PlanetJune Craft Blog

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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)

Scaling Amigurumi: a crochet investigation

I’m often asked how to scale one of my amigurumi patterns up or down by a specific amount. It’s hard to answer that without relevant data, so that means it’s time for another crochet experiment – yay!

Want to skip straight to the results? Jump down to the Amigurumi Size Conversion Table.


Method

I made 8 versions of my Tiny Whale pattern, ranging from the largest 25mm hook I own down to the smallest hook I felt I could manage (0.9mm), and choosing the most appropriate yarn size for each hook.

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

Of course, it’s possible to crochet outside this range – massive 40mm hooks exist (or you can crochet using your whole hand instead of a hook!), and some talented people are able to crochet with sewing thread and a 0.4mm hook – but I had to set some limits for my experiment…

The three dark blue whales in my photos mark these limits: largest, smallest, and the standard size (made with worsted weight yarn and a US E/3.5mm hook).

I’ve named all eight sizes so we have something to refer to throughout this post, from largest to smallest (and top to bottom in the photo above):

  1. Extreme Amigurumi
  2. Giant Amigurumi
  3. Mini Giant Amigurumi
  4. Large Amigurumi
  5. Standard Amigurumi – regular amigurumi!
  6. Small Amigurumi
  7. Mini Amigurumi
  8. Micro Amigurumi

The difference in scale is incredible – one stitch of an Extreme Amigurumi whale is larger than an entire Micro Amigurumi whale!

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

And here’s a top-down photo of all 8 sizes (this is a single photo so the scale is exact; the only editing I did was to add the pink spiral for clarity):

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

Look for the three dark blue whales to see the differences in size between the Standard size and the Micro (smallest) and Extreme (largest).  Isn’t that something?!


Calculations

Time to quantify those differences. To get an idea of the scale change, I took four measurements from each of my whales:

  1. the average width of one stitch (sampled over several stitches for higher accuracy)
  2. the average height of one round (sampled over several rounds for higher accuracy)
  3. the overall length of the whale
  4. the width of the whale at its widest part

Then, for each whale, I compared each measurement with the same measurement on my standard sized whale (made with worsted weight yarn and a US E/3.5mm hook). I used the average of the four comparisons, rounded to a nice number, to give me an approximate overall scale factor for each amigurumi size.

There’s a lot of variability here – not only in the numbers I measured from my samples and the accuracy of my measurements, but in the difference between specific yarn and hook combinations and the individual crocheting style of each crocheter – so a rough conversion factor is the best we’re going to get.

My scale factor is not intended to be an accurate number, but a rough idea of the size difference you can expect from scaling up or down.


Results: Amigurumi Size Conversion Table

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune
Pictured above are the main amigurumi sizes with the hooks used to crochet them (L-R): Micro, Mini, Small, Standard, Large, Mini Giant, Giant, Extreme

In the table below, for each amigurumi size I’ve given the yarn weight and hook you’ll need to make that size, and its approximate scale factor compared with standard amigurumi (the row marked in bold in the table below).

Amigurumi Size Yarn Hook1 Scale Factor
Micro2 crochet thread #30;
pearl cotton #12
0.9mm (14) 30%
Mini crochet thread #20;
pearl cotton #8
1.4mm (8) 40%
Small sport (#2) – DK (#3) 2.25-2.75mm
(B-C)
80%
Standard worsted (#4) 3.5mm (E) 100%
Large 2 strands worsted (#4);
1 strand bulky (#5)
5mm (H) 150%
Mini Giant super bulky (#6) 8mm (L) 240%
Giant 2 strands super bulky (#6);
1 strand jumbo (#7)4
15mm (P/Q-19) 360%
Extreme3 6 strands super bulky #6;
1 strand jumbo (#7)4
25mm 650%
Notes:
  1. As hook size names can vary between brands, I’ve given the mm size first, followed by the common (US) size name. The best hook size for you will vary depending on the exact yarn you choose and how tightly you crochet – the hook sizes given here are good starting points, but you should choose an appropriate hook for your project, no matter the scale of the amigurumi:
    • If your stitches stretch open too much and the stuffing is clearly visible, reduce the hook size.
    • If you cannot insert the hook into your previous stitches, increase the hook size.
  2. Micro Amigurumi refers to any extremely small amigurumi, so you may also find ‘micro amigurumi’ made with sewing thread and a 0.4-0.6mm hook – those could be much smaller than the sample I measured, so the scale factor would also be smaller.
  3. Extreme Amigurumi refers to any extremely large amigurumi, so you may also find ‘extreme amigurumi’ made with unplied roving and a 40mm hook (or hand-crocheted with no hook) – those could be much larger than the sample I measured, so the scale factor would also be larger.
  4. Jumbo #7 weight is a catch-all term for any yarn thicker than super bulky, so these yarns can range widely in weight, with recommended hook sizes of between 15mm and 40mm! For Giant Amigurumi, you’ll need a jumbo yarn that recommends using a 15-19mm hook; for Extreme Amigurumi you’ll need a jumbo yarn that recommends using at least a 25mm hook.

How to Use the Size Conversion Table

Note: There are many factors that affect the exact size of an amigurumi. As you can see from my worsted weight yarn comparison, even using the same hook and pattern with different worsted weight yarns can result in a remarkable range in size. (And that doesn’t account for other factors: the differences between our hook styles; how tall we each draw up our loops; our tension…)

So please be aware that the scale factor in my table is only a rough estimate. This isn’t an exact science; crochet is handmade, after all!

Reading the Scale Factor

I’ve given the scale factor as a percentage difference from standard size (100%), so, for example, 650% (for Extreme Amigurumi) means the amigurumi will be 6.5 times larger than standard (650/100).

How Large will my Amigurumi Be?

To find out roughly how large your amigurumi will be at a different scale, look at the standard size in the pattern, and find the scale factor that corresponds to the hook and yarn you want to use.

final size = [starting size] x [scale factor] / 100

So, for a 4″ long standard amigurumi, converting it to Extreme Amigurumi scale (650%) means:

final size = 4 x 650 / 100 = 26″

Resizing To a Specific Size

To find your scale factor, look at the standard size in the pattern, and the size you want your amigurumi to be.

scale factor (%) = [desired size] / [starting size] x 100

So, for a 6″ tall amigurumi that you’d like to reduce to 3″ tall:

scale factor = 3 / 6 x 100 = 50%

Then find the closest scale factor from my table to find the hook and yarn you should use.

Resizing in Between the Options

If you’d like to go for a scale in between two of my options, look at the closest size option on either side and choose a yarn weight and hook size that lie in between the two.

Example 1: Half Size (50%)
From the table, you can see that Mini Amigurumi is 40% and Small Amigurumi is 80%, so you’ll want to choose yarn and hook sizes between those listed for those two sizes, i.e. a yarn weight in between size 20 crochet thread and sport (#2) yarn, and a hook size between 1.4 and 2.25mm.

  • As a starting point, I’d try a size 10 or 5 crochet thread, or a super fine (#1) or lace (#0) yarn, and a 1.6-1.8mm hook.

Example 2: Double Size (200%)
From the table, you can see that Large Amigurumi is 150% and Mini Giant Amigurumi is 240%, so you’ll want a yarn weight in between bulky (#5) and super bulky (#6), and a hook size between 5mm (H) and 8mm (L).

  • As a starting point, I’d try holding 3 strands of worsted weight (#4) yarn together, or 1 strand of bulky (#5) and 1 of worsted (#4),  and a 6mm (J) hook.

resizing amigurumi by scaling up and down, by planetjune

So there you have it – a way to make amigurumi in any size from extremely small to extremely large! You can use my table of results as:

  • A starting point for figuring out how big your amigurumi will be when you use a different yarn and hook
  • A reference for the yarn and hook sizes to choose to make an amigurumi of a specific size

I hope you’ll find this conversion table as helpful as I will!


How to Go Giant!

Learn all my upsizing tips and techniques (including patterns for the giant eyes!) in my ebook The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi:

The Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi ebook by June Gilbank - available in right-handed and left-handed versions

This is the perfect guide for all your Mini Giant, Giant and Extreme Amigurumi – every stage of making a super-sized amigurumi is slightly different from what you might expect, and I’ve designed this book as a comprehensive reference guide that covers everything from the absolute basics to tips for fixing problems and making complex amigurumi.


Do you find my tutorials helpful? If so, please consider making a contribution towards my time so I can continue to create clear and concise tutorials for you:

Thank you so much for your support! Now click below for loads more crochet video and photo tutorials (and do let me know what else you’d like me to cover in future tutorials…)

See more helpful PlanetJune crochet tips and technique tutorials

 

Comments (4)

free pattern: Crochet Phone Stand

If you, like me, tend to spend a little too much time on your phone, you’re going to love my new pattern!

I use my phone for so many things these days – working, reading, playing games, video chats, shopping, watching videos – and it gets uncomfortable to hold after a while. To save my hands, I thought it’d be fun to try to recreate the old phone stand I sewed almost a decade ago, but this time in crochet, with dimensions better suited to today’s larger devices.

And look what I came up with! Crochet is the perfect medium for a stand like this: one piece, no sewing, basic stitches and techniques, and it makes a perfect support for a smartphone:

crochet phone stand by planetjune

Isn’t it great?! it’s quick and easy to crochet, and makes a handy addition to any desk or bedside table. With only yarn and a little stuffing, you can make a stand that’s sturdy enough to support any phone (or a small tablet) in portrait or landscape mode.

crochet phone stand by planetjune

This pattern is a blank canvas for any yarn choice: get colourful with a variegated yarn, go for a subtle neutral shade, choose your favourite colour, or match your room decor.

I especially love how my variegated phone stand turned out: the colours pooled into diagonal stripes, and because either side of the stand can be the top, I can flip it over to get a different colour pattern!

crochet phone stand by planetjune

I’d recommend using a cotton yarn for your phone stand as it gives a neat smooth finish, but you can use acrylic if you prefer. This is a great pattern to use those striped or ombre cottons that look lovely in the skein but may not crochet up the way you’d expect! (In case you were about to ask, the specific yarn I used for the above sample is Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Stripes in Beach Ball Blue.)

crochet phone stand by planetjune

Amigurumi-style crochet gives this stand enough stiffness to support a mobile device with just regular fibrefill stuffing, which also makes the stand light and portable. You can even comfortably rest it on your tummy so you can watch videos while lying in bed, if you’re so inclined…

As you can see below, the phone stand is also big enough to support my 7″ tablet, which is very handy for video calls or watching YouTube!

crochet phone stand by planetjune

As I like to reward people who choose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of the Crochet Phone Stand pattern also includes tips for stuffing, additional instructional photos, including left-handed photos, and instructions for resizing the pattern to fit a larger tablet or other device. As always, the pattern is free for you to use online, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version with the bonuses.

Go to the free Crochet Phone Stand pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Crochet Phone Stand pattern >>

Not ready to make one yet? Add this pattern to your Ravelry queue:

I hope you’ll find this pattern useful!

Comments

exciting news!

You may have noticed that I didn’t have a new pattern for you in January. I actually have four different crochet patterns in progress at the moment, but everything feels a bit scattered, because I have some very exciting news: we just bought a house!

We’ve been waiting for a long time to get to this point. Almost two years ago, when we first signed the contract, our little plot of land sat somewhere in here…

location of new house

This time last year, we got to make hundreds of design decisions for the interior and exterior of our house – colours, flooring, lighting, bathroom suites, kitchen cabinets – it was endless.

colour chips for new house

And then, nothing, for a very long time. I was expecting this – multiple people had warned me that new house builds always run late, and the builders had emailed me last year to let me know there would be additional delays due to the pandemic, so I was expecting at least several months of delays.

A couple of weeks ago, we discovered that we wouldn’t be able to attend our own home inspection because of the lockdown, and then suddenly the original closing date was approaching and, although we hadn’t seen it for ourselves, everything was apparently going to be finished on time! That caught me by surprise, so I had a mad scramble talking to banks and lawyers and trying to get the money in place in time to close…

And then it was done, and we held the keys to our new home!

the new house!

Yay!

But this isn’t the end of the story. There’s a lot more that goes into buying a brand new house than I’d anticipated: lots of unfinished and imperfect things that need to be identified and reported so they can be fixed, a full house-worth of appliances and window coverings to choose and buy and get delivered and installed, and all of this while we’re under a stay-at-home order in Ontario, which means a fun trip to IKEA to pick up all the other essentials we need is not an option at the moment.

So please bear with me – there definitely will be new PlanetJune patterns coming soon, but I need time and energy so I can focus on completing them, and both of those are in short supply right now. My ideas are tripping over each other to get out of my head (hence 4 patterns on the go at once…) but I need some calm and concentration to turn my notes into patterns you’ll enjoy.

Right now, things are both exciting and anticlimactic at the same time. It’ll be a long time before we can actually move into our new house, and there’s so much that I need to do for it in the meantime. So many decisions to make! It’s all quite overwhelming.

But I know it’ll all be worth it in the end – one day, all the pieces will have been slotted into place and everything will be ready for us to start enjoying it. And I can’t wait for Dave and Maui and Maggie and I to be settled in our lovely new home!

Comments (21)

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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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