How to stand out? Be yourself. Cliche advice, but important nonetheless when it comes to selling work online. The web is bigger than you think; it’s easy to get lost. Easier still to lose yourself. Stay close to what matters, and promote your lifestyle. Your passion will shine through, because sincerity sells.
That’s a lesson shared by Michigan-based QBJB. She began seeing success with her Etsy store once she broke free from the hundreds of others selling jewelry online, and began selling handcrafted dreadlock hair accessories. It was a natural fit for QBJB, nearly two years into her dreadhead lifestyle. Just as inspiring as QBJB’s blossoming Etsy store is the fact that she manages it all from her mobile phone. Here’s her story:
Establishing & growing an Etsy store
How did you get started on Etsy and why is it better than eBay or other handcrafted seller sites?
Honestly, I wasn’t very savvy about much. I opened my Etsy shop in March after being inspired by a number of people that I’d followed on Instagram who made themselves successful using Etsy. (Follow QBJB on Instagram here.)
You recently posted on Instagram of your Etsy growth. Can you share the story of how you’ve been nurturing your shop?
The more sales I made the more inspired I was to make and list new things. I’m constantly working myself through ideas of how to make someone’s next favorite thing. I’m always on Etsy, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest looking for inspiration.
What were your first products on Etsy, and have you changed your product strategy at all since launch?
I was gifted a great big box of assorted glass beads and jewelry-making tools during the holidays last year, so I started making bracelets. I made hundreds. I made earrings. Necklaces. Key chains. Anything I could think of. I was becoming so overwhelmed with merchandise I had to think of something.
I started posting my bracelets on Etsy. I spent hours taking pictures and listing dozens of items.
When nothing sold, even after a huge price drop, I realized how ordinary the jewelry was. I never did sell any outside of family.
I woke up one day and tried something new. I started making my Dread Beads and I started making sales.
How do you promote your Etsy products?
I used to use Facebook, but have recently deleted it. I post a few things on my personal Instagram every once in awhile, as well as Pinterest. I really haven’t put a huge deal of effort towards promoting my shop.
What are some of your favorite products in your Etsy store?
I really enjoy my feather coils. I collect the feathers during my own adventures and spending the time to carefully bead and wire wrap a feather creates an entire story for this singularly unique item before its even begun its journey. Plus, a feather in your dreads, what’s better than that?
Social media promotions
What are some practical tactics you’ve used on social media sites to attract followers?
I’ve tried giveaways, coupon codes, sales, free shipping, opened custom requests, free beads with every purchase, other bonus items with purchase. Nothing has worked for me yet. My only give away had ended with only one person entering, and when I told her she won she blocked me. Haha.
Has your social media effort converted to sales?
No, for me its been the opposite. I’ve actually gained more followers on Instagram after they’d found me on Etsy first.
You mentioned that you operate primarily on your phone – what kind of phone do you have, and are there any special apps you use to manage your business?
I work entirely off of my Droid through Virgin Mobile’s awful data caps. I haven’t seen a computer in years. I use the new Sell on Etsy app, which has made everything so much faster and easier. Its been so much less of a hassle to post new listings that I have more time to focus on making my products.
Who are some inspiring people/businesses you follow?
I am inspired by so many [Instagramers] its really hard to say! One I have to credit Dayzea. She is the first person I found when I started. She sells vintage clothes she thrifts and seems to have become such a success. She gave me the courage to get to where I am today.
You sell dreadlock accessories, but have only started your dreads in recent months. Did you sell lock accessories prior to starting your own?
I didn’t start making dread accessories until about April ’14. By then my dreads would have been about thirteen months old.
How has your personal lifestyle impacted your products and social media promotions?
I was hired for a part time position in June, I feel like I’m just now starting to find a good balance between my job, my shop, and my personal life. My shop was fading away from neglect this summer, I couldn’t focus on Etsy. Sales dropped. Views ceased. My goal is to make this my career, so I found the time to focus on what I love to do.