Starting an Etsy Shop From the Bottom Up:
Zero hearts. Zero sales. These are scary numbers, but they hold a wealth of potential. I was very fortunate to make a sale within a week of posting something in our shop Beantown Handmade on Etsy, and at the time I contributed all our success to having our adorable six-month-old Boston Terrier puppy, Bean, modeling the merchandise. Looking back now with much more knowledge of Etsy and handmade business, I can see that I did several things right. Even if you don’t have access to an adorable puppy that will sit freakishly still like a statue, you can set yourself apart from the crowd.
1. I made something unique. I can’t stress enough how much I would encourage you to strive towards creating something completely your own. Having been looking at shops on Etsy every day for several years now, I feel I can pretty quickly identify who is creating their own identity as a handmade artist and who is taking bits and pieces of what they see other artists making. I get really excited when I find an Etsy shop that finally traces the source of a particular trending item back to its origin. I want the best. I want the original goods. Most customers do, too. In the perfect words of Shelly Kennedy, Be Your Original Best.
2. We took good, simple photos. They were definitely not perfect but they looked professional and had a cohesive look to them. We were using brown butcher paper back then and daylight fluorescents in our basement. Oh, and we were using a pocket sized digital camera purchased in the year 2002. Yet somehow my husband was able to take this picture
and suddenly everything changed. People really liked this hat and a lot of people wanted to buy these, and that was unexpected and amazing. I was completely unprepared. It just took one really great photo and one popular item to set the wheel in motion for something that has now become my full time job.
3. I had fun, but I was really serious about getting it right. I made a lot of prototypes and took a lot of photographs before I posted things in the shop. It only took one photo to completely change the direction of my business, so putting a whole lot of effort into one photo makes sense in the long run. Your time and hard work are a great investment. Try to look at your work and shop objectively. Is what you post online your absolutely, 1000% best effort? I would also recommend the Etsy shop critique so you can get feedback from Etsy admin and your peers about how they perceive your products. Fresh, unbiased opinions are incredibly valuable.
I would love to hear about your experiences starting up your own business. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you could go back?