8 Tips for a Successful Etsy Business

I remember when I was sixteen I got a job at a call center making outbound sales calls.  It was my first job in an actual office.  I lasted exactly one week.  Calling people, being cussed at or hung up on...I just was NOT good at it.  There were people in that small office who made twenty or so sales a DAY.  I was lucky if I made a single one.  I just SUCKED at sales.  And you know what?  I still do. 

But that brings me to the first point on my list:

1) Self promotion isn't begging or bragging!
     If you've put enough into your craft (or vintage find hunting) that you've reached a point where you're ready to start a business of it then be loud and be proud!  Wear your jewelry prominently, sport that leather cuff that you hand designed, strut your stuff in that quirky tee and when people ask "Hey where'd you get that?" be ready to fish a business card out of your pocket or purse and say, "Why, I make them myself!"  

2) Social Media is your friend
    Along the same lines as above you need to get your brand out there.  Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Even if you're on of those people who say "Oh, I'd never use Facebook!"  you need to suck it up and do it anyway.  Your customers use Facebook so you need to as well.  
     And when it comes to social media you need to actually be present.  Don't just post links to your Etsy listings, post content relevant to your target audience.  Do you make handmade soaps?  Post links to herbs and oils and their properties.  Do you make baby hats?  Post photos of babies (even dolls!) wearing your hats! 

3) Top notch photos
     I've said it before and I'll likely say it in every post I make regarding Etsy sales.  It's just that important.  You need to have eye-catching, crystal clear photography.  If you bothered enough to make the item in the first place then make sure you show it the best you can!  Don't have a fancy DSLR?  Don't worry, a cell phone camera can work just fine as long as you learn to work within it's limitations.  
     Take your pictures in full natural light.  No harsh camera flash please.  And my god, HOLD STILL when you take the picture.  Fuzzy, out of focus images are a surefire way to drive traffic AWAY from your listings.  There are a bunch of tutorials on Pinterest that explain how you can get great shots with minimal equipment.

4) Branding
     One of the first things I did when I opened my Etsy shop in 2013 was settle on a logo.  This appears everywhere on my shop and on my website.  I then chose a color scheme based on how I wanted my brand to "feel".  It's no secret that different colors evoke different emotions in people.  I chose brown because it reflects durability and simplicity.  My items are just that.  There are no big frills, no hidden weirdness.  My items are very straightforward.

     By developing your brand early on you're notably building a recognizable presence but you're also, in a way, telling your customers what they can expect from you and your products.  If I'd chosen a wild tie dyed color set I doubt my items would achieve the success that they have.  It just doesn't match what I make.

5) Use Etsy Shipping
     For the first year that I was in business I lugged each and every package to the post office.  The idea of online shipping scared me.  It seemed too complex and too good to be true.  But then in my second year I had some experience under my belt and thought I'd give it a try.
     Oh...My...GAWD.  Unless I get a really weird, obscure order I will NEVER bother with the post office again.  A simple digital scale (super cheap on Amazon) and a package of blank shipping labels is all you need to make this happen.  I buy my shipping labels in bulk (again from Amazon) and just print them out when I'm ready to mail my packages.
     And Etsy domestic shipping (including tracking) is about 1/3 cheaper than at my local post office. International shipping is right around the same cost but I don't have to fill out the customs form!  Etsy does it for me and that's wonderful =)

6) Always ship with tracking
     This one I can't stress enough.  There WILL come a time when you will get a message from a customer that says "My package never came!" or "When is my stuff supposed to get here?!".  These questions can be easily answered if you have tracking on their package.  This has saved my butt more than once and I know for fact it will do so again.
    Saying in your shop policies that you "aren't responsible once it is dropped off at the post office" just isn't true.  All the customer has to do is open a case with their credit card company and most times (not all but most) they will be refunded.  So cover your butts and track every order!

7) Activity = Sales
     There are two sides to this story.  People who say that listing, renewing, etc bump you to the top of the search engines and those who say it doesn't make a difference.  All I can say is that the more active I am with my shop the more sales I get.  And it's not just listing items.  Editing tags, sharing on social media, and renewing expired items all seem to bump my views and sales.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But as long as it works I'm gonna ride it!

8) Be Patient...but proactive
     When you first start out it's easy to start to doubt yourself.  "Why is my baby hat not even getting views when this chick's baby hats keep selling out?!"  A new shop will nearly always go through this.  A quick visit to the Etsy forums and you'll see tons of people asking "Why am I not getting sales?"  "Why are my sales suddenly dead?"  "Where are all of the buyers?".  And every response will be a variation of the same:  "Be patient."

     This is true to an extent.  You can't make people find and buy your stuff.  So what to do in the meantime?  Make your shop VISIBLE.  Go back to #1 on this list:  promote, promote, promote.  Get your name and your brand out there.  The more people who see your shop the more likely one (or more) is going to make a purchase.  Make your photos pop, make your descriptions irresistible.  Check out local venues that might make a good fit for your items and either advertise there or set up a booth at a craft show!  Donate items to local charities in exchange for a mention on their social media or website!
     There is always something you can be doing to improve your shop and promote your brand.  Etsy is a HUGE market and you have to do everything you can to stand out in it.

Good luck!!  Stay the course, it's definitely worth it!  Just this morning my husband (who does all of my bookkeeping, thank goodness) was going over our numbers for this month and said to me, "wow, I think you might have the potential for a second income here!".


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