Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Developing an idea for a new perfume... and how I'm going to sell it

     I've mentioned the Etsy store I've been setting up as a research project. Regardless of what you may think of Etsy, for me it has providing some inspiration and giving me new energy. We can all get in a rut at times and, by forcing yourself to interact with a platform entirely new to you (to me, in this case!), fresh insights and ideas get pounded into your head and, if you stick with the program, you find old skills refreshed and new skills acquired.

     Marketing online can seem overwhelming, even if you've had marketing experience, but Etsy guides you – and requires you! – to provide the minimal essential information needed for your goods to be purchased; so that a sale can be made from your store. Beyond the minimum requirements, Etsy prompts you to add additional content and links to your store to make it search friendly for both Etsy and Google. Merchandising tips help you make your store attractive to visitors.

     The inspiration and energy I mentioned above came as I began to develop my Etsy store. I was reminded that I should be taking those same promotional and merchandising steps on my own website and through my social media. I felt like I was being mentored by Etsy because, when you're a small – or very small – business, you find yourself pulled in multiple directions and too often you're pulled away from the most important tasks by small tasks that, aside from making your feel you've "done something," don't do much for your sales or profit.

     While I'm not eager to get back into the business of shipping merchandise – daily trips to the post office with tubs of orders – doing the setup work on Etsy energized me. All of what can be found on my Etsy store can be found elsewhere. The books are available at both Amazon and My fragrances are all available at But it struck me that my Etsy handle, "Unnatural Aromas" – a name I came up with on the spur of the moment, wasn't synchronized with the site. This prompted me to take two steps. (Are you following this?) First, I added a big "Unnatural Aromas" headline to the PGLightyears site. Then – very important – I registered "" as a domain name so it would be available to me should I want to set up an independent site to mirror what I'm doing on Etsy.

     But there was another important inspiration – two meanings of "unnatural aromas." The first is a bit of a slam at those who insist that their fragrances be "natural." Before the advent of synthetics, the range of materials available to the perfumer was limited. You would find yourself creating the same, or nearly the same, scent over and over again because the number of available naturals was small, and now many of the most historically important naturals have been banned due to ethical or health considerations. Meanwhile I plunge ahead with the "unnatural."

     My inspiration from the name "unnatural aromas" may be even more to the point. A handful of my fragrances are... a bit "oddball." My fragrances for men don't follow the unwritten rules for how a man's fragrance should smell. My women's fragrances definitely do not follow the rules for "ladies" perfume. Many of my male, female, and unisex fragrances are quite... "unnatural."

     So now, thanks to my fussing around with Etsy, I'm working on gathering up the more "unnatural" of my fragrances and promoting them as a collection. Currently that collection has three fragrances with unquestioned credentials (Blackberry, Xotic, and Mimosa) but I'm already planning a new fragrance to become part of this club.

     You might ask why I continue to develop new fragrances rather than just hammer away at those that are already finished and bottled. The answer is, I love to explore, to find new fragrance ideas, and to develop new smells that, while they might be "unnatural," are nuggets of beauty for those who can set their prejudices aside and embrace that which is different.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Early statistics from my Etsy adventure

     Although I have a website that offers my own fragrances, and I sell my own books both at Amazon and my own bookstore, I have been experimenting -- "researching" -- other platforms, looking for additional possibilities. Thus far eBay hasn't rung any bells for me but Etsy shows promise and doesn't conflict with my other platforms.

    To learn about Etsy you really have to open and Etsy store. To open an Etsy store you must have at least one product to put up for sale in that store although Etsy recommends you list at least ten items when you open your store. (The cost is minimal.)

    The first point you want to take note of here is that you can't use Etsy unless you already have a product to sell. This may seem obvious but we don't want to put the cart before the horse. Developing your product -- a fragrance I'm presuming -- is your first step, although you can and should have, while developing your fragrance, begun to map out your marketing plan.

    Not knowing anything about Etsy and, therefore, not having planned a finished, fully decorated store in advance, I opened my Etsy store with just one item. This met Etsy's minimum requirement. Since then I have been adding items to my Unnatural Aromas Etsy store. This is easy to do as Etsy's template guides you through the process, gathering the essential information and giving you opportunities to add extra information if you see fit. For me, adding items was easy enough as I already had products, photography, and descriptions from my web pages and photo archives.

     I've added both fragrances and books to my store. The books are in the form of digital downloads and I've run into a problem here due to Etsy's 20 meg limit on file size. In one case a cover, which can be seen on Amazon, quickly overshot Etsy's file size limit and the cover photo had to be eliminated. The file size limit makes it challenging to use color illustrations in ebooks for the Etsy platform.

    A few statistics have been coming in for my Etsy store, Unnatural Aromas. What they show to date is about a 40/60 split between visitors who have come through Etsy searches and promotions and those who have come through sources outside the Etsy universe. This would include my own web pages, Facebook, and blogs. When I did a Google search today for "Unnatural Aromas," the first mention of my store came up on Google's page three.

    What is important to notice is that, should you offer your perfume on Etsy, it will be useful to promote it both through Etsy support and through your own social media activities. And, of course, you'll want to make your store itself as shopper friendly as possible.

    The "rules" for making sales on Etsy are no different than the rules for making sales through retail stores, local or national. Like Etsy, the stores may "take" your fragrance but don't expect them to sell it for you. If you want to make sales, be prepared to become a promoter. That's the only way.