HOW TO START YOUR OWN ETSY SHOP
Gone are the days of the starving artist. If you have any sort of creative skill, whether it’s crafting, painting, sculpting, knitting, designing (and the list goes on and on), you should be cashing in on your talents and sharing your work with the world, through the biggest online marketplace for handmade goods: Etsy!
Setting up an online shop is way less complicated than trying to sell locally or in a brick and mortar store, and exposes you to a built-in audience, who is eager to purchase. Best of all, your start up costs are close to nothing, so you can focus on your craft without the fear of losing money before you start making it.
Here are ten essential steps to set yourself up for success:
Find your niche.
Chances are, whatever you intend to sell is already being sold on Etsy. By injecting your unique personality and style into your items, it will set them apart and appeal to a group of people who are in search of exactly what you have to offer. Don’t try to appeal to the masses, but start with a small line of products with a narrow focus.
Research and be inspired.
Identify shops that are already successful, and take note of the qualities that make them great. What do reviews from their past customers reveal? Are there things they aren’t doing that you can do better? The website craftcount.com is a great resource for searching successful shops by category. Remember, the key is not to copy, but to gather inspiration you can use to cultivate your own brand.
Get stocked up.
Many shops who are just starting out don’t need to have a reserve of finished products ready to ship out, but should at least have supplies on hand so you are ready to get to work when orders start to come in. Also take this time to decide the least expensive, fastest way to ship your orders and acquire a small amount of shipping materials. You don’t need a fancy business license or an account with a packaging wholesaler— small quantities of shipping materials can be purchased from your local office supply store or from Amazon.com.
Fill out your shop info page.
This is your opportunity to present your business to potential buyers and prove what makes it so special. Show off photos of your workspace, include a story about what inspires your work, and explain why purchasing from your shop will be so beneficial to them. Include links to your social media platforms and website (if you have one). Create a shop banner (can be done for free using canva.com or picmonkey.com) and include a headshot of yourself in your profile.
Write your policies.
Include important details and FAQ like your shop hours, the amount of time it takes you to process orders, their shipping options and your return policy. If you are selling custom items, you may want to include a separate set of policies for those offerings.
Photograph your products.
Use natural light and a clutter free environment to capture your items in the most appealing way possible. Include a close up shot, a photo that shows the entire item in one frame, and a picture of your product in use (for example, if you sell handbags, include a photo of the handbag on a person’s arm). You don’t need a fancy camera or an expensive photographer if you are willing to take the time to educate yourself on the basics of photography. This is the most important aspect of your shop page, so either invest the money or the time to make it your photos the best they can be.
Write your listings.
Draft the text for your first listing, being sure to include a description of the product, the materials used, the dimensions, weight, and of course, how it can be used. It’s always a good idea to work in a short bit of text that shares the inspiration behind the product, as it will provide your potential customer with a way to form a connection with your brand. Once you have your first listing written and perfected, you can copy the information and adapt them for the other items in your shop. It’s recommended that you have at least nine items before opening. If you only have a few products created so far, you can create duplicates of your items with custom options or add-ons.
Price your items.
Make a list of your expenses, including your materials, shipping supplies, the cost to list your item on Etsy. Factor in the time you are spending to create each of your items. Even if this is a hobby, and something you truly enjoy, your time is precious and you need to be compensated for your hard work and talent. When you combine those factors and come to a fair price, compare the cost to your competitors. As long as it’s in the ballpark, you are golden. If your pricing is considerably lower than everyone else, it will appear that your items are not as valuable, and you should consider raising your rates. If your pricing is considerably higher, see if there is a way to purchase your materials in a more economic way, or if you can simplify your operation.
Connect with the amazing community of sellers in Etsy forums and consider joining or starting a “team” in your niche or local area. Join a Facebook group dedicated to selling products online or one that will connect you with people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. For example, if you create products for dogs, look to connect with fellow puppy lovers! Even consider a promotional collaboration with other shops that will benefit all participants.
Set up social networking accounts and begin to build brand awareness. Write post that are not just touting your products, but that provide valuable content for your potential customers. Encourage your audience to join your email mailing list by offering them something that they would enjoy like a guide, checklist, or a coupon code— anything that complements and aligns with what you are selling. This is your best way to contact people directly without having to navigate the algorithms of your social network.
Lastly, give yourself the time and grace to get the ball rolling. The majority of shops are not overnight successes and with new businesses joining Etsy every day, it has become increasingly difficult to make an impression. Focus on creating high quality products, developing a strong brand/online presence, and treat your customers like gold. Over time, those efforts will not go unnoticed and your shop will be the success that you always knew it could be!
Thanks for reading
Michelle is the creative gal behind the website Elegance & Enchantment and an online stationery + gifts shop, called Enchanted Prints. Her signature program to help fellow graphic designers launch their own businesses, The Power of Printables, launches Summer 2016!
She is huge believer in doing what you love, following your dreams and practicing acts of kindness and gratitude along the way.