10 Mistakes New Etsy Shop Owners Make

I admit it freely, some of these things (and many others) I was guilty of when I first opened my Etsy shop in May of 2013.  I had a couple of friends who were shop owners and I decided (after some coaxing from my husband) to take the plunge.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

So let's jump right in with 10 mistakes that new (and sometimes even seasoned) Etsy shop owners make:

1) Not accepting PayPal.  
     At least 1/3 and possibly closer to 1/2 of my total sales have been through PayPal.  People trust the company with their money and PayPal has a fantastic complaint resolution department both on part of the buyer AND the seller.  Even in my own online purchases I use PayPal 90% of the time.  But what I prefer and what you prefer doesn't matter.  If your potential customer wants to pay with PayPal and you don't have that option available to them then you may have just lost a sale.

2) Shop policies not complete or not appealing to the buyer.
     What does the customer do if the item they receive wasn't what they expected?  What are they to do if the item arrives damaged or is stolen from their mailbox?  What happens if the dress they ordered wasn't sized properly or made them look like Olive Oyl?  These questions and more should be addressed in your shop policy section.  Let your customer know what to expect from you in the unlikely event of a mistake in shipping or if the item arrives damaged.  Some things are out of your hands (post office delays, etc) but let the customer know that you will do whatever you can to make sure that they are happy with their purchase.
     And, conversely, don't write in your policies "I'm not responsible for your package once I mail it." Not only does this suggest to the customer that they aren't worth your time but also it's just not true.  If your packaging was sub par, resulting in a broken item it is definitely your responsibility and any credit card company will likely side with the customer and issue them a full refund.  

3) About Me and Shop Location blank
   People who shop Etsy generally care more about where the item comes from than someone shopping at the local business.  They want to find something that isn't produced in mass quantities or something vintage that they won't find anywhere else.  By filling out your "About Me" section you are offering them a story to go along with their purchase.  
    Not including your location can sometimes be worse.  When ordering something online people want to know when they can expect their item.  If an item is going to be shipping from overseas or across the country this is something they need to know.  Not only for them but for you as well.  You don't want irate customers wondering why they didn't get their product in three days when they live across the pond. 

4) Crappy Photography
     This is BY FAR the most important thing on this list.  When shopping online people can't pick up your items.  They can't turn something over or see it up close.  Your photos have to be top notch if you're going to have consistent sales.  The better the photos, the more views and favorites, the more sales.  Period.  
     There are a bunch of tutorials on Pinterest that explain how to get a nice, seamless background or how to brighten up dull, lifeless images.  Do your shop the best favor you can and do your research.  
     And if an image is blurry please, for the love of pete, don't upload it.

5) Uploading all at once
     One thing about Etsy...activity gets you ranked higher in searches.  The more active your shop is, the more it will be seen.  It's tempting to bang out ten items, photograph them all, and list them all at once but try to list one or two a day for several days instead.  This keeps your shop fresh and relevant.

6) Not Utilizing "Shop Title"
     The shop title line is right under your shop name on your shop's page.  Don't just repeat your shop name here.  This is where you want to put a brief description of what you sell.  SEO counts here so use some fifty cent words.  Things like Dog Blankets, Crochet Hats, Metal Stamped Jewelry.  Don't go into a paragraph here, there is limited space but try to get a few good ones in.

7) Under charging for shipping
     Here's the thing about shipping on Etsy.  When you list the item you have to include how much you will charge to ship it and to where you are willing to do so.  If you take a guess at it and list that your decorated bricks will ship from USA to Canada for twelve bucks you're going to be SORELY up the creek when you realize that it's closer to $100.  And you can't go back and ask the customer for more money to cover the difference.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK and find out how much it will cost to ship something before you list it.

8) Crappy tags
     Tags are how you are found on Etsy.  If you sell ten different styles of hair barrettes don't tag them all the same way!  Tag one with things like "girls barrettes" "pink hair accessories" and tag another pair with different tags like "gifts for her" and "girls birthday".  By mixing up your tags you are reaching more people.  

9) Minimal listings in your shop
     You have to realize that there are hundreds of thousands of listings on Etsy.  If you only have ten items for sale you are going to have a hard time being found.  They say that the magic number of listings is 100.  Do you sell handmade dog collars?  Make a separate listing for each color.  Do you embroider baby blankets?  Do separate listings for different fonts.  
     The more you have for sale the better your shop looks and the more it's going to be found.

10) Unrealistic Expectations
     You aren't going to make a fortune out of the gate with Etsy.  Sure there are a few shops who make bank but you can bet that they worked their butt off to get to that point.  Selling on Etsy is a lot more than making a few listings and sitting back to watch the money roll in.  It takes patience, dedication, and a LOT of research into what's working and what isn't.  The more you put into it the more you'll get out of it.

I hope this helps some of you avoid a few of the glaring mistakes that we are all guilty of at some point in our Etsy careers.  If you can think of any others, leave them in the comments below!

PS: My images have gotten a lot better, by the way: