Increase Etsy Shop Success: The Ultimate Guide (Top 10 List)

etsy shop success

Etsy Shop Success: Intro

I researched Etsy for two years before I opened my first handmade shop in March 2014.  In the past six years, I have seen a majority of the handmade shops fail to live up to their potential.  I decided to split my observations into two detailed post.  The first post I made details the Top Reasons Etsy Shops Fail & How to Avoid Mistakes.  This is the second post, which will analyze the factors that can help ensure Etsy shop success.  The two posts do overlap in some areas, but they provide different perspectives and details.  My shop grew rapidly with a mixture of luck and hard work.  I’ll share some personal experiences in this post as well.

In addition to my individual research, I asked several of the top Etsy sellers what factors helped lead to their Etsy shop success.  Almost all of the shops had the same or similar responses.

Why I suggest Etsy

I suggest new handmade business owners open their shops on Etsy for several reasons.  Etsy is known for selling handmade goods and their fees are low for the great service that they provide.  You can read my entire explanation Why Etsy is a Great Place for Handmade Shop Owners for further details.  As you company grows, it may become a good idea to branch out and create your own website to sell products.  I do not own any Etsy stock, and my reviews and analysis are unbiased.

 Ways to Ensure Etsy Shop Success: The Top 10 List

etsy succeed success

These factors and tips for Etsy shop success are in no particular order.  I tried to put them in chronological order, and this resulted in some of the most important factors to be listed towards the bottom.  Make sure you read each factor and tip, so you can put them in your own order.

Organization, Schedules, & Due Dates

This is one of the first tips that you can follow to get your shop started off correctly.  I like to describe owning your own business as organized chaos.  You need to make sure that it is organized or else you end up with just chaos!  It is much easier to start good organizational habits at the beginning rather than waiting until you are busy dealing with customers and taking orders.  When you are first building your company and presence online, you need to set due dates and follow through.  This helps ensure you actually get jobs finished, and you don’t put them on a shelf and never finish them.  Most people that have business ideas never set a due date, and they never get the business started.  Getting a project done is better than making it perfect, and this is especially true when you are starting out.  You still want to make sure that everything is finished well, but you don’t need to take a ton of time to make it perfect.

You will need a way to take notes, and I suggest using your smart phone.  I get ideas all the time, and having a way to write them down immediately is a huge advantage.  You can also use your phone to record your voice.  Play to your strengths and organize your thoughts in a way that works for you.

Smartphones make organization and schedule maintenance much easier.  You can enter your schedule into your phone’s calendar and include due dates.  Use technology to your advantage.  Here is a good post on an outside website that explain How to Use Organization Apps to help your business thrive.

Establish a Brand Identity

Another tip that you can follow early on is to create a brand identity and stick to it. Think about what type of customers you would like to attract, and create a brand that speaks to them.  This starts with your shop name.  Read my Detailed Guide to Creating a Great Shop Name for further information.  Make sure every aspect of your shop follows this brand identity including: products, pictures, marketing, packaging & shipping, etc.

Find a Great Product & Category Niche

Some shops fail even though their owners work hard and follow a majority of the tips on this website, and this is usually because they don’t follow this very important tip.  You need to pick a product and category niche that you can succeed in.  If you pick some obscure product that shoppers will never want to buy, it doesn’t matter how many of the other tips you follow.

Establish Trust

It is very important to establish trust in your company and products.  Early on, you can offer 100% refunds if people aren’t satisfied with their purchase.  Many shop owners shy away from this practice because  they fear that people will abuse this policy.  I implemented this policy in my shop, and it took several months before someone asked for a refund.  I suggest offering a full refund to help give people peace of mind.  As long as you are selling quality products, refund requests will be few and far between.

Another way to establish trust is to make sure that you make accurate and detailed item descriptions.  It is also very important to follow through with your stated shipping times and delivery dates.  The shipping companies are known to mess up when it really matters, so make sure to have 1-2 buffer days.  Remember, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than to do the opposite.  Shipping a product late is an easy way to make people angry and motivate them to leave a bad review.  Avoid this at all costs.

SEO

This is a huge topic and can be very complicated, but it definitely helps ensure Etsy shop success.  If you are operating online, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with search engine optimization.  Etsy has its own rules, and I am in the process of completing a full post detailing SEO best practices for Etsy.  For now, just make sure that you provide good product names, detailed product descriptions, and tag products appropriately.

Advertising & Marketing

A good way to increase sales rapidly is to take advantage of advertising and marketing.  You don’t necessarily have to pay for advertising to accomplish this growth.  I have mastered a free technique that I will be sharing in the future.  For now, make sure to utilize social media, especially “The Big 4.”  These important social media sites include: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I just finished reading an excellent book detailing how to use social media to expand your business.  I provided the Amazon link below:

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

 

Pictures

You want your shop to appear professional, and an easy way to accomplish this is to use great pictures.  You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great pictures.  Make sure the product pictures are focused and that there is enough light.  If you follow those two main rules, you’ll be better than 75% of the shops out there.  You can even use your smart phone to take great pictures, which is a lot easier than it used to be.  If you have a professional photographer in your family or group of friends, take advantage of their knowledge!

Perseverance

Even if you read and followed every bit of advice for setting up and operating a successful Etsy shop, you are still going to have problems that arise.  The key is to solve each problem or issue to the best of your ability, and to keep moving forward.  Don’t let little issues become bigger problems, knock them out as soon as possible.  If a large problem presents itself that you feel you can’t solve yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Follow the tips listed in the next section to reach out to other shop owners.  You can even ask friends and family for help, even if they don’t own a business.  It is valuable to get advice from someone with a different perspective.  Often times, problems aren’t as large as they first appear.  Keep fighting and keep growing!

Interact & Network

This factor is mentioned over and over again, but it is for a good reason.  Interacting and networking with other business owners is very important, especially for new shops.  Engage with other handmade business owners and ask them questions.  Their knowledge and insight can help you avoid making costly mistakes and keep your shop on the right track.  That is one of the main reasons I created this website.  I want this to be community for me to provide information to handmade business owners, and I also want community members to interact with each other.  A good place to interact is via the Comments section at the bottom of each post, or you can post on our Facebook Page.  This is a great way to differentiate yourself from other handmade shops.  Most owners do not take the time to network properly.  Take advantage of their inaction and help your shop thrive.

A good place to interact with other sellers on Etsy is by using Etsy Teams.  You can join different teams that are relevant to you and your shop.

Customer Service

The most important factor in creating and maintaining a successful Etsy Shop is to provide excellent customer service.  This is a large umbrella that encompasses different categories.  The entire customer experience must be analyzed, from their first interactions with you and your company to product support and follow-up after the sale.  Although current analysis shows that most buyers on Etsy are purchasing only 1-2 times a year, all customers can spread the word about your product and help you make additional sales.  I have experienced this firsthand.  Early on, my sales exploded in certain regions of the country.  I couldn’t find out why I was selling so many beer carriers in Raleigh.  I discovered it was from one of my first customers giving my carriers as groomsmen gifts.  Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you.

 

Etsy Shop Success: Conclusion

There are several ways to help your Etsy shop become successful.  Hopefully you are reading this page before creating your first Etsy shop.  Even if you already have and established Etsy shop, you can use this tips to improve, expand, and become even more successful.  Let’s toast to Etsy shop success!

Let’s keep growing together!

Rachel

 

Etsy Shop Success: Comments

Do you own and operate a successful Etsy Shop?  Do you know other important ways to help ensure a successful Etsy shop?  Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

 

Top 10 Reasons Etsy Shops Fail

reasons etsy shops fail

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail: Intro

I have spent several years researching and operating my shop on Etsy.  During this period, I have seen many shops fail, and very few thrive.  I decided to split these observations into two separate posts.  This post analyzes the Top 10 Reasons Etsy Shops Fail, and it includes detailed tips on ways to avoid these mistakes.  The other post analyzes The Factors that  Make Etsy Shops Succeed.  This is one of the most important posts you can find on the My Handmade Hub Community website.  Please take advantage of this free resource.

These are the top reasons Etsy shops fail and detailed ways to avoid them.  I spent weeks researching and discussing this topic with 20 of the top Etsy sellers.  I was surprised to find that when I asked these owners about the biggest mistakes sellers make, most of them replied with the same or similar answers.  I broke the responses down into categories, and then listed them in order of importance.  The top 10 reasons Etsy shops fail are listed below in reverse order; the most important reason is at the bottom.

 Reasons Etsy Shops Fail: Top 10 List

There are several reasons Etsy shops can fail, but I have decided to detail the Top 10 reasons.  If you avoid these mistakes, you have a much higher chance of success.  There has never been a better chance to succeed in selling handmade items; now is the perfect time to open a shop on Etsy (discover why).

Incomplete Descriptions

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail

One of the common reasons Etsy shops fail is because they include incomplete or inaccurate product listing descriptions.  Shoppers come to Etsy to purchase unique handmade items that they can’t purchase anywhere else.  The descriptions are especially important for items being purchased on Etsy because your customers cannot examine the items in person.  They will focus on the descriptions since they aren’t able to physically hold your items.   If your item is extremely unique, customers might not even be familiar with your product’s purpose.  If you have brief descriptions, customers won’t be comfortable purchasing your products, and you won’t get sales.

The main way to avoid this mistake is to make sure that your listing is accurate, detailed, and and has sufficient length. Instead of assuming that customers understand exactly what your product is, help them by providing basic information and details about each item, as well as guidance about what kind of situations or occasions it may be appropriate for.  You should include some of your personality and make sure you are including language tailored to your target customers.

Insufficient Inventory

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #9

Another one of the reasons Etsy shops fail is because they don’t maintain sufficient inventory is another mistake Etsy sellers make. Your inventory levels are important because they affect turnaround time, or the time it takes for your products to ship.  It can take a significant amount of time to construct or build your items since they are handmade. Unless otherwise notified, most customers will expect that non custom items are complete and will be ready to ship in a short amount of time. Timing is important because many customers have deadlines and are purchasing your items as gifts for birthdays, weddings, or holidays.  Many times customers procrastinate and make their purchase without taking delays into consideration.  Another mistake associated with inventory is failure to take proper quality control measures. This may result in customers receiving incorrect orders or damaged goods.  This will leave them frustrated, and will also cost you money due to increased returns.

The way to avoid inventory issues is to make sure you build up your inventory as much as possible. It is especially important to build your product levels up before the holidays or other times of peak demand.  It may be necessary to enlist the help of family members or friends to help you if you get extremely busy.  Also, make sure that the turnaround time listed on your site is kept up to date and accurate.  Create quality control procedures to make sure that each order is accurate, in great condition, and ready to ship.

Ugly Pictures

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #8

Many sellers make the mistake of including blurry, fuzzy, or outright ugly pictures on their shop pages. This may scare potential customers away because they are not able too see what they are buying.

Admittedly, this is one area that I struggled in. You don’t have to be an experienced photographer in order to make your shop look professional. Try to take the product pictures with the best possible lighting.  Some shop owners end up hiring a professional photographer.  This is one area where the sellers I interviewed disagreed.  Some were adamant that pictures should be higher on this list.  I ended up keeping it in this position because I’ve actually been surprised to find that some of my items that sold well early on didn’t have perfect pictures.  Don’t make the same mistake I did; I’m sure my sales could’ve been even higher!

High/Low Pricing

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #7

Another one of the reasons Etsy shops fail deals with pricing.  Pricing mistakes can go either way.  You can list an item too high, and have nobody buy your product, or you can list your product too low and leave profits on the table.

Look at competitors prices and make sure yours are consistent with others in the marketplace.  You may want to make your prices a little lower when you are first starting out in order to attract attention and undercut the other sellers.  This may end up making the other sellers mad, but this tactic has worked for me, and I use it consistently. It is important to note that I kept my prices lower temporarily, and I was still making a good profit on my products. This is a sign that the product area or category I was selling in wasn’t saturated.  Once you study the market and are experienced, you can use pricing to control demand.

Poor Packaging & Shipping

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #6

Packaging errors can result in broken products and orders that never reach their destination.  Shipping errors can easily eat into your profits and put you at a competitive disadvantage.  Shipping can be complicated and there are huge differences in price.

One of the main things I underestimated when opening my shop was how complicated shipping and packaging can be.  I really didn’t even think of it until I received my first order, and I didn’t even have a box that would fit the product.  After that first sale, I promised myself that I would never let that happen again.  Have all of your packaging materials selected prior to selling each product.  Make sure to include materials to protect your fragile products.  Take the time to research the different shipping companies to see which one offers the best deal for your item’s specifications.  Save time and money by printing your shipping labels at home.  Most shipping companies offer free packaging supplies to customers depending on the options you pick.  Write thank you letters for each sale by hand!

Inadequate Marketing & SEO

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #%

Most shop owners don’t give marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) the attention and focus it deserves. If you ignore marketing and SEO, your products will be hidden or buried several pages deep on the search results.  You may be able to make a few sales, but you will have an extremely difficult time growing.

I could write a whole book on Etsy marketing/SEO! There are plenty of free ways to market on Etsy and have your products show up at the top of Etsy (and Google) search results. This includes using the correct tags, headlines, and keywords.

Wrong Product Choice

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #4

Some sellers make the mistake of focusing on products that will never sell. This is a waste of time and can lead to frustration and eventually giving up.

You can avoid this mistake by completing research PRIOR to deciding what items to sell. Study shops that are selling items similar to yours.  You want to look for items that are popular, trending upwards, and items that . In short, you want items with high demand and low supply.

Wrong Category Choice

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #3

Similar to choosing the wrong products to sell, choosing an unpopular or saturated category can make it difficult or nearly impossible for you shop to thrive.

You can avoid this mistake by completing research PRIOR to deciding what items to sell. Look for categories that are in high demand and low supply. The best profits in any market are often found in specific niches.

Lack of Networking

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #2

One of the most important reasons Etsy shops fail is due to lack of networking.  Lack of networking can leave you isolated and will result in you making more mistakes and learning lessons the hard way.  Shops that network usually see positive results in several areas, and not taking advantage of this resource will put you behind other shops.

This is the main method that I used to increase traffic to my site and make sales explode. This is also one of the main reasons I created this site. Interact with other sellers on our Facebook Page or in our comments section. Contact other shop owners for support. Make sure to join relevant Etsy teams and stay involved.

Bad Customer Service

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail #1

The top reason most Etsy shops fail is because of poor customer service.  When I first started my shop, nothing was optimized.  I hadn’t learned how to correctly avoid most of the mistakes I listed above.  Somehow, to this day I still wonder why, a young lady from North Carolina ordered one of my wine racks.  I made sure to offer the best customer service possible to my first customer, and it paid off.  She left me a five star review and it helped more orders start rolling in.  I didn’t even end up making money on the first transaction, but it was definitely worth it.  If I hadn’t provided great customer service for my first customer, she might’ve skipped her review or even worse written a negative review.  My shop never would’ve had a chance.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to focus on your customer’s experience above all else.  Go above and beyond by providing incredible service, which will make you stand out compared to other shops.  Be polite & courteous at all times.  Make sure to respond quickly & accurately to all messages.  Follow up with your customers after their purchase and thank them again.

Etsy is known as a company with terrific customer service.  Learn more about this on my Etsy Overview detailing culture.

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail: Summary

I didn’t do enough research before starting my shop, and I ended up making several of the mistakes listed above in the reasons Etsy shops fail.  Somehow, to this day I still wonder why, a young lady from North Carolina ordered one of my wine racks.  I had only started selling products on my shop a couple of days earlier.  By the time I had paid to ship it, I had a profit of only $5 for several hours of work.  One thing I made sure of was to offer the best customer service possible, and it paid off.  She left me a five star review and it helped more orders start rolling in.  Even though I barely made money on the first transaction, it was definitely worth it.  If I hadn’t provided excellent service to my first customer, she might’ve skipped her review or even worse written a negative review.  My shop never would’ve had a chance.  The moral of the story is:  You can make mistakes in several areas, but as long as you focus on providing excellent service, your shop will have a chance to survive.  Keep learning and improving, and your shop will eventually thrive.

Are you new to Etsy?  Find out How to Open An Etsy Shop.

Let’s keep growing together!
Rachel

 

Reasons Etsy Shops Fail: Comments

Do you know of other reasons Etsy shops fail that I forgot to mention?  Do you disagree with anything on this list?  Please leave a comment and provide knowledge to other members of our community.