Wednesday, September 21, 2011

7 Tips for ETSY

Well, if you are on ETSY you know that they rolled out the new Search Ads today. I am trying it and will see how it goes. It really does help that there are stats now to track how things are working for you. In the mean time, I thought I would post a few tips on my experience selling on ETSY.

First off let me say that I started on ETSY in January of 2010 while I was still teaching school full time. I knew I wanted to quit teaching and have a baby and figured I better have something going to somewhat replace my income from school, but something I could do from home. So, I started my ETSY shop selling Pajamas- hence the name Purple Pajamas. One problem, every time I went to the fabric store, I would see all of this fabric and all I could think was, "What a cute pillow that would make!" So I completely changed my shop around, staying up to all hours of the night sewing to build up some inventory, and soon I was making sales left and right! I could barely keep up with it while teaching full time.

As time has passed, ETSY has changed a lot ,for the better in my opinion, and I have opened a second shop, Elisabeth Michael and my blog and website I am now consolidating my two ETSY shops and selling only fabric out of one. So, this is what I have learned through it all...

1. Don't give up.
     They say something like upwards of 85% of businesses fail in the first 6 months and that is because they quit. Determination is the key.

2. Add new items daily.
   I can't stress this enough. I still have to remind myself of this when sales are slow. New items get you on the front page and also give your shop a fresh look to repeat customers. When you go back to a shop that you have purchased from, why are you going back? Usually to see if they have anything new right? If the department store sold all the same items for months on end, would you stop shopping there? My point exactly.

3. Don't be afraid to completely change directions and try something new.
    Now obviously, you must stick with something at some point, but when I realized that I would rather make pillows than pajamas: I made the switch. I also completely changed the style of pillows and fabric I was offering at some point too. Not bc they weren't selling, but bc I wanted my shop to cater to different clientele and I wanted to go in a different direction entirely.

4. Be teachable...
   If you see that what you are trying to sell, isn't selling, then sell something else or a different style. Now some people will tell you that you are artistic, be yourself and be unique, and I am definitely all for that, but if you are selling blue and mauve teddy bears and doilies, no offense, but you need to take a long hard look at what people want and are buying today. Something new and different or modern that no one has seen is fine, not something that has been around for years...unless it's vintage of course.

5. Do not underestimate yourself in your pricing.
   I am amazed at how many people do this. I recently contacted quite a few ETSY sellers about buying wholesale from their shop and so many of them could only give me a 20% or so discount or told me they were already selling at a wholesale price. That is crazy! Once again, no offense, but if I am going to take all the time and effort to make something handmade, I am not going to make $10 on it! Call me crazy, but let me tell you this. You are worth more than you think. Think about this....(if you are selling close to wholesale price)

You can never have a 50% off sale to attract buyers bc you would be losing money.
You probably already are losing money and just don't realize it. (more on that in a minute)
The average store can sell something 80% off and still turn a profit. Why shouldn't you?
Your pricing shows what you value your products and workmanship at. So wholesale means you think your product is cheap. Sorry, but it's true.

6. Are you losing money on ETSY?
   To determine whether you are making or losing money, you must factor in more than just the cost of the materials and supplies. You need to factor in EVERYTHING and I do mean everything.

That includes: materials, supplies, electricity (sewing maching, serger, iron etc.), water, heating and cooling, business cards, shipping bags or boxes, everything else used to ship items, and most importantly your time. And not just the time it takes you to make the item. What about the time to order the materials to make the item or to go to the store, the gas to get there, the miles you put on your car, the time listing it, the time taking pics, the time reading and learning things about your shop,  and on and on I could go.

Take the time to sit down and figure out just how much is one business card? How much is one plastic bag you use to ship the item? (or whatever applies to you)

And last but definitely not should be getting paid enough for the time you invest. Like more than you would working a 9-5 job. If I wanted to have a 9-5 job, I would go and get one- I don't. And my skill is more important to me than $10 an hour. If excavators can make $75/hr why can't I? I think sewing takes more skill than excavating :) IMHO

7. Set goals
  If you really intend to make money and create a sustainable business, you must have goals and a plan to get to those goals. Write down: how much money you want to make per month, how much you are budgeting for advertising, where you are going to advertise, if you will use email marketing, how often you will use social media tweet, facebook etc. and of course BLOG!

I could talk forever, but let me just say, I love ETSY, I love what I do and you can too!

At home with my 6 month little boy and not going to a 9-5 job every day is therapy to my soul!

If you have some tips to share, please do. I would love to learn something new!