This morning I had an email from a friend asking for advice on opening an Etsy shop. I get this kind of email regularly, so I thought it would be useful for more readers if I made a post about it. So, here you have, in no particular order, several points that I think are essential for making your Etsy shop a successful one:
1. Your Product
- The first and most important thing is that you understand that the product you sell must be original and must fill a need – and this is, in my opinion, what takes more time to accomplish. I have seen too many online sellers copying what seems to be another seller’s formula – and of course close their shops a few months later. You simply cannot steal another seller’s market niche – once buyers are satisfied with a seller, they won’t go somewhere else.
2. Time Management
- This IS a business, so get ready to sacrifice time and home space, and make your family understand that you won’t be interrupted during work hours. This is not easy with children, but there are many Etsy sellers who are stay-at-home-mamas and that have successful businesses, so it is NOT impossible.
3. Customer Service
- Listen to your customers – and give them what they ask! You are not there to make everyone fit into your vision, but to offer a service.
- Keep your products well packaged and presented and be ultra careful with your shipping – your customers will speak of your extra care!
- Answer convos quickly and keep your customers updated of shipping dates right on time. Do not leave unanswered emails for tomorrow! Keep a daily time for that matters – customers really appreciate the time you take and will come back and recommend your shop.
- Understand customer psychology and place yourself in the customer’s position; what do you expect from a shop and its owner?
4. Business And Marketing Learning
- The fact that you business is home based is not an excuse to be sloppy – you need business cards, sales filing, inventories, costumer lists, etc.
- Learn the basics of business and promotion, as they work for all kinds of businesses, metaphysical included. You need a business plan with short, medium and long term goals, so you keep focused on your business’ direction. There are many sites on the topic, just google it!
5. Blogging And Online Promotion
- You can promote on all social networks: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Stumble It, Squidoo, LiveJournal, …. too many to mention! Choose a few at a time and see if they bring clients or not – work only with those that works for your business, and experiment and focus on those that bring sales.
- A good blog must be informative, personal and professional in equal parts. Not an easy task that requires time and learning.
- Interact with other bloggers and shop owners, make givaways or participate in contests. Getting your link out there brings targeted traffic, which is exactly what you need.
- Do NOT Spam people with invites, updates and newsletters. There’s nothing more irritating than that.
6. Knowing Etsy
- Read all Etsy guides and note down all the interesting ideas you find – try them and select those who work best for you.
- Learn to make good photographs and good descriptions – Etsy has high quality standards!
- Join an Etsy Team and participate on its activities. I am member of Pagans Of Etsy.
My Personal Insight And Experience
I don’t know specific statistics, but with over 100.000 sellers on Etsy, there are many chances that your shop won’t make it unless your commitment and preparation are very high. Learning about marketing sounds like a boring task, but I have actually found it fascinating, and have spent many hours researching and enjoying articles on the topic. When shops fail, it is mostly caused by a) products are not good enough; b) marketing is poor and not enough time is devoted to keep the shop going.
Not all social networking sites are useful for your business – do not try to be everywhere, but be consistent on two or three sites that bring sales and good contacts to you.
From a customer’s view, I personally do not like blogs that speak too much about a shop owner’s personal life. Customers want to know if you’re an expert in your market niche, not what you had for dinner. Pics of cats, kids and food are cool, but focus on being informative and entertaining. The same happens to Facebook – too much information could be bad press for you.
Always be polite to your customers and take your time to be of help to them – despite the fact that we are business owners, we are Witches first! Share some of your knowledge, give advice and do things for free.
And, saving the best for last: be good at what you do, and when you’re good, try for better, and when you’re better, try for the best :) .
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