I recently started a periscope series titled "How to Sell on Etsy" If you would like to catch me live you can find me under "Haley Estes".
I have wanted to do a blog series on how to sell on Etsy for quite some time and the ease of Periscope has finally pushed me into doing it!! If you love the instant gratification of periscope than come find me and you won't have to wait for me to transcribe the show notes after each scope!!!
Let me start by telling you about how I got started on Etsy! I opened my shop in June of 2013. I had started out making painted wood signs for my own home and eventually got some traction from local friends and family members recruiting me to make them some painted wood signs as well. After a couple months of this I was encouraged to start an Etsy shop. I wont lie I was completely overwhelmed by the idea and really pushed it off for a while. Eventually I got my butt into gear, made and photographed about 10 painted wood signs to list in an Etsy shop that I did along side my business partner Rachel who was already selling handmade quilts on Etsy. Once I finally took the plunge I was "all in" and just waiting for that first sale! Days turned into weeks which eventually turned into months and our shop sat completely untouched, with next to no page-views and not a single sale in sight. I quickly lost any and all confidence I may have had in the beginning and was ready to throw in the towel.
November rolled around and some local gals from my church invited me to do a local market and sell my signs. I was eager to try an in persona market and figured since I still had every piece of inventory collecting dust in my garage, there wasn't much to loose! I even went so far as to make a few more painted wood signs for the local market. With Christmas just around the corner I figured if all else fails I'll just wrap my wood signs up and send them off as Christmas presents that year and end my Etsy venture for good.
The market came and I loaded up my mini van to the brim with signs and some furniture I had flipped. I remember thinking. "If I just sell ONE sign, this will be a success". The day ended quickly and I drove home with an empty van. I sold every single piece I had brought and I was in complete shock that it went so well. I finally began to think "OK perhaps I'm not a total loser and maybe my wood signs don't completely suck after all!"
A few days after the market I was in my Kitchen when I heard this "cha ching" sound coming from my phone. I looked around a little confused not knowing what the heck that was! After some investigating I realized I had just made my first sale on Etsy!!
I was completely awestruck yet again but that excitement quickly faded into "Crap now how the heck do I ship this thing?!"
If you have worked through these early days on Etsy I am sure you can relate to these feelings of inadequacy and not knowing what the heck you are doing! Its certainly a struggle! The main purpose for this series "How to Sell on Etsy" is to help new sellers navigate the good and the bad and perhaps avoid some the mistakes that I made as a new Etsy seller! I also hope to share some insider tips for those of you who may still be waiting for that success that you had dreamed about on Etsy and its just not happening.
My shop has now been opened for 2 1/2 years and I've sold over 1000 items. It has been an amazing journey and I feel so blessed to have the platform to make and create something I love and stay home with my babies while also earning an income for my family!
Today I want to talk about my top 3 Tips before you take the plunge and set up shop!
Tip #1:Have a Vision for Your Shop.
You need to have a clear vision of what you want to sell on Etsy before starting. Throwing a bunch of random items on Etsy isn't going to take you very far. Know what your product is. Try to pick one category or one singular item to sell. Having a hodge podge of items will certainly make you diverse but it also sends the wrong message to your potential buyers. Which is; you are not an "expert or specialist" behind the items in your shop. Keeping your shop inventory to a limited amount of categories will really help you create better products or curate a better collection of products because you will be focusing your energy on one thing instead of being scattered all over the place. This is also what will help you create your "brand" . This will be the key ingredient as you evolve on Etsy.
I also want to strongly encourage you to start your shop with an original idea or concept. Do not search an item on Pinterest or find another Etsy shop you love and copy everything verbatim! Not only is it wrong but piggy backing off the success of another shop or persons idea can only get you so far! Staying in the "Etsy game" and growing your shop better year after year is going to require you to be able to "rethink the wheel" from time to time. You are only in competition with your self . As you evolve on Etsy it will be pertinent that you take your products to the next level from time to time. This will keep your shop from becoming stagnant and ensure that each month, and each year is better than the last. This is impossible to do if your products from the very beginning are not even your own original ideas.
Tip #2: Take Quality pictures
Consider the pictures you post in your shop the resume you are sending out to potential buyers. Pictures alone will be the main determining factor if a potential buyer commits to clicking that "complete sale button". This does not require the use of a fancy camera or lens (although that would help) it just requires some forethought, a little staging, and natural light. You will never see me post a picture in a dark room or without the use of natural light. I have a DSLR camera that I typically use for my pictures but in my sale history there are handfuls of images that I use to this day that are just simple iPhone pictures. If your indoor space does not allow you the natural light necessary for a clear and "bright" picture go outside! There are many shop owners who exclusively shoot outside and they have some the best pictures hands down. There is no excuse to taking a crummy pictures if you have a decent camera phone and a little sunshine. I will go more into taking good pictures later on in the mean time just play around with natural light until you have an Idea of what works best for you! And remember practice makes perfect! It has taken me years! to develop my picture taking skills and something I am constantly experimenting with and trying to improve to this day!
Tip #3 Just Start
Just start. This is my motto for everything. I have 4 kids ages 4 and under including a newborn. There is never a perfect time or day to start any project or activity. After having my first two children (twin boys) I developed this motto "just start" If I put off projects naturally, they never were completed. But If I could "just start" them the likelihood that I would complete them went up immensely. This idea holds true for starting your Etsy shop.
You do not need 10 pieces of inventory ready made to start, you don't even need three! If you already have an idea and one item made. Go find some sunshine and take a good picture! Etsy is one of those things that certainly just gets better over time. It may take you a considerable amount of time to even make that first sale. If you can just get that first item listed you are much more likely to start working on the next one! The more the merrier! But you can't go any where if you don't even begin! If you have been contemplating starting a shop and you already have steps 1 and 2 figured out JUST START! Who knows you could be well on you way to quitting your day job and doing something you truly love before you know it!
That completes my show notes for day one of "How to Start and Etsy Shop"
Stay tuned for the rest of the series and be sure to catch me live so you don't have to wait around for me to get to the notes!!
Disclaimer-This post contains affiliate links however all products and recommendations are purely my own! thanks so much for stopping by!