Opening an Etsy shop can be as frivolous or intensive experience as you want it to be. It really depends on how serious the craft business is to you.
If you’re looking to make Etsy an important part of your business there are HEAPS of articles available. A simple Google search or even better a browse around the Etsy forums or The Storque will give you lots of information on every aspect you can think of. Following links from all of the posts currently out there will keep you occupied for days and I’m also more than happy to answer any specific questions you’ve got about the points in this post, or your shop in general.
With all that information on hand and your Etsy Sellers Handbook on the ready I don’t feel like there is any real need for me to go into depth about starting a shop. So here’s a brief guide to getting started with some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far.
What are you called?
First things first. Once you’ve chosen your product, and assessed if there is a market (knitwear FYI doesn’t tend to do well on Etsy, and there is already a saturated jewellery market so yours better have a unique point) you’ll need to pick a name. If you’re already an Etsy member and you signed up with a name that has nothing to do with your brand then you’re going to have to sign up again sorry. Hopefully you have a different email address you can assign your old login to so you can sign up again, if not you’ll need to contact Etsy direct to get them to close your other login. Login names can’t contain any spaces so if you’ve got more than one word in your name start them all with capital letters. It makes it easier to read. Mine is CupcakesAndMace.
Search around Etsy and the web to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s brand. Think of something memorable, easy to spell, and potentially a good search term. If you’re a blogger you’ll be familiar with this process as you would have had to do it when you came up with your blog name or domain name.
What do you look like?
Next you’ll need to create a banner and avatar. Along with your shop name and product photos these will be how Etsy users identify you and your brand. It’s better to use one of your best product photos as your avatar and not a picture of yourself. When you participate in the Etsy forum other members will see your picture and a great product shot might entice them to check out your wares.
What will you do?
Get your policies sorted before you start listing product. Which countries are you going to ship to, are you/can you offer wholesale and if so what are your terms, what happens if something gets lost or broken in the post, is insurance extra, how will you accept payment, when do you expect payment, can you do custom or altered pieces? There are lots of things to think about and you can’t expect people to stick around if you don’t have an answer for them.
How will you present yourself?
Make sure you have your packaging sorted before you make your first sale. It needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the brutalities of any one of the worlds postal systems. Little known fact is that postal workers jump on piles of packages for fun. Make your package waterproof, address it correctly with a return address and include all necessary custom documentation. Don’t bow to pressure to fudge these documents because it could get you into some trouble.
What are you worth?
Pricing is very controversial but very important. I have a spreadsheet that I use to price my work and it’s something you should definitely think about too. It should take into account the cost of materials, packaging and fees. How long it takes to create, making sure to include time for taking photographs, trips to the post shop, listing the item and any other time you spend working. Multiply that time by your hourly rate. Add on your expected profit percentage. And you have your wholesale rate.
This is the rate you’ll sell to wholesale customers, people with their own business who will resell your items for profit. Standard practice is that wholesale is 50% of retail price, and wholesale customers will have to buy a certain amount from you to get the discount.
The wholesale rate is not the price you use on Etsy. You’ll need to multiply your wholesale rate by two to get your retail price. This is the price you’ll sell on Etsy for. Hopefully it meets current market expectations or is unique enough to sell at whatever price you’ve come up with. If it’s too expensive and you’re looking to make money you might need to reconsider your product, the materials, or the discount you give to wholesalers. Don’t ever sell yourself short though. Even if you’re doing this as a hobby remember that others are doing it for a living and if you undersell them too much they’ll get bitter.
How do I find you?
The title, description, and tags in Etsy are all very important as well. Searching on Etsy is defaulted to searching through titles and tags. Make sure your title is descriptive (but doesn’t look like a spammy list of search terms) and use all 14 of your tags! Use them, every time!
The most important thing of all in my opinion is your photos. People like to buy things from professionals, if your photos look good they will automatically make your product seem more valuable and professional. Show your product from every necessary angle. You need to show the customer what they would see if they were holding your product.
Great photos might also get you featured in blogs, and on the Etsy home page.
Alright so now you know the basics, you need to go ahead and do it. If you have any questions or would like a post on a specific point of selling on Etsy let me know in the comments.