Tuesday , 20 October 2020
Today's Breakdown - John tells his secret for marketing his Etsy shop and shares how he uses social media to promote is business.

The Breakdown With John W. Golden – 8,000 Etsy Sales and Answering Your Questions

Art, Blocks & more by John W. Golden

John W. Golden is a digital artist that has been designing since the 80′s.  John joined Etsy in July of 2006, and has sold over 8,000 items.  You can also find John’s work in Target!  The Breakdown series is a ongoing series that goes behind the scenes of John’s successful Etsy shop.   We will be looking at real questions from real sellers, and John is going to break them down and give his straight-up answer.   We will be covering a wide range of topics, but all will be geared to the success of your Etsy business.

Today’s Breakdown -   John tells his secret for marketing his Etsy shop and shares how he uses social media to promote is business.

Question from: RetroChalet

I guess my question is what is the secret and where do we start to market our Etsy shops.     What are a few tips ?

John says:

I can start by saying I have tried all those avenues, to varying levels of success. Baby steps are good :)

The secret for me has been knowing my market, and you may have heard before that your market is you. That is true, but my market tends to be women, some about to have babies, some not. And, you heard it here first, I am not a woman, nor am I about to have a baby. But I have 3 kids, a wife who had those 3 kids, etc. so I have a lot of shared experiences with my market. So, more accurately, your market is people who think like you, enjoy the same things and have similar life experience. You have to find those people and get your work in front of them. I have done so in the now traditional ways of Facebook, Twitter and a blog, but a few less-traditional ways that I hope to go into deeper in another post.

You are right about marketing outside Etsy. There was a time when renewing on Etsy was definitely the most effective way for me to get my items in front of people. Not so much anymore just due to the sheer size of the Etsy marketplace. I used to spend about 10% of what I made from Etsy on renewing. Now it’s more like 15%, so the return is not as good, and it gets expensive. That said, renewing still brings in sales for me and puts me near the front of searches, which for me increases the chance of being found for inclusion in treasuries and blog features.

According to my analytics, Facebook and Twitter are my No. 2 and 3 traffic sources, respectively. I don’t have huge numbers of followers and fans, but the great thing about FB and Twitter is that you have a group of people who want to know what you are up to. I still try to cast a wide net to get my work in front of as many people as possible, but I put most of my focus on Facebook and Twitter.

My blog is an on-again off-again thing for me, so it has never been much of a traffic generator. You really do have to have great content on a consistent basis to generate any kind of following. I found more success in being featured on other people’s blogs that have more traffic. You can submit to blogs if bloggers don’t find you on your own.

Of those three avenues, a Facebook business page was the easiest to get started for me. All 3 take a while to get followers, fans, etc., but a Facebook biz page is the most accessible to the most people, I think.

You can set your Facebook biz page to post to twitter, so that can be gearing up while you build a following on Facebook.

I look at marketing today as being more about connecting with a smaller group of people who are interested in your items than the old way of telling everyone you can (who may or may not be interested) about your work. (You do still need to tell a lot of people about your work to get that small group established) For me, that fits best with a FB biz page because those folks are there solely to hear about your business.

And, if it makes anybody feel better, I feel overwhelmed at least once a day from all this stuff :)

If you have questions for John stop by the Handmadeology Etsy Team

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  1. How do you effectively market on fb and twitter without being totally spam-my? I get stuck at what to say besides “look what I just made/listed” which is boring and can be really obnoxious. ESP on twitter, I find it hard to connect with anyone, it seems more like people yelling commercials. And nobody really cares what I had for lunch!

    • Great questions Kath…. One way to get around seeming spammy, is to create conversation about your items. Ask your fan and followers what they think of your items along with straight up promoting.

    • Hey Kath,

      I’m sure that I have Twitter followers that would describe me as “spam-my”. When I am having a sale, I do tend to tweet about it more than one time. I try to vary what I say, but that is challenging.

      The main thing I do (as much as I can) is to make sure that my work is the least thing I tweet about. I will share art and design I find online, tweet about other Etsy artists whose work I admire, and retweet other artists. Occasionally, I will tweet about what’s going on in my life, and milestones too.

      What I hope comes across from that is that I am someone who wants to share cool art and design, interesting artists and a little bit of himself with you.

      Whatever I post needs to have some benefit to my followers, whether it made them laugh, informed that about an artist that might not have found otherwise, or gave them the opportunity to save a little money on my art.

  2. Thanks Tim. I guess I could say things like “making garden tags, cardsand journals today” wouldn’t be too spam my either, maybe with something about being ready for spring? I guess I don’t feel very interesting most of the time, lol

  3. Thanks John, those are great ideas. I guess I need to keep twitter in mind as I am surfing the net!

  4. Thanks for the tips, especially about being spam-my. I’m new to twitter and so many people just have post after post about their stuff. I tend to just skim over them, so I think it defeats the purpose. I do tweet when I list a new product, but I’m trying to vary it some…

  5. Thanks Kath! A lot of sites will have links for sharing their content on social media sites like twitter which makes it even easier to share what you like.

    Jordan – Sounds like you are on the right track :)

  6. I actually discovered John via his how-to videos and never forgot him… fellow robot lovers are hard to forget. I probably won’t each 8000 sales on Etsy, because that would mean 8000 handmade robots and at that point my arms will have fallen off, but Mr. Golden keeps inspiring.

  7. The conversation of comments is just as interesting as the article itself.

    I also try not spam on twitter or facebook by posing questions, but I can’t help feel sad when I don’t get many responses. lol

  8. THANK YOU so much for sharing, John! Love the last comment about being overwhelmed! glad to know I’m not alone in this! ;p

  9. The problem I find, is that the time flies by (I know it’s the same for all of us!). It’s really hard to make your crafts, whilst juggling with a day job, be it children, keeping a home, going out to work etc,etc. In my case running an animal sanctuary for farm animals and birds(massive amounts of mucking out, feeding, medical care).

    Then, there’s the photographing of your items, writing the ‘try to make it interesting’ blurb, uploading it all on to the various sites you have.

    Only then do I get to the social media bit, Twitter, Facebook, forums. I find myself working till at least midnight every day.

    As it happens, I really enjoy everything I do, so it’s not a chore, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day and half the night, and it’s usually the social media that has to give.

    I know that I have to find the time because it is so very important these days, but where from?

    I know I’m not alone. We probably all have this problem to one extent or another. But it beats me.

    Amazing Beads

  10. Great points! I can attest that when someone responds (on Twitter) and has a conversation, even if it’s a small one, that’s what makes the difference. I look forward to John’s tweets. You can tell he’s a real person.

    • yes, I have Google Alerts and Social Mention alerts to tell me when people are talking about the type of things I sell, and I recently had a couple small conversations on Twitter about it. it at least got me a new follower, and possibly some interest in my shop.

  11. I understand the feeling of spamming on FB, I think my mistake when I opened my “fan” (business)page was that I immediately invited all my personal friends, etsy team and family to join……and they did! Great, you say…..well now I’m thinking not so great…most of my friends are not into art and certainly don’t get mixed media like I do….repurposing and upcycling, my etsy team friends do the same thing I do, so they are not as inclined to buy art they can make themselves, and my family…well ditto my friends who don’t get it.

    So….when I throw “out there” “look what I listed” it feels spammy….when in reality we should be free and relaxed about marketing to potential buyers….John has hit the nail on the head…defining our customer base really defines our approach.

    And I’m faced with extremely constraining time challenges like Amazing Beads, finally realizing I can’t do it all at this point in my life. If etsy was more sole source of income, I would do things a lot differently and more aggressively.

  12. I love creating jewelry, but I find that the time to create it is limited because of all the other aspects of selling (or trying to sell).

    It takes time to shop for materials, promote my business, socialize and promote others shops in treasuries. It takes time and care to list and write engaging descriptions, take photos and edit them, post new items on Facebook and Twitter, reading posts, studying new ways of promotion, etc…and it goes on and on.

    I love creating my jewelry and keeping shop. But I would enjoy all of it so much more if I was rewarded with a sale. I take pride in creating my jewelry and promoting it and I’m hoping that the reason I have such little traffic and sales is the slow economy and the competition in the jewelry category.

    I must admit, I am getting extremely discouraged. I have not had a sale in many moons.

    • same with me. I started making and listing my jewelry because people were complimenting the jewelry I’d made for myself and was wearing, saying I should sell it, but I don’t actually get the sales that would tell me people really like it. I fortunately still like making it, but running out of money by listing without getting sales is discouraging.

  13. John, thanks for the insight on your work and marketing! I’ve been a fan since I joined Etsy, way back when.

    It’s true that finding the time to keep up with all of the social media feels overwhelming. There are some days that I can’t seem to get away from my computer and actually get into the studio. I find that when I get stuck at the computer for too long, rather than rushing around to get things done, the best thing for me is to take a short walk in the woods, or sit in the garden and listen to the birds, or just sit and stare at the clouds. Sounds crazy, I know, but reconnecting with nature re-grounds me from the life inside the screen of a computer.

    Oh and lists – making lists, that helps too.

  14. Thanks for the comments and questions! I’ll get you folks answers as soon as I can.

  15. Would love to hear more from you, John. Very thought provoking. My FB fan page has been inactive for more than a year, because I just don’t know how to use it effectively. And I’m slowing down on Twitter for fear of appearing ‘spammy’ Some very good tips here from Tim and John. Thank you

  16. Ditto on the time vacuum that keeping up with social networking creates. I find my studio time has shrunk hugely and I don’t have any sales to make up for it! Must not be using FB/Twitter/blog in an effective way yet. Looking forward to getting more insight here. Thanks for this blog!

  17. It does take up so much time and I don’t want it to feel like a chore this is a very good and very informative article.

    Thank you

  18. I have a question

    first of all thanks for mentioning “your target audience is you” ’cause that helps a bit; but I was thinking that if I look at the people who’ve bought from me, and the people who’ve bought from others who sell similar types of items, I’d get an idea of who my target market is; and if I look at what other sellers of similar items are doing, I could see how they market their shops. problem is, buyers don’t fill out their profiles, and a seller I looked at recently has nothing in the profile and apparently doesn’t have a facebook or twitter. how do we look at our target market when they’re hiding? I can look at my facebook fans but I participated in a “fan drive” where everyone “liked” each other’s pages so we could get custom urls, so I don’t know if my fans are really interested. same with twitter.

  19. Thank you so much, John, for all the insight. I have the same problems as alot of these posts, and really look forward to hearing your response to all!

  20. Wow, well at least I got my interview in before this one dropped. John is a popular man.

  21. Thanks so much John for your insight into this social media subject. For me it can be quite overwhelming and time consuming, but I realize this could be one of the most useful and least expensive marketing tools available. Look forward to hearing more tips from you!

  22. … and I mean that in the best way. John’s been a big inspiration to me. I would love to emulate his success, but we all have to find our own paths, right? It’s good to have something to aspire to though.

  23. I am working towards opening up an etsy shop and web site. Should I start a biz FB page and twitter prior to or at the same time as the store opening?

  24. Thanks for the tips. I am going to rethink my use of Twitter and FB.
    How do you feel about doing treasuries?

  25. I need to rethink my use of Twitter and FB, I think I can be more effective.

    How do you feel about treasuries?

    Thank you for your insights.

  26. Dave, I think your interview helped me finally get rolling with sharing this info :)

    Thanks everyone for your questions. Had to work on some shipping today but will return ASAP with responses.

  27. Well, then I’m glad I could help. ;)

  28. This has been helpful, especially regarding FB and twitter. I too don’t want to come across as spammy so I usually will put little healthy tips or links to tips that are relevant to what I make (aromatherapy). Also, I’m trying to get a handle on feeling overwhelmed by writing down my focus, plan and deadline (deadline is the key), and being very specific since it’s easy for me to stray. John, thanks for sharing your story and tips.

  29. Good afternoon all! I am going to try to group my responses into a few posts here so as not to make the moderator’s job harder with lots of replies :) If I you feel like I missed your question over the next few posts, please let me know.

    First off, Thanks HerArtSheLoves, Alice, for your kind words.

    It looks like there are a lot of us struggling with finding the time to do everything, and facing down the reality that doing any one thing keeps you from effectively doing others.

    There are so many things to be done, that is is difficult to do them all, much less do them all well.

    An important thing to remember is that this is your opportunity to do things your way and you get as many chances as you will give yourself to get it right. Like Dave said, we all have to find our own path. Some things I say here will work for you, and others just won’t be a good fit with your busy life. The best things I say here won’t be just my solutions and suggestions, but rather your adaption of those solutions and suggestions.

    If you ever worked for a small business like a restaurant or a boutique, you might remember back rooms full of “solutions”. Items meant for one purpose that were adapted to serve another purpose and made your job easier. It might have been been made of masking tape, string and scrap materials. It was a little piece of ingenuity that kept you from having to repeat a task over and over, or saved you money. It benefited you in some way.

    Hopefully, what I say here will be the scrap material to your string and tape. You’ll adapt it or it will spur an idea based on your own experiences. Hopefully it will train you to look at your options (FB, twitter, Etsy, Blogs, Forums, etc.) and say, “How can I make this work for me?”

    Next up, I’ll talk a bit about how I try to get everything done.

  30. okay, I’m a believer…I listed a little animal in my vintage shop that I wasn’t sure if it was a squirrel or chipmunk, so I tweeted about it with the link…got a few responses, and sold it within an hour of listing!
    and then I bought something that another seller tweeted about…easy come, easy go, lol

  31. oh, another thing…one thing I do is take my laptop or ipad in the studio with me, then type with one hand while I hold something glued together, or assemble items while photos load. So I am getting a few things done while I am “socializing” or listing. I kind of go back and forth with it.

  32. Kath! Way to go:)

    That’s an excellent suggestion about doing something creative while doing other tasks (not that effective tweeting and Facebook posts don’t require creativity).

    I make my smaller block pieces at my desk while i print my repros.

    Normally I try not to multi-task much anymore, as I find I can’t do it well over a sustained period of time, but that is my last little bit of, “woo hoo, I’m getting 2 things done at once” :)

  33. A lot of recent posts are related to the difficulty of balancing the more task-oriented aspects of marketing with time for creativity.

    I often have days where, because of production or shipping, I can’t seem to make time for marketing and vice versa. So, a few notes about that:

    One thing that has helped me to do a better job of keeping up with twitter, Facebook and my blog is HootSuite. It’s a free online service that allows me to see my “streams”: My Twitter feed, Facebook page and my blog on a single page. I can write a single post and send it to all 3 services at the same if I want. I can also write multiple posts and schedule them to be sent to the services over time. That can give me a chunk of time to make stuff.

    As far as what I post, if a post or tweet doesn’t make a splash, I try not worry too much about it. I think most people see our tweets in a stream that speeds by faster than the categories on Etsy :) I don’t think most people actually read Twitter solely by going to people’s individual profiles.

    I think all these avenues we use to get the word about our work and shops out work well at times and not so well at others, so I try to keep that in mind when something I hope will bring some traffic in turns out to be a dud.

    If, over a prolonged period of time, what I tweet or post is not connecting with people, I change what I’m tweeting about. Not drastically, but in a fine tuning way. I think about what sort of things I would like to find out about from the people I fan or follow, find it online and share that.

    My twitter following was built slowly, and if I could have built it faster and bigger, I’m sure I would have. But, because it’s been built a few followers at a time, I feel like a pretty high percentage of the folks following me for the reasons I want them to follow me. It’s more like the content attracted people than anything I was able to do with the intent of getting more followers.

    For most of us, it takes time to build the asset that fans, followers and subscribers become. It also can take more than just trying to attract followers within FB and Twitter and on your blog. Are there other places where you can suggest that folks follow, friend/like or subscribe?

    Every once in a while, when you really want people to share something, ask. Don’t do it every time, but a little “Please Share” from time to time has helped me reach more people than my normal base of fans and followers.

  34. Thank you so much for the info! Marketing has always been a struggle for me! Facebook is also my top marketing avenue. I have thought about posting an ad but I get overwhelmed trying to figure who my key customers are. Finding the right words has never been a strong point for me. I would always love to get more traffic to my jewelry shop!
    P.s. I love your shop!! =)

  35. Thanks John and Dave – Lots of great solid information here, including information from the responders. I need to start a Facebook Fan page to help me increase my marketing efforts.

  36. Thanks! Interesting article. Your notes in the comments are very insightful as well.

  37. Such wonderful advice and such a great flow of constructive ideas to work on!!! Thank all of you. I have a had a blog, twitter, and just now got my FB page going, and it does seem to be a smart way to grab my market, especially after having done some giveaways that require “Liking” me there ~ so these followers are interested in my work.
    All good, and yes a ton of work, but when it’s going somewhere it is very exciting!

  38. I have been resisting twitter forever, and, after reading all this, have decided I just need to do it! Thanks for the great insights, John. I have been an artist my entire career, going on 30 years now, so made my way in the brick and mortar world. This digital world is all new to me.

  39. I don’t worry so much about Twitter as I do FaceBook, where I have fan pages & a personal account. Some of my friends are “fans,” but many are not, for whatever reason. I worry about seeming “spammy” to those who are not fans, when my fan page automatically posts to the personal pages of my friends. I try to keep my business posts to the fan pages, but then the fan pages end up more like ads & kind of dull. I’m also not very effectively keeping the pages separate, with all the personal profiles being used as fan pages. I don’t want to alienate friends, some of whom aren’t my market. I also don’t want to alienate or ignore ‘fans’ & ignore getting the word out about my shops or my creations. It can be frustrating…

  40. larrysleatherwork

    I use fb and twitter. My pages are loaded with other leather workers, friends, and other likes. Some think I am a spammer because I talk about what I do “leather”. I also will tweet other neat things that I like and some consider this spamming. I read many things that others do, to include getting a drink of water and its all fine so what I do is fine also. I only send a tweet once or twice a week, that way I don’t abuse the system.

  41. Thank you for the insights. It’s clear that, while your obviously skilled at marketing, your quality products are a huge part of your success — they’re wonderful!

  42. Very helpful article and replies as well. Thank you John! I hope to have your kind of success one day.

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