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What the Heck is an Etsy BNR?

December 19, 2010

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

What the Heck is an Etsy BNR?

by BeckLee Cottage Designs (Linda Strother)

I wondered the very same thing myself. I joined Etsy more than a year ago, but did not really get involved until this past summer. Etsy is a huge community of buyers, sellers, crafters, artisans, and so many other things too. It is also a global network of  like minded people. A network and community that offers support and advice to newcomers and seasoned veterans as well.

Once I decided to  get serious about my Etsy shop I began to read the forums and all of the Etsy help articles. I wondered onto the shop of AckArt and actually featured her on my blog, one day I received a convo or Etsy email conversation telling me about a BNR treasury. I followed the link and dipped my toes in, not quite understanding what was going on as I had not seen an Etsy chat or treasury before.  I felt a little shy at first, it seemed as if a lot of the chatters knew each other very well. I chatted a bit but mostly lurked.

Lucy from Lucymoonglow shop featured one of my items and I made my first BNR sale. I was hooked! I did not quite get the whole process but, Lucy and the others helped me along. Aug 9th was my first sale on my sister’s birthday, a good omen.

I began to go to the treasury section of Etsy. I saw the word “bnr” and stopped in to take a peek. It looked like a lot of activity and big sales going on. I bought a slot and waited for the magic, ten minutes later the sale shut down. I looked around the next few days to see if bnr was open, but my slot was gone. It is important to read the blurb box at the top of the bnr. The person running the bnr is called the curator and their avatar will be at the very top of the page with word “curator” under their name. They lay out the rules for that bnr. Some carry over your slot, others it is just a one time buy in.  Not all Bnr’s are created equal.The ones listed in this article are some of the top curators and really great people too. Look for a list at the end of this article. There more great curators then the ones I listed, I could not remember all of them.

Anyone can buy from a bnr you must be a registered buyer with Etsy to purchase anything from an Etsy seller. To have a feature spot you must have an Etsy shop. It is best to have some items $10.00 and under. When the buy- in is $3.00 I look to buy into a shop at the lowest cost. I have bought much more expensive buy-ins but the items  were ones that I really wanted. If you only have high-end expensive items in your shop, I think it will be hard to make a sale. Some bnr’s do not have a buy in requirement. Also, some only feature the item from your shop that fits a theme or color scheme of their choosing. Others have you post the item that you want to feature.  When  you get the fever and buy a spot, they will ask for the transaction Id, you will find that, on your site, clicking purchases, then click on the invoice and the transaction id will show at the top of the browser this is an example: http://www.etsy.com/your/orders/5555555. You will post that in the chat box.

Everyone runs specials, so others will buy into your shop and since we are all trying to make a dollar it helps get sales for you. Etsy has a great new item called “coupon code” that is an easy way to work the bnr special. Sometimes sellers offer free shipping or buy one get one free. The curator will let you know where to post your specials. The curator will place your item up among what I call the shopping mall. Kind of like the old game show Hollywood Squares. Now you are one of the squeares.

There is a rush to the bnr, kind of excitement when you buy someone out, take their slot, then chat with the others, bam! Someone buys you out and your heart beats a little faster.  One night, I bought in 3 times and was bought out each time; now that was a fun night.  Okay, so now you have an idea of what it is all about. One thing I try to do is buy in as soon as I get the email notice about the BNR. That will usually ensure that you get bought out. One thing that I did not know when I first began in the the Bnr’s is if  you stay and chat it helps others to get to know you and your art a little better. I am constantly amazed at the level of talented artists selling on Etsy. It makes you feel good when someone comments how much they like your shop. I try to buy from new Etsy sellers or at least comment on their shop.

To get an expert view on the subject of BNR, I have asked questions of the some of the curators so  they might explain the process in greater detail.

The first shop owner and curator that I interviewed is Rhonda better known as Unicorn4960. Her Bnr’s are always fun,  and she she has a great sense of  humor.

How does the Buy and Replace benefit Etsians?
-The BNR’s benefit Etsians in so many ways. It’s a great place to network with others and create a name for yourself and great exposure too. It’s not about the sales that it may or may not generate for you, it’s about building a reputation for repeat customers to return to your shop again and again.

How often do you curate a BNR? Do you have a fixed time schedule for the day and length?
I try and curate my “regular” Bnr’s on Sat and Sun evenings. I used to open for 8-10 hours at a time but they became quite busy very quickly. It’s actually very exhausting keeping up with the pace now so I am only able to open for 3-4 hours at a time now. I do run 1-2 other BNR’s during the week, these are my “Surprise BNR’s” and they have no set schedule, therefore, whenever they open it’s a surprise for everyone! These Surprise BNR’s also have a different twist to them. The minimum is still $3 to buy in but to be carried over you need a $10 buy in. This gives each shop that chooses to buy in with $10 to be bought out twice! It’s quite popular and fun too. I find people tend to buy some higher priced items they may not buy normally in here that way benefiting everyone involved.

The next interview is with Kate better known as KidMarket.kidmarket I have only been in her bnr a few times but she has a slightly dry sense of humor which I do enjoy. If you buy into her bnr and you don’t get bought out she will carry your shop over to her next bnr. Which is great if you don’t make a sale that day.

How often do you curate a BNR? Do you have a fixed time schedule for the day and length?
Well, I was trying to curate a Buy and Replace treasury every week on Thursday or Tuesday nights, but my family was getting in the way, (I am just kidding on this!) I work the BNRS that I curate around my schedule at home. I have four kids and three that need to car pooled. So between work schedules, dance, church and other activities, it was hard to dedicate the time. I try to keep them open at least 2 hours or more. Sometimes it takes a while for folks to realize that it is open.
I do carry overs, which means that once you buy in you stay in until you sell! I did put in some brand new shops from a treasury I had made yesterday. A couple of them got sales! Yay! That is my whole motivation in running a BNR is to share the sales with other people. I see it as a service to help newer shops get feedback and get up and running.

How does the Buy and Replace benefit Etsians?
I use BNRs as marketing. Yes, it does cost to be in a BNR but if I were buying advertising it would cost as well. I have tried other forms of marketing but nothing has given my shop the boost and encouragement that I get from Buy and Replace treasuries. I am pretty much guaranteed a sale every time I buy into a Buy and Replace treasury.
My other thought is people contact. You get direct contact with people that you do not get in Internet sales any other way. Except maybe the Etsy chat rooms. I prefer the BNRS. On a slow selling night I have asked and answered questions on everything from business matters, to good recipes for soup. I have made friends!
How often do you curate a BNR? Do you have a fixed time schedule for the day and length?
I try to curate BNRS when I know that Lucy Moonglow and Unicorn are not curating BNRS. They pull a large viewership of people. The more BNRS that are open the more that the sales are spread out. There is a less chance for folks to get a sale. (This is confusing! Think about 5 Wal-marts all open at the same time next door to each other! Sales would be low for each store.) I also like to buy into BNRS and those two particularly. So I will open a bnr if there aren’t a bunch open, if I have time!
I set my times to be open at times convenient for me. After all this is a tool to help everyone sell and I am not a cheerful curator when I have been sitting too long or my family is needing me. I try to start one when I know that I can be online for several hours. Curating is an immediate job and you need to be online almost the whole time the bnr is open.

Be careful when you buy in that
1. you have lower priced items to sell.
2. The bnr is active; check the last comment to see if the curator is present and if the last comments were very recent.
3. I usually buy in as low as I can!
4. Follow the curator’s rules!
5. Be lighthearted and fun, sometimes you won’t get to buy from the seller you wanted to buy from. It is not a conspiracy to keep you out of the bnr!
6. Mistakes sometimes happen!
How often do you curate a BNR? Do you have a fixed time schedule for the day and length?

I am trying to have bnr 3 times a week at least and usually run from 10 am to 2 pm MT. I have it on tue, thurs and mon or fri, depends on my schedule. I have 2 small children and they make my schedule:) I think bnr is agreat way to promote your store. My sales definitely increased since I started to get involved in bnrs and of course you make some connections and friends. I know that many etsians don’t like bnrs, or that is what I was reading on forums. I think they are great especially for new sellers.

And we end with Lucy known as Lucymoonglowlucymoonglow She is one of the most caring people that I have met on Etsy.

How did the Buy and Replace get started?
BNRs were in existence when I joined in 2007, and I started curating them pretty soon after joining. The old treasury format (pre 2010) was totally different, though. Treasuries were limited to 333, and they died off after 2 or 3 days. It was a challenge to “snag” a treasury, whether a bnr or not, as the treasuries would “open up” only when the list dropped below 333. BNRs were very popular even back then, but they were not interactive as they are now. The curator merely had to check every few hours and update any new buy-ins. Now, it’s a party atmosphere for several hours, and it often is fast-paced. The curator has to be ever-present to update sales and interact with the people in the room. It took me a little bit of time to readjust to this new style, but now I like it so much better.

How does the Buy and Replace benefit Etsians?
The BNR concept is beneficial on so many levels….
Your shop gains amazing exposure, you network with upbeat etsians who are willing to give an honest opinion on any topic and will help you in any way they can; you feel like part of a big, loving family, and you WILL get sales. I look at BNRs as an advertising campaign….for a very small cost, my shop is seen by hundreds (and on a busy night, thousands) of people who may or may not have ever stumbled upon my shop otherwise. Just like any advertising campaign, it takes repeated effort to have your shop become known and trusted with your customers. You can’t just try a BNR once and say “That’s not for me”; anymore than you can place an ad in a local circular just once and expect the entire community to know your name. Branding is a process of sustained visibility…and within etsy, participating in BNRs is an easy, inexpensive, and super-fun way to achieve branding of both your work and your shop name.

How often do you curate a BNR? Do you have a fixed time schedule for the day and length?
My fixed BNR schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings……I usually open between 6 and 7 PM EST and remain open for 3 to 4 hours. The pace is usually hectic, so after 4 hours, my stamina wanes. I often have unscheduled BNRs throughout the week… Sunday afternoons are one of my favorite surprise times to open a BNR. Everyone who buys into one of my BNRs is guaranteed a carry over round to the next BNR, if they are not bought off.

I hope this has helped you get a beter idea of What the Etrsy BNR is all about. I am hooked, it is great fun and, I look forward to chatting with all of the great shop owners  I have met while chatting in the BNR. Many of the curators try to feature new shops to help them get exposure and sales. I owe many of my sales to Lucy who encouraged and supported me in the beginning.

Another tip is if you are featured in a BNR it is a good idea to make sure you promote the bnr. To promote to or share click on facebook, twitter or any of the other social sites linked off to the right of the squares. It helps bring more people to the sale and lets your fans know what you are doing.

The  box below is an example of the social networking sites you can promote the sale. It is really easy if you have a facebook account, click on the word “facebook” it should bring up some text about the bnr. Facebook will ask if you allow this to be posted. If you are featured or have bought into the bnr click on the little arrow below the  text, you can scroll through the bnr to find your shop item that is featured. Type a little comment such as “come on over”,” great sale going on”, or “treasury open” etc. The stats box also shows how many clicks and views this bnr has accounted for. Tags are the meta-tags or keywords that help Google and other search engines locate your sale. At the top of the chat site you will see the name of the bnr, how many sales to date and how many today. 

I hope you will stop into a bnr and see what all the fun is about. I have listed the BNR’s below that I know and have sold and purchased into. I can only comment on the ones I know and have particpated  in. I love to get mail and it is exciting to see what is in the mail today. I may have left out some of the bnr’s that I participated in but this is a good sampling. My advice it so send a convo to any of the curators below and ask to be notified of the next bnr sale round. If you are not comfortable with that. Go to the treasury section of Etsy in the search at the top of the page type in bnr and it will bring up pages of open and closed Bnr’s. Look  at a few that are closed and read the comments to get a better feel for what really goes on. Once you feel braver stop into to one that is open, follow along and post a comment like “Hello, I am new”. You will get comments of welcome, sometimes the chat moves so fast you will get dizzy tring to follow everytyhing. At first I focused on one or two other chatters and it helped me not to be overwhelemed. Sometimes there are 10 different converstaions going on. We talk about, life, kids,laundry just about anything.

Another thought, if you look  off the right of the squares of shops you will see a box with click amounts and views. That tells you how many people have viewed the sale and how many actually clicked onto the shops. The more you promote the more exposure everyone gets, if you rank on the top page of Etsy that ensures more people will see your shop. And the best tip of all while you are in the heat of the action, hit the F5 key on your keyboard and that will refresh the site. I have gone off to visit someone’s shop and find that there are 20 pages of conversations that I missed. So, have fun, if you get stuck our get lost send a convo to the curator or shout out on the chat that you are lost. I have met some amazing and wonderful people on the Bnr’s from all over the world. I hope to see you in a Bnr. Be sure to say hello. Thank you so much to the curators that shared their insights and comments.

Lucymoonglowlucymoonglow gufomondoKidMarketkidmarketOldSoulstyle BNR BeautyBNRBeautyheavenlyjewelleryUnicorn4680lovelyovedesignslovelylovedesignsChocolatedogstudioBethmac2186bethmac2186UnexpectedTreasureUnexpectedTreasureCupcakeCupcakeBNR

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One Comment
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