Wednesday, March 19, 2014

So you want to sell on Etsy?

I’ve had several people say they are interested in selling on Etsy and have asked me for advice about how to get started. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’m always happy to share my experiences. I started out selling handmade items, but when I went back to work full-time, I decided to switch to the vintage market. Having experience in both of these markets has given me a unique view of Etsy. While I did enjoy the handmade side of Etsy, in my opinion, handmade items are a lot harder to sell than vintage items. I’m not saying don’t sell handmade items! Do what you love! For me selling vintage items was something that was easier to do with a family and a full-time job. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned from selling both handmade and vintage items on Etsy:

1.       Do your research. If you know what you are going to be selling, look at Etsy shops that have similar items. Look at how items are photographed and described. What prices are they selling their items for? What do they charge for shipping? What are their shop policies? What payment options do they accept? Another really great resource on Etsy is the community forums. If you have a question, chances are the question has already been asked in the forums. Changes to Etsy’s policies and procedures are also announced (and sometimes strongly debated) in the forums.
2.       You get what you give. The more you list on Etsy, the more you promote your shop, the more active you are in the forums, the more you will sell. This is especially true with handmade items. The handmade market is highly competitive and your items can get buried in a hurry. If you aren’t regularly updating your shop, shoppers will have to click through many pages to find your items.
3.       Take good photographs. This is the first thing a potential buyer will see. I have actually seen blurry photos on Etsy, which makes me cringe. I would have liked that item, but if you can’t take the time to take a quality photo, what does that say about your product? Photos with visual appeal also help to draw people to your shop. You don’t have to have a top of the line camera, but do invest in a quality camera. Also invest in a tripod. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Tripods are a must have for getting quality closeups of your items.
4.       Know where to promote. Facebook and blogging are my two favorite ways to promote, but there are so many other options out there. Maybe Twitter or Pinterest is more your style. Maybe you’re a social media queen and you use every social media outlet available. Etsy also has promotions available that feature your items at the top of search results. I tried Etsy promotions a couple of times with limited results, but give it a shot and maybe it will work well for you. Networking can help as well. There are groups on Etsy that work together to help promote each other, but this takes time and is another “you get what you give” option. Etsy groups work for some, but I just have never had the time for it.
5.       Don’t give up. It may take some time to get that first sale. Even if you’re lucky and get that first sale quickly, you may still experience periods of slow business. Everyone experiences this at one time! In my experience the time of year is a big factor on my sales. Winter and spring are the busiest, just because people are indoors on their computers more. Depending on the types of items you are selling you may notice busier and slower times as well.
6.       Have fun! While I loved selling handmade items, it got to be more of chore than a fun side job. I took a break and eventually came back selling vintage which fits in better with all the other demands on my time. And it feeds my need to hoard, I mean, collect things I don’t need. Find something that you enjoy doing and you’ll love Etsy!

If you have an Etsy shop what are your tips for anyone thinking of taking the plunge? 

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