You’re a crafter at heart, but you’re ready to take it to the next level — you want to sell your creations online. Etsy is the platform of choice for many artisans, and there are countless success stories from those who have used the virtual marketplace to make a full-time income and then some.
Those tales are incentive enough to dive in, but you should take some time to research and prepare before doing so. There’s a lot more to opening an Etsy shop than posting and selling your creations — you’ll want to know as many tips and tricks as possible to increase your chances of online success. Here are six of them:
Conduct Market Research
Chances are, your Etsy shop won’t be the first of its kind — you might sell a unique style of jewelry, for example, but many bauble shops already exist on the site. Rather than letting this deter you from starting, let these pre-existing competitors teach you a bit about your future business.
Start by seeing what successful Etsy shops do right — you might incorporate some of their selling tactics into your business plan. You might also pinpoint ways their methods could improve and use those observations to your advantage, too.
Then, find stores selling items similar to what you create. Have a look at their pricing and compare it to the value of your goods so your shop can hold a competitive spot in the market. You can also see which of their items are most popular amongst buyers and amp up your stock of those same products.
Prep Your Products and Shop
You won’t need an entire inventory to start with, but you should have a few products ready to go when you open your shop. Etsy suggests having at least one product ready to sell, although you should probably have more than that to give customers an idea of what you do and what you’re capable of producing.
The product prep doesn’t start and end at the craft table, though. You’ll also need to take great photos of what you sell. Remember, these visuals are the only way your buyers get to see an item before they buy it, so you’ll want to take crisp, colorful images that accentuate your creations. The same goes for the written descriptions, which you can pump full of keywords that will draw more potential buyers to your page.
You’ll want to ensure the shop itself looks pleasing to the eye, too. You can do this with proper branding, from the banner at the top of your virtual shop to the shipping labels you use on the products you mail. If you don’t have graphic design experience, you can find another Etsy shop where the artisan will design a logo for you to use to create a memorable, eye-catching brand for your products.
You might want to instinctually fill your storefront with all of the products you have ready as soon as you open your shop. But one successful Etsy shop owner advises you post a handful of your stock at first — from there you can add a single new item each day until everything is online.
She suggests this method for good reason — new products tend to show up higher in searches. So, if you post one new item a day, you’ll probably get more eyes on your creation and more people looking at your shop. This is the kind of buzz you can use as a new face on the site.
Learn Local Tax Laws
Every state will have different tax laws, which means you might have to pay back a percentage of your Etsy earnings as part of your yearly income tax or send sales tax back to the government. In most states, remote sellers have specific guidelines as to how they must collect and remit sales tax.
This information will help you run your business in line with the law, but it’ll also make tax filing easier down the line. Throughout the year, you can set aside money you know you’ll owe back to the government in income tax so you’re not pressed to raise funds in April. In other words, thinking about it as you start your business can help you avoid both legal trouble and financial strain.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
As you grow your Etsy shop, you’ll rely on positive customer reviews to spur more sales and more success. If customers know they can trust you, then they’ll remain more likely to buy your products now and in the future. One surefire way to impress them is with top-notch customer service skills.
Make all of your shop policies clear so your customers know if they can return your products, how much shipping will cost across international borders and what types of payment you’ll accept. If you make custom products, be honest in predicting when the item will be ready, shipped and in the arms of the person who bought it. Transparency is the key here — the more open you are about your products and policies, the more your clientele will respect you and recommend your shop.
Patience Is an Etsy Virtue
You’re just starting out, so give your shop time to take root. In other words, don’t expect to have immediate success through your Etsy portal. Instead, be patient and build up your reputation over time. You can do this by tweaking your shop’s set-up so it looks even better. Tailor your inventory to what customers seem to like most and always be responsive to the inquiries that come through the site.
Ultimately, the more you put into your Etsy shop, the more you’ll get out of the site. So, give it time and give it your all — you might find yourself crafting for a living thanks to the careful creation of your online storefront.
BY SARAH LANDRUM
This article first appeared in Ms Career Girl.