Monday, April 6, 2009

Etsy Selling is a Secret Recipe.....

Passage Necklace No. 121 by my dear friend SojournCuriosities

If I had a dollar...heck, a nickel..for every single time someone whispered to me in chat and asked me how I sell so much, I'd be rich! Do I consider myself an Etsy success? Not really, there's many sellers who sell quite a bit more than me. I aspire to be like them. However, my addictive personality keeps me from ever really "making" money, LOL. However, many of you are more disciplined than me, and want to know how to get sales, and make moolah. I see many tutorials for sale on Etsy all the time, people making a buck from their 'vast knowledge' and expertise. While I claim nothing, I decided to share with you my super Etsy secrets here....for FREE. For those of you that would like to ask questions, even for advice on your personal Etsy shop, please feel free to contact me through my Etsy shop, I will gladly give you my opinion. However, please remember, I am, by far, not an expert, and be ready for an honest (and sometimes blunt) opinion. If you can think of anything important I forgot, be sure to remind me of that also.

So without further goes!!

First of all, I have to tell you that I didn't get where I am without busting my butt. I've been on Etsy for 3+ years now. In the beginning I honestly didn't have a clue, it was a total learning curve. I, like many others, threw some shoddy pictures up there and walked away expecting my stuff to just jump off the shelves. It didn't happen. That's when I realized, hey, this takes work, and lots of desire to make it work.

***I liken Etsy selling to a super secret recipe. ***
What works for ME may not work for you! It takes work to figure out what YOUR super secret recipe is. You can ask others, but again, be prepared for it to not work for you. For example, just because I do A, B and C, you may not see any results from doing the same A, B and C. Differing products, different target markets, and many other factors play a part in this. Be prepared to take other's advice, and tweak the recipe, much like you'd do in your own kitchen, to suit your tastes. Remember....perserverance!!!

Have a product that people want to buy! Have a high quality, well made product that you take pride in producing and selling. Believe me, it shows in your product! Be knowledgable about your product. You don't have to give away your trade secrets, but can you answer questions with enough of an answer to satisfy your customers? There's a fine line between "this person doesn't know what the heck they're talking about" and eyes glazing over with too much information.

Your Etsy shop. Work very hard on your Etsy shop. It's the first thing people see, and honestly I believe it influences whether they buy or not. Have a nice banner and avatar. If you can't make it yourself, have someone do it for you. There are tons of FABULOUS graphic designers like clemartdesign on Etsy. Have all your profile and shop policies filled out. Be sure to state clearly what your shipping and return policies are. If you can carry your product branding over into your shop 'look', go for it. I am personally not one for long headers in Etsy shops. When I get to a shop, a short header is ok with some vital info (maybe a sale, a note, something important), but honestly, I want to see pictures. Show me your featured items, I don't want to scroll down past a bunch of stuff I'm probably not going to read anyway to see them. If I want a question answered, I'll go looking for the answer, or I'll convo you, I promise. You have about 3 seconds to catch my catch it!

Do your pictures show of your product to it's best advantage? So you know you have a super kick ass product, now how do you show it off to it's best advantage? Photography is another super secret recipe, and honestly the bane of my existance. If I ever figure it out, I will be sure to share my secrets. Some swear by a light box. I can't take a picture with a light box to save my soul. I've tried a home made one and a professional one. Natural lighting is definitely best for me. Experiment. Be knowledgable in photo editing software so you can edit if you have to. Props are good too, have a great setup.

Listing your items. Be sure to list your items in the proper category. Use as many descriptive tags as you possibly can. Please don't abuse the tags, it makes others cranktaceous! Be sure to include tags telling the following: item, style, color, size, materials used, method used to make item.

What time of day is best to list? Another recipe in and of itself is listing times. You'll have to experiment with this yourself. Some people swear Friday is their best sales day, some Tuesday. If you list consistently and space your items out, you'll begin to see trends of when your sales happen. You'll be able to focus more on when listing will best suit you. I keep a little notebook by my computer and write down anything I think is important that I will need to know later. I went one step further and got a blank calendar page and wrote down the time of each sale, after random listing, for a month. It's a pain, but it helped.

So now you've got your item listed on Etsy, now we get down to the important stuff...the promotion. How do you promote yourself? This is where the ingredients to your recipe come in. There are many ways to do this

Chat. I love Etsy chat. However, I go there to chat, not to hear about someone's sale every time the screen scrolls up, or see someone post their own pictures. People will post your pictures if you're patient. Nothing turns me off from buying from someone more than hearing about their sale every 10 seconds or having them throw their pictures in my face. Again, this is *MY PERSONAL* feelings on the subject. There are special chat rooms called "Featured Seller" chats for promotion. There are also chat rooms from time to time where you are welcomed to self promote.

Social Networking Sites. Indiepublic, MySpace, Facebook, Plurk, Twitter....some people swear by social networking. I hate it personally, and I can't say that I've ever had a sale from it. Yes, I have a MySpace page set up for my business, and even a fledgling Facebook page. Do I visit them? No. (Ok I lied, I visit myspace to do that fun little street racing thing they have now, but that's it!!) I can not stand social networking one bit. About the only one that I still visit with any regularity is Twitter, and basically that's because that one is a little bit fun.

Blog. Some places to blog are blogspot, vox, bravejournal and livejournal. I'm sure there are more, however, I've only ever stuck with blogspot, it's been the longest lasting one so far for me. I can't honestly say I'm particularly fond of blogging either. I don't like to submit post after post of me talking about my products. I try to break it up and be interesting with posts about other things I've found on Etsy, things I've purchased, easy recipes (because y'all know I can't cook!), things going on in my life (without being too in depth), etc etc. Occasionally I do giveaways. There is quite a bit that you can talk about on your blog, it's just finding the happy medium to keeping people coming back.

Flickr. Having a Flickr account is fun. Upload your product or personal pictures, join groups, have your stuff SEEN! I have a free account, and I upload pictures from time to time when I create something that I think is just phenominal. I follow my friends creations on Flickr also.

Paid Advertising. This is something I don't really know too much about, however I think I'm going to focus on it a little bit more this year. There are so many places to advertise. You can advertise on other people's blogs using Project Wonderful. You can advertise on independent sites like craftopolis and craftcult by submitting a paid ad. There's a site called Own The Hour where you can submit your item for the hour for a nominal fee. I have used that one a bit

6.Collaborations. Team up with other Etsy sellers and do some collaborations! For example, I team up with NothingLikeIt and she lists some of my candles in her coaster listings, and I list some of her coasters in my candle listings. If you use packaging or labeling from one seller, give them a pimp in your listing. I'm not saying give away your secret sources here, but feel free to spread the karma.

Now that you've listed your item, and advertised, you SOLD something!! YAY! Isn't it a great feeling? Now jump around the room and do the happy dance, and then get to work packaging it up so your customer can have their item!!

Packaging. Own it. If you're boutique style, do it up right, if you go green and recycled, go for it! (Be sure to state if you use recycled packaging in your shipping and policies, because some people get their panties in a twist about this.) Package up your item securely and safely. Be sure to throw in some business cards. I personally throw in a hand written thank you note for a nice personal touch, and a few freebies if I have any. I also carry my product branding to the outside of my package by putting a sticker on my boxes or bubble mailers.

Customer Service. This is just something I want to touch on because I feel like it's VERY important. Customer service is the one thing that keeps me coming back as a buyer, and I strive to provide my customers with top notch customer service. 99.9% of the time shipping within 24 hours of purchase (My policies state 24-48 hours.) Work with your customers. If you say you're going to ship it Friday, ship it Friday. I don't necessarily need a convo each step of the way, however, if you say you're going to ship Friday, and I don't have it by the next Friday, I start getting peeved. If you can't ship when you say you're going to, contact me, I understand things do happen, we all have lives outside of Etsy. If I convo to ask you a question, please answer me ASAP. Normally, I give 24 hours. If you don't answer, I'm moving on to someone who will. I know some people don't live on their computers like I do, but please check your Email at least once a day if you're trying to run a business, even if it is just a hobby.

Shipping. Please put in your shipping policies when you ship and how long it takes an order to process. When I purchase something, it's like Christmas to myself, I want it like yesterday. However, I do have a wee bit of patience, but not that much. Just a side note, chances are that if you ship once a week, I'm probably going to move on to find a seller that ships more frequently. Believe me, I completely understand gas prices are rising, and it costs to go to the post office. Look into other methods of shipping. USPS provides free carrier pickup. It doesn't cost me anything but the cost of shipping and that scale I bought 4 years ago for $20. In fact, if you ship via PayPal, you get a small discount on shipping. It's only cents, but it adds up right?

Explore Your Options. See what's best for you with shipping, packaging, advertising, promotion. Do a craft show. Don't be afraid to TRY new things. After all, how will you know if they work? Don't base your opinion on doing something once. Do a FEW craft shows. Advertise in a FEW places, or over a FEW days.

The last thing I need to leave you with, before I go, is this...ask yourself...Do you really want this? How bad? That bad? Then DON'T GIVE UP! Experiment. Explore. Try. Ask. Many people will be glad to help (myself included).


Burnt Mill Candles and Soap said...

great post with tons of great ideas :)

LittleGemsbyKari said...

Thanks for the great post, def haven't thought of some of these tips!

Lynne Countenance Jewelry / BeadyIze said...

I'm a little late reading this post, but, wow Di! Great stuff! This took some work to post too, so thanks for the effort. I'm going to go read it slower this time. :)

Jabers & Jeni Hall said...

Thanks for this post. When you are new to etsy every little bit counts. Great advice!