Sunday, July 5, 2009

Being A Miniature Artist On Etsy

Switching from Ebay to Etsy as a Miniature Artisan:
I sold both my handmade ooak miniatures as well as vintage dollhouse items on ebay for about 4 years as Darkattic Oddities. I had regular customers and 619 100% positive feedback scores. Still, I felt the need to look for other venues. Something that was run by artists for artists, something that drew collectors of handmade work, something more personal and supportive, something without all the freakn small charges that really added up... What was this 'something'? My cousin told me about Etsy nearly 2 years ago. She embroiders monograms on everything (which I always secretly thought was a sign of meglamania and self importance)... towels, underwear, robes, pillows all with personal initials. Hmm I'm getting off track. Anyway, she says she's had great luck on Etsy. At the time, I didn't find many miniatures on the site and so wasn't sure if it was the place for my work. Especially my spookier stuff. It seemed like a nice idea though and I kept it in the back of my head.

Checking on Etsy again 2 years later, I found several wonderful miniature artists and about 3 miniature Teams. I developed a new store, Cauldron Craft Miniatures & Oddities, and put up some things. Other than a few bumps switching my PayPal account, it went well! I still had my ebay store open too but I felt that my new store's concept was much more interesting. Plus, Etsy had this cool community energy thing going on. I decided to take the plunge! I closed my ebay store, although I still have my personal account (there are some sources there that I'm still a regular customer of). I put all my product up on Etsy. I went though the Teams and have since joined 3: Etsy's Dark Side Street Team, TeamMIDS (miniatures in dollhouse scales) and TeamMinimakers. It has been a great learning experience and fun fun fun... I am actually artistically challenged again rather than feeling like I did on ebay- selling junk at a gigantic garage sale.

Selling miniatures on Etsy is like this: You have to work harder to market your items because the traffic is much less than on ebay. However, people coming through specifically want quality handmade work and so will pay better prices for it. This increases the amount of time and quality of materials I'm willing to put into any given piece. For me its been a win win situation.
New people at Etsy:

- Join teams and be active! If you support your team, they support you and its free advertising!

- Join flickr, photobucket, or DeviantART and develop an online portfolio of your work!

- Join myspace, tribe, facebook, or whatever social network you like. Chances are, your team has a site there as well so link up with it for more networking!

- Blog! give tutorials, discuss artistic inspiration, talk about your pets, your hair...

- POST LINKs on all your sites going back to your store, your teams, your blog!

- Understand the importance of TAGGING your items and how they show up in Etsy searches and larger meta searches online. What tags does your team use? There are specific Team Tags as well as descriptive product tags. Check out similiar items and see what they have. Use tags appropriately! To much misuse of a tag and buyers will stop typing it into searches. Don't allow your product tags to become cluttered with non-related garbage - report misuse.

Tags that work best for my miniatures:
- OOAK "one of a kind" "handmade"
- 112 (for the scale)
- spooky Halloween horror Gothic Steampunk dark fantasy fairy
- dollhouse minaiture miniatures
- item specifics like furniture or whatever

Your chances to increase visibility in searches are in your product title, your store section titles, your 14 Etsy tag options, your online portfolio titles and sections... Plus you can pay for additional advertising on Etsy and outside craft searches.
In a tiny world full of pink couches, is there a place for a skull chandelier?
My miniatures are fantastical and creepy, making many dollhouse shop owners a bit uncomfortable. I've actually watched them squirm... But then a random customer spies the little Witch's closet and actually runs over, grabs is out of my hand, squeals and throws money at me! This actually happened. I knew I had a market no matter what the shopkeeper said. There are people out there with Haunted Dollhouses, Halloween Mansions, and Wizard Castles gnashing their teeth for spooky and magical miniatures. I will give them cauldrons, spirits, ouija boards, dragon wing beds, and skulls galore!!! I cannot be stopped muhhahah!

Uhh... so anyway, back to knowing your market. Make what you love even if it is not mainstream. There is a market for variety in minatures because people are tired of buying the same thing from China and even Bespaq. It's mass produced and that's why you, the new miniature artisan are soooo special. You are the only source of your work!

The History of Miniatures and Dolls on Etsy:
Miniatures and Dolls are a fairly new category on Etsy and the search system is still evolving. However, a growing number of very talented miniature artists are joining Etsy. One of the first miniature artists on the site described the evolution of the category thusly:

"For 2 1/2 years people had been asking Etsy for a suitable category to list non-toy items which were of a "toy type". Listing in "Toys" was inappropriate and in "Everything Else" items were lost. Collectors looking at the front page of Etsy would probably think that no collecible miniatures were offered for sale, the search facility isn't a lot of help and a new visitor to the site would be unlikely to be able to find anything by using it. A main category naming miniatures on the front page was desperately needed.In March/April 2008 Admin announced they would be creating a category for "Collectibles" this resulted in a heated debate about what a "collectible" was and it became obvious everyone would be wanting to list in the category which would be little more than another "Everything Else" category. Admin cancelled the category and said if anyone could come up with a suggestion they would go ahead again.Art doll makers and miniaturists joined forces and started a petition asking for a Dolls And Miniatures main category which eventually had over 700 signatures. The campaign gained momentum and many long forum threads were kept running. An Etsy team DAM was formed.Eventually Etsy Admin created the category on October 6th 2008 but unfortunately included some toy items in it so it wasn't quite as good as everyone had envisaged it would be but a lot better than being stuck in "Everything Else" or "Toys".The DAM team began to think about its future direction and held a vote, it was decided to keep it more as a general social team and those of us who believed there was a need for a Team which would specifically deal with scale dollhouse miniatures for adult collectors formed "Miniatures In Dollhouse Scales".Etsy confirmed the team as official on November 12th 2008. --------------------
Blue Kitty "

Hopefully, all of this info will help any aspiring Miniature artist considering Etsy as a home! Please join us... join us.... join ussss....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog is awesome! I do miniatures, and to get my teen daughter interested I agreed to help make her dollhouse a witch's house! We are currently looking for a cauldron, for her, (she doesn't have a kitchen stove, ya know) so we hope to find one here!


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