A Creative Income guest post by Jennifer Priest from Hydrangea Hippo!
Everyone’s been telling you that you should sell your handmade goods on Etsy. What a compliment! But now it’s time to ask some important questions. Is Etsy a good fit for your business? How do you even know how to start an Etsy shop? There’s also those articles you’ve read about how hard it is to make a business succeed on Etsy…are they all speaking the truth? No, they are not. Starting a business is always going to come with challenges, but what in life doesn’t? You can absolutely learn how to start an Etsy shop. Let’s start with a few good reasons…
Good reasons to sell your products on Etsy:
1. When people buy handmade, they say they “got it from Etsy”.
While this is bad for brand recognition for sellers, it is good for Etsy. People know that they can find handmade goods (and a bunch of other stuff) on Etsy, and they go to the site for that reason. While people may not remember your brand name when discussing their purchase, buyers can still find you because the site gets so much traffic.
2. Etsy = Great Visibility.
Use Etsy as marketing or a billboard for your website and brand. Consider adding a few items that show your range of work and variety of wares in order to encourage visitors to see more on your website, where you might also sell your work. It costs very little (20 cents per listing) to post your items to Etsy, so in terms of advertising, it is extremely affordable.
3. Etsy is an awesome, user-friendly online store to start with.
The user-interface is clean, they offer direct checkout (you don’t have to have a Paypal account), fees are low compared to building your own website, and you have a legitimate place to direct people to buy your work when they ask. It’s a win-win-win!
I’d be remiss to tell you that learning how to start an Etsy shop comes without challenges, but it’s nothing you can’t handle by thinking ahead and being proactive!
Some Challenges to Avoid:
1. Be ready BEFORE your first sale.
Even if you’re not selling anything yet, have your shipping times, means of shipping, and packaging materials ready to go! This way, you will be able to fill orders and respond to questions in a timely manner right off the bat. If you are planning on accepting custom orders, then make sure you have the time to make the orders and ship them in the time you promise to your buyers.
2. Don’t forget about fees.
Etsy takes a fee for every transaction, so be sure to build that into your pricing.
3. Make sure you’re marketing your shop!
It can be hard to think about when you’re just learning how to start an Etsy shop, but unless you hire someone to do it for you, you will also need to do your own marketing. This can be done by sharing on social media or spreading the word through email and other outside sources. Make sure you have the time to do this, as relying solely on Etsy’s search function will likely yield little to no sales.
How to Start an Etsy shop(!):
- Photograph at least 20 items to start your shop. If you don’t make that many items, then photograph what you have.
- You can have up to 5 photos per item so take at least 5 good photos of each item.
- Edit the photos if needed and add a watermark or your company name and website to the images. People can pin from Pinterest and your image acts as another piece of marketing material if you put your name on it.
- Set up your Etsy shop by following the prompts on Etsy. You’ll need a image for your shop banner (refer to Etsy for the dimensions as they may change). Complete all of the “about” sections for your shop with info about your handmade goods and you as a maker.
- Create policies for your shop – how often will you ship? Will you allow returns? How do you handle damaged or broken items? Look at other successful sellers for ideas on how to word these sections of your shop.
- Find out if you need to collect sales tax in your state and follow the procedure for setting up that account if needed. Be sure to input this information into your Etsy seller account.
- List your items. Fill out every section of the listing form on Etsy. Upload 5 photos per item. Use keywords and descriptive language in your descriptions as these are indexed by Etsy when people are searching for items. For example, rather than “wool socks, handmade” write a description like “Handmade wool socks with 100% merino wool yarn, hand-spun in my Maine country workshop and knitted with love”.
- Fill out the 13 keywords and 13 materials spaces on all of your listings if possible. For wool yarn socks, consider keywords “yarn socks, handmade socks, knitted socks, knit wool socks, …” and materials will be short, “wool”.
- Preview the listing to make sure it all looks good and then publish the listing. You can share the listing to social media right away!
Final Thoughts on Starting an Etsy Shop…
Your first sales will take some time to happen. Do some promotion ahead of time and spread the word about a “launch date” so that your friends, family, and followers know when to support you! Think of how a bricks and mortar store would have a grand opening – you can do the same with your Etsy shop. Connect with other shop owners in Etsy’s community or through social media and get feedback from them about your shop. And finally, be open to making adjustments and changes as you learn what your customers want and need from you to make the transaction a success.
Do you have any tips of your own to share? Leave them in the comment box below and don’t forget to check out Jennifer’s Etsy shop!