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Topic: Does Etsy really work?

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Subject: Does Etsy really work?
Date Posted: 5/25/2010 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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So, I'm in the process of joining etsy and setting up my "shop". I'm wondering if others are on there and if you REALLY do sell things. How often do you "get business"?

Also, do you have any advice on promoting and/or advertising your shop?

Thanks!

Date Posted: 5/26/2010 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2010
Posts: 2
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i can't speak as a seller, but i'm a frequent etsy buyer! some people have the most gorgeous stuff. usually i'm looking for yarn, buttons, cards/stationary, and things like that. 

of course, promotion is important. i often pop over there after seeing something mentioned on a blog or in a forum (like this one!), so you should definitely try to get people talking about your stuff!

and check around to see who's selling stuff similar to yours, so you can make sure your prices are inline with the norm.

(i have dreams of opening an etsy shop some day. i just need TIME!)

HTH. good luck!

Date Posted: 5/27/2010 8:28 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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I am in the process of opening and Etsy shop. I want to have a decent inventory though before I open it, so I can promote it right away with more than 2 or 3 things in it.

I have heard that a lot of people do good business on there though. :)

Date Posted: 5/27/2010 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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I opened my shop last month and it's been slow to start, but that's ok, because it really takes awhile to get up to speed and I have a lot to do to get my shop set up the way I want.  I have had some sales though, and within a couple of weeks of opening my shop, I got a custom bulk order.  My advice would be to start by reading the forums at Etsy- there is a lot of information there and a lot of people post tips and advice on how to be successful.  It really is a lot of work though- way more than I thought it would be, so I have lowered my expectations because I just don't have the time to put in that it would take to be really successful.  Most of the advice I have seen says to use social networking (Twitter, Facebook and the like) and I have not gotten that far yet.  Make sure your photos are really good, read everything you can about SEO and how to tag your items, participate in the forums so that your shop is visible.  Don't bother trying to market to other Etsy forum users though- they are there for the same reason you are, to sell, not to buy, but by following other sellers' blogs or facebook pages you can get some exposure.

Though I'm a relative newbie at Etsy, I'm happy to answer any questions if I can.   PM me here or convo me through Etsy- my shop is http://www.bgardencreations.etsy.com .  Good luck!

Date Posted: 5/31/2010 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2007
Posts: 21,071
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i buy stuff from there all of the time...

Date Posted: 6/1/2010 8:25 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,891
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yes, lots of people sell plenty there. I tried it a few years ago and it didn't work out for me, but I still think it's absolutely worth a try!

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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Do you guys have any suggestions as to what to put in the etsy shop (as far as the annoucements to buyers and stuff go). I'm still working on my initial set-up, I put it off while i was working on making stuff for my shop.

Thanks!

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 3:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Cassandra, that is what delayed the opening of my shop for a month- that stuff takes awhile to work out.  I had a particularly difficult time nailing down my shop policies and shipping.  I still tweak them from time to time- it's a work in progress, so expect to have to go back and do revisions, even after you have it mostly set up.  My suggestion is to look at other shops that sell items similar to yours and see what they do for announcements and the like.  Look at lots of different ones to get ideas and then it should be easier to figure out what to say about yourself and your products.  Keep in mind that the first few lines of your shop announcement are really important because that is what Google will search on, so you want to have as many appropriate key words there as possible.  Make sure that you sign up for Google Analytics- there is a tool there that will help you with key words for your category.

You are welcome to look at my shop to get ideas http://www.bgardencreations.etsy.com , but at the moment I'm not having much luck with being found by Google, so I don't know that it would help you all that much.  Google did something a month or so ago with changing algorithms or something, and a lot of people have been complaining that their Google hits are down to nothing.  Dont' let that deter you though- get your shop up and running, and use the time that you have before you start selling to learn the ins and outs of Etsy and how everything works.  Read the Storque articles, post in the forums and just get to know your way around.  Once you are set up, you might ask a friend to make a purchase from your shop so that you can do a dry run of the order and shipping process- that's what I did, and I was really glad that I did before I got my first "real" sale.

Good luck!

Date Posted: 6/2/2010 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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Thank you so much!! I'll get working on that!!

I was really at a loss as to what to put in there. Would you mind checking it out when I have worked on it a little more?

EDIT: http://www.etsy.com/shop/myhorsesdesigns  That is my shop so far, it is empty for now, but I will have a few things ready soon.

I'd LOVE suggestions!! :D



Last Edited on: 6/2/10 10:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/2/2010 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Sure- just let me know when you're ready for a review!  I took a quick look at what you have so far, and one thing I would suggest is on your shop title, don't just restate your shop name, summarize what you are selling.  That is usually one of the first lines searched by Google, so you want to get your key words in there.  You already have your shop title in your banner, and you should also put it in your welcome statement, ie "Welcome to XYZ Shop".  Use the shop title to say state what you are selling and maybe something that makes your products special and unique.  Think about what someone would search for in Google and try to use that.

Also, do a little work on your banner- it's cut off a little bit on the top and bottom.  The banner is the first thing that people will mention on the Etsy forums if you ask for a shop critique, the second will be the item photos.  Remember that your banner is the customer's first impression of your shop, so you want it to do more than just state the name of your shop- it should indicate the look and feel you are trying to get across.  A lot of people use pictures of their products in their banners so that it's obvious what your shop is about.

Try not to get too intimidated- just take one one thing at a time and remember that it's not a race, you're not on a deadline, so take whatever time it takes to get it done well.  That's been one of the hardest things for me- I'm impatient, and want it all done yesterday, lol!

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 7:45 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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I'll work on it, thank you so much!

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 8:35 AM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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Thanks Everyone! I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions Keep 'em comin. I've been diligently working on my Etsy shop. It's really coming along!

One thing I'm having trouble with is determining shipping rates. Also, HOW should I shipe my cards? In a padded envelope? box? I'm not sure what would be best and cheapest. If anyone has thoughts on that, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 8:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2009
Posts: 88
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I think a padded envelope would be just fine. If I oredered a card, I would be perfectly happy receiving it in that.

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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Thanks, Cassandra. Good to know!

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Sarah, I use bubble mailers to send my bookmarks, and they work out fine.  I don't know how many cards you might be shipping at once, but do keep this in mind: if you are using PayPal shipping to print your postage and labels, the only first class option you have is first class parcel- they do not offer first class letter.  To qualify for first class parcel, the parcel must be at least 3/4" thick.  So for my bookmarks, which are very flat, I have to pad the bubble mailers with additional packaging to make it at least 3/4" thick.  The risk of not doing this is that the package may be delivered to your customer with postage due, and it would be a lot, because the PO would upgrade it to priority mail, which starts at something like $5.95.  Anyway, for bubble mailers, check ebay- you can get cases of 50 or 100 for pretty cheap.

On determining shipipng charges, I really struggled with this too.  This was very helpful for me: http://www.gotogreatpanes.com/blog/shipping/

especially for figuring out international shipping charges.

Here's what I would do to get started: package up what you think would be a typical order the way you plan to mail it, and either weigh it yourself (you're a PBS member, so you already have a scale, right?  LOL) or take it to the PO and ask them to weigh it for you.  Maybe do several packages of different amounts of your items, if you think you might be shipping multiples.  Then check out the USPS website for the first class parcel rates (if your items are light, this is going to be your best option) and use that info to figure out your shipping costs.  Feel free to look at my shipping rates in my shop policies if you want- bookmarks are light, and usually my packages are only 1-3 ounces.  I have shipped internationally once (to the UK) and it was only around $2.50.

Remember to include in your shipping prices the cost of your packaging.  I charge $1.85 to ship in the U.S., and that includes postage and packaging.  Because my items are so light, I don't charge for additional items (that is, if someone orders more than one item from me at a time), and on larger bulk orders you may lose a bit of money this way, but to me, that is better than over-charging for shipping, which can really turn people off.

Also, think about interior packaging- how will you package the item before it is put into the mailer?  People who shop on Etsy are doing so for the personal touches that they get from buying something handmade as opposed to mass-produced in a factory.  Think about wrapping your items in something- tissue, cellophane, a pretty paper, etc. with a bow wrapped around it, include a hand-written thank you to the customer for their purchase, etc.  I wrap my bookmarks in brown Kraft paper folded up like an envelope and secured with a gold or silver sticker, and write a thank you note on the outside.  It's simple, but personal and not cost-prohibitive.  Make sure you figure this out before you determine your shipping rates, because any packaging might add weight to the parcel.

Hope this helps, and please let me know when you get your shop going, I'd love to check it out!

Lesley

Date Posted: 6/7/2010 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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I just sold my 5th item (second big ticket one) so yes, it really works. But you have to put a lot of time into it and your photographs. Read through the forums for tips and tricks about taking great photos and writing good descriptions. Also, list, list, list. If you don't have any new items to list then re-list. You want to list or re-list at least one item a day. Vary the time you do it. What this does is it bumps your work up in the list so that when people search for something your item comes up sooner. Also, be active in the forums. Network with other sellers. I've also heard that selling supplies can be a big boost for your business since a lot of the people who buy on Etsy are crafters themselves. It can be a good way to boost traffic to your site.

Date Posted: 6/7/2010 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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And as Lesley said don't overcharge for shipping. One way to do this is to refund the difference in shipping and handling charges. It's vey easy to do with Pay Pal and it makes people really happy to know that you're not gouging them. But at the same time you know that your shipping costs are going to be covered.

Date Posted: 6/8/2010 12:50 AM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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Thanks for all the GREAT advice and suggestions everyone! I have officially "opened" my shop! I don't have a lot on there, but there is definitely more to come soon. Take a look!

www.periwinklecards.etsy.com

Date Posted: 6/8/2010 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Sarah, it looks great!  I love your banner- very professional, and your cards are lovely!  Good luck!

Date Posted: 6/13/2010 11:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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Your shop, banner, avatar, and pics look awesome. Congrts on your three sales so far!

Date Posted: 6/14/2010 8:50 AM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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Thank you so much. You guys are sweet. I really appreciate your feedback:)

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2010
Posts: 39
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I've got a shop on there, but it's in a really saturated market (beaded jewelry and gifts).  I've done ok...nothing to quit my day job over, but it's helped pay for a lot of craft supplies, and picks up during the holiday months.  Marketing is crucial, as well as getting great pics for your items.  The better the pics, the more likely they are to show up on the front page and treasuries, getting a LOT more views.  It'll probably take you a bit to get a "rep" and build up steady clientele, so be realistic when setting your sales goals.

Here's what mine looks like: www.smallshinyobjects.etsy.com

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Sarah M., ugh, pictures are the bane of my existence!  I am in the process of redoing mine, and that is what I hate most about the whole experience. I don't know if I will EVER get the hang of taking good pics of my stuff.  I've been in two treasuries- oddly enough, early on after opening my shop, when my pictures were probably at their worst- but I can't say it did anything for my sales.  Oh well, I know it's still pretty soon after opening shop, so I'm trying to be patient.  As I understand it, this is a very slow time of year for sales so I do want to hang in there and see how it goes in fall and leading into the holidays.

By the way, very pretty jewelry!

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 8:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2009
Posts: 186
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Sarah - great jewelry! It's really cute. I'll have to take a look around your shop more.  I'm in the same boat - not a huge market for handmade cards. I do better by word of mouth than anything else. But, it's been fun nontheless.

Lesley - what's your shop's link?? And I agree...taking pictures is a lot of work for that. I never considered myself gifted in the photography world so it's been interesting...

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Here it is Sarah: http://www.bgardencreations.etsy.com

Yeah, at this point I'm pretty much just doing it for fun- certainly not for profit!  I just dropped a large sum on a new laminator last week...won't be out of the red for quite some time now!

I've replaced about a third of my pictures, and am going to try to get to more this weekend.  Having a day job really limits the time I can spend on my shop, so it's a slow process.

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