Saturday, August 07, 2010

Selling hand knits on Etsy - three musts

Number one question from knitters at Renegade last weekend:  what advice could I share about how to successfully sell hand knits on Etsy.  

So, I shared a few tips, while thinking I should share a few tips on my blog as well!

#1 most important tip:  excellent photos.  Not just so so, good, good enough, my mom really loves them.  I mean, killer, editorial quality photos.  ("editorial" = magazine quality)

This is the hardest tip to achieve.  I'm still trying to achieve this with every photo I take.  I will never have good enough photos - and that's the attitude I think you need.  You can always improve your photo and styling skills!

And a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y do not (please!) take photos of your creations on your carpet, outside on the grass or driveway, on your bedspread, next to your dog or cat or baby (well, unless it's a knit that a dog or cat or baby should be wearing/sitting on/playing with).  You might luck out and get a second look from one person, but you're more likely to lose hundreds of potential customers who won't grace your creation with a second glance. 

#2 most important tip:  originality.  I think the number one thing I see new knitters engage in on Etsy is copying what seems to be most popular.  Copying the design, the photography and styling, the titles, the text.  Create something original, in your own unique voice, not copying or plagiarizing others, in as narrow as a niche as you can create.  Trying to be all things to all people is a sure recipe for burn out.  Serve a tiny little niche very well and you have a chance at great success.

#3 most important tip:  quality.  I'm sorry to say this out loud (and possibly burst any bubbles), but there is a whole lot of junk on Etsy.  Stuff you wouldn't give as a gift if you knit it yourself.  That said, there is also absolutely amazing, high quality, beautifully knit stuff as well.  If you're going to sell your hand knits, master finishing techniques.  Block your finished knits.

I am a yarn snob.  I'm not going to be buy your sweater or scarf that was knit with 100% acrylic purchased from your local craft store.  I can knit that myself (but I hate acrylic, so it's not very likely ...).  I can also usually tell from your photos what sort of yarn you've used, so please be very honest with your customers about the fiber content.

If you're going to use acrylic and other lower end yarns, that's fine, just be sure you're creating something beautifully knit and of the highest quality.  I do use wool blends.  I treat them with the same care and finishing techniques as my highest end luxury fibers.

#4 bonus tip:  I could write a whole book on this (and I just might!), but here's a bonus tip that I think is crucial.  Please please price your knits well.  Underpricing your knits hurts everybody, including you!  YOU know how long it takes to knit a sweater.  Hours and hours and hours.  If you were charged an hourly rate for your knitting time, you'd be a gazillionaire.

Selling your hand knits for only the cost of the yarn (or even less than that) does absolutely no good to anyone other than your elated customers.  You absolutely must cover your costs (materials, tools, overhead, and - yes - a salary).  I have seen scarves on Etsy for $10 that made me think, "Yep, that's worth $10."  I've seen other scarves on Etsy for $10 that made me think, "What the heck?  That's a $100 scarf!"  Pricing is difficult at best ... just don't put yourself out of business at the get go by underpricing your knits.

Good read:  Pricing your handmade goods

These are just a few tips that I think are important for those considering selling on Etsy.  You could easily replace "hand knits" with "hand sewn," "vintage," or even "prints."

Don't agree?  Let me know in the comments below!  Same if you agree!  Add some of your top tips as well!


Stefanie said...

Beautiful scarf! Thanks for sharing these tips! Very helpful, especially the one about the photos! I hate shag carpet pics!

Rachel Lucie Johns said...

fantastic advice, Brenda. Thanks for sharing, I think it is applicable to any crafter on etsy. Certainly made me re assess.

Pricing is such an important one. As a jeweller, there is so much dodgy through to unbelievably wonderful jewellery out there, but some of it is so under priced, therefore undervalued. It does hurt all of us.

Keep those tips coming!

Brenda said...

Thank you, Stefani! Yes, indeed, those shag carpet pics ... my mission is to abolish them. :)

Thanks, Rachel! Your photos are SO fantastic.

Hope you both have great weeks!

Tiffany jewelry said...

I am just learning knitting.I like your scarf very much.Your tips are very useful for me and I will keep them in mind.All are important tips.According to me originality and quality are very important.

Elena said...

Bravo for telling it like it is, Brenda!

Brenda said...

Thank you for your kind words, Tiffany Jewelry! I'm glad you found value in this.

Thanks, Elena! Your photos, quality and originality are exactly what I'm talking about. :)

eNVe said...

Agreed 100%! Thanks for sharing, Brenda. You are much too hard on yourself because your photos are awesome! I can always recognize a Phydeaux photo (in a good way of course). :)

Brenda said...

Aw, thanks, Ngan! And back at you - your photos are so fantastic!