How to be Successful and Make Money Online on Etsy
I’ve been creating all of my life. I started out with finger paintings and crayon drawings and set myself up with a roadside “art stand.” That didn’t pan out, but the desire to create and make a living with my creations has never died. I continued to design; pastel drawings, scrapbooks, handmade invitations to family events, crocheting, jewelry making… you get the picture.
Eventually a gift I made for a friend sparked interest in my jewelry designs with colleagues in my office, and so my adventures in trying to sell my work began again.
But how to start? I started out with a small craft show. But shows are a LOT of work and are not always the best way to start out. There’s booth design, a lot of stock to create and carry around, long hours, and shows can be hit or miss on matching products to the customer who wants them.
Then I came across Etsy and it was the answer to my prayers! I set up a rough shop in under an hour and was up and running. Here’s how you can do it!
Here are the steps I’ve used to become profitable in my Etsy Store:
- Evaluate your product the your best in Show
- Set up the framework of your Etsy Shop in under an hour
- Create your listings, with stories and flair
- Design your Brand and put it on Everything
- Shipping Fast and with Class
- Stepping it up with Advertising and more
- Continue to grow as you go
Evaluate your product for the best in Show
The first thing I had to do once I decided to sell my art was to really take a hard look at what I did best. Which pieces displayed the best quality I could produce? Which pieces would someone want to buy? Which pieces were simply an exploration that would never sell?
I talked to Kartikeya Sharma, and after the discussion I found out that this will be the hardest part of setting up your Etsy store and really of selling your craft anywhere. You want your products to sell, and you want them to be of the highest quality you can produce. I was ruthless in my critique and had an artist friend go through my pieces as well.
You’ll want to find someone who can critique you the same way, take notes and use them to improve your product. You can skip this step and go directly to setting up your store, but you’ll waste a lot of time and costly materials on product that just won’t move, or worse… it’ll sell and your reputation will be damaged as an artist.
Set up the framework of your Etsy Shop in under an hour
You can rough out your Etsy store in about an hour. There are countless articles out there that will tell you to “say this” or “write that,” but that’s not the whole answer. The key in the steps I’m about to outline for you is to be yourself, be descriptive, and don’t be afraid to share the story behind everything.
Customers shop on Etsy for the unique, the handcrafted, and to support the artists who run the shops they frequent. If you tell your story, they will come.
1. You’ll need a user name to create your account. You want something that is easy to spell and represents you and your overall product vision, don’t make it specific to your product or you’ll have a hard time introducing new lines later. You cannot change this username, so think it out fully before you start.
2. You may want to consider creating an email address purely for your business. This will give you a more professional look, boost your credibility, give your customers another way to reach you for return sales, and help you to manage business emails faster with less spam.
3. Go to the Etsy home page, and choose “Register,” and then change the account type to seller. From here, you’ll be presented with a lot of blanks to fill out, don’t skip anything if you can. The more fully you fill this out, the more easily customers will be able to find you and your products… meaning more sales!
4. Adjust your settings and the look of your store. If you don’t have images of your products yet to use or a brand to use as a banner, check online for images that remind you of your products. You can always update it as your store evolves.
5. Make sure you write your bio! This is a crucial step that a lot of people miss (I did the first time around) and it’s a key to drawing in the clients that Etsy brings to you. They want the story, they want to know you and why you created the work you do. Don’t disappoint them, or your sales will disappoint you.
Create your listings, with stories and flair
Ok, you have a store! Now what? Now you have a place to connect with customers, get to know them and let them get to know you even better. A listing that is well thought out and grabs the eye will draw customers back; even if you don’t have what they’re looking for this time, they’ll come looking for you later.
They may favorite your shop or listing based on just one outstanding entry, creating more buzz for your products… read that as free advertising!
1. Before you start listing, you need to be sure you’re pricing your pieces appropriately. There’s often a struggle between wanting to price it to sell, and the part where you need to make a living. Know your value. Do web searches for similar types of products and see how the materials compare to yours, are those products priced well enough to cover your materials, listing fees, packaging costs, and time? Don’t forget overhead like standard supplies (glue, new tools), electricity, and anything else that goes into making the product but isn’t covered in just a raw materials list.
2. Take great pictures! If your cell phone takes good quality photos, you can upload photos from your phone directly to your Etsy listings with their great app. It’s easy to use and can be a quick way to list a new product to get it posted fast. Make sure you have a lot of light, and you use a background that really shows off your work. A lot of artists like to stage their photos with props; such as pens on a desk with a notebook, or a turned wooden bowl holding fruit. Have fun with it, get creative, and you can play around with what suits your unique vibe and ties into your brand.
3. Now you’re set to list the product on Etsy. Go to Listings Manager, add a New Listing. Upload your photos, you can have up to 5 per listing. Then fill in all the blanks on the Listing Details. The process here is pretty painless. The critical part here again is the listing description… you want this to really tell the story of your piece. What’s it made of? What inspired you? What’s special about it? Can it be customized or is a one of a kind? I can’t emphasize enough how much the client wants these stories!
Design your Brand and put it on Everything
As you look at your products, your workspace, and your home, you’ll start to realize that you have a unique visual presence… a common decorating theme, colors or styles in your wardrobe, a certain overall look to your pieces.
These are you, these are your brand. And your brand is the key to a professional look to your store, your listings, and your packaging.
Use this personal style to develop a logo for your business. There are plenty of software options for you to do this yourself (paid and freeware), or you can hire someone to do this for you… Etsy has a number of shops selling graphic designs and branding.
Once you have a logo, you can make it part of your shop by using is as your avatar photo, part of your banner, or have it superimposed onto each of your product photos. You’re going to want to have it printed on shipping labels, notecards (more on this later), business cards, and seals.
This logo will represent you, your product, and be the link in your customer’s mind back to you when they need something else wonderful from your shop.
Shipping Fast and with Class
Congratulations! You got your first order. Or at least you will and you’ll need to ship it. I highly recommend that you test package your product for shipping so that you can list the shipping weight and accurately note in the listing what the shipping price will be.
You’ll want to increase the actual shipping price by about 5% to 10% in order to help cover packaging and other costs of shipping that aren’t directly to it going on the truck and being delivered.
You’ll also be able to be sure that you’re packaging it well enough to arrive in perfect condition to your customer. I wait until I’ve finished photos so that I can leave the piece packaged for quicker turn around at sale… just be sure you mark what is in the box or you’ll have to unwrap it to figure it out again later. I write the product name where the shipping label will cover it.
Once you have the order, you need to be sure that you ship it promptly. If you promise 2 – 3 day processing in your listing, make sure you ship it in that time-frame or you’ll damage your credibility with that customer and anyone they talk too.
And here is where those notecards from the last step come in. You’re going to have branded seals to secure your tissue paper, you’re also going to have notecards to write a personal note to the customer who bought your art. You can create a script to use, but make sure you change it up to fit the product that the customer bought, and use their name. You can also use coupons to boost your sales, and of course shipping as well.
This will help you to develop that friendly, ongoing relationship where they come to you first for the next piece they need!
Stepping it up with Advertising and more
The next thing you need to consider is how to increase your visibility and bring more customers to browse in your shop. This can be done in a number of ways. I personally like the free options… or sometimes even getting paid for my advertising. Here are a few of my favorites for you to try.
1. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Any social media site can be used for free advertising. Just set up an account in the name of your business and link it to your Etsy site. You’ll be able to post your new listings to your social media for an instant view by anyone who likes your pages or feed.
2. Guest blogging (or your own blog) is an option for potentially being paid to plug your product. A lot of blogs pay for guest posts in order to give themselves a little downtime in their daily writing. If you’re able to get a guest blog post where you can talk about your products, you’re being paid to advertise your own store. You can also guest blog for free and still get the advertising for free, if not the paycheck. And if you have your own blog, I shouldn’t have to tell you to post about your new business!
3. Etsy and Facebook also have paid advertising available. Both charge small fees for ads and bill monthly. They have different policies about the ads, so be sure to read everything as you go or you could end up paying for an ad that they take down.
4. Keywords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are also great tools to use inside your listings in order to get a boost when people search for products like yours on Etsy, Google and more. Both essentially are picking words that you would use to search for your product.
If you design bridal headpieces, you might use the keywords of “bridal, wedding, headpiece, veil, and formals.” There are resources available both on Etsy and a multitude of sites on how to improve your use of these processes… make use of them!
Continue to grow as you go
You might feel that once you’ve completed these steps and the sales begin to roll in, that you’re all finished and the store will rock its way to profitability. This might work for you. On the other hand, why stop there when there are ways to boost that profitability? The best thing you can do for your art and for your shop is to continue to grow.
Try new processes and techniques for your art… not only will you have new products, but it’ll keep your creativity fresh and flowing and keep customers coming back to see what’s new. Read up on how to improve your descriptions, a new technique for your photography and improve your listings for more punch.
Renew your biography as you grow, it’ll add more dimension to your store and to how your customers perceive you. Art is never stagnant… your shop shouldn’t be either.
There you go… you have my recipe for a successful Etsy store where you can link to customers who are looking for you and for your unique art. Good luck and have fun!