Have you always considered turning your hobby of crafting and art-making into a paid job? Well using the selling platform Etsy, you can create your own online shop and sell your products to people all over the world. Learn the basics of creating your own shop, making it as a business, and helping it to grow so you can live your dream of crafting full-time.
Consider Etsy Fees
As any online seller knows, nowadays selling anything online is a long shot. A lot of money can be burned up paying fees for items that don't sell. Setting up a shop on Etsy is free, but it cost $0.20 USD for each item listing, and a listing lasts for only four months. If your item sells within that period, there is a 3.5 percent of the item's sale price transaction fee.
You might consider Shop Handmade where they don't charge you any listing fees or transaction fees. Their site is totally advertising supported. Shop Handmade doesn't get as much traffic as Etsy, but neither do they have the massive number of competing items. You can sign up, create a store, and start uploading photos and creating listings right away. All payments for items sold go to your Paypal account.
Another interesting opportunity I found is You Can Make This. Here, rather than selling crafts, you sell sewing, crochet, quilting, and other patterns for crafts. This is an important difference because it's so difficult and expensive to ship actual physical crafts items. You get 50 percent of the purchase price on each pattern sold.
Set Up Your Etsy Account
The actual steps for making your own account are quite simple. Go to Etsy.com, click "register", and fill in the blanks. The tricky part is coming up with a suitable username for the long haul. This will become your identity on Etsy. It will also be part of your URL (username.etsy.com) and your brand. Choose carefully because it cannot be changed later.
• Make sure your username is easy to spell so that you don't have difficulty referring people to it. You can capitalize the first letter of each word if you want. It won't affect the url or your login, but makes it look nicer when people come to your page.
• You may not always sell the same type of item or craft, so try not to make your shop name too specific. If you originally name your account "Yarnworks" but later stop knitting and begin selling jewelry instead, it will be confusing to customers.
Etsy automatically sets everyone up as a buyer, so you must change your account settings so that you can sell things as well. Log into your account, click the "sell" tab at the top of the page and then "get started" on the following page. You will just need to enter in a valid credit card to complete the process.
Design Your Storefront
When buyers visit your Etsy shop, they will be directed to your "storefront". This is the front page of your shop, from which you are allowed to add text, a banner, and personal information about your shop. Having an attractive storefront will significantly increase your chances of making a sale, so make sure that yours looks professional.
• Design a banner to go across the front of your shop with your shop name. Make sure that it is professional and relevant to the products you sell.
• Fill out your "about the seller" tab. Include a small photo and some personal information about you or your shop. Giving buyers the opportunity to know who is making the products they are viewing will encourage them to support you.
Price Your Products
Before you can begin listing your items, you must know prices you want to sell them for. The best way to determine an accurate price is to input information into this equation:
labor + material + expenses + profit = wholesale x2 = retail price
• Look up the costs for shipping your products around the country (and the world). You will have to have a shipping table available for viewers to examine beneath each product you list.
• Set up the financial side of your account at this point by adding your credit card or Paypal information under the settings tab. This will allow you to receive payments and make your own purchases via Etsy.
It won't matter how absolutely amazing your handmade product is if the photos you take of it don't do it justice. Etsy gives you five photos per item, so be sure to use them all. Take photos of your product from several angles, and if applicable both on and off a live model.
• Use natural lighting for the best photos. Either take your photos outside or in a well-lit room near an open window. This will allow the true colors and textures of your item to show through in the photos.
• Create a backdrop for your pictures. Classic white is a go-to background for many product photos, but your options are endless for possible backdrops. Whatever you choose, make sure that it enhances, rather than distracts from, your product.
• Don't feel the need to splurge on a fancy camera. If you use the aforementioned design pointers, a digital point-and-shoot camera is all you need. If necessary, use a photo editing program on your computer to adjust your images to your liking and further increase their appeal.
List Your Policies
It is important to consider what you will be responsible for when it comes to selling. Make your policies openly available to buyers visiting your shop. Do you accept exchanges or returns? Will you do custom work? Are you liable if your product is damaged while being shipped? Do you have a waiting period prior to shipment?
Add Applicable Tags
As you list items for sale, you will be given the option to add "tags?" to their description. These are the terms that may be searched on Google or Etsy and refer viewers to your item or shop. You can add up to 13 tags, and it is best to use all 13 rather than settling for less.
• To increase your SEO (search engine optimization) use specific terms. Instead of tagging your product as simply "jewelry" tag it instead as "handmade gemstone jewelry." This will narrow down search results and make yours more likely to rise to the top.
• Cover all your bases with your tags. If you're making handbags, consider tags referring to the color, material, making process, style, size, et cetera. Include as many specific tags as you can.
Track Your Sales
In order to run a good business, you will need to keep a ledger of your sales and expenses. Always make a mark of the item you sell, price you sold it for, and your total profit on this item. Then, at the end of every month you can tally these totals and watch how your shop grows over time.
• If you are a visual person, you can create graphs using the information you gather from your sales.
• If you have receipts from your sales/purchases, keep them all on file together so that you don't lose track of anything you may have bought or sold.
Promote Your Items on Etsy
You can advertise your product and shop without ever even leaving Etsy. Promote your items by paying a fee of $7.00 to have them be the first to show up in search results, comment on Etsy blog posts with your shop URL, and contact other shop owners for advice and opinions.
• Join an Etsy team - a group of other sellers on Etsy with common interests. You will be able to ask questions, exchange advice, and give opinions about the buying/selling/marketing process.
Advertise Your Shop Using Social Media
Just adding items to your shop and leaving it will likely leave you without viewers, and therefore buyers. In order to make your products known to the world, it is necessary to use other social media platforms to advertise your product. Advertise your shop via platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and blogs.
• Create a Facebook page for your shop and update it to look professional and organized. Include information about new items that you listed, the process you use to make your products, and changes in policies or your shop format.
• Write your own blog with a tab related to your Etsy business, or advertise your Etsy business on other popular blogs. Make sure that you have a button leading to your Etsy shop that looks professional and is easy to use.
• Use a pinterest account to upload photos of your Etsy products for anyone to see. Using tags via this website will also allow anyone to search the site for products similar to yours.
• Don't overwhelm yourself using too many social media platforms. Using three at most will likely be all that you need to adequately promote your shop and bring in new customers.
Advertise Your Shop Offline
Although your shop isn't brick and mortar, you can still advertise it in-person. Create business cards, tell your friends and family, and advertise at local bulletin boards and boutiques. If you are passionate and excited about your products in person, other people will be too.
Consider Discounts and Giveaways
If you want to advertise to a new audience, contact a popular blog that focuses on items and shopkeepers similar to your business. Offer to donate an item for a giveaway or give a specific discount to all the readers of the blog in exchange for being given a featured post. Although this will cost you money in the short-run, you may build a larger customer base and grow your business and income over time by doing so.Update Your Items
In order to keep your stock fresh and varied, add new and different items every few weeks for buyers to look at. This will give new options to old buyers (which increases buyer interest) while simultaneously building up your inventory.
• Don't forget that all Etsy items expire automatically every three months. You can renew your items by visiting the settings tab on your shop's page.
• Items are listed for 3 months. If you have 20 items to sell, try listing five or so to start and then add one new item every couple of days. Search results are displayed newest to oldest and this will help you to stay towards the front of the pack. You can also renew a listing for an additional 20 cents to bump it back to the front and you can renew an expired listing if it hasn't sold.
• Don't forget that you can buy and sell supplies and patterns on Etsy, as well as crafts. Some items, such as hand-spun yarn or handmade beads, may be both supplies and crafts.
Make Something Unique
Etsy is a massive marketplace with many thousands of shops; make your product stand out by creating something unique to you. Research what other shops are selling, current trends in your area, and design your product based on what you find. Your goal is to create something so new and irresistible that people can't help but want to buy it.
• If you make something that is very commonly sold on Etsy - such as jewelry or prints - don't worry about making something so unique that it becomes strange. Just make sure that the things you make share a theme or motif unique to your style.
Create Things You Love
Although you want your shop to be one of a kind, it is important to stay in your area of expertise and enjoyment. Love for your work will show through in the products you make, so be sure that you truly enjoy creating whatever your product is.
• If you are a jack of all trades, consider making a list of possible products you would like to create. Rank them based on your level of knowledge before going back to make final decisions.
• Don't feel stuck in one category. Your Etsy shop is your shop - you get to make whatever you want. If you love making lots of different things, then make lots of different things. Just be sure that all your products carry a common thread so that your shop doesn't seem unorganized.
Create a Few Items
A tendency for new sellers is to think that you must have a large inventory built up before you begin selling in your shop. Instead of waiting around for weeks or even months until you think you have "enough" product, begin with just a few listings. Whether or not they sell immediately, you will at least have officially started your business which will encourage you to make more things.
• Selling things while you are still in the process of designing and creating your product will also give you a chance to make alterations based on feedback you receive or patterns you notice.
• As you begin to get the hang of running your own business, you can add more product to your shop. At the beginning though, focus more on finalizing designs and simply getting your business started.
Consider Your Packaging
Nearly as important as your product itself is its packaging. If you sell something and have it mailed out with pretty wrapping or a clever logo, you will more likely please your buyer and make them more likely to purchase from you again. Depending on the product you are selling, come up with ideas for the best way to package your product.
• Think about possible wrapping paper, bags, boxes, stickers, tape, and inserts that would make your product more interesting for the buyer to open in the mail.
• Leave handwritten thank-you notes in all of your shipped packages addressed directly to your buyer. They will be charmed with your personal touch and be more likely to consider your shop in the future.
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