Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"How to be Successful on Etsy" by Prix Prix

FTEC member Laura (Prix Prix) shares her Etsy Success tips with us today! Originally posted on prix prix blog on 6/13/11.

I get regular emails from folks who are just starting out on Etsy and want to know what the secret is to getting attention and sales in their shops. There is certainly no secret- it takes time and lots of work to build up a following. Luckily, there are a bunch of easy changes you can make to your shop, and strategies for promoting it, that will get your shop busy as quickly as possible. I figured out all of this through years of trial and error, and now you can skip repeating my mistakes and get ahead much more quickly.

And now… the secret to selling a zillion of your handmade widgets on Etsy!


  • Awesome photos are vital for getting attention on Etsy. Pretty photos make it into Treasuries (member curated galleries of products), and great Treasuries are featured on Etsy’s front page, getting you tons of visibility. Also, blogs will feature nice photos. Your photos need to be edited in a program like Photoshop, Apple’s iPhoto, Picasa (Google’s free program) or Picnik on Flickr. Increase the contrast and the brightness until the photos pop more. Look through items featured on the front page and in treasuries, and also in catalogs, to get an idea of what types of photos and how much contrast works the best. I really can’t emphasize enough how vital really amazing photos are for having any success selling your beautiful handmade goods on the internet.
  • Follow this simple tutorial on brightening photos: http://www.etsy.com/storque/make/how-to-brighten-your-photos-with-paperama-2900/ There is no excuse for blurry, dark, overexposed, or bland looking photos when it is this easy to fix them! This is the single most important thing you can do for your shop today.
  • In the longer term, getting a dedicated setup for photographing products is essential. A bright sunny corner with no distracting background items, for example, or even a large foamboard panel that you can set up in the background when you’re photographing. Avoid a busy background – the focus should be on your products. Different shops have their own style or background for photos. I use a white background, others might use wood or a textured background. Some use simple, attractively arranged props to enhance their photos. Here is my inspiration board for great product photography: http://pinterest.com/prixprix/product-photography/
  • Keep in mind that for getting featured on Etsy, the product should look fantastic in the large main thumbnail version (when you view the shop in “gallery” mode). Play with interesting angles, pay attention to cropping (I like to crop all of my photos to be square – they seem to look best that way), make sure your colors and your lights/darks pop.
  • If you have something meant to be worn or carried, think about working with a photographer friend to get some great, well lit model shots.

Descriptions & Titles

  • Avoid super short descriptions, and break up text into multiple short paragraphs. Write in descriptive sentences. Talk about who would use your product and how. Are they perfect for busy moms on the go? People also like to hear the story of how it’s made. On Etsy, people are really buying the photo and the story of the item.
  • Think about coming up with interesting product names or styles.
  • Use lots of descriptive words in the title and the text, especially colors, patterns, seasonal references, styles/trends (eg nautical, geometric, neon, etc), and seasonal things (I like to mention that my items are great Father’s Day gifts, for example). People making Treasuries will search for these terms to fit with their themes, and you want your product to come up in those searches if it would fit.
  • Always include the dimensions of the product. It’s a good idea to state the dimensions in both English and Metric for your customers abroad. Also include descriptive measurements, eg. if it’s a computer bag, what’s the biggest laptop that will fit?
  • Be consistent with capitalization in your product titles. I prefer titles to be first-letters-capitalized, personally.
  • Move a few important items from the Shop Policies to the bottom of the item description. Very few people read the policies. Mention in the item description if you take custom orders. Mention how the item is packaged and if it can be gift-wrapped. Tell people if it comes in other colors.
  • Example: Moop has great, clear descriptions to give you a sense of what types of info to include: http://www.etsy.com/listing/69699738/the-paperback-in-red-waxed-canvas (I want that bag!)
  • See if you can find a graphic designer friend to help create a great shop banner that includes both your shop name and an image of your products. I’d also use a great product photo for your shop avatar.


  • Renew an item listing or list a new item at least once a day, at a time when people are generally awake. In general, don’t relist several at once. Listings get buried in Etsy searches very quickly.
  • Be social! Add people to your “Circle” on Etsy. Add their items and shops as favorites. Create some lovely Treasuries of your own with a theme & feature other peoples’ items.
  • Join an active Etsy team. There are lots of active teams based on artistic medium, location, lifestyle, and more, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a great one.
  • Have excellent customer service. Use PayPal Shipping or Endicia to create shipping labels with tracking, and email the tracking info & a friendly thank-you to the buyer when their item ships. Take responsibility if anything goes wrong, even if it’s entirely the fault of the Post Office. People really appreciate it and will be on your side (and maybe will even tell their friends about your shop). Try to respond to emails within a day – the sooner the better. (And if you do sign up for Endicia, please use my referral code- 741192 -in the “promo code” field, and you will give me a free month! Thanks! http://www.endicia.com/)
  • Apply to a hip local craft fair. A very large percentage of my Etsy customers first found me at craft fairs. This is a great way to start word-of-mouth buzz about your products!
  • After your photos and descriptions are made as awesome as possible, send a friendly email to a blogger who features work like yours. Target only blogs that are a great fit. Here is a fantastic article about how to do this: http://www.modishblog.com/biztips/2008/09/how-to-approach-blogs-and-get-them-to-write-about-you.html Blog features, even on smaller blogs, do a ton to increase traffic to your shop & get you sales. Always send a nice brief thank you to anyone who features you.

Further Reading

Here are some resources that should fill in the rest:

OK, that should put you well on the path towards Etsy success and superstardom. Wishing you all the best!

-Laura from Prix-Prix

Blog Widget by LinkWithin