Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Adventures in Etsy Selling: Some Tips From Me, Some Tips From YOU!


I'm obsessed with improving my Etsy shop. I've been gathering merchandise for years and it's cathartic to finally get it in front of admiring eyes, and creatively fulfilling photographing the finds and curating them into a branded collection!

Please share what helps for you in the comments. Let's help each other be successful! These are my researched tips on improving sales on Etsy:

1) Marketing is Paramount: We should strive to create the best quality, but the evidence is there- you can market your way to the top with Etsy. Bad photos be damned!

2) Use the Community: Etsy teams and forums have resources for dating vintage and improving sales. Bounce questions off fellow sellers, promote. Be helpful and genuine in the community.

3) An Ample Start: Take photos of 10-50+ items before you even make an account so you start with a full shop.

4) About Those Photos: With bright natural light and a tripod anyone can take professional-looking photos. Strive to provide the best quality.

5) Naming Items: I'm learning that the first couple of words of your item description are the most important. I've changed the order of words in items to have them sell immediately.

6) Listing Times: It's best to list (or renew) items during peak hours. My research says that's around 9:30 AM and 9:30 PM, what do you feel the peak traffic hours for Etsy are?

7)  Customer's Shoes: Look at your shop as a customer would. Think of what you like in a shop and expect in customer service, then provide it with your store.

8) Brick and Mortar: Think of your online shop like a brick and mortar store. (Ex: Your banner's the sign, the merchandise is on shelves for easy browsing.) This will help you create the ideal customer experience.

9) Think Outside of Etsy: Market your store on your blog and other websites. Put cards and banners out in your community. I've gotten plenty of online sales by locals who've found my cards or have seen my ads.

10) Quality Counts: I'm re-taking photos and re-writing descriptions because I won't be satisfied until I've created the best quality I'm capable of. Customers see the difference.

What are your tips for selling on Etsy? What helps you improve sales? If you're just an admirer/shopper, what do you look for in an Etsy shop?
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38 comments:

  1. So far, I haven't firgured out Etsy! Stuff sells at odd hours; things I thought would sell right away sit for months; I do agree with premo photography. Yours is great. How about posting your method sometime?

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    1. I'm reading through the entire Etsy Sellers Handbook: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/the-seller-handbook/

      It's helping. Makes sense to actually read that before starting! Slowly I'm changing from being the person who puts things together without instructions.

      Will have to follow-up on a photo process. I do have a photo-tips post here: http://www.thriftcore.com/2012/01/photography-tips-5-quick-and-easy-steps.html

      For my Etsy store, I use .50 cent white poster board for the background, a tripod, and bright natural light. I also edit every single photo that goes into the shop. It's very time consuming! Gotta improve my methods...

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  2. Great advice!!!
    I'm really struggling with shipping. I guess it's something that I hate to pay as a customer. The problem is, (as you know) it costs a lot to ship these things!! Have you found this to be a problem at all in your shop? I have a hard time personally, paying almost the same amount for the item in shipping as I did for the item itself! Or even half that. It seems like if the people really want it, they won't mind.

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    1. Shipping is indeed a challenge. I hate typing in a high price for shipping on an item. Especially when I was selling mostly from my blog, a lot of people would back out when I told them the shipping price. Nothing we can do, the shipping price is what it is.

      I too find people will pay for the item if they really want it despite the high shipping prices. All we can do educated ourselves how it works and ways to make as affordable as possible.

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  3. All great advice! My Etsy shop is a hobby rather than a business so is never going to be stuffed full of loads of items, I'm never going to sell loads and I'm never going to make huge profits.

    My biggest top tip is to use online social media. Of my sales, all have come from marketing on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and my blog.

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    1. I need to make a habit of using social media to promote the Etsy shop more, but I only post an update on Twitter/Facebook on the shop about once a day MAX. I feel like people will unfollow you with a quickness if all you're doing is promoting your new items. Tricky balance!

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    2. oh totally, you don't want to over-do promotion. With a shop as small as mine though, tweeting every item as it's added to my shop isn't going to annoy people! But balance is essential, having lots of other things in your Twitter feed / Facebook stream / Pinterest boards, blog.

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  4. I would also say that as with any customer based business,customer service is really important. I know I appreciate it when I get update messages from shop owners and when they are genuinely appreciative of the sale. People who like you and the way you work are going to frequent your shop more than someone you pissed off because you had an attitude.

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    1. Completely agree with you. I group that in with thinking of your etsy shop as a brick and mortar- we all want an attentive, informative, and helpful associate. Not a pushy or bitchy one! I always follow-up with customers and answer questions IMMEDIATELY. It's easy to lose a sale if you don't.

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  5. Because I'm in Canada, shipping is even CRAZIER for us, and a good majority of my sales are to the US. What I sometimes do, instead of typing in a massive shipping cost is add a few dollars to the actual price of the item, and lower the stated shipping cost. Customers often don't mind paying a few dollars more on the actual price, as opposed to the shipping. A good majority of my views are in the day, but I would say 70% of sales are a night, while I be sleepin! There's also a bit of a problem with Etsy right now, they recently changed their search terms so if I search "Vintage skirt" it won't return vintage skirts. You have to change the category to vintage, then search. For shoppers, this is extremely confusing! We vintage peeps are hoping they revise it soon. :)

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    1. I think I need to start doing that too, increasing the item price to lower the shipping. I've been wondering if adding "vintage" to every item in a vintage shop is the way to go or if it's a redundant search term. Thanks for sharing your story and for the helpful tips. Your shop is awesome! Inspires me to get to adding/buying more clothes.

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  6. List, list, list. It really helps. Keep your front page fresh whether with brand new listings or relists.

    Titles, tags, and descriptions are the key on Etsy. The search right now is based on Titles and Tags, however because Etsy is growing by leaps and bounds it will eventually HAVE to also be based on the description. First three words are most important in your title on Etsy, but don't forget about Google as well (1/3 to 1/2 of my sales are from people who searched and found my item from Google). Use the Google Title Preview in your listings so you keep your titles at the acceptable Google length. LOADS of keywords!

    Don't worry about shipping. It seems to cause the most stress for people. Shipping is shipping. You don't set the prices. If people really want your item, they will buy it (yes, even paying two to three times the items price). I do suggest having a shipping overage return policy though because Etsy doesn't offer calculated shipping especially if you live in the coastal states.

    If you don't have shop policies, make some! And then do what you say you are going to do!

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    1. Thank you for the amaaaazing tips, gotta put these into action! I saw you as a featured shop on one of the vintage teams, dunno if that was old news or not but congratulations anyway :)

      I'd love to interview you about your experience selling online if you're willing? Let me know!

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    2. I was shocked to find out about the feature! I visit the forums only once or twice a day and couldn't figure out why I was getting all these favorites. It's been fun!

      Anytime for the interview. I am always happy to share! Just let me know when you would like to do it.

      :)

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    3. I'll e-mail you some questions soon. Thanks Adrienne!

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  7. I've been working on making the leap to Etsy from Ebay over the past year. Making sure to have the right keywords in the description and tags helps customers to find what they want. I like that Etsy provides the search terms that customers used to look up your items. Although I've been selling online as a hobby and to downsize my collection, I am looking into making it into an "official" business in the next year or two. The tips that you provide are very helpful!

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    1. Glad that tips help! Good luck getting it all together. We're all in the same boat, always evolving, organizing, and trying to streamline into the best "official" business we can be!

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  8. Love all the tips shared. I had a thought on using Twitter more often as a vehicle when listing an item: You could integrate vegan tips in other tweets so that all your Tweets would not be marketing. With only 140 characters it should be easy to do. Share pictures from the kitchen etc. I agree with photographs being the best. That is my biggest challenge. I don't have much natural light in good ole Oregon during the winter. I have to be flexible when the sun peaks out & take pixs then. Continued success to you. Sincerely, lanasdreameBay and also on etsy.

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    1. Thank you for the tips and good luck to you on the selling adventure, too. I definitely do that, tweeting different things that would help people mixed in with shop updates so it's not all marketing. I still don't like to post too many item updates per day. I need to get over that ;)

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  9. Don't forget that your Etsy invoice is one of your best advertising tools. I couldn't understand why feedback was so hard in coming. If you go to Shop Settings, click on info and appearance, you can leave a message to buyers that you only type once and is automatically printed on every invoice. I started with a Thank you for the order and that I would like to hear about their experience and asked them to leave feedback. From there I listed my store sites, I have two stores, my blog site, my facebook address and contact information. I've noticed an increase in feedback and more likes on my Etsy store and more views on my storenvy store. Etsy is changing and growing fast and I'm finding it fun to learn new tricks and try to keep up. Good luck everyone.

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    1. That is EXCELLENT advise. Thanks for sharing this with us, going to put this into action post haste!

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  10. I've found that a lot of people buy on Sunday evenings. That's when I sell the most. The USPS has just raised their rates enormously. The only thing I like about Ebay is your ability to do calculated shipping, and I wish Etsy would do that too. I've made all the vintage stuff in my shop inactive while I change the shipping prices. I'm going on vacation next week, so I hope to do it when I come home. I brought something to the P.O. last week and it was seven dollars MORE than I thought, and that makes a big difference in my profit on small items. I refund anything 1.00 or over through Paypal as soon as I get home from the P.O. I've found that even 2 bucks goes a long way towards repeat customers.
    I pin my items every once in a while. It has led to only one sale. I think it's hard to figure out what social media stuff is the most important. Because I also sell organic baby knits, I spend about an hour a week researching different natural baby stores/blogs/sites/reviewers, and sending them a little info on me and my store. I should start doing that for vintage stuff too. Etsy lush used to be a great resource, if you could get your picture up there, but I don't think a lot of people use it anymore.
    I think the Etsy stats are awesome, and fun to look at. I have done Search Ads a few times, with a 10 dollar limit, and it definitly ups my views, but it hasn't (according to their statistics) brought me a ton of sales. You don't know, though, if someone who favorited something may come back to look at it in a couple of weeks, and buy it, all because of search ads.

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    1. Thanks for all of the tips and info. I noticed the shipping problem too when I went to ship mugs to Canada and would have only made a $3 profit if I didn't repackage them! Gotta re-do ALL of my descriptions, prices, and shipping prices. Looots 'o work ahead...

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  11. Great tips, I really appreciate them.

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  12. Hi! I am so pleased to finally have opened an Etsy store too, but so far sales haven't taken off completely, however according to the stats I get many views (and favourites) every day. I try to figure out how and why - and try to improve all the time. I think being situated in Norway is a bit far away for many buyers, even though the shipping is not (that)horrendous. Great to have a look at all these tips here:) Mali

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    1. I love your shop! I too am trying to convert the views and favs into sales. We'll figure it out one day, hopefully soon! Good luck :)

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  13. Hey! I could have sworn I've been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
    Nonetheless, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be bookmarking and
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  14. You're doing a great job, Vanessa, esp with your photography! Very professional-looking photos. One thing I would suggest for your clothing - it would be a good idea to get some kind of mannequin or dress form to hang your clothes on. Clothes look better on some kind of form. In the interim, you could also use a clothes hanger for displaying your clothes so that buyers will see the full length of each piece of item. You don't want to truncate your photos or fold up your clothes.

    Regarding photography, there are several schools of thought as to the type of background you should use in your photos. Many sellers believe a white background, like what you have, is the best. It's clean and not distracting. Other sellers believe a solid colored background makes your items stand out from the crowd. (Some sellers swear by a red background, as red supposedly entices people to buy). I personally prefer a colored background, esp for lighter colored items, as the lighter color pops against a brighter color. If your item is white and you photograph against a white background, your item gets lost, esp in those smaller photos that come up in search.

    Since you sell a lot of housewares, you might want to try staging your items. Etsy allows you to post up to 5 photos per listing. Take advantage of that by displaying your wares in such a way as to suggest to buyers how they can use or display the items. For example, if you're selling a piece of art, try displaying it on a mantel or above a sofa. You're good at staging the photos you have on your blog. Try bringing some of that creativity into your photos for Etsy.

    For your store categories, you might want to reword the names of your categories with key words that a buyer would actually search for. “Swingin' Housewares” sounds cute, but buyers probably won't be doing a search for the word swingin' in relation to housewares. And don't just think Etsy buyers; there are buyers who will find you by searching on Google or some other search engine.

    I know you really want to make your listings as close to perfect as possible, but take it from a fellow online seller – don't spend all your time on tweaking each and every listing. Use what you learn and apply it to your new listings. Then when you have time, go back and tweak your older listings.

    I am so impressed with your motivation and drive to make your Etsy store a success. Most sellers don't take the time to learn and perfect their selling. Your determination will bring you to the next level of success. Good luck, and I look forward to reading about your journey :0)

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  15. Whoa! Didn't mean to write a novel in my previous response!

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    1. I enjoyed the novel, no problem at all. I definitely realized the clothes need a form, on the hunt for one. I didn't want to hang 'em because I didn't have a white backdrop long enough. Will re-take those photos as soon as I can. I too realized the photos need some staging and I'm in the process of moving ALL of the vintage (holy hell, so much!) back from my boyfriend's house to my house so I can stage it around the house artfully and incorporate that into the Etsy photos. Living with the vintage is also inspiring and helps me get into the mindset of my buyers. I did have SEO keyword titles at first but thought I'd change it to see if original names would increase click-through rate. Gonna change 'em back, didn't increase the rate as far as I can see.

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    2. I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to type up so many helpful tips for me to use. :) !!! Photographing white and clear items against white is a beeee-otch! I may switch up the background for certain items so they're not lost. All in all I am THOROUGHLY addicted to improving and making my online retail efforts the BEST they can be.

      In short, SO GLAD you shared your thoughts. We have the same conclusions and improvements which helped me realized I'm moving in the right direction.

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  16. Hey, you've been such an inspiration to me. It's the least I can do to share some of my experiences selling online :0)

    What drew me into your blog initially was your amazing photography. (My photography skills are average at best). I have to admit, I'm more interested in the content of the blogs I follow than the photography. Yours was the first one that captivated me with your photos. Then when I started reading what you had to say, I was totally hooked. Reading about how you're accomplishing your goals has helped me re-focus on mine. Your determination to make your online selling a success and learn all that you can has reinvigorated me and my efforts in my business.

    Have your ever thought about doing some kind of photography tutorial? Just some tips and tricks to make your items look more interesting. Also, some tips on how to edit your photos for maximum impact would help. Maybe something simple and basic for those of us who are photographically-challenged.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad you've ready along and that my words have inspired you! I've been asked about it a lot lately and was thinking of posting a product photography tutorial next week that'll help the photographically-challenged take great photos :)

      I have this one online that is still MOST of how I take my photos, just add a white backdrop and a little photo editing: http://www.thriftcore.com/2012/01/photography-tips-5-quick-and-easy-steps.html

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  17. Thanks for your great tips. I just started selling on Etsy with two items. May be the store is too small to be noticeable. I will add more items and decorate my store.

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  18. Great article! My shop hasn't been open a year yet, but I have noticed that sales picked up after I spent more time making my facebook page prettier. You can upload your product photos and a short description. Then I put a link to the listing in the pic description so people can get to it easily. This also helps build your baclinks. O and I use the same pic in my profile pic on etsy, my fb page, and my twitter page. It helps build your brand if people see the same or similar images on your different sites.

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    1. I do need to utilize facebook and social media for marketing the online more. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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