Podcast Episode 4: 5 Things I wish I knew before opening my Etsy shopAug 26, 2021
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Hey hey! Welcome to today’s show. 😊 I can totally remember back to those early days running my Etsy shop when I had nooooo idea what I was doing. There were so many lessons for me to learn, processes to perfect, and strategies to implement. So just know—if you are just getting started or maybe you’ve been going for a little bit and it’s not working out how you thought—I’ve been there. I know what it feels like--- and I’m going to help you out!
You know actually—a great story to start out with is from even just before I opened my Etsy shop. (And if you want to hear the whole story—just go back to episode 1 of this podcast which I’ll link down in the show notes-- and I’ll give you the whole story.) But this part is a piece I haven’t shared before.
So if you don’t know of the story, before I opened my Etsy shop I was a social media manager and consultant and I was a blogger. And just before my first daughter Lorelai was born my husband and I—being the little DIY family that we are---- made a couple of sweet reclaimed wood nursery signs and I shared about them on my blog. Well they caught quite a bit of attention and people were asking if we could make more and sell them. SO—before I launched my Etsy shop--- I actually tried to sell my signs directly from my website—but it was a disaster. It was so much work to manage that part of the site and listings and I had to drum up my own business---- so my blog and social media became way more about signs instead of the writing that I loved. Most of my blog visitors were really there to read, not shop for signs so we weren’t selling much and it was just not worth it.
As soon as I moved it all over to Etsy and directed my customers there, my life got soooo much easier. It is WELL worth the fees—which I think are very reasonable—to enjoy the benefits of a marketplace like Etsy.
So there’s a mini-lesson for you! YES! Etsy is WORTH it. Down the road if you learn more about marketing and create a solid customer base, it might make sense to either add or migrate to your own website store. But I don’t recommend it for a beginner. You’re just adding exponential work to your plate.
That was a bonus I threw in for fun, but today’s podcast is all about the 5 things I wish I had known before opening my Etsy shop so that hopefully, I can help you get ahead and have the success you want faster than I did.
1) I wish I’d known the exact words that my perfect customer would use to describe my product.
Yeah! SO Etsy works as a search engine just like Google or Pinterest. Whatever the user types in the search bar is what Etsy is going to show them—so what you need to do is figure out exactly what they would type and use those words in your listing title, your product description, AND your product tags.
When I got started I didn’t fully understand this or have a good foundation in SEO (search engine optimization) so I just used the words “I” would use to describe my product. Sometimes it worked (mostly because I would type out the phrase from my sign and lots of shoppers did use that method to find a sign) and sometimes it didn’t BUT when I started researching keywords and figuring out what my customer would type, my sales went WAY up.
This would be a great skill to master before you open your shop or even in those early days of getting started.
This podcast is brought to you by my very own website: HowToSellYourStuff.com where I have created lots of free and paid tools to help you be successful with your new Etsy shop.
As I’ve developed this business, I’ve really focused on thinking back to my early days of trying to figure Etsy out and I brainstormed a list of the things that would have helped me make more sales earlier. Everything that I’m creating over there is expressly to make sure you can get there faster than I did.
Two of my courses “Listings that Sell” and “Customer Service Templates” are perfect resources for the fledgling Etsy seller.
“Listings that Sell” will teach you how to position your products for sales by setting up your listings with the best photos, keywords, and branding to attract your perfect customer. I’m showing you how research is your secret weapon for getting your product seen and sold and I’m giving you my step by step process for how I research as a strategy in my own shop.
Customer Service is more critical to sales than most shop owners realize! In my mini-ecourse “Customer Service Templates” I’m teaching you my exact customer service strategy AND providing you with templates of my specific wording for over 20 different customer service scenarios—including the hardest ones. You don’t have to figure out what to say and how to say it--- I’ve already done that for you.
One of the main keys to being a successful business owner is working harder on yourself than anything else! So grab these courses and get yourself on the fast track to your Etsy shop goals.
2) I wish I’d known how costly shipping is and how to curb some of the expense.
If you haven’t encountered this yourself just yet--- shipping is an extremely expensive part of selling a physical product. It costs time and money.
In order to ship your products, you need to pay for (ideally attractive) packaging that will get your item to the customer safely, boxes or envelopes, labels, ink, tape, and postage. It all adds up QUICK.
In today’s world, most shoppers don’t want to “pay” for shipping—they prefer to see that “Free Shipping” badge when they’re buying online. But the seller still has to cover the cost of shipping the product--- so it needs to be built into the price. This can get tricky and eat into your profits depending on how your competitors are pricing their products.
If I had this to do again, I would probably pick a smaller, lighter product. I personally sell large signs so I can make more for each piece and shipping gets even more expensive and touchy when you’re dealing with a heavier dimensional weight. (How large a package is in relation to it’s weight.)
I will say—Etsy negotiates some wonderful discounted rates when you ship using their platform and it really streamlines the process. (When I first opened my shop I didn’t realize this and I was copying and pasting addresses into usps.com!)
It does save money and time using their shipping feature.
And the last thing I will mention is boxes. Since we have a large product that is fragile, boxes were a big deal for us. The better fitting your box is around your product, the less breakage you will experience!
Back when we added large above-bed style signs to our shop—my husband was using cardboard boxes we bought from Walmart and building a custom box for each large sign. The sign was 45x21” and about 10 pounds. Once he had a system and got proficient at building them—it took him 45 MINUTES to box 1 large sign like that. It was insane. That first Christmas season we did those---- holy moly--- he’d easily be boxing until 1 AM because they took so long.
But we weren’t able to find an existing box that would work from Uline or any of the other manufacturers. They had some options available but they were deeper which would mean our shipping would go through the roof because of the dimensional weight factor.
Finally we found a local company who could make custom boxes just right for our signs. It took an investment because you have to buy well over 100 boxes to get the cost to where it makes sense per box. But this was SO worth it in the long run for both time and money.
3) I wish I would have known up front how far Etsy could take me… because I would have started much sooner.
Truly--- if you would have told me back in 2014--- “Open an Etsy shop! You’ll have a full time income within a year!” I don’t think I would have believed that. I really didn’t think I was artistic enough and my concept of Etsy had me convinced that I was way too amateur. Anyone else struggle with imposter syndrome? LOL!
But the reality is that once I did launch, I started slow, and as I went along I got better and better. My processes improved, my skill improved, and my product improved.
I just was not expecting the success the platform brought me. Etsy can be extremely lucrative. I had no idea I could make a full-time income selling signs. I literally expected a couple hundred dollars per month.
So consider that. I’d recommend starting sooner rather than later. There’s no telling where you could be in as little as 6 months!
4) I wish I’d known the value of running Etsy ads in my first year.
Ok—if you’re multi-tasking—if your attention drifted away--- come back to me here, but this one was HUGE for me.
I can’t quite remember but it took at least a year for me to try Etsy ads--- and I wish I had turned them on as soon as I started making any sales.
Etsy ads obviously do cost money, but Etsy has some great safe-guards built in to protect you from overspending on ads. As a rule of thumb—a business should spend approximately 20% of their gross earnings on advertising. That’s why I would wait until you start making a few sales so you can then reinvest some of what you make into your business.
Once I turned on Etsy ads, and they were running for a few weeks—wow did I see a jump in my sales. It varies about month to month, but approximately half of my sales come from Etsy ads.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to know here, is that the ads only work if your SEO is on point. Your listing titles, descriptions, and product tags needs to have the same words in them that a perfect customer would use to search for your product. If they don’t, ads won’t do anything for you. If you need help with this--- I would definitely encourage you to consider my course “Listings that Sell” where I will show you exactly how to do this.
5) I wish that I’d known I could learn as I go. I thought I needed to have so much figured out before I just got started.
Shout out to all my fellow perfectionists!!! While part of my Etsy story definitely includes hacking all of this together with our hand cut stencils and patchwork shipping boxes… lol… I definitely hesitated A LOT up front and felt like things had to be perfect so I could hit the ground running when I launched.
In truth--- it’s actually easier to start with slower sales and ramp up. You don’t need to figure it all out before you go live. You work out the kinks as you go and hopefully before you’re slammed. A slower start gives you time to figure out your processes.
I can’t reiterate it enough. So much of what makes an Etsy seller successful is developed with time and experience. You actually can’t plan for everything that’s going to happen because every path is a bit different.
I mean, in order to launch you do have to have a quality product that people want to buy—that’s a given—but as you build confidence you can always sell your products at a bit of a lower rate than your seasoned competitors. You can try a craft show--- that got me a lot of feedback in my early days. You can practice by making a bunch of your product and use what you make as gifts if they’re not quite up to snuff.
The bottom line is---- get started. You can’t get better until you do.
There we have it with the 5 things I personally wish I knew before opening my Etsy shop:
1) I wish I’d known more about SEO and what words and phrases my perfect customer would use to describe my product
2) How expensive shipping would be and how to curb some of that
3) How far Etsy could take me—because I would have started a lot sooner!
4) The value of Etsy Ads to help me sell a lot more
5) That I could learn as I go
I’d love to hear from you, too! What do you wish you knew in order to launch your Etsy shop? Connect with me over on Instagram at @HowtoSellYourStuff. I can’t wait to answer your questions and hear about your vision.
Have a great one!
Are you thinking about opening up your own Etsy shop? As a seasoned Etsy seller since 2015 with a full-time Etsy shop, today I’m sharing the 5 things I wish I knew before opening my Etsy shop.
**“How to Sell Your Stuff on Etsy” is not affiliated with or endorsed by Etsy.com.
FREEBIE: “4 Strategies I used to grow my Etsy shop from $25 to $6000+/month”
THINGS I MENTIONED:
Podcast episode 1: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/blog/podcast-episode-1-my-etsy-success-story
Listings that Sell: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/offers/Xo52uqVF
Customer Service Templates: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/offers/wUXKPzRG
Shipping Label Printer: https://amzn.to/3kpJ31d
Rolls of Labels: https://amzn.to/3jeYH04
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF WEBSITE: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/howtosellyourstuff/
HOW TO SELL YOUR STUFF SHOWNOTES:
Today’s Sponsor is my website “HowtoSellYourStuff.com” where I offer free and paid resources to help new Etsy sellers reach their goals faster. Listings that Sell: https://www.howtosellyourstuff.com/offers/Xo52uqVF
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