Friday, July 24, 2009

The Practical Lady According to Candybar: Business edition.


One of the greatest things I’ve enjoyed about blogging is discovering what wonderful business talent ladies have out there. Personally, I really don’t enjoy working for someone else and dream of the day I’ll be able to quit my day job (I think I mentioned it in a previous post, but if not I work at Borders Books & Café). No co-workers, no silly rules, cranky customers, no rejected time off! So if that’s your dream, too, I figure I can give you a few tips I’ve learned so far on this journey to help you along as well! But first I’m going to share what two successful ladies had to say about the subject (who you probably have already heard of!) They were both super sweet and I really think the world of them for taking some time to answer my questions! I interviewed Rhiannon of Liebemarlene and Anja of Clever Nettle. Check out their wise words!


1. When did you start selling things online?

Rhiannon: I first started selling things on Etsy in 2006, I think , sort of just to get rid of some of the old dresses I had around that didn't really fit me or look good on me. I never thought I could making a living off of it, and I just got excited whenever I'd actually sell something!

Anja: I've been selling things online ever since I was in high school. Right before and after I graduated (in 2001) I was selling commissioned drawings to a girl in Minnesota, and one time I even sold a magazine ad for the tv show Trading Spaces on ebay for ten bucks! Who would buy that? It was pretty weird. I started on Etsy in 2005 and left Ebay behind not too long after that.



2. Rhiannon, what kind of jobs did you hold before opening your own online store?

Rhiannon: Oh, not-great ones. Different secretary jobs, and a job at a sort-of orphanage taking care of kids, and I loved the kids, but I had to be an authoritarian with them, which I was awful at. The only thing I was good at was teaching them how to knit.

3. Anja, is Clever Nettle your full time job? (I knew it was Rhiannon’s ;D)

Anja: Yes, and it has been since November of 2007 when I was happily fired from my last job at a cookie store. At first I thought about trying to get a part-time job in addition to selling on etsy, but things have progressed and my business has grown enough that I don't need an extra job, nor would I have time for one. Vintage has been taking up most of my time but I want to start working more on art too.


4. Rhiannon, what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Ebay and Etsy?

Rhiannon: I've sold on both and I probably prefer Ebay, if only because I'm used to it. I like that an Ebay store can be customized . . . As a whole, Etsy looks nicer, but it's harder to give an Etsy shop its own individual look, but you can load your Ebay shop up with all sorts of HTML. Etsy is nice because it just looks more streamlined and organized.

5. Rhiannon, about how long was it before you were successful enough to work for yourself?

Rhiannon: I was working at a part-time job, selling vintage clothing on Ebay on the side for about 4 months before I decided to drop the job and do Ebay full-time.

6. Any advice on how to market your business?

Rhiannon: I think the very best thing you can do is set up a blog--you'll be able to give customers a better idea of who you are and what kinds of things you sell, and it's probably the best marketing tool as well. Advertising on other blogs and in online magazines seems to work well too though I've never done it myself. But I've seen brand new Etsy shops explode in popularity after just one or two well-placed ads.

Anja: I don't know a lot about marketing, but I always try to be conscious of the line between putting your business out there respectably and annoying people with constant reminders that you have a shop. I've had online journals for a really long time so starting a blog was an easy step to take, and I think that blogging (and being linked from other blogs that I like) has been the best way of marketing my shop without really having to try very hard or go overboard with promotions. The internet is big and once you find your online crew things sort of fall into place. The vintage blogging community is just awesome! I think we support each other in a cool way, I'm always happy to see photos of the dresses I've sold in outfit photos on someone else's blog, and I love to show off what I buy from my favorite etsy shops too, which in turn hopefully helps them sell more too!

7. What do you think are some of the most important things to do when you start selling?

Rhiannon: I think it's best to build up an online shop and fill it with the sorts of things you like best, rather than what you think will be good sellers. And find a way to display the things you sell in a way that stands out from the others . . .

Anja: I think it's important to really sit down and think about what you want your shop to be. If you can start with a clear, cohesive plan (what will my photos look like? what will I sell? what will my shop name be? how can I be different than other shops?), you'll be doing yourself a lot of favors. I didn't really think about that stuff when I started my vintage shop on etsy, but I've learned a lot and am working backwards from mismatched clutter into a neat, tidy shop.


8. Any last bits of advice?

Rhiannon: I guess, to only get into the business if it's something you really love and will have fun with! It's a lot of work, and there are definitely boring, everyday job aspects to it, but if you love hunting down vintage (or making things to sell on Etsy) then it will be worth it.

Anja: Make sure you are starting a shop based on a true love or interest, because that love is what will keep you going when you're feeling worn out. My brain spends a ridiculous amount of time thinking about vintage clothing and if I didn't love it so much, I'd probably be feeling just as crazy as I used to at the "real" jobs that I hated. Also, set little goals and develop tricks that you can use to keep yourself motivated and on task, because there's no one around else to tell you that maybe it's time to wrap up packages instead of watching the newest episode of Australia's Next Top Model, haha.

A few additional tips from my personal experience:

1. Always buy delivery confirmation. Just trust me!

2. When selling on Etsy and you’re having a sale, send a few messages to people who have added you to their favorites letting them know.

3. Do start a blog. And comment on others! But try to refrain from being pushy about having them visit or link to you. Just leave honest, thoughtful comments where you think they’re deserved! And try to comment back, it’s always very appreciated.

4. Join social networking sites. This is something I’ve been working on lately. I sort of hate Facebook and Myspace, but I did join Twitter today! Try Flickr, Livejournal communities, Weardrobe, Chictopia, Lookbook, Modepass, the list goes on…

5. Post pictures. An all-text blog is really just not as appealing.

6. Use photoshop or another editing program. I don't do anything terribly complicated, but it's good for simple things like adjusting image size or sharpening, etc! If you can keep a secret, I downloaded mine at Isohunt.com :P But if you don't want to fool with any of that, consider paying someone who can! Aya of Strawberry Koi did my header and she's very reasonable!

7. List often. I struggle with this one myself!

That’s all I can think of for now, but I hope this helps anyone thinking about starting an online shop. Good luck, gals!

38 comments:

  1. Great advice - for all bloggers, as well as anyone wanting to start a shop. I definitely need to post more pictures, but I'm learning as I go and it is taking some getting my head around! I work much better on paper for ideas!
    I say it again - I love your blog!

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  2. Thanks so much for the helpful interviews! I had an Etsy store a while back but got caught up with other stuff and so was unable to tend to it. As a tip, the text of the interviewed is a bit light, so maybe making the text darker? :)

    Be sure and stop by my blog and leave a note!

    -Laila
    www.randomweavings.blogspot.com

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  3. Thank you so much for doing that! I've been working on my e-mail to you and was trying to think of great questions...do you mind if I still e-mail you?

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  4. What amazing and insightful interviews! Thanks so much for doing that, I've had many of the same questions myself but I'm too timid to ask!

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  5. This is the funnest interview I've read in a while! I enjoyed it, thank you so much :D

    Oh, and thank you for recommending me! ^-^

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  6. thanks so much for posting this! i'll be starting up an etsy shop in the fall and all of this information is extremely useful! merci! :)

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  7. It's funny when our answers say basically the same thing! :)

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  8. Thank goodness someone's done this! I always want to ask people how they've made such a success of what they're doing, but I feel kind of awkward!

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  9. Thanks so much for interviewing these very savvy ladies!! I always learn so much from post like this.

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  10. Oh! It's such a great post! Love it<3 I don't imagine myself working for someone as well, so that might be an option:) I've got to bookmark it;)

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  11. Thank you for these encouraging and thoughtful tips! I'm hoping someday etsy will be my full time job, too... and these help it seem attainable!

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  12. just one little question: do you need a paypal account to sell on etsy?

    thankyou^^

    x

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  13. This is awesome! I've just started mine and also have dreams of doing it full time. Trying to get the shop updated regularly is hard work when you already have a demanding job - but maybe next year i'll try giving it a go full time, I'm already planning to take a break anyway!

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  14. Super post! Love these ladies stores & blogs.

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  15. I loved reading this post. So many great tips and very inspiring.

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  16. Ines - Yes I believe you do need a Paypal account for Etsy :).

    Aya - You're welcome, it's a pleasure recommending you!

    Kelley Anne - I don't mind at all, I'd love to chat with you about anything, gal!

    Thanks everyone for your super sweet responses! Feel free to send your Etsy links to me once your shops are up, I'm always up for shopping xD I'm so glad it was helpful! Cheers to working for yourself, huh? ^_^

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  17. Rhiannon + Anja are awesome ladies - fashion + inspiration wise. I think they both really display who they are and what they like through their blogs. And of cos, with wonderful taste in clothing and style!

    Such a good interview Mars :] the topic is something i'm sure many people are interested to find out more about.

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  18. Great interview! Rhiannon's blog is an old favorite of mine and I guess now I'll have to check out Anja's, too.

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  19. This post is so helpful and a great idea! I struggle to list often myself and I'm trying to do it more often but it can be quite difficult at times. I also dream of the day I can leave the part-time world and work more on selling vintage! That would be just too great.

    Thanks for this interview, Mars!

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  20. Really great interviews....both of these goils are so inspiring! I knew Rhiannon but I had never seen Anja. She's adorable!

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  21. This was a really interesting interview, and a great opportunity to discover two new blogs :) Thank-you!

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  22. I've only just discovered your blog and it's so lovely!Very interesting to read and gorgeous photos!

    C.Elizabeth

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  23. Thanks for the wonderful comment! I thought I looked a little...hmmm, what's the right word? Frumpy I guess. I wasn't sure if I should even post my last set of pics:)

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  24. Thanks for the lovely comment! Yes, the shoes are from Target! I always make a point of going when I'm home as this shop doesn't exist here in the UK! I absolutely love those shoes.

    C.Elizabeth

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  25. That's a very nice interview with the pair of them - and useful tips even if I am not considering starting an online shop anytime soon :)

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  26. Very cool interviews! Liebemarlene definitely makes me want to try an eBay shop sometimes!
    P.S. My lipstick is by Clinque...can't remember the particular shade name.

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  27. Great double interview! I have tried to jumpstart a blog/etsy shop multiple times, with little success (mostly my own fault, too little time and no home internet access.) These two girls are so inspiring, though!

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  28. I think its really smart when you do double interview to show in one post, and also giving us clear, useful comparation between Etsy and Ebay - not everyone have the opportunities to try on both shops. I don't have any online shop but you inspired me to make one someday! Thank you for the great post Mars, you're so lovely. :)

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  29. what an amazing interview, great job on this one!

    I think it's great that you went to the ladies at the top of this business for a little advice we could all use...thanks so much for sharing it with us!!!

    that outfit Rhi is wearing is PERFECT! :)

    also, i'm gonna back you up on GET DELIVERY CONFIRMATION! i've had a bad experience too...with Spain.

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  30. great interview! they are both in my list of favorite bloggers.
    and i've never done delivery conformation, but perhaps i should consider it...

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  31. thanks for this interview. I've been drooling over clevernettle's etsy shop for a while now (and remember seeing a lot of liebemarlene's cool stuff on ebay when I was more active there), and always wondered about the ladies behind these fab shops.

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  32. so nice to see an interview with vintage entrepreneurs. inspiring and most definitely useful! thanks for the interview!

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  33. thank you, thank you, thank you for interviewing Anja and Rhinannon!

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