Thursday, January 17, 2008

Indecision 2008 , should I stay or should I go?

Borrowing from the Daily Show, the year has started with a whole lot of indecision for me regarding Saltygal. I didn't start the business for any single reason , it was a way to keep busy, make a little money and feed my fashion and fabric obsession.
Etsy made it easy for me to have online storefront. I opened one up and made a sale the first day. I was hooked. When I started taking custom orders through Alchemy I stretched myself creatively, my business grew and I could be as busy as I wanted.
I didn't have a business plan but I made adjustments adding some inexpensive items and gaining wholesale accounts.
Now I'm at a point where I need to decide what direction I want my business to go in. Etsy has grown so large that getting any business from within the site is difficult. Alchemy is a distant memory. They have added a gift guide at the top of every page. In one click, it takes buyers out of my shop to a guide where the Etsy administration hand picks items to feature. All through the Christmas season I looked through the guides hoping one of my sleeves would be featured but they were not . I bought on site ads but never garnered any sales. My (Etsy) sales were down 75% over the previous December
When two new laptop bag crafters from Europe joined, Etsy ran features on them both and placed their bags in the gift guides. Another seller makes and sells hundreds of laptop bags, bags she does not make She lists 10-12 items a day and frequently sells as many. If I don't list or relist at least 3 sleeves a day they are buried beneath the others within minutes. Paying for on site ads didn't work and I can't spend my day at the computer trying to snag a treasury or smoozing on the forums hoping other sellers will check out my shop.
Since I'm not getting customers from within Etsy , I need to go off site. I'm not sure it makes sense to do this, it's like leading them to my competitor's door. I don't mind competing on a level field, but it doesn't seem that way anymore. I know I'm not the only seller having these problems. The forums are filled with sellers complaining about the influx of mass produced or imported items. The vintage and supply categories are Etsy's top sellers Should I stay or should I go? Should I switch to vintage and sell off all the stuff I've been collecting ?