So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and put your wonderful creative wares up for sale on Etsy: hooray! The first step to selling on Etsy is admitting you’d like to do it. Actually selling items, well, that can be a different story.
While Etsy is a great platform for many small artisans, attracting a wide base of customers it would otherwise be very difficult to find, it’s easy for first-time sellers to get lost among the platform’s many voices. But not to worry, with a few handy tips and best practices under your belt, you’ll be sure to make the most of the famous crafting site in no time. We highly suggest starting with this extensive interactive guide, as well as with these following key tips to to ensure you sell more on Etsy.
Click image to open interactive version (via WorldPay Zinc).
1. Find a Theme for Your Store
Your theme will guide just about everything you do for your store, from the kind of products you sell to your marketing strategy. Start with a good brainstorming session, sticking to your known talents and skills. Then narrow down your options based on the product guidelines. It’s of the utmost importance that you pick a first product you can really do well, so also cut any that are too labor intensive or require too much experimentation.
Once you’ve picked your first product, try to think of related accessory products or even products that are very similar to the original one but with a new twist. True creativity is often manifestations of a theme, and sticking to this theme will also help keep your branding consistent. Save the totally out there or different ideas for when your store is better established.
Once you’ve got your first product, you’ve pretty much got your theme. Did you decide to make a knitted tea cozy? Your theme could be anything from knitted products to tea products. Your theme will help guide a number of things to follow, including:
• Your store name. Go for something memorable that also doesn’t box you into a topic so you can expand later. Do a search of current user names so you can be sure to pick something distinctive. Use uppercase letters but NO numbers, or else you’ll look spammy.
• Your store visuals. Your banner is one of the few places where you can do your own branding. If you don’t have an idea of what this is yet, then just make sure to pick a professional-looking photo—either one that features a few of your products or one purchased from a fellow Etsy seller. Even better, head to a graphic designer to create one of your own. This will help you develop a distinctive voice and tone for your visual branding as you expand your reach and branch out onto other sites.
• Your profile. Your profile page should definitely be filled out fully. Do your best to tell a compelling story about yourself, using your theme to guide you towards the kinds of details you’d like to share (i.e. those that keep you on topic and demonstrate your unique qualifications for selling within this field). The more details you give, the more buyers will trust you and the higher you’ll be ranked in search results, as you’ll find yourself naturally including keywords.
2. Optimize Your Products for Sale and Your Store for Sharing
Once you’ve got your products loaded up on to the site, they’ll need a little assistance in getting found and convincing customers to make a purchase. Just slapping up a hastily written product description and calling it a day isn’t going to do the trick!
• Snap some high-quality photos. Really, there’s nothing more key to making a sale than providing a sharp product image. Doing so not only gives your potential customer a much better sense of the product itself and the kind of experience they might have with it, but it also just makes you look more professional. To take a high-quality photo, pay particularly good attention to lighting and backgrounds, and make sure to take shots from multiple angles and distances. For more in-depth tips on this, we highly recommend Etsy’s own Photography Seller Handbook.
• Write excellent product descriptions. Product descriptions should first and foremost be functional and descriptive. They should get to the point, discussing all of the specifics, perhaps discussing your inspiration, and directing customers to other items they might want to buy in tandem. Keep it all in first-person so it’s nice and personal, establishing trust with your potential buyers and giving them a good sense of who you are.
• Use the correct titles, tags and categories. As you create your listing, it’s important to select a category that really fits with what you’re selling, as that will help searchers more easily find your wares and may also get you featured on the site. If your products span categories, try one category for one product and another for a related product to determine which sells more. It’s also important to choose accurate tags and titles, preferably including keywords, to help searchers find your products. This guide to tagging takes a more in-depth look at how to choose the perfect tags for you.
3. Market Your Products on Social Media
Phew! After all of that work, your listing is finally ready to go. Now what? Why, promotion on social media, of course! With millions upon millions of users both within and between the Facebooks, Twitters, Google Pluses and Pinterests of the world, there’s no better (and more cost-effective) way to spread the news about your products. That said, effective social media usage means doing more than just clicking follow.
• Practice engagement marketing. Remember when you used to watch TV ads rather than fast forwarding through them on your DVR? Well, TV ads (and, really, ads in general) are what we call “broadcast advertising,” and they’re widely ignored by today’s consumer. Social media, in contrast, is all about engagement marketing. Rather than blasting out a constant stream of tweets about your products or sales, reach out to potential and current customers to engage in conversation. Comment like a friend on follower feeds, and share content they really want to read. Host a Hangout on Google+ where you get to do something fun, like demonstrate how to make an accessory for one of your products. While you can occasionally post about your products, it’s best to follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of your posts should share relevant content and build relationships with your followers; 20% of your posts can be promotional.
• Join an Etsy Pinterest group. The visual nature of Pinterest makes it a natural marketing venue for Etsy sellers. Not only should you make your own board, but you should also consider joining any one of these Etsy pinning boards, upon which various Etsy sellers actively pin each other’s materials to build exposure and traction—just one of many examples where the strong Etsy community can really launch sellers to success.
4. Know When It’s Time to Move On
Maybe it’s the fees that are getting to you, the competition from similar sellers or the dependency on a single site with its own changeable regulations. Or, maybe you’ve just had enough success that you’ve gained a strong entrepreneurial sense, established your brand and developed a base of customers you know will follow you wherever you go. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that while Etsy is a great place for many crafters to get started, there comes a time when your business may be better hosted on your own domain, integrating a third-party sales platform into your site. How to do so?
• Choose a host and domain name. Try to keep your domain name consistent with your store name so customers will easily be able to find and recognize you. Choose a web host with a good reputation and that also optimizes web speed, as even a few seconds of load time can put a customer off of a purchase.
• Choose a template, content management system and store platform. Whether it’s WordPress, Joomla or something in between, it’s important to pick a template and CMS you’ll be able to manage on your own, even if you get a designer to help you initially establish a site that brings your branding to the forefront. Then choose a hearty and responsive eCommerce platform that’s easy to integrate into your site. Amazon’s webstore is a good candidate, as it has the extra benefit of also including your products in Amazon search results and it comes with extensive support resources.
• Get marketing, all over again! Selling on your own will require a little more work on your end to ensure you’re keeping and growing your following. Be ready to get those hands dirty!
Etsy is really the perfect platform for the first-time seller. If you’re just getting started, you’re in good hands! The tips above will go a long way towards launching you, but if you feel overwhelmed at any time, Etsy’s community boards, where you’ll find plenty of passionate and caring Etsy users, are just a click away. We can’t wait to see your store!