Tagged firebird leather

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Selling on Etsy

Let me state first off that this article is geared toward people who eventually want to quit their day job, not the people who just want to make crafts casually and sell them for fun. There is nothing wrong with being a casual crafter, but these tips are how to grow your own business on Etsy which is going to be more hardcore than what you’re looking for.

I’ve been on Etsy since 2010. My shop was originally called Firebird Floggers and has since expanded to become Firebird Leather. The majority of my sales come from Etsy and I have been doing it full time since 2014. I’ve definitely gone through my own love-hate cycles with Etsy, but I am all for passing on what I know so hopefully others can skip some of the hard bumps I hit.

This isn’t a fully comprehensive list. I could go on about this topic for hours, but these are the big ones. There are a lot of good tutorials on Etsy itself that will give you the basics of how to create your shop.

 

  • 1. The most important thing about selling on Etsy is having good photos. Beautifully staged photos that are clear and show the product off well without annoying filters are best. You don’t have to spend a ton on a big camera, but you should watch some youtube tutorials, read Etsy’s articles on product photography, and invest in some lighting. The more info about the product you can put in your photos the better. Many people don’t take the time to read the description.

 

2.You have to promote your shop on social media and work to gain your own following. If you think you can just make crafts and post them on Etsy expecting them to sell like hotcakes, you’re wrong. If your goal is to quit your day job, then you have to realize that you are aiming to be a business owner and your workload will increase, not decrease. You can’t have the attitude of, “I don’t like to post on social media,” “I don’t understand Instagram,” etc. It is now your job to know. Do your research and suck it up. No eyeballs on your stuff means no sales and Etsy gives more traffic to shops that draw their own.

 

3.The second most important thing is understanding SEO. If you don’t know what SEO means then I suggest you do some research because it determines whether your items get found on Etsy or on any website. You want your title, description, and tags to all use keywords that someone might use when shopping. If you’re selling a leather dog collar, don’t call it Fido’s Pride or something whimsical like that because no one is going to search for that. Etsy also weights the first three words of the title the most heavily. Ideally, you want something like;

 

Title: Leather Dog Collar – Size Large

 

Description: This dog collar is made out of hand burnished veg tan leather in black and red. It is a size large and adjusts from 14” to 20”. Etc, etc. Etsy recommends a description of around 500 words. You want to put your keywords in the description as much as you can without beating people over the head with it.

 

Tags: Leather dog collar, Leather collar, dog accessory, pet collar, dog collar, adjustable collar, Large collar, YOUR SHOP NAME, handmade leather, leather accessory,

 

Bonus Tip: Include your shop name in your tags so that people can find your shop easier on Etsy. If someone searches for your shop name you want your listings to come up. That will only happen if you include your shop name in your tags. Sometimes Etsy will ask in tiny letters at the top of the page “Did you mean shop…?” but it is easy to overlook and will only happen if your shop already ranks in SEO.

 

  • 4. You need more than a handful of items in your shop to look professional. If you want people to trust you enough to buy from you then your shop needs to look complete and well thought out with good photos, well-organized shop sections, clear shop policies, and clearly branded images in the icon and header. If you offer an item in more than one color or style you should have a listing for each one.

 

  • 5. If you sell kinky items like floggers, collars, etc, put one tag that says “mature” in every listing of an adult item. Every once in awhile Etsy tries to clean house of the people who sell adult goods and if you don’t have “mature” as a tag on your adult oriented items they will give you a strike against your shop. Three strikes and you’re out and even one listing without the tag can get you a strike.

 

  • 6. Underpricing your items makes you look unprofessional and can hurt your sales. People equate quality with price. If you price your items below what they are worth people will think they are low quality or that you don’t take your shop seriously. There are a lot of resellers of outsourced products on Etsy masquerading as handmade and selling for dirt cheap. This is not the price bracket you want to be in. People can tell the mass produced from the real.

 

Develop a mathematical formula that allows for you to get paid what you need per item and cover your costs as well as count toward future growth. Underpricing out of fear that the price will scare off a customer is a rookie mistake. Realistically, you need to make a certain amount of money to have this be a successful endeavor. Numbers are impartial and are what you need to rely on. A basic starting out pricing guide is Cost of Materials + Hourly wage x number of hours + 10% of that number for overhead, tool wear, etc. This gets you your WHOLESALE price. For retail you double that.

 

I know it sounds like a lot but this is money that has to cover your learning and growing in your craft, expanding your business, and refining your product. Trust me, it will still feel like you’re barely scraping by for awhile.

 

  • 7. When someone leaves a negative review you have two choices. A) You can respond and your response will be shown below the review. This is a good option if someone leaves a negative review for something that is pretty much on them. For instance, if they bought a collar and it wasn’t the right size but the size is clearly stated in the item description. Offer a reply with roughly the format of; a statement acknowledging their dissatisfaction, offer a solution to their complaint, mention that for future reference the information is in the item description.

 

Responding to a review will take away your ability to report it to Etsy to have it removed.

 

  1. B) Reporting a Review. Etsy will only remove a review if it fits very narrow criteria. Etsy takes FOREVER in resolving any issue whether it be a reported review or other things, IF they ever address it at all. I would only rely on the report option if the review was just made up of insults, a customer cursing at you, or otherwise over the top.

 

  • 8. Learn the ins and outs of shipping. I have found USPS to be more reliable and more inexpensive than other carriers but you do have to take the time to learn the rules, some of which are nonsensical. Purchasing labels online is cheaper and saves you time because you can just drop the packages off at the post office without waiting in line or schedule a free pickup.

 

Also, investing in a thermal label printer will save you tons of money in the long run over an ink printer.

 

  • 9. When someone opens a case against your shop deal with it quickly. Having cases open against your shop negatively impacts traffic to your shop. I am going to be honest here; Etsy encourages you to simply issue a refund and eat the cost of whatever item is in dispute no matter what your shop policies are and they threaten you with action against your shop if you don’t. They will not come to bat for you to enforce your shop policies. Once someone opens a case against you do not sell to them again.

 

  • 10. Have other avenues of selling and promoting yourself such as selling on other sites like Amazon Handmade, Wholesale, your own website, and craft fairs or vending events relevant to your market. The ultimate goal should be to eventually get off Etsy and have your own brand and store that stands on its own without being subject to the whims of a third party.

 

 

Ordering Custom Clothing- A How To

So you have decided that you want something made just for you! Great. The first step is knowing what it is that you want. To be frank; emails saying something like “I want a custom piece of clothing but I don’t know what, or what style, or what colors”, is going to waste both our time.

Before you contact me you need to have some ideas of what you’re looking for. I am happy to design and sketch a unique piece for you, but I need some basics. Please have the following included in your email;

Type of clothing- Coat, Dress, Vest, Corset, etc

Colors you like

Style- Formal, Fetish, Steampunk, Goth, etc

 

Another thing that is very helpful, both to me and to you, is gathering a few reference photos. What is great for this is Pinterest. On Pinterest you can search images and styles of pretty much anything. You don’t have to find something that is an exact match for what you want, but if it has the right color, the right vibe or you like a small piece of it then put a collection of these in a board and send me the link along with the above info.

Budget- If you know the budget that you’re looking in then please include that as well. My price is based on a fixed formula that calculates materials + time+ other factors, so I’m not going to go for the highest number you name just to try and price gouge you. But please keep in mind that leather is expensive and when you have a custom item made for you it involves hours of design work and sketching to make sure we create an item you like, an appointment to take measurements, creating a custom pattern to your measurements and refining the pattern and sourcing materials. And all this happens before I even touch the leather I’ll be using for your piece.

 

What NOT to do;

Don’t tell me you just want me to do whatever and use my own artistic freedom. If you want those things they are already up in the store. This is going to be an expensive garment and the deposit is nonrefundable. I am not taking the risk of just making whatever to have a client not like it and then be out the cost of my time and the loss of profit I could have made on other projects, as well as having an unhappy client. It’s not worth it to either of us.

When the order is placed I will tell you what my turn around time is. Do Not contact me every few days asking for an update. It gets old really fast and the most likely answer is that there is no news. My turnaround times mean that there are people in the queue ahead of you. When I start working on your project it will most likely be toward the end of the turn around time and I will work on it all in one block of time from start to finish.

Do not harass me for progress shots. For the same reason as stated above, work on your order is going to get done all in one big block, not spread out over the weeks of the turn around time. It slows me down a lot to take progress shots and I will only do it in cases where the creation process is going to have something visually interesting happen and it will go up on my Instagram.

 

Ready!

Once you have all your info together email me at nix@firebirdleather.com

When I have all the necessary info I will send you some sketches. When we have one that you like then we book an appointment to have you come in for measurements. (If you’re out of town I can send you a worksheet)

A 50% nonrefundable deposit is required to start orders.

When your order is ready we book an appointment to have you come in for a fitting. If any alterations need to be made it usually takes another week. Once all that is complete and the fit is right then final payment is due upon pickup or shipping.

 

Flogger Cleaning Kit and How to Care for your Floggers

This is a question I get asked a lot and so I decided to put together a video tutorial as well as product kit for you guys.

You can find the cleaning kit here- Cleaning Kit

The video covers a basic flogger cleaning, flogger storage, and when and how often you should clean your floggers.

Some other points I wanted to bring up are;

Why clean my floggers?

The obvious- It’s kind of gross not to. Floggers absorb oil from the skin of people they touch. Would you want someone to rub a cloth down your back that had touched a bunch of unknown people? No? Same deal with a flogger.

It keeps your flogger throwing correctly. When tails absorb oil over time they get heavier, especially the tails on the outside of the bundle that hit first. When some tails are heavier than others you have “stragglers” or tails that always fly away from the main bulk.

Handles can become slippery over time when not cleaned. Ever had a flogger get caught in a ceiling fan?

It keeps the leather in good condition. What you do when you clean leather is use the water and soap to get rid of dirt, etc and then use the conditioners to restore the oils and preservatives leather needs to stay nice and supple.

Why did I choose the products I did?

They’re not overly expensive. They work well and are beginner friendly. They are easy to find on the interwebs if you want more. They have a low wax content as well as a low carcinogen content. They work well on most leathers used in floggers including game leathers.

There are other amazing products out there. Hubert’s is great, so is Elephant Wax. But I wouldn’t use either of those on elk, moose or bison. They’re rather oily feeling and tend to kill the lovely velvety touch the game leathers have. They work miracles on abused cowhide but I needed to put something together that would work for a wide range of toys and be a go to for as much of the toybag as possible.

Why can’t I just use the leather cleaner I use on my upholstery?

Those products are usually less about cleaning and conditioning than they are forming a protective coating over the leather. This is isn’t necessary for floggers and can change the feel and throw of the tails with unnecessary added weight. They are also not made to treat the flesh side of leather and will usually mat it down.

Do I need to clean my floggers when they first arrive?

No. When you order floggers from me they are in the most pristine state they will ever be ( aside from fluffies still present from the cutting process). The leather is fresh from the tannery and has already been conditioned and then I condition it again during the making process. I would assume it is the same for other makers as well.

You said not to use this kit with suede or nubuck! So what do I do with my suede or nubuck flogger?

Find a suede cleaning kit online or at your local leather store. It should have the following; A cleaning solution, a brush and something that looks like a rubber eraser. Cleaning suede involves a lot more brushing and scrubbing than a normal tail. Suede floggers are usually less expensive at first, but here is where you pay the difference.

STI and Flogger Cleaning

This is a touchy subject mainly because there are so many different opinions on it. Here are my two cents. There are two levels of “clean” when it comes to microbes. Sterile, an item that is completely cleaned and preserved in an environment in which all foreign bodies have been eliminated, and Sanitary; an item which all reasonable procedures and precautions have taken place to eliminate dangerous microbes from the item but the risk still exists due to the environment.

Floggers cannot be Sterile and nor can they be Sanitary as defined above. Leather is porous so it isn’t really possible to guarantee that a cleaner has gotten into all the microscopic crevices where a baddie microbe could be hiding. Therefore it is also nearly impossible to guarantee it is Sanitary even if cleaned with a product that is guaranteed to kill every STI under the sun. It’s just not possible to make that call without thoroughly soaking the leather which will most likely destroy or harm your leather, especially more sensitive hides like game hides (deer, elk, moose, etc).

So what to do? Well, let’s say you were living with a person who has Hep C or HIV. The CDC website states that is is highly unlikely you can contract these diseases through household items like towels, clothing, dishes, etc. Only things that have been exposed to blood will carry the disease.

Hep C can live outside the body at room temperature for up to 3 weeks, and HIV can live up to a week.

If you play with someone whose STI status you do not know and blood gets on your floggers the safest precaution would be to quarantine them for three weeks, then give them a thorough cleaning, and continue on with your life.

Keep in mind, even if you were to flog someone with Hep C or HIV and get blood on your flogger, you would then have to flog someone in such a way that the tails had contact with their blood stream as well in order to transmit.

What I’m trying to say is it’s really unlikely you will give someone a disease with a flogger. But you should clean your stuff anyway because not doing it is gross.