This time last year, I joined Etsy Resolution, an initiative supporting people to set up their own Etsy shop. Since that time, Etsy has become my biggest source of sales and is the only reason my main online shop has managed to stay afloat. Don't get me wrong, it's not going to make me my millions (to date I've had 170 sales through The Treasured's Etsy shop) but the Etsy Resolution taught me a lot. Sadly, there's no Etsy Resolution 2018, so here are my highlights...
Photo Credit: Etsy
How to Open Your Own Etsy Shop
I opened my Etsy shop at the end of 2016 so thought I'd got the actual opening bit covered, but I didn't use it from that point until the summer of 2017, so Etsy Resolution proved to be a good reminder of the basics. Check out Etsy's Beginner's Guide and use it like a checklist. Don't forget to use this link when you go to open your shop and you'll get 40 free listings, as will I. Sharing is caring.
As with any other search engine, search engine optimisation (SEO) is key on Etsy. Here are some of the tips that I've learnt...
- Keywords: Think about what other people would use to search for your items. You'll use these in your title, tags and description.
- Title: Choose your title carefully and use all of the characters available. The first few words should be the main keywords that people would search for, followed by other search terms. For instance, 'Cactus Print - Cactus Art - Cactus Gift - Succulent Print' etc. I separate phrases with dashes, but other people use commas or full stops.
- Tags: The same rule applies for your tags as for your titles. Use them all and make sure they relate to your keywords. Where possible, enter them in the same order as you have used them in your title.
- Photos: Etsy loves photos. You can now have up to ten and wherever possible you should have at least five per listing. (I'll be honest, I don't always stick to this. There are only so many ways you can show an art print and I don't think it's helpful to cram listings with useless, irrelevant or repetitive images.)
- Description: If your photos haven't already managed to sway shoppers in your direction, this is your chance to sell your product. Descriptions of 100 words or more tend to perform better and they should include all the information that a shopper would want to know, including the size, material, any variants and how it's made. Make sure the words you used at the beginning of your title are in the first sentence too.
Focus on Photos
Photography is not my thing, but I've tried really hard to improve my photographs over the last year. Whilst they're still not perfect there a few things that have helped me along the way and a fancy camera wasn't one of them. I did, however, invest in a new phone. My Google Pixel has been a great help for running my business on the go and takes amazing photos. I also love that I get unlimited cloud storage for photos, so I can just keep snapping until I'm happy. (Or, you know, until I get completely fed up of my lack of compositional skills and want to throw it across the room...)
I also gathered a collection of props, including cute little succulents, gold paper clips and textured papers. Whichever props I use though, I always use my trusty Photo Boards as backdrops. They are super handy, wipe clean and provide a solid base so I can set them up anywhere. I've had them balanced on cushions by the window and propped on top of a tiny side table in my conservatory. It's really important to get as much natural daylight as possible and as most of my product photos are flatlays I need to avoid shadow too. Having the flexibility to move wherever I want to is essential.
(Nope, I've not been paid by Photo Boards, I just really like them. If you choose to buy one, use my referral link and I'll earn points towards another one of my own. I'd be very grateful.)
However you set up your photos, make sure that they are clear and have the product you are selling at the core. Don't make shoppers have to think to work out which item is for sale! Also, think about the orientation of your images. As Etsy's search results always show landscape images, I use the 4:3 ratio and make sure I amend the thumbnail for the first image to show as much of the product as possible.
Still stuck? There are lots of great guides from photographers online, but why not start with Etsy's round-up of essential types of product shots to get you thinking!
Shout About Your Shop
From telling your friends to setting up social media profiles and writing about it on your blog, if you aren't willing to shout about your shop why should anyone else be willing to? It's so important to market yourself. Don't be shy.
Look to Successful Sellers for Inspiration
There's a reason why other sellers are successful and analysing their Etsy shops to work out why is a great way to learn. What are they selling? Who is their target market? How have they used their titles, tags, descriptions, photos, social media etc. to reach their audience?
Once you understand how other people have done it, it's often easier to work out how you can appeal to your own target market. This is key. Don't try to copy other people. You can be inspired but copying other people will not lead to success, you need to find your own way because with creative businesses it's your style that will ultimately sell your products.
Become Part of the Community
The thing that I found the most beneficial about Etsy Resolution was the fact they introduced me to the importance of the online creative community. I started off by joining their Facebook group for other creatives in the UK taking part in Etsy Resolution 2017, then I joined Etsy Team Leeds and started joining in with creative Twitter chats. Handmade Hour (#handmadehour) on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and Just A Card's chat (#justacard) on a Thursday at 8pm are my favourites. I also make a conscious effort to engage with other small businesses on Instagram, whether that's a comment on one of their posts or a message after watching one of their stories.
By meeting fellow creatives online I've found a group of people that inspire and motivate me. From sharing their opinions on my products to giving advice on photography and suppliers, their support has been invaluable. I highly recommend joining your local Etsy Team and putting yourself out there on social media. You won't regret it.
Looking for some creatives to follow to get you started? Check out Amy at Hello Treacle, Tash at Hatchling Makes, Kylie at Jack and Freda, Nikki at Innabox and Jess at Loadofolbobbins to get you started. (Just some of the wonderful women that have kept me going over the last year.)
I'd love to hear your recommendations on which creatives to chat to or your Etsy tips! Come and say hello.