Etsy Print-On-Demand for Artists: Personalize your P. O. D. | Kathy Weller | Skillshare

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Etsy Print-On-Demand for Artists: Personalize your P. O. D.

teacher avatar Kathy Weller, Artist + Hand-letterer | Etsy + P.O.D.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to Personalize your P.O.D.


    • 2.

      P.O.D. + Etsy... REALLY???


    • 3.

      CUSTOMIZE... Use What You Got


    • 4.

      PRODUCT FORMATS... Mix It Up


    • 5.

      PRICE POINTS... No-Tears Tiers


    • 6.

      COMMUNICATION... Don't Hold Back


    • 7.



    • 8.

      1-MIN. BONUS: Three Types Of Value


    • 9.

      PEP TALK: Niches


    • 10.

      PEP TALK: Commitment


    • 11.

      PEP TALK: Resistance


    • 12.

      PEP TALK: Communication


    • 13.

      PEP TALK: My Struggle Story


    • 14.



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About This Class

Take control of the print-on-demand customer experience in your Etsy shop! Successful Etsy seller and print-on-demand aficionado, artist Kathy Weller has spent years experimenting with ways to level-up her customers’ experience DESPITE the uncontrollable aspects of P.O.D. fulfillment.
In this class, you’ll discover 4 key methods to help you deliver a customer experience that kicks that lack of control to the CURB. Compel first-time customers back to your shop again and again. Earn five-star customer reviews — the kind with words. Get tagged on social media by your fans. It’s all possible!

First, We’ll talk about the push-pull of being an independent artist on Etsy, using print-on-demand on etsy,  and WHY people shop on ETSY in the FIRST place.

Next, we'll discuss four methodologies you'll integrate into your shop:

  • Customization— Use what you got! Maximize use of this option without having to customize individual products
  • Product formats—Curating the right mix for your shop, and ways make your customer feel extra-special
  • Price Points — and how “playing” with them can multi-task for you
  • Communication—Let’s deep-dive into the psychology of effective, compassionate and respectful communication
  • In the Class Project, we put everything we've learned into a blender and create the smoothie-est shop experience ever!

You'll come away from this class with ideas, strategies and communication tools you'll be able to build into your regular workflow. You'll significantly improve your customers' experience, and create a "domino effect" of positive reverberations for your shop and for your customer relationships. Build your own shop ecosystem that disarms that whole “lack of control” issue in the P.O.D. customer experience. Get ready to feel confident about selling print-on-demand in your artist shop.

This course is for YOU if you are:

  • An artist who has or is considering opening an Etsy shop and using P.O.D. fulfillment in your shop
  • An artist who has or is considering P.O.D. fulfillment in a non-Etsy shop where you handle all of the customer communication and experience (such as a Shopify or Big Cartel store).

    If I am NOT an artist, can I still benefit from this class?
    The methods, techniques and concepts shared are absolutely executable by non-artists! However, the class is specifically targeted to support the independent artist on Etsy. 

    If I do NOT have an Etsy shop, can I still benefit from this class?
    Yes. The concepts can be integrated into any shop platform where the seller handles all of the customer experience. The on-screen tutorials are performed in Etsy, so if not on Etsy, you'll have to figure out how to replicate them in your own platform. All of the concepts are framed through the needs, goals and values of an Etsy artist seller, too.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kathy Weller

Artist + Hand-letterer | Etsy + P.O.D.


Hi! My name is Kathy. I’m an independent artist, like you! I’ve been using POD for fifteen years in my business in variety of ways. (Four years ago, I even started using P.O.D. for wholesale!) Print-on-demand is now the most direct path for artists to monetize our art!

The problem? It's a jungle out there!
There’s a million different P.O.D. companies with a million different business models, and the industry is constantly evolving. 

The solution: Understanding what’s OUT there in an organized way so we can make informed decisions that are IN SYNC with the way that we already work best, and with the way we already run our business.

I designed my Skillshare class The P.O.D. Pri... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome to Personalize your P.O.D.: You're an artist with an Etsy shop. Maybe it's been lying there dormant for a while and you're considering restarting it by adding print-on-demand products to your offerings. Or, you've never had an Etsy shop before at all, but the POSSIBILITIES with print-on-demand integrations have you TOTALLY CURIOUS about starting one. BUT... There's one Really Big Sticking Point that's holding you back: The LACK OF CONTROL with print-on-demand fulfillment. We're gonna REMEDY this problem HEAD-ON! My name is Kathy and I AM HERE FOR YOU! I'm going to show you a few of my tried-and-true methods that help entice shoppers to Step Into Your World, and then, once they are your customer, the service you provide can actually COMPEL THEM to truly LOOK FORWARD to shopping with you again, become a repeat customer, and then, become a RAVING FAN— of YOU, your ART, your SHOP, and your overall customer EXPERIENCE— something that they can't get ANYWHERE else. First, we'll talk about the push-pull of being an independent artist on Etsy, using print-on-demand on Etsy, and then WHY people shop on Etsy in the FIRST place. We're going to spell it all out, and navigate the conflict, so we can get a good handle on the VARIETY of ways to REMEDY it. Next, we're going to discuss four methods YOU can integrate into YOUR OWN order cycle. These methods are NOT complicated, and they're NOT hard to implement, either. What they DO require is your consistent effort, like ANYTHING worthwhile does. They don't cost a lot to start doing, and some of them are totally FREE, aside from your time and effort. Our class project is REALLY going to get your juices flowing! We will take the methods that you learned in class, and you're going to come up with your OWN ideas, unique to YOU, for ways to add VALUE to your customers' experience shopping with you. This is going to be FUN. Now, if you're ready, LET'S GO! 2. P.O.D. + Etsy... REALLY???: Hey! My name is Kathy and I'm thrilled to be here. And, I am so thrilled that YOU are here. In this video, we're gonna talk about that dichotomy of being an indie artist on Etsy and using print-on-demand, print on-demand plus Etsy: Really? Yes, really. Let's go. So being an independent artist, it's a weird juxtaposition between being such hands-on individual work. We're all imagination and execution superheroes who bring our own unique perspectives into the world independently. And then... Are you confused yet? We're working with these companies that print our art on products that we never touch, put into packages that we never prepare, and they mail them off without our hands ever having touched a single part of the whole physical transaction. So, there's an interesting dichotomy there. The general public is currently pretty well versed in the popularity of print-on-demand. Everyone can name people in their lives that have purchased print-on-demand products. And there is very little, if any, customer education that we have to do. Most people that buy from you will probably know that you're not printing the pillow yourself and shipping it to them, right? But— sidebar: you should still put that information in your product listing, because we never want to assume and we also want to provide transparency. Different storefronts are going to vary in their own unique shopper cultures. Etsy, for instance, has its own shopper and seller culture. There's a certain aesthetic and style that he uses in their public-facing persona and advertising and the shopping experience there helps to round out that whole aesthetic and vibe. Etsy draws a certain type of shopper who values handmade and artists made goods, and who also values a more personal experience with the shop seller-maker, and the standards for what their satisfactory or outstanding customer care look like. So, being a seller on Etsy, my own customer care methods and process on Etsy are very much focused on what most Etsy customers are optimally interested in experiencing 00:02:17.615 --> 00:02:19.145 as a customer shopping there. That's a tongue twister. So that being said, let's go back to that crazy dichotomy of us being independent artists and using print-on-demand products to sell our artwork on. Don't allow your reliance on print-on-demand fulfillment to limit you from crafting and delivering a customer experience that goes above-and-beyond. On Etsy and beyond, wherever you control the customer experience, here's the drill: Just because you use print-on-demand for fulfillment doesn't exempt you from actively participating in providing a stellar and attentive customer experience. If anything, the onus is on YOU to not "phone it in". This is true for you if you sell on a site where you're in charge of the transaction. You're putting so much energy into your shop and into selling. Don't drop the ball and the customer experience part, just because you use print-on-demand. So here's what's important. You're an artist print-on-demand seller who cares about your first impression. Your first impression is really, REALLY important. And we're going to talk about it a little bit later, but, first impressions are extremely important because, if you don't make the first impression count in a positive way, then your customer is probably not going to come back and shop with you again. Repeat customers. These are customers who shop with you more than once. Compelling customer reviews, customers who we've unsolicited reviews. And I say unsolicited because, you know what's better than ASKING a customer for review? COMPELLING them to leave a review, because you have surprised them with amazing service! Customer loyalty, and customer commitment. I'm talking about active, vocal, participating, repeat customers. For example, they Etsy Convo you. They comment on your social media posts. They post pictures of their purchases on social media, and tag you. Again, this is all unsolicited. So the goal is to sell your awesome art on products, but it is also to provide a customer experience that compels your customer to rave about your product, and your service, and of course, rave about YOU. Because after all, YOU'RE AWESOME. That's why you're the artist, and you're the artist brand behind your shop. And besides your unique beautiful artwork on products, that is a BIG part of why they're shopping with YOU. Alright, so now we know WHY we want to personalize our POD, it now we need to know HOW to personalize our POD. We want our customer to feel like they are getting a truly handcrafted, personal experience with us when they're shopping with us, DESPITE the fact that many or even most of our products are fulfilled through print-on-demand. So let's do this! Let's go to the next video and get started. See you there. 3. CUSTOMIZE... Use What You Got: Let's start out with a really simple one that bears mentioning, because I think many people dropped the ball on this. And when using print-on-demand, we REALLY need to "take the reigns" of WHATEVER is available to us. So, using this consistently is very effective. Customize, wherever possible. Capitalize on any free customization offering that your print-on-demand partner provides. I'm not talking about personalization, such as adding your mom's name to a mug. This is WAY more general. I'm talking about taking advantage of, for instance, the custom note spot that it's available for your use on the no-price packing slip that is packaged with your product going to your customer. If you can add branding to this package, do it. This is free advertising for you, and that can be reused on each and every packages' slip. It's part of your customer's experience with you, in a situation where you are not at all involved in the actual printing and shipping of the product. So, you want to make any options available to you like this, really count— and, it's FREE. Do not skip this step, if it is available to you, through your print-on-demand company. If you're able to add a custom note to your package, offer your customer the option to include a personalized note in this space. With certain product formats that are routinely gifted by my customers and sent directly to the recipient, I add in the option to leave a custom note on the packing slip, right in the listing description itself. So let's create a personalization box together! I've opened up one of my Etsy mug listings, and I'm going to scroll down to the point on the page where it says "Personalization". And now, I'm going to turn it On. And now you see that I have the editing area on the left, and I have what the buyer will see on the right. So in the instructions for buyers, whatever I type here is going to show up on the right, so I can actually just see what it's going to look like in my listing. So I'm going to type in, "Want to add a note on the no-price packing slip? Type it here." As you can see here on the right, it looks good. And then, on the left, you see there's a box that says "Personalization is optional". So, if I leave this unchecked, then it's going to require that they put a note. But I don't want that, because I don't know whether or not they're buying it as a gift that's going directly to the recipient. But, if they are, then I'm going to give them the option. So I'm checking the box, and then I have a character limit here. Now we can give them up to 1024 characters to write their message in. What I suggest is that you check with your print-on-demand partner and find out the maximum amount of characters that they allow for your custom notes, on the packing slips that they print and ship and put into each and every one of your orders. You know, for instance, if they offer you 256 characters, maybe you do like 250 characters, just to make sure that you have a little bit of padding. Now I'm going to hit Publish and we're going to get to see what it looks like. Okay, great! So, here we are in my listing, and now, "Add your personalization (optional)" is right here. So if they hit the arrow, "Want to add a note on the no-price packing slip? Type it here." So now, I can just write whatever I want, and then order my mug. And then you see, in the little corner here, it tells the customer how many characters they have left to type, which is a nice little bonus for them, so they don't go over. There's another way you can alternately ask your customer if they would like to leave a custom note on the no-price packing slip, without actually putting a personalization option in your listing. You could use the "Note at checkout" option, instead. This way is a little bit less fancy, but it's a little bit simpler. So it's a little bit of a trade-off, but they both work. Just want to show you the second option, here. So here I am on Etsy's home page, 00:04:20.000 --> 00:04:23.330 And I opened this in an "incognito" window, which is like a "private" window. I did that because, otherwise, Etsy won't let me purchase my own product. So here I am, and— look! — one of my mugs is right here on the home page. I'm going to click on this. We're going to "Add to cart". We're going to "Proceed to checkout". There's an area right here that says "Add a note to kathywellerart (optional)". This is the area where you can direct your customer to leave a note for the gift note. Let me just talk about "This order is a gift" for just a moment. If a customer checks this box off, all that it means is that, should you decide to print out an Etsy packing slip, it is not going to have the pricing information on it. Checking this box will do NOTHING regarding your print-on-demand partner, and whether or not they put a price in your box on the packing slip that they provide. And just to let you know, most print-on-demand companies are not going to automatically put a price on their packing slips, as a general rule. So, definitely check with your own print-on-demand company, just clarify things with them. But, that is how they generally work. So, both of these options work great. Just make sure to keep an eye on your incoming orders, in case there's a note attached to an order. Let's say they don't need or want a custom note. Instead, use that space to add your own "Thank you" note to your customer. So in this module, this is what we talked about: Maximizing your use of your print on-demand partner's branding options, whenever and wherever possible. If it's FREE, DO IT. Get as much value out of your print-on-demand partner relationship as possible. And, this is one way to do that. Use any custom personalized note options offered by your partner, to add additional value to your transactions. So, we really want to maximize whatever we can use, that doesn't cost any more for us, but that's going to add additional value to the transaction, and, by extension, to the relationship between our customer and us. 4. PRODUCT FORMATS... Mix It Up: Hey, welcome to this video. We're going to talk about product formats, and mixing it up. Am I talking about offering a million different POD products? NO, I am not. Stay with me. I'm talking about mixing up your POD products with in-house products that you stock and ship, yourself. I'm going to walk you through how to do this without your brain blowing up, or running out of space in your studio. And I'm also gonna go through why it's SO KEY to your shop, to your customer experience— and really, it's going to bring you a lot more success, a lot quicker. So, let's go! Mix up your product offerings. This allows you to provide a more dynamic customer experience. Overall, YOU get to fully control the experience when you're packaging and shipping the product yourself. And it adds a very personalized facet to your customer experience that they don't get from you when they order your print-on-demand products. So essentially the experience of ordering a non-print-on-demand product with you enhances the feeling you leave the customer with, who also orders a print-on-demand product. And, all those feelings are connected. My favorite tip is selling low price-point, low shipping cost, easy to stock, and easy to ship products. Here are some examples: Coloring books I self-publish with Kindle Direct Publishing. Stickers: You can get them printed and shipped to you inexpensively, through many vendors. Acrylic pins. You can do acrylic pins at a MUCH lower cost than enamel pins. And, greeting cards. And, there are other ideas too. These are just four. If you can provide a product which ships direct from your studio, you can have more control, and add to the overall spectrum of the customer experience, which adds a lot of value in the mind of your customer, than the experience they have when you use only print-on-demand fulfillment. You can really knock it out of the park with the attention you give to your packaging on these orders. I even include handwritten notes. Offering in-house products also allows you to offer an upgrade options such as a handwritten gift card, for instance. So many of my customers buy my coloring books as gifts for other people and have them shipped directly to the recipient, that I began doing this. I charge a little more for the hand-written card, and they really value this feature. You can easily add this personalization option to your listing by following the demo that I showed you in the last lesson. Doing these things where you can, will really add versatility to your shop offerings. It can turn a customer into a repeat customer, and then a repeat customer into a regular customer. So, mixing up your product formats and offerings between print-on-demand-fulfilled products and studio-shipped products is going to really power you up to deliver a more multi-layered, prismatic experience to your customer. Having a product in which you offer a customization that YOU personally control all aspects of yourself, gives you more of an opportunity to truly OVER-deliver successfully to your customer. Choose a product where the customization option is DOABLE for you. It should not take you a lot of time or effort to do, but it should be a customization in which the customer sees EXTRA SPECIAL value in this customization, coming from YOU. For instance, I do hand-lettering in my art. I offer a custom handwritten note, with purchase of a coloring book. It's not hard for me to do this. But, because a lot of my art is focused on hand-lettering, and my customers value my art, my customers ALSO recognize a special level of UNIQUE value in a handwritten, custom card when I'm the one doing the handwriting of the card. So, finding opportunities like this to add extra value, stuff that they can't get anywhere else, will make a BIG difference in your customer satisfaction, and in what you are able to successfully and consistently deliver on for your customer, without much additional work on your part. always choose something doable and dare I say: Keep it fun, too That is another key to success with this. Keep it fun. In this module, there's a PDF workbook which will list some of these in-house product ideas, including suppliers, with a checklist to help you organize your Action Plan. So, check out the workbook for these ideas and resources, decide on a product, and get to work on developing your plan! Good luck! 5. PRICE POINTS... No-Tears Tiers: Hey, welcome to the next video! Drumroll, please: Mix up your price points! Have price points in different ranges, from low to higher. This is going to help you in several ways. It invites new shoppers in your door. It's easier for a shopper to get off the "maybe" train and into the "first-time buyer" club when the investment is low. They're spending less money on a purchase, and it's logical that they're expecting less in return then they would expect from a higher-priced product. It's only a sticker, for instance, or a greeting card, or a patch, or whatever your lower-priced item is. ...BUT!!! this is a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to BLOW that first-time customer A-WAY! For that small purchase, My customer's getting a full-on personal experience of shopping with me. I try to make that experience as special and as personal as possible. And, here's how I look at it: Whenever a new customer buys a low-cost item, I think of it like they're interviewing my shop for a future purchase. They're trying me out, and looking for a new, unique shopping experience. If they have one with me, if I can leave them feeling amazing, and happy with their purchase, I KNOW they will come back and shop with me again. Absolutely. The second reason is, it gives you a better shot at making a sale. Say your customer collects stickers, not mugs. If you have a piece of art available that they love on both products? They might not buy it on the mug, but they'll buy it on the sticker. That's an EASY SALE. Here's the fact: It's easier to RETAIN an EXISTING customer, than it is to WIN a NEW customer. This is something to really let sink into your brain, when you're thinking about these in-house, lower-cost, easy to ship products, and when you're considering HOW you intend to package them, and the experience you want to give your customer when they open the package. And finally, when you consider that, for that low-priced item, for that small sale, throughout the way that you package and mail this item, you can create a much higher perceived value for that low-cost item, then the price that the customer initially paid for it. And, you are gaining a new customer, that it will be so much easier to now build on your existing relationship with, than it would be to win a new customer. Number 3: It raises the spend of the transaction. Simple numbers game. The more products you have, the more price points you have, the more opportunities for something to catch a shopper's eyeballs, the better chance they'll buy. Number 4: It gives variety and different facets to the reviews that you're going to receive. I'm going to use stickers again as the example, because they're a low-cost product that I make myself. Not only do my stickers give great experiential value to my customers for the low cost, and not only are they now in the future "repeat customers club" when they buy one, but the level of experience you can give the customer for that low-cost item and the easier sale, will have a direct and evergreen impact on your shop, IF they are moved to leave a customer review. When it comes to compelling a customer to leave a review, and to leave a review *with words*, all reviews in your shop take up the same amount of real estate. So if with a $4.00 sticker that you mail from your studio yourself, you can provide a customer experience so excellent that it compels your customer to leave a review, that review is going to take up the SAME amount of real estate and eyeballs as a review for a $30 t-shirt from your print on-demand partner. But, the print on-demand partner product is higher stakes, right? They cost more, for one thing. You're not in control of the production and shipping, for another thing. So, why not put forth that energy into making sure that your studio product really hits it out of the park, when you have SO MUCH more control over the outcome? It's kind of a no-brainer, right? Okay, so here's the psychology part. You can exceed your customer's expectations pretty handily with a studio-mailed purchase. And one thing I felt is true about customers leaving reviews, from the over 1100 reviews that I've received on Etsy, is that customers are more apt to leave a review, and, they are more apt to leave a review WITH WORDS, when you have exceeded their expectations. When you have done something that has CHARMED them, and DAZZLED them. When they were COMPELLED and MOVED to leave a review. So, just get into the habit of compelling them, charming them, and moving them by your amazing shopping experience. 6. COMMUNICATION... Don't Hold Back: Welcome, Welcome. We're going to talk all about communication, we're not going to leave any stone unturned. This is a little bit longer video, get a snack, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and Let's Do This. Transparency in your communication. Be a good communicator. I am a firm believer in "taking the reins" where communication is concerned. What I mean is, being the one that extends themself FIRST, for the other person. You really want the customer to feel the ease when they're working with you. Emotions are everything. I know we're not all born as great communicators. This is a skill that you can cultivate. I also believe in communicating with transparency. My customers are always so thankful, and it also builds trust, which is such an important part of the foundation for any relationship. Okay, so I'm gonna go down a mini "Rabbit Hole" here, and talk about the psychology of customer inquiries. So, when a customer reaches out and asks you a question, you want to consider ALL of the details you've been able to glean from the situation with that customer in the communication with them— NOT ONLY what they may be VERBALLY asking you in a Convo. You want to not only solve their problem or question, but you also want to figure out the BEST way to solve it for THEM, AND for YOU. Let me give you a quick example. So, say a customer reaches out to you, likes a specific design, but they want a different model of t-shirt. I usually try to solve this by offering two alternate t-shirt models. I definitely strive to make sure that they are happy, no matter what they choose. But, TOO MANY options leads to "Analysis Paralysis". I know that it feels like customers want us to read their minds. But really, they just want their problem to be solved. So, if I can solve the issue and make the customer very happy in the least number of steps, that's the best-case scenario for EVERYBODY. Approaching your customer inquiries in this way does require you to look at each case scenario a little bit like you're a detective trying to solve something. Essentially you are. So, consider these things next time you have a customer inquiry. In addition to what they're asking, also look at HOW they are asking it, to see if it gives you any FURTHER clues on how to BEST serve the customer, and the particular situation, at hand. Is there OTHER important pieces of information that might be IMPLIED, but have NOT been SPOKEN? Consider ALL information you have from both their inquiry, as well as from the order they placed, including any customization options, and optional mail upgrades. If you're ever in doubt? ASK. It's MUCH better to be SAFE than sorry. A quick hit of a reply, and a quick follow-up question to them before finalizing anything, can go a very long way. Listening to your instincts. It sounds like a no-brainer, I know. But we second-guess ourselves all the time. Our instincts are usually correct. So, listen to your gut. So, just trying to think a step or two ahead in this way is really going to help you in terms of communicating with your customers. Your holistic approach to customer experience and customer care, it's not a one and done. These are skills you work at over time, and consistently. And, you get better and better at it. So don't worry about the ups and downs. As long as you're taking the initiative, and being consistent with this, putting these tools into practice, you WILL get better and better at it. Okay. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Anticipate the customers' needs and wants before THEY do. Speak to them about the options you can provide for the product, or about limitations of the product. If there's something you think they should know, and you're THINKING about mentioning it, just go ahead and mention it to them. It's really as simple as that. So, let me give you a real-life example of this. T-shirts are a VERY personal product, because, for one thing, they're worn on the body. Optimal fabric and fit for a T-shirt is totally subjective, because everyone's different, and prefers different things. Because they are a print-on-demand product, They are FINAL SALE, unless there's a quality issue. So, it's super important that I provide as MANY details, and as MUCH information about the tee as possible BEFORE the customer purchases it. I want to do my best to ensure that they will be happy when the final product arrives. I anticipate t-shirt questions. To help with this, when I receive an inquiry about a particular model, and the customer has questions and shares their own situational details and their own individual needs, I share a PDF document with them that I created. This document is available for all of the different t-shirt models that I carry. The document offers a deeper look at all aspects of the tee— from specs, materials and construction, to customer reviews, colors available, sizing information, and pictures of the t-shirt on people. To populate the reviews in the PDF. I gather them directly from my P.O.D. tee partner's website. I try to select reviews that share specific details from a larger consensus of reviewers. For instance, if several people feel that the tee runs on the smaller side, and recommend sizing up, I include a snippet from an actual customer review that shares this specific information. So, the reviews that I choose on average really echo what the general consensus is from actual customers, even if the review is not a glowing recommendation for the tee. What's MORE important is that it's ACCURATE, so that the customer can make good choices for their own needs. I also will repeat this important detail in the body of the message I sent to the customer, so they do not miss this information. I sell several t-shirts, so chances are I'll have something that fits their needs. However, I am always willing to offer a customer a t-shirt model that my printing partner offers, but that I do not currently carry in my shop IF it fits their needs BETTER than any of the tees I currently DO offer in my shop. When I do this, I make sure to let them know that I have not tested out the tee, so I can't recommend the tee from my personal experience standpoint, but that I'm willing to offer it to them, should they wish to order it. Okay. So before anything else you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute. I have to drop everything and create this document? That's going to take a lot of time and energy. I don't know if I can sign up for that." So here's my answer to this. We are in the customer service business, for one thing, You want to exceed your customers' expectations. You want to provide a really good customer experience. You want to surprise them by how helpful you are. This is one way to do that, It doesn't cost you anything, except for your time and energy. The second thing is, if ONE customer is ASKING you about it, the chances are that lots of OTHER customers WANT to know, too, but AREN'T asking you. Which means that you're going to be reusing this document, resending this document, countless times to other people who asked you about this t-shirt make and model. So, it's not a wasted effort. You're not making this for just one person. You're making this for this person, and for every other person who asks you down the road. The third thing is, you can just use this as a template. And once you have this set, replace the information with a different brand and model of t-shirt. And lastly, this document does NOT have to be perfect. It doesn't even have to be branded at first. Just get something going, and then you can revise it later. I don't think it helps ANY of us to get stuck in a perfectionist mindset. We're all works-in-progress. And the stuff that we do is a work-in-progress. Yes, even the stuff in the shop. Even stuff that is customer facing. This is absolutely acceptable. Done is better than perfect. So just start with something, and then you can revise it along the way, when you have the moment to do so. Communicate everywhere. People tend to skim, and not read. And, they do this especially when they're looking for something particular. It's okay to be repetitive with information that's important. For instance, take this t-shirt. It's the Bella Canvas 8413 Triblend Ladies Tee. This is an awesome tee, and a LOT of people LOVE it, But, it runs REALLY small. I mentioned this in two areas of the listing. In the listing photo, I have the size chart. And, I mention it right in there. In the listing description. I mentioned it, as well. In addition, I follow up with each customer who orders this tee, to make sure that they have SEEN this mention, and to make sure that they have accounted for the size issue. In addition to having a video in the t-shirt listing itself, I also send them a video on YouTube of me trying on the t-shirt, so they can FULLY understand how the t-shirt fits. I KNOW, this sounds like a LOT. But, no customer has ever told me that I'm "bothering them" with too much information, or too much communication. People are BUSY. They don't always SEE everything. And, even if they did account for the tee sizing, when they ordered, they're always thankful that I cared enough about their purchase, and about their experience, to check in with them. And actually, this is ONE way to provide customer service that honestly most shoppers are NOT EXPECTING and are DELIGHTED by. And, it costs you NOTHING but time and effort. I practice what I like to call Proactive Transparency. It encompasses all that I've been preaching this entire module. When there are typical questions about a particular product, or when the same questions are repeatedly asked over time, there is a trend. And, this question keeps coming up again and again. I like to integrate that question-and-answer, in a conversational way, into my communication with the customer, about that product, in the regular order cycle. Have you heard that saying that goes something like "Ask for forgiveness, not permission"? The basis of that philosophy is to make a decision for other people. And then, when there's a problem to ask them for forgiveness, I do NOT agree with this. I believe in sharing all the pertinent info upfront, making sure to provide ample details, so your customer can make an informed decision. Creating a "paper trail" of the communication about particular aspects of a product can also serve as a type of "insurance" for you down the road in case there is an issue which you had previously proactively offered options to help with, earlier and the order cycle. For instance, if the customer confirms an aspect of their order with you, and then down the road, their decision alters their satisfaction with the product or with some aspect of the service you provide, then, you know that you've given the customer the opportunity to make their OWN CHOICE choice about that beforehand. In other words, Proactive Transparency can "cover your butt", when necessary. Let's just, say what it is. You may still opt to fix an issue for your customer, even if it's "on them". But when you do, you'll BOTH know that YOU'RE going above-and-beyond to do so. And that shows a lot of integrity as well as builds more trust in your business. So, practicing Proactive Transparency encompasses creating solutions to potential problems, and circumventing problems to begin with. I'll use the example of my T-shirt try-on videos. Etsy now offers the ability to upload videos into our listings, which is WELL WORTH using. But, before this feature came out, I would share links to T-shirt try-on videos with my customers. The Etsy videos have no sound, and are very short. So, even though they are very appreciated, they're still limited. And you could still share additional media with your customers, to give them a more well-rounded demonstration of a product in use. Communication. YOU run the communication show. It's not the other way around. Remember this is YOUR dinner party. Remember you're the host. So you make your guests feel comfortable when they enter. It's kind of like, finding out what they'd like to drink, letting them know where the bathroom is when they arrive, giving them a tour of your house. Maybe you just renovated a room. You get the general idea. Kindness and empathy, because we want to treat our customers the way WE would like to be treated, when we are shopping. It's also important to see your customers as your investors. Because, in a way, they really ARE. And, you need to invest right back into that relationship, by doing what you can and investing right back into THEM by giving them an amazing experience. This is really key to earning customer FANS that ADORE you, and look FORWARD to coming back to shop with you AGAIN, and again. Let's go over our Take-Home Tips for this module. Reading between the lines. This can solve questions and issues far more efficiently, and in fewer steps. Try to practice thinking two steps ahead. "Too much" communication does not exist. I've never had a customer tell me I'm communicating too much. Perfection is a myth. We are ALL works-in-progress. Treat yourself with kindness. Done is better than perfect. Make that a lifestyle motto. Tape it on your computer, and get to work. No effort is ever wasted. Every time you solve a problem for one customer, you have that knowledge in your back pocket to pull out again and again, whenever it's needed, Look at any challenge, like it's a game, a riddle that needs to be solved. That's what I do. I act like a detective, and it's fun. I learn more to help THIS customer, and then I have those answers which I can take into a future similar situation, of which there's almost a guarantee that there WILL be a similar situation, sometime in the near future. ONE Customer inquiry is pretty much equal to TWENTY. If one customer asks, there are 20 people behind them who are thinking the same question, but have NOT asked you. If you answer it for ONE customer, you have that information in your back pocket for the NEXT customer. And, if the problem that is solved happens to be something like a design in your shop, you might just be rewarded with an influx of sales of that item, once you solve the problem for the first customer! Repetition is okay. It's not only okay, it's actually GOOD, because people tend to skim, and not read. Compassion and respect. Treat your customers like YOU want to be treated. Remember, they're your dinner party guests. Thay are your investors. And, they obviously have awesome taste because they're shopping with YOU, and they're attracted to YOUR products and aesthetic. Lastly, TRUST YOUR GUT. Take that extra minute to tune into what your gut is saying, in any given situation. It takes practice, but do not give up on this. It gets easier, I promise. 7. CLASS PROJECT: Now comes the fun part. Let's brainstorm ideas for you. In this class, we've discussed some of the things that I personally do to fill the gap between the more personal experience that I like to provide my customers versus the things that print on demand fulfillment often lacks. For this project, I want you to take all that we've discussed, and all of these new methods that we've looked at. And I want you to look at it, ALL of it, through the lens of YOU, YOUR Artist Brand, YOUR Etsy shop, and what YOU can bring to your customer. What type of Added Value and you bring to your customers' experience shopping with you, that's in perfect alignment with your own themes as an artist and a product designer? What types of ideas will fit into your Artist Brand and your customer order cycle? We're looking for a certain type of synergy. These ideas can be anything, as long as they are implementable into a customer's order cycle, and provide additional value to the customer BEYOND the value that they get of the actual product. So, what kind of ideas are bubbling up for you? What different ways can you offer your customer an experience that is beyond what they're getting from other sellers, and that is uniquely you? Or, is an EXISTING idea that you can put your own special spin on, and MAKE it uniquely you? Are you offering them something EXTRA in the overall customer experience that ends up to be a good to great value to them— something that perhaps they didn't even know they wanted or needed, until YOU offered and delivered it? The most practical way to brainstorm is, starting with a dilemma, and then how do you solve it? I'll give you some ideas based on stuff that I do, to sort of get your juices flowing some more. I sell mugs through my print on-demand partner. Lots of my customers give my mugs for gifts that they give to the recipient in person. So, I'd like to increase the value of their experience with me, by offering them something that they can add to the gift to increase the value of the gift. Something practical and useful, but something that's also in keeping with the overall aesthetic tone and vibe of the mug. You could design a downloadable PDF that offers new ways to use your product, or that offers an adjunct value. For example, I sell mugs. I could offer recipe cards that I design, of the same feel as my mug designs, featuring fancy coffee or tea drink recipes. As previously mentioned, a lot of my customers order my mugs as gifts that they send directly to the recipients. However, that means my customer's recipient is receiving a package in the mail, and they won't recognize my address. So that can spook some people, understandably. So, so how do I cure this dilemma? I want to offer my customers a cute way that they can alert their friend that, Number one, a box is being delivered to them. And Number two, it's not even going to say my customer's name on the box. It's going to say MY name. But it's actually going to be a gift from them. So, to remedy this, I offer my customers a JPEG that I call GIFT ON THE WAY. This is a simply designed JPEG that they can request from me after I have a tracking number for their gift recipient's mug package. It's a very simple graphic image, with informational text on it. It allows them to attach it to an email to their gift recipient to let them know that they should be expecting this box, and that it's not a mistake. I can't tell you how many times a customer has called me, "Who sent me this? And, who are YOU?" So it's a very proactive thing to do, and it helps everybody. Here's another one. The dilemma. I want to offer something with my coloring books that's somewhere between a free small gift with purchase, and a functional piece of uplifting art. The themes of my coloring books are supporting physical and mental health challenges. So, that theme for a bookmark is the perfect companion to my coloring books. I can design it so aesthetically, enzymatically, it's going to match up perfectly. So how do I execute this, without spending a lot of money? I can design and print bookmarks at home. To start, I already have all the materials in my studio and printer. I have the card stock, and I have little cello bags, if I do want to use those. So, I can try this idea out, see how my customers respond. And if the idea is really well received? At that point, I will outsource them, and buy them in bulk. And, the higher quantity you can buy in bulk, the less expensive they are. A 2x6" bookmark is not going to break the bank. This is ONE way I can really "UP" the perceived value of the actual item. And, since this item is so often given as a gift, and sent directly to the recipients, the additional bookmark gift-with-the-gift will add a particular value to my customer's order with me, and to their experience... Knowing that they're going to get that, whenever they order my coloring books as gifts. So, it definitely increases the value. This is actually a really good example of doing market research. So, I've had my coloring books. The longer I have them for sale, the more I see how people buy them, why people buy them, and WHO they're buying them for. And, you can use that information to give your customers a much higher quality experience in the future... by providing MORE of what they want! Okay, The fourth one, it's not so much a dilemma. Remember how we were talking about "proactive"? This is a more "proactive" approach to answering a question BEFORE the customer asks it, or has it in their head, even. By and large, customers do not expect you to take a photo and send it to them, of their envelope, or their mailer, BEFORE it goes in the mail to them. I do this with my studio-mailed orders. I can't do it with my print-on-demand orders, but I DO do it, because I have the control over those packages. I can provide this additional window into their order. And they always appreciate it. This is one of those things that's "above and beyond". They don't expect it. It's just a way to build trust with your customers. They are shopping from you because you're an artist. All the better if you can do something cute with that packaging, when you send them that picture. it's not a bad idea. Sticker, little drawing, something like that. When I send them a picture of their package, it gives them information and visuals that they are not expecting. It's also giving them another dynamic experience to our interaction before they even receive their product in the mail. It also offers more transparency between yourself and your customer, communicating things that maybe you don't HAVE to communicate, but, you take the initiative, and you communicate these things. That's trust-building and confidence-building. Plus, from a practical point of view, it gives them a visual of what they want to look for in the mail. And especially in this day and age, when the mail is so up-and-down, it's nice to give them a visual, so they know what to look out for. Create a more special experience by decorating that envelope with your own art, and you're also making yourself VERY memorable. How many other sellers do this? This is also a great way to passively promote your other products. For instance, I like to use my mug shelf behind me as a backdrop. That way, my customers get to see my mugs when they see their envelope. Anyway, these are just a few ideas. But the possibilities are endless. The only limit is your own creativity. And to help you brainstorm, I have a printable PDF to help you! You can show your project in a multitude of ways. The important thing is to really start to think about the VALUE that you ALREADY bring: your aesthetic, your values, your themes as an Artist Brand, and the stuff that encompasses everything in your shop. And then, to think about your unique value through the lens of your customer's needs and wants. What could you give them that's uniquely YOU, that they're not expecting, and that they will REALLY appreciate? How can you fulfill those needs in a way that's uniquely and creatively you? And again, it doesn't have to cost anything. It could be additional communication about something in an Etsy convo. But, it's all in the delivery. It's kind of a creative puzzle, but it's really fun. And, it's a GREAT way to build customer confidence, trust with your customers, grow your repeat customers, and your raving fans. I cannot wait to see what you come up with. Have fun! 8. 1-MIN. BONUS: Three Types Of Value: So, your customer orders a PRODUCT from you. The additional VALUE that you provide with their purchase through your IDEA, is going to do THREE THINGS: Number One, it's going to add VALUE to them from the perspective of the actual DOLLARS that they spent in your store, for the product that they purchased. So this is looking at how much MORE they got, for their money. Number Two, it's going to add VALUE to the overall EXPERIENCE that they have with you in your shop. Because, they got MORE than they expected to get. And Number Three is the longer-term effect, it's the RELATIONSHIP. It is going to create and build trust. And therefore, add VALUE to be RELATIONSHIP that they are building with you. Because NOW, they've ordered from you, they KNOWwhat they're getting. And because your communication's been so good throughout the entire order cycle, they're confident. And, they know they can TRUST you to take care of their needs, in the future. 9. PEP TALK: Niches: Niches. If you listen to any marketing gurus, you've probably heard a million times that niches and micro niches are very important because that is where your true people connect with you. Your fans do not have to be huge in number. They just have to be passionate about you and your products or service. Once you show your customers who you are in your personality and creatively and in the practice of how you run your shop and your shop culture, it doesn't matter if you use print on demand or not. So when you start integrating a higher level of customer experience and a more multifaceted one. The people love it, We'll love it and we'll keep coming back. The people that don't love it probably won't come back, but maybe they're not your people. If I'm gonna gamble, I'd rather bet on the Levant bunch because those are the passionate ones. Those are the ones that really get me. Those are the ones who really appreciate who I am and what I'm doing, my art, It's how I do things in my shop and what I provided to them in my shop. Those are my people. If you're an artist on Etsy, the odds are that those that are attracted to your artwork and are attracted to your shop are also going to be fans of a more hands-on, hand-crafted experience because I know there's outliers, but by and large, that is the Etsy shop culture. So by continuing to cultivate a shop culture that hits those marks, you're in the right place and you're on the right path. 10. PEP TALK: Commitment: Making a commitment can be a very, very powerful thing when you mentally make a super commitment to your shop, to providing the best customer experience that you can despite your challenges, commitment to finding solutions take up the slack where print on-demand lacks a lot of great innovative ideas are probably going to come up for you. Once you get down a bunch of ideas, sort through them carefully and pick the ones that you know, you can implement swiftly. It is easier to start small, try not to allow overwhelmed to creep in, get comfortable with changing one thing at a time before moving on to the next one. Make a change be consistent with it at another change, integrate it, be consistent, so on and so forth. Start doing them, implement them into your shop with consistency. And you can really start to take your shot to another level. 11. PEP TALK: Resistance: Resistance. Resistance can act as a SERIOUS roadblock to your business. Now, if delivering this more personal, hands-on experience is a little uncomfortable for you at first, please take note of what parts are challenging you, where you're feeling the resistance. Acknowledge that discomfort, and then put it in a box, and put it on the shelf somewhere that you can see it, even if you have to write a note, in a little box, and put it on a shelf. You can wave to it every now and then. And then, just really try to shift your focus, and shift your perspective, to give this new shop mindset a shot. We are artists. Our business is an intrapersonal "people business". So, being an artist, in and of itself, you're going to be interfacing with people who are purchasing your goods— whether it's a product, a service, or some combination of the two. So, it's a good thing to get comfortable with this. Upping your game in the name of providing stellar service is ONLY going to do GREAT THINGS for your shop. So, see if you can do some rewiring with that. Let me know how it goes! 12. PEP TALK: Communication: As artists, it's our job in life to communicate. We're stuck with it. Burst our art itself communicates, but our art has to reach people emotionally to communicate anything. So we can't lock ourselves in an attic and paint like live in a castle. We have to reach, we have to be visible. We have to communicate, find common ground with people, connect with people, and that's an any art industry. The bottom line is this type of customer experience mindset is simply another way for us to communicate as artists anytime you sell are in any niche industry that you so Artem, it's always about connection, common ground communication, and working together. What we're doing here is no different. We're just putting that concept into the language of an independent artists selling online. That's the only difference. 13. PEP TALK: My Struggle Story: Let me share some of my inner struggle story with you. For years it was hard for me to embrace fully delivering the customer experience that I have developed and that I teach here in this class, I felt like I lacked control with a print on demand I was sewing. And how that's surfaced for me was a kind of an insecurity about communicating with my customers with confidence and ultimately its surface as me sort of distancing myself from really taking hold of what I could control. Sometimes I was left feeling like I was holding my breath, like my customer was going to get a bad delivery from my print on demand supplier, the quality wouldn't be good or something would happen. And I was wrestling with these feelings and how to manage it long-term. It just seemed like too overwhelming of a puzzle for me to solve. I strongly disliked that feeling that I walked around with because it's not really who I am as a kid, I went all out on my secret. Santa gives every birthday card that I would send out. I drew all over the inside and decorated the envelope. I was really into it. I've always been into delivering a more hand-crafted with love experience with my artwork but with print on demands, I felt like I had to walk this part of myself in an attic and throw away the key. I felt like I couldn't really deliver the same level of customer experience and my customers would get if I was packing and shipping my own products, print on-demand issues are a moving target. There are so many companies usually use more than one company, and every company that we use has their own set of things that there better at and things that they're not so great at. Ultimately, I just stuffed down my inner conflicts about it and kept my fingers crossed them. I print on demand orders would be delivered correctly and that the quality would be perfect. But we all know that with print on demand, we have to be prepared for potential fluctuations in the quality and timeliness of production in time-frame of delivery, potential for misprints and damaged merchandise, I felt that there was a ceiling to the level of customer service that I could consistently provide to my customer. Some point I started to reject this story. It didn't happen all at once. I started to try things, one small thing at a time just to see how things would go with my customers experience, improve, what would be the outcome. I was curious and after awhile I realized I was really into it just like I was into drawing inside all those greeting cards. When I was a kid, I began to make it a habit to continually introduce improvements into my customers experience in different ways. It has really turned into a passion of mine and it feels great to me because it's not only good for my customer community and my overall shop health, but it also allows me to be more authentic, more creative and more imaginative, and how I serve my customers. The kid inside me that loves to share my creativity and a more personal one-on-one way is totally stoked for me. It's gratifying to do a great job giving my customers more of what they want from me and for them to give me the feedback that I get is a measurably amazing. Ultimately, the bottom line now is I have created a shop ecosystem in which I've banished that homogenise automated experience that print on demand shopping typically delivers to its customers. 14. MOVING FORWARD: CONGRATULATIONS! You FINISHED!! I'm so PROUD of you! I hope the info shared in class will help to elevate your Etsy shop experience and, by extension, increase your sales, your repeat sales, build a more robust and enthusiastic customer community who will share their love for your shop, and strengthen your Artist Brand. This may be a new and different mindset and approach for you to think about serving your shop and your customer community. So, number one, be KIND to yourself. Give yourself grace. REGULARLY. As much as it takes time and consistency for you to integrate new practices into your shop, it ALSO takes time and consistency for you to adopt the new systems as well, and build the pathways, and to work things into your system, so you're just quicker and more efficient, all around. You're building a new customer experience, brick by brick, and these things take a little time. So just start small, celebrate every victory, and be kind to yourself. You already know how important reviews and comments are, to ME. I've talked about it A LOT in this course. And I would REALLY appreciate hearing YOURS. If YOU LIKED this class, PLEASE leave a review, and let me know HOW it has helped you, and what parts you are most EXCITED to integrate into your shop! I would LOVE to hear your ideas on what class you would like me to tackle next here on Skillshare. Leaving a comment ALSO helps OTHER Skillshare members, who are curious about the class, 00:01:36.620 --> 00:01:38.270 but want to learn a little bit more about it. So, I'd ALSO appreciate it in THAT way. PLEASE, and THANK YOU. Also, come visit the discussion area, and pop up your questions! I've over there waiting to hear from you, and I am EAGER to support you further. Thank you again so much for watching this class, and for participating. I really look forward to seeing your shop SOAR, and for your shop reviews to go BANANAS and the BEST way, and for your customers to keep COMING BACK to shop with you again and again and AGAIN! Clap Clap Clap Clap! And, if you'd like to get updates for me, please FOLLOW ME on Skillshare. All of my social links are in my Skillshare profile too, and I would love to CONNECT with you on social media. I wish you the BEST SUCCESS with your shop, and I cannot WAIT to see you SOAR. I hope to see you again real soon! Thanks again! Bye! XO, Kathy