Saturday , 15 May 2021
I’m not going to lie – most people who read this aren’t really going to like what it says. Because it’s scary. And hard. And there are no list-making, working-longer-hours, hone-your-craft shortcuts around it.

The Number One Thing You HAVE to Do For Etsy Success…But You Probably Won’t

The Number One Thing You HAVE to Do For Etsy Success…But You Probably Won’t.

I’m not going to lie – most people who read this aren’t really going to like what it says.  Because it’s scary.  And hard.  And there are no list-making, working-longer-hours, hone-your-craft shortcuts around it.  But it still stands, and it’s the one thing you have to do that you probably haven’t done yet, but it’s more important than any other thing you’ve done so far.

You ready?  Here it is…

Stay with me!  Ask for what you say?

Ask for whatever it is you want.

If you want a client to make a purchase, ASK FOR THE SALE.

If you want to sponsor a giveaway, ASK TO SPONSOR A GIVEAWAY.

If you want someone to sponsor a giveaway for you, ASK FOR A SPONSOR.

If you need help with something, ASK FOR HELP.

If you want to do a guest post on your favorite blog, ASK TO DO A GUEST POST.

^^ I can testify that this one works, all it took was a smile and a blog comment. XD

I love this principle because it’s so simple and direct.  But I also, eh, don’t love it because of its simplicity and directness, because it means that there’s no way around it except through.  And frustratingly, in this case simple does not = easy.  If anything, it means that the task ahead is really, really hard.  Why?

Because it requires putting yourself into a vulnerable place, where you’re not hiding your intentions, you’re going directly for what you want and you have to trust that the other person is going to respond favorably.  It’s hard because you are vulnerable to direct rejection.

Take heart though – the people who you are going to be reaching out to are, well, [kumbaya-moment alert] just like you.  Seriously.  If they are successful, I guarantee that they were once where you are right now, so they of all people will appreciate and know exactly what you’re doing, and they’ll want to help you.  Plus, if you approach them with a smile and a great attitude, ready to give your best to them and make their lives better, why would they say no?  The answer: they won’t! [/kumbaya moment]

So, call-to-action time:

Why have you not asked?  Are you ready to ask?

If your answer is “no”, too bad.  You should ask any way!

Start by asking people you know, even if it’s as simple as asking what they think of your idea.  Ask the shop owners and bloggers you admire; you already know they know lots of stuff, pick those brains and benefit from their experience.  Heck, ask me and Tim!  Take that step – you’ll be happily surprised at what happens!

Until next time J

Hi, I’m Diana.  I’m an actor by trade, a blogger by hobby, and an Etsy seller by necessity.  I’m also really bad at writing in the third person.  I started my blog, This Disorganized Life, in Aug 2010 to chronicle my forays into learning to be domestic. My Etsy shop [of the same name] is a recent development, and came as a result of my mania for making lists, and trying new things.  New items are being added to both



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  1. Good point! My dad always told us, “Don’t ask, don’t get!” and he did have a point.
    And, after all, the worst that can happen, is that someone will say “No”…

    Children are far less inhibited about asking for what they want. Pity us adults are so shy…

  2. Etsy does seem to be a bit more difficult than it would appear, but I agree that asking for help is always a pretty good option especially when things are a bit more difficult than they would appear.

    • Agreed, Debra. I’m still learning how to put this bit of advice into practice more readily, but I’ve quickly learned that asking almost always produces a positive result, especially when I’m doing everything I can to pay it forward, even before receiving anything from anyone. :)

  3. Good Morning and hello Diana,

    I’m asking you to come on over to my shop and purchase a unique hand made piece of pottery for yourself or one of friends in your circle. My pottery is hand thrown, functional, fun and colorful. They’re not for everyone, but my pottery works of art make wonderful gifts sure to please.

    If you have any questions to ask about my work, please do, Karen

    • Clever lady, Karen! Already leaping into action! I’ll for sure check out your shop, so far my favorites in there are the cupcakes and that Majolica bowl, SO beautiful. Looks like your shop is doing well, I’ll be sure to follow you!

  4. I use this theory all the time – and espouse it constantly – but in more of a ‘backward’ way.

    I always say “You don’t get, what you don’t ask for”

    Because – as you have said – all you have to do is ask. So often the answer is YES!

    • I’ve never thought of it like that, but the longer I let it sit on my brain, the better I like it! I’ll probably start using that phrase, hope you don’t mind me stealing your brilliance ;)

  5. I would agree, but in my experience it doesn’t seem that people actually have a problem with this. Mostly, possibly entirely, because we’re on the internet, and people still feel safer behind user names, even when it is their store’s name.
    I also don’t think it is all that simple, because there are ways to ask for something that can come off as spam. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your going to come off as genuine or as spam. Perhaps that is just a way of rationalizing the fear of asking, but I have certainly seen people come off as spam.

    • I agree that asking on the internet is MUCH easier for us “shy people” than in person. it takes a lot more courage for me to approach a gallery/boutique to see if they are interested in selling some of my items.

      • Both of your points are solid, I guess it comes down to just making sure that I know I’m sincere in my actions, both online and off-line, and even though the internet is and can be [blissfully] anonymous, most of the shop owners and bloggers that I want to do business with are intelligent, well-intentioned people, who, like me, can usually spot spam and spammers for who and what they are. Huzzah for having brains, right?

  6. So, so, so true! I have so much anxiety when it comes to asking for something….which is weird, because I love when people ask me for stuff (a favor, a gift or my opinion, etc…)

    I have an Etsy & have only shared it w/ a few people for the fear of failure.

    I am currently exploring starting a small business as a vendor attending girls sporting events. The thought of getting people feedback on my ideas makes me sick (again, it’s the failure thing)….

    But I am working on that & this article has helped to push me to do more asking! Thanks!

    • Just visited your Etsy shop and it’s lovely! I have no idea why you’re not bragging about it to all the people you meet. In all honesty, I do understand, because we’re all afraid of failing, of not being good enough. I have the same fears. But, we have to put ourselves out there, because if we don’t, the failure is guaranteed. You can’t succeed if you don’t try, right?

      Good luck!

      xo Hanna (by the way, I adore your clutches)

      • So true, Hanna! I’ve heard a quote that says something to the effect of, your chances of winning go up dramatically when you “throw your hat in the ring.” I try to apply the “throw your hat in the ring” philosophy as much as possible, and it’s sometimes comforting when I’m feeling insecure about what I’m doing… “oh well, at least my hat is in there and I tried, however feebly, which is a big step up from not trying at all.” Huzzah for positivity :P

        For the record, I second the clutch comment.

    • For sure Colette! I’ve been blogging for a while [still more or less new to Etsy though] and I still struggle with putting myself out there, more often than I care to admit, even to myself. Fear of failure can be really hard to overcome, but based on what I’ve seen from your shop and comment, it seems like your heart is in the right place, and you really care about what you’re doing. What more can you ask from anyone? More power to you, we’re all pulling for your success!

  7. Hi Diana and Tim!

    First things first, I just want to say how much I admire Handmadeology and this blog. I’ve gotten tons of great advice and good ideas from you and I’m always looking forward to new content.

    I want my new blog and Etsy relaunch to be a wild success. I need it to be. And you are so spot on, I do have to ask, I have to put myself out there and find the people who will resonate with my ideas and therefor become my readers and customers.

    So, if you would like to express yourself through style and love to get crafty, then stop by my blog at You’re all very welcome!

    xo Hanna

  8. Don’t we all know this works? But fear keeps me from asking. I will be more assertive and start asking. Great post, thanks for the reminder…..Judy

  9. I totally agree with you and love this post. Thank you so much!!

    And don’t forget to ASK….

    ~ Join the HANDMADE revolution ~

  10. Sounds good to me (although like you say it’s not easy), but how do we ask for the sale in Etsy listings? Should we say “please buy this” or something? Give directions to the “add to cart” button even though it’s obvious where it is? I know it’s not spam if it’s just there in the listing, but how do you word it so it’s a good middle ground between weak and annoying?

    • That’s a great question, Laura! This is one skill that I’m still perfecting, but the rule of thumb that I’ve heard is to approach it as an invitation. If you love the product you’re selling [as you should] then use wording that you’d use to recommend a great product to a friend. You probably wouldn’t say, “Add this to your cart,” you’re more likely say something in the vein of, “This will simplify/match perfectly/happy-fy your life, get one and see!”

      People can sense your intentions, even online, so if your intent is to give them something that will improve their life and bring joy to them the way it has to you, they’ll feel that and when they buy [and they will] their lives WILL be enriched. Wow this was a long comment! XD

  11. Agree with everyone……..

    I add another layer, which is… Be Careful What You Ask For (because, you’ll probably get it!)

    I am pretty forward. Passed the assertive stage, and hovering on aggressive sometimes. :) And, I say what I’m thinking, so it’s funny what I do get! Most interesting was while eating at a pizza restaurant locally, I was wanting vinyl checked tablecloths for something I was doing soon…….so I asked the server for theirs. Whoosh. I was gifted with all their red/white checked cloths, as they were bringing out black/white ones the next day!

    This example helps me to remember to ASK. Never hurts! Although people who are with me usually cringe! :)

  12. I actually find it harder to “ask” for a sale online because there is no personal contact. That being said, I am going to ask to reach 100 Etsy sales by the end of the month. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. I concur, Angela!

    I’m going to reach out and ask, “Who will be my 50th sale by the end of the month?”


    Mary Serantoni

  14. francesca adrienne

    Well I have been asking myself the question from the beginning if I am doing something wrong. So I am asking for some honest opinion what might be wrong with my shop. I welcome all criticism so that I can better my processes and make the whole expereince worth it.

  15. Yes, that’s true! You can get a lot by asking. But one thing I’m wondering about is: you say “ask for sales”. Now, I don’t mind asking for a lot of things….but sales? How in the world do you do that? Walk up to someone’s blog and say “Hey, that’s a really cute pillow, but it’d be adorable if you bought some of my handmade buttons to accent it!”? :D Heavens! I couldn’t do that…..could I? Can you expound on what you mean by ‘ask’? Where and how do we ask about things like that? I’ve tried to build my business this year, and though I seem to get more traffic than I used to, I have gotten zero sales. Everybody says my photography is good….what am I missing? If anybody has ANY suggestions, I’m more than happy to hear them. I’m trying to do a research project and need the funds, but they’re not coming in whatsoever. I sponsored a giveaway not long ago, but it didn’t get me any customers! *sigh* I’m whining! :D


  16. So true, and something I am generally sooooo bad at doing. My husband is constantly tells me that it never hurts to ask, but I still get nervous asking, especially if I think I am going to inconvenience people. I finally got around to asking two people if I could interview them for my blog (something I have been wanting to do forever, but have put off) and they both eagerly said yes. Glad I finally took the plunge! Thanks for the post.

  17. Thank you for this reminder. You are so right. This is my process:

    “I want to ask. What if they say no, I will be rejected. What if they say yes, I may fail. Damn it! So what! Do it anyway!” And so I ask. It may take me a while but I ask.


  18. GREAT advice, as always Tim! I am asking for Facebook likes… I currently have 175 likes…can’t wait to see how many I gain :) Thanks again!!

  19. Thank you for sharing this – words to live by, in or outside of Etsy! Being vulnerable is SO hard for most of us! I was not brought up to ask for what I wanted, and am often surprised by children and others who do. I definitely need a shift in attitude in this. So, would it be ok if I print out the two images (on asking) at the top to put up next to my computer? I opened my shop on 9/3/12 (, and need the inspiration (and courage) to move forward with it.
    I just found your blog and am looking forward to reading more!

  20. Thought I’d drop a note to let you know that your excellent post is still having impact – even though it’s a year later! I’ve just opened my shop – totally green here – and I tend to vacillate between feeling sure it’ll be so successful I won’t be able to keep up and fearing that I’ll starve to death. Thank you for your level-headed direction and clarity. It helps me know where to put my next step.

    Would love for you to visit my shop and am open to any feedback! Thanks – Tiffany

  21. I have just recently opened a shop on Etsy to sell my handmade scarves that I have been selling locally up to this point. I have had pretty good success selling locally but I’m new to the online selling world. I was hoping you could give me suggestions for increasing traffic to my store and ultimately the sell of my scarves. I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks! (Please visit my store. My scarves really are soft and addictive. I wear one while I’m teaching almost every day.)

  22. Hi Tim,
    I Love your post, Very informative. I am going to take your advice and ask for help. My store is getting views, i have an average of 100 views per day but no sale. Could someone, anyone stop by my store give my store a critique, and possible purchase something. I would be eternally grateful. I have wonderful valentine’s day gift. Just putting it out there. Come on by!


  23. Pamela Bernstein

    I’ve had 5 sales… ugh, since September. I know, better than none in a pool of thousands… but what can I do to reach more people? Any advice is welcome…I’ve been an artist all my life, I think I make cool stuff… I’ve been told that I do… hmmmm…. all thoughts are welcome!

  24. I totally love this series of articles!
    So, with that, I’m going to ask for 10 sales in the next week. :D

    I only just started posting handmade cards and bookmarks, but I’m really excited to start selling them.
    I’m also open to any suggestions, or ideas anyone here has.
    Please come by my shop and take a look. :)

  25. Great article! My daughter started her shop last year at the age of 14. She received a lot of exposure but had to stop for a while because of adjusting to her first year of high school. I have had a hard time reintroducing her brand because she took time off and wasn’t creating. Can you take a look at her shop and give me some tips on how to get her business flowing again? Thank you for your time.

  26. Hello? My comment is still waiting moderation. Why is it taking so long? Thank you

  27. Thank you so much for this. I have always wanted my own business where I am my own boss. I tried direct sales but for as outgoing as I am I didn’t want to sound pushy. I have been promoting my Etsy business and rubbing elbows with who I can. I have been open a month and had my first sale yesterday. I know it’s going to take some time to get the word out. But, getting the word out is up to me and I have to take control of it and just ask!!!

    - Stefanie

  28. Thank you for this! Such simple advice, yet easy to forget. I am asking for people to check out my shop. I have personalized letters from the Easter Bunny, available only until April 10th.

  29. Thanks a million, Diana. I really needed to hear this ;)

  30. Good advice, however on selling on etsy I always ask for feedback after the sale and then in the packaging I thank them for the sale (many times a specialized, custom order that I go to great pains to make it just the way they want) and again say please leave feedback when you receive the item. I get great responses via email and they tell me how much they like the item, but an actual feedback response rate is only about 50%. I’m not asking again, it just seems twice is enough. Elaine

  31. Thanks for this great advice, Diana!

    I can’t find you on Etsy! Can you post a live link to your shop?

  32. So excited to see this! It is something I am very passionate about teaching (preaching really) – especially creative people in handmade business. The free report on my website “Learn this one thing” -is to say just that. The “One Thing” is to LEARN TO ASK. I have found that every time I made any significant progress in my business – it always involved asking. Its like when they say 97% of success is showing up – I say, 97% of progress involves asking. This one thing will get you more customers, increase your exposure, increase your confidence and change the way you do business.

    Please allow me to drop an excerpt here (it was written to cake decorators but u get the idea):

    Here are some examples of things to ask for:
    Ask for the sale: This is the obvious one. At some point in the relationship or interaction with your customer, you should ask for the sale. Flat out point blank ask. No more beating about the bush. Just ask. How many cakes do you want? What flavours do you want? When do you want the cake delivered? Ask a question that gets a commitment.
    Ask On facebook, when you post a status or photo, ASK for a comment or ASK the reader to share. Research shows you get over 50% more engagement when you ask.
    Ask for leverage. This is my favourite. You are asking to work or partner with people and organisations that already serve your customers. It may be your local country club, a busy shop on the high street or a popular hotel or restaurant. This is the leverage you need. You may target schools and colleges. Or target mums clubs or the PTA of your children’s school. Once you identify the one that will give u leverage, ask.
    Ask to drop fliers at a shop or gym.
    Ask to organise an event.
    Ask to teach a class at your local community centre.
    Ask to make a cake for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
    Ask to make a cake for an X-Factor contestant – oh wait! Someone already did that! See?!??
    Ask for help. Hold on Ms Independent-superwoman-I-can-do-it-on-my-own cake person. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. If you need it, ask for it.
    Be strategic. What is in it for them? What’s in it for me? How can I get maximum traction, maximum exposure and get the most from the relationship.
    It may take one phone call or several but stick with it and you will find a way.
    You gotta ask.

    Awesome post Diana. Thanks for this!

  33. Actually I love Etsy, so much nicer than eBay to sell on, but as I read your post on Facebook, please would you like my Facebook page (I have less than 20 likes so far as I am not good at promoting myself) and I would really like you to mention my page / shop in a blog post.
    The bottom line from my point of view is there can be 3 responses, yes no or just get ignored but you asked me to read your blog i did, so I am asking you to like my Facebook / etsy store :) cost me nothing to ask as you correctly pointed out

  34. Wow this is so true! So many people really are afraid to ask. I know for myself this is something I need to work on personally and also business wise! I love handmadeology. I’m always reading posts from here and feel like I’ve learned a lot. Really great information and very helpful!!

  35. Thank you for the advice. I have established my etsy shop with my unique handmade items, clothes and accessories. I even offer free shipping, but I am still waiting for my first customers, and yes sometimes I feel I could beg somebody to buy something. :-))
    So you are welcome to be my first customers.


  36. Thanks for this post – it sounds like such simple advice but we all know how difficult it can be to implement. The reality for me is that I have more trouble knowing WHO to ask than actually asking. So why not start right here? I’d like to ask all of you, friends I have never met, to take a look at my blog and tell me what you think. Are my posts too short or just right? A good variety of content? I would love to hear your suggestions, feedback, anything really. And if you really like it, please subscribe! Thanks so much in advance — Sarah

  37. Yup I definitely struggle with this one. They way I grew up asking for anything was considered weakness. If you had to have help getting something you wanted You didn’t deserve to have it. That has stuck with me my whole life even though on an intellectual level I know it doesn’t make much sense. I think today I will make it a point to ask for at least one thing that I wouldn’t normally. Thanks for the tip!

  38. Great article! Thanks for sharing again. It seems so simple , but it’s easy to forget … to ask for the sale. Great reminder. :)

    So, do you need a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day? I make handcrafted artisan soaps and body products. I hope you all will checklist out! Thanks!

    Would you like my Facebook page too? :)

    Thank you!

  39. Thank you so much for the advice, this website has been very helpful to a VERY small business like mine…but it’s getting bigger…

    • I should mention that I specialize in vintage treasures I find (and I love to treasure hunt…so happy the weather is getting warmer now and the garage and estate sales will be starting!) but I’m trying to add my own hand crafted and repurposed items too…I have so many ideas, they just haven’t come to life yet! Thanks for looking though and I appreciate the help!

  40. Very sage advice!

    I learned this in my first job, after a couple of people were promoted that were hired after me. Back then, I thought, that you just got promoted based on seniority. HAHA! I learned then that you had to ask for the job, and then sell them on why you would be a great person to DO the job. With that light bulb moment and having learned that there was no summer vacation in a real job,(read that as, you have to come to work EVERYDAY) I did get promoted many times and learned tons and worked with and met some really wonderful people. I would really like to write a blog post here on Handmadeology on how to make my wire rings, would you be interested, because I would make it interesting and pictorial….? While you are pondering that, please take a look at my glass pearl necklaces in my Etsy shop (SOARTStudio) and my website

    I have a website due to a blog post on Handmadeology. (not putting all my eggs in one basket, in case Etsy decides you are no longer welcome) also very good advice.

    Love what you all do!
    Thanks so much!!!

  41. Well, interesting article BUT ….. I write dozens of introductions, and queries to blogs, galleries, online / offline magazines, publishers, interior designers and only TWO people have ever bothered to respond to me. It does get hard – very hard to ask when you are repeatedly ignored year in year out. A simple “Sorry your work is not for us / is crap / we have no room at present / maybe you should try … etc” would suffice. A ONE sentence answer would suffice! Even a standard rejection letter, but the silence is crucifying. When 99% of people just don’t respond and completely ignore you, I feel it’s darned RUDE, and it erodes your confidence so you get to not even trying any more. I am just about to resend am email I sent to an online magazine on 15th March … maybe I’ll get a response this time ….. I’m not holding my breath.

    • Well take this blog for instance. They don’t answer back either. I know exactly where you’re coming from. Even on Etsy I’ve asked a few questions in the forum. Instead of answers you get smart alecks with snide remarks etc. So I will keep trudging on doing research till I find what works for me.

  42. I would love for you to look at my shop, and tell me what you think. I know I need to work on some of my photography (that’s in the works). But I would love to know what else I could do to get it rolling. I opened it I think with just 1 item in 2011. But just let it sit there till this year February 2014. I decided to do something with it. I have 5 sells and I review since I opened it up for reals lol in February. Not too bad for a new store I guess. I have a lot of lookee loos and favorites. I need to turn them into a sale or two or three…..

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! BTW I respond very well to constructive criticism.

    Thanks again!

  43. Such simple advice. After 2 1/2 years of learning to sell on Etsy, I’m figuring out exactly this. Just ask. I used to “suggest” a lot. Far too timid and it gets you nothing. Asking is actually fun when you get the hang of it! Thanks for the post.

  44. Hey guys, I think I know why there is no response to some of your questions. I just realized that this original post is dated over 2 years ago, by looking at the very first set of comments. Diana’s Etsy shop, This Disorganized Life, doesn’t even exist anymore. Her blog is still there, but not her Etsy shop. What’s even more strange is, why this post showed up in our email today, when the original post was over 2 years ago. Very strange!!

  45. OK, Lisa, I’m taking you up on your statement, “Heck, ask me and Tim!”

    I would love to have you purchase some of Purple Finch’s Handcrafted Soap. You can find it at

    This is a new Etsy shop, so you’ve probably not yet seen my items. They’re long-lasting, sudsy, most are vegan (excluding the goat milk soaps), and made with natural ingredients. I’ve been told by many that “they look good enough to eat,” which speaks to their decorative value.

    Take a look, if you would. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.

  46. I have indeed been asking myself what I’m not doing the right way! As a shy person, it is difficult to put myself out there and “ask”. However I will ask you to pop on over to my shop and consider a piece of my quality handmade, original art jewelry for yourself or a loved one for an inpromptu gift! My shop is Inspired Art Jewelry at:

  47. I just put this into action with another designer. We are going to put together an outfit (hers) with (my) fring necklaces and promote them together!

    I can’t wait to see how this comes together!

    Just ask!

  48. Hello Diane

    I have just read your post, and it is absolutely true! I am trying to teach my children not to be afraid to ask, and to not be disappointed if the outcome is not to their liking :)
    So I am going to ask too. I have just opened up my Etsy shop selling bridesmaid invite gift packs. I have had 4 sales and 2 of those were with my other shop, I then decided to open a separate one specifically related to weddings. I have been reading up on SEO’s and have tweaked all my invite packs, but the only things I have managed to sell were 2 flower girl & 2 page boy packs. I have no idea if my shop looks appealing, the photo’s are good enough etc. Just some non-biased critique would be super helpful. (I am in the stages of writing my about page too)
    Thank you so much. Kirsty

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