Stretch Your Boundaries

February 20, 2009

wire crochet pomegranates

Story by Yoola Published on February 16, 2009 in How-To
Photo by Yoola

I want to tell you about how I achieved successful sales figures by stretching my design into new dimensions. Many Etsy sellers have successful designs in terms of high views, many hearts, appearance in Treasuries and even front pages, but somehow...low sales.
Until not so long ago, I was one of them. My most successful item was my knitted wire pomegranates, pictured above. They appeared everywhere: numerous front pages, numerous blogs (small and big) with interviews, articles, even Etsy blog articles (Rosh Hashanah and Shop Local).
BUT, I made very little sales. Only 2 poms were sold.
I had to do something, and I felt I had to tackle it in an original way. I knew that if my issue was only a matter of price, it was a dead end. My work is time consuming, and I could not afford to cut my prices any more than I already had. I just SO wanted to translate my Etsy visual success into a financial one — this is where my stretching began.
I focused on 3 assumptions:
1. Maybe people just loved its visual impact, i.e. the photos.
2. Maybe people just loved poms (because of all that they represent).
3. Maybe people were curious about how I make them.
These assumptions led me into several potential directions:
1. Develop a line of prints, greeting cards, or postcards with my pom photos.
2. Develop more pomegranate items that would resemble the big ones, but would be more affordable.
3. Write tutorials that would teach anyone to knit a pom.
I decide to start with option #2, which is what I do best. I designed a "mini pom bead," and it was received quite successfully. My mission was partially achieved, but I wasn't yet satisfied.I debated for several months about option #3, to publish or not to publish. After discussing it in the forums with many fellow Etsians, I came up with a list of pros and cons.
The cons were:
1. Risk of exposure to copycats and competition with the sharing of knowledge.
2. The item will no longer seem as special when it pops up everywhere.
The pros were:
1. Publishing your knowledge gives people get the opportunity to respect you as a designer and a pro.
2. There are many enthusiastic crafters who would love to have a pom, but would not be ready to pay its full price, and by offering them a tutorial I enable them make their own.
3. The wider exposure will benefit the finished products because more people will have a respect and appreciation for my skill and my vision, and so sharing how they're made would enlarge its sales figures as well.
4. Different people would purchase my finished items and my tutorials, so its not actually one instead of the other.
5. The GREEN aspect – distributing tutorials creates less pollution than mailing items overseas.
I eventually decided to follow the pro path and offer tutorials. It's been a success ever since! I am now encouraged to write more tutorials.
The stretching, of course, can never end. Once the tutorials started taking off, questions about supplies started to emerge. Thoughts about offering my clients an easy and fast solution gave way to kits.
The bottom line is stretch, stretch, stretch — your mind, your media and your boundaries.

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