J6 Etsy Store 2.0

15/02/19


Time to Reboot!

For those of you who are up to speed with the journey so far, thank you for your continued interest and a very warm welcome to those joining the conversation. This is the continuation of my last post How Not to Sell Photos on Etsy in which I describe my entire 'business strategy', or lack thereof, and talk through my analysis of what I have discovered from the process. Click here to see the last post, however, if you'd rather ignore my failings and see me as an unfaltering hero (more fool you) then we'll just get stuck into it.

So I know what went wrong, in as much as I think I know what went wrong. My formula was flawed, rushed and poorly managed, which is difficult to fathom because in my professional career and an engineering manager I do not make the same mistakes as I have with my own micro business. At least not as many and as often anyway. Now my slate is clean and it is time to reboot my Etsy store, but I do think it's time to flip the model, so let the reboot commence.

My store has had all listings bar 1 removed; this is a single listing offering 1 of 8 different prints which are the surplus from my exhibition 'An Asian Adventure' last year. You'll note the first change I have made here; as the images are all of a similar theme, priced the same and being sold for the same reason, it makes sense to list them under one item and save on multiple listing fees. I returned a small profit on my exhibition, and as much as I would like to shift these prints, I think it's fair to say that I've had my share of that project so anything else is a bonus.

The next step is to stock some new products, but this time I am not going to flood the shelves as before and narrow the selection of the products on offer to prospective buyers. As most of my images are available for sale right here through my website in a wide range of different product types and sizes, there is no real need to flood my Etsy store with the same. I will be revising the website at some point applying the same logic as I have to the Etsy store, but for now, this reboot of the Etsy store is a manageable and measurable activity. So in response to my review of Etsy, the 'stak'em high' philosophy is out.

The second philosophy getting the chop is print on demand; I do intend to return to this one day but for now, there is a total lack of intimacy and a genuine lack of connection between the buyer and me as, dare I say it, the artist. This time, I am going to treat each image as a single 'project' specifically selecting an image, assessing the optimal size and finish for the print and ordering a short run of them. The risk I talk about in my last post is still there, but a short run reduces that risk to a manageable level. But is having the images here in my hand enough? Even if it is the best shot I have ever taken, why would anyone buy it? We need to up the appeal which I intend to achieve through limited edition prints.

I have done some research into offering limited edition print runs, and no, not the "Limited Edition" special label bottles of soft drink, or other consumable product that is offered in the millions and are anything but limited. I am looking at a genuine numbered and limited print run which is numbered, dated and signed. Maybe with a title included, but I would need to think about that one.

The material I have found on the subject doesn't provide much insight into this, only that the print run MUST end when the number of prints is complete. That's it. There are no rules on how you number, where it's indicated etc, etc. In the world of special edition art, there are many who collect on the basis that the item has a limited number, and so it has the potential to increase in value (not necessarily my work, but it is a fact), breaking the promise by printing more will devalue the set. How this could possibly be monitored I don't know, but as an artist looking to establish my work, and more importantly turn a modest profit I am happy to follow this rule.

Which brings us to the number of images included in the edition, which is the real reason I have not explored this avenue before. To offer the print in a limited number means that an image I am really pleased with may one day be closed off and no longer be available to print, which would be a shame. However, the limited edition is unique to the size, print finish and the fact it is signed and numbered, so my fears of running out of that image were unfounded.

But still, how many in this edition? I was thinking about keeping it super limited, say 10, or 25. My brand, however, has always been drawn to the number 6, so why not 66? To manage my risk I do not need to print all 66, although the larger batch would have a cheaper unit print cost but I run the risk of not selling the full edition and lose out on any profit. So an edition of 66 (meets brand requirements), but an initial order of 10 units (manageable risk) seems a reasonable start. 

This hasn't been challenging so far, in fact, it is all fairly sensible and logical. It is this next point that I am struggling with, and need your help. What image do I use as my first limited edition print? With some solid images across many of my collections, which single image do I choose? I have shortlisted a few below, take a look and we'll pick up after.

Asia

Berlin

Budapest

Havana

London

A sneak preview into my new LDN project where I am trying to see the city through my lens as I would on my travels. It's a real challenge trying to photograph scenes I see virtually everyday, but as one of the greatest cities in the world is on my doorstep I feel I should document it in my own style. This shot depicts a near deserted Royal Exchange.

New York

Fulton Street Subway Station Ceiling

Paris

Venice

In my last post I did offer a free gift to a random helper, so here's your task:

What is your favorite shot and would like to see in a special edition print?

Your gift will be the first signed print No. 1 of this first range of limited edition prints sent to your door free of charge! Just list your preferred shots in the comments down below and say what it is you like about the shot for a chance to be selected. Have a look through the shortlists above, feel free to enlarge, skip through and find your favorite images. 

I naturally have my own preferences, but I think it would be nice to have an objective view and see my work through the eyes of other people, so please do get involved! 

There are some simple qualifying terms, so please continue to the bottom of this page to learn more to be in with a chance of being selected. Good luck! 


With the image choice underway, there are a couple of things left to complete this first special edition print for my Etsy store, most importantly, pricing. I had previously explained that my pricing was somewhat erratic, ill-thought and badly managed, well no more!

I have drilled down into the numbers for this project working on an initial print run of 10no. units based around ISO sizes A4 or A3 as these are easier to understand and visualize for prospective buyers. I will print these images with a 1" white border which can be used to apply the special edition information and can either be displayed by the buyer in a frame or concealed by a frame mount should they not wish to display my scribbles. 

By ordering an initial run of 10no. units, the print cost is reduced by a few pennies per print, but as the quantities increase this makes a bit different to the overall base cost. The single delivery charge also makes a big difference to my bottom line. 

After all this careful analysis research and calculation, what would you think if I were to tell you that I don't expect to make a profit on this project? Well, it's true. One of my observations surrounding my previous attempt at sales was that my posting and packing was completely amateur, in fact, looking back now I am deeply embarrassed about how I handled the packaging before posting.

To cut costs, I simply reused the packaging the prints turned up in, which usually meant underdoing the envelope or tube to check the print, sealing with some tape, scribbling out my address and adding the buyer's address. If I received something like this I would be totally unimpressed and would not be keen to receive anything further from the artist. This means some investment is required to pay for a more professional packaging setup; the profits generated from this project I intend to fully reinvest into the business to pay for this setup. By covering the initial packaging costs with this project I should be on track to generate profits that can be used towards other running costs for the business. 

First things first, I need an address label printer, my handwriting is terrible so this is a must. Of course, I need a large batch of stiff envelopes; I'm looking at an order of 100 as is seems to be a price sweet spot and the same in cellophane inner sleeves to protect the print inside. To add a more personal touch I have ordered an ink stamp with my logo on to apply to the envelopes. Add to this the cost of a test print, the print run, the delivery and postage and I have a significant, but a manageable investment. So what should my price point be? 

We all know that when it comes to online shopping, free shipping is king. Unless your an e-commerce behemoth that can afford loss leaders to maintain customer numbers the cost of delivery needs to be covered somewhere, so let me get you in on a little secret. Move in close, a little closer... They put the cost on the price of the product!

I want to make it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to make the decision to click buy, and making shipping free means building the cost into the product, what this does mean is that I will make more on domestic deliveries than international. I could make international a premium uplift, but as all my Etsy sales have been sent abroad, this would not make good business sense. 

Unless I have missed something major, I have calculated that I need to sell a minimum of 5no. units internationally to cover the costs of this project and complete the setup my Etsy reboot. There is one more issue that needs to be tackled, that is promoting the product and increase my sales potential. At this stage, I want to avoid using paid advertising as this is likely to eat into my profits and put me back in the downward spiral I have worked hard to climb out of. I am looking at the option of introducing Google advertising to my website in an attempt to offset the cost of my own advertising, but that is a story for another day. 

So my promoting has to be good old elbow grease, in a 21st Century sense anyway. I will, of course, use my blog to describe the process as well as utilize features built into Etsy to track the progress from image selection and test printing to packing and postage. This will take prospective buyers on the journey with me from print to post.  

One final thing I am considering is a framing option as a premium upgrade,  using a simple gloss black frame with a white mount. As with art on your wall, frames are also a personal thing, but I would imagine some people would like the option of not procuring their own frame. Framing is a nightmare and will not be made an option until I can find one that fits perfectly. There is, of course, the increase in postage as we move up from an envelope to a parcel, so this needs further investigation before being offered.

What's next?

With the plan coming together the final image needs to be selected for which I hope you will help me (don't forget a lucky helper will receive a free copy of the print!), I will be shortlisting a final selection and weighing up the pros and cons for them all, which is going to be tough. I will order test prints for the final 5 images and scrutinize them further. 

Before ordering the prints I will proof the images to ensure they are suitable for printing and re-edit as necessary. Because different papers render color differently you need to review the final image on a simulation of the printing paper and ensure the final image as printed represents the image on the screen as near as possible. This may well end up going through a few attempts until the final image is exactly how I intend it to look. These images are a special limited edition after all, so anything less than perfect is unacceptable. 

Next step will be to order a full-size test print to check print quality and ensure this is the final image and use this to determine the location of signature, date, and numbering. I'll use this test print to find suitable frame options and enable the premium upgrade option. At this stage, it's time to order the prints, packaging etc.. documenting the process as I go. 

We're not quite finished yet, next I need to do a photo shoot with the finished product so that I have images of the prints to put on my Etsy store, something that I am dreading because product photography isn't my thing, so this is going to take a little research in the meantime. 

I'm targetting April 1st to have the final print run ordered, if not before should the process go smoothly so I encourage you to get your comments in below and be part of the process! I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions as I am sure they differ greatly from my own. 


Thanks for being part of my journey, until the next phase guys, I'm out!


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T&C's

To qualify for entry to receive the free print are as follows:

- Like J6 Pix on Facebook

- Like this blog post (above)

- Provide a comment (above) with your favorite images and why you like them

(That's it!)


What you will receive:

- A copy of the final print

- Print will be signed, dated and number 

- Print edition No. 1 of 66

- Postage Paid


What's not included:

- The image may not be the one you provided feedback for

- The print will not be framed


The randomly selected winner will be made on 31st of March and announced on my Blog and Facebook page. 


Delivery date for print TBC.


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