Not sure why the Etsy sales aren’t rolling in? Here are 50 possibilities -and how to fix them.
1. You don’t have enough items.
Etsy is a host to hundreds of thousands of products galore, and their search engine will only show 250 pages of them at a time for broad, generic searches. (Not that anyone would actually flip though all 250 pages anyway.) If you’ve only listed a handful of items, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten lost in the crowd, and browsers are very unlikely to find you.
Not only that – but a sparse storefront with less than a page of listings looks abandoned and untrustworthy. While there are always some exceptions, generally a robust store with at least 2 or more pages to browse through translates that you are keeping your stock updated and tended to.
2. You don’t list often enough.
Though Etsy has switched to relevancy as it’s default search, the recency of your items still plays a significant factor in it’s search ranking, as well as showing up when browsers flip over to searching by recency instead. Rather than listing a whole bunch of items at once, consider spacing them out over a few days, that way once the unsold ones reach their expiring period, you’ll have a steady flow of new or renewed listings at the forefront of your store and Etsy’s main search.
3. Your product photography “could use some work.”
Blurry photos, photos with too much distracting background clutter, and images with flash glare spots aren’t doing your products any favors. Even fairly decent photos could be replaced with high-quality, more enticing images to up your sales. Etsy is a very visual selling platform (with a frequent rate of being bookmarked to Pinterest), and so better photos almost always equals more sales.
When an item expires without selling, consider trying some new photos for the next go-round. Sometimes all it takes is trying out a cleaner background, placing the item on a model (if it’s wearable), or otherwise showing the item “in action” or with better lighting.
4. You forgot to include dimensions.
It can be hard to tell from a photograph, even one taken next to a standard-sized object such as a dime or ruler, just how large or small a product is. Whenever possible, include dimensions that are easy to spot in your product descriptions. Plus, if you want to go above and beyond, include them in cm and inches to appease all onlookers. The less work you make people have to do or think about, the more likely they are to buy.
5. You’re directing people offsite.
Yes, you want your potential customers to like your Facebook Page and keep in touch with you on Twitter, but your product descriptions aren’t the place to direct them there. Social networks are some seriously distracting platforms, and by taking your potential customers there, you may not be able to bring them back so easily.
6. Your descriptions are lacking.
Sure your necklace may be pretty, but simply telling me “Pretty necklace, 16 inches” isn’t really convincing enough. I want to know what it’s made out of, who it would be a good gift for, and what type of fabric it would look fantastic against. Flesh out your descriptions with plenty of features AND benefits, and your potential customers will be that much more likely to see themselves owning it.
7. You just got started.
If it’s only been a month and you’re wondering why you’re not rolling in Etsy sales then, uhm, you need to be more patient my friend. These things take time. It can take several months for you to not only flesh your shop out, but to also get yourself established and building trust with your fans and potential customers. Like snowballs, we all start small.
Timothy Adam of Handmadeology here. . . this is such an important tip here that I wanted to add a few comments. Patience is key when you are first starting out and I encourage Etsy sellers to look for Etsy shop’s they admire to emulate. Check out these top 10 handmade Etsy sellers to find techniques you can learn from. How do they use their banner? How do they title and tag their products? Do you like their about page? Check out their shops and learn – you might also find something you want to buy!
Top 10 Handmade Etsy Sellers
Etsy Start Date
8. You don’t have any reviews yet.
Raving reviews go a long way in establishing the level of trust required as social proof before more people will feel comfortable buying. How can you acquire these reviews? Go above and beyond with every order you receive. Include special touches in your packaging such as a hand written thank you note, a freebie gift, gift-ready packaging, and speedy shipping.
9. You have poor reviews.
If you have, in fact, gotten plenty of reviews from orders, but many are less than savory, then there might be a few things you can do to reconcile the situation. For starters, what’s the main theme behind these negative reports? Slow shipping? It’s lost in the mail or arriving broken? Customers that couldn’t be satisfied no matter what?
When compiling your shop’s refund and return policies, always, always, ALWAYS try to think of the scenario from your customer’s point of view. How would you feel if you ordered something you were excited about and it got lost in the mail on it’s way over to you? Wouldn’t you expect a replacement or a refund? How about if the item arrived broken? Would you still expect to pay for shipping in order to get at least some of your money back? Or how about having to wait for months before the Christmas gift you ordered finally arrived in February?
These may seem obvious to the more experienced Etsy seller, but I am often surprised at seeing Etsy shop policies stating things like “Not my responsibility if your item is lost in the mail” or “No guarantees if your product is broken along the way…” Not cool guise. I think we can all do a little better than that.
If your item DOES take a long time before it ships to the customer (if, for example, it’s made-to-order and time consuming to create), then it helps dramatically if you CLEARLY state the shipping date times on not only your shop policies and announcements, but on every item description that it pertains to. If you properly set up expectations ahead of time, then you can easily go above-and-beyond with the order afterwards, resulting in much more positive reviews.
10. You’re not on social media.
No, I am not advocating that you start spending [read: wasting] hours of your daily time on Facebook or Twitter, but I am recognizing that social media can be a valuable channel to bring customers back to your Etsy shop. Pinterest and Instagram especially, due to their mostly visual nature.
If you think your target customers are there, then having a presence on specified social media platforms can bring in customers who may not otherwise be perusing Etsy for handmade trinkets to purchase. Just make sure you are being strategic about your time on social media, as it is too valuable to waste on distractions and notifications.
11. Your items don’t stand out.
If you’re selling the same bracelet as at least 12 other Sellers on Etsy, then you are competing on price. (That’s a race to the bottom you really don’t want to be a part of.) Being unique and different is the easiest and most sincere way to direct browsers to your Etsy shop. And when other less creative sellers catch on and start copying you? You’ll already be developing and listing even more unique and different products for them to scramble over.
12. You aren’t being featured outside of Etsy.
Outside-of-Etsy features have the potential to bring in hundreds of targeted eyeballs directly to your Etsy shop. If your stats are dwindling, or you simply want to expand your reach, consider reaching out to bloggers and websites that feature Etsy sellers for interviews, giveaways, or product reviews.
13. You aren’t being featured on Etsy.
There are a couple of accessible ways to be featured within Etsy: front page product exposure and included in Etsy’s e-mails.
You don’t really have any control over either of these, but you have a slightly better chance of getting featured on the front page if you (a) have great product photos and (b) join a handful of treasury teams who collaborate to make a consistent stream of “front-page-worthy” treasuries. You’re chances are still slim, so I don’t recommend wasting a ton of your valuable time producing treasuries, but joining a team or two with reasonable treasury-making requirements will give you a slightly better chance of seeing your product on Etsy’s home page than if you simply left it up to pure chance.
14. You aren’t optimizing your titles.
In order to be found within Etsy’s relevant search algorithm, you have to be using titles and tags that people are actually typing into the search bar when trying to find items similar to yours. Try as best you can to think of your product from a browser’s point of view. If you sell handbags for example, people are more likely to be typing in “Red Leather Tote Bag” into the search bar instead of “Sophia Leather Darling.”
15. You are cramming too much into your titles.
To maximize your chances of being found, choose different keyword phrases for different products to emphasize which ones will be found and ranked for different search terms. If you try to stuff every possible keyword and search phrase into a single title, it’s confusing to buyers and makes you look more like a robot than a seller. It makes more sense to cover more ground with multiple products than relying simply on one to get found by everyone.
16. Your target market isn’t clear.
People like to step into a shop–even an online one–and think to themselves, “this place is for me!” If your target market is too scattered, however, then buyers are likely to get confused and overwhelmed. If you serve two or more completely different target markets, you may want to consider opening up a second Etsy shop to make your individual shop’s branding more cohesive.
17. You ignore your current customers.
Acquiring new customers is great — but it’s just as important (even more so, in fact) to nurture your current customers. By providing your best quality of customer service, you can insure not only repeat business, but word-of-mouth recommendations (which are far more trustworthy than any self-promotion you could do on your part.)
Making your current customers feel appreciated and taken care of goes a long way towards building up your reputation as a quality seller of great products.
18. You don’t accept custom orders.
Often times browsers will LOVE something they find in your shop, only they wish they could get it in a different color, size, or quantity than they see listed. Accepting custom orders from these people can make a measurable difference in your sales, and can even allow you to charge a premium price for the additional labor involved.
19. Your shop is all over the place.
A cohesive shop not only speaks of a strong brand, but keeps the browser from feeling overwhelmed with scattered product options. A little tailoring and trimming goes a long way towards presenting a more fluid storefront.
20. You haven’t listed anything new in a loooooong time.
Even if your products are great, there are always going to be previous customers and fans who want to see what else you can bring to the table. Fresh products can spruce up your shop and possibly bring the option that is just what some of your fans have been waiting for.
21. You never talk about your shop in person.
Whenever you can: blab about your Etsy store. Word-of-mouth is huge, and that includes word-of-mouth coming from you! Always carry business cards, and pass them out whenever the opportunity arises. If you are embarrassed to talk about your Etsy shop, how can you expect other people to do it for you? Bring it up whenever the opportunity arises, and really become your own #1 fan. The trust you express in your own business instills trust in others to make purchases.
22. You don’t network with other sellers.
There is power in the ability to work with other sellers. What we can accomplish together is exponential compared to what we can do on our own. Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice or to offer help in the Etsy forums, on teams, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups, or in-person. There is a lot we could learn from each other, and plenty of collaboration possibilities available. Not to mention, being a work-from-home seller can get rather lonely after awhile, and networking can offer a sense of community and camaraderie that you may feel a sense of lack in currently.
23. You aren’t blogging.
Blogging for your business is a gradual, but very possible way to build trust with your potential customers, establish yourself as an authority, and bring in the sales. By providing the kind of content that your target customers will be enthralled with, you will be able to sell your products to your audience in a non-salesy way that actually keep your products moving from the shelves. There is a finesse and art to blogging, but the best way to learn it is by starting now and consistently keeping it up.
24. You haven’t been keeping up with Etsy’s changes.
Etsy doesn’t stick to the same rules, guidelines, or search functionality for very long. The more successful sellers stay on top of these changes as they are happening, figure out how to best apply them to their own shop, and push forward. Yes, sometimes the constant tweaking and twisting can be frustrating, but there is a lot more to be accomplished in taking action over complaining or pining for the olden days long gone.
25. You aren’t tracking where the views are coming from.
Etsy’s STATS feature makes it pretty easy to see where your visitors are coming from. This lets you know, for example, if all the time you’ve been plugging into Twitter is actually bringing in the eyeballs you think it is. And if not? Trail and error will help you decide with activities bring the best results.
Just remember: not all traffic is created equal. You don’t want to get so obsessed with numbers that you start trying to pull in traffic from anywhere and everywhere just to watch them go up. What’s important is that those numbers are representing members of your Ideal Customer audience, so that they are the most likely to actually purchase from you.
26. Your shop looks neglected.
If you still have “Christmas SALE” written in your shop banner even though it’s well past March, it looks like you aren’t tending to your shop as you should be. Just as with the sparse listings mentioned above, this will make browsers feel less trustworthy of you as a seller, and therefore be that much more less likely to buy.
27. You take your sweet time to ship.
Unless you specifically state long shipping times in your shop policies, announcement, and each and every product description, people expect their items to be sent out right away. We are an impatient bunch, and with sites like Amazon offering next-day shipping options, the competition is fierce. Sending out orders as soon as possible will make a huge difference in your shop’s credibility, and how you are viewed from a customer service perspective.
28. You look like a faceless corporation.
Most shoppers on Etsy want the personal touch of buying form an individual, or at least from a small company. If everything looks like it’s been taken from a stock photo website, and there is little to no voice in your written content, you may be getting confused with a massive reseller as a brand. A few personal touches, sprinkled in your product descriptions, photography, and packaging can go a long way in having you recognized as the one-of-a-kind individual you are.
29. You’re lying.
This may seem obvious, but I do see it from time-to-time. Don’t lie to try to get sales, no matter how tempting. Don’t pretend your item is made of gold if it’s only gold-colored, or that it has magical fertility-enhancing abilities or will automatically attract the soul-mate your customer has been looking for. A wallet isn’t going to make your customer richer (though it could make him feel richer), and soap isn’t going to take off 20 years (though it could make your skin feel and look more youthful.) Make sense?
30. You’re begging for sales.
There’s a difference between the charming story of mentioning that you’re a small, one-person shop and you appreciate your customers for helping you to put food on the table and writing in your shop announcement “Please buy from me so I can eat!!!”
Unless you’re being obviously humorous, of course, you don’t want to come across as desperate. It’s a huge turn-off for customers and will have them fleeing your shop before they even take the time to look around.
31. You copy other sellers.
If you think people can’t tell, they can. Sure, you may get a few sales riding on someone else’s coattails, but not for long, and not from the kind of loyal customers you want to be attracting. Stick to being original, unique and freshly YOU and you’re bound to find more success that you can actually feel proud of.
32. You don’t pay attention to suggestions.
If you have customers who frequently say, “Oooh, you should make this!” and you are consistently setting your phasers to ignore, then you are basically ignoring potentially reliable revenue streams. Sure, there are going to be a few ideas that are brought to your attention that you will instinctively know aren’t a good fit for your brand, but at least take the time to consider each one and the possibility of what offering it could do for your shop.
33. You’re breaking copyright or trademark laws.
Once again, please be original. Come up with your own shyte. If you get in trouble breaking either copyright or trademark laws it could cost you a lot more than your Etsy shop getting shut down. It’s not worth the risk and it doesn’t make you look very good either. Become a fan of your own stuff, and that enthusiasm will spread to your customers. Really.
34. Your prices are too low.
When your prices are deeply discounted the average passerby will probably think “what’s wrong with this product” or possibly, they will assume that you aren’t really shipping from the region you claim you are, or that your manufacturing process isn’t as you state. All of these things may be contributing to unsold inventory, without even mentioning the the fact that you could be setting yourself up to go out of business through net losses if your stuff actually was to sell. All important to consider.
35. Your prices are too high.
This is rarely the case although many sellers instantly go to this as the potential reason for their lack of sales.
It makes more sense to re-phrase: your prices are too high for the customers you are targeting.
There, that’s better.
If you want to continue to sell at the more affluent prices then you need to be targeting a more affluent market via your promotion and branding. If you tend to have branding that focuses more on the bargain hunters, such as frequent sales or discounts, then you may need to calculate what options you have for bringing your average anchor price lower.
36. You haven’t developed a memorable brand or style.
You want your products to reach the point to where when someone sees one of them they can recognize it as one of yours, even without any labeling or logos nearby. Keep fine-tuning your designs until this end goal is reached, and then continue expanding it from there. You want a brand that your customers feel affectionately proud to be loyal to, and even brag about having taken part of.
37. You forget to respond to messages.
Even if the answer is no to a particular question or custom request, the proper customer-service-oriented response is to reply back courtesy, preferably within 24 hours.
38. You’re waiting instead of working.
The sales come in when you’re busy taking action. Whether or not their are orders flowing, continue to create and design your products, promote and market, and develop your brand. Too often sellers will take a specific action – and then waste time waiting to see the results. The results are going to come whether or not you are refreshing your stats page every few minutes instead of working on blog posts or product lines. Yes, keep track and measure the results of your actions, but don’t let the stats distract you from pressing forward. As they say, success likes to find you working.
39. You aren’t offering combined shipping.
Offering a discount or free shipping on additional items can be a huge incentive for your customers to purchase more than one thing when they buy from your store. A flat rate or low-add-on cost simply makes sense, especially from the customer’s point-of-view. If your items are super heavy, consider adding some of the shipping cost into the cost o your items rather than completely within the shipping rate, as a massive sticker shock there can be a major turn-off.
40. You aren’t offering a variety of products to choose from.
While you don’t want your offerings to be so scattered and all over the place that you overwhelm browsers, you do want to have a variety of options within your product collections. For example, you want your standard product to be anchored with a more elaborate (and expensive) aspirational piece, and compliment it with potential up-sell products. In jewelry, for example, this means a standard necklace can be anchored with an elaborate statement necklace, and/or complimented with the up-sell options of a matching pair of earrings or ring.
41. You’re making it all about YOU.
Yes you want your unique personality, story, and brand to shine through your shop. However, at the end of the day, your potential customers want to know what’s in it for THEM. Stick to emphasizing what THEY’LL get out of working with you and owning your products, and hone in on the details that matter most to them, not you.
42. You aren’t collecting e-mail subscribers.
The most effective way to keep in contact with your fans isn’t through social media or even blogging, but rather, through an e-mail newsletter. Sending out a simple message to your audience a few times a month to alert customers of new items, helpful content on your blog, or sales, not only brings in more -purchases but also reminds your customers that you’re still alive. We’re all busy people, with limited attention spans. Allowing your potential customers to give you permission to receive notifications from you will have your shop and products at top-of-mind when they think of buying again, or for the first time. Getting permission to deliver straight to their inbox is going to cut through the clutter of social media, and give you a much more likely chance that they won’t forget you exist.
43. You don’t offer multiple payment options.
While PayPal will probably remain the most popular online payment method, there are still several people who would rather use their credit card, or even send in a money order to make a purchase. If you can, more options usually means more potential sales for your Etsy shop, so provide as many as you can and feel secure doing.
44. You don’t ship internationally.
There’s a whole world of customers out there, and with Etsy’s new print-from-home customs label option, you don’t even have to stand in line at the post office to reach them! If you aren’t sure you’re comfortable shipping internationally yet, consider adding a couple of countries at a time, until you get the hang of it and feel more secure adding the option to every location.
45. You don’t have an avatar image.
Now that just looks shady. Build instant trust by posting up your face or at least your logo or a product image.
There. Much better.
46. You haven’t filled out your shop policies.
While it’s true that most people won’t read these (unless they’re making a very expensive purchase), many will often click over for a quick glance. If the spaces are blank, your trustworthiness instantly drops to near non-existence.
47. Your “trendy” products are outdated.
If you are selling on-trend items, then you will need to pay close attention to the fluctuations of what’s HOT and what’s NOT. If you’re still selling MySpace spoof items, for example, then you probably aren’t being sought-after in the searches. Unless you’re going for the nostalgic route, of course.
48. Your shop is flooded with spelling and grammar mistakes.
Mistakes happen. I know, I happen to be one of the worst offenders of not noticing a glaring headline mistake until much later (or having to be told.) However, it does pay to take a second to read over your descriptions, titles, and check your tags before hitting the publish button. Too many “human mistakes” will make you appear unprofessional.
It pays to learn the difference between “you’re” and “your,” as well as “there,” “they’re” and “their.”
49. You aren’t directing people back to your store front.
Many Etsy browsers are going to find and click on your products from their search results, meaning that nay one of your product listings could be their first contact with you. To guide these individuals back to your storefront, where they could potentially find just the thing they were looking for, include a link to your main page in each and every product description.
50. You aren’t drawing from multiple revenue streams.
Whether you like it not not, there is always going to be a small percentage of traffic coming into your shop from other sellers, not necessarily buyers. They may be looking to check out how you do things, get inspiration for their own projects, and so on.
Why not pad your shop’s income by offering a few items for them too?
If plausible, this could mean listing some of your destash supplies, creating some PDF tutorials or patterns or complete ready-to-make kits.
This post was written by Megan Petersen, the designer and owner of Megan’s Beaded Designs, where she sells her handmade artisan jewelry and one-of-a-kind hair accessories. It was originally written and published on her blog for fellow creatives, www.BeadingForBusiness.com, where she shares tips, beading tutorials, and articles on running a small business in the arts.