I’ve somewhat reluctantly joined Facebook, since FB restricts what non-users can see and I’ve seen some referrals from there. If you’re also there, please like-and-follow me there at least temporarily so I can get rid of that crazy numeric URL. FB temptingly puts the “Create Page @username” link, but informs me I’m not eligible to actually create one after letting me select one. If it’s still like the olden days, that means I’m required to have a minimum number of likes and/or followers. Unlike the olden days, they don’t tell me what the requirements are, just that I’m ineligible. 🤷
A lot of my time this month will be taken up by housekeeping things like this – the WordPress account expires soon, and I’ll be shifting that to self-hosting. But I’m still getting some sewing in – check out the FB account for a preview of my current project.
… is not to start large December post series until I already have all the posts in the queue. Whew.
Things heated up in the shop in December, a lot. I had some great plans to not knock myself out restocking, but Etsy now allows non-premium accounts to set “allow restock requests” and, well, if people are asking for things I felt obligated to fulfill them. Even though it’s not the same as “pre-order” and only about half of restocks actually got bought by the person who requested them.
Post-Christmas didn’t slow down much, so obviously there’s a lot of “I got a Christmas bonus/an Etsy gift card” or just “I didn’t get what I wanted so I’ll just buy it myself” going on. The last Silver Apricot dragon went, with a camera dangle (that did not stay around its neck for shipping, no matter how much that amused me). Those are from a Designs By Little Bee design I’ve been meaning to use, but I used lightweight vinyl and some captured confetti in lieu of the applique.
The Greater Sea Dragon went on the last day of the year, which definitely improved the annual total and also made me feel a little better about the art-doll dragons, which hadn’t been moving for quite awhile. That order came in via advertisement, on what would have been the last day of my advertising experiment. I guess it was a success.
For 2020, my plan was to taper off the plushie-making (channeling that into selling the designs for other folks to make) and just stick with the bigger-ticket dragons – I’ve been a little concerned about whether those were really viable, but I think the real problem is just getting them in front of an audience. We’ll see.
Blog-wise, I still plan to get out the promised supplements to the interchangeable-flap bags even if not in the form of an Advent calendar. A mini-backpack is next, because I want one for myself.
I decided to go ahead and list all four of the finished art-doll dragons, and put them on sale for “Smaugust.” (Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t invent these things.) It’s almost two months since any have sold, and I’m afraid the fancier ones are just too pricey. This is a shame because they’re really underpriced based on the amount of labor (and RSI damage) that goes into them, but maybe the market just isn’t there.
Of course, now isn’t the time to decide that… Spoonflower just had a sale on fat quarters and I sprang for a pair of extremely festive crowntail dragons, which are nearly as ornate as the greater sea dragon. So I’ll finish the purple one I’m working on and consider taking out some Etsy ads, and if that doesn’t work I’ll reluctantly move on to something different.
Even the vertical mouse hasn’t really helped my wrist lately (probably because I tend to clutch it tighter than the horizontal one, negating any benefit of the wrist angle). I noticed the XP-Pen Artist 12 📦 had come down to ~$200, less a 5% coupon, so I sprang for it.
It’s going to take some tweaking to get it set up the way I want it, but it has enough buttons that I should be able stop bouncing back and forth to the keyboard soon.
I’ve been working on a few more composition book cover designs, including a Midori Traveler variant. I should have those in Friday’s post, unless I get too wrapped up in playing with this new toy.
I’ve had a pile of receipts accumulating on my desk, and I don’t really have the excuse of needing to restock anything urgently. It was time to get everything entered into my spreadsheets and GnuCash.
GnuCash is not great for inventory control, so I do some stuff in a pretty basic spreadsheet. It’s a little bit duplicated, and someday I’ll write a little utility to keep everything synchronized, but so far neither my sales nor purchases are too overwhelming.
The business is going pretty well, though I have to admit I didn’t really expect to be mostly a beanie dragon factory, and especially not an almost-exclusively-Pernese dragon factory. I find myself wondering what other fandoms are underserved.
I passed a milestone on Etsy, and my husband asked how that compared to my costs, and I blithely said “oh, I haven’t checked that lately…” So now I have, and the answer is: sales minus costs plus currently-listed items all balances out. Which is not a particularly GAAP way of measuring things, but I think it’s a good sign.
It’s about time to give the business its own bank account and credit card and so forth, which will help in keeping things separate… and in keeping me from getting too carried away with new dragon colors.
I took a break from sewing and set up a new server at https://shop.silverseams.com/. It’s mostly so I can post my fabric stash without cluttering the Etsy shop, but until I get the fabrics out and take some measurements and pictures, it’s just occupied with a couple of things that have expired unsold from Etsy, a snap tab, and a temporary listing for the new plush dragon. (Those will get moved to Etsy when I finish the other colors, but if they sell out of the local shop that’s fine.)
Confession: I haven’t read enough Etsy how-to’s. Etsy’s own site is great for looking up answers but completely overwhelming for learning, and half the bloggers out there who purport to tell you how to do it are selling more blog ads than Etsy goods. So I just dove in and flailed around.
This week’s lesson for me was: listings never really die. See, I decided that Etsy’s option system was just too much: you can vary on two factors (size and color, for the beanie dragons) but you have to select one before it will show you what’s in stock in the other. So I decided to break them out into individual listings. You pay twenty cents a listing but, I figured, it doesn’t matter because the multi-item listings are serial listings. That is, if you list a dozen items in a single listing, you pay twenty cents. You sell one and it insta-lists another, even if someone buys three at a time, so at the end of the day it costs the same to list twelve items in twelve listings or all in one.
Each listing creates a page. (Duh.) But what I just fully registered was: when that item sells out, you get the “sorry, try these other items” screen… which is full of other people’s items. When the multi-listing for beanie dragons ran out, the only other dragon it showed was the gold, and it was the seventh or so.
This explains why the reviews at the bottom of an item aren’t necessarily for previous purchases of that particular item. I assumed it just showed random reviews from that seller, and that may still be the case. But the past-sales page is a snapshot of the listings as they were sold, without regard to the listing page, so you’re free to reuse that listing number.
And so that’s what I’ve done: the multi-listing page is now the green 6″ dragon page, still in made-to-order status, so folks’ bookmarks will still point to a beanie dragon. And now I need to go do final work on those dragons to get pictures and move it to ships-immediately status, and make a couple more art-doll dragons so I can resurrect those links. Hopefully I can keep ahead of those, so I am always ready to renew the listing. (Yes, I just hoped for slow sales…)
Much of my rambly business- and creation-process stuff gets relegated to Mastodon, but also much of my sales comes from Mastodon, so… maybe I should ramble about business and creation in other places? Let’s give it a go.
My Mastodon art account currently has 130 or so followers, but has a lot more reach because people like to share pictures of my dragons and whatnot. My Instagram account has 58 followers, of which many are non-nerdy folks I knew in Wichita, and of course you can’t (easily) share pictures on Instagram. I could run up the follower count in the usual way (by camping on hashtags and posting look-at-me comments on other people’s accounts but that feels, as the kids say, “thirsty.”
I had intended to use Masto as my spot to work through the learning curve on both making things and selling things, and I guess the natural result is that there are some non-thirsty references to the Etsy shop built into the things that people are sharing. Having realized that, and not wanting my account to turn into Messages From A Brand, I try to keep the shop references minimal in the share-likely posts.
In any event, Mastodon shows that getting the dragons in front of a (reasonably nerdy) audience gets sales, so I just have to figure out how to get the dragons in front of a larger audience. Buying Etsy ads seems to be a logical next step as soon as I get the shop properly restocked, but I’m not sure yet where to go from there.
There are offline options as well. Putting the dragons in my Friendly Local Game Stores is one possibility, though I’m not really priced for wholesale sales. Selling at conventions is also possible; I’m still getting used to the idea of living in a place that’s close to other places. That’s a lot of work, though, and we gave away our (aging) minivan when I inherited Mom’s little sedan.
I also had sort of envisioned getting more into the digital sales than the physical, so I really should be working on finalizing a pattern and its instructional pictures/video to try that out with… but I’ve been playing catch-up stocking dragons (including the art-doll ones; Gold/Sparkle is about to fly across the Atlantic meaning there are none in the shop right now).
I guess those are my goals for the coming week (or two): restock the beanies, list another art dragon (working on Stargazer, black with glitter-cotton galaxy wings), and finalize the orca pattern demo and a paid pattern.
A small batch of made-to-order pugs is going up in the shop this morning, probably around 10am EDT. If you use the code SSOSSPUGS, you’ll get 20% off (so, $28 plus shipping) through the end of the month.
If you follow me on the silo that is Instagram, you’ll see a slightly-poorer discount because I love my blog followers more. 😉