Vintage finds and retro handmade--a sweet mix I know you'll love.

This is my blog. To visit my stores, click the Etsy or Artfire links above, or the product images on the right column of the screen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Three Myths and the Truth about Online Selling

I am not yet an old pro when it comes to online selling.  I have been in business since October of 2009, and in that time I have learned a lot about business through the school of hard knocks.  As of my writing this, I sold four things in the past week, and have now racked up 60 sales, one returned sale, two incomplete or false sales, and a 100% positive feedback rating.  I think I still have a lot to learn, but I also think I have gained a little knowledge about the business, and my experiences have debunked a few myths along the way.  I thought I'd share a little of what I've learned with my readers.

Myth #1: If you build it, they will come.

When I opened my store up on Etsy in 2009, I experienced a deceptive windfall of sales early on.  After all, it was the Christmas season.  That made me believe that customers just find your store and buy things.  All you have to do is put it up there, and surely someone would buy it.

Not so.  My sales dried up after three and a half months, and I was then faced with a long period of waiting that lasted four and a half more months!  While it is true that you can get some sales coming in from random browsers on large sites like Etsy, the reality is that most people are probably going to use a search engine like Yahoo or Google to find your shop, and that means you have to target those search engines.

That means using techniques like Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, titles can't be artsy and silly, they have to be packed with important words that people might search for.  The first paragraph of the listing has to also be full of these descriptive words, not just artsy language.  We are not writing the next great American novel; it's more like writing an entry into the card catalog at the library.

Myth #2:  You can sell anything online. 
Sometimes I think this isn't a myth, but my personal experience has shown that you can only sell what people want.  If you can't appeal to someone's wants, or meet their needs, you will not sell anything.  That means you have to understand your shoppers and give them what they want.

 What they want varies.  You may have collectors who want to round out a collection, so they are searching specifically for a brand or trademark name.  Other people may just be searching for a red decorative item, or cute salt and pepper shakers, or something to give as a wedding present.  They best way to find out what people want is to use industry standards like Google Analytics to chart what people are searching for.  This can reveal trends.  Another way is to follow trends in magazines and on popular blogs.

Myth #3: SEO is all it takes to sell online.
I keep coming back to this.  You have to advertise and publicize yourself, or the best SEO won't get you very far.  Like the store that opens in a high traffic area, you are going to get some walk-in traffic, but without advertising, you might not be able to reach out to the people you want to find your store.  I did what I could to improve my visibility, by participating in free social media like Facebook (where I have a fanpage), a guild on Artfire, a Flickr account, and two blogs. I've also commented on other people's blogs, which does eventually draw a trickle of traffic to my sites.  I haven't started a Twitter account yet.  That will come eventually.  Right now it is a question of best time usage.

Well, I think that is enough for now.  I'm curious to hear what my readers think of this, and any other myths they care to debunk. Which myth was a big one for you?  How did you beat them and gain success?  The comments section is open!  I welcome reader participation, as always.

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