I thought I might talk about setting up an Etsy shop today.
When I started my Etsy shop back in 2010 no one in Australia (well no one I spoke to) had heard of it. Now that I think of it I’m not really even sure how I came across it myself, probably through reading the Decor8 blog who I stumbled across through finding My Marrakech blog after my trip to Morocco in 2007. Oh the internet is wonderful isn’t it!
Anyway back to Etsy. I thought it was a pretty crowded marketplace back then but its’ just grown and grown and grown around the world and I still think its an awesome place to market your handmade wares to a global market. I still maintain my Etsy shop today.
There are a few pros and cons like anything. I’ve heard one critic describe how he hates it as it devalues peoples hard work as people will always look for someone selling the cheapest item. Yes some people are selling things really cheap but for different reasons. But that doesn’t mean you have to.
Many hobby crafters will sell their items to get back the costs of their materials so they can make other new projects. Someone who is running a business however will need to cover more than just their material costs and may also have other considerations like paying taxes, running expenses, staff etc. Also you might see that people who are new may sell some items at a cheaper price to get some sales on the board and to get some reviews. So everyone is doing things for different reasons so you just have to do what is right for you.
On the positive side , it’s an awesome way to reach people all over the world who may love what you do that would never ever have found you otherwise. Yes it may seem like you will never be noticed in the crowd but I think you have the potential to get more traffic than if you set up your own stand lone site..especially if you are starting out. Remember this is why its important to have a clear brand and good pics.
This is where I learned on Etsy how really bizarre, niche products can have a booming following as they can really reach people interested in that item whereas at your local market you may not have any takers. Don’t underestimate the interest that will be out there what you do, in your own way if you send through a strong and clear branding message.
Etsy also provided such an amazing array of resources for sellers and to educate you with all you need to know about pricing, positioning, marketing, photography, running a business and more. There are so many articles to be found that you should make it your business to read through them all if you are even thinking about it. So much free useful information.
There is also a huge forum to talk to other newbies, ask questions and get involved in the selling community.
And the back of house systems with running your business is so easy to use.
I solely sold on Etsy till only a couple of years ago when I felt that I had built up enough following through sales, my blog and Facebook to get people to visit my own stand alone site. That was back when your Facebook followers actually saw things you posted without having to pay money , yep the good old days..lol.
One of the most important things that I feel you should always be trying to improve on is the standard of your photos. I take a lot on my iPhone as I was always making new things here and there. Its the kind of thing where you think you have got it down and then time passes and you realise you have to lift your game..constantly. Goodness some of my original pictures were terrible. A big no no is taking a photo of your item on a piece of furniture , on a ugly floor or anything else that doesn’t come across a bit studio like. I’ve seen pictures of an item on someones table with bits of junk that can be seen or a fruit bowl or something in the background . DONT EVEN BOTHER.. you will look totally dodgy from the start and in this age of instagram we are all spoilt with beautiful images so you really much do the best you can possibly do.
Try using a white sheet of cardboard and take a photo near a window for nice natural light. Always lighten your photo before using. Etsy has a link with Fotofuze which can whiten the backgrounds for you within the program. Check out the apps link on Etsy.
Then you can get light tents and that type of thing but I know it all seems a bit much when you are starting out ..but hey do the best you can. And see the seller handbook for photography tips.. as I mentioned its a constant learning curve.
Secondly , don’t be scared to create a niche for yourself. The advice about trying to please everyone is right..you can’t do it. Just do one thing great and be known for it.
When I started out we were one of the first little businesses that focused our offerings entirely for boys. It made it easy for me to keep things small as I only needed to buy fabrics that would work for boys quilts and this was important as I didn’t have much money to spend on materials at the start. Its funny I did have some people write to me and tell me off saying that I was discriminating against girls. But overall we had great feedback from people who were so happy to find our great selection for unisex and boys ranges. And we did offer customised items too. This is something people come to Etsy for so it’s a great thing to offer.
Thirdly, don’t be scared of technology so that you don’t even have a go. I didn’t even know how to attach a photo to an email when I started out let alone crop photos and upload them. I took it step by step and over time I just became more comfortable with it. A great free online site you can use to resize, crop, create collages or add words to your pictures is picmonkey.com. Once you have a play around you will find it super easy to use.
Oh and another tip. Don’t worry about how much your shipping will cost. It costs what it costs and people do understand and pay it. I know I was worried about shipping costs especially when shipping internationally when I first started out. Maybe because I hadn’t really done much online shopping back then so maybe it’s not something you worry so much about now.
I really hope that my thoughts may have been some help to you if you have been wanting to set one up or if you are wanting to improve one you already have.
Wishing you all the best of luck with setting up your store.