I recently was asked by Tonya of Live the Adventure if I could share some tips about starting a shop on Etsy.
So, here are some of my tips for starting out on Etsy:
1. Pick your username carefully – If you haven’t yet chosen a username on Etsy, pick something that goes with what you will be naming your shop. Usernames cannot be changed on Etsy. In my situation, I did do that originally but am using a different shop name now. While I could open a whole new shop with a matching username, I won’t because it would make me look like it was a brand new shop, instead of one that is established.
2. Install Google Analytics in Your Shop – I love being able to see how people are ending up in my shop, how many people are stopping in, and what they are looking at. The only way to know most of these is to install Google Analytics. Here are directions on installing Google Analytics in your Etsy shop that I posted two years ago. (The only difference now is that you’ll click on Options under the “Shop Settings” heading in your “My Etsy.)
3. Spread Out Your Listings – When I first started my Etsy shop (back in January 2007), I spent a ton of time over about a day or two listing all of the things that I wanted to list. It was probably around 50 items. It took a ton of time! And do you know what? It wasn’t the smartest thing to do either!
It would have been better for me to list a few things the first day (maybe even 10), just to show that I didn’t have only one item in the shop. Then, every single day, list a new item until all of my items were listed. In this way, my items would have stayed higher up in searches (or at least my newest item). This helps keep you more visible to shoppers.
4. Relist Items – If you have all of your things listed and nothing new on the horizon to add, make it a goal to renew one of your listings (only costs $.20) each day or every few days at least. Again, this pops your item higher into searches and brings more people into your shop. The biggest sellers on Etsy seem to all mention frequent additions or renewals.
5. Post the Best Pictures You Can – Descriptions are vital, but probably most vital is a great photograph of your item. Etsy allows you space for up to five pictures — try to use as many as possible. Of course, if it means using bad photographs, just use your best ones and use fewer.
6. Make Your Descriptions Personal – It may be easier to allow yourself to just give the facts about an item in its description, but you will attract more buyers by trying to gain some kind of emotional response. Let’s look at Leo, for instance. We had fun (the whole family!) taking him outside and doing creative pictures of him. Then, I wrote up those adventures in the Etsy listing about him. I could have just written the materials used and size of the creation. Instead, I gave him a name and a story. (I even went farther into Leo’s story here on my blog.)
Yes, it is not lost on me that he still hasn’t sold yet, despite his story. Still, I enjoy that people have enjoyed Leo’s story. I know this because I have had many people contact me about it. Honey (from Sunflower Schoolhouse) even said I should make a story book about this adventures. (What a hoot!)
7. Connect with Your Clients, Friends, and Fans – It’s a great idea to have somewhere outside of your Etsy shop to connect with people who might be interested in finding out more about you and your products, as well. A blog is, of course, a great place to connect. If you already have an established blog, I think it’s best to see if you can incorporate some shop talk in with your current blog. If you don’t, then you can decide if you want your blog to be strictly business or some business and some personal.
Another must-have way to connect with people is a Facebook Fan Page. (Here are some great instructions on setting up a Facebook Fan Page.) These are easy to set up and a great way to connect on a personal level with clients, friends/family, and fans. This is somewhere you can ask questions, share new products, and help people get to know more about the artist/artisan behind the art.
(You can “like” Just a Tiny Owl on Facebook to keep up with what’s going on with my Etsy shop. Don’t worry – I won’t fill up your news feed.)
8. Make Your Shop Design Unique – Either make or have someone else make a custom banner and avatar for you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, there is a plethora of designers on Etsy offering premade banners and custom made banners. These can be found for varying prices. So, you could always upgrade later, if you couldn’t afford what you were looking for right away. (Although I don’t have any listings up right now for custom Etsy banners, I could probably put up a listing if someone was interested. Here is a listing of some premade Etsy banners that I did before.)
9. Connect with an Etsy Team – Etsy has something called Teams, which are groups of Etsy sellers who are connected by some common thread. Perhaps it is that they all live in Vermont. Maybe it’s that they all create vegan products. Still others are all Catholic, all named Amy, all make ceramic beads, and many, many other commonalities. If you can’t find some team that you fit into (which I seriously doubt), you can create your own.
The nice thing about teams is that you can get to know other people, work on cross promotion (which often happens in Etsy teams), and get ideas.
10. Research Local/State Laws About Small Businesses – Okay, so I actually think this should be first on the list. I know that there are some sellers who don’t think they need to register with their state or collect sales tax. Those people will often say that they aren’t selling much, so they don’t think it’s necessary. You can make your own choices, of course, but let me assure you that if you are selling anything, your state and the federal government (if you are in the U.S.) want to know.
On the up side, if you’re declaring your income and register your business (which is pretty simple to do if you’re just doing a sole proprietorship), you can also deduct business expenses!
Are you a seller on Etsy or any other craft site? If so, share a link to your shop! Also, share some more tips — there are tons of them!