EPIS Merchant Profile: Enchanted Hen Productions
By Ina Steiner
Nanette Thorell began selling online in 1999, and in 2000, she launched her own website, Enchanted Hen Productions, where she sells her unique ostrich eggshell jewelry. One of the challenges she faces in attracting visitors is that her items are not widely searched for - "if people come across them accidentally, they think "wow this is cool, must have" - but the casual shopper doesn't go looking for it specifically," she says.
Nanette holds classes to help establish her authority and draw traffic to her website, and she engages in "blog marketing and article marketing."
Read more about her experiences selling on eBay, Etsy, Artfire and on her own website and about her various marketing techniques in today's EveryPlaceISell.com Merchant Profile.
What is your first and last name?
What is the name of your business?
Enchanted Hen Productions
When did you start selling online and why?
1999. I started out selling online at ebay and SellYourItem because it looked fun, I enjoyed the community, and I wanted to see if I could make some extra cash from home.
What was your background?
Inventory control. Production Scheduling. Shipping & Receiving manager.
What do you primarily sell and why?
Handmade art and jewelry. Books on the side.
What are the unique challenges you face with the types of items you sell?
My items are not widely searched for. It's a niche. If people come across them accidentally, they think "wow this is cool, must have" - but the casual shopper doesn't go looking for it specifically.
On which marketplaces and venues do you sell?
My own website. Etsy. Artfire. And I list on eBay, but I don't sell that much. eBay functions as mostly advertising for me, and hoping they will look at my MePage where all the meat is.
What are the pros and cons of each marketplace and venue?
Etsy pro's: gaining notoriety as the place to go for handmade gifts. Cons: A little time consuming to list there - they require a lot of individual tags, keywords, and specifics that need to come out of your head rather than picking from a list.
Artfire: Pros: potential. Cons: not quite there yet.
eBay: Pros. Traffic. Lots of traffic. Cons: The traffic is all getting lost in the horrific maze that is known as Best Match.
When considering all the places you sell, which channels are most profitable?
My own website.
How does your revenue break out by channel (what percentage of sales come from each channel)?
Website: 60% Etsy: 30% Artfire: 0% eBay: 10%
Which payment methods do you accept?
Any way the customer wants to send me money is fine with me. PayPal, Google Checkout, Personal Check, Money Order, Bank Transfer, Cash in the mail.
What are the pros and cons of each payment method?
The online CC payment services are convenient and quick, and lots of people are already using them. However they do incur fees (whereas mail in payments do not) and there is always the threat of chargeback. Mail in payments incur no fees but they can be slow going through the mail.
Background (URL, when launched)
Enchantedhen.com launched 2000.
What was the impetus for starting your own website?
I wanted to try it. See if I could do it.
What software/service powers your website, and would you recommend it to others? Why or why not?
Initially designed by Serenitys Graphics. I do my own webmastering and code the changes myself using simple html.
Does it have a checkout system, is so, what do you use, and what do you like/dislike about it?
PayPal shopping cart. I like that it usually works. I don't like that it is a royal pain to add buttons and keep the inventory code straight. It's very basic. I guess that's why it's free.
What did you pay to set it up, and what are the monthly costs of running it?
I don't remember what I paid to set it up. Hosting fees are $100/year.
How difficult was it to set up?
Not at all.
Does it have analytics, reporting?
I use Google Analytics which comes with reports.
What features do you wish it had?
A different shopping cart. I really hate the PayPal shopping cart setup.
What are the challenges you faced in starting your own website?
Learning to maintain it myself. Driving traffic to it.
What would you do differently if you were setting up a website today?
I would probably use something like Shopperpress (wordpress based) that has a shopping cart already installed, and can be designed around my own theme using my own images and backgrounds.
How did you create the logo/branding for your business/site?
I drew the main logo myself and a friend made it into a graphic for me. The person who designed my site, designed it around that logo.
How do you differentiate yourself from others selling similar products?
Mine are prettier (smile)
How do you drive traffic to your listings, and which channel do you primarily drive traffic to?
My goal is to route all traffic to my website. I have started with Blog marketing and am just dipping my feet into article marketing. And then, anything I can insert into the paid-venue listings or communication that might get them to check out my website. SEO techniques include: Keywords (googles free keyword tool is my BFF). Blogs, articles, twitter. Adwords.
Can you briefly explain blog marketing and article marketing?
Blog marketing: A blog complementary to my storefront website, where I write about my work, post pictures of my egg art in process, announce new items, etc. These can include affiliate links (Amazon etc) to books and supplies that I use in my work. The blog also includes a squeeze page for a form where anyone can register for my online Egg Art eClasses, and join my mailing list. The blog and the storefront website are linked back and forth. This is a Wordpress.org blog, with which I can use my own URL and it is uploaded to my own webspace which allows me more freedom in design and adjustments. Wordpress.org blogs come SEO ready.
Article marketing: at eZineArticles.com anyone can register and receive their first 10 articles published for free. The articles help to promote your website and can include minimal links to your website or blog in the signature. It cannot be spammy, or jammed with keywords - it has to provide useful content. I try and provide interesting content that will make the reader click on my signature link to "learn more." My goal being, to get them to sign up for my egg art classes. eZine Articles consistently rank high in google organic searches. So far I only have one article published, but I have a list of notes for more. As soon as I have time to write them out - heh.
I also use Twitter and Facebook to announce new items, new submissions to my blog, and new articles. Everything is linked with each other in one way or another.
Which social networking sites work for you? Which don't?
Twitter works. Facebook - no so much.
Do you have any advice for other sellers about how to utilize social networking?
There is a fine line between discussing or announcing your product and spamming the hell out of everywhere you go. Nothing will get me to unfollow someone faster than to constantly see "just listed this on Bonanzle! Come see!" all the time.
Do you charge for your classes, and what benefits do you get from holding classes?
Yes - I charge $39 for the classes which gets them original instruction sheets, some supplies, and 4 weeks of mentoring. I offer a free preview package which includes a complete supply list and some simple egg design instructions. Then they have the option to subscribe to the class for a fee.
The benefits are: I am trying to establish myself as an expert in the field, which - in turn - will lead to more exposure to my storefront website, more subscribers to my EnchantedHen Newsletter (mailing list), etc. In a nutshell - nobody searches for "ostrich eggshell jewelry" because it's relatively unknown. But lots of people are interested in "egg art class." That's why I am careful to have everything point back to my website in one way or another.
Visit Enchanted Hen Productions' listing on EveryPlaceISell.com for the links to all of Nan's storefronts and website. If you are a multi-channel merchant with your own website, you can learn more about being featured in AuctionBytes on this page.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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