Monday , 19 August 2019
Now there are a thousand ways to network and, you know, the whole thing totally overwhelms me to be honest. And I can't imagine not being overwhelmed by the list of places and ways that one can network. So my advice on that is pick a couple and really try to figure them out.

A Must Read For All New Etsy Sellers – 6 Etsy Tips for Beginners

With my new Etsy shop “Plumed” I am finding my desire is strong to make this a true blue business. A day or two after I opened the shop I was contacted by Emily Henderson of HGTV’s Secrets From a Stylist and the winner of last seasons Design Star. She ordered my “I Love Louisiana” pillow cover and it will be on an upcoming episode of her show (airing mid-September, woohoo!) When this happened I suddenly had this realization that, hey, I seriously need to approach this as a business. When you put your product out there you never know what kind of attention it might attract, so having a business mind going in to your venture is a good idea. With the attention from someone like a “design star,” and the promise of my product making it on TV, my confidence was boosted for sure, but if you are doing what you love and love what you do, you don’t need a fancy designer to catapult you into thinking of your Etsy business as a real business. Apparently I did, but now I am here to tell you, you don’t! Since opening my shop and getting this enormous compliment and validation, I have been spending a lot of time online trying to learn the in’s and out’s, the do’s and don’t's, how to promote oneself (oh, that is just not in my nature, or it wasn’t, waahaha!), market my shop and stay on top of everything.

There is so much information out there and I am still in a learning process (I am talking early stages here) and I imagine this process will continue for a long time, if not forever. There is advice on using facebook, twitter, etsy teams, mailing lists, SEO’s (whatever that is), google analytics, etsy circles, etsy treasuries, taking photographs, the list goes on and on. I do not understand all of these methods or how to best utilize them but I have learned a few things that seems to be making a difference and I thought I would pass the information along.

6 Etsy Tips for beginning – beginners (like me):

1: Do Take Good Photographs: I think it is better to have a couple great photos than five fuzzy photos. When I see something draped over the back of a sofa with a cat in the corner and a pile of laundry on the floor, I will NOT buy that product no matter how much I love it. As soon as I find a sure fire method for taking photos that is easy, cheap and results in great photos I will be sure to pass the info along. But for now look for tutorials online, try different methods and shots, take lots of photos, edit and don’t get too discouraged by the studio shots other Etsy sellers have. If you don’t have a studio your photos will never look like that, so get creative and use as much natural light as possible!

 Vintage Tapestry Pillow Cover (photo taken in natural light in front of a window)

2: Communicate! With my first Etsy shop I started out communicating a lot with my customers, but as a buyer, I found hardly anyone communicated with me. For example, when someone would place an order with me I would contact them and say “thank you for your order…it will ship out on this date.” Once the item had shipped I sent another message letting them know it shipped and the tracking code (if I had one for them). As a buyer, I found much too often, I would purchase something and then just wait and wait for my item to get to my house, with no confirmation of my order, no ETA from the seller. I took this lack of communication from other sellers, turned it inwardly and believed it to mean I was being a zealot and I shouldn’t be contacting people so much. Wrong! My initial instincts were correct. You should absolutely make contact with your customers. I believe the reason for this are as follows: as a buyer when I didn’t have a confirmation of my order or that it was shipped, I felt like my purchase didn’t really mean anything to the seller. And lets keep in mind that anyone could go to any big box store and buy anything they want, but they are on Etsy. Someone buying from Etsy is making a conscientious buying decision. They are buying from YOU, supporting your business, the local and handmade community. They are complementing your design and your craft; they chose your product out of billions, that’s right BILLIONS of products that are out there in the world. You want your customers to feel special because they are making a special purchase. So encourage this and give them the kudos they deserve! Additionally, I believe that if they not only see the product that you make, but also see you as a person, you have a much better chance at having return customers. They will not only remember you make really cool headbands but they might remember you as a person and the next time they need a really cool headband they will remember you and your shop.

3: Be speedy with Orders and Make Them Look Purty: Again, with my first shop most of my orders were custom made so I didn’t have the luxury of getting my orders out quickly and if you are doing mostly custom made orders you won’t either. You can let them know ahead of time in your listing the approximate turn around for custom orders and again when you email them confirming their order. If you have stock of what you make send them within a day or two of purchase. I usually wait a day to see if I get any other orders in. Driving too often to the Post Office isn’t cost effective so this certainly needs to be accounted for (then you can keep your shipping pricing down for your customers too). However, after my one day window to see if I can take two or three orders at once, I head straight to the Post Office. I have realized Etsy customers expect a long wait, but that does NOT mean that they like it, who does? We are a right here, right now culture, look at the fast food industry ; ) Now, of course as Etsy shop owners and crafters we are the opposite of the fast food culture but that doesn’t mean we should just take our time because we can. In my shop policies I let customers know that ready made orders will be shipped within five business days, this gives me a cushion for when times are really busy but I always try to send my orders out as quickly as possible and, in doing so, I often get a message back from customers saying “Thank you! It arrive so much sooner than I expected!” This is good business, this is another positive for you and a happy customer is much, much more likely to spread the word about your business or return again. But before you send of that package like speedy gonzales, check to make sure it is in the condition you want it to be sent in, iron if needed, package it nicely with tissue paper, a ribbon or sticker and include a business card. To me this just shows that you take care in what you do. Everything you do for your business speaks about your business, so you want it to all speak wonderful things because your products are wonderful and so are you.

Bicycle, Bicycle Hand-Embroidered Pillow on Linen (photo taken outside against brick wall)

4: Network: Now there are a thousand ways to network and, you know, the whole thing totally overwhelms me to be honest. And I can’t imagine not being overwhelmed by the list of places and ways that one can network. So my advice on that is pick a couple and really try to figure them out. Whether that be using pinterest, craftgawker (which is one of my favorites!), a facebook page, twitter, a blog, or one of the other thousands of venues. Pick your poison and spend time on it. If you are opening a new Etsy shop, or trying to really make a go of an existing one and you try to promote yourself on 100 different sites you won’t have the time to really learn about any of the platforms you are using, or how properly promote yourself using them. Choose one or two at a time and establish yourself there. Say for example you look into pinterest, have a good time with it (it’s really fun and addicting!), follow people, get followers and learn the site, then you will be familiar with the site and promotion will come more organically. At pinerest you “pin” things that you like, so in essence you are promoting others, but if you are active in doing this, like pinning 90% other items/blogs/photos and 10% pinning your own items or blogs, people will follow you back and re-pins items you post – hence the term “networking.” The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out of it, is the moral of that story and all networking stories for that matter. If you want a blog to promote your business no one will read it if you don’t offer them anything in return other than promoting your Etsy shop. So if you don’t have the time to give a blog (and a blog takes a lot of time) by offering new information, tutorials or great stories to share, well, you just won’t get a following. Even after you have supplied your blog with great information it takes time to attract readers and there is another map to navigate there in gaining followers and networking too! Bottom line is, look at your options, decide what interests you, because you will have to put time into the platforms you choose to try to promote yourself, and again, (I can’t say it enough) pick platforms you enjoy spending time on.

5. Etsy Teams, Circles and Treasuries...Let’s start with Etsy teams, for one they are filled with people just like you, people looking to promote their shops and blogs, network and get answers to the same questions you might be asking yourself, or your computer at 2 o’clock in the morning. While joining Etsy teams you may not see a spike in your sales but you will learn things from seasoned sellers, gain followers for things like twitter, your blog and your facebook page and all in all be apart of the Etsy community. I think it’s a great place to start. Now, onto Etsy circles, so, when you join a circle or someone adds you to their circle, your Etsy activity (like the treasuries you created or new items or favorite items you add to your shop) get plastered on other peoples activity pages. The great thing about this is that other people that are in their circle see when they “like” something in your shop. Ultimately it is about exposure and it’s a good idea. I know we don’t all like seeing 800 other peoples Etsy activity, we want to see who likes OUR products, but just think about all the people that are getting exposure to you and your shop and I guarantee you will see more hearts for your shop, items and get into more treasury lists. Through looking through my Etsy activity page I often find shops and products that other people in my circles like and I end up going to those shops, checking them out and adding them to my favorites. At the same time this is happening for me and my shop too. Etsy treasuries…egads, I don’t quite have a full understanding of these yet, but I will say I know the front page of Etsy is taken from curated treasuries from other Etsy users. You can join an Etsy treasury team where your treasury will get more exposure and people will often use other members items in their treasuries, but from what I can tell this is definitely a time consuming undertaking, but if you love making treasuries then this might be great for you! When making a treasury be sure to send a message to the shops you are using, that way they are sure to visit it and perhaps re-post it to twitter or facebook. I often find when I am in a treasury my “hearts” for that item go up; so again, I am getting more exposure for my shop overall. Again, all of the above are about exposure, how that may affect your Etsy sales today isn’t the point, it’s how your sales will be affected over time. It’s about getting your name and product out there as much as possible. So while someone might not need a rhinestone doggy leash today, they might get that cute little chihuahua they’ve been vying for in a month from now and think, oh, I know exactly where I can go get one of those because they have seen your shop pop up in their Etsy activity feed or in a treasury.

Mediterranean Spice Pillow Cover (photo taken with white cloth back drop, outside in natural light)

6: Use Google Analytics:  I must admit I had a difficult time figuring out how to set it up, but once I did, I find I use it all the time (eventually I watched a video on youtube and that was how I got it working). It will give you a plethora of graphs and charts that show your website activity and trends. My suggestion is to first find out what days and times people seem to be on your site generally speaking. From there you may be able to decide when it is best to post new items or renew items. Personally I have found I get the most visitors to my shop at 9 am, 4 pm, and 9 pm PST, additionally, Wednesday seems to be the day where I get a bit more traffic. So I use this information to my benefit and post my items at those time slots and try to post my new items on Wednesdays. I also keep a paper log of when I post or renew items and compare them to the traffic on google analytics. The days and times in which I post or renew I see that my views double or triple. Google analytics is really an invaluable tool in my book and it’s free to boot!

Ok, so these are a few things I have learned by logging hours upon hours onto my poor tired computer. Again, this is just the tip, the very tip of the iceberg. As I learn more, or I learn more simple methods, I plan to update this path of learning and pass along my information. Above all I believe if you are doing what you love give that love over to it. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself because others out there aren’t blinking an eye in doing the same thing. While self-promotion is a bit aggressive in nature you can still do it with that warm and crafty flair that makes the products you are promoting so spectacular.

Lastly if you have noticed I have also “promoted” myself in this post. To give you some examples, I used photos of pillows from my shop and linked them back to my Etsy store. I have also linked pinterest and facebook to my accounts and so on. That’s the point of having a platform, you offer something, support others and then link up your site. Will I sale 500 pillows from this post today? Uh, no. Maybe not even one, but I might get a follower, a viral friend to journey and navigate with or learn something from, links to others amazing shops and blogs where I might find something I like or information I need to know. So the point is you can promote yourself but do it with a wide array of intentions and make them good ones, not just your profit margin, because I might be wrong, but I don’t think it works that way. I have also included different images of my pillows using different methods and backgrounds. I included where they were taken to give you an idea for your photos. Good luck! And PLEASE if you have any advice to share or an experience that you would like to add I would love for you to do so in the comments!

Guest post by: Lulobird 

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31 comments

  1. Thanks so much for the tips! As a newby I need all the info I can get my hands on to help me promote. You have a lot of practical advice that is doable. People keep telling me I must blog, and I have no clue as to where to start with that. Plus like you say where’s the guarantee others will follow my blog? BTW your pillows are georgeous!

  2. Great tips. These are also important to not-so-newbie sellers.

    It makes me so sad when I get excited about something, make a purchase and then hear nothing. And two weeks later, a nondescript package arrives with my item just floating in a sea of Styrofoam peanuts. Its totally deflating.

  3. Thank you so much for all of your advice and congratulations on your success! :)

  4. Sometimes its good to take a step back as seasoned Etsy sellers and relearn some things so we take more steps forward at that point!

    Good article!

  5. thanks for taking the time to share this information

  6. Great advice! Your pillows are beautiful!

  7. Congratulations on the PRO. Great work I am following you! Thanks

  8. What a wonderful readable article ! I’ve been meaning to check out pinterest for a while now – guess the time has come to learn something new :-)
    And your photos are super !

  9. Thank you so much for this informations :)
    It was really great reading it and it helped!

    I haven’t got a Shop yet, but it is in the future.

    thank you, I really like your Pillows and the Photos are very Professional!

    greetings from Iceland

  10. Great tips! One thing to add, when it comes to the circles, I recently discovered that on the Activity page you can choose to see just activity for your shop, or just people in your circles, or both. This is very helpful. Congrats on your celebrity purchase. Woot woo!

  11. Wow. A goldmine of great info – thank you very much! I have to admit, I don’t completely ( or even remotely!! LOL) understand Google Analytics. Not clear on the treasuries either (sigh) but your commentary on the networking part… really helped me out. Thank you!

  12. Very good advise. Some I am already doing, others I can do a better job, and some I can try. My knowledge of Google Analytics is minimal. I will make an effort to improve on that knowledge.

  13. I especially like the advice of picking one or two networking platforms and learning them. I tend to OCD and try to jump in and do them all and then you are not really getting the best from them. Feeling like you are missing out by not trying them all is really not the best way, learn one and then add another.

  14. Great article. I have a relativly painless way of creating treasuries. I choose a theme and whenever I have a few free minutes I’ll search and find a few items that meet the treasury theme and bookmark them through my browser. Within a week or so I end up with enough items for at least one or often two treasuries. I often make one with light backgrounds and one with dark backgrounds.

  15. Great advice! And I’m with Mindy, I really appreciate the advice of picking one or two networking platforms to learn at a time. I was on the verge of overload! I’m headed over to find you on Facebook, Twitter and add you to my circle!!

  16. Packed with good info, easy to read and I love how you recapped everything by explaingin how you promo’d yourself @ last paragraph… nicely done!

    Thanks for getting me fired up!

  17. Thanks so much for this ‘bit’ of information! It was really helpful and encouraging to know that the things I am trying to do are what others are working towards too. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the computer stuff, but I realize that it probably gets easier in time, and I will be able to get into more of a schedule with it.

    Thanks again!
    -Ashley @CasaYCosecha on Twitter
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/casaycosecha

  18. This is a very informative article. Thanks for all the tips. Congratulations on having you pillow picked to debut on TV!!

    Mary Lou
    http://customphotopics.etsy.com
    twitter.com/customphotopics

  19. Thank you very much for this informative post! Very helpful.

    Regards,
    Patricia Davidson
    http://pddesignsimages.etsy.com
    facebook.com/pddesignsimages

  20. I was first drawn to Etsy when I purchased an item from CreaShines handmade clay jewelry shop (www.CreaShines.etsy.com). When it arrived, I opened the package, and inside was a beautiful hand-wrapped package, and a card in a scented envelope. When I opened the envelope, to my delight little cut-out hearts fluttered out one by one to land in my lap. I pulled out a hand-written thank-you card, containing a 10% OFF coupon for my next order. And then my ordered item (a beautiful little clay leaf ring) was so delightful! She even enclosed a free gift.

    This all lended that personal touch to my order, like when someone takes time to make the gift special on your birthday.

    I love those little personal touches. Now that’s the way to make a customer want to buy from you again!

  21. Great article and good reminders for all of us.

  22. Hi!

    Great article! I agree with you about each of your points and have been putting them in practice especially in the last 6 months of my shop. Unfortunately other than increasing views (mainly because I’ve increased number of items also), sales have been as sluggish as always. I’m lucky if I sell one thing a month. So far I’ve had 22 sales in about 15 months on Etsy. So I don’t know, I keep thinking I must be doing something wrong, but I have not put my finger on it. Would love some feedback if you get a chance to do so.

    Thanks so much and congratulations on being on HGTV! Very Exciting!

    Jacqueline Arroyo
    HandArt Design Studios

  23. Hello, I’m having the same problem as
    Jacqueline. selling on etsy since January
    2009, was increasing sales at a decient rate, was really happy, then after the first christmas it fell apart. I also am selling about one item a month. Trying everything but they say I need to socialize,that is really hard for me but I’m going to try. Love your pillows and the good advice. nancy

  24. These are some really good points. Though I don’t agree with the communication point. I find it desperate and intrusive when a seller thanks me for a sale. I don’t mind the shipping notification, but if it’s sent later than I expected then I won’t be back. If it takes longer to get to me and I didn’t get a shipping notification, I happily blame the post office and won’t even consider it was the seller who shipped it late. I don’t even check the date stamp on the package.

    Because this is how I feel about communication on Etsy, I never did send unnecessary convo’s with my shop. If this is why I failed on Etsy, so be it. But I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t like unnecessary convo’s on Etsy.

  25. Jacqualine and Nancy,

    First let me say again, that I am a new seller myself, and these points I have found are things I have done differently this time around than with my first shop that appear to be making a big difference for me. How all this will pan out over a couple years time has yet to be seen.

    But to respond to your questions I will say, since opening my shop “plumed” I have a week where I sell nothing and then the next week I sale a pillow or two everyday. When I figure out why in the heck this happens, I will be sure to let you know :) I am definitely using my business mind (but let me be clear that it is in its newborn stage of life!) and I am trying to track days of the month that people buy more and so on and so forth. Now, I am no expert and am still learning myself, but I often think that it’s important to constantly make sure you have an edge in what you are selling so it stands out among the masses. Running an Etsy store is a lot of work for so many reason, including the creative edge factor. We all have to try to stay ahead of the pack in what we are offering. Trust me, in the forefront of my mind is the fact that I can’t just get comfortable with what I am doing now because who knows if it will still be wanted in a year from now or how many other people will follow suit and my once unique product will suddenly be a flooded one?! My suggestion to you and myself, is to see what people are most drawn to in your shop, compare the market on Etsy and see if a lot of other people are offering this too. If so, take your item to a new level so that you can be back ahead of the pack. I think keeping our shops and products fresh, as well as cohesive, is just a constant part of the Etsy selling business. My last bit of advice on this point is to just play around with it. If you only have one style of product try adding another to draw more people in. Or if you have several items try making your shop focus on one style for that cohesive look. I think this sort of “research” can really pay off, or at least eliminate why things are or are not working.

    I looked at your shop Jacqueline and it is fabulous!

    Star,

    I certainly did not mean for my “communication” part to sound like it was suggesting people convo buyers unnecessarily at all. I agree that that would not be the best idea : ) My intention is to only to suggest that the buyer be acknowledged that their purchase was received. Also, I would never suggest a seller give a shipping date without being sincere and committed in when they expect it to ship. But having said that if a seller has already touched base with a buyer and they need to adjust the shipping date, I think it will be well received having already made contact. And just to clarify I usually say “your order will go out monday or tuesday…” After it does go out I say “the post master said you should be able to expect it within 2-4 days.” This way they get an ETA and I know I have done my part as a seller committed to having valued customers that are kept in the loop of what they purchased.

    And thanks to everyone for all the amazing feedback, compliments are sharing your views and experiences! I love to share what I learn because I love hearing and learning from others too! We are all riding in the same boat, no?

    Lastly I want to say Handmadeology is amazing too!!! So far it is my favorite online forum and plethora great information. It is such an easy and accessible site to navigate. I just love it!

  26. Wonderful article with great tips. Thank you for all the information.
    Count me in as one of your new “viral friends”!
    Now I just have to try and figure out Google Analytics!

    Would love to have you check out my Etsy shop:
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/NostalgicSummer?ref=pr_shop_more

  27. This is a must read for all of us, doesn’t
    matter whether we’re new to selling on line or a veteran, like maybe we started with ebay. I did. Had to hire someone to help me get started. After a week, I canceled it.
    I had no idea what I was I was trying to do except make some extra money like I heard others were? “Talk is cheap” always was and always will be. Dedication is what makes a successful etsy seller. Oh, forgot to add, patience as in it takes time.
    Great article, timely information to use now. Good selling and a prosperous 2012 to all.

  28. I know its from a couple years ago but what a great read! Love your personality that comes thru your writing. Best of continued luck to you!!

  29. Thank you for this. I have started looking into SEO and it is definitely overwhelming. It’s like learning a new language. But I will start with these basics and go from there. I found a team on Etsy that is all about SEO so hopefully I can learn lots from them. I am just going to slowly work on our shop fixing and making changes to make it more searchable! Thanks again!

  30. Hey there
    I just opened up a shop on etsy. Rubybliss Designs (hair accessories for babies and little girls) and the article was very helpful and informative. Lots of tips to learn from.

  31. Thanks so much for the great tips. I’ve only just opened an Etsy shop (last week, in fact), and am looking for ways to increase traffic. It’s nice to read that I’m already doing a few things right, and also to read how I can improve.

    Thanks again,
    Jill
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChameleonGirlBags?ref=search_shop_redirect

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