In my never-ending quest for sales, I went on the hunt for an actual etsy buyer and found muffin104, AKA Michelle, who very nicely agreed to be queried regarding her purchasing habits. She responded with details and allowed me to publish her interview on this, my blog. I edited it a little for brevity, and now present to you my readers, Insights Into a Buyer.
How did you hear about Etsy?
I first learned about Etsy via flickr. I was searching for some images of vintage jewelry and dresses. Some of my search results came from Etsy folks who had posted photos of their items on flickr. They had links to their Etsy stores, and I followed them, and discovered this wonderful place that I never knew existed.
What draws you to a particular shop?
When I browse Etsy, I usually do it with something specific in mind. For instance, I might be looking for earrings that use a certain color or texture of beads, or I’d like a home product that smells like cedar, or a light blue toile tablecloth. I focus on the tags of the sellers to find what I'm looking for, so the more exhaustive your descriptive tags, the more people are apt to be able to find you.
(Look, look, a light blue toile tablecloth!!!!!)
How often do you surf Etsy?
Three or four times a day, for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. But, if I’m really looking for something in particular, I might leave the site up on my laptop at home, and jump on and off all evening.
What do you buy, and why?
So far, I’ve purchased mostly jewelry, with a few t-shirts and “for-the-home” items sprinkled in. The jewelry items were things I purchased for myself, because I work in a very visible job, and I wanted to spruce up my look a little bit. I’m pretty much the anti-Christ of “fashion”, but I do enjoy necklaces and earrings that are eclectic, one-of-a-kind, and beautiful.
How much do you spend? What’s your budget?
When I buy jewelry on Etsy, I try not to exceed $30 for a pair of earrings or a necklace. With handsewn items, of course, I expect to pay more, especially if a higher quality fabric is used.
Do you buy from the same seller? Do you go back to that same store to see new listings?
If I order something from an artist, and I’m pleased with the results – they’ve probably gained a customer for life. In fact, there’s one woman in Belgium from whom I’ve purchased so many things, I think I’m helping to pay her mortgage! I also tend to stash lots of items from sellers that I like in my “faves” bin. I may not be able to purchase them right away, but even if someone else buys them, I still have the “favorite” as a reminder, and I can go back to a seller later and ask if they have, or can make, another similar item.
Have you ever been burned by a sale, had to deal with an unpleasant seller?
No, thank goodness. I’ve been disappointed with items that I received, but I told the sellers, and they offered to make the situation right. Etsy isn’t eBay – I don’t think it’s prone to unscrupulous sellers who prowl the internet, looking to defraud customers with knock-off Prada bags. If you’re an arch villain, there are probably quicker, easier ways to make a buck than making sub-standard hand-knitted scarves.
Any advice for new Etsy buyers?
Well, a couple of things … #1 be patient and keep your perspective. While some Etsy artists make their livelihood from their sales, others have second- or “day” jobs. Before you lash out at a seller, consider a few things – it’s a blouse or a piece of jewelry, not blood plasma. Even if it’s a wedding item, if you’ve ordered within a reasonable amount of time, you should be fine. Most Etsy items are handmade, and require some skill and creativity. If you’re really feeling antsy, just contact the seller via “conversations” and ask for a status update.
#2 I’m thinking specifically of American buyers here, but I suppose this applies to everyone – don’t be afraid to purchase from artists outside the U.S./your home country. Check feedback, make sure you’re familiar with delivery policies, but don’t deny yourself the pleasure of some truly beautiful items because of an international transaction.
I like this woman's attitude - "there are probably quicker, easier ways to make a buck than making sub-standard hand-knitted scarves"; "it’s a blouse or a piece of jewelry, not blood plasma". Also, I like her advise: "don’t be afraid to purchase from artists outside the U.S./your home country"; "the more exhaustive your descriptive tags, the more people are apt to be able to find you" and my personal favorite "If I order something from an artist, and I’m pleased with the results – they’ve probably gained a customer for life", and that is what we are looking for, yes? A loyal return customer who will recommend your goods to her friends and family, and help build our businesses. You can go to muffin104's etsy site and click on her Favorites to see the kinds of things she buys, and the kinds of shops she supports.
Thank you so much Michlle for your advise and insights into an acutal etsy buyer!