Etsy Insiders Share The Secrets of Success
The other day I stumbled across my idea of heaven…
Driving down a country lane in Shropshire I saw a sign tied to a tree saying ‘Vintage and Antiques’ with a large black arrow pointing toward what looked like an industrial-estate car park.
After passing a car valet business on an unmade road, I pulled up in front of a shabby-looking old barn with a few random items piled up outside… an old fairground ride carriage… the wheel from a wooden cart… piles of old fruit crates painted bright colours. ??
Inside I found a friendly lady behind a makeshift cash desk and a barn-full of inexpensive, unusual vintage and just-plain-old STUFF: tens of chests of drawers – some stripped and painted, some battered and old; taxidermy; vintage clothes; dining tables stacked on top of each other in a dangerous teetering piles; mirrors; puppets; antique toys.
My three-year-old son immediately attached himself to a large brass crocodile, which he insisted on carrying round with him as my heart pounded in my chest when we passed piles of pretty tea sets and china.
Aside from the amazing visual feast for someone as addicted to bits and bobs as I am, the best thing about this place was that it was cheap. The potential to buy items, upcycle them a little and sell on for profit was enormous.
I really had to resist my urge to splurge!
With several online projects on the go already, I can’t take on too much more. But I did stumble upon a rather special dressing table that now sits, painted bright yellow, in my bedroom.
Price? Just ten quid.
I didn’t buy the crocodile, fearing infant head injuries, but should I have wanted to, it was only 50p.
Why am I telling you about this?
Well, aside from it being just about the most exciting event in the last 7 days, I thought I’d pull together some of the best marketing advice for anyone who wants to sell homemade, vintage or upcycled items online. ??
If you’re not a crafter yourself, this advice could still pay dividends if you were to offer to market other peoples’ shops on their behalf. Or to buy items at low cost at little-known places like the one I stumbled upon and then sell on for profit.
I really love shopping on Etsy. When I got married earlier this year, it was a fantastic place to find original, quirky items that weren’t the same as everyone else’s.
When it comes to actually running a shop, I am yet to give it a try, although it’s certainly on my radar, as I know many people who are starting their own online crafting businesses and are making a very pleasant and enjoyable living.
I’ve been chatting to some of my friends that run their own successful Etsy businesses – from homemade sweets to knitted dolls via a talented photographer – to ask them which one marketing tactic they couldn’t run their shop without.
All of them do lots of selling offline, which helps build their reputation and spread the word about their shops. But, beyond that, all of them had very different ideas about what works best for them.
I’ve summarised their answers below…
Etsy Seller #1
“I use Search Engine Optimisation to help
new customers find my Etsy shop.”
This Etsy crafter continued:
“At the start I found SEO really difficult to understand, but now I feel that it is a vital tool in the growth of any creative business.
I focus on making sure my listings are keyword-rich, written with language that will hopefully attract the right kind of people to my product listings.
‘When I am trying to figure out how to write my listing so that it does well on the right search result pages, I always start by thinking of phrases related to my products but with an obvious notion that they are also looking to BUY something.
It’s easier than you’d think – as you know your products (and customers) best. Once you determine what the words are that you’d like to drop into the title and description of your products, you can use a keyword tool to look at the details of if and how often people are searching for those words.
Obviously the next question is this: Are there enough people searching per month for a term on Google to even consider writing your product details to attract those searchers?
On the flipside you need to make sure it’s not over-saturated, e.g. it will be extremely difficult to rank on Google for a high volume term such as ‘buy sweets’, but easier to rank on Google for lower competition, small-niche, two-to-three-word phrases such as ‘homemade sweets vintage.
I try to think about volumes when I am creating my products too. I focus on small niches always – yes, they are searched for less often on Google every month, but they also have less competition and a clearer target market.”
Etsy Seller #2
“For me, Facebook and Twitter have greatly increased my visibility and grown my customer base; that’s where I spend most of my time and effort (and luckily, no money!)”
“After selling on Etsy for some time, I really know how hard it is to get any views for a product simply by taking good photos and listing it.
You are competing with thousands of other products so you can’t rely on Etsy featuring you on your homepage and making you highly visible to their browsing traffic.
Marketing your Etsy shop in other places is something I was hesitant about at first. But, for me, it is a must these days. Connecting your Etsy shop with Facebook and Twitter is one quick easy step you can take. But, more than that, what I find really works is always chatting to customers (old, new and potential) on Facebook and Twitter.
Doing giveaways that are focused around sharing and liking product photos to be in with a chance of winning one can get your items noticed on social sites quickly and cheaply. Competitions like that only take people a couple of seconds to enter, so people really respond to them well. The more people who like or share, the more of their friends’ feeds you’ll also pop up on, so it’s a way to get seen quickly by lots of people.
On Twitter I try to connect with other Etsy sellers too, and then they are often able to share my news and links, as I’ll do the same in return for them when they have a new product or competition.
All in all I think social media is great: it’s free and effective. I would be lost with my shop without it.”
Etsy Seller #3
“It’s the pictures that sell my products.”
“OK, I know that there’s a lot of different stuff that goes into successful selling on Etsy, starting, of course, with great products. You also have to be mindful with pricing, be fast at shipping stuff out to customers, reply to emails and messages quickly, and all of that stuff, but if you want me to answer honestly about what I think is the best marketing tactic of all for my Etsy shop, it’s down to the photos.
All of your efforts in other areas will be totally pointless if the people looking at your shop arrive and find rubbish photos that don’t show off a product to its full potential.
Photos are what sell online, just as visual merchandising and customers actually picking up and trying out products inside high street shops is what sells there.
Pictures that sell your products should make each item interesting and have a personality all of its own.
A few tips I would give are to use natural lighting whenever possible. A flash is my enemy when it comes to showing off my own handmade items. Close-ups are vital and adding the maximum of five photos for every product is really important too, in my experience. Photos, photos, photos!”
Etsy Seller #4
“Blogging is the best thing I ever did!”
“I’m in no doubt that my blog is what has made my Etsy shop work. When you’re an Etsy seller, you have a chance to tell the story or inspiration behind your work to an audience who love the narrative. It adds extra personality to your products too. It gives them a sort of human-interest angle.
Blogging places you at the centre of the ‘crafting’ community – a community that is very welcoming and if you can get yourself guest-posts on more established sites (I do this with tutorial posts and videos – they are very popular), you can start to get lots more traffic to your own blog and then to your shop.
I think blogging and crafting just fit so nicely together. Readers can follow the development of a new design or idea as it comes to life (and then go and buy one). I think it’s a brilliant way to build up excitement around your product.
A blog can offer alternate income too, from adverts etc, although I’m yet to do that on my own website.”
Etsy Seller #5
“Good product descriptions are a critical part of the selling process.”
This final Etsy seller told me:
“Descriptions and photographs are the biggest marketing tools at your disposal as an Etsy seller.
Some sellers say that it’s best to go into a lot of minute detail about your items – describing them as if there is not photograph at all. But, for me, it’s about being concise, showing some personality and telling them something about what makes my product different from others available on the site.
A good description, typo-free and well written, will give you an edge, showing potential customers that you took a lot of time and effort to tell them a little bit about what you’ve created.”
That’s about it for this week and do let me know what you think about Etsy as an online opportunity or if you have any questions.
Internet Income Detective