Folksy Ltd

I had high hopes

(Claire Cutler) #1

When I joined Folksy a few months ago I had really high hopes for it. It looked great, was affordable and I loved the ethos behind it.

I have used the site lots (I have over 300 items listed) but I am quite disappointed. I have had 40 something sales so far but 95% of that has come through my own marketing via facebook. I am not sure I have ever got a sale directly from Folksy.

And on days where I dont put anything new up I am lucky to get any views at all (I am lucky if I get 4!) and when I do upload lots it never goes over 30-40. Often that is direct links from my facebook page.

I have a plus account so will stay until that is up but its feeling like a lot of effort for little return!

(Emma) #2

I’m also new and will be honest, and I probably won’t win any friends for saying this, I find the environment on places like this odd. There is a lot of emphasis networking and marketing craft to crafters, which is a bit like trying to sell bread to a bakery. Most crafters I know cross craft, and we generally spend all our money keeping crafting. I can’t afford to buy other peoples work. Meeting like minded people is brilliant, but I don’t expect them to buy from me. Handmade needs to be marketed to people who can’t make it themselves. It’s very similar in art, sites promoting art to artists which is basically bonkers. The average person then thinks it’s not for them because it can look insular, and trots off down The Range for something mass produced.

I also dislike the emphasis both here and etsy that you are expected to promote, promote, promote, outside to get people to your shop rather than it come organically from the site itself. I have a website with my own domain name, which costs less, and I wouldn’t pay commission on sales. There must be some additional benefit for users to sites like this rather than just a pretty hosting platform.

Maybe I’m being dim witted but I think for creativity to flourish people need help with the sales, rather than having to be online 24/7 trying to promote what you do everywhere, then not having the time or energy to actually create. It’s draining and I think there’s a market for an online platform to help creatives sell, whilst leaving them to do what they do best.

(Claire Cutler) #3

I couldnt agree more. Take this forum, its good to chat to others in a similar boat but its set up to help us get exposure… from basically our competition! I feel a lot of my page views (and there arent many) are from other crafters checking out the market (something I myself do) which isnt going to get sales.

I also agree about the self promotion - the idea behind my paying to list on a site like this is that it has a big audience and will generate exposure for your business but in reality unless you are spending day and night on marketing that doesnt happen.

I also work in the day so dont have a great deal of time to sit generating business and the time I do have I want to be free to make stuff…

I am not asking that I dont have to put in any effort, just that some effort is removed with the payment of fees :slight_smile:

(Helen Smith) #4

I always wonder how much research people do before opening a shop somewhere like Folksy. There are other sites which do your promotion for you and charge considerably more than Folksy. The minimal fees that are charged here are for a selling venue only, a convenient alternative to setting up your own website. While there may be some additional exposure, really all promotion is down to you.

I know other people reckon the forums are a place to promote/sell but I’ve never seen it that way myself; there aren’t all that many people in here as a general rule for a start! Personally I just wander in for a chat every now and then, or if I have a question I think someone here might know the answer to.

(Deborah Jones) #5

It may be that your hopes were too high if you were expecting overnight success, personally I have found that it takes time to establish a presence anywhere. I have been here a while now and new customers find me and come back for more on a regular basis without me having to promote elsewhere. (although that brings in customers too)
A site like this offers an attractive platform where you can set up shop without too much hassle or technical knowledge , there is a small amount of passing trade - but also competition for that trade. So you need either a unique selling point or to drive traffic to your shop . Folksy does not claim it will promote for you , that is why the fees are so affordable -( if your product/ photos appeal to them they may choose to feature your items, which can reach quite a lot of people.)
If you want sites that promotes for you , they do exist , but the fees are huge, and the commission much larger.

Coming on the forums is entirely optional ,very few sellers use it. it can be a useful source of information about using the site , and for those of us that craft solo it is a great community . As a promotional tool it is limited - but I think it is a mistake to assume that makers are not buyers.

(Trevor Harvey) #6

I believe the forums are dual purpose, certainly for me - it’s a good way of contacting people in a similar field, swapping ideas and sounding out new ideas and I’ve found it very helpful of that. Secondly, most of the items I’ve sold through Folksy have been sold via the promotional side of the forum - a lot of people are collectors as well as crafters, plus it’s a great place to buy gifts which are that little bit special… I understand about having to promote your shop to get outside customers, and it’s probably something I don’t do too well at, but I’m prepared to learn and this is a good place to learn it…

(Amanda Robins) #7

I think of Folksy and Etsy as my shop landlords to whom I pay rent. I have had bricks and mortar pop-up shops and haven’t expected the people who I paid rent to to promote for me; I’ve had to do that myself. Even a bricks and mortar shop has to be promoted to bring people to it.
It’s hard selling online. Potential customers have to know you exist and where to find you. They also need reminding from time to time, hence promotional tweets and Facebook posts.

(Emma) #8

I don’t think anyone expects overnight success, nor to not have to put in any effort. Some of us do also do research before we set up here.
I was attracted by Folksy’s ethos that banded together small designer makers could reach a larger mainstream audience. I was also attracted by on the front page they say they’re featured in various non craft publications. The impression is that there is benefit being here. My mistake was not looking at the forums, it never occurred to me they’d even be accessible as a non member. It seems it’s not acceptable for anyone like the original poster to voice a concern.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who just want their craft to pay for itself and don’t know how to build an audience. Myself I’m starting from nothing. I haven’t had internet presence in two years because I was stalked by another artist, who found me on Facebook, and that ended quite traumatically for me. That is the serious side of social networking and promotion, one I hope no one else experiences because it broke me as a person and as an artist. Something I loved bought me a lot of trauma. I have ten Facebook friends, I find it hard to trust and network now, so limited promotional opportunities. It was a big step coming here, one I hoped was in the right direction. I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one in this position either, people can be chronically shy online too, but I think some people worry about saying anything for fear of looking stupid or getting talked down to.

I don’t expect to sell lots, I’m not in it for money, and starting in a new field I’m not at the level of expertise where I can go to notonthehighstreet or similar. Really I’m quite happy pootering along making, and learning, an odd sale is a bonus. However with any site that earns commission on sales I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable not to anticipate they will want the biggest market possible for their sellers.

(Helen Smith) #9

Of course it’s acceptable for people to post concerns, it’s just that the same complaint comes up over and over. As @chicita says, selling online is hard. And, I think, especially hard for jewellery sellers as the market is really over saturated.

There are other ways than Facebook to build up a network but it really does take time to build the web of connections online that means that people are more likely to find you. I’m sorry to hear you have had such a bad experience @EmmaCurtisDesign since I think a lot of it is about reciprocity and trust. I’m not sure how successful anyone can be selling online on sites like this if they don’t enjoy the whole online environment. Unless you have a totally unique product that sells itself I guess!

One little tip for everyone in this thread - if you are hoping to use the forum generally to promote your work you’d make it a whole lot easier for yourself if you had a link to your shop in your profile.

(Roz) #10

I agree to a certain extent that on sites like folksy I sometimes feel I am only selling to those with similar shops! However if you look at the wider picture it becomes a useful tool. Places like facebook are great but I often find people see your goods, ask questions, even say they want to order but by the time you have seen and responded to their posts they have gone of the boil/gone elsewhere. If you have a shop to point them to and link your items to it you can point them there directly without the need for interaction and sales might happen.
I look on folksy as a ‘lazy’ persons website! I would rather use an established shop website which already has followers than build my own. I would need to do the same amount of promotion. Added to that interaction on the forums often leads to additional promotion elsewhere.

(Emma) #11

I can understand people get frustrated if the same topic comes up over and over. Maybe Folksy need to be very specific about what they tell new or potential sellers, because currently it’s a bit vague and woolly. When I upgraded to plus I got something along the lines of: congratulations, now all you need to do is concentrate on creating, we’ll do the rest. So I was very surprised when I read the thread earlier this week about declining shop views. As subscribers we are also customers.

I confess I don’t have a link in my profile deliberately, as I’m not totally ready to have people check me out, as so to speak. I used to feel comfortable online, but now I’m taking stuff one baby step at a time to see how it goes. I chose Folksy as it did seem quieter with less hustle and bustle of etsy.

What I am passionate about is getting handmade ethos to people who would otherwise buy mass produced, but I can’t do it alone. I know a few people who’ve been to craft fairs, been put off by what’s on offer and won’t even contemplate looking at craft now. They don’t even know what Folksy is, and that’s something that needs to change for all our sakes. Too often sites are about preaching to the converted, collectives such as this could potentially have a much wider reach.

(Organized Chaos) #12

It is refreshing to see these concerns raised. Maybe Folksy is not the most efficient or cost effective way to sell online but it offers newbies like me a way to get started without having to get a website set up, wrestle with organizing online payment etc. I started selling my jewellery as a way to finance my hobby, and it does that, so I’m happy. But I also sell informally through my workplace and to friends, and although I’m not on FB I am on Pinterest, which is enough for me.
I do get some hits every day and I’ve sold what I consider an acceptable amount through the website. I’ve found that joining the forums has increased my hits but my principal reason for joining them is for the sense of community and the handy tips!
Those who want to sell professionally will probably do better setting up their own online shop and website, but for amateurs like me, Folksy is ideal.

(Organized Chaos) #13

Hi Emma

Just wanted to say, I know exactly what you mean about being wary online. I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience - there are some unpleasant people out there - and I am very careful about all my online activities. I’ve never been attracted to Facebook or Twitter - I feel no need to launch my private life into cyberspace - but I do have a Pinterest account and I find that useful, not just for promotion but also for ideas, tips, etc. I don’t think I would ever have had the courage to set up my own website from the get-go, but Folksy has got me started and it might happen in the future.
Interesting what you say about people not liking craft made items. I do have a couple of my good customers who are huge fans of craft items and buy lots of them, not just from me. Conversely, there are some I know who look slightly down on my efforts and find it all a bit of a joke. I just dismiss their thoughts - they just don’t get it and would probably never buy from me anyway.
By the way, I’ve looked at your shop and I think your designs are beautiful - and surefire sellers.
Kind regards

(Lesley Filce) #14

I agree with about FB and Twitter I do have accounts but limit the information I put out there and have found Pinterest a really useful tool for marketing and for inspiration.

(Emma) #15

Thank you for your kind compliment, I really appreciate it :smile:
I have a Pinterest account, but didn’t honestly think anyone in their right mind would be interested in lots of sheep, chicken and goat pictures curated by me, because that’s what I like! :wink:
My main form of self promotion is blogging. I’m fortunate I can write, I’ve had a very successful blog in the past, which hinged on funny stories about animals, odd observations on the world, and I’ve always been quite candid about my own weaknesses. I realised a long time ago my USP is me, that’s what people wanted to buy into. It’s a struggle now to get to some happy medium where I share enough to get the interest, but not share so much it makes me vulnerable.

I probably come from a different slant to most on here. I’ve occasionally had work in galleries, where it’s considered perfectly normal for someone to take 50% commission on sales, and it’s recognised that a lot of creative people are quite frankly a bit rubbish at business themselves. The landscape is very different in crafts, especially online, where you’re now expected to not only create, but be an excellent photographer, PR person, advertiser, accountant, general dogsbody, as well as doing the tea. It’s all a very steep learning curve at times :slight_smile:

(Helen Smith) #16

I think you might be surprised re the sheep, chicken and goat pictures, I often feel at a disadvantage on social media sites because I don’t have/don’t like cats (am allergic to them)!

Maybe the answer is to create an online persona for yourself? There is no need to put your personal life/weaknesses out there, in fact one of my pet hates is clicking through to a profile to find details of the sellers medical history rather than information about their work, it feels a bit like emotional blackmail to me. Better to stay professional in my opinion.

I do think the time when professional artists could afford to be ‘a bit rubbish about business’ is long past; not if they want to make a living from art.

(Chris Brooks) #17

Hi ffflowers, Sorry if I sound a little thick but how do you put a link on your profile, I have been trying but it just shows as an address not a link. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated. Chris

(Emma) #18

I don’t have cats either, so we’re at a social disadvantage together! Yes the online persona is a great idea, and one I need to work on.

I think the point I was trying to make is that business skills are something that need to be learned, they’re not always innate in all of us, and like most things quite often it’s only the hard way you do learn it. We probably tend to spend more time on our making, as that’s what interests us. Speaking as a newcomer I found it slightly difficult coming on here, and some of the gist of the pinned shop thread for newcomers was kind of well, if people come on here just expecting sales we’ll soon put them right. I found that slightly intimidating, but that’s just me. I’m very aware all too often we see things through our own particular slant on the world, rather than as they truly are. However clearly it’s an issue that reoccurs time and time again, so it’s showing that something maybe needs to be made a whole lot clearer somewhere along the line.

I certainly didn’t come here to argue or get people’s backs up and obviously I’m aware I’ve now actually done a completely appalling job of keeping a low profile to start with as well, which isn’t what I’d intended!

(Helen Smith) #19

Hi Chris, Don’t worry, it’s all a learning process! If you click on my avatar here in the forum you will see a little bit of blurb about me including links to my shops, website etc. To create something like that, click on your avatar in the top right hand corner of the screen and select ‘Preferences’ - you can upload an avatar there too. If you want to turn any bit of text into a link, then select the text and click on the weird symbol at the top of the edit box which looks a bit like 2 squares to me, I think it’s supposed to be a couple of chain links? Then you can enter the URL you want to link to. It’s just the same as adding a link in a forum reply. I hope I explained that ok, if not just say and I’ll try again!

(Helen Smith) #20

I’m sorry you found it intimidating Emma, the Folksy forums really are a friendly place and there’s no need to hide!

In my experience there are 2 approaches when replying to the perennial ‘I’m not selling’ complaint. One is the truth, that it’s not easy, which is what you got here. The other is a gushing ‘your stuff is beautiful, your photos are amazing, just sit tight and you will sell shedloads’. And though your work does look lovely and is well photographed (this isn’t always the case) that last part is simply not true and personally I think it’s a bit cruel to tell people that rather than the truth, that it really is hard work getting seen.

Be brave, put that link in your forum profile!