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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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.