handmade on amazon

Selling on Etsy Or Handmade on Amazon

If you sell handmade items you’ve probably heard of Etsy and Handmade on Amazon (HOA). You’re likely to be selling on at least one of these sites as well. Etsy started in 2005, while HOA has only been around since 2015. Many sellers started their journey on Etsy and now that Handmade on Amazon has been introduced, many sellers wonder if another selling platform is a good idea.

To make a well-informed decision on whether to start selling on Etsy and/or Amazon Handmade, you need to understand the differences between the two platforms. While both platforms allow you to sell your handmade products, there are numerous differentiations between the two.

How They Define Being “Handmade”

  • Etsy

    • Etsy’s definition of handmade has evolved selling on etsy or handmade on amazonover the years but encompasses all categories. Any item must be made or designed by the seller. This allows for manufacturing companies to be involved (AKA as long as it’s designed by you, another company can produce that good for you).
    • Etsy doesn’t have any limits on categories for selling handmade items, but their definition of handmade is looser than Amazon’s.
    • Allows you to sell digital/downloadable products.
    • Allows you to sell craft supplies.
  • Amazon 

    • Amazon requires that all products be made entirely by hand, hand-altered, or hand assembled by companies with 20 or fewer employees or collectives with less than 100 people. Collectives simply referring to a collaborative group of artisans such as a nonprofit, charity, or cooperative.
    • You can’t contract the work out to a third party for manufacturing.
    • Amazon does not allow digital or downloadable product

Etsy allows the selling of items made or designed; whereas Amazon restricts items to handmade only. Etsy allows digital products; Amazon does not.

Application Process:

  • Etsy

    • The application process on Etsy is very simple and straightforward. It only takes a couple of minutes to open your shop.
    • To open your shop on Etsy, all you need to do is create an account on Etsy, choose your shop name, and start adding items.
    • Anyone, at any time, can immediately set up their shop and get started in 10 minutes.
    • To learn more about how to start selling on Etsy by visiting their website.sell on etsy
  • Amazon

    • To sell your handmade goods on Amazon, you must first apply and wait for their approval. This process only usually takes a couple days before you’ll hear from Amazon.

    • To fill out the form, you will need photos of your products, your workspace, and the crafting process. You will also need to describe your crafting process. The application process is not very difficult, but it is more robust in scope.

    • Invited artisans will receive an invitation email that includes a link to begin the registration process. Once you have been accepted to sell on Amazon Handmade, you’ll receive an email explaining how to set up your account and open shop.handmade on amazon application

Both application processes are fairly straightforward. The main difference is that anyone can immediately sell on Etsy, but you must fill out forms and get approved to sell on Handmade, which makes it more exclusive.

Categories:

  • Etsy

    • All categories are allowed. There are no restrictions on handmade categories.
  • Amazon

    • Not all categories are available on amazon.
    • Categories that ARE allowed:
      • Jewelry, Home products (Art, Baby Bedding, Bath, Bedding, Clothing & Shoes, Furniture, Home Décor, Kitchen & Dining, Lighting, Patio, Lawn & Garden, Storage & Organization), Party Supplies, Stationery, Accessories, Toys & Games, Sports, Beauty & Grooming and Pet Supplies.
    • Amazon says they will be opening more categories in the future.

Etsy allows any category. Amazon has many, but not all. Amazon is planning on adding more in the future.

Fees:

  • Etsy

    • $0.20 per listing to make listing available to sell.
    • Another $0.20 when a listing is auto-renewed due to sales.
    • 5% of the listed shipping costs for an item.
    • 5% of the total item costs.
    • 3% + $0.25 USD in credit card processing fees for orders paid with Etsy payments.
    • No monthly selling fees.
    • Subscription plans (optional)
      • Etsy Standard – Free. What you start with.
      • Etsy Plus – $10 a month. Includes:
        • Listing credits, promoted listing credits, restock request, a custom web address, and access to discounts on custom packages/promotional materials.
      • Etsy Premium – Coming 2019
  • Amazon

    • Free to list items for sale. Fees only come from sales.
    • $39.95 seller fee is currently waived until end of 2019
    • 15% referral fee includes payment processing, marketing, seller support & fraud protection.

Amazon’s fees are higher than Etsy’s, but with Etsy’s recent increase in fees, the difference in fees is the smallest it’s ever been.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): how people find your items on each platformsearch engine optimization (SEO)

  • Etsy

    • Titles
      • Etsy encourages you to use short, descriptive titles, but I have found better results using all of the title characters possible.
    • Tags
      • Use all 13 tags to match your title
      • Use multi-word phrases up to 20 characters in length. Ex: “custom wood sign” is a much more effective tag than “custom” “wood” “sign.”
      • Use long tail keywords that are highly specific to your item. Ex: custom wooden sign.
      • Don’t repeat tags. Ex: Don’t use “bathroom decor” and “rustic bathroom decor” for tags on the same listing.
  • Amazon

    • Titles
      • Amazon encourages you to keep your titles under 100 characters. The title should include the product type (choose 2, 2-3 word phrases that best describe what you’re selling), color, size, quantity, and other helpful, searchable information.
    • Search Terms
      • Up to 249 characters.
      • Don’t use redundant information that is already in the title. Don’t repeat phrases already used, but it can be helpful for relevancy to repeat words in different phrases.
        • Use a single space to separate keywords. There is no need for commas, semicolons, etc.
      • Check if being indexed for search term by: FIX THIS!!!

SEO is very different from Amazon Handmade to Etsy. Commonly, the SEO you use for Etsy isn’t relevant for Amazon SEO and those search terms aren’t being used by both platforms.

Audience/Competition:

  • Amazon

    • 250 million people
    • 2.63 billion total visits in the last 6 months. According to similarweb.com
    • Less competition for handmade products as it’s a much newer platform.amazon and etsy traffic

Amazon has a much larger audience with less handmade products for competition, but Etsy is still the first website that comes to mind for custom handmade items.

Order Fulfillment Options:

    • Etsy

      • Fulfill the orders yourself.
      • Use a production partner that manufactures and/or ships your product to the customer
        • What’s a production partner? A production partner (or manufacturer) is anyone (who’s not a part of your Etsy shop) who helps you physically produce your items. Examples of production services include printing, casting, engraving, sewing, and more.
      • To sell handmade items produced with a production partner on Etsy, you must explicitly state that you’re using a production partner. You do this by creating production partner profiles and link them to the relevant items in your shop.
    • Amazon

      • FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant)
        • You fulfill orders as they come in and ship products yourself from your location directly to the customer.
        • Available for non-customizable and customizable items.
      • Can also offer seller-fulfilled prime
        • Allows you to deliver directly to domestic Prime customers from your own warehouse. By displaying the Prime badge, you are committing to fulfill orders with Two-Day Delivery at no additional charge for Prime customers. 
        • You must pick, pack and ship your orders same day if ordered before the time deadline you set (default is 11 AM).
        • ***Shipping is expensive.*** You typically have to choose 2-day shipping options, making this very cost ineffective for most sellers.
      • FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon)
        • Ship completed items to Amazon’s warehouses all over the country.
        • Ability to make your products Amazon prime eligible.
        • Only for non-customizable products.amazon fbm and fba

Etsy allows either the shop to fulfill the orders themselves or allow their manufacture to ship orders. Amazon allows you to fulfill orders or they will fulfill orders for if you use FBA.

Platform Ease of Use:

  • Etsy

    • Building and tweaking your shop is much more user-friendly on Etsy and definitely more eye appealing.
    • You need to meet order ship-by dates, but you can update ship-by dates once if needed in case of sickness, unexpected events, weather conditions, etc.
    • A shop can be suspended but happens very rarely as there are no performance metrics to maintain.
    • You can set your processing time as long as you want; you can even enter an “unknown” processing time.
  • Amazon

    • Not user-friendly nor intuitive. Using Seller Central (where you manage your shop) requires a longer learning curve.
    • You cannot change the ship-by date. For any reason. EVER.
    • Amazon also tracks the shipments to make sure they arrive within the estimated timeframe.
    • Amazon holds you to certain metrics to ensure trust with customers. Seller performance metrics include:
      • Order defect rate: < 1%, pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%, and Late shipment rate: < 4%.
      • Failure to meet these targets may result in the removal of your selling privileges.
      • Customer messages must be answered within 24 hours.
      • Amazon can suspend your account if any of your metrics fall below the target or you get enough “dings” on your account.
      • Processing times must be 30 days or less.
      • Overall, Amazon is much more strict about maintaining your performance levels. They are much harsher and have real consequences.
    • It’s a platform for businesses, not hobbyists.

Etsy is definitely easier to get started on and makes setting up your shop/items/policies very simple, whereas Amazon has been described as confusing and more overwhelming to get started on. Amazon also has metrics that must be met at all times or you could be at risk for getting suspended.

Customer service:

  • Etsy

    • Submit a request through the Etsy Help Center. In my experience, it takes days to get a response and it’s typically a generic response that isn’t helpful. Etsy doesn’t offer phone support if you need help right away.
  • Amazon

    • You can talk to Amazon seller support by email or phone. I typically get an email response within 1-2 days that is very helpful to my situation. If a problem is urgent and you need help right now, you can also request a call from Amazon every day from 5 AM – 6 PM (PST). They typically call in a few minutes and stay on the phone until the issue is sorted out.

      customer service

In my experience, I have found Amazon’s customer support to be vastly superior to Etsy’s. I don’t even bother trying to contact Etsy for issues. I just go straight to Facebook groups with sellers if I have any issues on Etsy. Amazon is very easy to get a hold of and very helpful for any questions that I have.

Payment schedule:

  • Etsy

    • You can decide when and how often to receive deposits. You can have your money deposited every day, once a week, every 2 weeks, or once a month.
    • Money deposited from sales. That means you get paid as soon as the order is processed
    • All fees are taken out before the deposit.
  • Amazon

    • The payout is every 2 weeks.
    • Money deposited from delivered products. Money from sales is held in your account until 7 days after the maximum estimated delivery date of the order. This means you may not get paid for orders for weeks, depending on your processing time.
    • All fees are taken out before the deposit.
      • Third party applications (such as Payability) can get you paid under 24 hours if needed. They take 1-2% gross sale proceeds.getting paid

Etsy is much more flexible with the payment scheduling and you get your money much faster than selling the exact same item on Amazon. Payability can get your money from Amazon in less than 24 hours, but they charge a percentage of sales for this service.

Types of customers:

  • Etsy

    • Generally, in my experience, customers on Etsy have been very pleasant to work with. They are usually understanding of mishaps. I’ve had to postpone shipping items, replace damaged items, tell customers I was out of inventory and never received a poor review/angry message from any of them. If you explain to customers and give them a heads up, most are understanding that your a small business owner (usually a one-man band) and that life happens.
    • I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from other sellers and their customers, but personally, I haven’t had many myself. Those types of customers are on every platform but are a very small percentage on Etsy.
    • More likely to ask for discounts. More likely to ask questions about the items before purchasing.
    • Very few returns.
    • Message system with customers works smoothly and most customers check their messages.
  • Amazon

    • Customers associate you with Amazon and tend to treat you like such. They uphold you to the same standards as large companies. They are used to getting their items fast without any problems.
    • They are not as understanding with issues with their items.
    • A much higher percentage of returns as Amazon makes it very easy to return orders on their website.
    • Amazon customers are buyers, not browsers. They typically ask fewer questions.
    • Customers can opt-out of Amazon messages so even if they ask you a question, they may not know you answered it. Or, more likely, there was an issue with their order and they message you about it. You respond, but they don’t get it in their email inbox and send you another angry message about you not responding, although you did.

In general, Etsy customers are typically more lenient and understanding. Amazon customers expect the best with no issues with their orders. The message system on Etsy has a much higher response rate because Amazon buyers can opt out of these messages. Etsy customers use messages before purchasing much more often than Amazon customers do.

Affiliate Commissions: The ability to earn a referral fee for sending your customers to Etsy/Amazon.

  • Etsy

    • Etsy sellers are eligible for the Affiliate Program but are not eligible to earn commission on sales from their own shops.
    • Cookie period is 30 days.
    • Sign up for the affiliate program.
  • Amazon

    • Amazon will pay you up to 10% on purchases your customers make.
    • You can promote your items and other items on Amazon.
    • Cookie period is 24 hours.

Etsy doesn’t allow you to receive a commission from your leads to your products, whereas Amazon does allow it. Amazon is great to affiliate your own products, but the cookie period is short. Etsy allows up to 30 days to make a purchase to receive commissions.

Is Amazon Handmade better than Etsy? Is Etsy better than Amazon Handmade?

selling on etsy or handmade on amazonThey both have their benefits and disadvantages, but it’s not about which one is better than the other. That’s very hard to say and it depends on your business and how you want to operate it. If you want to grow your business and have your products in front of as many people as possible, I would recommend using both platforms to sell your products. If you are just beginning and want to cautiously start selling, I would recommend Etsy. It’s easier to learn, the fees are lower, and customers are more understanding if anything goes wrong. If you’re serious and ready to take on Amazon’s strict policies, higher fees, and less lenient customers, but want a much larger audience to get more sales, you may want to give Amazon a shot first.

I don’t recommend starting both at the same time. Each platform operates very differently and takes time to understand and master each platform. Start on one platform and dedicate your time to learn it. Once you have a good grasp on that platform and are happy with the results, consider adding another selling platform for your business.

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Revolutionize Your Handmade Business With The 4 P’s

In the fall of 2017, it took 1000 hours for me to produce one handmade item. I revolutionized my handmade business and production went from 1000 hours per order to 11 minutes.

Ok, so it wasn’t really 1000 hours, but seriously, it felt like it.

While your process may not be the same as mine, the outcome potentially could be. Having 100 open orders and a bloated manufacturing process caused me to revolutionize my business and become more efficient.

I hit my breaking point and I decided something had to change.

My journey to improving my business lead me to the 4 P’s – Process, People, Profit, and Product.

Process

When I was in the beginning stages of starting my Etsy shop, I was pretty desperate for sales.

Any. Sales.

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate (and for those of you who can’t, congratulations on getting consistent sales so quickly. The rest of us hate you, wink wink). But seriously, it’s a normal part of a business lifecycle.

Because of that desperation, I wasn’t concerned with how long it took to make each item, let alone the inefficiency of custom orders.

When I wasn’t very busy, it seemed okay for items to take a decent amount of time to make. Back then, it didn’t seem like the process to make my products were taking that long anyway. But, I wasn’t actually timing anything.

Because I thought, some sales are better than no sales, right? I gotta start somewhere, don’t I?

Yes….and no.

This philosophy worked for the first year of my business, as it was only a part-time job during college. I was only getting a few orders a month and it was easy to keep up with demand. But, during the fall when my sales rate increased 9-fold in one month, my time-consuming items became a nightmare and I was quickly falling behind on orders.

I was falling behind because I didn’t have a process! Here’s how I use Trello to keep track of orders through their production process.

But did I care? Heck no!! I was breaking my personal records left and right. #goalachiever

My dreams of having my own business were finally coming true and I was ecstatic that all of my hard work was starting to pay off!

My excitement only lasted about a month working 80-100 hours a week. I rapidly burned out and I grew to resent my popular items that were selling like hotcakes and sucking up ALL of my time.

I stopped all of my important business development tactics. I quit updating listings. I quit taking photos. Worst of all, I quit making new products. I only worked on making orders. And I absolutely HATED doing production-only tasks for an entire day. But I’m stubborn and I simply told myself that this is just the way it is. I thought this what I always wanted. I made my life this way so I better get used to it.

My non-fixer mindset let this bitterness for my business continue during the entire Christmas season to the end of 2017.

Thankfully my mindset has changed and boy, how wrong I was. It’s crazy to look back and think about how different things are today.

Solution:

  • Storage:
    • Previously, my products were in a random order where ever I sat them down last. At one point they were spread across the entire house. I was constantly searching for an item or tool and was often frustrated, as I was wasting time I  didn’t have during the day. To fix this, I created storage solutions for each stage of the process. These one-time costs helped me to stay organized and know exactly where all of my orders were in production, greatly increasing efficiency. I also created storage bins for inventory and supplies.
  • Sign Production:
    • Wooden sign production went from a 22-step process (yes, I’m serious) for a 2-layered text sign to 6 freaking steps!!! This also lead to a drastic difference in the amount of time per sign: from 27 hours drying time (wood stain and paint) + 63.5 minutes production = 28 hours 3 minutes 30 seconds to 11 minutes per sign. That’s a 99% decrease in time per sign!!!
    • Why count drying time? After all, I wasn’t really “working.” Drying time matters because it determines the window I have for completing rush orders. Customers are more likely to buy when they don’t have to wait. Because of back-stock production and my insane increase in efficiency per sign, I am now able to rush orders and potentially get them shipped the same day they are ordered. Before my minimum rush production timeline was 3 days and I often couldn’t meet customers deadlines. Drying time also limits the amount of orders I can store in my location. The faster orders go out, the less space I need to store orders in production.
  • Packaging
    • I altered my packaging process for signs from brown paper to polybags. Polybags were slightly more expensive than brown paper, but the polybags were packaged 10x faster and gave me a more professional appearance. Remember, your time is important! Don’t save a couple pennies for an hour’s worth of work.

   

Questions to ask yourself for process improvement:

    1. Do you have materials scattered across a room that you can organize in a better way?
    2. Is every part of your production process necessary?
    3. Is there anything you could change without compromising the quality of the product?
    4. Can you find a better, easier way to achieve the same outcome in one area of production?

People

My husband ended up getting laid off from his job around the time my orders started going crazy, which ended up working out to our benefit. I know for a fact I would not have been able to finish all of my orders on time without my husband. He worked 8 hours a day and I worked 10-12 hours a day for 5 weeks straight to get all of my orders done. I was so bogged down in getting orders out on time with such a narrow focus that I couldn’t see how to improve what we were doing.

Solution:

We discovered just how much two brains are better than one. He was able to point out things I was doing that didn’t make sense. He asked me questions because he wanted to understand my process. When I tried to explain my logic, I realized things didn’t make sense. For example, I had sign templates stacked in piles all around the cutting machine. He was frustrated by the amount of time it took to find them so he started hanging them around the room. Why didn’t I think of that? I was too busy making things to stop and think about improvements.

Eventually, my husband found another job and I knew I didn’t want to keep working alone. I liked running the business, but I didn’t like making every item. This is the moment I transitioned from being self-employed to being a business owner. When you are self-employed you are the do-er, manager, and dreamer. I hired someone to help with the production so I could focus on the management, development, and growth of my business.

I only realized how inefficiently I was spending my time when I saw someone else doing that same task. Remember to take a step back in your business every few months and look for improvements for your employees and for yourself.

Questions to ask yourself for people improvement:

    1. Do you have a process someone else could repeat?
    2. Can you explain each step of your process to someone else?
    3. Do you know someone you could try to teach and ask for feedback?

Profit

The biggest issue in my profitability was the fact that I wasn’t timing my hours. The first year I didn’t realize how underpriced some of my items were for the amount of time they take. I was only thinking of material costs, not including labor. I fell into the trap of thinking that if my time doesn’t get written off then it doesn’t matter how long I take.

This was another mindset shift from seeing myself as self-employed to a business owner. My time did matter and eventually, I knew I was going to pay someone else to do these time-consuming tasks. I only changed my behavior once I realized how much it would cost me to pay someone else to produce my orders.

Solution:

Even if you don’t plan to hire someone, remember how valuable your time is. The less time it takes to produce orders, not only will you be more profitable, but you’ll also have more time to grow the business. This also frees up time to find better deals for your supplies.

Questions to ask yourself for profit improvement:

    1. Do you know exactly how long each item takes to make?
    2. Can you take a step back, assess the situation, and find a faster way to achieve the same outcome?
    3. Can you find better rates for your supplies for your business?

Product

When my husband and I finally finished our tasks for the day at around 11 pm, he would just sit and let me vent, cry, or whatever I needed to do to in order to keep working the next day. He finally asked me a series of questions that revolutionized the way in which my business was running. My husband asked me, “Why are your signs painted? Do your customers actually care that they’re hand painted? Would anyone notice if they weren’t?”

When I was getting started with signs, it seemed like all of the sellers on Etsy were hand painting them so I thought that I had to as well. I assumed this is what customers wanted without actually verifying it. I was using the mentality “If everyone is doing it, it must be right” and that mentality was really hurting the passion I had for my business. I didn’t have a good answer when my husband asked me those questions and all of a sudden I knew that was a really big problem.

This would be a huge turning point for my business; I just didn’t know it yet.

I finally realized that something had to change. As much as I hated change, I needed a change to happen.

Solution:

I made 2 identical copies of my signs (one painted and one vinyl) and took these to my friends and people I knew in my community. I wanted their opinion on which sign they preferred without telling them which sign was painted and which had vinyl. They ALL preferred the look the vinyl had. It was crisp, clean, and looked more professional than the painted sign that had imperfections. I asked them if they cared one was vinyl over hand painted; a few said they liked the idea of hand painted, but preferred the how vinyl sign looked in person.

YESSSSS!!!! This was exactly what I wanted to hear and I knew this would change how my business functioned for the future.

Because of the change in production in my signs from paint to vinyl, I was able to completely eliminate the use of painter’s tape and spray paint, increasing profitability. This doesn’t even include the insane amount of labor being saved as well.

I then began to question how I could decrease other expenses without compromising the integrity of my product. I changed to a more raw cut of wood. The cheaper wood actually looked better because of the uniqueness of the wood grains. I got rid of half of my wood stain options that were either too similar or the least popular choice of my customers. If it wasn’t selling I got rid of it. It’s also too much work to keep 10 wood stains in back stock; 5 was much easier to keep up with and store in my garage.

Questions to ask yourself for product improvement:

    1. Do you have your why for every component of your product? If not, question why that component might be important. If it isn’t important, consider a production change.
    2. Can you cut down on variations of any products that don’t sell often?

Conclusion

I began to implement all of these changes after over a year in business and with more than 800 orders under my belt. It’s never too late and there’s no better time than.

Right. Now.

Question every single aspect of your business including design, production, shipping, workspace, etc.

Be able to specifically answer, “Why?”, “Does this make sense?”, and “Does this matter for my customer?” for any part of your business. Don’t assume things you like are also aspects the customer will pay extra for.

My business was growing fast enough that I was just kind of throwing things together without thinking, especially my workspace and how my items were created.

With a growing business, you want everything to as efficient as possible. I was tired of running all over my house moving things back and forth and in and out.

In short, I needed a system. A system that made sense to me and so that an employee could step in and get to work right away with little training.

I guarantee there is some aspect of your business that could be more efficient or an area that could decrease some of your costs. These are 2 things that can greatly increase your profit margin, helping you to earn more money by working fewer hours. Isn’t that the dream?! Start questioning every aspect of your business and find ways to improve. And, remember, this is a continual process. Get started now to revolutionize your handmade business.

Related: How To Use Trello As An Order Management System For Handmade Business

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July 2018 Income Report

Here’s my online income report for my handmade business, Obsidian Home Creations (TheOHC on Etsy), for July of 2018. As of right now, this is a new record for me as the highest income month for me this year and I only expect it to keep growing as we enter the fourth quarter.

Why share income reports?

Some people wouldn’t dream of sharing how much money they make. For others, they simply don’t understand its relevance. Before I started selling on Etsy, I wanted to know that it was possible to make thousands of dollars a month online. After all, 3 years ago I didn’t even know Etsy existed AT ALL. And now it, along with Handmade on Amazon (HOA), allow me to work from home and be my own boss. This is something you can start with zero experience. It also has a vary low monetary entry barrier compared to other avenues.

 

Here are my 3 main reasons I share my online income reports:

1. My first goal is to inspire others.

I was absolutely terrified to start my own business and seeing others’ income reports helped push me to get over my fears. I want others to know that it IS possible to make full-time income working from home. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can become a reality.
 

2. This is an excellent way for me to track my progress.

It helps me to see what’s working/what didn’t work. I’m always learning and trying new ideas. This will be a way to reflect on those decisions and make better business decisions in the future.
 

3. I want others to know that this is something you can start AT ANY TIME in your life.

I started this as a side hustle in college and I had a career with a part-time employee before I even graduated.
 

What an Online Business Has Allowed Me To Do

My online business has allowed me to work from home, be my own boss, and be in charge of my future. I decide when I want to wake up, work, go to bed, when to take breaks, and a bunch of other benefits. I can decide on a Tuesday afternoon that I want to take my dog to the lake and relax for 2 hours. Do I have to work when I get home? Usually, but again, I get to decide how to structure my day.

MY 2018 JULY INCOME

Etsy Income: $4840.00

Amazon Handmade Income: $595.97


Total Income – $5435.97

 

Etsy had 119 orders and Amazon Handmade had 14. I’ve been selling on Etsy for a little over 2 years. Compared to the same time last year on Etsy, I’m up over 500% in revenue!! It’s super exciting to see all your hard work starting to pay off!
 
This was my second full month on HOA and I’m still beginning to learn the ropes.
 

Did I accomplish my goals I set last month? My goals for July 2018 in my June income report were:

Etsy – $5000.
 
Didn’t quite get there, but so close!
 
Amazon – $1000. Send in FBA shipment
 
I fell quite a bit short on this goal, but my revenue still increased compared to June, so I’m happy with that. I also didn’t send in any FBA shipments, as I am not sure many of my products are a good fit for FBA.
 

WHAT I PLAN TO DO FOR NEXT MONTH:

I’m still focusing on growing on HOA. I’ve built my shop up on Etsy to the point that sales are fairly consistent. Amazon is so much bigger of a marketplace that I’m super excited to try and capitalize on a new platform. Everything about Amazon is different from Etsy. This means I’m spending a large chunk of my time researching how to sell on Amazon and get found in search. I plan to start running advertising campaigns on Amazon and spend most of my time learning that.
 

My goals for July 2018

 
Etsy – August is a slower month for me before the big upswing into fall and the fourth quarter. I want to use this time to make as much backstock as possible for my items so that I’m prepared for a big September.
 
Amazon – Launch automatic campaigns for my 2 main product categories. This will be “getting my toes wet.” The campaign will automatically generate target keywords for me. I’ll work on manually targeting with ads later.
 

WILL I SHARE MORE INCOME REPORTS?

Absolutely.

I want to continue inspiring others in their journey, whether they haven’t started yet, just beginning, or have already begun but are considering giving up hope on their business because it’s not going the way they planned.
 
As I said earlier, I want to use these reports to track my progress, make goals, and see if I accomplished those goals. It helps with accountability and to motivate me. I want to always strive towards setting new and bigger goals.
 

The 3 Biggest Key to my Success Thus Far:

 

Starting.

 
You’ll never make any money online with your own business without starting and trying. I’ve felt like a failure so many times over the past 2 years. I’ve lost count. It’s a reoccurring theme for me. Learn to embrace failure. As John C. Maxwell (author, speaker, and pastor) wrote in his book, Failing Forward, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”
 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I can’t even stress how important this is for your shop. SEO is my bread & butter. I haven’t put very much time and effort into social media. Almost all my sales come through search on Etsy/Amazon. I have many items that rank on page 1 and sell every single day.
 

Excellent photos

I’ll be VERY honest here. I’m still not satisfied with the photos I have for my products. They’re certainly much better than when I began, but could still improved. When you’re online, your customers can’t see or touch your product. You have to sell them with your photos. There are so many beautiful products on Etsy and Amazon and competition is HIGH. If your photos are lacking, it’s hard to get views, let alone sales, even if your SEO is spot on.
 

What I learned in July:

 

Selling on 2 platforms is such a good idea for my business. I’ve experienced having all my eggs in one Etsy basket and it doesn’t work for me. It’s also too stressful to solely depend on one source. Spreading your income across multiple platforms allows you to increase your revenue and stabilize your income.
 
What did you learn this month? What are your goals for next month?
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How To Use Trello As An Order Management System For Handmade Business

If you’ve ever gotten a sale and your next thoughts were, “Uh oh,” I’m going to fix that. If you’ve never had that problem you will, and I am going to prepare you for that.

What would happen if your sales volume doubled or tripled overnight?

Are you prepared for that?

A question I often see is how handmade sellers keep track of orders as they’re going through the production process. This is especially difficult during the hectic fourth quarter.
 
The large influx of orders causes many shops owners to become overwhelmed. It’s very to lose track of customer’s orders.

When you lose track, orders go out late. That equates to unhappy customers and hurts your metrics with the selling platform.

When I couldn’t keep track of orders by looking at each platform on its own (Handmade on Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, own website, etc), I switched to Trello. Don’t write every order down or print off every order’s packing slip and keep a giant stack of papers organized. It’s a waste of your time and a waste of paper.

I’ve been using Trello as my order management system since 2017. It makes sure tasks finish in time for shipping deadlines. It’s much faster than writing it down by hand and allows you to visually see all the progress made on your orders.

What is Trello? How do you use it as an order management system? 

Let’s say you have 200 orders per month from 4 products that all have their own manufacturing process. You’re shipping out 50 orders a week and are starting to lose track of them.

Trello is what kept me from putting my shops on vacation to catch up on orders.

Trello works in real-time, real fast. When a card is moved, it moves on your board instantly, no matter what device you use. I have the app installed on my MacBook Pro, iPad, and my Google Pixel 2. It’s always open on my computer and I use it every single day.

I can’t keep track of orders without Trello.

Simply put, Trello is a whiteboard, with columns and moveable sticky notes. Trello is a FREE productivity platform. It allows you to manually keep track of orders with a bird’s eye view of your project(s). In Trello, there are boards, lists, and cards.

Setting Up Boards, Lists, and Cards In Trello

  • Boards – a visual representation of a process that has multiple steps

Have boards for each specific product type you sell that has its own unique manufacturing process. For example, if you have a laser engraver that allows you to both engrave and cut wood, then you might sell personalized engraved cutting boards as well as cutout letters 3D letters onto a wood board. Another product type with a laser engraver would be etching glass, needing a third board.

Make a board for every product that differs in production. Give each board a name related to the product (ex: Engraved Items, 3D Signs, Etched Items).

Click create new board after you create a FREE account to get started. 

  • Lists – give each stage of the process a name

Each board will have its own unique lists (production phases) spread horizontally across the page as shown below. This keeps track of where every order is in its current production phase. I recommend each board’s first list to be your “Queue.” Orders received that haven’t gone into production should be placed here.

Either add orders to your queue as soon as you receive them or you add all the orders at the end of the day.

For the example above, the 3D signs would require a wood cutting stage, laser cutting stage, attaching the cut out letters to the board stage, etc. This continues until you have the finished product in the “Ready to Ship” list.

 

  • Cards – every order is represented by a card

Cards are where the magic happens in Trello. They are kept vertically in order underneath lists. I can easily get a sense of how busy we are just by seeing how long every list is. Think of them as digital sticky notes. These sticky notes can be dragged and dropped onto other lists or reordered within lists. As each physical product moves through production the card assigned to it is also moved. 

Cards are searchable. Type into the search bar for a customer’s order and find the card without having to look through every single card. If a customer has a question I can easily pull up their order and make changes to the Trello Card. I only put in their first initial and last name to protect the client’s data.

Each card has checklists, deadline dates, colored labels, and discussion notes. These are all CRUCIAL for keeping track of small, but important, details.

Start each card with it’s selling platform (Etsy, Amazon, etc.) and the customer name (Ex: Etsy – J. Barnes). Then copy and paste any other information needed to complete the order.

Card Features

  • CHECKLISTS – Use checklists to mark if an action has been completed. For a laser engraver shop with the 3D signs, they would use a checklist to track if the customer’s order has been designed yet, or if the mock-up was approved. This may or may not apply to your shop. I have some boards where every card has a checklist and others where I don’t use any checklists.
  • DEADLINE DATES – Use this as the shipping deadline! This will make each card show its due date at the bottom lefthand corner. Each list can be sorted by due date to make sure orders with shorter deadlines get into production faster.
  • COLORED LABELS – These are great for highlighting any order(s) that require special attention. Label each color so it color represents a certain characteristic. Rush orders are a great example of when to use a colored label. Name the color (ex: purple) you want as “RUSH.” Now when you see a purple label you know that is a rushed order.

What about when a customer needs to change the shipping address?

Have you ever forgotten and shipped the item to the WRONG place?!

Trello makes sure this NEVER happens again.

On Etsy, you can ship to a different address than given, but you can only change the address when printing out the shipping label. This can be hard to remember when the customer told you 2 weeks ago and you’re shipping 50 orders that day.

Create a “CHANGE SHIPPING ADDRESS” label with a specific color. When that order is ready to ship the label sticks out and you know to change the address before purchasing postage.

  • DESCRIPTION NOTES – Use these to make any special notes or instruction for an order. A great way to utilize this feature it to use it along with the change shipping address colored label. Copy and paste the new address into the discussion notes so that it is easily retrieved when purchasing postage.

Archive orders when shippedThis marks the card (an order) as finished and removes it from your view. If for some reason you need to find that order again, it’s archived (not deleted). You can find archived cards using the search bar if needed.

Other Trello Uses

Create a to-do list board for employee(s) so they quit asking, “What do you want me to do next?” Have a “To Do” list and a “Finished” list. Any task that your employee can do on their own, add as a card. Create cards in the order you want them completed and have them move each card from “To Do” to “Finished” as they’re working.

Add employee(s) to production boards so they can see/move orders through the process. Let them know how busy things are so they have a better idea of what’s going on. Once you trust your employees enough to edit the board, allow them to move orders through the production process themselves.

Time Blocking

This is something I’ve only begun to experiment with, so I am no expert on this subject. Time blocking is a time management tool where you schedule your time into blocks. It helps you get things done faster by limiting distractions to become hyper-focused and get away from lengthy to-do lists.

Use lists for time blocks during the day. For example, Before Work (6 to 8), Morning (8-12), Lunch (12-1), etc. Move tasks around as needed throughout the day and use labels to mark tasks as a specific type of activity (work, household, family time, etc.).

 

 


Ultimately, design the system that works best for you and your business.

Trello is Extremely Customizable.

I use Trello for everything from family meal planning, designing production processes, and planning blog posts. Some people might disagree with Trello as the best free project management tool, but the system only works if you work the system.

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June 2018 Income Report

Here’s my online income report for my handmade business, Obsidian Home Creations (TheOHC on Etsy), for June of 2018. As of right now, this is the highest income month for me this year and I only expect it to keep growing as we enter the fourth quarter.How I Made $4587.00 Online With Etsy & Handmade On Amazon

Why I Share Income Reports

Some people wouldn’t dream of sharing how much money they make and others simply don’t understand its relevance. For me personally, before I started selling on Etsy, I wanted to know that it was possible to make thousands of dollars a month online.

After all, 3 years ago I didn’t even know Etsy existed AT ALL. And now it, along with Handmade on Amazon (HOA), allow me to start this company and avoid working for someone else. I choose to work from home and I am the boss. This is something you can start with zero experience and doesn’t require a large initial investment.

Here are my 3 main reasons I share my online income reports:

1. My first goal is to inspire others.

I was absolutely terrified to start my own business and seeing others’ income reports helped push me to get over my fears. I want others to know that it is possible to make a full-time income working from home. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can become a reality.  

2. This is an excellent way for me to track my progress.

It helps me to see what’s working/what didn’t work. I’m always learning and trying new ideas. This will be a way to reflect on those decisions and make better business decisions in the future.

3. I want others to know that this is something anyone can start AT ANY TIME in their life.

I started this as a side hustle in college and I had a company with a part-time employee before I even finished my degrees.

What an Online Business Has Allowed Me To Do

My online business has allowed me to work from home, be my own boss, and be in charge of my future. I decide when I want to wake up, work, go to bed, when to take breaks, and a bunch of other benefits. 

I can decide on a Tuesday afternoon that I want to take my dog to the lake and relax for 2 hours. Do I have to work when I get home? Usually, but again, I get to decide how to structure my day.

MY 2018 JUNE INCOME

Etsy Income: $4257.00

Amazon Handmade Income: $330


Total Income: $4587.00


Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 6.24.19 PM
Handmade on Amazon Revenue

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 6.22.50 PM
Etsy Revenue

Etsy had 93 orders and Amazon Handmade had 8. I’ve been selling on Etsy for a little over 2 years. Compared to the same time last year, I’m up 350% in revenue.

This was my first full month on HOA and I’m only just beginning to learn the ropes. I have about a dozen items up (90% FBM and 10% FBA).

What I Plan To Work On For Next Month

I plan to really focus on growing on HOA. I’ve built my shop up on Etsy to the point that sales are fairly consistent. Amazon is so much bigger of a marketplace that I’m super excited to try to capitalize on a new platform. Everything about Amazon is different from Etsy so I’m spending a large chunk of my time researching how to sell on Amazon and get found in the search.

My goals for July 2018

Etsy – $5000. I’m currently on pace to hit this number and will continue to fulfill orders as they come in.

Amazon – $1000. In order to increase my revenue on Amazon, I need more listings. My goal is to reach 30 items by the end of July. I also want to design new products specifically for FBA to reach a wider audience. I plan to have another FBA shipment sent before the end of July.

Will I Share More Income Reports?

Absolutely.

I want to continue inspiring others in their journey, whether they haven’t started yet, they’re just beginning, or have already begun but are considering giving up hope on their business because it’s not going the way they planned.

As I said earlier, I want to use these reports to track my progress, make goals, and see if I accomplished those goals. It helps with accountability and to motivate me to always strive towards new and bigger goals.

The 3 Biggest Key to my Success Thus Far:

1. Starting

You’ll never make any money online with your own business without simply starting and trying. I’ve felt like a failure so many times over the past 2 years. I’ve lost count. It’s a reoccurring theme for me.

Learn to embrace failure.

As John C. Maxwell, an author, speaker, and pastor wrote in his book, Failing Forward, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I can’t even stress how important this is for your shop. SEO is my bread & butter. I honestly haven’t put very much time and effort into social media. Almost all of my sales come through the search on Etsy. I have multiple items that rank on page 1 and sell every single day.

3. Excellent Photos

Honestly, I’m still not satisfied with the photos I have for my products. They’re certainly much better than when I began, but could still be improved I think.

When you’re online, your customers can’t see or touch your product. You have to sell them with your photos. There are so many beautiful products on Etsy and Amazon that if your photos are lacking, it’s hard to get views, let alone sales, even if your SEO is spot on.

What I learned in June:

Selling on 2 platforms is rarely a bad idea. I’ve experienced having all of my eggs in one Etsy basket and it’s just not smart. Spreading your income across multiple platforms allows you to increase your revenue and stabilize your income.

I’m still frustrated by my income because I’ve had better months last fall-winter. But looking at my revenue increasing 350% from last year reminds me that this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. You can’t always compare things to the best you’ve ever had. It’s all about perspective. I’m frustrated because I could easily handle a lot more orders in a month, but I need to remember where I was at this point last year. At this time 1 year ago, I wasn’t even sure if Etsy would be able to pay all of my bills every month and now it consistently provides for me month after month. And I am incredibly grateful for that.

What did you learn this month? What are your goals for next month?

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