A couple months ago, I blogged about how I was doing a Heartsy feature for Wonder Forest. It was a good day, and I was so happy with all the sales and exposure I got. It's now 3 months later and I wanted to give an update on how everything went now that my vouchers are soon to expire.
In all honesty, I don't think I would do it again... for a couple of reasons.
1. The "VIP" program kind of screws you over. My deal was $14 for a $28 gift certificate, which means VIP members got $38 certificates instead (they get $10 more). At first, I was fine with this number because my material costs aren't really all that high. However, when the majority of my voucher sales turned out to be from VIP members, I definitely started to question things and became uneasy about selling my stuff so cheap... and I'll explain why below...
2. Shipping costs. Since Heartsy requires you to include the shipping costs along with the voucher amount, I was only actually making half of the deal amount. My profit was $14 on each gift certificate sold. However, shipping is pretty much always $7-$8, so here I was making only $6 profit on my creations... and that's also not including Etsy fees, Paypal Fees, and shipping supplies. So when someone was getting a $38 item for only $6, yeah it was starting to get to me... a lot. That's not all though. Occasionally, the cheapest shipping method to certain areas would be like $13.50 (Vancouver, I'm looking at you...). You do the math. I just gave away free product. Thankfully, I didn't go with Heartsy's initial suggestion of $9 for a $21 voucher... my profit would have been eaten completely up by shipping fees.
3. Stocking became a bitch. I literally had to completely slow down on stocking up my Etsy shop in fear of giving away free product again. Thankfully I had my other shop to keep me going. Sometimes I spend hours on a certain plush and price it accordingly. When someone comes along and swoops up that item with a Heartsy voucher... well, it's just not the nicest feeling in the world.
4. Time limits. This is something I wish Heartsy would change asap. The shortest amount of time you can have your vouchers valid for is 3 months. (edit: apparently Heartsy changed the duration and their seller signup page now says "Heartsy vouchers will be valid for a period of 1 month after the online promotion ends.") Well, I am on my 3rd month now and I still have more than a handful of people who haven't redeemed their vouchers. I also have people complaining that there is not much left in my Etsy shop. Sorry to be harsh, but that's probably what happens when you wait too long and stuff is bought up already... and no, I won't be restocking until this deal ends. Waiting for this to be over is frustrating. I hate wondering what the next person is going to snag for free.
5. Custom orders had to stop on Etsy. I love doing custom orders for people. However, they take more time and I actually have to rearrange my schedule to sit down and make them. When someone would purchase a custom listing or a MADE TO ORDER listing with their Heartsy voucher, it just wasn't worth my time. I was setting aside a few hours in a day to create a completely custom plush for only $7. Minus fees.
6. The value of your work. Lastly, I thought about this a lot and after reading some other Heartsy stories, I have to agree. While it is nice to go on a website and get an awesome deal for a product, when it comes to the handmade community, I don't think it's that great of an idea. Sites like Heartsy actually help devalue your work. They are promoting your items at 70% off, when your items shouldn't have to be 70% off. They are handmade. They take countless amounts of time to create. So I have to wonder if deal sites like this are actually hurting artisans. Generally, handmade shops sell the same type of product throughout their storefronts. If you had a customer buy one of your items at 70% off, what would make them want to come back to your store and buy something else again at full price? I am just not sure the repeat customer value is there.
(SIDE NOTE: Heartsy made $400 from my sale. No shipping fees, no transaction fees. Is this fair?)
Heartsy wasn't all that bad. I did get more exposure and a lot of the people actually purchased things that cost more than their voucher, which was awesome and made up for the loss a little. In the end, I turned a profit but with the annoyances, I just wouldn't want to do it again. If they figure out a better way to do the whole VIP program thing, it could be better. It would also be better if it were integrated with Etsy somehow so that you're not paying the Etsy fees on the total item cost, but rather the amount the person actually paid. (Why should I have to pay percentage fees on a $40 item when the buyer only paid $2?)
So there you have it my friends. If you were debating submitting your stuff to Heartsy, you have my two cents. If you had your own Heartsy sale, how was your experience.... honestly?