Selling on Etsy is not an unusual concept for a freelance illustrator or designer. I have had my shop up and running since last summer and originally I thought it would be the bread and butter of my business, wouldn't get me the big bucks but would tick along nicely. As I mentioned in this post in December, my Etsy had sold about 3 or 4 products out of all my listings and actually it was the bigger jobs that came my way that kept me busy.
So I'm pretty pleased to say my Etsy sales have rocketed over the past month and have made it a viable addition to my business and that is all down to my Valentine's Day cards. I don't overly like talking about numbers within my business but I know that when I was researching into Etsy, I couldn't find a lot of information on the types of profits people can make selling on the sight. With that in mind, over the past 3 weeks only selling Valentine's cards I sold £100 worth and I didn't sell out of all designs.
So if you're thinking of selling on Etsy; here's what I learnt in the past month.
- Research first. Sign up to Etsy as a buyer before you create a shop and search around for the type of things you want to sell. Planning on making Valentine's Day cards? Search for similar ones, look at the prices, look at the shipping policies, see what else is out there and how their shops run.
- Consider the Etsy fees. Unlike Not On The High Street whose fees and regulations are very strict, Etsy charge a really reasonable (in my opinion) fee/percentage but make sure you take it into consideration when marking up your prices.
- Consider shipping. Nothing is ever free, even when you offer free postage, more often than not you're paying the equivalent in the price of the item anyway. Also consider where you're shipping to, I only offered UK postage on my cards.
- Take good quality photos. This is a no brainer but it definitely makes a difference to your stats if your photos are high quality, on a neutral background, have appropriate props and show your product off to the best of your ability. It doesn't have to be flash, you can literally do it on your phone, just make sure it isn't blurry or out of focus or set amongst an inappropriate setting.
- Key words. Your listing is only as good as how you promote it and the words you choose and the way you describe it. Make sure the title says exactly what the product is, list it in the correct section, add dimensions, make sure you say what's included eg 1 envelope per card and think carefully about what your key words are.
- Don't auto renew. You can change your settings to have your listings renew automatically or manually and I have always manually renewed. I find this so much easier because if something isn't working it won't just stay on your shop, if you buy more units you can easily update your product numbers whilst you manually renew and you won't have any unexpected fees for automatic renewal.
- Make sure your customers know final shipping dates and providers. I added details on all my listing descriptions of when the final shipping dates for guaranteed Valentine's delivery was (3 working days before the day itself). I also kept updating customers on how many days were left on delivery and made sure people knew that you COULD order after the last shipping date but delivery by Valentine's wouldn't be guaranteed.
- Consider how quickly you'll ship. I listed all my cards as shipping first class Royal Mail within 3 working days. Whilst next day shipping is appealing to everyone, allowing 3 working days meant I only needed to go to the post office twice a week and could ship in bulk. Don't make extra work for yourself by shipping each and every day!
- Etsy offer promoted listings. When my products weren't selling that quickly I paid for some of my listings to be promoted. You can tailor this to your budget and the fee will be paid at the end of every month on your billing. Halfway through the 3 weeks of selling my Valentine's Day cards I reviewed my promoted listings and found out that actually, the views I was getting via my promotions didn't actually generate a single one of my actual sales so I cancelled my promoted listings and continued to promote the cards on my own.
- Consider your market. I only sold to two men out of the 30+ orders I sold which was hugely informative to the next set of cards I am creating (Mother's Day FYI). Now I know the types of customers purchasing I can tailor future products and listings to suit. Your customer is the most important thing so make sure you keep them in mind at the end goal.
- Give yourself enough time. If you have a specific event or holiday in mind run it for at least a fortnight beforehand (I ran my Valentine's cards for 3 weeks). People like to get organised, I stopped selling around a week before Valentine's and then had a few last minute panic buyers around 4 days before.
- People you know are going to want to buy. I had A LOT of people I know asking if they could just buy a card in cash when they saw me to avoid the shipping fees. You might want to consider keeping some stock back to accommodate for this but as I run my Etsy shop as part of my business, all transactions of which I need paperwork for and so I couldn't offer cash purchases in person with my friends.
- Promo on social media. I cannot tell you how invaluable promoting my cards on social media has been for my sales. At it's last count my stats on Facebook for the cards were hitting over 10,000 and I know they generated sales directly onto my Etsy. Make sure you parade them about, your first few sales will probably be people you know and you need to make sure they know about your products!
- Edit your listings. My Valentine's Day cards are all blank inside for your own message and none of them use any terms limited to Valentine's or couples. Whilst selling for Valentine's I listed the cards as for the specific event to get them to the right audience, I have now listed them as plain old greetings cards so they can be sent to anyone for any occasion!
- The first few sales are the most crucial. My first batch of cards were all for people I know through school or were close friends and friends of friends but once I got those first 6 or 7 sales out of the way, the orders came flooding in and the number of sales to people I know quietened down and the sales to people I don't know ramped up. Having the first few sales under your belt mean people consider you a trusted seller, your reviews get better and better and you start working your way up the pages and getting seen more and more. I sold a lot but I got even more favourites and that means all those potential customers will be notified when I put more stock on the shop and hopefully people I have already sold to will come back time after time.
I hope this is of some use to someone looking to start out selling a few bits and bobs on Etsy. I am by no means an expert but this is what worked and earned me my first £100 quid of Etsy sales. Happy selling!