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If your sell products online, the world is your oyster. Today, the number of tools, platforms, and guides available has skyrocketed. As a result, more people are going full time with passion projects. Maybe we are in the age on the “gig economy”, but we are also in the age of more opportunity for everyday people to run successful businesses.
As many of you know, I’m a huge Etsy fan. In my opinion, Etsy is the best place to start your journey toward being your own boss. It isn’t a walk in the park. This guide gives you clear, useful advice for to making money and having success on Etsy.
Before starting on Etsy
Though Etsy makes things easy for you to get started, remember that starting a business takes a lot of effort.
You may think your boss is an idiot, but that doesn’t mean his job is easy. Don’t fall victim to the Dunning Kruger effect. A little education goes a very long way. Here’re a few resources to read/listen to before starting any business…
Books to Read Before Starting Your Shop
Podcasts to Listen to Before Starting Your Shop
Photographing Your Products
Getting Your Offer Ready
Etsy is a visual platform. The #1 thing your customers will use to evaluate your product is its look.
Put another way, the better your photos, the more you will sell. Figuring out how to take professional quality pictures is an absolute must (especially if your store sells a products for more than $20).
Below there are a few links to tutorial for taking high quality photos. Truth be told, cameras are so powerful today, taking awesome pictures can be done on your iPhone. This is the simplest and most effective way to put yourself in good position.
How Do you Know if a Picture is Good? A simple way to evaluate your photos is to look at the ratio of favorites to views. Etsy will give you all this data in your seller dashboard. Anything over 10% (1 favorite for every 10 views) is in the top percentile of Etsy photos and should be considered very good. If at first you are having trouble ranking in Etsy’s search results, simply pay for advertising to figure out which photos are good and which are not.
Pricing Your Products
More preparations before starting
If you have never started a business before, pricing will be tough. There are a million and one ways to calculate price. Finding the right strategy will be up to you. I’ll give you two related things to consider when pricing.
1. You will feel a strong urge to underprice. Underpricing is very common and can be fatal to your business, so always be on the lookout. Even if the price tag for your item feels high, remember that price tag is paying for more than just your lunch. Now, your items need to support an entire business.
2. Many people experience imposter syndrome during their first years in business. Remember this is a normal feeling (that nearly 70% or all people experience). Don’t let it cloud your judgment or reduce your pricing.
Serving Your Customers
starting your etsy shop
There are a million business sayings out there, but there is only one worth paying attention to: the customer comes first.
The sad news for many looking to trade in the stress of a 9 – 5 job for life on their own terms is that you trade in one boss for many. You now answer to your customers.
As a result, from the very beginning focus on finding ways to make your customer’s experience better. Again, your own creativity and insight will lead the way here, but I’ve got 3 solid suggestions to get the ball rolling.
1. Responding to queries is critical People will reach out. It’s your job to follow up promptly and professionally, even if when you realize that the project you are discussing likely won’t work out. Provide suggestions, insight, and tips when possible and your customers won’t forget.
2. Follow up on delivered orders Ask for feedback about the experience. If your customer had some problem with a delivery or product, address it personally and promptly. Most Etsy users will work with you to find a solution.
3. Protect your feedback ratings Studies have shown that feedback rating has the biggest influence on customer purchasing decisions. Even a single negative review can damage your shop for years, so if a customer has a negative experience, work with them to find a solution.
Building Beyond Etsy #1 – Email Marketing
Building Your Business
When you are an Etsy seller, you never learn anything about your customer until they buy something from you. At that point, you will learn their email address, location, and a few other details.
At this point, you want to make that customer part of your business, not just a part of Etsy. The simplest and most effective way to do this is email.
You will hear the term “email list” thrown around quite a bit online. This is a list of customers who have shared their email list with you.
The key here is to think of ways to continue to provide value to your customers. Sending miscellaneous business updates is boring and useless. Instead, think of something interesting and use that as content for your customers.
My two recommendations for email marketing software are below.
Building Beyond Etsy #2 – Your Website
Building beyond Etsy
Running a successful, independent website is much more difficult than an Etsy shop, so I would use simple tools and a regular publishing strategy, stick to it, and focus on growing Etsy sales.
There are a lot of simple ways to start a website (3 recommended below).
Like I mentioned, growing successful websites takes a lot of time and creativity. At first, you won’t have a ton of energy, so stick with Etsy. If you can make money there, then explore building a fuller web presence. In the meantime, just get your product catalogue up and you should be good.
Building Beyond Etsy #2 – Social Media
Building beyond Etsy pt.3
If you are a social media user, it can feel very natural to start promoting your products via your personal social media account. I advise against this for a few reasons.
First, email converts way higher than any social media. If you are serious about marketing channels, build an email program first.
Second, it’s very easy to lose focus on social media. Social media platforms are engineered to steal your attention. Escaping those traps can require a superhuman effort!
Third, it’s a very easy way to feel like you are working without actually working at all. Tweeting about working is not actually working. If you are serious about having success, being clear-eyed about what it takes is an absolute key.
I’m not saying social media is not a viable and useful way of attracting customers. It is. Early on, however, it is likely more a distraction than anything else.
The Short Version
The Short Version
That may seem like a lot to take in, but here is the short version.
Below I’ve created an appendix with more resources for each of the sections above. If you have a resource that you believe would help other readers, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will take a look.
Preparing to Start Resources
1. The Lean Startup
2. The Four Hour Workweek
Showing Off Your Work
1. 20 Photography Tutorials
2. An intro to Photoshop
Pricing and Confidence
1. Predictably Irrational
Serving Your Customers
1. Steve Blank’s Website
Building a Successful Website
1. Smart Passive Income
Introduction to Email Marketing
1. Neil Patel’s Guide to Email Marketing
A guide to selling on Etsy
Web Employed’s Etsy Guide