Last week I had a phone interview with Inc.com for a post on "How to Make Money on Etsy".The reporter Lindsey Silberman talked to a few Etsy sellers for this article and included a few pointers from me on running a successful Etsy business. Overall I think she did a very good job quoting me, but I would like to add a few words not mentioned in the article.
If you are interested in starting a part time or full time business on Etsy, be sure to check out Etsy seller tips on Full Time Etsy Crafters Team blog as well as my blog. One of my favorite posts is the post written by Susansheehan.
Back in 2007, after selling on Etsy for 6 month, I wrote a blog post on "Three Pointers about Starting on Etsy". A new Etsy seller SalvageNation told me that her shop took off after she followed my tips religiously. However, now that my Etsy shop is almost three years old, I feel the need to revise the tips I wrote two and half years ago.
If I am asked again to give you three quick tips on running a successful Etsy shop in the order of their importance, this is what I will tell you now..
1. You must have a niche, a special product
No matter what you sell, you need to do it well enough to stand out from the crowd. There needs to be something special about your product. This "something special" can be your design (e.g. a special color combination, or a special size), can be the material you use (e.g., a special fabric for purses), or can be a different skill (e.g. if you are extremely good at something that others cannot do as well as you), but it should not be being able to price your items lower than others.If you are able to give customers a very reasonable price for your products, that is always a bonus, but it should not be your goal to price your items as low as possible.
[cricketscreations] -- gorgeous color combinations
[jpatpurses] - her fabric selection will blow you away!
[BSArtstudio] -- "mixers" original art paintings.What a concept!
[nicholasandfelice] -- hard to find shawl pins with amazing wirework
2. You must have excellent, clear photos, and if they are stylish and show your personality, that is even better
In the Inc.com interview, I mentioned "Etsy-style photos". What does that mean? You may notice a lot of successful sellers shoot their photos from a different, interesting angle, with a special background, on a mannequin or display..etc. You will notice while every seller does them differently, successful sellers always have great and consistent photos that show their personality. On Etsy, the photos of your products are part of your products.This is important for all online venues, but on Etsy it is even more important.
We all know that since online shoppers cannot see and touch, or smell (if that applies) the products before buying them, you need to help them see, touch, and smell your products with your photos. Give them a sense of the colors, measurements, sizes, styles, fragrances, and functions of your products with your photos.
[pinkquartzminerals] -- help customers feel the texture of your products
[daisycakessoap] -- help customers smell your products
[muyinmolly] - life size mannequin helps customers gauge the sizes
People buying handmade like to feel a connection with the artists.Treat your Etsy shop as a big, 24/7 online craft show, and your photos are your booth. What would you do with your booth when you go to a real craft show? You do not just set up a tent, lay out your products on your tables, right? You dress up your booth.You arrange your products nicely on your tables. Or maybe you have some special displays on your table. People going to in-person craft shows like pretty booths. People going to online craft shows like pretty photos. Some sellers (including me) include photos of themselves either working at a studio, or wearing/using their products.This also helps customers to connect with the artist behind the lovely products.
[papercutsbyjoe] -- Joe holding his own papercut
[ileaiye] -- Cherylline modelling her hand knit
You do not need a fancy DSLR camera to take great photos.The styles and clarity of your photos are more important than the model of your camera. Practice with a decent digital camera and study the manual (they are all pretty good nowadays). Understanding your own camera is the first step to great shots.
3. Clear and SEO friendly titles, descriptions, tags and the whole shop set up
Now that you have the products and great photos, the next step to help shoppers find you by providing them the right search keywords in your titles, descriptions, and tags. If you are still wonder what SEO means, I would urge you to do a little research in the Etsy forum or Storque. I am not personally an SEO expert, but just "happened to be doing a few things right" from the beginning.
Even if you have great products and great photos, if shoppers cannot find your listings when they type in a keyword search, they are not given a chance to click your photos, not to mention making a purchase.
While listing consistently is a way to keep your items at the top of the search, you need great titles, descriptions and tags to keep your products on the RIGHT search pages. Other than product titles, descriptions and tags, your shop title, shop announcement and section names are also very important for SEO.
If you do these right, you should start to receive decent traffic from search engines, and, hopefully, sales. Do not blame Etsy for not making your shop SEO friendly -- YOU are the person who needs to make your shop SEO friendly, and you can.
[sudlow] - high search ranking on both Etsy and search engines lead to a continuous sales flow
[anniehowes] - high search ranking on both Etsy and search engines lead to a continuous sales flow
It took me more than two years to realize everything I wrote in this post, and I hope you find them helpful. Remember -- selling on Etsy is hard work. Everything I mentioned was easier said than done. I am always doing research on my category and developing new products. Most of my photos have been re-shot multiple times. I am always working on my SEO. In sum: I am always working.
Every once a while I would receive a convo from artists telling me they just lost their job and would like to try to make it full time on Etsy.While I always wish them good luck, I know how difficult this can be and how lucky I have been. In my interview with Inc.com, my story may sound like a fairy tale to many of you because I "made profit after selling on etsy for one month", but please do remember...
1. I had a year of online selling experience on Ebay prior to opening my Etsy shop, which gave me a small customer base plus a lot of chances to practice my photography.
2. I did not quit my day job until 10 months after I opened my Etsy shop, which means I saved enough money to float me through slow times. I did not start selling on etsy full time until my business was fully established and making consistent sales. If you are just starting, be prepared it will take you a while before you can make this a full time job.
Shortly after I became a full time Etsy artist, I started the Full Time Etsy Crafters Team. While our team is meant to be a support group for established full time Etsy artists, I often receive membership requests from brand new Etsy sellers wanting to join the team to learn how to become as successful as us. Now, I believe I have just shared my success secrets with you within this one single post. However, you will NOT become successful just by reading this post. You need to work on these tips I gave you.You need to work on them, work on them more, and then work on them even more.
best wishes to you all,
Mollie, aka muyinmolly