Happy 1 Year!
Happy 1 year! I can’t believe how time has flown by so quickly. I was just browsing my shop organizing conversations and orders throughout this month. I decided to click on my profile and I didn’t realize I opened my Etsy business on April 11, 2016. Wow! What a year it has been. Never did I foresee me operating a small business and enjoying what I love to do. I am so proud of myself because how much I’ve put into my business to run it. Not only do I see the fruits of my labor. But, I never doubted myself while doing it. As of today I have made over 385+ sales. To me that is more than enough. My goal this year is to gain 1000+ I believe it’s possible and I’m working towards it.
So, I started my business over a year, right along as I started my hand lettering journey early that year in January. I was skeptical at first about opening my business and how I would start my business. So, I decided to do lots of research from Google to Pinterest. Y’all it was so much stuff I came across about how to run a small business or how to market your products, the whole nine. But, I took little by little, one day at a time and I managed to use some of that information to help my business grow. I’m still learning as I do not consider myself a business guru. But, I’m here to share and help you get started along your journey. Hopefully, I can encouraged you to just start where you are and take one step at a time.
So, let’s get started.
Think of something that you enjoy doing. Maybe it’s a hobby that you love to do or maybe it’s something you thought about doing but, you just don’t have the courage to move forward. So, do you have and idea in mind or hobby that you may have thought about incorporating into a business? Go for it! As I said, I’m a small business owner who “started from the bottom. Now I’m here.” (in my Drake voice) No knowledge what so ever about how to operate a business, I’m a self-taught business owner. As I mentioned before, I still have more learning to do. Once you have an idea on what it is you want to do then start brainstorming more ideas on how your product or ideas are different in today’s market. Everyone is hustling in other words trying to make ends meet these days. I’ve had my first job at the age 16 years old and worked my way into Corporate America until 2015. Then, I decided to leave my full-time job after seven years to become a Domestic Engineer (stay-at-home Mom). Me and my Husband agreed it was the best decision for our family. I don’t regret it, not one bit. I love being able to stay at home with my son and I enjoy witnessing those exciting times, milestones sometimes that may go unnoticed if you’re a working Mom. Their first step, word, rollover, sit-up, and so on. No way, did I want to miss that! Plus, me and my Husband could not fathom placing our son in daycare. So, the best decision was to stay-at-home.
Back to business talk, so find an idea or a hobby you enjoy. Start brain storming what you enjoy doing or maybe its something you’ve already enjoyed doing, but you never thought about turning it into a business. So, as I mentioned I’m a self-taught calligrapher who wanted to turn my hobby into a business. I already had my name in mind before I decided to take it serious and flip it into a business. So make sure before you start that you have a name or maybe an alias you can go by before you start. Make sure your name will some how reflect your overall mission or business services. What I mean is, what is the purpose of your business and how is your business relatable to your business name. Once you have a name your good to go. My business name means something personal to me is how and why I created it. Make sure it’s not too long, but catchy. You want your name to stand out in the market or grab the attention of your potential customers. If you already have your business name than time to move forward.
So, how did I start my handmade Etsy business?
First, do you have an account with Etsy. If not, you need to follow the instructions on how to create an account. Go to www.etsy.com and create an account. Once you have created your Etsy store (account) will appear in standard format. Which basically means no items will be listed because you have not updated or upload any items to your store. Next, go to your Profile and make sure you update this section with a brief bio of your name, when you established your business and tell a little something about yourself. Maybe tell an interesting fact about you. Briefly explain why you are here and why you love what you do. Moving forward while editing your profile you can also add a photo of yourself and list where your shop is located. Once you’ve done that go ahead and save. Yay! One step down.
Let’s edit shop and start adding information. So click on, Edit Shop: Under this menu allows you to upload your shop icon (or photo), add your shop title, and upload a banner (or photo header).
Shop icon: Add a photo, something related to your business like your business Logo. If you don’t have a business Logo add a photo of maybe one of your products. Having a logo is a great way to brand and market your business to customers.
Shop Title: Basically, gives your potential customers an ideal of what items you sale in your shop. For example, my shop title is “Weddings | Calligraphy | Personalized Gifts”. This information will also be available or found in Google search engine. So use keywords that would help your shop get notice not only within the search engine of Etsy, but also searchable for all internet platforms such as Google.
Shop Banner or Cover: other branding options on Etsy you can add a banner to your storefront. When I opened my shop the image I used for my banner was an image of one of my very first products I listed in my store. Get creative! Make a collage of products in your store. Another option would be to find a Etsy seller who sale banners or branding packages for storefronts like Etsy. I’ve purchased a package from a fellow Etsy seller to brand my shop in the past. I didn’t have the resources to designed my Etsy shop to look the way I wanted to at the time so I searched for a Etsy seller for branding webpages. I found a seller who was eager to work with me and help me. If you would like the name of the seller her shop name is MissOllieShop. Her stock images are beautiful and you can also adjust the images for your Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform. She is very helpful if you need any assistance. Branding your storefront is a great way to attract potential customers because it also gives them confidence about shopping with you. And if you prefer not to have a banner, that’s okay so your customers will just see your products listed only in your shop.
Shop policies: You can use Etsy sample wording or you can create your own policy. I used both because as a seller on Etsy you also have to comply or be in compliance with their policy as well. You want to make sure you also make FAQs that you customers would typically asked or want to know if they needed information regarding your shop or purchases. For instance, return policy must be well stated for your customer’s to return your products. Don’t forget to include your T&C’s for your returned items. Maybe you don’t accept returns on particular products it depends on you. In addition, make note of your processing times or what countries you service to and their shipping timeframes or estimated delivery.
Payment options: Etsy accepts all major payment methods. Credit card, gift card, and Pay Pal. Choose what option will serve your storefront.
Shipping: You can find your shipping option under Listing -> Shipping Setting. You can create shipping profiles for your Etsy shop. You can create shipping profiles per product or country. I’ve created my shipping profiles per product. Because each one of my products are packaged and weigh differently. You can list your processing time for each profile so your customers have an idea of how long you are required to process their order. You can list fixed cost for mailing per country or you can allow Etsy to determine the average cost. Please note Etsy shipping cost is based on purchasing shipping labels through their portal. I started off using Etsy shipping portal in the past but, I discovered money lost because the amount of postage for my orders wasn’t charged enough for me to mail off my orders. So, basically today I handle my own shipping labels through USPS. You can also list shipping upgrades so your customers will have the option to select faster delivery or shipping options.
Add Listing: When adding a listing you want to make sure of several things.
1.) High quality images: When you upload pictures of your products you want to make sure your photos are high quality and resolutions. Meaning good lighting, photo styling, and very clear images. If you notice the images in my Etsy store look very clear and you can see the product in each listing clearly. I also style some of my products just to make sure I represent my brand professionally. Not only does it show the quality of my brand, but having high quality images also in many ways markets my brand as a reliable product. The feedback from my previous customer review’s is evident that I believe in high quality overall for my products. Have you read my older blog post about “The Negotiator: Quality vs Value”? I talk about why I represent high quality products and services. If you have not read it, go check it out. As I was explaining, your listing (products) represent your brand. Having high quality images and products is essential to thriving business sales.
2.) Persuasive Descriptions: Sale, Sale, Sale. This is where you draw your customers in with the information you give them in this section. Why should John Doe or Jane Doe be interested in buying your product? What makes your products different from the next shop? Customers want to know all the details even if it seems too much. Too much information is never enough information. How you can persuade your customer? The information you are willing to give, equals a potential “sale”. The reason I said “sale” instead of give is because the word “sale” is the key. I’ve seen other shops who are alike in some ways like my store. But, what’s different between us two is their store is they do not sale their products. Their not giving their customers enough information as to why they should buy their product. “Think like a customer”. What information would you want to know before you purchase a product. I’m sure you want to know more than enough so you feel secure about your purchase. Less information is never enough. Sale your product. Tell a story about your product, what is it for, what is it used for, what are the dimensions, describe the product. Sale, sale, sale. Make sure you include as much information as you would want to know if you were in the customers shoes.
3.) Titles or Keywords: Choosing the right titles or keywords for each listing is also important. So depending on your shop or what products you sell will determine the best keywords for your listings. The easy way at finding what popular keywords to use or titles you will used is super easy. For example, majority of my products I have listed in my store our for personalized use. Gift bags are one of my most popular items I personalized in my Etsy store. With that said, one of my keywords I used in my title when customers search for my items is “personalized”. Well that’s not enough, how can I broaden my search for my ideal customer. Next, find out what type of customer do you want to attract to your listings. Here’s another example, so I know my products is for personalized gifts but for who? Bridesmaids, brides, groomsman, birthdays, holidays, and more. Seems like a lot of options I can target the ideal customer. Lets broaden my audience even more. Let say I choose Bridesmaids and Wedding as two keywords. Now that I have what my product is for and my ideal audience now I need to label or Title my listing with those keywords. Creating titles in Etsy you have up to I believe 120 characters you can list or write for a title. Use all those characters. Well you ask how do you do that, by listing as many keywords or titles to attract your audience. What’s great about listing more than one keyword for the titled listing is you target a larger range of potential customers. When you list keywords separate them each by a comma. For example, “Personalized gift bags, Bridesmaids, Groomsman, Wedding,…” and so on. Another way to find out the best keywords is using Etsy search engine. Look up the key word “personalized gifts”, once you have done this you will see the number of items that are listed with that actual keyword. Pay close attention to the other sellers titles or keywords. How many sellers have the same or exact keywords for their titles? Which keywords are listed first or after the other? Those are the keywords you want to have where the majority listings use. This will also give you an idea of the most popular keywords buyers search by. This is a great way to maximize your audience and increase your audience by filtering in more than one category.
4.) Category/Filters: Category are very important when you create your product listing. You want to make sure you filter and categorize your products just as I mentioned in my previous step to maximize your audience. This also helps with organizing your product like a grocery store aisle when you are shopping. I hope that make sense. For example, where do you find milk in the store? In the milk section most likely in the freezer/cold section of the store. Where do you find fruits or vegetables? In the produce section of the store. The same applies to Etsy, each listing or product can be categorized by filtering by the style, occasion, color, material, and so on. You need to select which filters are best for each of your products. It almost like organizing your files on your computer database I would say, everything has a place. So, if I were to type into Etsy search engine handmade jewelry, Etsy will categorize and upload each listing relatable or filtered to “handmade jewelry”. Etsy categories are very detailed you can also search by dimensions or sizes which is a new feature per Etsy Studio. Use every possible filter or category for each of your listings. This same feature can be applied to your store if you would like a more organized look or layout for your customers.
5.) Pricing/Labor: Well here is where it gets complicated. Not to scare you but, determining the price for you products can be quite challenging when considering everything that goes into the price. You have to make sure you include your time + materials + handling or any other expenses. My prices fluctuate all the time. This will happened at times during off or high peak seasons. You have to determine what works for you and your business. I don’t want to mislead you in any way with determining what your prices should be or whether you should change them or not. Because you know the labor or hard work you put into creating your products and you also know the materials or expenses that go along with it. What I will tell you is pay very close attention to the market. It always changes and you want to make sure you are paying yourself fairly for all the hard work you put into each product. I didn’t find this out until a few or six months after I had started my business. I am still learning and calculating expenses to fit fairly into how I price my products. That’s what I mean it gets complicated at times because it constantly changes. Sometimes good changes and sometime not so good. But you have to determine and be the judgement of what you pay yourself. Don’t ever think your work is any less or not valuable than the next seller. As I said you worked hard for it, so you deserve every dime you put into it. To read more on this read my post about the “Negotiator: Quality vs Value”. I also share so advice and tips how to beware of the customer who tries to negotiate a deal.
6.) Quantity vs Custom Orders: I have to be honest those listing fees or renewal fees add up big time. So the way Etsy works is per each listing or quantity is $0.20 each. If I have one listing and I have in stock 20 of that same product that gives me a total cost of $4, right. Well each time your quantity deplete or expires that’s $0.20 each per item/listing. One of the reasons I love taking custom orders is because instead of listing 20 items for the exact same product I will combine an order for the overall quantity for one price. I will still be charged $0.20 per listed I create, but instead I will only be charged once for the custom order. That’s because my quantity is listed as one item therefore, my listing will be charged one fee. However, Etsy still charges a fee per transaction. That’s inevitable, but instead of listing the same item 20 times and being charged per item, I create a listing per order for the overall sum-total for one price. I hope that makes sense, but it helps in my favor because majority of my customers request for custom orders anyway.
Well that pretty much sums up everything from my perspective of what has helped me run my Etsy business. I hope this information is helpful to you or gives you some insight about running a storefront business. If you have any questions about something I did not address above, please leave a comment below and I will happily address whatever questions you have below.