18 August 2011

Amp Up Your Business

Here is another inspiring and instructive post I stumbled across in the etsy forums the other day. You can go here for the entire thread.

I thought in celebration of my 3000th sale, I'd post my $0.02 on why my shop works and what it takes to really sell on Etsy. Why do some shops have a huge number of sales while other shops sell almost nothing? What makes a shop successful?


I know this sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people haven't really thought about this. To sell online, you need to find a niche. It doesn't have to be a huge niche - you don't need to invent a new miracle drug - but it needs to be an *unoccupied* niche.

If you start a new shop selling beaded necklaces, you'll be competing with the 10,000 other shops on here selling beaded necklaces. It's going to be pretty hard to make your shop stand out. But if you start a shop selling something really cool and new, or something that people are looking for and can't find, you're definitely going to stand out. 

Is there something that you make for yourself because you can't find it anywhere? Do your friends and coworkers keep asking you where you got it and if they can buy one from you? Then you may be onto something great! Is there something that you've looked for on Etsy or elsewhere on the Web and been really frustrated because you couldn't find it? Is that something you can make? Why not start a shop?


I say this to people all the time - it's all about the photography. You need to sell that piece visually. Your customers can't pick up your designs, feel them, smell them, taste them, or try them on. You need to sell them with your photography. Your photos need to be clear and bright and in focus. But they also need to have some mystery, some sex appeal, something that grabs people and pulls them into your shop. Think billboards and glossy magazine ads.

You can have the best products in the world, but if your photos are crappy, you look unprofessional and unappealing. And if you look unprofessional and unappealing, you're not going to be selling much. 

If your photography skills aren’t up to snuff and you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, why not take a photography class? You may find one at your local community college, and it’s a great way to invest in your Etsy shop not to mention your family photo album.


I list this third not because it's the third most important thing, but because people aren't going to know how good the quality of your product is until they pull it out of the package. Unless you have a desirable product and great photography, no one will ever know how good your quality is, because no one will ever buy anything from your shop. But once you start selling your customers need to love your products, or they're not going to leave nice Feedback for you. And Feedback is the lifeblood of your shop.

Pay attention to the details. Your product needs to be fabulous in every way. No sharp corners, dangling strings, or burnt edges.


The easiest customer to get is a return customer. Every new customer is a sale, and that's fantastic. But they're also potential future sales, and that's even better. Treat every customer like they're the most important person you'll talk to that day, because they are. Without customers, all you have is a hobby with an online portfolio.


When your customer opens your package, they should feel like they're opening a present. They've treated themselves by buying something from you - make their experience feel like a treat! I've bought and sold many things here on Etsy, and the packaging really does make a difference.

Your packaging should be beautiful, original, classy, quirky - something that speaks to your own design sense and the design of the things that you sell. Are you selling sleek sophisticated clothes? Have sleek sophisticated packaging. Do you hand-knit cozy, homey pieces? Have cozy, homey packaging. Are you a quirky illustrator? Consider picking one of your small quirky illustrations and adding that to your packaging.

Your packaging should also be branded in some way to your shop and include your web address and/or your business card. This is useful both for your customers and also for those receiving your pieces as gifts. How will they know where to get another one if you don't brand your packing and/or your pieces? I can't tell you how many sales I get *after* Christmas to new customers who received one of my designs as a gift and fell in love with it.


These four things should get you started and well on your way to a successful shop. Here are a few more tips to send you on your way:

- Price accurately (Not too high, but not too low, either. Too high and you'll never sell anything. Too low and you look cheap and low quality, plus you'll never be able to afford to stay in business.)

- Communicate with your customers immediately after they purchase and again when you ship

- Reply to customer inquiries as soon as possible 

- Have a lively Profile. Your customers are buying handmade - they want to know something about *you*.

- Have comprehensive Policies. Stating your policies clearly up front prevents misunderstandings at a later date. And happy customers become repeat customers. (And leave good Feedback, too!)


Good luck to you all! And many thanks to Etsy for making *my* dreams come true by allowing me make a living by doing what I love.

This post was really well written, easy to understand, and gave lists that online shops can look over and check off.

It's really great to have a community where the more seasoned sellers are available to help the newer sellers. I love etsy.


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