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What I've Learned: Selling on Etsy

September 1, 2011

Last night at our Collective meeting there were some Etsy issues and questions brought up, and I just thought to myself, what a great time to write a ‘what I’ve learned’ about Etsy in response.  That being said, I’m going to write this, obviously, from my own perspective and with my own experience from selling on Etsy for the last three years. Meaning, it’s not an end-all be all suggestion guide for how to succeed on Etsy (they sell those plenty of places). Instead it’s just a guideline, a few suggestions on what helped me get to where I am and how I stay where I am for the time being. So, let’s get down to it. If you’re not selling on Etsy, if you’re not getting adequate views, or if you just want MORE sells:

  1. LIST! This is THE number one advice I have for anyone who thinks they aren’t doing well enough on Etsy. Sure, it sounds easy enough I’m sure, but many sellers don’t *really* do this. When I say LIST, I mean LIST. Not just all your items one day and leave it at that for the next two months. No, you have to list intelligently. You have to renew (even with the new relevancy searches) and you have to edit, and you have to list EVERY DAY! (If that means you have to make something new every day, then do it. This is your job, if you don’t take it seriously, who will?) I’m not exaggerating. Think about it. If you had a brick and mortar store would you just put things out on the shelf and never rearrange until someone bought something? When you’re at a craft show and you’re slow, do you just sit there and leave your items sitting on the shelf without dusting it off a little every now and then? NO! So, why leave your Etsy shop to get dusty. Go in daily and tweak your tags, your titles, your descriptions, until they’re just right and you’re getting the views you want. I’m not a person to renew daily, that’s just not me and I do think it’s a waste of money, HOWEVER, I do think your shop will get more views if you’re active and not passive.
  2. Be a walking advertisement. You can pay for advertising. Sure, but who wants to do that? I’ve paid for advertising and gotten very little from it, but I learned my lesson. I get much more from free advertising than I ever have from paying out the arse for it. So, when I say be a walking advertisement I mean a few things: wear your product if you can (jewelry, clothing, accessories, purses, etc) or carry it around with you (notebooks, cards, wallets, etc), have an elevator pitch ready and waiting when someone asks you what you do (I’m TERRIBLE at this and tend to de-value myself in this area, but at least I know I SHOULD have one ready;)).
  3. Social Networking. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really gotten a sale from FB or Twitter marketing, but it’s FREE, so why not try? Every time you list an item, tweet it. Every time you blog, share it with your Facebook friends, not just your fans, but your friends. Ask your friends to share your links as well. Don’t be obnoxious about it, there is a fine line, but again, it’s free!
  4. Join a Team/Collective. What better way to focus your creative energies than creating and/or joining a group of like-minded individuals. You can share stories, tip, anecdotes and more.
  5. Use all of your outlets. This could likely go along with social networking, but what I mean by outlets are other ‘places’ that might promote your work. Of course, you should blog:) but also join Flickr and send your photos to groups that might be interested in your work. LinkedIn, Tumblr, StumbleUpon. Wherever you can, advertise. Scream it from the tops of buildings. Submit your work to magazines, blogs; but be sure it fits in with their aesthetic or you’re just wasting your time.
  6. Brand. Having a consistent logo, banner, and look to all of your outlets is a necessary evil. You’re creating a brand. You want people to know it’s you wherever they go and if you have a different name/face/picture on every single outlet (FB, Twitter, Etsy, Flickr, etc) then they’re going to get confused and leave. Simple as that. Keep your business business and your personal life personal (to a certain extent). A little bit of ‘real life’ is necessary once in awhile to illustrate that your work is truly handmade BY YOU, but we don’t want to see baby pictures every single day, nor do we want your vacation photos littering your business Flickr page when all we really want to see are your products. So, edit yourself. Brand yourself.
  7. Great Photographs. This is really a belabored topic if you ask me, but there’s truth in it. Take, and post, REALLY GOOD photos of your work. Period.

So, that’s what I have for you thus far in this little bit of time I’ve wittled away today write. My two year old is currently unraveling an entire spool of thread at my workspace so, I better get! (see, a little personal note, I do sew;))


If you want a few more tips, check out The Etsy Seller Handbook: All our How-To’s About Selling.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 2:43 pm

    Relisting daily is going to be even more a waste of money, now:
    You can still search by most-recently-listed, but the default is now relevancy. Which is good in a way, but I’m pretty sure most people don’t know about this yet.

  2. admin permalink*
    September 1, 2011 3:44 pm

    Yeah, I know about relevancy, they’ve been talking it up ever since I joined Etsy honestly, but the fact is, relisting is still going to matter because what about the products that are just as relevant as yours? After relevancy comes recency, so, if you’ve listed more recently, you’ll show up on top. This matters more with the more saturated markets I’m sure, but I still think it will make a difference.

    Relevancy gives me a bit of a tightening in the chest though.

  3. September 1, 2011 5:09 pm

    Great article! I like the walking advertisement. I tend to be really shy when I first meet people and I know that this is kinda counterproductive when I see someone looking at my bag and I don’t say anything!
    As far as relevancy, it has been so weird, but since they’ve changed it I’ve gotten a lot more traffic. I’m still not sure how to use it to favor me but it seems to be helping already.

    • admin permalink*
      September 7, 2011 9:17 pm

      Yes, Molly- when you make something like you do (purses/bags) you should DEFINITELY be a walking advertisement! Always carry cards and talk yourself up! I know it can be hard to pitch yourself, but if you just get your own elevator pitch down then it won’t be so awkward each time b/c you’ll sort of have something prepared to say..if that makes sense;)

  4. September 4, 2011 7:03 pm

    Great article. Just a few observations I’ve made since selling on Etsy. Customer service—always, always provide over and above customer service, that could be the difference between someone returning to your shop to purchase again, or going elsewhere. The other thing I’ve noticed that bugs me when I’m shopping on Etsy, is that a lot of people do not take photos of the back side of an item. I want to see the item all around, I want to know that the pendant I’m purchasing isn’t going to have a rough area on the back that will snag my sweater. Make the most of your photos, if you have to combine a couple of pictures together to show your item properly, then do so. That’s my 2 cents, hope it was helpful.


    • admin permalink*
      September 7, 2011 9:16 pm

      Yes, great 2 cents!! Customer Service is a must! I wrote an entry about a bad cust service experience I had awhile back and believe me, it did ruin my entire experience with the seller. Thanks for adding your tips!

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