craft / handmade #3: Sold on Etsy

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Blog entry by scottb posted 08-28-2009 06:03 AM 1686 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: to meme the impossible meme Part 3 of craft / handmade series Part 4: Art for Life, buy handmade »

I stuck my toe in the Etsy waters some months back… just to see what would come of it. It seemed a better idea to partner with my 30 projects in 30 days ventures than posting in albums on facebook.

I imagined that just having a presence could always leads to possibility… And this month feels like a small, but significant milestone was reached. 3 sales. Yes I know that doesn’t sound like much, but these three sales were to complete strangers. Not even friends of friends. One pen, and two orders for custom rings, off to find new homes in different parts of the country!

I was a little nervous to sell something on spec,... well more nervous that I’d have to make several for fear of ruining the ring and needing to start over. Turning something so small is surely a test of patience, control and nerve. But things went well, and I was very happy with how it went. But you don’t have to take my word for it…

hmm… It looks like I never posted this pen on LJ?

Hi Scott – You did a great job on the pen. I am very well satisfied with it. Thanks for making my first transaction with an Etsy craftsperson a pleasant one.

WOW! I adore the ring. I can’t believe how thin and comfortable it is. The color is beautiful, it looks like gemstone in the sun. I could not be happier with it. Thanks so much!

Now, I’m off to make the slightly bigger sister to this one:
Click for details

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

13 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117738 posts in 4111 days

#1 posted 08-28-2009 06:06 AM

Well done congrats on the sales

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 3947 days

#2 posted 08-28-2009 06:09 AM

Nice looking pens and rings.

Hopefully the sales keep going.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4840 days

#3 posted 08-28-2009 06:33 AM

Cool and from my yard to some stranger, neat. Congrats!

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4694 days

#4 posted 08-28-2009 11:57 AM

3 sales sounds fantastic.
Lovely comments as well…
I can understand the feeling of the “strangers vs family” ... you must be so excited.

Bravo and “onwards and upwards”, my friend :) Keep us posted

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14181 posts in 4516 days

#5 posted 08-28-2009 12:54 PM

good job !! now you can buy a new tool to CELEBRATE !!!!

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4355 days

#6 posted 08-28-2009 01:16 PM

Way to go, Scott!! It is great to hear that not only are you able to get in some shop time but also get paid for it as well. I agree with Dan. Now that you are a professional you certainly should add a new tool to your shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4860 days

#7 posted 08-28-2009 01:32 PM

congrats, that’s great news!

View patron's profile


13658 posts in 3875 days

#8 posted 08-28-2009 01:54 PM

and after all that worry !

congratulations .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4939 days

#9 posted 08-28-2009 02:19 PM


Selling is a bit of a double edged sword. You have to ship out what you’ve just built.

My dad doesn’t believe in selling his woodworking. He has a house full of treasures. I had thought we would work together on the “DeCou Studios” business, but his views on selling sort of made a business idea unworkable. But, I understand his principles.

I’ve run onto a handful of other folks over the years that don’t want to sell their craft work. I did learn running a craft business for so many years now, that my self esteem and my “worth” to this World is not tied to whether someone buys what I make. That took awhile to figure out. But, I did learn that my financial support is tied to selling. Making the item is important, but the selling is critical.

I decided that I liked building things better than I liked storing them. Also, once I decided that the amount of hobby time wasn’t enough time for me, I had to sell things to pay bills with, or find another means of support. No other means of support has shown up, so I have to sell things to support my habit.

Another thing I’ve learned is that seldom does someone by a “Product” from me. This was quite a shock to my system. I used to think like a saleman/fabricator that I was making products that people bought. Don’t get me wrong, they do buy a Product, but it isn’t the need for the product that is the high motivator in the transaction. The Motivator is the story they can share with their friends and family about what they have and why it is important, and interesting to them. What makes it interesting is the Who made the item, Where they found it, and How it applies to their lives…...that’s the Motivating part of the transaction.

Nothing I make is really necessary for any living, or could be considered a “Need”.

My kids are just the age now that they want everything they see on TV, or the school bus, or at school that other kids have. We run through the same question everytime…...”Ok, so is an iPod a Need, or a Want?” “Are Tinklebell flipflops a Need or a Want?” “Are Monster Jam Replica toy trucks a Need or a Want?” “Is a trip to SeaWorld a Need or a Want?” And the questions go on and on..

After the months of contant questioning, the kids are getting the hang of it now, and I don’t even have to ask. They come up and say, “Dad, I know this is just a Want, but can I get…...?”

My daughter’s backpack from last year was good enough for this year…..until the zipper was broken last week. She came up and said, “Dad, getting a new backpack, one with Tinkerbell on it, is a real Need, really!”

We dug around in her room, and found her old Kindergarten backpack, and I looked it over and said, “What’s wrong with this one?” It just wouldn’t work at all for first grade at the time. She looked it over, and said, “Yea, that will work just fine, I don’t Need a new backpack.”

That’s what I was trying to teach the kids….and myself. But, do I really want everyone to buy just what they Need? I wouldn’t be in business if they did. It’s a double edged sword for sure.

Due to my own decision to live on my craft sales in a terrible recession, the kids don’t get hardly any of their “Wants”. But, the financial constraints are helping us all teach each other what is important in this life. We’ve learned to play Uno and Go Fish, and Trouble, and Dominoes, and ride bikes down to the bridge to throw in rocks.

Those moments are a “Need” in our lives that don’t cost anything.

But, here’s the clincher…..when I’m standing at the workbench in the shop making something for someone that has ordered it, one of my kids often comes in and asks, “What’s you making today?” I explain the story of what it is, and who it is for, and where it is going. I like to make the ties between customers and life sustainability easy for them to see so that they understand the relationship and appreciate it. Now, they often ask, “Is that item a Need or a Want?”

Well that’s a very good question. The item is surely a Want for the person buying it. But, their purchase is a Need for us as a family.

I’ve sold a few things on Etsy myself, something like 16 items since last winter. The first couple of months went really well, but then things slowed down considerably. New Sales from April to August were the worst I’ve ever seen since 1997 when I started this Journey. Glad it wasn’t like this earlier in my career, I would have given up a long time ago. The slowdown in New Sales has helped me unload my backlog some, and so I’ve had plenty to work on, but I did get a chance to Worry about whether things would pick up in time before my backlog ran out. I learned in 1997 not to Worry about it.

Since the first part of August, things have started to pick up again. Inquiries just about every day now. A year ago, I would get 3-10 inquiries a day, and I’m not receiving that level of interest, but things have picked up some. Not much sales on Etsy since April, but custom orders for things posted on Lumberjocks.

What is interesting though, is that even if people didn’t buy the items shown on Etsy, many times they emailed me to have something else made for them. So, people are finding Etsy, but mostly through following my links from Lumberjock’s postings.

Without a doubt, the Lumberjock’s postings have brought in the lion’s share of orders for me the past 18 months. I sell some things on Etsy sure, but almost all of my weekly production ships out to folks that found my lumberjock’s postings. As of this morning internet out of State sales for me has been 89.2% of my sales this year. A couple of months back, that number was up to 96% of New Sales. And, DeCou Studio has been shipping internationally, so I’m a Global Company now. All because of Lumberjocks.

Quite frankly, I would not be in business without the internet orders, and I wouldn’t have the internet orders without Lumberjock’s postings.

For a couple of years I photographed and posted my silly projects and wrote up the often long and boring stories associated with them…....and received nothing from it other than callouses on the end of my finger tips, and kudos from my fellow lumberjocks. It got the point that my Wife would complain to no end if I sat at the computer and started typing up another long and boring posting. I just endured the abuse, and kept at it, really hoping to prove her wrong, and Martin right.

Now, seeing the results finally of what Martin told me would happen, she doesn’t complain (as much) when I post a new project on Lumberjocks.

What’s been strange is that there have been week’s at a time that my Maloof rocking chair posting was the number one hit on google for any key words having to do with the Maloof rocking chairs. Even several hit listing spots higher than Sam’s own foundation website. Go figure. Also, my Nakashima table has been in the number one spot on google for weeks at a time, even higher in ranking than folks that ONLY build Nakashima furniture. Go figure again. I have really no explaination to how this happens, but I like it, and I know that the Lumberjock’s postings resulted in the situation.

So, my advice is to continue posting on Lumberjocks and cross link them to Etsy, and post baby post.

Congrats Scott,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4442 days

#10 posted 08-28-2009 03:56 PM

I am happy for you Scott.
You do some very nice work and apparently others agree.
Hopefully,you will make enough to pay for your hobby,or at least to buy another tool :-)

I currently have three boxes laying around that I am considering for EBay but cringe at the thought of what it will take to get them posted and go through the sale process… if I am that fortunate. But I dont need the boxes around the house,my wife already has about a dozen of them.
And I am just a wee bit curious to see how much one of my boxes will fetch.???
Dont get me wrong,we arent rich and we can always use the money.
There is always a want or need hand sticking out.

I dont really want my focus to be on the money though.

What I mean is that the money is not my motivation for what I do and it might just get in the way.
It seems to motivate our lives too much as it is, and I am afraid it will influence how I go about my craft.
I dont want to be hurrying myself through the shaping or final sanding on one of my boxes because of a preconceived hourly wage I need to meet.( Which is probably between $5 and $6 anyway)
So,thats always been my dilema regarding my craft.
Thanks for posting this.

You have got me thinking about selling again, and I am determined to give it a try, just to see what happens.

Marks comment is very much appreciated.Its a real behind the scenes look at this business.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4780 days

#11 posted 08-28-2009 05:51 PM

Congrats Scott and Mark, I hope things stay turned around for you Mark. International, now that is something, and being associated with Maloof and Nakashima is truly remarkable. Luck and Blessings on you both, you too Andy.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Nils's profile


141 posts in 4398 days

#12 posted 08-28-2009 07:54 PM

Scott- great post, and Mark’s comments add a lot as well. Haven’t had any luck on my little Etsy shop yet, but your stories give me hope still. I’d be curious to hear how your marketing your work, whether on Etsy or wherever.

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4611 days

#13 posted 09-17-2009 06:29 AM

congrats scott!!! your work is phenomenal—-may this be just the beginning of a good path…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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