, France, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada) that is run out of a spare bedroom. We love the feedback – we have some real live raving fans. Some have actually sent us pictures of our stuff in their homes! The business side of us loves that our Accounts Receivable and Bad Debt expenses are always exactly zero. But most of all we love that we’re having fun, doing something we enjoy, and doing it together as a couple of old married sweethearts.

Click Here to find a huge range of cool, weird and witty designs by visiting Cindy and Randy’s Etsy Shop Yellow Bug Boutique.

 

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