Today's question comes from Kate of Foxs Lane. She asks:
"So I have been planning to open an Etsy store for a while now. I have a bunch of stock in a pile waiting to be listed. My question for you is; what are your top 4 tips for running a successful Etsy venture?"
Yay! I love this question! I get asked this a lot by friends when they are getting ready to open an etsy shop. Here they are:
1. List Often. If possible try to list an item once a day. If you don't have a new product to list, then relist an older item. Say I have 10 new items ready to add to the shop....I have found that listing a couple a day over the span of a week works better for me than one big shop update where I sit down & add them all at the same time.
Listing an item in the shop keeps you at the top of the lists when people do searches. It also increases your chances of being put in treasuries & treasuries are what end up on the front page of etsy.
If you have items that are easily relisted once sold this works wonderfully in your favor. In our shop, we are able to relist posters as soon as they are sold. We don't have to rephotograph, because all posters printed out end up looking the same as what we originally photographed & listed. This has helped us to be able to list & relist often & has really boosted our sales overall.
I have seen many friends set up an etsy shop, not get many sales, get discouraged & quit. All the while, the items that they'd listed continue to sit in their shop getting older & older & slipping down the lists so that they are not ever viewed by shoppers who may be searching for that specific item. For example...I just searched "tote bag" on etsy & 1592 pages of results showed up. Ideally you'd like your tote bag to appear on page 1 rather than 1592. Does that make sense?
If you want to have sales, continue to keep your shop active by listing & relisting. Don't let it dwindle away.
2. Ship Internationally. Many sellers do not offer to ship their products internationally & are missing out on a lot of sales. I would say that 25% of my sales come from international buyers. Last summer our shop sales decreased a great deal with the U.S. economy struggling. During that time, I noticed that almost all of our sales were going out of the country. Had we not shipped internationally, we wouldn't have and any sales at all during that period of time.
If you have a really heavy product, this may not be an option for you. But if you have a product that always weighs about the same, it's really easy to figure out international shipping rates. Here's how you do it: Figure out the weight of your product all packaged up. Do this by getting weighed at the post office. You can then figure out the shipping at usps.com. Click on 'Calculate Postage' & enter in the necessary info under 'Calculate International Postage'. You basically enter the destination, weight & what type of package it is.
You may find that your package will cost around the same amount to ship to different areas of the world & so you can choose the 'Everywhere Else' shipping option on your etsy item listing & offer it worldwide. We have found that our posters cost about $6.00 to ship most places via first class international mail & so that's what we charge for worldwide shipping.
If you are not shipping internationally right now, you could increase your sales by about 25% by offering international shipping.
3. Share Your Work on Social Media Sites. A good portion of my customers are blog readers, flickr & twitter friends. If my blog is successful, my shop is successful as well. All of these social media sites allow me to stay connected with people that are already interested in what I do & when I share what I've been working on, they tend to want to buy what they see. I do it as well with bloggers & etsians that I follow on social media sites.
I will say that a blog & flickr account are probably the most important. If you don't have a flickr account, get one for sure & be sure add your photos to lots of relevant groups.
4. Present Yourself Well w/ Good, Clean Photos. The only way that potential customers get to experience your product is through the photos. Make sure that your photos are clean & crisp. Make sure that they are well lit with natural light. It is important to have great photos.
One last thing I will add is, don't get down when sales slow down. It happens from time to time. Know that sales will pick up again & spend your time working on more product. If you allow yourself to get down, you won't feel like creating & you'll waste a lot of valuable time. Keep working & work hard & before you know it, sales will snowball & you'll be more successful than you ever thought you'd be.
It takes work. But it is oh so fun work.