When I heard about esty a couple years ago, my reactions was, “FINALLY!! I have somewhere to sell my things on my terms!” As one of those truly obsessed crafters, I had more desire to make than I had need of things made. And I wanted to combine my handmade passions with making money (mostly to subsidize my yarn and fabric habits). Before etsy, my options were participate in boutiques that were not at all my style or desire, or peddle around my wares to boutiques where I’d have to wholesale them for less than they were worth and watch the boutique mark them up to much more than they were worth. I wanted nothing to do with either route.
Etsy, though, was a perfect fit for me. It gave me a place to do what I wanted, at the pace I could handle doing it. I had a good readership going on my blog, and I knew that people wanted what I had been showing there everyday. My first shop update sold out that day and it was so validating and confidence building. I believe in buying handmade, and it continues to make me incredibly happy to participate in what etsy is doing, now over two years later.
I often get emails from other moms wanting to do what I am doing, and asking for tips and from current etsy sellers who are struggling to make sales looking for help getting their store rolling. I decided to write down my best advice for those of you who are in either of those categories, and want a little help: 1. My blog is vital to my sales. Etsy is still new enough that the people selling outnumber the people buying. Meaning, etsy itself doesn’t have enough people just clicking around looking to purchase something. I would estimate that 95% of my sales come from blog readers who clicked over to my shop specifically to make a purchase. Rarely, I have a purchase from someone searching on etsy. Advice from my personal experience, then, is that a frequently updated and thoughtfully presented blog is priority number one.
2. The proper order of things is: you make cool stuff that people want, and then you decide to begin selling it on etsy (or elsewhere) rather than deciding to open a shop and then figuring out what to make. Those of us passionate about the handmade will tell you that originality and good design are what sell, and you can’t fake that. If you are looking to make some money and see that others are doing it this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way for you to do it. Be creative with what your talents and skills are, and really decide if handmade is your real passion and strength before opening an etsy shop, if you want to be successful.
3. As a busy mom, I wasn’t looking for something that runs me, but rather, something to do on my own terms. There are a lot of shops out there that sell adorable small crafts and supplies at a low price point with a high volume of sales. I couldn’t handle that kind of daily work. I chose to work things like this: every month or so I update the shop, and hope it all sells! I make usually one of a kinds at a higher price point, making for less shipping, posting, emailing, etc. which is where most of the not enjoyable parts of the work lie for me. I think updating less (I don’t have time to do more even if I wanted to), and more special items have both worked to my advantage. Know yourself and what you can handle.
4. TAKE GOOD PICTURES!! When people shop online, they are purchasing a picture, not a real product. They don’t get to touch and hold the product, so the image has to sell them. Whenever I see poorly lit or unattractive photos it turns me off to the product, no matter how otherwise desirable it is. You don’t need to be a photographer to know the basics of light and composition. Just do an internet search or go to the library for information and practice. You also don’t need an expensive camera to take a well composed photo. But, after getting into picture taking a little bit, you might be obsessed and absolutely need a nice camera, I’m warning you!!
5. Advertise if you need to. With the current blogging trend of getting blog “sponsers” for well-trafficked blog, it’s a great opportunity to generate some interest in what you’re doing. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m thinking when my daughter heads to kindergarten soon and I have more time to make things, this might be a good way to go.
6. Be gracious. Answer emails promptly, ship promptly, and be a part of the online handmade community in a positive way. I love love getting repeat customers (which account for a high percentage of my sales), because it means I did something right. Be respectful of copyright laws and don’t do shady things like slightly changing another’s design. Crafting integrity brings good selling karma!
I hope this was useful to someone! I love what I do, creating and being able to share those creations has been a wonderful part of my life. I know many of you probably know what I mean, and there are more who’d like to try. In the end, what do you have to lose? Go for it! And good luck!!
Speaking of handmade, come back later this week for some giveaway treats!!