Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cry me a river

I want to grow my tiny business of handmade shiny things. Not that I have illusions of pulling in a six-figure income with it, or ever outsourcing production and becoming a household name (like the woman that started the Spanx company, for example).

And speaking of which, how cool is it that Spanx come in maternity sizes too?! Hopefully that means I can still wear cute skirts and dresses for a while until I'm just too big to want to be compressed like that (which is probably at the same point I will retreat to sweatpants until it's all over, like when BabyX is 18. Just kidding, TJ.)

But I digress. Growing my business, right. I'd like to put my effort into becoming successful as an online seller. Because I dislike selling in person. I'm just not "sales-y". It makes me deeply uncomfortable. Now, in order to be really successful, I may have to change my attitude and try it again, but for now I'm focusing my efforts online. Because I can do other things while my items are hanging out waiting to be bought by that right person.

So my new experiment, for the next three months, is opening a shop on No small feat, as it turns out. It costs a fairly hefty monthly fee, and also required some cash outlay on my part so that I could purchase UPC barcodes for each of my items. So I'm in it for some money. But you gotta spend money, to make money right? (That's what I tell myself, anyway.)

My last job at Mercent gave me a surprising education in the world of online retail. I never thought I'd *use* that info for myself. But having helped several customers get up and running on Amazon has given me a lot of great insight in getting my own shop going. Granted, I can't afford nifty automated data feed tools, and I enter my products in one by one, but the principles are the same.

Now is the hard part - waiting to see if I'm successful, and tweaking things as needed. I've only gotten a handful of products uploaded, and after a day of being "live" have no sales yet. I know I shouldn't expect much - it took me about a week on Etsy to get my first sale and they were few and far between for the first 6 months or so.

But for some reason I had these visions of orders just streaming in on Amazon. Hehe. My handmade pet tags are more expensive than most of the mass-produced ones currently listed on the site, so I suspect it's a special set of buyers I'm targeting. Now I just need to figure out how to reach them.

It's kind of nerve-wracking but also exciting. Wish me luck on this wild ride, and let me know if you have any good advice. I know I need to list more products, and work on getting the images into Amazon's format rather than the artsy Etsy format. And I *definitely* need to work on search terms, SEO, and all that. Would love any pointers to good articles/books on those subjects, for sure!

So I'm waiting for that elusive first sale to happen, so I can then begin to obsess about the second and third. But in the meantime, there's a lot of work I need to do over there.

Anandi's Laboratory on Amazon


  1. Part of the problem: your shop isn't discoverable yet. I've added a few search suggestions to help get it in there. (No, my suggestions don't carry any additional weight by virtue of being an employee, and it's subject to screening just like every other search suggestion.)

    For example: searching for dog tag ( doesn't turn up your store on the first three pages.

  2. @DAC - thanks for the tip. I had "dog tag" as a search term for some of the listings but not all, so I updated it. I hear that it can take days for it to be indexed and searchable?

    We'll see how it goes. Still no sales :(

  3. Yeah, the page says one to two weeks for search results to get approved and pushed. Alas, I have no insight as to how the process actually works. If it's like our catalog build process, it's frightening.

  4. My old roommate used to be a sales rep for a number of clothing manufacturers and now she's trying to sell her handmade baby/children's sweaters and things. She's also a dog person and has made some sweaters and stuff for her chihuahua. Seems like there might be some overlap in your target market.

  5. Take a look at "The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm" by Kenneth W. Gronbach. It discusses generation (boomer, X’ers and Y’s) sizes and their marketing implications. I found it very interesting and I am not interested in marketing or sales. Safari Books Online has it if you have an account. Or you can by a hardcopy on Amazon. Or you can borrow ours if you like.


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