Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Here is that list I cooked up yesterday:

brookhousepottery 255 sales 1/12/08
dbabcock 703 sales 8/30/06
kimwestad 1006 sales 9/13/06
morrispottery 545 sales 3/13/07
jdwolfpottery 1126 sales 7/23/07
edclay 122 sales 4/23/08
marymeestudio 497 sales 12/19/06
karinlorenc 318 sales 4/1/08
stonewareporcelain 268 sales 6/27/07
mudstuffing 1316 sales 3/29/07

These are all artists that are doing something right, and it is not just a matter of being a really good potter. In fact I would not hesitate to say that most of us are way better potters than most of them are. So quality of pottery aside, these artists are really good at some other skills and this is what really sells their pots. Selling to an audience over the internet is way different from selling to someone in person, or having the buyer be able to pick the pots up and handle them directly. What makes these artists so successful?

And now for the bad news:

williambaker 13 sales 4/10/08
jbpots 13 sales 5/7/09 (actually 13 pots isn't so bad)
jakesclayart 3 sales 7/8/08
shellenchentow 6 sales 11/07/08
greewoodstudio 91 sales 12/26/07 (91 isn't so bad but why not more?)
joytanner 48 sales 5/11/08 (for as much promoting as she does on
her blog why only 48?)
phillipspottery 24 sales 6/24/08
haalexander 8 sales 11/26/07
kovarikpottery 18 sales 9/26/07

These cold etsy artists are not necessarily bad artists or potters, but for some reasons they can't sell their pots on the internet. I would say that Brandon Phillips is every bit as good a potter as I am (probably much better if I am being totally honest), so if he can't sell his work how can I hope to? Well, especially on the internet you need to cultivate sales carefully. The pots don't sell themselves the way they do at a show where you can pick them up and handle them. So each of these artists has in some way not put the work in a position where the internet audience feels comfortable buying it. OR, as we discussed, the work may have been significantly hidden or inaccessible. For instance, if you have a shop with nothing in it you can't sell anything. If you don't have customers redirected to your shop from other sources, such as a blog, website, facebook page, you will need to depend on them finding you directly from the etsy site. This means you need good search words and tags, an easily remembered shop name, and a frequency of listings that make it easy for people to spot your work when they are browsing the categories. I don't think we stressed enough the importance of this kind of regular positioning. If you don't have enough items to post a new listing every few days you can still refresh an old item before the 4 months are up just so people can continue finding you easily. Of course this costs 20cents every time you do it, but you can build the cost of doing this into your price. Say I have 100 pots I want to sell on etsy. I won't list them all at once, but will let them trickle in so that I get maximum exposure. Maybe start out with a dozen or so, so that the storefront doesn't look too shabby to begin with. Then maybe add one new pot every day, or two or more new pots every other day so that they won't look lonely when they appear. I think a small number of items stands out more than just a single one spread out over the 40 or so pages that turn up new every day.

But what if you only have 10 pots? Once you have posted them they start to drift to the back of the line unless you refresh them constantly. Maybe you would want to open your store with all ten, and every few days refresh a few of them to keep them current on the front pages. Maybe instead of charging $14 for a cup you charge $17 so that you have built in 15 refreshings into the cost. Of course if no one buys it you are out the $3.20 to have listed it and refreshed it those many times, but you can consider it an investment into your web presence, as an advertising expense for people to actually get to see your work online. They may not buy that individual pot, but perhaps some one saw it, clicked on your shop and bought something else. So reposting an item is not a waste if it brings you traffic. Look at the success of your shop as a whole, not just that this item didn't sell. Maybe only refresh the pots that get the most views since they are driving more potential customers to your site.

All for now. Got to get on with my day. Good luck everyone!


Theresa said...

All of your comments are thoughtful, Carter, and make me think a lot about what you guys are trying to do. I just need more time to survey those that sell versus those that don't sell. I do know that my own shopping on the internet is usually driven by 1. price or 2. can't find it anywhere else. For example, I buy Amazon Used because of price. I may buy a 14K religious medal on an internet site because I can't find it in Athens--and then I look at price. With me it always comes back to price. I think a person can sell pots if the pots photograph nicely and they are priced to sell. Unless you have a name people are going ga-ga over, a mug should be reasonable, and 40 dollars is not reasonable (on the internet). I need to do some more thinking about buying without touching a pot.

carter gillies said...

You are spot on Theresa. Pots for use will be difficult to sell if they are not affordable, which is not to say that they need to be cheap. At the same time, if you only fill your shop with budget items you are making a statement of sorts. My plan is to sprinkle a few higher priced decorative items in the shop just to give the impression that I do more than make cups and bowls. If you show the range of your ability, even if you don't sell these more expensive items you may convince the viewer to buy the other things. The idea is to instill confidence in the quality of the maker--"well, I couldn't afford his vases, but I scored this mug for only $24!" That is what I want people to say.