#nofrillsfriday 16 - First year anniversary of online selling - what did we learn?

Whoop Whoop! One year selling online! Holy hell balls, what a rollercoaster.

Wow, so we survived our first year, kind of.  It's been one of the biggest learning curves we have ever undertaken. One of the things we failed to do last year was blog regularly - despite having a (mini) content plan. Being realistic in what you can achieve when you're playing catch up to get ahead of the seasonal making curve was something we failed hard at. We believed we could do it all (we still do!) but just with bigger caveats on what's achievable. Or maybe we're being hard on ourselves?!

As we celebrate our first year of online selling we're participating in an Etsy Resolution programme for newbie and beginner shops, and also an Etsy Team Seeding programme. We created an Etsy team within our first month of selling as there was a gap not filled by a Birmingham team.. (crazy, right?!)  We started off with good intentions but wanted to avoid duplication on makers capacities and so put it on hiatus when another Birmingham team sprang up a couple of months later.  Through the Etsy Team Seeding programme, we have plans to resurrect it as we know the support of peers in person is something everyone needs and values and we think that could definitely happen through a team!

It's not all Etsy though.  We sell across 5 platforms online, each one different to the next with their own quirks!

Our own webstore -  helps us to build our brand and story as it's the one place we can fully control appearance, and enables us to really leave our stamp across everything.  We're entirely responsible for driving traffic there though, vs selling through a marketplace!

Folksy - a home grown British marketplace that fosters a nurturing community and has helped us no end in gaining confidence and growing our knowledge as we learn from our peers, as well as staying connected to UK opportunities.  We <3 Folksy!

The Lost Lanes - the UK's largest ethical marketplace full of curated fun!  We love being featured amongst other makers who go out of their way to ensure what they're making is made of ethically sourced components and materials, though it does mean we have to really research any new suppliers we want to work with, and we can't just buy random fixings or supplies from eBay!

Not on The High Street -  a big beast that continues to challenge us to be better, even when it makes us jump through hoops! (Ultimately, we realise those hoops help us develop a better stronger offer!)

Etsy - the most internationally known independent marketplace - but a massive pond of items to be found in.

In the beginning we didn't want to limit ourselves to any one outlet, and we didn't know what platforms would be best for us - so we CAST OUR NET!  First lesson learned: maintaining that many outlets is a NEVERENDING MARATHON.  Each platform has it's own requirements around everything from image dimensions to item description requirements.  For items listed in more than one place, we have to re-write descriptions so that they're not identical - but so they also sound good, AND include all relevant descriptive keywords.  

We thought we'd discover clear benefits to selecting one platform over another - but that's not been the case.. so for our 2nd year, we'll be continuing with the above five, and continue trying to figure out what works best.  

So where is this blog piece going?  Quite simply it's a promise to share tips and highlight the challenges we have faced whilst building our business and brand! As we participate in the Etsy Resolution discussions and weekly #FolksyHour twitter chats (every Tuesday 8-9pm btw) we are always learning and tools and knowledge that we have taken for granted are mountains to others.. so we want to share that knowledge, just as we learn from so many experienced makers!

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Next week's blog will be about wrangling with all those social media platforms, our streamlining tips as well as suggestions we've picked up along the way but haven't yet tried - including our growing love of Tumblr. This is our chance to reflect on the last year and hopefully share some wisdom. 

KIRSTY OUT

[mic drop]