PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

getting back to the studio

Greetings from the new PlanetJune studio!

new PlanetJune studio
As you can see, I have a brand new home for all my giant amigurumi – yay!

My new studio is still very much a work in progress. My vision is to set up different stations for all the aspects of PlanetJune – business and crafting – as I have a large space here, and I want to be able to get down to work on whatever I need to do without too much setup.

So far, my sewing station is set up (that was the first priority – sooo many curtains to hem for a brand new house!) and the photography station is just about ready to go:

new PlanetJune studio

My computer station is ready to process new patterns into pretty PDFs:

new PlanetJune studio

(Of course nothing goes as smoothly as planned; I was just about to get back to work when I discovered that the latest Windows update had broken something in my workflow and I can no longer lay out patterns any more using my old software.

This is a good thing really – I’ve been meaning to upgrade to better desktop publishing software for a long time, and this has given me the push to make it happen, so I’m working on developing a new template for PlanetJune patterns. Once it’s ready and I get up to speed with my new software, laying out new patterns and making edits and improvements should be much smoother in future.)

Now, back to today: I’ll give you a proper studio tour at a later date, once all the remaining boxes and piles of stuff have homes and I’ve decorated a bit, but these pics are a little preview of my beautiful space.

new PlanetJune studio

As you can see, I have lots of natural light in my studio (there are 6 windows!) which is going to come in very handy.

Hang on, is that a PlanetJune hoodie you’re wearing there, June? Why yes, it is! Isn’t it cool?

PlanetJune logo hoodie

Rush Order Tees offered to send me a custom hoodie of my own design. I chose a dark grey men’s size small hoodie so I can wear it as a jacket, and I thought that printing my logo in white would look good against the dark grey.

The process was seamless: they have their own designers who optimize your logo or artwork for printing and check that the colours, alignment, etc are perfect. I approved the proof they sent me and they printed and shipped my hoodie within a couple of days.

PlanetJune logo hoodie

Can you see, their designers actually optimized my logo so the ring around my yarn planet is actually a very pale grey instead of the white I originally asked for? It’s a nice touch (and of course I could have requested they change it back to white if I hadn’t liked it).

If you’d like to order some custom apparel too, Rush Order Tees offer t-shirts, hoodies, hats and more. I’m very happy with my hoodie – the quality of the Hanes Ultimate Cotton zip up hoodie is good, and the printing of my logo is clear and crisp. Plus it’s fun to walk around the neighbourhood (the only place I ever go these days…) wearing my own merch 😀

Now, back to setting up my new pattern template, and then I’ll finally be ready to publish a new pattern – it feels like it’s been forever since I was able to do that!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my new studio… More to come 🙂

Comments (10)

Settling in

We’ve moved into our new house! After a stressful and incredibly exhausting couple of weeks getting everything done, we’re all starting to settle in, and it’s wonderful to see design decisions we made months (and years!) ago for our home finally come to life.

Our new house is truly lovely, and I’ve been working hard getting it set up in a way that’ll make sense for the way we live, so we can hopefully stay more organised and really enjoy living here 🙂

There’s been the odd unexpected flaw in my endless plans, such as discovering that almost all my pots and pans didn’t work with my new induction stove (oops…)

all these saucepans and frying pans don't work with my induction stove

I’ve had to give away all the pans in this photo and buy new ones, but I’m looking on the bright side – this is an opportunity to re-buy just the pans I need for the way I cook, instead of having a cluttered cupboard full of pans that are rarely used.

It’s a challenge to play food tetris every day (trying to fit things into the mini fridges!) and figuring out which groceries I have fridge/freezer space to buy, but it’s all part of the new house fun, and at least this is only temporary.

My PlanetJune work is still on the back burner, for the time being. Although I’ve set up most of my office and studio, there’s a layer of random clutter everywhere that’s waiting to find a new home, and pretty much all my creative energy is going into sewing curtains…

sheer curtain hanging in the kitchen window

…and organising my pantry…

organised pantry

…and baking bread…

yummy raisin bread

…and walking for an hour or two every day with Maggie (usually with her best friend Echo)…

Maggie (right) with Echo

…and enjoying the springtime, like this very Canadian sight of a goose family stopping the traffic while they cross the road 🙂

Canada goose family crossing the road

We have ponds and a forest close to our home, so I’m enjoying watching the birds and turtles (and this loopy garter snake I managed to catch with Dave’s phone camera, below).

coiled garter snake

I’m starting to learn a little about our native flora too, and I’ve even picked up my long-neglected camera once or twice – there’s wildlife everywhere at this time of year, so lots of opportunity for nature photos. (Hmmm, maybe I should resume my occasional nature blog posts?)

This ‘homey’ phase I’m in won’t last forever, and once all the curtains are sewn and the house is mostly organised, I should be ready to jump back into some of the pattern ideas I have for PlanetJune.

But, for now, please bear with me as I allow myself to enjoy this time. It feels amazing to have found a real home and to be putting down roots. I finally feel like I’m part of a community, and knowing I have no plans to ever leave here makes it all seem so real, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever lived before.

This is where I belong. 🙂

Comments (5)

I’m moving house!

Summary: I’m moving house next week, and I’ll be mostly offline for the rest of the month (apart from answering customer support emails).


We closed on our new house in January, but haven’t been able to move in yet due to covid-related manufacture/supply delays in our new appliances (something we weren’t informed of until we’d already paid for them in full… )

I was told we’d have our appliances by the start of April, so I gave notice to our landlord and planned for an April move.

The Appliance Saga

This situation has been a comedy of errors. I was notified in March that the fridge we ordered in January was now discontinued, so they offered us the upgraded model instead. It was only two weeks later that they bothered to mention that our new fridge wouldn’t be in stock until… wait for it… August!

What to do?! We couldn’t keep paying for two houses for another four months (assuming the promised August delivery date even happens…), so I decided to proceed with the move and persuaded the appliance company to deliver and install everything else in the meantime.

shiny new stainless steel appliances
Ooh, shiny! Don’t they look fancy?

And, as for the fridge, I’ve bought a mini fridge in the meantime to tide us over:

mini fridge in the space for a full-size fridge
Don’t laugh – my poor little fridge already has an inferiority complex from being in such a large space!

Living like this is going to be a ‘fun’ challenge for the next few months… We’re trying to eat as much fridge and freezer food as we can before we move, to minimise waste. And I’m looking forward to how luxurious it’ll feel when the new full size fridge/freezer finally arrives 😀

COVID Scare Update

Things were moving forwards, until I got an email warning me that I may have been exposed to COVID by one of the appliance installers..! We were all wearing masks, of course, and I tried to stay as far from them as possible in the house while they worked, but it was still a scary prospect. I had to get tested and faced the possibility of having to isolate and postpone the move if I tested positive.

Thank goodness, I dodged the bullet and my test came back negative, so we were back on track…

Move Update

Moving house is exhausting. I thought that a local move would be simple, but I still have to organise and pack, load and unload my little car hundreds of times, and unpack it all at the other end.

My bad knee means that carrying heavy things is not an option, and carrying even light things up and down stairs is a problem for me. (We’re hiring movers for the big things, but we want to get all our personal stuff moved over and organised before move day so we can enjoy living in our new house instead of being surrounded by boxes for weeks…)

It’s coming along, slowly but surely…

PlanetJune office being packed up
Half of the contents of the PlanetJune office/studio – including my full yarn stash – has already left here for the new house 🙂

PlanetJune Update

I have four (or more?) patterns in various stages of completion, but I don’t have the brainspace to finish any of them to my standards right now. So I’m officially taking the rest of April away from PlanetJune to concentrate on getting our forever home set up, and getting our rental home ready to return to the landlord.

(I’ll still be doing my daily tech and admin tasks and responding to customer support emails, of course – running a one-person business means there’s no such thing as true “time off”. So if you need me for anything, don’t worry – I’ll still be here for you, within a day or two.)


And now, I’d better get back to prepping for the move – wish me luck!

I’ll see you on the other side…

Comments (7)

Etsy Advertising: is it worth it?

Have you ever wondered about Etsy advertising? I’ve been selling on Etsy for 14 years, but I’ve never looked into paying for Etsy ads until now. Read on to hear about my Etsy advertising experiment (and maybe save yourself some money on Etsy ads…)

I’m testing out a few new automated marketing options this year, in an attempt to make it easier for people to find PlanetJune and discover all the patterns and tutorials I have to offer. And in case this is useful for you too, I’ll share some of what I discover here.


About Etsy Ads

It’s important to realise that there are two types of Etsy ads – those that are internal and external to Etsy. I’ll briefly explain both so you know what we’re dealing with here.

External Etsy Ads: “Offsite Ads”

These are the ads you see if you search for a crochet pattern on e.g. Google. Lots of patterns sold on Etsy will come up in your Google results, and the pattern seller will pay Etsy a 12-15% commission on top of the usual Etsy fees if you click on the ad for their pattern and then buy it within the next 30 days.

As an Etsy seller, you can opt out of appearing in these ads if you make under $10,000/year via Etsy. I’m over that threshold so I have to participate, but I’ll show you my stats for 2021 (so far) so you can see how it’s working out for me:

Etsy offsite ads

It has actually proven worthwhile to me: yes, I’ve paid Etsy over $100 CAD already this year for the ads (that’s in addition to the usual listing fees, 5% sales commission, and payment processing fees), but I only pay when people actually buy something, and I sold an extra $880 CAD (about $700 USD) of patterns because of those ads, so I can’t complain.

Internal Etsy Ads: “Etsy Ads”

Internal Etsy Ads are the subject of my test. These are the adverts you see if you go to Etsy.com and search for something. The first row of results will show the seller’s name as “Ad by PlanetJune” instead of just “PlanetJune”, and the seller will pay for that prime placement if you click into one of those listings (whether or not you go on to buy the item).

The ads are run by Etsy using a bidding system, so the price the seller pays for that click depends on how much competition there was for that search term, up to a limit of the seller’s maximum remaining daily budget.


My Experiment

I’d read that you should setup your Etsy Ads and then leave them running for at least 30 days before making any changes, so you can monitor what’s effective.

So I decided to run a 30-day experiment, for a budget of $1 per day (the minimum amount you can set), and featuring a mix of my most popular patterns (Succulent Collections 1 & 2, Bearded Dragon, and my Turtle Beach Blanket & Baby Sea Turtle Collection bundle):

Etsy ads experiment

With 30 days, 3 pattern options, and $30 worth of data, this should give me enough of an idea to see what’s working, what’s not, and what I could try for my next test.


Results

As the days progressed, I kept watching my ads to see what was happening. And it didn’t look good. Halfway through the experiment, my results looked like this:

Etsy ads experiment

As shown above, after spending $15 on Etsy ads, I had over 5000 views of my ads, and only 69 clicks. But, of those 69, not even one person went on to buy the pattern.

That’s not a good return, given that it had already cost me $15 in advertising – I’d need to sell at 2-3 items to cover that cost, let alone make a profit.

Before flushing another $15 down the toilet, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into what was going on, and what I found made me give up on the rest of the experiment!


What Went Wrong?

Almost all of my advertising budget was spent on my Succulent Collections listing (that’s not something I had any control over – it’s automated by Etsy), so I just looked at the results from that ad, as it had the most data.

Here’s what buyers were searching for, when Etsy showed my succulent pattern to them:

Etsy ads experiment

The top two results were by far the highest performing in terms of views and clicks, but look what those people were actually searching for:

  • crochet patterns: that’s such a generic term, it’s no surprise that most of the people searching for ‘crochet patterns’ weren’t looking for potted realistic succulent patterns – they could have been looking for blanket patterns, or clothing, or dishcloths…
  • flower pot kit: I’m pretty sure that nobody searching for a flower pot kit was actually looking for a succulent crochet pattern – or anything related to crochet whatsoever.

It’s no wonder that none of these people went on to buy my pattern – Etsy’s targeting for these ads is woefully inadequate, and most of my budget was blown on showing my ads to people who weren’t at all interested in buying my patterns.

After seeing this, I decided to stop my experiment early. Spending another $15 wouldn’t make a difference to my conclusions. My adverts aren’t being shown to the right people, so I’d just be another $15 out of pocket.

(There is still a chance that one of the 69 people who clicked on one of my ads will return and buy the pattern, but it’s been several more days since I stopped the experiment and that hasn’t happened yet – I’m not holding my breath.)

Conclusions

Yes, this was only a small experiment, but I can confidently say that I doubt Etsy ads are a useful marketing tool for most people selling relatively low-priced items such as patterns and other digital downloads, or handmade toys (where the profit margin is already slim, as they are so time-consuming to make).

Not being able to customize your ads at all beyond selecting which items to advertise is a real problem. Your budget can disappear very quickly on people who like your photo but aren’t actually searching for the thing you’re selling, so you pay for their click but there’s no way they’re going to buy your item.

If we could target only specific search terms, or only a specific demographic, or only people who have bought items from a specific category in the past, I might give Etsy ads another go. But, unless Etsy significantly improves the customizability and targeting of their internal ads, I can’t recommend it for anyone with a business remotely similar to mine.

Of course, your results could be different from mine, but I’d recommend you save your hard-earned money for something more likely to pay off!


Have you had any success with Etsy ads? I’d love to know! Please share your experience and tips below 🙂

Comments (5)

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    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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