Consignment: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Ugly

Posted by admin     Category: Brick and Mortar, Starting Up

One of the common mistakes a newbie metaphysical shop owner will commit is to get involved with consignment goods.

Their thinking is that they can stock the shelves quickly and only pay for things as they sell.

In theory, this should be a good idea. In practice, however, it can turn into a nightmare.

What can go wrong? Ohhh let me count the ways… For I myself have nearly lost a business by succumbing to this temptation.

First thing I did wrong was not to have a contract, and by contract I mean an actual written agreement between your shop and the “vendor”. I say “vendor” because what you usually are dealing with is half flaky ass artist and half money hungry dreamer who thinks that sticking things on your shelf and then never coming in to check on them, except at random unannounced intervals, when they need any money RIGHT THEN for rent that was due yesterday, is a great way to make a ton of quick money.

Right off the bat you should make them sign a piece of paper that explains what your terms are. YOUR terms. Not theirs. And you should definitely have terms, rules, and conditions thought out and spelled out right there on the page. They’ll need a copy of it too so make sure to photocopy one for them AFTER they have signed it.

First thing your contract needs to explain is what percentage you are taking from them. 35% (1/3) is common. Art galleries charge 50%, some other venues might take a smaller fee, but for consignment of this nature, 35% is the normal fee.

Usually a shop will do a 3 times markup on items in the store. Your return is allocated thusly: one time to pay for the item and two times to pay for your overhead and hopefully make a profit. You get this percentage because you have laid out cash money to put that item on the shelf, taking on the risk of it being damaged by handling or breakage, or being stolen.

With consignment you get an inverted return. The vendor is basically renting your shelf and paying you a VERY small fee to look after their product until it sells. YOU have to care for it, wipe off fingerprints, dust, straighten, see to it that nobody steals or breaks it. But you have no outlay of cash and can pull it off your shelf at your pleasure at any time with no lost money.

That is another thing that needs to be clear on your contract – they have no right to expect that you will carry any of their merchandise for any reason at all. This means if it is problematic, too fragile, not selling, or even you are just sick of looking at it, you can pull it at any time. You are not a crafter’s mall renting space. You are a metaphysical store with hopefully a well-juried selection of inventory.

You can, in fact, try out their product and see how it sells, then order something like it from a wholesale vendor to fill that same space and get your 2/3 return on it. It is your store and you are allowed to do that. This tends to make consignees mad for some reason, though, because they get it into their heads that somehow get to have a say in how you run your shop.

As part of your contract, you need to have them provide a clear and itemized list of all their merchandise, what it should sell for, and how you want them to mark it. We used our own vendor codes and the store price gun rather than letting them stick tags on the merchandise in order to keep the pricing consistent and prevent shoppers from switching tags. But they also need to provide you with a price list of wholesale prices, in case their items start flying off the shelf and you want to minimize your loss by buying the items outright.

The wholesale price is also what you agree to pay them in the event of breakage. If someone breaks an item (and it does happen), you will still have that item and still have the responsibility to the consignee to pay for it. If it was something you bought from a wholesale vendor, you would have lost that money too, so just get used to the idea that if it’s in your shop and it breaks, tough cookies, you have to pony up for the wholesale price. The consignee will get their broken item back along with their third (or whatever the wholesale price is). They lose and you lose. It sucks.

If someone steals a consignment item, which also happens, you can’t prove it was stolen, so you get to pay them their whole 65% as if it had been sold. This really sucks, so be extra careful where you are placing their goods and keep a close eye on them.

This is why it’s so very important to have itemized inventory lists from them Every Single Time they bring stuff in, and to use tracking codes on their tags (and pull the tags at time of sale so you have a physical relic of that item).

Check their wholesale prices carefully before accepting delivery of their items. Some consignees will attempt to trick you into paying more than 1/3 of the sale price up to and including the whole 65% they would be due otherwise. Check their math, and if it’s a percentage you can live with such as 40% of sticker, then you can allow it. But if it’s 45% or more, you need to have a discussion with them.

Does this sound like a lot of work? We haven’t even gotten to the bookkeeping aspect of it yet.

On the contract, they need to provide you with their proper ID such as a driver’s license, a social security number, and permanent mailing address. Phone and email is desirable as well but you need the first three in order to send them a 1099 in the event that you wind up paying them over $500 in consignment fees. The driver license part is optional but we found that asking for it in a routine manner kept out the would-be consignees who provided stuff only for the purpose of getting cash to spend on drugs. What people do in their own time is their business, but as vendors they are unreliable and hard to get a hold of, and it’s my personal preference not to do business with flakes. I have enough mess in my life without wondering when or if they will turn up again.

I cannot stress this enough: get it upfront before selling anything. If you put it off you may never be able to get it. Refusing to put their items on the shelf until they provide you with the information you legally require will make them think twice about whether or not they are ready to do business with you.

IRS. 1099s. If these thoughts make you cringe you definitely should not carry consignment items. Get used to the idea that you are a legit business and that includes keeping track of your income and expenses and payouts. Each 1099 cost me $15 to file from my CPA. Keep this in mind as your consignment payment tally starts to get up there, you might want to make a rule for your business that if you are nearing a level where a 1099 is looking likely and it’s near the end of the fiscal year, that you switch to only buying wholesale from that vendor to avoid having to pay the CPA fee for someone who is not really pulling all that much weight in your shop. We had some consignees whose payments were in the thousands (mostly minerals dealers who left large specimens to see how they would go in our market), and the fee to file their 1099 was totally worth it. It’s your call.

Be sure to inform the consignee that they will be required to file their taxes that year since you are 1099-ing them. In the case of one of my vendors, who was also my employee, it caused her to have to pay taxes rather than get a refund. People can get really sensitive about this for some reason so make sure to inform them that if their products are great successes, this is something they’ll need to think about.

Now if you have a consignee who has a business ID and an EIN issued by the IRS, they will not need to provide you with driver license or social security card. They will give you a copy of their tax license and you do a W-4 which is request for EIN. You can print it out (or they can) and they bring it in with their signed contract. You don’t file a W-4, you keep it in your records and give it to the CPA who does the 1099 (if necessary).

DO NOT. DO. NOT. DO NOT DO CONSIGNMENT with someone who refuses to give you their Social Security number (unless they provide an EIN). I had a horrible time trying to 1099 this dude who had, until the moment of my request, seemed like a normal businessman. “I don’t believe in the IRS and I don’t file or pay taxes because it’s thievery” was what he said. Wellll buddy, I don’t like having to take up your burden to have my interstates fixed and other things we pay taxes for. But besides that, I had to pay more money to my CPA to file forms that said this jackass refused to provide a tax number. Don’t even. Just don’t. No matter how amazing their merchandise is. It isn’t worth it.

Keeping track of consignment inventory, sales, and income

If you are using a computerized POS program, there will probably be a way for you to tag the item as consignment and it will ask you upfront what the split is. I, however, do my books the old-fashioned way on spreadsheets, tracking the vendor sales at the register by hand on a sheet of paper and then later putting them in the computer.

If you are using QuickBooks though, you will have a separate “book” for consignment. QuickBooks is double-entry bookkeeping, although it does half of it for you, so you only have to enter each thing three times instead of six.

Let me explain this, it’s how I do it on my (single-entry) spreadsheets too.

First of all, when you buy an item for inventory, you pay for it, mark it up, stick it on the shelf, and eventually sell it. If you take an inventory of your products, it will show up there as an item you own (an asset). It has value on your shelf because it is a chattel (item for sale) of your business and is therefore contributing to your bottom line, aka your wealth.

But a consignment item is NOT yours until the moment of sale. In that glorious instant you both purchase (or commit to paying for) the item and sell it. It passes through your loving hands as an item you own only momentarily, and then to the customer. If you did an inventory, you would NOT count this item, because it belongs to the consignee, not to you. If your store burned down I’m not entirely sure whose liability that would be. In the case of my past shops, we didn’t have insurance (couldn’t get it, due to being a “witch shop” in the Bible belt), so no matter whether or not I was supposed to pay for it, I would have just been out of business and the consignee would have just lost their goods. You might check with your own agent to find out how that will work (or if they allow it).

But that’s beside the point here. So in your Sales workbook, you will record the sale and the cost of goods sold (the 65%) on that month’s sales tab along with the other daily sales. On the Consignment workbook you will go to that vendor’s tab and you will enter in the item that sold, the sticker price, their fee (the 35% you get) and their percentage. Then in your General Ledger workbook you will enter it on the consignment tab as inventory purchased. The purchase price is the 65% you paid them.

There you have three nice little opportunities to get something entered in wrong, especially because technically, you shouldn’t enter the payouts until you actually pay them, which will probably not be that same day.

Oh no, there I went and did it – brought up payments.

How and when to pay your consignees: the Copper Lady dilemna

Good lord this was the absolute worst part about consignment, having the vendors wander in with no notice the day after I paid all the bills, looking to get some money.

Whether or not they like it, your first duty is to pay the rent and the payroll. If you do not have a roof over your head, their pesky little payouts are not really significant in the big scheme of things. But try telling them that you had to use all available funds to pay your bills and they will scream at you. I mean this literally screaming in your face demanding that it wasn’t your money and that you need to pay them whatever cash is in your till right at that minute because their son used the cable bill money to buy pot with, and now they are going to have their internet cut off unless they get paid RIGHT NOW cash money on the spot or else they are going to call the police. When that happens, offer to call them yourself and have them escort your previous vendor off the premises (you will still owe them money though).

You might guess that yes, that did indeed actually happen, and that vendor gave me TWO things to add to my contract.

Establish the acceptable method by which you will handle consignment payouts. For us, we did NOT automatically cut checks or pay vendors by ACH, because when we were a young and stupid store, we did not always have the money in the bank if we said we’d pay on Fridays, or hold it in the shop, or send it or whatever. We did pull whatever cash we owed them from the till (if available) and put it in a ziplock with a two-ply receipt they had to sign at the time they picked up their payment.

Our contract states “[our shop] is not required to inform Consignee of goods sold. It is the responsibility of the Consignee to find out if the item(s) has/have sold. Consignee must pick up money owed to him/her in a timely manner.”

This gave us a little wiggle room to pay the bills, but we further had to add that we could pay by cash or check (our preference) and that they needed to keep in regular touch with the shop, such as by calling once a month.

It is true that it isn’t really your money, just like that tax withholdings and payroll withholdings aren’t your money. But if you do a lot of consignment, such as 85% of your sales that week as was the case with the Copper Lady, you will find that you are going to come up pretty short when it’s time to pay the rent if things have been slow for a few weeks, which they will be if you are a new shop.

I refer to the Copper Lady as such because she made really neat hand-hammered copper jewelry out of hardware store copper wire. It was pretty and she displayed it on handmade jewelry holders she’d made from real oak tree twigs and branches.

Copper needs to be polished every three or four days. Her jewelry was not mine to polish or care for, it was hers. Polishing copper takes a lot of time. We sold silver and pewter as well, which we had purchased outright from wholesalers. The employees were tasked with polishing our jewelry and keeping up with de-fuzzing the velveteen displays on which they sat. Copper Lady’s oak displays had oakmoss and bark on them. They began to shed, leaving bits of bark and dirt on the shelf where they sat. Combined with the growing grodyness of the tarnishing copper jewelry, this started to look pretty nasty in my otherwise spotless and sparkly shop.

I had tried to call Copper Lady several times about coming in to clean up her display and products. Probably due to the pothead son’s malappropriation of household funds, their phone was cut off. I tried to email and got no response. What do you do with a well-selling product (they were popular) when you can’t reach the vendor? I polished them a couple of times but after the third try and no contact, I pulled them off the shelf. It was taking up too much time to keep after the shedding branches and polishing the jewelry, so as was my perogative, I pulled them off the floor.

She had signed a contract that did not specify “The Store will take reasonable care of the item(s).  It is the responsibility of the Consignee to check on his/her inventory periodically to ensure it is still in saleable shape.” I added that to the contract after this experience.

I also added “Lack of contact after 90 days of last sale is considered abandonment of goods and any money owed.  The Store can dispose of them in any manner we choose.  If the Store chooses to keep items on the sales floor, we keep 100% of the sale price” in response to this vendor’s lack of contact. It had been well over three months since we had last heard from her (make sure you keep track of the phone calls and attempted emails), yet she somehow thought we would keep her merchandise hanging around when she had not been in touch with us for several months. Those 90 days begin the day after the consignee drops off their stuff. Having this in your contract keeps them from yelling in your face about their cable bill problems.

The Weird Rock Guy

Unfortunately, the problem with the mineral dealer who didn’t want to pay taxes went beyond the lack of a 1099. I had originally had a partner (up til two weeks before we opened, when she bailed on me) who had owned a metaphysical shop with another lady and it had closed, allegedly, because the other lady had serious health problems. Which she did, but I began to suspect that my would-be partner miiiight just have contributed to the downfall of that store shortly after she left me holding the bag on about $5000 of tumbled stones, crystals, carved stone statuary, and some other rock shop type merchandise all gained from the Rock Guy.

This dude was an old hippie who liked running around naked on his property somewhere out in the sticks. He also went around the world, clothed as I understand it, gathering crystals and doing deals with mines and other rock hounds. His selection was really good, we could get all kinds of unique minerals from him that nobody else had.

My ex-partner had been long time buddies with this guy so when he came to my house to sell us rocks, she made an arrangement to pay him within a set period of time for the stuff she picked out. She was bringing in the $15,000 (retail) of minerals as her contribution to the partnership. I was bringing my business name, fixtures, credit score, and a lot of other inventory, which made us more or less even.

It was two weeks before we were to sign the lease that she wigged out in a big way. Details will be spared. I had not heard from her for at least three weeks prior to that, and had stopped leaving messages for her or trying to text her two weeks prior. I knew she was bailing but also knew that she didn’t know it yet. I proceeded with my own plans to open the shop without her.

Weird Rock Dude calls me up and asks have I heard from her, because he hasn’t got a check yet. I said no, but I’ll go by her house and see what’s up. “Partner” says she doesn’t want to lose the rocks and will I hold on to them until we open? I say sure, take possession of this stuff and the itemized bill and go away.

I call the Rock Dude and explain what’s going down. He’s now living 1500 miles away. Does he want me to send him this stuff, hold it for him, or what?

“Put it on consignment,” he says. “Pay me as you can.” Oh, what a fool I was!

So I did that, keeping meticulous records. I paid him regularly, eventually using ACH because otherwise he would sit on my checks for weeks. But I didn’t have any contact with him, had no need to until I ran out of one of the minerals and tried to get a hold of him. I left message after message and no return call. I sent email after email and no return message. I mailed a letter to his address and it came back, and then one day, the ACH was returned as “account closed.”

Well WTF do you do then?! I couldn’t pay him, I couldn’t get a hold of him, I had no good information, and he hadn’t checked his Facebook for two years from the look of unanswered birthday greetings. I had pulled his stuff some months previously because of the tax thing, but I still had a balance, between having agreed to purchase some of the stuff outright and not quite paying off the consignment debt.

Now I still owed this guy like five hundred bucks and couldn’t get a hold of him. For all I knew he’d fallen off a mountain or died in a rock slide. I also had a lot of his inventory in my office, just sitting there collecting dust.

Eventually I worked out how much I had paid him in total, and it came within eleven dollars of what the original bill was. So I prepared a letter for him and mailed it (knowing it would be returned) so that I would have had proof of trying to contact him.

Eighteen months after I had pulled his stuff, I got tired of tripping over it in my offie and put it back on the shelf.

Two days after I did that, the guy calls, wanting to know if there’s any money to pick up. I let it go to voice mail. He says he’s going to have his brother come and pick up his stuff, plus any money. All this time, the brother has lived 15 miles away from my store. Right.

What the brother picked up was a letter explaining that we had made other arrangements for the merchandise due to lack of contact (on this date, and this one, and this one, and returned mail, and returned ACH, and…). GEE WHIZ for some reason, Weird Rock Dude Tax Dodger was mad at me!

The Employee Problem

If you do decide to go ahead and accept consignment, it is unwise to allow your employees to become consignment vendors. As I found out, the clerk would push her own merchandise a lot harder than the things we already owned, insisted on getting paid a lot more often than the other consignees (because she was in the shop), and started copying things we sold – including things I made – and then putting a lower price on them. None of this helped pave the way to her paycheck clearing the bank, but she did not understand that aspect of running a business. She just wanted to use my store as a free sales venue and threw an enormous hissy fit when I decided to end ALL consignment, hers included. It had been a good income for her, but what was good for her was bad for my bottom line. She nearly lost her job over it.

Another thing to think about is that an employee with stuff on consignment might nick their own items so that it appears they have been stolen. We did lose one of our employee’s items, but I don’t think she took it herself. However, the loss of it made me realize that lost or sold, if it wasn’t on the sales floor when we audited the remaining inventory against the incoming stuff list, we’d have to pay our full share as if it had sold.

Well my dears, at over 4100 words this is a mighty long post, but I hope that you think long and hard before making your decision. If you do plan to go with consignment, please make yourself an excellent contract that protects you from bad experiences. It will seem very one-sided, but you don’t have to give up your autonomy or accede to ridiculous requests or pander to problem vendors. This is YOUR store, your business. Look out for your own self.

Using Pinterest for Business – INATS Class Notes

Posted by admin     Category: Business Talk, Starting Up

What is Pinterest, and how can a small business use it to their advantage?

Pinterest is a little like Flickr. The purpose is to “park” images of things you like in a place where you can organize them or find them a little easier.

But wait, you say. We already have bookmarks, and folders for our bookmarks, in our browsers. And what’s more, we can also right click on an image and just save that! If we’re browsing on our phone, we can even take a screenshot.

old skool ways to steal ideas.

Yes. That is true. But then, you can’t share it with your online friends unless you post it to your Facebook wall or some other social media site such as Instagram.

However – a lot of people use mobile devices to browse these days, and the Pinterest “app” can be very handy to store this information to the “cloud”, since mobile browsers may not be very convenient to use when retrieving that information, or have very much space to store photos. Also, since it’s a website and not on a device, Pinterest can be accessed from anywhere.


Want to see if anything has been pinned from your website?
Go to

(Of course, you would replace “” with your own domain name.)


So, Pinterest. It started out as a prototype in 2010, and was “invitation only” for several months. The developers opened up the membership to anyone who wanted to make an account in 2012.

When Pinterest was still invitation only, some people thought the elitism was cool. Others found it pretentious.

When Pinterest was still invitation only, some people thought the elitism was cool.
Others found it pretentious.

 Pinterest opened it up for anyone to join later in 2012, and it got so popular that the site was the fourth most-visited site on the internet. There are a lot of articles from September 2012 indicating that many people thought this was going to be the next big thing. Bigger even than sliced bread.

It seems that popularity peaked in 2012 although today it remains a well-travelled website.

Using Pinterest to create backlinks to your own website can help your overall SEO.

Real time ranking of Pinterest

From — 6/27/2014
Click on the image to see its current ranking.

Who uses Pinterest? Click on that image above and scroll down, and you will find it’s predominantly women with some collge education, surfing Pinterest from school. The demographics are discussed on the Wikipedia page for Pinterest.

The most popular category of “pins” is recipes. About 60% of the pins are recipes. Other things are wedding ideas, baby registries, fashion and makeup ideas, and home decorating.

HOW THEN, can a business use Pinterest to its advantage?

When you get in some new inventory, you can take pictures and put them up on a themed pinboard. Some users prefer to browse a business’s pinboard instead of going to their website. This is bad for a website’s SEO unless you are clever about it – host your pinned images on your own site, so that when someone clicks on the pin to view or share it, your website has an incoming link from a high-ranked site and that helps SEO.

The second best reason to use Pinterest is to get your customers to look at your wares and share the photos, which might result in a sale. If you click on that link, you’ll go to an image that I shared online (not on Pinterest, though) that got me a new customer. The path it took was pretty twisted, but it still brought me a sale.


These days a lot of people like to check out a store online before coming in. They want to know what they’re getting into, connect with you, get a taste of your “vibes” before actually visiting. People are stressed out about every little thing these days, so “pre-visiting” a store can take some of the anxiety out of actually getting in their car and coming in. Weird, but true. So you don’t have to sell anything online or have a webstore if you have a physical location, just give enough to get people excited about what they might see at your shop.

If you have a physical store, posting images of what your shop looks like as well as incoming products or custom made items you’ve created for your customers, maybe even some classes and pictures of the staff, engages the viewer and can maybe even entice them to pay you a visit.

For a metaphysical business, you can also make up some educational pinboards, such as assembling pictures scrapbook-style to demostrate what you might want to put into a spell bag, different kinds of things to include on a Kwan Yin altar, a few minerals and crystals that are good for healing, etc.

Other information about Pinterest.

— Creating an account and verifying your website —

Pinterest has a policy about how businesses should use the site. They DO allow loads of self-promotion for a business, where with a private user it’s seen as a bit spammy. If you want to pin a lot of stuff from your website, you’ll need to create a business account.

The process is simple – you go to…

Please note, this is not the same thing as Very stupidly they have made that into a pinboard about business, not a redirect to the above link. In fact, if you Google for Pinterest, one of the top keyphrases is “pinterest for business”, which indicates that they are unaware of how people think.

Fill out their little form. Include your web address. They’ll send you an email that you have to click on. Verify that you’re not a robot, then proceed with the “verify website” function.

Although the verification process is easy enough (regardless of whether you choose the file upload option or the metatag option), from reading many forums and comments, it seems that after you click the “verify website” button, the next thing that will happen is you’ll get a popup saying that it didn’t work. So just expect to have to fill out a help ticket and send a couple of screenshots showing that you did it right.

— A word on website verification —

There is not actually a good reason to verify your website. It doesn’t help you much at all in the functionality of Pinterest. You can still create backlinks, post pictures, etc just like you would if you were using a non-business account. But while a business account will let you, even encourage you, to self-promote, the other alleged features are either worthless or frustrating to the average business user.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are a huge company, you might find some way to wrangle value out of the other features, but don’t hold your breath waiting for verification of your website.

What you DO get out of verifying your site:

  • Your web address is now a hyperlink to your site. Marginally important, -ish.
  • You get access to Pinterest Analytics (more on this in a moment)
  • You may apply for specially encoded pins (“Rich Pins”).


PINTEREST ANALYTICS – what do they do?

You will  be able to see a chart of how many people clicked on your pinboard, and how many people shared a pin or link to the board. THAT IS ALL. It’s pretty useless, because you can get much, MUCH deeper analytics information from your own website’s logs. This is where it’s helpful to host your photos instead of pinning them from other places, or directly uploading them to Pinterest.

ALL of the analytics within Pinterest read as if they are generated BY Pinterest. In other words, you do not get to see where people are, what kind of browser they are using (this can be very informative – are your customers using mostly mobile devices? If so, you probably have a younger crowd), how long did they stay on your site? Instead, all you can see is that your pinboard(s) had X views that day, Y clicks on an image, and Z re-pins.

Pinterest analytics do not tell you how someone found your page, nor do they tell you any keywords a person was using when they found you, or even how many unique individuals looked at stuff.

Since the Pinterest Analytics function isn’t very helpful, by hosting the images yourself, you can use Statcounter (a WordPress plug in) and/or Google Analytics to get much deeper insights about the kind of person who is looking at your pinboard.

And with deeper insights, you can understand who is interested in your site, and therefore where and how to focus your advertising money and even get ideas about what kinds of merchandise you should carry.

The Pinterest developers, they seem to just think all we want is to go “oh look, someone clicked on my thingie, how neat!” — which is NOT why a business owner is using their website for promotion. If you really like spending your personal time on the site, that’s great, but for most of the people I know, when we’re doing it on work time, using a social media site instead of making product or doing paperwork is part of our marketing scheme. A necessary evil. Do it or be forgotten. So we need to know that it’s paying off, otherwise we’ll spend our time doing something else, right?



Businesses are supposed to be able to use something called a Rich Pin – whether it’s a recipe, an article on your blog, an item that’s for sale, or a movie listing – there is special markup language which you can use to encode your pin so that it sticks out as being special (and in the case of a product pin, tells the viewer whether it’s in stock or not). Again, Pinterest isn’t terribly helpful here, because each and every Rich Pin has to be approved and they seem to take forever.

I’ve applied for ones for my products, but then my online shop is on Artfire, and it won’t work with any second tier store. So your Product Pin would not work with an Amazon Affiliate link, Artfire, Etsy, eBay, or any other site where the website is http://www.topleveldomain/yourstore or

This took a really long time to find out, and it wasn’t through Pinterest. I would have liked to know that right up front before I spent a lot of time being frustrated about trying to make it work.

However, you can still pin your product listing, so the Product type of Rich Pin just seems superfluous. There’s a ton of stuff pinned from Etsy, for example, and I’m sure that the sellers are quite happy that people are looking at their wares. A Product Rich Pin — if they worked — would tell a Pinterest user if that item was in stock without having to click through to the Etsy site, but if they wanted to look further, they’d still have to visit that seller’s store. The seller would be able to see, in their Etsy analytics, that they’d had a view, even if the product was sold out. An interested party could send the seller a private message (through Etsy) if they wanted to enquire about future availabilities.

It would be nice if the Product Pins worked for everyone, but they don’t. Still, plenty of buyers and sellers hook up every day via Pinterest, and somehow manage to exchange money for goodies without using Rich Pins. You do not need a Product Pin in order to sell a product. You just need to write good descriptions and get yourself out there so you can get found!

Recipe sites are already encoded for recipes, so these should work for you. Maps also seem to work, so if you want to pin a map to your board, you can do this, but I don’t know why you would. Articles, such as a blog post with no picture, are supposed to work, but this is another one I haven’t gotten to work. Movie listings all appear to run through IMDB so they’ve probably built a special relationship with IMDB.

If you want to work around the Article Rich Pin (you have to do a bit of coding to get them to work, and then still apply — and it STILL hasn’t worked for me) to pin a page with no images, upload an image from somewhere, and just include the link in the caption. If you want to track that link, host the image on your website.

Maybe in the future the developers will spend less time hanging out surfing the San Francisco Bay and get this stuff working for us, but at this time, the functionality for small business users leaves a LOT to be desired.

Don’t worry about Rich Pins. Focus on building brand awareness. Show things that define what your store is about, and what the customer will see when they come in to visit your shop. What a customer, or potential customer, wants most of all today is to have less stress in their lives. It seems that a lot of people have some anxiety about going into new places, and want to know what they can expect from an experience with your store. At the very least, they do not want to be unpleasantly surprised or feel they have wasted their time, possibly gas money, visiting your store.

Your internet presence is like looking inside a sugar egg.

Readers and viewers will see your enchanted world and want to come experience it. Give them some peepholes into the magic of your business!

Getting a Business Started, Part Two: Customers

Posted by admin     Category: Business Talk, Starting Up


You know what you like to make, but do you know who your target audience is?

This might sound like a ridiculous question. You might be thinking, “I make beaded jewelry, so anyone who likes beaded jewelry is my target audience.” If this is what’s going through your head, you have much to learn.

We’ve kind of begun the series with an imaginary seller of handmade jewelry, so I’ll keep that example all the way through the articles, but what I’m writing about is going to apply no matter what you make. So just go with it, and apply what I’m discussing to your own craft.

By all means, if you have questions, please ask them in the comments section! That way everyone can learn from your question (including me).

So, back to our Crafter. Let’s assume the items are of good quality, visually appealing, made by someone who knows their technique pretty well. Our Crafter is a nice person who enjoys stringing beads, making bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

You know, I feel we’ll need a name, so I’ll just grab one out of the hat and go with Marla. And now we can properly speak of her in the third person. Ah, literary devices!

Marla has come in my store with a box of handmade stuff. I don’t have time for her, because it’s a very busy day, tons of customers, and on top of that I’ve just got in a shipment of magick widgets that have to be entered in the computer, priced, and put on display. So I ask her to briefly describe what all she has there in the box, so I can determine if I want to take her card and try to look at her website from my phone the next time I have a minute.

Marla says, “beaded jewelry.” I ask her what kind of beaded jewelry. “Natural stones,” she replies. Okay, that’s pretty good, I like natural stones.

“Who’s the target audience?” I ask, because maybe I have too much of one kind and need to diversify, the season’s changing, the moon is in outer space, or some other vaporous reason of my own. “Do you have a specific style? What age group people would like your stuff?”

Marla looks like a deer caught in the headlights. “I use natural stones, so people who like natural jewelry–”

And she’s thinking, “I make nice stuff, everyone will love it, what a stupid question.” Read more…