Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Etsy Gameface Update: Branding and New Products

I hope you’ve been reading along this week as I detail work I’ve done in recent months to improve my Etsy shop and overall experience! You can read entries about Facebook/blogging/Twitter here and handmade philanthropic efforts here. Next – branding and new products!

I asked a graphic designer to help me with branding. This involves coming up with a clear idea of what my brand is suppose to say and developing a look for my shop that will extend to this blog, my Facebook fan page, Twitter account and print materials like business cards. I was already going to my friend Kelli for advice, and decided to ask her to officially help me. Thank goodness she agreed! The great thing about Kelli (well, besides the fact that she’s pure awesome-sauce) is that she knows me personally. Obviously that isn’t a requirement for doing good work for a person, but it sure sets my mind at ease. There are things I won’t necessarily have to explain to Kelli, because she knows me and has seen my shop in action since I started it. I know Kelli because we used to work together – she managed creative services for our employer. I’ve seen her work and I trust her 100%. Now she’s working on her own small business as a freelance designer and I’m excited not only for what she can do for my shop, but what I can do to promote her work to others.

Miss K as the parrot for the High Five Chiditarod team. See, she's all pretty & colorful and stuff. Perfect for doing my designs!

So far, we’ve talked a bit about the direction I want to go in and I’ve sent poor Kelli these horribly long, rambling emails telling her the 37,000 different things I want my Etsy logo to say to someone who doesn’t know anything about me or my shop. Seriously, y’all, pray for Kelli.

I’ve been working on new products for my shop. I have to tell you, this has been really challenging, in both exciting and frustrating ways. The exciting part is putting my brain to work, thinking about what new products I’d be excited to make and sell in my shop, experimenting with materials and methods of construction and getting feedback from my friends who are testing the products. The frustrating part? Coming up with something that really, really works and makes sense to be sold in the same shop as my current items.

Whatever could it be?

My first new item (an accessory to be worn) that I began sending to friends for feedback had mixed reviews. Everyone was excited about the concept and liked the look, and the work seems to be sound (i.e. they didn’t fall apart). The problems are that I can’t seem to come up with a universal fit and they don’t stay put as they should. I’m not sure if I can come up with solutions to these problems. I’m thinking about a couple changes – the construction would stay the same but the shape would be different and I might use slightly different materials.

I have another item I’m interested in adding to the shop that hasn’t been tested by as many people, but hasn’t run into as many problems. I think if I can get a few more of these out to people to test – and can get over a roadblock of . . . ok, let’s call it what it is – laziness – I will feel confident about putting this item into my shop.

I also have some ideas of things I could introduce to the shop, but haven’t even tried making yet, for a couple of reasons. One is that I’m plain old scared to try something new. I got some courage a while ago, which is how I got to my previously mentioned new items . . . but my courage has run out and now I’m back to being scared that a new item won’t do well. What if everyone just thinks I should stick to cozies? What if I do a big unveiling of my new products and no one buys them? What if I sell a bunch and they fall apart and I get bad reviews?

Fraidy Cat

Another reason I hesitate to make new items is that I’ve been bitten with the “but this isn’t original enough” bug. I’m not saying this is a bad bug to be bitten by (say that 8 times, fast), but it’s not great when you’ve pledged to yourself that you’re going to introduce new items to your shop this year, and every day you see new handmade items that make you feel so very, very unoriginal. I’m feeling very “can’t see the forest for the trees”, you know? Sure, the people who are testing my items think they’re super cool, but will other handmade artists? Hmm . . . who buys my stuff, anyway? Methinks I might need to relax a bit. Youthinks that too? Yeah.

Coming up next – things I want to do to improve my shop, but haven’t . . . yet!

Have you developed a brand? Is it easy for you to come up with new products for you shop? What process do you use to determine whether you should add them?

264 comments:

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Mama Pea said...

As Picasso said, "good artists copy, great artists steal" ...or something like that. :)

gina luv said...

oh my word. that fraidy cat picture has me cracking up! I couldn't be more like it. I sat at my desk yesterday after work and just sat there. Probably for a good 45 minutes. I pulled out fabric and looked at it. I looked up patterns. I have an idea of what to make but am a scaredy cat that I am going to mess up. I am afraid to waste pretty fabric. I need to come to terms with messing up pretty fabric to practice-right? grr..:)gina

MasiDesigns said...

I've been there a lot, too! I'm struggling with the 'originality' thing as well, but sometimes I think you need to take a step back from your own work. I got so immersed in some new items I was working on, researching and creating, that they started to seem kind of blah and run-of-the-mill to me. But upon showing them to friends, they said they'd never seen anything like it. Other artists may be familiar with what your making but the general public will probably see it as a new and fun handmade treasure. And if it's well made and thoughtful (as all of your stuff is), then it will appeal to artists too, I'm sure!

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