Shopify vs Etsy: Where Should You Sell Your Laser Cut Products?

Etsy vs Shopify

If you’re planning to selling your laser cut products online online, one of the bigger decisions you would need to make is the channel. Should you sell in your own website under the banner of your own brand or on a known marketplace? Both platforms essentially deliver on the same objective – to get your product out in the market and to get you started on earning sales revenues.

How each one performs really depends on a number of factors. In this blog, we’ve covered how to enhance photos of your laser cut products and how to write engaging product descriptions. These may be factors to help your product sell better in both platforms.

What’s more important to ask is how each platform aligns with your business goals. Are you trying to test the waters with your products to see how the market will react to it? Then Etsy would be a good option for this. Are you trying to make a name for yourself and grown your own brand? Then Shopify is the best venue for such.

Let’s dig a little deeper with three points comparison that most online sellers are concerned with: exposure, customization and price.

Comparing Etsy and Shopify:

  • Exposure – Etsy is already a massive brand with its own following. According to Etsy, the creative marketplace has 24 million buyers around the world is shopping for unique items from them. Shopify, on the other hand, is a platform that lets you set up your own ecommerce store. Meaning, you are starting as a new brand that may not have the same recognition as other big brand names. This also means you need to exert extra effort on your part to deliver traffic to your own website. In this regard, Etsy is the clear winner.
  • Customization – Etsy doesn’t give you much control over how your product will be displayed – except of course for the photos and the descriptions of the products. If you’re pretty savvy with web design and have preferences over the way your products are displayed, then Shopify may be the better option for you.
  • Pricing – Now this is the crux in the decision making for most online sellers in either platforms. The difference in pricing depends on how much you will be selling. There is no membership fee in Etsy but it does cost $0.20 to list an item for 4 months or until it sells. However, there is a 3.5% fee on the sales price. Shopify has a three-tiered pricing option: Basic is at $29 with a 2% transaction fee, Shopify is at $79 with a 1% transaction fee and Advanced Shopify is priced at $299 with a 0.5% transaction fee. So at the on-set, you already see that the basic difference is in your upfront cost. Etsy charges very little to get your products listed while you need to spend more on Shopify. Calculating overall cots will depend on how much is sold. Low volume businesses actually save more on Etsy but when the orders start coming in, expect to spend more with the high transaction cost. We found this article comparing fees for Etsy vs Shopify Fees based on volume and item price: Shopify vs Etsy Fees

Etsy and Shopify each have strong offerings to laser cut makers who want to start selling their products online. If you want to start building a following or trial your business idea, we suggest going for Etsy. If you’re already confident about your sales and think it’s time to level up on building your own brand, then make a move towards Shopify. There is no right or wrong answer when asking which is the better platform for selling your laser cut items, it’s really just a matter of strategy.

How to Successfully Sell Laser Cut Products Online

selling laser cut products online

Custom laser cut products can be a huge hit if you find the right market for it. While many brick-and-mortar stores and even big box retailers might love to put your products on their stands, the cost of selling through these channels are not always the most profitable. Your margin may shrink depending on what these merchants charge per sale — these may be based on a commission or a consignment fee. Starting your physical store for selling is even more costly. There is one channel where you can find success without a lot of fees or overhead costs eating into your profits: online selling.

Benefits of Online Selling: 

Aside from the revenue factor, other benefits of selling online include:

  1. Accessibility – Essentially, an online store is open 24/7 and anyone, anywhere in the world can access it to buy from you. On the flip side, you as a seller, can operate the business anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access and a reliable fulfilment partner like Ponoko.
  2. Measurability – There are many web analytics and ecommerce tracking systems now available to give you access to information you need to make smart decisions on the fly. Find out everything you need to know about your user demographics, website sessions, conversions, cart abandonment, time on site and more — data which is actionable and can help you achieve even more sales.
  3. Scalablity – When you know which products sell best, you can easily increase stock levels, direct marketing efforts towards specific products, diversify your product range or cross-sell and upsell as necessary.
  4. Flexibility – Making changes to your online store is usually very easy. This may mean adding deals of the day, putting products up for sale or on clearance, adding new products, changing prices and more. Unlike physical retail stores, there is no need to print expensive display materials to show your potential buyers these changes.
  5. Visibility – Online marketing and search engine optimization can give your marketing budget more mileage. You can do very specific targeting of your market — from geo-location to interest. With your store already being accessible from anywhere in the world, the right marketing investment can give you even more visibility to an audience that can actually convert into sales.

There you have it, five amazing benefits you can get from selling online. We’d love to hear from successful online sellers about their experience. Please share your experience in the comment below.

 

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #44

Laser Cut and Etched Family-Centric Promotional Items

laser cut family birthday calendar

Promotional items that have a personal touch can become valued trinkets for the recipient, and you can’t get much more personal than with a focus on family. The diverse capabilities of laser cutting and laser etching make customized family-centric products quick and easy to achieve. As we’ll see in the following examples, materials can range from the familiar to the experimental using a number of different techniques.

Pictured above is a laser cut family birthday calendar from Zetka in Poland, who provide options for custom text and different materials and finishes. The family tree is also a popular theme, with an interpretation in ply from Dansky Arts & Crafts (below, left) and hand-cut paper from Twenty Fingers (below, right).

laser-cut-family-collage-1

Continuing the theme of family connections, the puzzle pendant necklace pictured below from AJ’s Custom Jewelry is hand-stamped, but the same idea will translate nicely across to laser cutting and etching. The focus is all on the names of each generation with Jimagination Creations’ text-based family tree (below right).
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Moving from text to images, the beautifully simple use of silhouettes from Cheek By Jowl are one of many versions on the same theme offered by these clever designers.

laser cut family silhouette portrait

 

Photographic images can make for striking laser etched family portraits. The engraved wood example from Twiki Concept (below, left) has so much more presence than an everyday photo print, and the set of laser etched leather coasters from Sweenks (below, right) enable the family photos to become a useful everyday product.

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Puzzles are another great way to make use of photos; many print services provide custom puzzles as an option, and it really isn’t difficult to go one step further to make custom laser etched puzzles from family portraits. Pictured below is a puzzle laser cut and etched in ply from Factory eNova. Learn how to make a custom laser cut puzzle with this handy guide.

laser cut family enova

The final examples are a little more experimental. For those with extra time or just the urge to be creative, an organic laser cut puzzle portrait such as this one from MoaDesu (below, left) lends itself well to being finished with a coat of bright paint or even laser cut from different materials. Food products are not a part of the selection in the Ponoko Personal Factory, but it’s still interesting (and fun!) to see the exploration from Coby Unger (below, right) where famous portraits have been laser etched onto Matzah, a crisp flatbread traditionally eaten at Passover in the Jewish community.

laser-cut-family-collage-4

Adding a personal touch by featuring families and family activities in laser cut products can lead to some really creative outcomes that are more likely to be retained (and maybe even cherished) by the recipient. Let us know if you’ve seen other great ideas for laser cut family themed products in the comments below; and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Cashing In on the Wedding Industry: Photo Booth Props

How Others are Finding Success Making and Selling Laser Cut Photo Booth Props

laser cut wedding photobooth props evi 1

Photo booths at weddings are an increasingly popular way to engage guests with the spirit of the celebration, and with good reason. The photobooth provides a way to have a little carefree fun, all while creating lasting memories on the happy couple’s special day.

No photobooth is taken seriously unless it has a good selection of props; and through laser cutting, it can be easier than ever before to make high-quality custom props for wedding guests to use in their photo session. Let’s take a look at a few of the fun ways people have used laser cutting to produce photobooth props for sale on Etsy.

Laser Cut Text Props

Pictured above is a collection of laser cut text props by Evi Amaira Custom Decor. Laser cut text works really well in this application because it is very easy to create relatively complex shapes, as can be seen in the fancy fonts used here. Two other approaches to text are shown below, where the messages have been laser etched into the timber surface and then finished to make the text really pop.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-text

 

In these exaples (above) from Studio 38 Torquay, the text has been laser etched and then filled with enamel paint. The surface is then coated with a clear matte varnish that prevents flash glare from ruining the photos. Here is a closer look at the laser etched text with enamel paint:

laser cut wedding photobooth props studio38torquay-2a

Laser Cut Object Props

For those whose actions speak louder than words, clowning around in front of the camera often comes naturally – but for others, it can help to have fun graphic object props at hand. The laser cut wedding photo booth prop sets from Evi Amaira (below, left) and Styline (below, right) can help to create that distinguished, formal feel or perhaps add a little spice to the party.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-objects

Laser Cut Photo Booth Frames

Another great idea is to go one step further and supply a laser cut photo booth frame for guests to pose with! The example on the left from PhotoBoothProp is in the style of a polaroid print, and the wood has been painted in preparation for dry-erase markers so guests can personalise their messages to the happy couple. Featured on the right, another approach to the photo frame prop from Scrapadabra includes the names of the matrimonial couple highlighted in ornate script.

laser-cut-wedding-photobooth-props-frame

Photo booths are a lot of fun and set up an opportunity for wedding guests to share their joy with the happy couple in creative ways. Using your Ponoko Personal Factory and some clever laser cutting, the wedding photo both experience can truly become a dynamic memory maker for that special day.

 

New Materials to Inspire Innovation: Matte-Finished Clear and Two-Color Acrylics

New acrylics for laser cutting

We love acrylics! And we’re releasing two this month. Clear acrylic with matte finish is new in the US while our popular two-color black-on-white is now available in New Zealand. There are a lot of great projects you can do with this flexible material.

Clear Acrylic With Matte Finish

This is a cool thermoplastic that has a matte finish on one side and glossy finish on the other. When you order this material for a project, by default the material will be placed matte side up so the laser engraving will be on the matte side. If you wish to engrave the gloss side instead, please let us know via a note in the shipping instructions.

laser cut acrylic

 

Here’s a great example of the material laser cut as a business card:

Clear acrylic with matte finish laser cut as a business card

 

Two-Color Acrylic – Black on White

This two color acrylic has a thin layer of matte black plastic on the top – engraving reveals the white acrylic underneath for a dramatic effect. The example above is a card wallet made with this cool acrylic.

two color acryic for laser cutting

How do you plan on using these amazing acrylics? Let us know in the comments below.

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #43

Marketing to the Travelling Executive

travel-laser-engraved-usa-passport-wallet-1024x680

When business executives and head honchos hit the road to seal the next big deal, they love to have all the right corporate gear. Let’s take a look at how laser cut giveaways and laser cut corporate gift ideas can smooth out even the bumpiest of business junkets.

Personalized Laser Cut Travel Accessories

Travel accessories are a great way to use laser cutting to customize products with company branding or personalized info. In the above example from Laser Cutting Lab, a leather passport wallet with laser etched details not only protects this important document, it also sets the exec apart from the other travellers in the departure lounge.

laser cut luggage tags

Briefcases, suit bags, backpacks and checked items all need to be easily identified. The scope for creative laser cut solutions is broad and varied when it comes to luggage tags. The two examples above show how laser etched details can be used effectively, and also how the shape of the tag itself can reference travel-themed forms. Luggage tags can be produced using most of the familiar laser cutting/etching materials such as leather, acrylic, ply and sheet metals.

travel-laser-cut-juicer_009_product_page

For the health-conscious travelling executive, laser cut kitchen tools are a novel way to keep that hard working body fuelled up. Imagine squeezing your own cup of fresh OJ before that important meeting! This travel friendly laser cut orange juicer (above) disassembles and packs flat, perfect for the open road.

Work hard, play hard… travel games are a great way to clear the head from all those work stresses while keeping the mind active. The portability of laser cut chess sets like the timber and leather Got Chess (pictured above) is just one example of how traditional board games can easily slot in to the briefcase or day pack.

travel-laser-cut-leather-ipad-sketchbook-case-side-1024x680

Document wallets, briefcase inserts, tablet and notebook holders can all be laser cut from leather and then stitched together. This method of construction gives a hand-crafted artisan look, and will balance nicely with any custom laser etched corporate details that are included in the design. In the example above from Laser Cutting Lab, slots for all of the essential business tools are neatly laid out in a stylish folding leather case.

laser cut felt pouch and etch test

Another consideration is to use laser cut felt, as in the example above from David Sjunnesson. Pictured on the right is a sample sheet showing how different engraving settings will look when using felt from the Ponoko Personal Factory.

Laser cutting makes it so easy to add custom details to executive travel gear, made even more accessible thanks to the relatively simple design requirements of products like luggage tags and basic document sleeves. Let us know if you’ve seen some great ideas for laser cut executive travel products in the comments below, and for more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Laser Cut Success Stories: Akujin Corps Etsy Store

How to quit your day job and find success with niche laser cut products 

akujincorps - laser cut glasses

Robert Overstreet was once a mild mannered IT consultant with a passion for cosplay on the side, but thanks to some clever design thinking and effective use of the Ponoko Personal Factory, his Akujin Corps Etsy store has turned into a serious full-time business.

Akujin Corps specialises in laser cut acrylic glasses for cosplay enthusiasts. The designs are inspired by the dynamic characters from various anime, comics and other media – a wildly creative culture where everyday boundaries blur with fantastical action and adventure.

Let’s take a look at Robert’s journey and reflections on his laser cutting experience with Ponoko.

akujincorps-laser-cut-glasses-collage-2

How did you get started as a designer and seller on Etsy?

To be honest I do not recall how I found Etsy. I expect it was mentioned somewhere while looking for alternatives to eBay.

What was the inspiration behind your product?

I started going to conventions in the mid-1990s. As cosplay started becoming more common over the next few years I noticed a lot of Vash cosplayers did not have glasses or had poor replicas. I searched online and found the official movic replicas selling on eBay for $150-$300 and the poor replicas selling at about $90. I bought up a few pairs of similar looking glasses and modified the arms and started selling them for $20 on eBay. I did not make a lot, but I made enough to afford buying more glasses to modify as well as my anime, comics and games.

What led to you try Ponoko?

Before I found Ponoko my products were very limited. I mostly worked with existing products that I purchased modified, then resold.

In 2012 I discovered Ponoko. Now I could design and cut acrylic and started making unique designs instead of modifying existing products. When business started picking up in late 2013 I had to choose between working full-time in IT for the county or my glasses. Certain circumstances came up and I put in my two weeks notice with the county and have been making glasses since.
akujincorps-laser-cut-glasses-collage-3

What are the top 3 things you love about Ponoko? Why?

The simple design requirements, the great customer service, and a fairly decent number of materials to choose from.

The design requirements are easy to understand and work with in inkscape which is free. Files can be created saved edited without expensive software or conversion.
It is not unusual for me to receive product and let it sit for a few days before I need to assemble a piece from the lastest Ponoko delivery. Sometimes I find my acrylic parts are damaged under the original paper by the manufacturer. When I contact Ponoko about this issue or other issues like product broken in the mail or cut in the wrong color which both very rarely occur, I never have any trouble getting in touch with Ponoko’s customer service who quickly arrange for a replacement. The number of materials to choose from in acrylic alone is pretty great. I have only run into a few instances where color limitation was an issue and in those cases Ponoko was willing to help me with a custom order.

How did you make (and sell) your glasses before Ponoko? How is this different from your Ponoko process?

From 1996 until 2012 I worked with existing products modifying them to create new products. I believe I had about 17 unique products until I started working with Ponoko. After the discovery of Ponoko in late 2012 I went from making a few different products to hundreds of unique items in less than a year.

akujincorps---laser-cut-glasses-2

How long does it take to go from: (i) idea to design; (ii) design to prototype; (ii) prototype to product; (iv) product to first customer (or media attention)? How do these 4 speeds compare to doing this without Ponoko?

With Ponoko, From idea to design takes an hour or two, and design to prototype takes about a week. If the design works out I also end up with a product at this point. If the design does not work out I am looking at another hour or two fixing issues with the design and another week waiting for the revised design to be delivered. Once I have a new product listed on Etsy I usually have my first order within a week. Without Ponoko or a similar service my business does not exist.

What advice do you want to give to other designer/sellers?

Do not take criticism and feedback personally, but do not let people walk all over you either. Customer service is important but you should expect to be treated respectfully by your customers as well.

akujincorps-laser-cut-glasses-collage-1

So now that you know the story behind Akujin Corps, you can find the current range of laser cut cosplay glasses on Etsy.

If you’re inspired by Robert’s success to try laser cutting your own products, head over to the Ponoko Personal Factory and start making today.

 

Exciting New Materials: 3 Glitter Acrylics and Blonde Bamboo Ply

A little glitz and glamour is coming your way, USA. We’ve just released 3 glitter acrylics that look amazing for jewelry projects or anything that needs a little sparkle to standout.

Acrylics are hard and stiff plastics that can be cut with precision for small jewelry like earrings or tableware, electronics enclosures, conference badges, signage, book covers, POS displays and more. They’re non-toxic and even recyclable in some areas.

Acrylic Glitter Black

This striking new acrylic can give extra depth to your projects. The transparent black acrylic has flecks of black glitter that reflect light. It a great option for keychains such as in the example we have.

Acrylic Glitter Silver

This transparent silver acrylic has flakes of silver in it that catch the light and make it shimmer — making it feel just a little bit more special than regular acrylic material. It really looks lovely as a pair of posh earrings.

 

Acrylic Glitter Gold

This transparent acrylic with specks of gold glitter look amazing on different projects. You can use it for your wedding products such as cake toppers or as a phone cover for that extra bling.

 

One of our most popular materials – the blonde bamboo – is now available in New Zealand.

Blonde Bamboo

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We’ve been seeing a lot of cool projects getting made with this material. Here’s an example from Iluxo that we really love.

blonde bamboo ply

 

Got any ideas for what you want to make with these new materials? Tell us about it in the comment section.

Creating Engaging Product Descriptions for your Laser Cut Products

product descriptions

Another factor that can help you sell your laser cut products better is your product descriptions. This is goes hand in hand with your product photos. An engaging product description lets your target audience understand what you are selling and why they should buy it.

Tips To Get You Started On Writing Engaging Product Descriptions:

  • Know your audience – write for the audience that you are selling to. If you are selling items that are technical, provide specifications that would be meaningful to them. If you are selling fun items, make your copy resonante this.
  • Talk about features  and benefits – most people who write about their products only talk about the features such as size, material, etc and forget to focus on the benefits of the products that they are selling. Always answer the question “what’s in it for me?” for your audience.
  • Use bullet points – When talking about the key features of your product, using bullet points makes it easier for your audience to digest your content when they are just skimming through different products.
  • Skip the jargon – Tech speak or jargon limited to a specific industry may make you sound more credible but it is limiting your audience and therefore, limiting your ability to sell your product. Remember, if your potential buyer doesn’t understand what it is, they most likely won’t buy it.
  • Tell a story – When you’re selling online, people don’t see your products and they can’t touch it — so that means there might be a gap in that emotional connection with your product. Let their imagination fill in this gap by using mini stories to talk about your product. Tell them how you came up with the item. If it’s a BBQ item you are selling, make them image that they will become the hero of the BBQ with what you are selling. If it’s a beautiful accessory, talk to them about a glamourous night and standing out at a party because of your product.

The important thing to remember when you are writing your product descriptions is that you are talking to actual people. They want to know more about your product and how it will benefit them. Have you tried writing product descriptions before? Do you have tips to share? Comment them below! We’d love to hear from our makers, too.

Etsy Wholesale will relaunch its Open Call in August. Are you ready to pitch?

Now in its second year, Etsy Wholesale’s Open call brings together independent designers and buyers from top retail stores in the US. Members of the wholesale community are invited to apply and post their pitch to Instagram by tagging @EtsyWholesale and #EtsyOpenCall along with one of the participating retailers.  Up to 50 selected designers will be given a chance to pitch their line to a panel of retailers at Etsy’s Brooklyn headquarters in August.

What’s on the line is a chance to get huge purchase orders to see your products in stores during the busy holiday season. During the Open Call, the retailers will be looking at samples, giving critiques and suggestions and more importantly, placing their orders for their stores. Participating retailers include big names such as Cooper Hewitt, Paper Source, giggle, Macy’s and Whole Foods.

During the event, HGTV Magazine’s Lifestyle Director Jodi Kahn will award one seller with the “Designer to Watch” title and feature their work on hgtvmagonline.com. Three finalists for the title will be invited to present their products at HGTV Magazine’s 3rd Annual Blogger Block Party in New York City.

To find out more about Etsy Wholesale’s Open Call event, visit: https://www.etsy.com/wholesale/opencall

Are you ready to pitch your products? Ponoko is your personal factory and we can help you supply that purchase order if you win.