Thursday, March 31, 2011

{ DON'T TREND ON ME } or how not to get stuck with 100 mustached owl's

One of the ways to stay on top of what people are buying is making sure you read Etsy's monthly "From Etsy's Merchandising Desk"* this outlines each month's current trends & popular tags for items. Although this can be very helpful it can also send sellers in a rush to create items matching the trends & therefore resulting in lost time and wasted effort (especially if your style really doesn't match the current trends) If you are anything like me after you read this article you may feel a little un-hip, out of touch & start reevaluating the look and feel of your shop. But never fear I have developed some simple do's & don'ts of the current trends.

{DO} Read trending topics & tags carefully especially the colors, go through all your items in your shop carefully & update your tags appropriately. 
{DON'T} Try and make a tag fit your item if it doesn't represent it honestly. I mean if you are selling a vintage blazer don't tag it with the word "garden" (even if you wore it once while walking through a garden, it doesn't count)
{DO} Create items matching trending topics if your style matches the topic, but don't go overboard.(remember the trend usually only lasts a month so unless it's something you really want in your store you may want to focus your energy on other projects) 
{DON'T} Try and be something you are not. If you are a vegan friendly store you really have no business listing items that fit into the trend of "butcher shop"
{DO} Create lots of treasuries following the different trends. This is a great way to take advantage of the trends even if you don't have items of your own that match it. Plus there is a good chance that yours might make it to the front page, therefore driving more traffic to your store(not to mention helping some other Etsy sellers)
{DON'T} Make treasuries just to make them.If you are going to create a treasury really take your time with them & choose the best possible images (not just the first items you find that match your tags) Try to add as much variety in your items and sellers as possible.
and finally.........................
{DO} Be true to your style, atheistic & what you are known for. Buyers can easily spot an artist who is just trying to create something that will sell and doesn't come from a true & honest place this may unintentionally confuse or alienate your audience.   
{DON'T} Mess with what works. Keep making the items that got people to come to your shop in the first place. 

Remember: Trends come and go and although it can be tempting to try to do anything to be the "in thing" of the moment it can also result in having 100 owl's with mustache's riding bicycles on your office floor that you can't sell. 

*If you want to read the trends for April:

Monday, March 28, 2011

{ what finding your yeti has to do with improving your Etsy sales }

When I first started my shop I only had pieces that I thought would sell.  When I went to create a piece I would always think "Will this sell?" or "Who would want to buy this?" And you know what happened-no one bought anything. I sat there in front of my Etsy shop staring at the 0 sales and wondering what I was doing wrong.

One snowy night me & my boyfriend heard this loud noise outside our apartment and I joked that it must be a Yeti trying to get inside. Me & my boyfriend found this hilarious and he proceeded to throw one of our newly baked muffins into the blizzard. Laughing so hard I asked "Why did you do that?" he answered "Because Yeti's love muffins and now he will leave us alone"

I often make my boyfriend sketches that represent "our stories" and I was so excited to show him my new creation: a muffin loving Yeti. He was one of my favorite creations & I absolutely fell in love with the simple pencil sketch. So I created cards for my boyfriend as a gift and he said "Hey you should sell these on your Etsy shop" I laughed and said "Who would want to buy these? It's only funny to you and me, I mean it really makes no sense." But I loved them so much, so I listed them not expecting anything (I mean what are the chances of other Yeti loving individuals out there).

The next day I got an email saying I had made a sale (at first I thought my boyfriend was being cute) but no it was an actual person(and not family either) who paid actual money for my item. What had changed? I created something I loved and didn't worry about anyone else. I rediscovered why I started my shop in the first place. I found my Yeti, so to speak.

So what is your Yeti? Do you worry about if your product will sell instead of just creating what you love?
I would love to hear your stories & share your experiences (and muffins if you got them)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

{ the SIMPLE formula to picking which items you should feature in your etsy shop }

First of all if you are not taking advantage of Featuring items in your shop, that should be the first thing you do. Why? The Featured items are the first look that buyers will have at your products & the Featured items are a great way to establish the feel & overall idea of your shop.

But which of your pieces should you Feature? Most people Feature their newest items but they will show first in the Etsy search so you are really wasting those spots by using your most recent listing.The other most popular items to Feature are the ones that have the most hearts but hearts don't necessarily mean sales so stay away from that as well.
So I have developed a formula for which items you should feature:

{1st slot} Your best selling piece
{2nd slot}Your favorite piece: What piece represents you as a person, your shop or hold personal meaning to you
{3rd slot}Your second best selling piece
{4th slot}A seasonal piece: Use this one to capture the feel of the season, trends or holiday

Still have questions what items you should feature, ask away. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

{ handmade wedding wednesday }

I love that more & more couples are choosing to go handmade for their weddings. Are you a couple thinking about making your wedding handmade?
Well here are 5 advantages to choosing handmade for your wedding celebration:

{1} Personal Touches: Most vendors on Etsy are more than happy to create a custom, one of an kind item for you. This allows you to add touches that are meaningful & special to you as a couple. (SOME GREAT IDEAS: incorporate your first date, how you met and  including your pets)

{2} Eco-Friendly: Handmade products tend to be more Eco-friendly and you can find shops & vendors that fit your personal, environmental and social values.

{3} Shop Locally: This gives you a unique chance to support local shops or shops in your area. If you choose shops that are in your driving range sometimes you can arrange for pickup, saving you any shipping and handling charges. Plus items you choose might have hometown touches that would be a perfect edition to your ceremony.

{4} $$$: Any one planing a wedding knows it can be a huge expense. If you are trying to plan on a budget or just want to save where you can buying handmade can greatly reduce the price. Many Etsy shops offer bulk discounts, free shipping and other promotional offers-take advantage & enjoy saving.

{5} Can't find it anywhere else: Wedding themes can be wacky, off the wall and truly one of a kind. These weddings can be lots of fun but finding items that match them can be anything but. That's where handmade comes in you can request just about anything, from weddings inspired by Star Wars to an all plaid wedding, chances are you can find a handmade vendor who can create what you are looking for.

I'm hoping these will give you a reason to say "I do" to a handmade wedding. 

In the coming weeks I will be showcasing different handmade weddings shops & products every Wednesday. If you have a shop that specializes in handmade wedding products or incorporated handmade aspects into your wedding, please feel free to share them with me. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

{ zombies love Easter too! }

Here at littletoad we believe everybody should get a chance to enjoy the holidays, even zombies. That's right I said zombies. 

Don't think the un-dead like celebrating Easter? Well think again, they love eating jelly brains, filling their easter casket and decorating severed legs. See not that different than your Easter.

{ some artistic motivation on this rainy Tuesday }

Monday, March 21, 2011

{ 5 ways to improve your etsy shop in under 5 minutes }

Picture from one of my favorite shops: The Daily Foto
We have all read the countless ways to improve our Etsy shops &  although it is all valuable advice it always seems to come to: take better pictures & renew listings often. So I came up with 5 very simple very quick things you can do right now that will improve your overall shop.

{1} Location, Location, Location: If you haven't already added your location to your profile do it right now! I'll wait...............................Is it added? Great! But did you know you can add multiple locations. For example I live in Erie but am also close to Buffalo, Pittsburgh & Cleveland. By adding those locations I have just increased how people can find me if they are searching locally. This also opens up greater opportunities to meet other artists around you & getting informed about local craft fairs. (HINT: Don't go overboard Yes we are all somewhat close to Canada that doesn't mean you should add it)

{2} Circle It: The circle feature is new to Etsy but it can provide a great way to network & interact with other artists. I have found countless new favorite shops this way and have had several buyers find me this way as well. It's super fun, easy & a bit addicting. Don't know where to start or what an Etsy circle is, read this article that will help you get started: (HINT: Don't add everyone to your circle it takes away from it's intent. Add shops you genuinely like & want to follow)

{3} I have an Announcement to Make: When writing your shop announcement keep it short and sweet. State what your shop is about, what you sell and a brief business or art philosophy. Everything else should go into your profile (and I do mean everything) Links to your Facebook, blogs, flickr, magazines & articles you have been in, your pets names, etc... are great if they are put in the right place. (HINT: If you do have a website not a blog you can include that in your shop announcement. Also if you do custom work that should be very visible)

{4} Raise your Banner High: We all know they are so many shops that will create banners for you but it's very important that you have a banner that is uniquely YOURS. Stay away from banner templates! I will repeat that Stay Away from banner templates! You want to create a banner that is consistent with the brand you are trying to market & the worst thing a buyer can do is open up your shop and get the feeling like they have seen the banner before. Your homework: Go on Etsy & look at different shop's banners if you like one send them a convo and ask where they got it done (most Etsy sellers are more than happy to help out a fellow artist). Also if you like a certain artists style and it never hurts to ask, most people won't turn down custom work. (HINT: It is very tempting to use free banners but think about it as an investment. Just think about how many times you renew listings, take a week's worth of that and put it towards a GREAT banner)

{5} Work the Slots: Ok, this does have to with photography but not in the way you think: Use ALL 5 photo slots!!! This really does boost the level of your product and gives the buyer added information to make their choice. What can I possibly show in all 5 spots? Glad you asked: show your packaging, show your item framed & matted, show your item in use or being worn and show your item from every possible angle. (HINT: Was your item featured in a blog post, magazine article or other publication? Take a screencap or scan of it and use that as one of your pictures-making sure your product is clearly visible)

Any questions or comments about this article, email me at:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

{ what's all the hype about? }

I wanted to share with you a GREAT site for artists & small business owners. Create Hype is a great resource which gives great and FREE, yes I said free, tips on how to grow your business! It's quick & easy to sign up just click here to see what all the hype is about:

Friday, March 18, 2011

{ What inspired it? }

{ Any Clue who did it? }
This was one of my most challenging treasuries because the search to find just the right items was hard, not to mention there are not a bunch of lead pipes on Etsy. I wanted to capture each character in a fun & unique way and plus showcase all the weapons & a few of the rooms.

I'm so excited about how well this one is being recieved and how many compliments I have gotten (including from Etsy themselves).
Was it Col. Mustard with the revelover in the kitchen? You'll have to stop by and guess for yourself!

{ What inspired it? }

{ Pigs in a Blanket}

This treasury was inspired by the cute finds at Lori Nichols great shop. I feel so much in love with her work that I gave 2 of her adorable creations a new home with me.
Visit her shop here:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

{ Happy St. Patrick's Day }
It was never easy being green for our friend Kermit but on today where green is everywhere it's easy being green, especially here at littletoad. We are having a BOGO sale: Buy any individual card & get one of your choice FREE!! Upon ordering just leave the message to buyer which card you want!

But hurry this TOADally amazing sal will be ending this Sunday!

{ Chupacabra's eat graham crackers, not goats }

Meet the newest addition to the littletoad collection: Charlie the Chupacabra! This design came about when I was recovering from surgery & my diet just consisted of Teddy Grahams. I always have felt the Chupacabra was misunderstood and still to this day doesn't know how the eating goat rumor got started.

Even though he is the newest in my shop he is already getting lots of love. He has appeared in the following blog: You Had me at Handmade: & has already inspired me to create note cards to go along with the recipe cards.