Selling on Etsy: 5 Things I Did Wrong When I Started My Shop

I started using Etsy a few years ago to buy unique and super-cute handmade stuff. I love finding OOAK earrings and quirky vintage clothing. Etsy is the go-to place for that and much more. Last year, I decided that I wanted to sell some artwork online and so I opened my shop. I put up listings of original illustrations and crossed my fingers. I was sure they would sell because they were so cool. Nothing. My views were drier than an Arizona rattlesnake’s belly. I had a small following on Facebook & Instagram, but still, no shop action. But I really didn’t put any work into transferring my brand into the look & feel of my shop. Sure I had my logo and banner, which is unified across my social media platforms, but there was a lot that I had overlooked.

I didn’t realize until I bought this book, Etsy Empire, earlier this year just how wrong I had gotten the Etsy selling experience.

https://www.amazon.com/Etsy-Empire-Updated-March-2016-ebook/dp/B00KOF9PCU#nav-subnav

Boxes and label stickers for my earring shipments.  

Boxes and label stickers for my earring shipments.  

Here are 5 Things I Did Wrong When I Started My Shop:

Not treating my shop like a boutique.

Etsy isn’t just a site to post ‘decent’ images in hopes of a huge payday. So you’re an artist, jewelry maker, crochet-er, or doll maker? Guess what? There are THOUSANDS of shops with thousands of similar products on Etsy. Pretty easy to get lost in the mix. In order to stand out, you need to think critically about every part of the buying experience, so that potential buyers will have a little bit of a push to buy from your shop instead of any of the other makers like you. That means, going a little bit further to please your customers. I sell my handmade earrings and paper dolls primarily on Etsy and with every purchase, I give the customer either a handmade paper pin or a small original illustration. Have you ever purchased something online and were surprised by a little something extra, doesn’t that feel so awesome? It’s part of what I love about shopping on Etsy because I can’t get an experience like that everywhere.

I add extra stickers, and handwritten notes to each package I send as well. I add pretty washi tape and stickers to the outer packaging too! I want my customers to remember their experience and LOVE it enough to come back!

Customer who loves her free gift included with her purchase.  

Customer who loves her free gift included with her purchase.  

Customer photo with a free mini watercolor painting gift that I included in her package.  

Customer photo with a free mini watercolor painting gift that I included in her package.  

 Not staging photos.

The first time I added listings on Etsy last year, I only added one photo of each of my illustrations. It was just a close up of the illustration, just how it appeared on Instagram or on Facebook. Blah. Now, when I take photos of my earrings, I try to add some trinkets as props, and I take advantage of the option for 5 images per listing, I have photos on white, clean backgrounds, also on pretty paper. I also have photos of how the earrings look posed in the Kraft boxes. Buyers like to see the product “in action” if you are selling prints of your artwork, frame it and pose it on a nice table or on the wall. If you are selling clothing, get a friend to model, go outside and have some fun! Natural light is best, and you don’t need a fancy camera. I use my iPhone and Adobe Photoshop to get my pics as nice as I can.

Here’s a link to an easy DIY light box, this will help you take nice photos when going outside isn’t an option:

 http://www.flaxandtwine.com/2013/02/diy-photo-light-box-a-finish-fifty-project/

 https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/category/photography

Little pins on prop paper with trinket props.  

Little pins on prop paper with trinket props.  

Ice cream pin, with my jacket as a prop.  

Ice cream pin, with my jacket as a prop.  

Example of packaging photo.  

Example of packaging photo.  

Vague or too-short descriptions. 

Photos tell only part of the story, but descriptions, really spell it out for your customers, (ha! see what it did there)?  Take time to think about everything you need to inform your customer about regarding your product. Color, available variations, size, care instructions to name a few. Tell a story! Make it funny, but be clear. Don’t mislead your customers. if you’re selling vintage items make sure you disclose any imperfections. Let them know the colors may vary because of screen resolution, things like that. A strong description with keywords will also help with SEO, allowing your shop and listings to show up in more searches and build relevancy.

 https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/20-questions-your-buyers-are-asking-and/22795143310

Excerpt of my listing for these taco Tuesday earrings:  "Illustrate your ears! These shrink plastic button stud earrings make a unique gift for your sister, best friend, niece, mother, yourself, etc.! Taco Tuesday!! Everyone’s favorite day of the week! celebrate it in style, while you chomp on tacos & sip margaritas! Each design is hand drawn on shrink plastic, sealed with a clear coating and affixed to nickel-free earring posts"

Excerpt of my listing for these taco Tuesday earrings: 

"Illustrate your ears!

These shrink plastic button stud earrings make a unique gift for your sister, best friend, niece, mother, yourself, etc.!

Taco Tuesday!!

Everyone’s favorite day of the week! celebrate it in style, while you chomp on tacos & sip margaritas!

Each design is hand drawn on shrink plastic, sealed with a clear coating and affixed to nickel-free earring posts"

 Blank Policies/profile

Would you feel comfortable buying something from a shop with no policies listed plainly? You never know, unforeseen circumstances may arise and there may be an issue with a purchase. You may need to return or exchange an item, only to find out after your purchase that’s not allowed. Knowing that information beforehand may be the deciding factor on whether or not you’d want to shop there, right?  Many custom and made to order items on Etsy are not refundable, and understandably so. But what happens if an item arrives damaged? Or your customer ordered a non-custom item that they aren’t happy with? How would you handle that? Make sure your policies are clear on what you can and cannot do in these situations. Even if you never experience an unhappy customer, its best to be prepared. How you handle these not so perfect situations will say a lot about your shop’s professionalism and help to hopefully build its reputation.

 https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/add-clear-policies-to-your-shop-in-just/39972427549

 Optimizing tagging and titles for search. 

No one can buy your items if they can’t FIND them! When I first started my shop, I gave my listings titles like “Girl dreams about life”, “handsome man and his thoughts”, “elegance”, “joy”.  No one is searching for that! As artists, we love to give our work titles that are more about how the work makes us feel. Titles and tags for searching on Etsy should be more specific, but still short, 2-3 word phrases work best. Make sure your tags match the phrases in your titles!

 https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/category/getting-found

I hope these tips are helpful! These are things I learned that changed my shop in a huge way! Success isn’t overnight. I’m still tweaking my listings, photos and descriptions constantly as I continue to learn new tips and tricks. Find a team on Etsy or a group on Facebook with other shop owners willing to share what they’ve learned and how it’s helped them!

Checkout the funky earrings and paper dolls in my shop here:

 https://www.etsy.com/shop/KeghazIllus?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Use coupon code: KEGBLOG15 for 15% off of your purchase good until 9/30/16

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XOXO

-Kierston