Now that kids are off school for the summer many WAHM's are challenged to balance work + kids + making time for fun. Sara of sarah + abraham shares her strategy for combining all three!
by Sara Tams of sarah + abraham
But just in case you’re curious about exactly how it works and whether or not it might be a worthwhile way to market your Etsy shop (setting aside for a moment the bigger picture of the value of handmade), I’d like to share my experience with Heartsy and the cost analysis that I came up with in comparing Heartsy with a few other ways of promoting an Etsy shop.
If you’re not already familiar with the way Heartsy works, it’s similar to Groupon or Zulily, but it features exclusively handmade items, and Heartsy doesn’t take a cut of the sale. For example, if you do a deal on Zulily, they may offer a $20 voucher to your shop for $10, of which you receive $5 and Zulily keeps $5. When Heartsy offers a $20 voucher to your shop for $10, you receive the entire $10. Heartsy earns revenue by selling VIP memberships and offering VIP perks (usually free shipping or a higher voucher amount for the same price).
On a whim, I gave Heartsy a try in April. I agreed to offer 150 $30 vouchers for $11 each (a $35 voucher for VIP members) with a one-month expiration date. My Heartsy feature went live at 10am. At 11:30 Heartsy contacted me asking if I wanted to increase the number of vouchers from 150 to 175. It seemed to be going well (not many of the people who purchased vouchers were placing orders right away), so I agreed.
The vouchers sold out by 2:30 pm, but I only had 52 orders from Heartsy customers in the first day and 9 orders on the second day.
Fortunately, my husband was available to help me fill orders for two days, and we were caught up by 5pm the next day (all of the Heartsy orders were shipped or packaged and ready to be shipped the next morning).
Overall, it was a positive experience (not as overwhelming as I had feared it might be). I had over 1,800 visitors to my Etsy shop on the day of my feature. The people at Heartsy were easy to work with, and their website was easy to use. I was able to log in to my account to verify voucher numbers and to transfer the funds that Heartsy had collected ($1,925) to my PayPal account.
Most customers spent more than the voucher amount (the average Heartsy order was $5.29 over the voucher amount), and 48 people who purchased vouchers never redeemed them. So both of those things helped to offset the cost of the promotion a little bit, and hopefully I’ll gain some repeat customers (several Heartsy shoppers signed up for my mailing list). But it seems like the return on investment could be a lot better from other methods of marketing and advertising.
For example, I typically renew about 10 – 15 listings each day in my Etsy shop. At $0.20 per renewal, this works out to $60 – $90 in renewal fees per month, which I consider an advertising expense to keep my products coming up at the top of Etsy searches. When I add in the rest of my Etsy fees, my total cost to list items on Etsy is about 12% of my Etsy sales. When I add in website sales from customers who find my website through Etsy, the cost is only 6%.
As an example of how valuable editorial coverage can be, I was recently featured on a high-traffic blog. I provided a sample and an item for a giveaway (my cost was $80 for the two items). So far I’ve had $1,926 in sales from that blog feature, so the cost was about 4% of the revenue that has been generated so far. Of course not all blogs are equal – this is one of the best outcomes I’ve ever had from a blog feature.
I’ve only run a few ads on blogs, so I have very limited experience in that area, but last Fall I ran an ad that cost $280 and resulted in $2,247 in sales. So the cost of the ad was about 12% of the revenue it generated.
By comparison, I shipped $4,592 worth of merchandise to Heartsy shoppers, and I received a total of $2,597 for those orders, so the cost of being featured on Heartsy was $1,995 (43%).
It’s possible that some Heartsy shoppers will become repeat customers, but I’d bet that compared with customers who find me thorough an Etsy search, editorial coverage, or a well placed ad, Heartsy shoppers will be less likely to come back and pay full price.
Since being featured on Heartsy I’ve been contacted by several similar websites, and Heartsy has asked me to offer another promotion, but I’ve decided to focus on other marketing strategies and not offer any more deep discounts.
If you’ve been featured on Heartsy, Zulily, Groupon, or a similar website, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience! For those of you who have advertised on blogs and are willing to share – I’d love to hear what your experience has been in terms of how much the ads have cost vs. how much revenue they generated.
by Sara Tams of sarah + abraham
When I decided to start a business, sarah + abraham, in 2007 I was a stay-at-home-mom with two kids ages 2 and 4. I was only able to work when they were napping or having quiet time or after they were in bed. It was frustrating to have so many ideas but so little time to work.
The first winter was especially difficult. I finally started getting some orders, and I was having all of my printing done at Kinko’s, so several times a week I had to bundle my kids up and try to keep them entertained while we waited in line or while I used the paper cutter. Trips to the post office were also no fun at all (for me or for them!)
There were so many times I questioned what I was doing. It always felt like at least one area of my life was suffering as I tried to balance being a stay-at-home-mom, growing my business, being a good spouse, nurturing my friendships, and taking care of myself.
Today my business and family life have changed drastically compared to a few years ago. My kids are both in school full-time and able to entertain themselves for a couple of hours after school, for the past 15 months my husband has been at home helping me with the kids and with my business, and I typically only work about 20 – 30 hours a week while earning the same income that we lived on when my husband was working full time.
There are still days when I get frustrated that I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to, but I’m much more comfortable now with the concept of balance being a continual process, not something that I’m striving to achieve.
I’ll never have a day when I get a lot of work done, meet a friend for coffee, have a great workout, run errands, make a healthy dinner, and spend quality time with my family. I’ll certainly never have a week full of days like that. And that’s okay.
Every night at bedtime my husband, kids, and I each say three things we liked about our day. We do this to teach our kids about gratitude, but it has also taught me to be more thankful for the small blessings that every day holds and to not be so frustrated about the things that I didn’t accomplish.
My advice to other moms who are overwhelmed by starting a business while they have small children at home is that it won’t be like this forever. Your kids will be in school before you know it. Your business will grow and change in ways you can’t even imagine. It’s okay to not accomplish as much as you’d like to as fast as you’d like to – you’ll get there eventually!
If you’re a mom and a business owner, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on balance and what has worked for you.