How To + Free Worksheet: Make an Etsy Product Cost Sheet

In an earlier post on Pricing Strategies I mentioned using the method of making a cost sheet for your products then adding a percentage to find the window in which you should be pricing your products.  Here’s a breakdown of the process I go through to make this cost sheet for handmade items and for vintage clothes. The final cost I get is the lowest price I can sell my product at and still be sustainable as a business. Because a lot of my expenses are things I’d have to pay for anyway (computer, home office) or things I dont necessarily have to pay for (my own time laboring), I can afford to sell at a loss from this cost sheet. I try not to do this unless there is some sort of perceived benefit to my long term business efforts: building sales numbers, positive reviews, generating a loyal pool of potential repeat customers. Selling at a loss can also be bad for other sellers in your market so even if you can afford to take a hit consider the effect that might have on the whole community.

Whatever this cost sheet price is I try and frame as the absolute lowest cost and add a percentage on top of that as my business profit margin. My mantra: I’m successfully self-employed when I break even on my cost sheet, I’m a successful small business owner when I start seeing a good percentage off the top. This is a pretty simplistic way to consider but as you are getting started and operating on a product to product basis it can serve as a good basic way of formulating prices. The percentage over an above the cost does not have to be consistent from product to product and could also be informed by competitors pricing. (eg If you have a product that costs $7 to make and the average competitor prices theirs at $10 you might consider pricing anywhere from $8-$12. If your product costs $7 and your average competition is $6, price yours at or just above your cost $7-$8 in order to stay competitive. Remember Etsy shoppers are not necessarily bargain hunters they are often looking for quality handmade items that they love. If you offer such products they will not hesistate over a few dollars and your business is more likely to suceed if you are able to profit over and above your basic costs.) NOTE: If I plan to run a 20% off sale or offer a 20% off discount coupon to return customers I generally shoot for over 20% so that I’m not loosing money by offering discounts.

Check out my free 2 page PDF worksheet which accompanies this how to on my Free Tools page. 

How to make a Product Cost Sheet for your Etsy Products

Section 1: Waged Work Time (to nearest ¼  hour)

Whatever your selling it takes time to make or find it. If you were to scale up and incorporated more people into your process you would have to pay them so if you have a hard time imagining that your time is worth anything, think about how much you would pay someone else to do the work for you as a good small business owner. Think sustainably and be a responsible business owner even when you are the sole employee.


Hourly Rate:_____ x ____ Hours=______


Hourly Rate:_____ x ____ Hours=______

Packing/ Shipping:

Hourly Rate:_____ x ____ Hours= ______

Flat Rate for Marketing: ______

If you spend over an hour a week just on shop enrichment (building treasuries, linking to external sites, blogging, generating social network traffic) you should include this time as work by taking the total hours at preferred wage and divide by number of products listed in that week. (You can use averages here and set a flat rate but its important to accommodate for this time because this is necessary work for a successful business. For example if you spend about 5 hours a week on site enrichment at a rate of $14 an hour and you post or relist an average of 20 items a week you can consider an averaged flat rate of $3.50 for each item to accommodate for the time you spend driving traffic to the listing.)

Here’s the formula:

Hours per week on site enrichment: A ;  times Hourly Rate for copy-writing and online marketing work $B/hr ; divided by the average number of re/listings per week: C

A: _____x B: _____/C: ______= _______: flat rate for marketing

STEP 1: Total all your waged work: ________

Section 2: Determining a flat rate operations cost per item.

This can be averaged weekly, monthly or annually depending on the type of work you do and the scale at which you are operating. Basically you want to total all the operations costs and divide by the number of sales over that same time period. This includes all your tools and space for operating and is broken down here in these 2 parts. This will give you a flat rate to add to each item to cover basic operations.  If you’re working out of your home with devices you already own for personal use here’s a quick and dirty way to get some estimated costs of operation. The important thing if you are thinking about scaling up to a full time business is to include some operations costs.  The more you are selling, the less these initial operation costs will end up being, this is where you will find the room for expansion.

Operations, Tools:

For larger items (like computer, camera etc) you can an estimate percentage use for business if you use the items for other things like personal use. For example I have a $1,500 computer, which I expect to last for 3-4 years and use ½ time for my business and ½ time for personal use. I project sales of 500 items in 1 calendar year and come up with a flat rate of 0.42. Do this for all the tools you use for your business including: computer, printer, camera, specialty appliances, etc. This is a quick and dirty estimate that does not account for things like depreciation or maintenance but it is important to have some number to accommodate for these expenses if you ever want to scale up from a hobbyist.

You’ll want to divide the total cost of the tool by the number of years of use and by the percentage (eg multiply by .5 for 50%) and again divide by total project number of sales.

Total Cost of Tool A: ___________

Number of expected years in use B: ___________

% of business use/ 100 C: ___________

Average/Projected number of annual sales D:__________

A:____/B:_____ x C:_____/D:______= ______ (cost of operation with tool x)

Flat rate operation for each tool:

Cost of operation with: computer

A:____/B:_____ x C:_____/D:______= ______

Cost of operation with: ________

A:____/B:_____ x C:_____/D:______= ______

Cost of operation with: ________

A:____/B:_____ x C:_____/D:______= ______

Cost of operation with: ________

A:____/B:_____ x C:_____/D:______= ______

If you are a vintage reseller, reclaimed wood carpenter or if you make frequent trips to gather or search for your supplies you should consider tracking and adding mileage into your operations cost here. A good rule of thumb is $0.50-0.55 per mile (or what you are eligible to claim on your taxes as mileage expenses).  If your travel is consistent keep careful track of your travel for one month then use your figures to estimate by diving the total miles x $0.50 by the total number of sales. (NOTE: You will likely need to track all your travel to claim on your taxes so averaging is just a tool for the cost sheet.)

Operations, Space

You also want to include some number for the site of your work location. This is easy if you rent a studio space or office but can be a bit trickier when you are working out of your home. There are a few ways to go about this the easiest is to estimate the cost of subletting the space to a third party for a similar use. For example if you use a spare bedroom in your home check local listings for room for rent (local papers or craiglist) and see what the sublet on a room in a comparable area would be. Take this monthly sublet figure and divide it by your average/projected number of monthly sales. For example, if you’d sublet the rooms for $100/month and have 100 sales a month accommodate an extra $1 for operations space.

If you use your kitchen or a room part time this can be a bit trickier. You can estimate cost by dividing the square footage of the space you use by your total square footage then again by the percentage of time you use if for business purposes then take that number and.

Say you use a 500 square foot space in your 2,500 square foot home for 20 hours a week (or 90 hours a month- its easier to deal with this one on a monthly scale) and you pay total $2000/month for your space (rent/mortgage, electricity, water, internet access, fees etc) and plan to sell on average 25 items a month. Your total monthly ‘rent’ on the part time use of your space totals: $50 divide this by 25 sales and you should accommodate for operations space an additional $0.50 per sale.

Square Footage of Workspace A:___________

Total Square Footage of your home B:__________

Hours per month used for business purposes C:__________* (this figure should be 720 if you have dedicated space which cannot be used for other purposes such as a craft room or storage)

Total Monthly Expenses for your home D:_________

The formula on this one is a little tricky (You’ll get a figure for the percent of space and then a figure for thepercent of time you want to multiply but the total cost of household operations. )

(A/B) (C/720) x D= $_______ (total cost of operations space per month)

Divide this total by average/proposed number of monthly sales = __________ (flat rate for operations space per item)

Step 2: Total your operations cost per item by adding the flat rate for each tool and for your space: _______

NOTE: This can be used on future cost sheets for other items. If you have a lot of very varied prices for your items you may want to consider fixing your operations costs to each $1 of sales and multiplying out for each item rather than fixing it per sale and having a flat rate for all items.  The important thing is that you are accommodating for the space and tools you are using for your business when you consider how to price your products.

Section 3: Materials Costs

Finally the part that you probably already thought of (maybe the only part you thought of)  you need to add us the cost of all the materials that went into your product. If your selling vintage this is simply the initial cost of your product from the thrift store, antique shop, yard sale etc. If you are making products be sure to include here the cost of any kind of membership to wholesale clubs (including Costco, Amazon Prime) and divide annual fees by total number of projected sales (then half that number if you share these services with personal use). Don’t forget to include small items: glue, tape, q-tips etc (total cost of 1 year supply divided by number of estimated products this supply could generate), all the pennies add up to reach your final cost and its important to consider all the things that go into making. If you worked for a company that made t-shirts you wouldn’t be expected to bring your own thread would you? That’s part of the cost of the business.

Total Annual Buying Fees:______ divided by projected # of Sales: ___________=_______

Total Annual Cost of Incidental Supplies _____: divided by Total Projected Production: ______=________

Total Cost of all materials in final product: ____________

Add all totals TOTAL MATERIAL COST: ____________

To find your Final Total Product Cost grab the final numbers from each of these 3 sections and total them together:

  1. Total Wages for this item: _____________
  2. Total Operations (flat rate per item): _____________
  3. Total Materials for this item: ______________


Remember this is your baseline. Your next step is to review your competition and come up with a reasonable price that will allow for some percentage of profit over an above this cost. If you are having a hard time pricing above this total cost of production just keep in mind that you (and your partners and dependents) are essentially subsidizing the cost of this product to your potential customer.

Free Tools: Vintage Sizing Tags

IMG_9206In an earlier Etsy Seller Tip post I wrote about how to size vintage clothing. I have since streamlined my process by using these tags I have made and am making available to you for free in my Free Tools Section.

I took the basic measurement requirements I have been using and put them all onto on card with space for notes about each item (potential tag keywords, notes on any damage/condition, manufacturing label sizing etc). As I photograph items (or sometimes as soon as I get them and am going through my finds of the day) I fill out a tag and safety pin it to the item.

When I get ready to list after I’ve photographed each item I remove the tags from all the items I am going to list and take them to my desk for an easy clutter-free workflow. I sometimes have a hard time remembering the price of each item when its in a slew of finds from one week so I will also include the cost on the back so I have that info when I get to the pricing stage.

I always pin to an existing tag or in an inconspicuous place (inside bottom seam) so as not to damage our product. I’d recommend printing on cardstock or a heavy weight paper (the lightweight shown here curls and rips easily) and using a hole punch and string to attach this way you could also slip the string over the hanger if there is no great place to pin it directly to the item.

Check out my Free Tools Section for the downloadable PDF with 7 styles of Vintage Sizing Tags to help streamline your Etsy vintage listing process.

Etsy Seller Tip # 4: $5 Keywords

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 6.12.42 PMEtsy publishes a list of keywords that are used in their Search Ads in alphabetical order. This is a great resource if you are deciding between a few different tags or trying to write a good title and want to know which keywords are the most valuable as they also post the average cost impressions with that search term beside the keywords. The average cost of impression is in reference to Search Ads and you can roughly deduce the more valuable keywords are those which lead to more sales.

For those of you new to the idea of Search Ads, they are one of the simplest advertizing opportunities provided by Etsy and are borderline essential if you are competing in a large market. Search Ads take your products and place them in prime viewing location -in the top 4 items as the the top of the page – when a potential customer enters keyword associated with that product into their Etsy search. (This is not 100% guarantee, is dependent on how many others have Search Ads running with the same keyword but it does generally up the chances someone searching for keywords associated with your products will see your product early on in their search).

You set a budget and they use complicated algorithm to determine the value of certain keywords and charge you per impression and click through. You will never pay more for advertizing than your set budget. You pay a certain amount (fractions of a cent) Search Ad featured impression. I’ve used Search Ads and have found that they are pretty helpful especially after your products have been posted for a while.

TIP: While buyers can adjust their searches by relevancy and pricing, Etsy automatically defaults to listing items in reverse chronological order. You can up the chances of your product being seen by renewing your product (at the renewal cost of $0.20) as an alternative to Search Ads. This works well if you are in a small niche of products where no more than a page of products are likely to be added that quickly after you renew (thereby burying you on page 15 where only the most vicious searchers arrive). If your product’s keyword searches bring up hundreds of pages of results this is not a great method for you, you’re better off with Search Ads than renewing your listing.

I think Etsy does a solid job of explaining Search Ads but Ive realized there’s sometimes confusion about what “impressions” mean when I’ve talked to people whom I’ve helped set up shops, so I’ll try to spell it out here simply for those who are confused by the terminology:

There are x number of things on Etsy, lets say a million. Your web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer etc) can only access some small subset of these million products at once: generally 44 (as you will see 44 items on a given search results page).

When you type a keyword search into Etsy it will use some complicated algorithm to find both:

  •     A subset of products associated with this keyword. Lets say 5,000 of the 1 million items are relevant for the sake of the example (NOTE: it will tell you at the top and often times these totals are in the hundreds of thousands; if so, its worth taking out Search Ads!)
  •     And at the same time an even smaller subset of that 5,000 items (for average settings: 44) that can fit on to your first search results page. When your search results load, the 44 things that were chosen for the first page have now been “impressed.” Each time you click to view another page (and only after you click), the 44 things on that page are now impressed.

For every page, the top 4 items are dedicated to Search Ad supported products. (eg someone is paying to have the top 4 impressions made on any given search result page.) Each time you reload the page or click on the new page everything on that comes up on the new page is being impressed including the top 4 Search Ad supported results.
As I mentioned, impressions cost a few cents at most and the cost is determined by its own complicated algorithm (using data on click-through, click-thorough resulting in sales, number of other currently running Search Ads with the same keywords etc) which can more or less be understood as: the most expensive Search Ad keywords are those which generate the most profit.
Because the keywords provided by Etsy are only searchable in alphabetical order and I wanted to see which keyword were considered the most valuable, I copied them into a database (there were over 15,000 listed keywords!) and sorted them by the cost of impressions.

Here’s a list of the most valuable ($5 per 1,000 impressions) keywords which are worth scanning through to get ideas and tweak your own settings.

(This list is still a bit unruly even just with the top keywords so just a reminder: you can search this list by searching this blog post through your browser using ctrl+F on your PC or apple+F on your Mac. -If you found this entry scrolling through the home page of the blog, click on the blog post title to bring up the blog entry page and narrow your search results to words just within this post-)

$5 Keywords

aa recovery
adam lambert
address stamp
address stamper
adoption necklace
adventure book
advent bag
african ring
agate coaster
agatha christie
age block
aggravation game
airplane art
airplane decal
airstream trailer
alfred hitchcock
alpaca scarf
alphabet decal
american psycho
ampersand necklace
amy winehouse
anam cara
anchor cufflink
anchor locket
anchor necklace
anchor scarf
anchor sweater
anchor tom
angel necklace
anna karenina
anne boleyn
annie costume
annie how
anniversary keychain
ann arbor
antique quilt
appalachian state
appalachian trail
aquamarine necklace
archery jewelry
ariel wig
arkansas necklace
army garter
arm band
artist smock
arwen necklace
ash ketchum
atlas shrug
auburn wreath
august birthstone
aunt frame
autism necklace
avengers poster
awesome dad
baby beard
baby cowboy
baby firefighter
baby hammock
baby month
baby scale
baby stat
baby tiara
backgammon set
bacon earrings
bacon scarf
bakelite brooch
bakelite flatware
baker necklace
bane mask
banjo strap
baptism bracelet
barney invitation
barnwood frame
barn door
baseball cufflink
baseball decal
baseball necklace
baseball onesie
baseball wreath
batgirl tutu
bathroom rug
bath caddy
batman cufflink
batman garter
batman hat
batman pillow
bat house
bat mask
bat mitzvah
bat ring
bauer pottery
baylor university
bbq rub
beagle ornament
bean bag
beard balm
beard comb
beard condition
beard hat
beard shirt
beard wax
bear cowl
beast mode
beatle clock
beatle jewelry
beatle poster
bed crown
bed skirt
bed tray
beef jerky
beer caddy
beer carrier
beer growl
beer holster
beer poster
believe banner
believe block
believe necklace
bellatrix lestrange
bella ring
bell bottom
berry bowl
best man
beverage tub
bicycle cufflink
bicycle earrings
bicycle scarf
bike clock
bike cufflink
bike rack
bike shelf
bike tshirt
birch branch
birch log
birch slice
bird bath
birthday plate
birthstone bracelet
bison booty
bittersweet wreath
blacklight poster
black fascinator
black turban
block island
blogger theme
blow mold
blue jay
blythe glasses
boat cleat
bonnie cashin
boobie beanie
book clock
book purse
book sling
book stand
book wreath
boots jack
boo costume
bottle tree
boudoir template
bow scarf
boxing glove
boy cape
braid ring
brain hat
brain necklace
brass pineapple
breathe bracelet
breathe necklace
briar pipe
bridal hanger
bridesmaid bag
bridesmaid tank
bridesmaid tumbler
bride hoodie
bride sweatshirt
bride tank
brie baker
brooklyn map
bucilla stocking
buffalo nickel
bullet bra
bullet cufflink
bullet ear
bunco ornament
bunny mask
burlap tablecloth
burlap tote
busy book
butterfly jewelry
butter bell
butter churn
butter crock
butter keeper
cabin sign
cage light
caillou birthday
calder mobile
calendar keychain
california flag
calligraphy pen
calligraphy stamp
calvin hobbes
cameo locket
camera buddy
camera onesie
camera pendant
camera shirt
camo apron
camo garter
camo tom
camper sign
camp birthday
camp blanket
canvas print
cap gun
cardboard chandelier
cardigan onesie
carpet bag
carrie necklace
cartier bracelet
car mat
cassette player
caterpillar costume
catherine cole
catherine holm
cat apron
cat cave
cat fountain
cat leggings
cat pendant
celtic locket
cereal killer
chalkboard banner
chalkboard calendar
chalkboard easel
chalk pen
champagne bucket
champagne coupe
chanel belt
chanel bracelet
chanel brooch
chanel hat
chanel hoodie
chanel lego
chanel pillow
chanel pin
chanel scarf
chanel shoes
chanukah card
chanukah decoration
charging station
charles bukowski
charles dickens
charlie chaplin
cheerleading necklace
cheer coach
cheesecloth wrap
cheese board
cheese kit
cheese marker
cheese spread
cheetah costume
chemistry earrings
chenille robe
chess board
chevron apron
chevron stencil
child backpack
child desk
child locket
child teepee
chill pill
chinese checker
christmas ball
christmas lanyard
christmas photobooth
christmas purse
chrono trigger
cigarette lighter
cigar case
cigar humidor
cinderella tutu
cinnamon stick
circle ring
circuit board
citrine necklace
citrine pendant
claddagh necklace
clear locket
clergy stole
clint eastwood
clock hand
cloth pantyliner
cloud decal
coach backpack
coach briefcase
coat hanger
cocalo jacana
coke crate
collar stay
color guard
columbus ohio
compass locket
concrete jewelry
constellation necklace
construction shirt
cookie costume
coordinate bracelet
coordinate keychain
coordinate necklace
copper pot
coral curtain
cord cover
corgi jewelry
cotton boll
cowboy lingerie
cowhide rug
cranky pants
crayon apron
crayon wreath
crossfit jewelry
cs lewis
ctr ring
cubby costume
culver glassware
custom banner
custom blythe
custom emboss
custom flask
custom journal
custom koozy
cutting board
cut coin
dachshund clothes
dachshund ring
dad frame
dad keychain
dad necklace
dad shirt
dalek hat
dango plush
dansk kobenstyle
dart board
dave ramsey
deadmau5 head
deadpool costume
december birthstone
deer hat
defy gravity
def leppard
delivery gown
dental hygienist
depeche mode
diabetic bracelet
digimon crest
dinner bell
dinosaur blanket
dinosaur decal
dinosaur tail
dirt bike
disco ball
disco invitation
disney countdown
disney couple
disney font
dna earrings
dog house
dog sling
dog snood
doll crib
doll leotard
dolphin bracelet
domino set
don quixote
dooney bourke
door plate
dopamine necklace
dora backpack
dora tutu
dorothy dress
dorothy thorpe
dota 2
dough bowl
dragonfly brooch
dragonfly locket
dragonfly ring
dragon age
dragon egg
dragon mask
drake shirt
dread fall
dress up
drum stick
druzy bracelet
dr horrible
dunk mug
ear pin
edith hat
egg beater
egg separator
elena necklace
elephant hat
elephant locket
elephant mobile
elephant pipe
elephant sweatshirt
elephant tom
elmo blanket
elmo dress
elmo hat
elmo ornament
elmo tutu
engrave cufflink
engrave keychain
engrave knife
engrave pen
enid collins
entryway organizer
envelope necklace
envelope system
eric church
established sign
est sign
eternity necklace
eva zeisel
evenstar necklace
ewok hat
exotic dancewear
expecto patronum
extend slip
eyeglass lanyard
e t
face jug
fair isle
faith necklace
fall pillow
family birthday
family calendar
family proclamation
fat lava
feliz navidad
felt campfire
felt number
fenway park
fertility jewelry
field hockey
filthy animal
fingerprint necklace
finn backpack
fiona hat
fionna hat
firefly hat
fireman sam
fireplace bellow
fireplace tool
firetruck shirt
first anniversary
fishing reel
fish earrings
fish necklace
flask garter
floating opal
floppy disk
florentine tray
florida necklace
flo costume
football leggings
fordite jewelry
fork necklace
formula 1
forrest gumps
fort kit
fox hunt
fox hunting
fox tie
french enamelware
french pillow
franciscan starburst
fringe jacket
fringe vest
frog jewelry
frog necklace
fuck off
furniture leg
fur muff
fur scarf
fur stole
galaxy converse
galaxy plug
galaxy sweatshirt
galaxy tight
galaxy tom
galaxy van
garden sign
garlic grater
garnet bracelet
garter flask
garter set
geode earrings
george strait
georgia necklace
georg jensen
ghostbuster patch
ghost tutu
giant jenga
give tree
glen coco
glove mold
gnome door
gnome necklace
godmother necklace
golf ball
golf marker
gps coordinate
grammy necklace
grandchildren necklace
grandkid sign
grandma house
grandma shirt
grandma sweatshirt
grandpa keychain
grandpa onesie
grandpa tshirt
gratitude journal
great grandma
greenbay packer
greyhound art
greyhound coat
grey goose
grinch sign
grinch sweater
griswold christmas
groomsman gift
groomsmen flask
groom sock
growth ruler
gru patch
gru scarf
gryffindor patch
gucci bag
guitar hanger
guitar onesie
guitar stand
guitar wallet
gymnastic necklace
hairdresser jewelry
half life
handwriting jewelry
handwriting necklace
hanukkah wreath
harmonica necklace
hat beard
heart glove
heather hansen
hedgehog earrings
hedgehog fabric
hedgehog necklace
heisenberg shirt
henna kit
herb garden
hermes belt
hermes scarf
hermes tie
hey yall
hidden blade
his her
hobbes doll
hobbes plush
hobbit necklace
hockey jersey
hockey mom
hockey necklace
hogwart alumni
hogwart letter
hogwart sweatshirt
holt howard
honey dipper
hooded cloak
horsehair bracelet
horse bit
horse hair
horse hat
horse locket
horse racing
horse sweater
hot dog
hot rod
house ornament
house rule
huf sock
human centipede
hustle gang
hydrangea wreath
ice resin
ikat bedding
indiana necklace
infant bracelet
infinity anklet
initial bangle
initial cufflink
ink well
inspirational bracelet
intentional me
international harvester
ipad pillow
iphone 5case
ipod touch
ireland necklace
ireland terrier
ireland wolfhound
jade earrings
jake costume
jam jar
janine king
japanese art
jason aldean
jason mraz
jason voorhees
jayne cobb
jedi robe
jellyfish jewelry
jellyfish necklace
jelly roll
jerusalem cross
jessica rabbit
jiu jitsu
joan jett
johnny football
john meyer
john muir
john robshaw
joshua 19
justice league
just breathe
kaj franck
kamina glasses
kam snaps
karen hall
kefir grain
kelly wearstler
kendrick lamar
kentucky necklace
kids cudi
kids stool
kids teepee
kilim rug
kirk folly
knife block
knife rest
knight hoodie
knitting machine
koala hat
kobo glo
krampus ornament
labradorite bracelet
labradorite earrings
labradorite necklace
lace robe
lactation cookie
ladybug necklace
lady rainicorn
lamb hat
laptop stand
large mug
larimar earrings
larimar necklace
larimar pendant
larry stylinson
latitude longitude
laura mears
lavender oil
lawn ornament
leather messenger
leather rucksack
lea stein
led hoop
lego costume
lego mold
lego table
lela dress
leonard cohen
leopard clutch
leopard pillow
letterpress drawer
lhasa apso
liddle kiddle
lifeproof case
light fixture
lilo dress
lily necklace
linen tablecloth
link cosplay
lionel richie
lion hat
liz lemon
llama necklace
locker basket
loki scarf
long sleeve
lotus bowl
louise hat
louisiana necklace
lsu scarf
lucky us
lucy lew
lulu frost
lunar calendar
l necklace
mab grave
madeline costume
madoka magica
magikarp hat
magnify necklace
magnolia wreath
mah jong
mah jongg
mandolin strap
manual typewriter
man hankerchief
map cufflink
marathon necklace
margarita glasses
marimo moss
maroon scarf
marquee light
masonic ring
massachusetts necklace
massage holster
match striker
maternity gown
maternity halloween
math clock
matte stephen
mckenna leotard
meditation ring
medium console
memorial necklace
memory necklace
merida dress
mermaid locket
mexican bola
mexican poncho
mf doom
michigan necklace
michigan ring
microsoft surface
micro mosaic
middle earth
mighty duck
milk paint
mimi necklace
mindless behavior
minecraft cake
minecraft costume
minecraft enderman
minecraft hat
minecraft hoodie
minecraft pillow
minecraft tshirt
minion patch
minky pillowcase
mink stole
minnesota necklace
miriam haskell
miscarriage necklace
mississippi necklace
modern clock
mohair cardigan
molecule necklace
mom bracelet
monarch butterfly
monkey necklace
monocle necklace
monogram blanket
monogram bloomer
monogram camelback
monogram cap
monogram clipboard
monogram cooler
monogram crossbody
monogram cufflink
monogram fleece
monogram frocket
monogram hankerchief
monogram hoodie
monogram koozy
monogram lanyard
monogram locket
monogram mousepad
monogram napkin
monogram necklace
monogram otterbox
monogram pajama
monogram pocket
monogram raincoat
monogram rainjacket
monogram robe
monogram scarf
monogram slipper
monogram sock
monogram tank
monogram tee
monogram tervis
monogram tray
monogram umbrella
monogram vest
monogram wall
monogram watch
montana necklace
moose head
moose necklace
morganite ring
morocco pouf
morse code
motley cre
moustache pillow
movie invitation
mrs hanger
mrs shirt
mrs sweatshirt
mr tea
music bag
music cufflink
music scarf
music stand
mustache pipe
mustache scarf
mustard pillow
nail bracelet
namaste necklace
name hanger
name necklace
nana bracelet
nana keychain
nana necklace
nana shirt
nappy wallet
nap mat
narwhal necklace
narwhal ornament
nativity silhouette
nautical curtain
navy mom
necklace initial
needlepoint purse
nest necklace
nexus 10
nightwing mask
night fury
ninjago costume
noel letter
north dakota
number necklace
nurse bag
nurse costume
nurse necklace
nurse tumbler
nursing poncho
nursing scarf
nutcracker charm
nut bowl
october birthstone
octonauts invitation
octopus decal
octopus flask
octopus mug
octopus ornament
octopus pipe
office chair
ohio necklace
ohm necklace
oilfield wife
oklahoma necklace
olga nightgown
olive bucket
olive yew
om ring
onesie extend
one ring
only child
opal stud
open sign
opera glasses
oregon necklace
origami mobile
ottoman tray
oui ring
oval locket
owl apron
owl calendar
owl clock
owl cookie
owl decal
owl flask
owl jewlery
owl lamp
owl lanyard
owl magnet
owl mobile
owl trivet
oyster knife
oyster plate
paloma nest
panda hoodie
panty liner
papa shirt
papa sign
paper towel
paracord jig
pascal costume
peacock garter
peacock wreath
peanut necklace
peapod necklace
pearl choker
pea pod
pendleton scarf
penguin pillow
penguin scarf
penis apron
penny keychain
penny necklace
pepper mill
personalized bookplate
personalized cape
personalized cufflink
personalized doormat
personalized drumstick
personalized earrings
personalized handkerchief
personalized hankerchief
personalized keyring
personalized knife
personalized leotard
personalized robe
personalized stamper
personalized stool
personalized tray
personalized umbrella
personalized wallet
petti romper
pet urn
pew bow
philippians 413
phone charger
photobooth backdrop
photography contract
photography form
photo coaster
photo cufflink
piano bag
piano necklace
piano shawl
pie dish
piggy bank
pig charm
pig hat
pikachu hat
pinecone necklace
pinkalicious invitation
pink tourmaline
pinwheel earrings
pin board
pippi longstocking
piranha plant
pi necklace
plague mask
plaid fabric
playroom rule
playroom sign
play makeup
play mat
play silk
plug mitten
plush narwhal
poison ivy
pokeball necklace
pokeball plug
pokemon bra
pokemon invitation
pokemon shoes
poker set
polaroid 600
poly mailer
popcorn seasoning
poppy pod
porch rule
porch sign
portable typewriter
portal necklace
pot rack
pram liner
prayer shawl
pray mantis
pregnancy journal
pregnancy sticker
pregnant skeleton
pretend makeup
printer drawer
proverb 3125
puffy vest
pug earrings
pug necklace
pug ring
pumpkin clipart
pumpkin hat
purple apron
purple garter
putka pod
puzzle keychain
puzzle necklace
pyrex friendship
queen headboard
quentin tarantino
quilt rack
race bib
race car
radish earrings
railroad lock
rain hat
rapunzel hat
raspberry pi
rattle insert
raw diamond
ray gun
rebel alliance
recipe art
record cabinet
red fox
red pettiskirt
red purse
renaissance bodice
renaissance wax
renesmee locket
reptile invitation
rescue bot
rhodesian ridgeback
rice bowl
rick grime
riddle rack
ring security
rn necklace
robert frost
robot necklace
rob ryan
rockford peach
rocky balboa
rolling ring
ronald reagan
ron swanson
round rug
royal typewriter
roy lichtenstein
roy rogers
ruby necklace
runner jewelry
runner necklace
rush band
russel wright
russia spindle
ruti horn
ryan berkley
sabika jewelry
saddle pad
safety glasses
sailboat necklace
sailboat ornament
saint bracelet
saint christopher
salad server
salt spoon
sand ceremony
santa bag
sapphire bracelet
sari ribbon
satin robe
scarab bracelet
scarecrow tutu
scent locket
school desk
school map
scissor ring
scrabble coaster
scrabble pillow
scrub tiki
seahorse necklace
seattle map
seed bomb
serotonin necklace
shamrock necklace
shark earrings
shark jewelry
shark necklace
shark slipper
shar pei
shave kit
shaving scuttle
shearling jacket
shear bracelet
sheepskin coat
sheepskin rug
sheepskin slipper
sherlock bag
sherlock scarf
shit full
shoes horn
shotgun earrings
signature necklace
silver dollar
singe featherweight
sister keychain
si robertson
skeleton bra
skeleton watch
skirt extend
ski mask
skull apron
skull cufflink
skull leggings
skull sweater
slate chalkboard
sleep sack
slide rule
sling shot
slip extend
sloth jewelry
sloth necklace
sloth shirt
slytherin scarf
smashing pumpkin
smoky quartz
snake bracelet
snowflake bracelet
snowflake decal
snowflake jewelry
snowman tutu
soap cutter
sole sister
sorority sweatshirt
soul sister
south park
space pipe
spaniel bowl
spa wrap
spice kit
spiderman cape
spiderman hat
spiderman ornament
spiderman tutu
spiffing jewelry
spin ring
spirit hood
spring breaker
square ring
squirrel earrings
squirrel feeder
sriracha costume
sriracha shirt
stair decal
stanley thermos
starburst clock
starfish headband
star decal
stash necklace
state ring
stay strong
steampunk box
steampunk flask
sterling locket
steve job
stick horse
stirrup pants
strength necklace
st gerard
succulent centerpiece
succulent cutting
succulent wreath
superhero ornament
superman cape
superman cufflink
superman onesie
supernatural pillow
super why
surface rt
surprise ball
swag lamp
sweater clasp
sweet pea
swim necklace
s hook
tanzanite ring
tap handle
tardis bag
tardis journal
tardis scarf
tardis shoes
tardis skirt
tardis tie
taxidermy bat
taxidermy mouse
taxidermy squirrel
teacher notepad
teacher wreath
teacup necklace
tea ball
teemo hat
teepee pattern
teeswater lock
tennessee necklace
tennis racket
texas ware
thankful banner
thanksgiving maternity
the clash
thimble necklace
thomas invitation
thread catcher
thumbprint tree
tie bar
tie clip
tie pin
tiffany box
tinkerbell shoes
tissue pom
toast rack
tomlinson shirt
tomlinson sweater
tomlinson sweatshirt
tony stark
tool belt
toothless plush
tooth powder
topaz earrings
topaz necklace
totoro costume
totoro hat
totoro hoodie
totoro plush
tourmaline necklace
toy airplane
toy barn
toy chest
trace letter
tractor shirt
train decal
train shirt
transformer invitation
travel bar
travel map
tree swing
triathlon jewelry
tricorn hat
triforce earrings
triforce ring
trophy cup
turkey menorah
turkey spindle
turquoise cuff
tuxedo onesie
tuxedo stud
twin quilt
typewriter cufflink
ultrasound frame
umphreys mcgee
uncle gift
unicorn jewelry
unicorn wig
unity sand
uranium glass
urn necklace
us map
utensil crock
vanellope tight
vanity stool
van cleef
van galaxy
vegan necklace
vegan wallet
velveteen rabbit
vendor apron
versace jewelry
versace necklace
vervain necklace
view master
vincent price
violin jewelry
violin necklace
vivienne westwood
volleyball necklace
wake forest
waldo hat
wallet card
wallet insert
wall phone
walt whitman
waste basket
watch band
watch cufflink
watch fob
watch movement
water ski
weave shuttle
wedding clutch
wedding countdown
wedding fork
wedding hankerchief
wedding koozy
wedding mailbox
wedding vow
wedding wand
weighted blanket
weight lift
wendy costume
wendy darling
whale bracelet
whale decal
whale earrings
whale jewelry
whale ring
whiskey barrel
whiskey rock
wild kratts
willie nelson
winchester earrings
wine coaster
wine mug
winston churchill
wire hanger
wisconsin necklace
wolf bracelet
wolf sweatshirt
woman hoody
wooden airplane
wooden cufflink
wooden mug
wooden rattle
wooden sled
wooden sword
wool comb
wool stuffing
working typewriter
worry bead
worry ring
wrigley field
wsu cougar
yarn swift
yarn winder
ying yang
yoda baby
yoda costume
zebra pillow
zelda bracelet
zelda cufflink
zelda hat
zelda hoodie
zelda plug
zelda shirt
zipit zipper
zombie bedding
zombie gnome
1911 grip
1920s headband
70s jumpsuit
70th birthday
8 bit
90s windbreak

Expensify: Useful Links, App

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 5.04.11 PMIn an earlier GYST post on tracking expenses I noted the importance of getting into the habit of keeping up with receipts and noting your mileage and casual expenses to make tax time easier. Recently I have begun using this app and its companion web-based organization portal: Expensify & I love this App!

I tried 3-4 other of these types of apps before I settled on this one and I have to say for a free app this is crazy valuable.  If you have a smart phone I would highly recommend downloading this free app. (I am in no way sponsored by Expensify to say this I genuinely have found this app useful and the version I’m using is free!) I’m using it on an android phone so the review below is based on my experience in that platform, I’m not sure if there are any major differences but it is available for all you iPeople as well:

Expensify for Android

Expensify for Apple

In addition to the app. It has a mother website which I’ve just begun exploring where all your input and photos are stored cloud-style in your user account. Evidently you can do quite a bit of organizing and reporting with it and have multiple people attached to one account. (I believe there are some upgrade fees involved for larger operations but I haven’t paid anything yet to keep track of my basic receipts and mileage for my one-woman-show).

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 5.05.02 PMThe app interface is super simple and clean, exactly what I want to see when I’m dealing with the hassles of accounting! Open the app and it gives you 4 giant button options to: SmartScan, Add Expense, Track Time and Track Distance.  I mainly use the Add Expense and Track Distance Features.

Add Expense

When you click add expense it takes you to another clean, hassle free window where you enter the Merchant and total and can add a photo with one click that seamlessly integrates with your camera function and brings you right back to the Expense page one you take the photo. It auto loads the date (which you can still easily edit if your doing a week at once. It also gives space for a comment and an option to attach it to a specific report (for those of you way more organized than I am)

Track Distance

The Track Distance function is great and I have finally gotten in the habit of setting this as soon as I get in the car on a ‘hunt’ for my vintage shop. I mainly use the Odometer function (which has the same easy to use photo integration) but there is an option for GPS distance tracking where you just push start and go. Once you open Track Distance it automatically brings up your latest entry to complete at the end of the trip.

Track Time

Right now I have no use for the Track Time function but I can see how it would be great for freelance work and might think about tracking this as I develop and streamline my businesses. It wouldn’t hurt to have that kind of data and this is so easy to use there is no excuse.

Smart Scan

This is possibly the coolest feature of this whole system. It allows you to take a photo of the receipt and be done with it. You click the SmartScan option and immediately brings up the camera, auto scans the receipt and fills in the info on the Merchant, Date and Total all on its own. Its literally 2 clicks. This was pretty impressive when I first tried it. The only drawbacks are you are limited in the free version to a number of these a month and it takes some processing time for it to show up. At the rate I’m going its not that big of a deal to enter the merchant and total and when I’m entering the receipts I like to immediately see them all logged in so I can forget about it so I haven’t taken much advantage of this cool feature.

I haven’t needed to make a report or try much out on the web-based account side of it but it looks pretty easy to navigate. I’ve just starting using this app this month. The last tax year I used pencil and paper, glued the receipts into a notebook and logged the info into a Google Drive datasheet which worked okay for the small scale at which I was operating. I’m looking forward to seeing how this app and online service develops as my business does and have high hopes. Will keep you posted on what I learn as I use it.

How to Guide: Pricing Strategies for Handmade and Vintage Products

Etsy Pricing Pricing on Etsy can be a be bit tricky. Whether you are trying to make it full time or just sell in your spare time you still want to cover all your costs and stay competitive without radically undercutting other sellers. Its a fine line and determining the right price and can take some trial and error. I’ve tried a number of small business marketing strategies to help boost sales through pricing and have a few thoughts on these to share with you today.

There are a lot of strategies people may suggest to you and some may work depending on your product and market but its a good idea to think through all the pros and cons of particular marketing-style pricing strategies before you set one into motion.Whatever you do to price your items, give it some serious thought.

Pros and Cons to Pricing Strategies

Undercut & Inch Up

This strategy is to undercut all your competition even at a loss and then plan to inch your price up later to cover costs and eventually make a profit. This is a double edged strategy and NOT RECOMMENDED as it is can make your product look cheap (actually deterring customers) and build ill-will in the community resulting in a net loss or worse: no sales at all.

If you are able to make sales and build a client base you will eventually have to raise prices to make your operation sustainable and risk upsetting what would have been a loyal following by increasing prices for the same value product. If you’re not selling right away this might seem like a savvy move but think about the cons before you rush to undercut competition.

Overvalue and Run Consistent Sales

Another strategy for pricing is to overvalue your products then run regular sales or offer coupon codes to displace the excessive cost of your product for consumers. This type of pricing strategy is used by a lot of successful retail outlets where consumers rarely pay the marked price for anything with constant sales, coupons and membership program discounts available.

Coupons are integrated into Etsy and are very easy to implement. Simply add a code with an expiry date and set an option for % OFF, % OFF orders over certain total or Free Shipping. One draw back to coupon codes is making them widely available and making sure your potential customer base is aware of them. If the majority of your traffic comes from an outside site like facebook or a blog this could be a great place to put the code. You can include them in your shop banner but if someone is looking in an individual listing they might not make it to your shop home page to see it.This can also be a problem with the ‘Sort Results By’ function which gives potential customers the option to sort their search results price low to high.

You can also add a SALE section to your shop and price down items individually but this takes a lot more effort than a coupon code. This could be a viable strategy depending on the number of customers who make it to your shop page from individual listings or the type of products/price range you deal in but in general Etsy shoppers are not bargain hunters, they are in the market for a unique handmade or vintage item at a fair price.

Think through this strategy and think about your potential customer. Etsy provides you with all the stats from your shop, use them! Check to see how many item views you have versus how many shop views, how people arrive at your site etc before you decide if this is the right strategy for you.

Cost plus Percentage

This is the clearest cut way to price items and the one I’d most recommend. It is a little tricky because there is a lot of figure-figuring up front but once you have all your base numbers you’ll quickly get the hang of it an feel organized and empowered as your own employee and as a small business owner.

First you do a full cost sheet on the item. I include a time and preferred hourly rate section, I set mine at $14 flat rate right now but anything above minimum wage is good (be sure to include the time it takes to photograph, list, pack and ship too that’s all part of the business! You can set the hourly rates differently for different skill-level tasks but dont take anything for granted) as well as an hourly operations cost (which includes a small percentage of my tools -including camera, computer-, the operating costs of my home office and even mileage on my car -I add this all up for the month and divide by the number of total hours I work in a month to get a rough figure-) and of course the total cost of all the supplies involved in the product (including and shipping, membership fees or taxes you’ve paid when buying these supplies).  Once I have a clear idea the full cost of the item I know my absolute lowest price point for that item.

Since I include an hourly fee for my work involved and cover all my costs its possible I can list the item at this point if I need to given the competition however I’m trying to make money in this process not just fund a hobby.  The percentage you add over and above this cost is up to you and you should take into consideration your current scale of operation, your scalability -how quickly and easily you could scale up your operation if you were to receive a high number of orders-, your competitors prices points etc. I think of this as my ‘business owner’ salary and the hourly rate in my cost sheet as my ‘self-employed wage.’ Here’s the way I think about pricing using the cost plus percentage strategy:

I’m successfully self-employed when I break even on my cost sheet, I’m a successful small business owner when I start seeing a good percentage off the top.

Etsy Seller Tip # 3: Vintage Sizing

Sixzing Chart
Sizing Guide for Woman’s’ Clothes Measurements

If you deal in vintage clothes as I do in my shop: The Cute Hunter you may have run into some issue with sizing. This has been the number 1 convo topic I receive generally asking about specific inch measurements. Sometimes you may find a cute item with the tags cut out by the previous owner (I know I immediately do this to any itchy tags) or you find something sized in a different system (UK sizing are especially tricky as they use the same numbers but they represent different measurements!). There are a lot of possible problems with sizing systems even in standard retail so its even more important when dealing in vintage goods and over the internet to be as explicit as possible.

While posting all provided manufacturing information on sizing (as well as care) is a good practice (additionally, I try to include a photo of the tag in one of the 5 photo slots), its also a good idea to include as many measurements as possible. Don’t forget to include the labeled size or your size estimate in the product title and tags as well as in your description as people often search for things in their size.

Tips for Taking Measurements:

  • Take all measurements laying flat. Do this on a clean floor or table. Hanging clothes can stretch as you measure and if you have them on a dress model of a different size this can skew your measurement.
  • Use a flexible tape measure at least 36″ long. Don’t try to take clothes measurements with  standard 12″ ruler you’ll end up with an inaccurate measurement.
  • Measure twice! If you dont get the same measurement both times try again.
  • Record measurement to the nearest 1/4 inch. Anything more specific is irrelevant but remember laying flat measurements are generally doubled (eg laying flat waist of 12.5″ can be understood as a 25″ waist) so a 1/4 inch could make a difference.
  • Take measurements when you’re taking photos. Trying to measure as your listing at your desk ends up taking a lot more time and energy moving back and forth between tasks.

While there are a smaller set of standard measurement you can take I like to provide as many measurements as possible. (I often have issues with fit in the upper arms so I am sure to include arm measurements too.)

Here is a list of the complete measurements I’ve developed over time. I take as many as are relevant to the item.

For tops and shirts

Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Bust (armpit to armpit flat):
  • Waist (smallest part across):
  • Hips (bottom hem or widest part across):
  • Length (from back collar to waist):
  • Shoulder Seam (from collar to top of sleeve)
  • Shoulder Width (from shoulder to shoulder):
  • Sleeve width: (Alternatively: ‘Arm Hole Width:’ for sleeveless tops)
  • Outside Sleeve (from shoulder to cuff):
  • Inside Sleeve (from armpit to cuff):

For Dresses
Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Bust (armpit to armpit flat):
  • Waist (smallest part across):
  • Hips (bottom hem or widest part across):
  • Top Length (from back collar to waist):
  • Skirt Length (from waist to hem)
  • Shoulder Seam (from collar to top of sleeve)
  • Shoulder Width (from shoulder to shoulder):
  • Sleeve width: (Alternatively: ‘Arm Hole Width:’ for sleeveless tops)
  • Outside Sleeve (from shoulder to cuff):
  • Inside Sleeve (from armpit to cuff):

For Pants
Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Waist:
  • Width of waist band (if relevant):
  • Inseam:
  • Outseam:
  • Leg width (at hip crease from crotch):
  • Ankle width (at cuff):

For Skirts
Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Waist:
  • Width of waist band (if relevant):
  • Hips:
  • Length:

For Bags:
Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Length:
  • Width:
  • Height:Strap length:
  • Zipper length
  • Additional pocket dimensions (people are often interested if their devices will fit in certain pockets so provide as much detail here as possible)

For Belts:
Approximate measurements (taken laying flat)

  • Total Length:
  • Width:
  • Placement of buckle holes (eg: 4 holes at 30″ 30.75″ 31.5″ and 32.25″)

Finally, for buyers, here is a great consumer guide to how to take your own measurements when shopping online from

Nine Stories High: Shop Feature

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 1.02.41 AM

Over the last month I’ve teamed up with my mother as photographer, shipping specialist and part-owner of her new Etsy shop featuring handcrafted gift quality jewelry and paper crafts. Nine Stories High is a handmade gift shop with a twist. Each item comes with a tiny work of flash fiction. This shop was just co-founded by the loveliest NC- based fiction writer Brynn Bonner to fund her nightly zen crafting practice. All the items available from Nine Stories High are handmade to order and come wrapped with unique work of fiction! I sat down with my mom in her study in NC to talk about fiction, crafting and her creative processes.

Here is an interview with the co-founder and principle maker behind Nine Stories High:

What is flash fiction? 

BB: Basically it’s just a really short, bare bones story. I was very intimidated when I started to write fiction  years ago and I couldn’t get my mind around trying to write a whole book.  But I had stories in my head and I thought maybe I could write a short story. I did it and fell in love with the short story form.  Years later I got interested in this thing called flash fiction.  The main characteristic of flash fiction is that it is short–very short.   No one seems to have any hard and fast rules about word count, but it does need to brief while having at least some narrative elements. There are lots of related short fiction forms as well.   Micro fiction is a story kept below 300 words.  These tiny narratives are also called short-shorts, postcard fiction, postage stamp stories or palm-sized narratives.  And then there’s the drabble, which is exactly 100 words long.  I salute those who can accomplish that!  In these little bursts of stories there’s no room for elaboration so the reader needs to supply a lot of things from his/her own imagination.  This makes it a very interactive form;  a collaboration between writer and reader.  I love that!

Could you give us an example?

BB: A classic example of a short-short is this little piece written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich:
Imagine all human beings swept off the face of the earth, excepting one man. Imagine this man in some vast city, New York or London. Imagine him on the third or fourth day of his solitude sitting in a house and hearing a ring at the door-bell! (Ponkapog Papers, 1904)
Another classic is by Ernest Hemingway, who is said to have wagered a bet with his compatriots that he could write a short story in under ten words then scribbled this on a napkin:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Even though I’m not a huge Hemingway fan, that one hits me straight in the heart.
How long have you been a writer/ what do you write?
20140120_002342BB: I’ve been writing for a long time.  I got an undergraduate degree in English (back before the earth cooled), and a Master’s in Journalism.  I dealt in facts.  It never occurred to me that I could write fiction.  I didn’t think I had the imagination for it. In 1980 I took a maternity leave that ended up lasting two decades.  I tried writing off and on but I was so in love with being a Mom that I never managed to get around to submitting anything for publication.  But during all that time I did have the “what if” bug working inside my head.  “What if someone in the car behind me turned and I saw it was my old math teacher–who was nine years dead?”  “What if the woman ahead of me in the grocery line was an undercover treasury agent and the clerk kid was laundering funny money through his till?”  These kinds of thoughts percolated away for the years when I was raising my three children, then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye they were all older and independent.  I realized I wanted to get some of these stories out of my head.  About that same time I met a woman who became a wonderful friend and she talked me into  joining a writers’ group.  In 1997 I submitted my first short story to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and was astonished when it was accepted, and flabbergasted when it went on to win a special Edgar award-The Robert L Fish prize.  It was all like a dream.   I continued to write short stories and then decided maybe I could do a book after all. I studied how other books were written and read, read, read. Eventually I got an agent and she got me writing  books-for-hire mysteries set in the Pacific Northwest (where I’ve never been) for Guideposts books.  I wrote six of them (as Ellen Harris) and it was a great training ground for learning the discipline and the craft.  Now I write my own books for Gallery/Simon & Shuster called  the FAMILY HISTORY MYSTERY series, featuring a genealogist protagonist and her sort-of psychic sidekick.  The first was call PAGING THE DEAD; the second, due for release in March, 2014 will be called DEATH IN REEL TIME, and I’m working on the third installment now. I write other things as well, but I do love the mystery genre.
You have a lot of jewelry but also some paper crafts available in your shop, What kinds of crafts do you do? 

20140120_002243BB: I do them all!   It’s an addiction really.  Well, the exception being yarn crafts.  I’ve tried crochet and knitting and I’m terrible at both of those. But I love working with paper (and making it).  I love photography and playing with images. I like to sew and quilt and embroider and scrapbook and throw pottery and do stained glass and etched glass and copper hammering and macrame and basketmaking–you name it, I’ve probably tried it. I love learning to make something new and doing crafts is very therapeutic for me. When the writing isn’t going well doing some art/craft like zen drawing, beading, book binding–things that involve repetitive steps-helps me put my monkey mind aside and let ideas and solutions come to me.  My only problem is sometimes I get so involved in the craft of the moment that I forget I have this book to write.

How did you learn these crafts? 
BB: Back in the old days I picked up new crafts by taking classes, or learning how to do whatever it was from friends or family members.  Now we have the Internet and there are wonderful tutorials and instructions on everything imaginable.  It’s really amazing.
Could you tell us a little about your process? 

20140120_002642BB: When I spot something I like my brain automatically starts with the “how to you suppose they did that?” question and I begin looking at materials and wondering about methods and convincing myself maybe I could make one those (whatever it happens to be).  Then I spend WAY too much time and money tracking down the components and researching techniques and then I make a few.  By then something new has probably caught my eye and I repeat the whole process.   This is how I’ve ended up with a craft room overfilled with materials that I have bought in bulk. Because I’m always convinced I’ll want to make a BUNCH of whatever has caught my interest at the time I always stock up.  But maybe that’s not so bad; it’s this quirk that will allow me to make things for the new shop at a good price point.
 Whats your inspiration for crafting?
BB: I think this is tied closely to the modern day interest in sustainability.  Back when I grew up (on a farm in Alabama, with not a lot of resources), this wasn’t just a philosophy, it was a necessary lifestyle.  You had to make do, use everything at your disposal and learn to make things yourself. But I never felt deprived.  I liked making things just the way I wanted them instead of being restricted to what I could find in the stores, plus there was the pride in having made it.  And that included both functional and “just-pretty” things.  I see my kids’ generation (late 20s/early30s) adopting this way of life.  So many of them are enterprising,  inventive  and creative.  It gladdens my heart!
Whats your favorite item available in your shop?
Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 1.01.58 AMBB: I love lockets.  I think it goes hand-in-hand with my interest in genealogy and family history.   I like the Family History locket and the Living Memory Floating Glass Locket.
Do you have plans for more things for the shop?
BB: Absolutely!  I’m a new grandmother and my granddaughter loves to play with whatever necklace I’m wearing.  I have plans to make some necklaces with that in mind.  Plus I’ve just recently seen some necklaces made especially for breastfeeding moms.  I think that’s a splendid idea and I’m already trying to find out “how to you suppose they make those?”  I’ll have the answers soon and then the UPS man will be bringing more boxes to my door.

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 12.54.54 AMCheck out Nine Stories High on Etsy. The Self Sustaining Prophecy readers get 20% off orders through the end of February 2013 using coupon code SELFSUSTAIN20

GYST Organization Tip #1: Tracking Expenses

1040 forms small business
Deducting Small Business Expenses

If you have a small business you can deduct a lot of your expenses come tax time. Even if you dont have a small business registered if you’re running a part time business on Etsy you could still be considered self-employed and qualify to deduct your expenses. According to the IRS you are self-employed if any of the following apply to you:

More from the US IRS here

You can deduct all the expenses for the supplies, travel and if you use part of your home to make or sell (like a craft room or even your kitchen part time) you may be even be eligible to deduct a home office expense.
The trick is keeping track of all these expenses and keeping things separate as you go along.

Here are some tips for keeping track of your expenses:

  • Carry a separate envelope of dedicate a section of your wallet just for business receipts and routinely file the receipts.
  • Log the totals, categories and venues of all the receipts into a database every-time you file them. Doing a few at a time is way easier.
  • Take a photo of receipts on your phone and email them to yourself as soon as you purchase. A lot of the receipt materials fade overtime having a photo is especially important if your used to dealing in cash (as with a lot of vintage shop scrounging!)
  • Keep a notebook in the car or take a photo of your odometer before and after each trip.
  • Separate your orders at the cash register. Even if you are paying out of the same account if your at the store and are buying some personal items along with your business supplies make two separate transactions to keep the receipts separate and easy to file.

For more info on what types of things can be deducted as part of your small business expenses check out the Deducting Business Expenses page the IRS website.

Etsy Seller Tip # 2: Tags Matter

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 11.54.46 PMOnce you’ve gotten down to the task of adding tags on your first product listing you may be a little tired out and not think it matters much what you put here but after a little trial and error I’ve quickly come to realize this is possibly the most important part of the listing process. This is how people will find your product among the hundreds of thousands of other products so you want to be sure to add them. You want your tags to be:

  1. relevant (descriptive)
  2. specific (size, style, color)
  3. common

It doesn’t help you to have a trending tag attached to an irrelevant product. Keep them relevant so people can find what they are looking for. Be specific, you can add adjectives to nouns to create one keyword phrase. Use common words. Its great if you were an English major and know all kinds of great words, use them in your descriptions! For tags you want to use words that the average person is likely to use in a search.


  • use all 13 spaces. It doesn’t hurt to have more it only makes you less searchable if you have less…
  • if a word is commonly misspelled add the common misspelling too because that’s how people will search for it, while Etsy will now suggest corrected spellings at the top of search results, it will bring up the initial search without automatic spell-correction.
  • if you run out of ideas for tags potential customers might use, try to cater to potential treasury-curators…for example use elements of the photo or main colors because when someone is putting together a treasury they may just be looking for a good picture to include.
  • tags can be multiple words. ‘bunny’ and ‘blue’ can each be individual keywords and ‘blue bunny’ can be an individual tag. Include all 3 if you have room. The double tag will have more power if someone enters both in that order into a search but it will be irrelevant if someone enters just one of the words. Keep this in mind and think like someone searching for your product.
Trending Tags
On the treasury page (underneath where you click ‘Make a List’) They include a list of the trending tags of the day. Use as many of these as are relevant (you can click to expand the list). If they are super time sensitive (for example:right now they are mostly valentines related) remember you can always edit the tags later.
Titles are keyword sensitive
Use main keywords as first 2-3 words of title followed by descriptive words rather than the other way around (eg Baby Overalls in Blue and Pink Bunnies rather than Blue and Pink Bunny Baby Overalls) because the first few words are given more ‘sorting power’ in the title.

How to: Add paypal buttons to your blog

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 3.17.03 AMWith direct checkout you don’t need a PayPal account to use Etsy but it could be worth having one to expand the number of customers who could pay for a product using this service. If you are considering this service you should be aware they charge a 2.9%+$0.30 on each transaction (more for foreign transactions). Just to spell that out for you:

If you have a $3 sale you’ll see $2.61 after PayPal fees
If you have a $10 sale you’ll see $9.41 after PayPal feesIf you have a $35 sale you’ll see $33.69 after PayPal feesIf you have a $75 sale you’ll see $72.53 after PayPal fees

One of the services you are offered as a Paypal Merchant is creating buttons for your blog or website (if you’re a diehard Etsy seller this will allow you to accept payments outside of the Etsy fee structure which may be a good trade off depending on what your selling or how). You can also set up donations buttons for things you may want to sell on a pay-what-you’d-like basis rather than price and sell individually. This would allow people to pay nothing if they wanted but it might be a viable structure for the right thing such as a downloadable artwork. Setting up a button will give you html code as well as a URL that will directly to a PayPal invoice where customers can enter their info and verify a payment directly to you. I set it up to sell banner ads in the sidebar of my blog. Whether it a donations button or a direct sale heres how you do it:

To add PayPal button to your site: 

Login to your PayPal merchant account, go to:

>>My selling tools
>>>Create payment buttons for our website

That will take you to a page like this:

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 2.52.12 AM

After filling out the form you click create button which will take you here: Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 2.53.33 AM

For html simply cut and paste this code into your site to add a button that will link to your PayPal account. For a URL you can use in emails or as a hyperlink, click the ‘Email’  tab behind/to the right of the ‘Website’ tab

NOTE: for WordPress sites you actually want to use the email link provided by PayPal as a hyperlink to an image of a button that you make yourself or get from WordPress (here are some images); the html will not work with this service. For detailed instructions from WordPress visit:

Make your own button tips: Google image search ‘paypal buttons’ for DIY ideas or try for custom design work.