Meet Mandy Ford: Handcrafted Web-Based Business Owner
Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
Hello Mandy! Thanks for being a part of the Work at Home Adventures Web-Based business series. We have met many online entrepreneurs and we are glad to add you to our mix!
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First, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a 30-something working mom of twin boys who loves to create. I enjoy loom knitting, scrapbooking, creating all sorts of DIY projects and decorating our home. I’m also very addicted to coffee and dark chocolate.
Will you explain what Love Squirrels is?
Love squirrels is my online shop where I sell my knitted baby hats and accessories. I have two shops – one on Etsy.com and one on Storenvy.com. I also participate in craft fairs when possible.
What inspired the cute name?
I love squirrels. 🙂
What made you decide to begin selling your craft online?
I started my shop back in 2007 when Etsy was in its beginning stages. I had always wanted to sell my crafts and saw it as a great opportunity to be able to sell online to a wider audience, and to be able to take credit card payments. At that time, I mostly sold handmade cards and other paper goods.
I see you sell on Etsy, can you share with us your experience with Etsy?
Overall I have had a very positive experience with Etsy. It has been fun to grow along with the site, which has expanded so much over the years. I recently read that they broke the 1 billion mark in page views this past January and their gross sales for March 2011 totaled 39.7 million. Those are exciting statistics because it shows that Etsy is the place people are going to shop these days, and that handmade has become increasingly popular. It also shows, however, how much competition there is on the site. As of February 2011, there were 290,877 shops on Etsy. It is a little daunting to see that number and think about opening a shop. The key is listing a lot of items, and renewing them often, which can get expensive. I limit myself quite a bit on listing items, and use my Facebook page and personal contacts/word of mouth to generate sales.
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to gain buyers or to help your potential customers feel at ease about buying from your online store?
As I mentioned before, listing a lot of items and renewing them often is very important. Great photography is also key. I use google analytics and craftopolis.com to track my shop views and sales. It helps to see what items are getting the most views, where your traffic is coming from, and the key times customers are visiting your shop. I pride myself on providing high quality items for my customers. If it isn’t something I would want for my child or for myself, I won’t sell it. I also work with my custom order customers to make sure they get exactly what they are expecting, from yarn color to button selection.
If you could give a newbie one piece of advice about selling online (or warnings) what would it be?
1. Take good photos. Your photos are SO important. If you don’t have good photopraphs of your items, you are going to be passed over for those that do. A neutral and simple background with necessary props is a good place to start. I know some shop owners have created or purchased a light box for higher quality photos. I’m constantly working on the quality of my listing photos. I’ve found that natural light works best and definitely no flash. I use Flickr to store and edit my shop photos. It has an included editing software that works very well. Flickr is also a great marketing tool because you can list your shop URL with the photos.
Finally, can you give us the links to your sites?
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I have two shops:
Lovesquirrels.storenvy.com (I recommend this site or Artfire.com because they are free – no listing fees like on Etsy, but also less customer traffic)
My Etsy Shop
My Facebook page– become a fan and hear about new products and specials!
Thanks so much for having me!
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