Things I Learned as a Buyer and a Seller

I may have mentioned in the past that being a business owner is not my full-time job. Although I hope that one day it will be, as I am still working towards that goal. I have a day job – a part-time job. Luckily, I enjoy my day-job. It’s challenging and fulfilling; I like my coworkers.

My primary purpose in my day job is to phone screen caregivers. Based on that screening, I may or may not invite them to come in for an interview.

Often I can be heard muttering, “I should write a blog post about what NOT to do at interviews…”

Lately, I’m fascinated by the similarities between interviewing job applicants and shopping in the Etsy marketplace.

I’ve purchased from various Etsy shops for several years now, and after a while, one can begin to separate the top sellers from the so-so sellers. There are reasons for this, and of course, I use these experiences to aspire to be one of those “top” sellers.

My feeling is that from a seller’s point of view, it’s all about respect.

As an interviewer, I respect the applicant’s time that he/she took to fill out an application, wait for my call, go through the phone screen, and then possibly come a long way to see us for an interview. I’m trying to sell my company to this applicant.

In the same way, as a seller, I respect that I am just one small blip in a virtual universe of sellers. At any point, a customer can either diver further into my shop, or move along. That is his or her choice. That’s the reality.

Obviously, I’m not the only knitter or ice-dyer on Etsy. Therefore, I have to add something to the mix. I have to offer a few bonuses that will make or break a sale. We all do, right? Wrong. Apparently, this isn’t common knowledge. Or common sense.

An approved custom-order, ready to ship out.

Have you heard of WISIWIG? This catchphrase was used in the Flip Wilson show back in 1969, and then made a reprise during the 80s computer age. It means “what you see is what you get.”

When interviewing an applicant who’s dressed poorly, like in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, what I see is someone who really doesn’t care about the job. WISIWIG.

WISIWIG should be a given with online selling.  Of course, we all know that this isn’t the case, and that’s what makes advertising so lucrative. But, when it comes to handcrafted work, it’s a different world. Or it should be…we choose handcrafted because it’s more personal, not mass-produced, not backed by a big budget and a board of directors. WISIWIG is important in online selling of handcrafted work, but sadly, it’s not always the rule.

I take very seriously that my products look like what they REALLY look like. I use natural lighting, take photos that show the product as it really is. Sometimes, it’s not enough to give dimensions in the description. You can still make something look beautiful in a realistic, truthful photo.

For example, if you see a photo of a beautiful jewel pendant, looking bright, sparkly and larger than life, and you buy it, well…the advertising has done its job. But when you receive it and find out that it’s rather dull-looking, and the pendant is the size of your pinky nail, you feel a little betrayed. Thanks to perfect lighting and a zoom lens, and maybe a little photoshop, we can make things much more than they are. Dimensions are helpful, yes, if you know what 25 mm looks like, but pictures speak a thousand words. They are persuasive!

Another important sales point is communication. Somewhere along the way, a lot of people decided that it was okay to “ncns” (no-call-no-show) for a job interview. Or run late for an interview and not call ahead of time. This was never cool. And it still isn’t.

It feels nice when people let you know what’s going on. Again, it’s about respect and common courtesy.

I always want to keep my customers in the loop, in a timely manner. If a customer has a question, I’m not going to wait two or more days to answer. I’ll reply same day or next morning – every time! I respect the fact that their time is important, just like mine. I’ll communicate the progress of a custom-made order, or when something will be delivered, or if someone posted a nice comment on the blog or Instagram.

Communication is important because, in a huge world like Etsy, it’s not just about the product…it’s the relationship between the customer and the artist. When there are literally thousands of ice-dyers and knitters out there, a customer will be drawn to the artist whose work speaks to them alone. Buyers will go to the artist who understands them. You have to communicate to reach someone.

Over-Deliver. I never heard of this term until I joined a women’s business accountability group, but it’s what I do, and I believe it makes a big difference. When I make a sale, I process in two days–no exceptions. If a custom order is in the works – I relay the timeline to the customer and follow through. I make sure my work delivers within 5 (domestic) and ten (international) days. My customers appreciate this too. It seems to be a common factor in many of my reviews. The over-delivery is a pleasant surprise to them.

In fact, over-delivery is something that encompasses the entire philosophy behind LSSLuscious Knits.

It means high-quality work, good communication, truthfulness and timely delivery. When it comes to knitting and ice-dyeing, I strive to over-deliver. My favorite Etsy sellers do the same.

I know very well the lovely feeling of discovering something you want so badly, purchasing it, seeing it arrive at your doorstep within a week, opening it, loving the touch and sight of whatever it is…seeing a note from the seller, with your name on it–handwritten, saying, “Thank you!”

P.S. Did you get a chance to work on your brioche knitting over the week? How did it go? Any questions? If you’re ready to finish – here’s the perfect bind-off. Check it out!

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