Thursday, April 30, 2009

Secret to Success on Etsy?

Everyone wants to know what it is. What is that one magical secret that will make me sell and sell and sell?

The fact of the matter is, there are no secrets. Successful selling on Etsy comes down to one thing -- Common Sense.

I don't consider myeslf the Be All End All Know It All of Etsy selling...there are other shops more successful than us...but we have had over 900 sales since opening shop in August 2008. That's an average of over 100 sales per month.

We've sold that well because we follow some rules. I've put them together for a common sense approach to selling on Etsy that has worked well for us.

1.) Make a product worth selling. This one is pretty simple. I am not even going to go more in-depth on this. Are YOU going to buy a crap product? Nope, didn't think so.

2.) Photos. Photos are such an important part of successful selling...and again, this should be common sense. You are selling online. People cannot touch, hold, smell your items. Your photographs are their only way of seeing how wonderful your product is. Do you really want to put your $50 silver and gemstone pendant on your kitchen table and take a picture with the overhead light on and your camera flash glaring off of it? NO. It's going to make your amazing, gorgeous and wonderful pendant look like garish costume jewelry. When taking photos, follow these rules:

~Use a neutral background. Whether it be dark or light (it depends on your item), make it all one will let your product steal center stage, as it should! Don't use a busy, decorated background.

~Natural lighting is best for picture taking, but direct sunlight isn't the best. When I take photos of our products, I do so at our kitchen table where there are two windows that let sunlight shine in.

~If you cannot use natural lighting, the next best thing is a light box. You can buy or make these. I have never used one, but I know many people who do and they have great photos.

~Do not DO NOT DO NOT use your flash.

~Get close-ups of your items. I find that off center, close-ups that don't necessarily show the entire item attract more attention. You can use a photo editing program to crop, brighten, and otherwise edit your photos. I use Picasa and it's free. Here's an example:

~Remember, a good photo...attractive picture will not only catch a customer's attention, but has a better chance of making it into a treasury and therefore possibly making the Front Page.

3.) Make sure you thoroughly describe your item. How large is it? Give me measurements. Is it Bath & Body...then I want to know exactly what the ingredients are.

4.) Do not list items and expect them to magically sell because they are available. Do not rely on Etsy to sell for you. Yes, you pay Etsy when you list AND when you sell, but don't think of that money as going toward advertising. Think of it as rent. Etsy is a venue. They aren't an advertising site.

5.) Market, promote and network your Etsy shop. As I said in #4, this is your job. It takes work, and it can't be done overnight and quickly. Some of the simplest ways to do this is to participate in the Etsy Forums and Etsy Chat rooms...but don't stop there. There are a ton of ways to freely promote your shop. Here are just a few:

~ Twitter is one of those great networking sites that doesn't take a lot of time or energy. I call it The One Sentence Blog. I use it to show what just sold, what's been relisted, what specials or sales we are running, new items that we've listed. And on and on and on...

~ Blogging can be the single most effective marketing, promoting and networking tool in your arsenal. "But Misty, I hate blogging!" Boofreakinhoo. You want to sell? Then you have to work. "But Misty, I don't know what to blog about!" Blogging is important...and blogging regularly is even more important. You need to build up a base of regular readers. Which means blogging about interesting things, along with blogging about new products/items in your shop, specials, sales, etc. etc. Feature other shops/blogs on yours. Do a giveaway. Blog about things you have found on Etsy that are just completely awesome. Hell, blog about the newest recipe you tried for your family's dinner.

~Business cards. They are a must. We send a few out with every package, I hand them out to friends, family, strangers. Check out They have good business cards at very decent prices...heck, usually they are free and you just pay shipping. They have a lot of other promotional items you can purchase, too.

~How often do you email? I have the links to both of our Etsy shops in the signature line of my email...and in the signature line of every online forum I frequent.

~Join an Etsy Street Team.

~Word of mouth. Have your friends and family let other people know about your shop.

6.) "Misty, I bought a showcase slot and it didn't do squat for me...not much traffic and no sales! What gives?!" Showcases are notoriously hit or miss. If I had to take a guess, I'd say about 90% of those who have told me they've done one, wouldn't do one again. Myself included. We have found that we get much more exposure, traffic, hits and sales by taking the money we'd budget for a showcase, and use it to renew items in our shop. It costs $.20 per item, so we usually renew anywhere from 2-5 per day. Renewing is like listing or relisting in that it moves the item up to the top of the searches and you get your few seconds of fame by appearing on the front page.

7.) Tag your items properly and use as many as you can! I strive to use all 14 tags in each of my listings. These are important! If someone is searching for something on etsy, it's the tags that will make your item appear in the search. So if you are selling a silver pendant, and you don't have "pendant" or "silver" in your tags, then you are not only S.O.L., you failed Common Sense 101. Tag, TAG, TAG!

8.) Fill out your profile and shop policies completely. Cover all the basics. What type of payments do you take? When must payments be made? At the time of purchase? Do you give a 1-3 grace period? What is your return policy? How long after receiving an order do you ship it out? How do you ship? USPS? Parcel Post? First Class? Priority? UPS? Fed-Ex? These are important things that I consider before making any purchase on Etsy.

9.) Price your item correctly. This is hard. Very hard. Do a google search. Search the Etsy Forums. Find a formula that works for you. "But Misty, it costs me $25 in supplies alone to make this pendant but I see someone else selling something similar for $30. What should I do? I know I should list it for more if I want to make a profit, but I want to be competitive." Here's my answer: Who gives a flying f*ck what other shops are selling things for? Price YOUR items how you need to. Don't pay attention to what other shops are doing. This is a cardinal rule. You will be much MUCH happier if you worry only about your shop instead of everyone elses.

10.) Offer unparralleled customer service, but stick by your policies. If there is a problem with an item you sent out, fix it. Send out another item or offer to reimburse the customer. If the customer just doesn't like the item like they thought they would...well, that's not really your fault (unless you mislead potential buyers with false information in your listings), but you need to handle it with finesse. If a package never makes it to the destination, it is your responsibility to replace or reimburse the customer. I see all too often shop policies saying that once the package leaves their hands, they are no longer responsible. Nope. That is completely wrong. The customer has up to 45 days to file a claim with Paypal if the package is not received. You ARE responsible. The short of it is, if you run your shop well and have great customer service, your buyer is more apt to come back again.

Well...I think that is it for now, lol. I am sure there are many more things that could be added, but this is a good start.


  1. Misty, it's not a good start, it's a GREAT start! I wish every new (and some not-so-new) shop owners would read and follow your great advice, for their own benefit.

  2. lots of great suggestions
    thanks for taking the time to write it all out :)

  3. YOu rock, girl. I do a lot of those things, and I'll try a few others. Thanks!

  4. Misty/Amy

    Thank you for this!! Great info.


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