Building a successful and profitable business is not an easy quest and whoever decides to pursue a part- or full-time job by selling on Etsy should develop and follow his own journey. However, being an Etsy seller myself for almost two years, has taught me a great ton of useful stuff that a new aspiring Etsy seller can benefit from. If you are considering to open your own shop take a look at the tips below and you’ll save a lot of time that you’d better to spend on more creative parts of your business!
1 | DO YOUR HOMEWORK
First and foremost you’ll need to do a little searching. Unfortunately that’s not something I can do for you since every business has a different focus. However, it is really important to discover what your role in the industry will be. Search for people who do the same or similar things with you. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, see what you’d do differently if you were in their shoes and keep notes on everything you notice and you could use in your business development. The best way to reach success is to learn from people that already have it, after all.
I remember when I first launched my Etsy shop I had no clue whatsoever what I was doing, what others were doing and if my designs were something that a) would interest people and b) would stand out of the crowd. It is still really vivid the moment I received a ring I had purchased from Elephantine; in a small pretty box with a nice, handwritten note “Thank you very much for your order, Anna-Rosa :)”. I was totally smitten by that note guys. I mean I loved the ring as well, but that note made the difference. I instantly put a face on the maker behind the piece I was wearing. I cannot say for sure what Rachel’s thoughts were behind her decision to include a handwritten note in her packaging, but I can assure you that this decision is part of her brand. Is something that makes her stand out of other fine jewelry designers.
2 | DEFINE YOUR LEVERAGE
The next and really important step is to define your strengths and make clear in your business plan what will make you stand out of the people who discovered in the first step. Please note you don’t need to discover something that no one else has ever done before, to make your business a successful one. Chances are that when many people do something successfully, the market has the corresponded need for their product. Of course if you have a breakthrough idea it will be amazing, but don’t try to define your brand differently only in order to to do something new. You will become different by working your way to the top, discovering your own methods of success. By all means, I don’t mean that you should copy whatever other business owners do, I just believe that if you want to make wooden jewelry boxes for example you shouldn’t shift your focus and use ivory instead, only because there are others who use wood as well. Don’t be overwhelmed by the fact that other people love what you love too, embrace the fact that you’re not alone.
Here, I want to stress out that copying is bad. You really need to find your own voice and stand by it. I really love connecting with fellow creatives, learn from them, share our stories and journeys, but I don’t appreciate when I stumble upon “creatives” that clearly copy others. I’ve stumbled upon many copycats and it is foolish to believe that people won’t notice. So, please, be inspired by others’ work and journey but not copy what you see. Of course when I saw Rachel’s handwritten note I did the same for a while – I stopped because I have a terrible character – but that is ok. I was inspired by the way she connects with her customers, I didn’t copy her ring design. Try to remind yourself that.
3 | CONNECT WITH SIMILAR BUSINESS OWNERS
Which leads to my third advice. There are hundreds of people out there doing what you do. As I mentioned above, that is not a bad thing. One of the greatest mistakes we do when we start our businesses is that we feel intimidated by others who are in the same field longer than us and have accomplished more. Of course they have guys! They’re on business for a longer time, they have made their mistakes, they learned and figured out how to develop a profitable strategy. Nothing is done overnight, believe me. So, please remind yourself that Etsy is all about people and dare to connect with them. Most probably they were in your place, with the same questions, when they started. Of course you should always be prepared that they might not want to connect with you as well, but it is always worth the try. Be polite, explain why you’re contacting them and make clear that you admire their work and business progress. Don’t look as a stalker or a weirdo though, ok? Be friendly, it is only a human thing to socialize. And you’ll be surprised by how much people enjoy to mentor or help others.
4 | BE ALWAYS HELPFUL AND RESPOND QUICKLY
Speaking of politeness and helpfulness. For some reason that I’ve never understood, some business owners don’t respond to their messages. I know it might come as a surprise but I’ve experienced more that thrice Etsians not getting back to me while I had contacted them with inquires that would lead to a purchase from their shop. Of course, I cannot blame them because I have no idea what was going on in their lives. But I think it is be more appropriate to switch your shop’s vacation mode on for a while, if you’re not able to handle it. For me it is a golden rule to respond to messages and emails from potential customers asap. Being helpful and kind is the first thing that leads to a good customer review. Of course the product plays the leading role when it comes to reviews, but being kind and letting your customers connect your brand with a person rather than a computer is of super high importance. Help your clients put a face on your business and let that face be a kind one.
5 | PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS
Now…as I said, while your product is playing the leading role, there are several other details you should pay attention to, in order to communicate a consistent brand identity. Try thinking of what elements build first impressions. Logo. Brand name. Brand description. Photos. Prices. And so forth. All these combined are the first thing people see when they enter your shop. And unfortunately you should work on each and every one of these aspects to build a strong image of your business. You won’t need rocket science, believe me. You won’t need to pay other people to do everything for you either. You’ll just need to work with what you have in the most efficient way. BUT, you’ll need to do everything. I will stress everything out in a second post because I have many things to say on the topic, with many ways to accomplish each task in the most affordable and efficient way, but till then try to keep your expenses to the minimum. Find a catchy but not too difficult name, keep you image simple, your photos neat and clear and try not to be too cheap nor expensive.
6 | KEEP TRACK OF YOUR FINANCES
A very often mistake new small business owners do, included myself when I started, is that we don’t realize which part of the money that comes our way is actually ours to spend and how much we should save for future expenses, Etsy and PayPal fees and taxes. Unfortunately, many of us cannot afford paying an accountant 5 days a week only to keep track of our expenses and income. Try not to get confused when you see the balance on your PayPal account and always try to remind yourself than “only” a part of it is yours. A couple of great tips to accomplish that is a) to have a separate business account where you’ll save all the money that come from your shop and b) to have a standard “salary” every month so that you don’t mess up and spend more than you should.
BONUS TIP : Starting your own Etsy shop might sound overwhelming in the beginning and that’s the main reason I’m writing this post. I was totally overwhelmed when I started. I took crappy photos of my products, I hardly had a logo or a consistent strategy. But I figured it out somehow. And I still am. But I’ve learned one thing that you should always remind yourself: THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME TO OPEN YOUR SHOP, JUST DO IT AND EVERYTHING WILL COME YOUR WAY NATURALLY. And I mean it. All the tips above will be useful only if you start acting now. Don’t delay your success and progress by striving for perfection. If I had waited for everything to be ready, I’d probably still be working on it.
Any great tips you’ve discovered? I’d love to know!