When I first started out, Etsy was pretty daunting for me. I had this very rare opportunity to put all of my time and effort into a business but this meant the pressure was on. To help out any newbies out there who are wanting some tips, I put together my top 10. If you have any other tips for people, feel free to add them in the comments!
One Word Gallery's 10 Etsy Tips:
1. Don't wait to be "perfect". When I first started, I wasted a lot of time trying to have a "perfect" launch of my products. I was looking into every detail. I realized after a few arguments with my boyfriend and business partner that I was just doing this to post pone the scary jump into being a business owner. Don't do this. Accept that it will probably never be perfect. When you launch your product, you will realize everyday that there is something new to work on. Rather then working on the looks while your product is hidden, throw it out there and see what happens. Being seen it the most important part. It's ok that your are new! of corse things might look rough at first, but that is what the edit button is for!
2. Marketing is important! Make sure to put a lot of time into this. There are a million ways to get seen that don't cost money, but you need to put in a lot of time. There is no point to having something for sale if no one knows about it right! Get into social networking. This means a special page on facebook, twitter, tumblr, pintrest, blogs, etc. AND, you have to update all of them often. In addition to that, you should be handing out business cards, contacting other blogs, sending things to magazines and newspapers. Anything you can think of that will let more people know about your store you should try. Eventually you can weed out a few things that may be more work then they're worth, but really, the more the better. You never know where you will find that "biggest fan" client that helps keep you afloat!
3. Get involved with teams! This is a specific Etsy thing. They have these pages for sellers (buyers too?) that are mini communities within etsy. There are about a million subjects you can search. Anything from your home town to dog lovers. I guess it's like being in a club. They are a HUGE help when you need people in the business to talk to. In my experience, you join a few and get really involved in one or two. I used the business and craft fair ones a lot when starting out, and I recommend them. They help with specific questions. I was invited to by bread and butting team. I don't know how they found me, but I love going on their page. I just hang out in the discussion board sometimes, playing the promotion games and checking out other team members items. They really help get you motivated!
4. Pictures are IMPORTANT!!! With that said, don't stress too much, because you will probably re-take them a few/million times. I still do not have a set way I like to take photos, but, being visual, I know how important they are. Your photos are the only things buyers see before a purchase, so they need to be confidence building. Plus, if you have an awesome photo, then you have more of a chance to make an emotional connection with customers, so higher chance for sales. My personal suggestions are a lot of natural light and as simple a background as possible! Do not have the same place or angle on every item though. It just makes your shop seem stale. Move around! There are tons of articles on etsy and other sites as well.
5. Make branding an ongoing process. When critiquing your shop, many people will talk about visuals. Of corse, your photos are in this subject, but it also includes packaging, banners, even wording of info pages. I recommend making this ongoing. Be ok with things being disorganized at first. You will slowly get a complete brand together. If you get too stuck on the details, you will spend all your precious time on something no one is looking at anyway. Work on things one at a time so they do not get overwhelming. Finally, look around at shops on etsy. Looking at how other people handle branding is a great way to see what you do and don't want to do.
6. Have over one page of items, and when adding new ones, spread it out over a few days. If you have just one page of items, it can make customers feel like you don't have much to offer. It's ok if it takes you a little while, but make 2+ pages a goal. Etsy employees say that 100+ items is a good idea, but I have seen plenty of successful shops without that many items. Make sure you are not just filling up your shop with junk. your merchandise represents you most of all. But, having new items, and uploading them often, definitely helps keep buyers interested in you.
7. Get outside perspective. Having your own business can be very introspective. Even if you have a partner, you can find yourself alone for hours, with only yourself making decision. Get out of your head and ask friends, families, and teams what they think. This should be happening throughout your process. This way you are less likely to get stuck and it helps build confidence. Even if they have something negative to say, just having the information is empowering.
8. Try to get outside and sell! this is big for me but it might not be for other people. When I first got on etsy, I though that I would be making money within a week. Well it took a couple months for a 1st sale and then another couple weeks for my second. I'm still waiting for my third. Since I was being really discouraged and really needed to make some money, I started to try to find any other place I could to sell. I am not consistently at my local farmers market twice a week, and I have a contract with a hip local consignment shop. I'm not stopping there either! I want to keep pushing and get in a couple more shops in town, then grow to the state, then regionally. One thing I have found out about etsy, it's a great community, but usually not the main money maker. I love that I have a place to send people online, but I have to get out of my house if I want to make money! Last week I sold $80 worth of merchandise to one couple at the farmers market! I'm not saying don't take etsy seriously, because it is an amazing tool. I am saying to make etsy just the 1st step in having your items available!
9. Do your research! There is SOO much information out there for small business owners. Even specifically for craft business owners. Get a hold of it. Spend a little time each day learning something new. This helps keep your chores fresh and effective. This also really helps on the business end. things like taxes, licenses, etc can be very confusing. Tackle one subject at a time. Make sure you do it though, because it is very important for someone wanting to actually make money from this stuff! One specific book that I reference a lot is called, "Craft Inc." by Meg Mateo Ilasco. It has just about everything in it. :)
10. Customers 1st! This is so very important always. You have to leave a good impression on people coming to your store. You could have the best product in the world and people will not but it if you are a dick. this may be obvious, but you would be surprised how many people think they are entitled because they make something. So not make the customer uncomfortable. Also, be on time for everything! On emails, sending merch, etc. If you go above and beyond by sending freebees, personalized notes, etc then you could create very loyal customers! It's probably the best way to get people to come back!