Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Indie Business Riddle: Which Route to Take, Quantity or Quality? Choose Well.

Inspiration strikes as you look through online shops. "I can do that!" You proclaim as you carve out a cozy niche to hawk your wares. You photograph, list... and wait. Refresh the page. Blink. Rub your eyes. Refresh again. Rinse and Repeat for three days straight. If there were not bites on your freshly hooked merchandise-bait you may have made the common mistake of not listing enough merchandise. HOW MANY should you list, you ask...


All the items forever! Unless you have a strong PR campaign directing the buyers to your store and/or a strong buyer base built-up to allow you to release your items in small, curated batches as a "line" for others to purchase you need as may need hundreds of pieces of merchandise in your online shop!

Likewise, a craftsman, artist, or knowledgeable reseller can sell a smaller amount of items by focusing on keywords, valuable vintage items and demographics, but I think even this type of focused seller can benefit from having lots of items and diversity available.


Here's some advice from long-time online sellers on the subject:


"I think it depends on what you have to sell and the demand for it."  
-Sew Inspired, Blog
"From what I've read regarding etsy... you should list at least 300 items to make sure you're driving enough traffic. Also, you should not do "batch" listings. You should list something everyday. If you do batch listings most of your items just end up unseen. And your keywords are exactly that - KEY! Don't just use the same words from your title.
That's my advice from almost 4 years on etsy (with 2 shops) and 7 (or 8?) on eBay."
 
-Melissa, Blog
 "It really depends. For the type of items I like to sell on eBay I can COUNT on making a profit of $1 a month per listing OR MORE. My worst months it is still the same. 250 listings= I can count on clearing $250. Most months it is more than that. I will work on getting my number up to 500 by the end of the year and will really be focusing on this shop more in the coming months. "
-Adrienne, Shop

Each item you list is another way for a shopper to find your shop, think of each one as a low-priced ad. Each item listing has the potential to get eyeballs and potential customers. The more, the better.

Look at your online shop. If sales are not where you want them, list more items. Do it. That is my professional opinion.

This is a numbers game, if you want to earn a lot more you need to get more out there. I'm working on getting $5K worth of merchandise into the world right now!

What do you think? Do you have a certain number of items you like to keep in your online shops whether it's eBay or Etsy, vintage or not? Let's discuss in the comments.
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33 comments:

  1. From what I've read regarding etsy... you should list at least 300 items to make sure you're driving enough traffic. Also, you should not do "batch" listings. You should list something everyday. If you do batch listings most of your items just end up unseen. And your keywords are exactly that - KEY! Don't just use the same words from your title.

    That's my advice from almost 4 years on etsy (with 2 shops) and 7 (or 8?) on eBay.

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    1. Thanks so much Melissa! With other $500 my sales are pretty regular and I try to list as often as possible- sales are definitely better with daily or weekly listings and lots of forum promoting :D I may need to pick your brain for tips, I hate eBay still but want to keep trying it out.

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    2. Feel free to email me. I am backing out of my etsy shops (not listing new items) because I'm focusing on my brick & mortar location... but between 2 etsy shops and ebay... I used to do fairly well.

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    3. Oh I think I shall pick your brain soon if you let me, thanks for the offer!

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  2. We just keep listing and listing and listing. We sell, but not at the pace we need. I think it depends on what you have to sell and the demand for it. It's a funny market on etsy. We sell on eBay, craigslist and storenvy, but promoting takes up a lot of time and the pay back is slow. We take one sale at a time and just keep going. Have you tried promoting on Pinterest? We get action from there and the constant promoting on our blogs. Linking to parties helps also. No matter what, you get out of your business what you put in. It just takes a lot of determination and time. I also notice the trend on some stores on etsy is to list high and advertise a 20% off sale. It's working for a couple of stores I follow, but seems deceptive to me. Continued good luck to you.

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    1. Your tips are 100% correct, thank you for sharing! I don't like pinterest as a rule, I don't how it takes emphasis away from the original content creators. It confuses a lot of people. Lots of reasons why I don't like it actually but I may start to use it eventually. I do promote within Etsy to good success and need to get back to that and of course my blog is a huge source of revenue, traffic. List, list, list forever that's the retail machine! I'm going to keep trying to find the best stuff to sell for more so there's less work on the listing front (though more on the hunting side).

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  3. It really depends. For the type of items I like to sell on eBay I can COUNT on making a profit of $1 a month per listing OR MORE. My worst months it is still the same. 250 listings= I can count on clearing $250. Most months it is more than that. I will work on getting my number up to 500 by the end of the year and will really be focusing on this shop more in the coming months.

    Etsy was on track to be the same way when I started in 2011. I pushed hard to get my shop up to 1000 items to reap the rewards of higher listing numbers. It did not work out that way and my numbers stalled at around 500 listings and has remained the same the going on 2 years. I just ended up dumping more into fees. In my vintage shop, I make only $0.20 to $0.30 a listing a month. My sales have remained fairly steady at that rate even though I have dropped my shop to right around 600 listings and am still pulling out old inventory. I will end up around 500 items.

    My paper shop is worse but I have lower priced items there. I make about $0.10-$0.20 a listing a month with 815 items consistently. It pays for itself and helps to close the financial gap when the other shops are slow. I only add items when items sell. I'm not going to get rich by any means.

    Splitting Etsy shops when you have too much of one type of inventory has definitely helped. And if I want to "grow" on Etsy, that is what I will continue to do. Their current platform is not good for having a HUGE shop. Items just get lost, there are not enough categories to keep items organized, customers get overwhelmed, and sales stall.

    I hope this helps!

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    1. Thanks so much for all the detailed information Adrienne! That's all super helpful. I'm about to have a big clearance myself to try to move mugs, tumblers, and steins that just sit forever- but maybe making a separate shop for them could be helpful so they stand out more? Curious and curiouser... I need to do something because I have a lot that's been sitting way too long! So much to handle, so little time...

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    2. If you do open another shop here is my advice. List as much as you can in the first 3 months. Etsy loves new shops and I firmly believe gives them a boost in search for the first 3-6 months. I have nothing but my own experiences to back this up so take from it what you will! :)

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    3. Oh that's awesome, gonna have to test out his tip. Thanks again for the handy info, added you quote to this post!

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  4. I read so much on the etsy forums about that magic listing number being 100 items. I agree that the more items you have the more exposure you're likely to have! I've started trying not to think too much about listing high amounts though, instead focusing on being creative with the new items I list and certainly never listing something I'm not very happy with just for the sake of numbers.

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    1. Quality is really important too, I do see success with both methods: working hard to put great quality items/photos out there and sheer numbers.

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  5. Thanks for starting this interesting discussion. I've just started selling some lower stuff on ebay and it's quite interesting the results and interest I'm getting.

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    1. I stuffed eBay to my allowable limit before (have to re-do it now, items expiring) but didn't get much success on my vintage items. I'll keep working at it but it's hard, Fee-Bay is right! Expensive to survive on there!

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  6. Yes, the more the better! And I really try to keep things fresh, Sometimes not renewing an older item for a little while. Let it hang out a while and chill, Then relist it when things are getting busy (holidays).. I will admit, its hard for me not to "batch list". Sometimes I have a lot of free time, and I am in the mood, and I will just go on a listing frenzy. I know its not the best way to do things, but it really is what works best for me.

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    1. If it's working for you can't be all that bad. I was a daily-lister but now batch list due to a crazy unbalanced schedule, I'll work on that. Thanks for the insight on what works for you. Lots to ponder...

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  7. More has to be better, right? I think it's a little "off-putting" when a shop has just a few items. Seems like they're not serious about the biz. The comments you're getting are very interesting. Good topic!

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    1. I often feel the same about a business, it can be a "smaller" nicely curated bunch but I expect to see a pretty good volume for a shop that takes itself seriously, at least 50 to 100 items unless it's a small line of gorgeously crafted little wallets, planners or something.

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  8. I think it helps a lot to have 100+ listings on eBay. They now have your first 50 listings free each month. Then it seems like every 1-2 they have free listing days for 1000+ listings. I have a fulltime job, so probably the most I have had ever was 180 or so. I try to add new listings every month, and if they have the free listings, I first re-list all the items that didn't sell last time. It also depends on the time of year. Oct. - Dec. is a slam-dunk for selling since everyone is buying for the holidays. I do sell internationally and my favorite countries to ship to are Australia and Canada. I have never had a problem shipping there with First Class International or Priority. I do ship to other European and Asian countries, but I have cut back on those after having a bad experience with someone, and realizing how easy it is for someone in a foreign country to scam a US seller (and eBay almost always sides with the customer).

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    1. Oh thanks so much for all the helpful info and posts, the scammer issues sound scary :\ haven't had that problem on my primary Etsy source yet or the tiny bit I've sold on eBay which has all been within the USA.

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  9. Sorry, make that every 1-2 months eBay has free listing days. They e-mail you, so check your messages from eBay.

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    1. Ah-ha, I've seen those and need to take advantage of that!

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  10. I agree that having a lot of listings on Etsy is one of the primary keys to initial success. In fact, the magic number for me personally was when I had 12 or more pages of stuff up (which is right around the 300 items that people talk about). And, I've noticed that other vintage sellers with dozens of pages tend to have high sales, even with crappy pictures.
    So, get that stuff listed, even if you aren't that happy with your pictures or descriptions. You can always tweak them later.

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    1. That's how I was at first, my initial photos were NOT as nice as they are now but I hammered them out, got the items up and had a big sales boost to start. Etsy is still my primary income source even without working as hard on it as I need to because the numbers are high enough to keep buyers coming without as much promotion/listing.

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  11. I sell just on ebay. I think that the number of listings is important but I think just as important is to be listing every day. I have 600+ listings but if I don't list almost every day sales slow way down. If I list a few every day I sell more.My goal is to have 1000 items by the end of the year.

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    1. I need to keep my daily numbers and promoting up and schedule some time for it every day, it really makes a difference. I'd love to get to 1K on Etsy, not sure about eBay yet ;D Still playing with that.

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  12. i'm with Nancy, while you're totally correct numbers mean profit, with eBay its trying to put up at least 4 daily. But I still don't think I have to do the sheer number etsy people have to do. You all amaze me, you got far more determination than I have! Or maybe its energy, or both?:) I can't wait to see more pics of your new booth. The one on Instagram rocked hard core! Totally branded and done well!

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    1. You may need to let me pick your brain on eBay for a future post? I love your experience with it, your style of selling (smaller stuff to store/fast sales to make it easier) and how it doesn't take occupy your life TOO much while earning you a nice income, it's very inspiring. Let me know if you're game!

      As for the booth, thanks for the kind words! I had two hours to squeeze as much as I could in there and was stressed the whole time but was surprised that it turned out pretty for the first whack at it. I forget what you call that with art- when your first natural attempt is best and your try again later but it ends up contrived ? :) Anyway, photos to come, I'll have time to actually make it nice tomorrow and I got a banner sponsored for it too.

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  13. thanks for the handy post! I've always wanted to start an online shop (just to give me an excuse to buy all the lovely things I see at op shops :-P) I definitely don't think I could manage it though - so much work!

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    1. I'm working on a detailed eBook on how to do it, it's an awesome job once you get it going. :) E-mail if you have any specific questions!

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