Thursday, February 11, 2010

Etsy Lessons for a Newbie (REVISED)

I wrote this over a year ago. I know that there was a good response to it, and thought I would update it and repost...just in case there are any new Etsians, trying to get their start.
First of all what is an Etsian? Etsian (et-c-ann): 1) an artisan (crafter) who has located the handmade site Etsy, and has grown obsessed with it. 2) an artisan (crafter) who has become intwined in a community of artisans (crafters) on 3) an artisan (crafter) who may at times get frustrated with getting their shop or business noticed on .

Well, I started my first etsy shop, BubbaRye, on Etsy Feb 19th, 2008 (although my stats says earlier, this is when I became active). That shop closed in 2009 with 272 sales.
On July 11th, 2008, I officially opened my second shop Lilac Ave, which now has 370 sales. It was 100 times easier to get Lilac Ave up and running, knowing what I learned from opening the Bubba and Rye shop.
I am not claiming to be an expert, or an Etsy hot seller, but I do ok, and there are things I have found that worked. Here are those tips:

1. Your photos are so hugely important!!!!
I went to the critique section in the forums many times over and kept being told my photos were too dark. I tried EVERYTHING!!!! Finally these things ended up being the key for me:
- use the macro setting on your camera if your items are smaller It is the tulip shaped button on your camera.
- take your photos in natural light or in a light box. I do not mean in direct full sun, this will make a glare, and huge shadows. Try different places around your house until you find your sweet spot. However a light box can do wonders, and I recommend that for jewelry photos. Instructions to make one are available through and online search.
- If you don't have Adobe photoshop for photo editing, Picasa is a god send! Go to google and search for picasa. It is a free photo editing program by google and can make a fantastic difference. Maker sure to crop, and give "I'm feeling lucky" a whirl. You'll see a major difference.

2. Scream it from the rooftops!
Send out a Grand Opening email to everyone you know! Most will be very supportive, and even if they don't buy from you, they can talk about you to other people. Even their sheer knowledge that Etsy exists, can be a help. There is not a person, place, animal, rock, that I haven't talked to about Etsy. You'll find as the obsession grows this is a very easy task, and someone may tell you to shut it at some point.
I also make sure EVERY site I go onto has my shop in my signature, and EVERY email that goes out. You'd be surprised how many people click.

3. Be part of the Etsy Community.
Go to , then go to community, and there are our forums, where so many questions can be answered and info by experienced sellers read. There is also a teams section. There may be a team for you. I am part of the Etsy Homefront Team, which is for military spouses. Not only are these teams a great support, but also help you attack promotion as a team, rather than by yourself. Together you can create treasuries to get noticed. Alot of times you team will help promote you too. This helps a lot since they may have a totally differnet pool of people to promote to.

4. Get your product seen.
This is best done by listing or renewing daily. This helps get your items to the top of the search category and getting new eyes on your product daily. I see it as an invitation to your shop. Having a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account, can also help you gear attention to new listings, sales, etc.
You also want to study your views and hearts. The most awesome tool is Majaba...Mah-who-ba? (aka as Craftcult). It is a website to help you track views on items, to see how much your views increased after promoting.
In addition, there is also Google analytics. Look at "web analytics" on the left hand side of your shop page.
It's important to use these to see what is working. Is that ad you put on a website bringing in traffic. Did someone blog about you, and that is bringing traffic? Is your SEO bringing in views from google searches. Is renewing and promoting giving you a view bump?
As a can go to to see if anyone has blogged or talked about your shop in a social network.
Also if at some point you decide to promote via sale, try Saturday Night Specials...also known as SNS. This is a group of Etsians that promote in the promo section. Imagine 20-100 people all promoting the same promo thread. It is a good way to kind of have strength in number to help people find your sale. Here is info on SNS:
You can find the Frequently Asked Questions here

5. The more the merrier.
In both shops business increased after I had more than 30 items in the shop. Even better after 50 items. Even better after 100 items! Why? Because your customers have choices. They feel like they are shopping and are sure about their purchase when they check out. I know this sounds unimportant, but it really does matter, it somehow gives the perception of established, professional business. Imagine if you walked into a boutique and there were 10 items for sale, how likely are you to buy, versus if you had 100 choices?

6. Get in touch Locally!
See if there are any craft shows in the area. Any shops that sell consignment or wholesale. Maybe even get a group of friends and their friends together for a home show. It's worth a try. Some of these work well and some don't, but no matter what, you are meeting people, learning, and making local connections.
I used to not heed this so much. But I was lucky enough to really get out there last year, and found that local business can attribute to 30% of my business. That's worth a try, isn't it?

All this info is for you to take in and digest, and spit back out the right formula for your shop. These are the things that have helped me, and will hopefully help in your Etsy business as well.


  1. good as it was the first time :)

  2. Nice!! I hope people get a lot of use out of this!

  3. All great advice for newbies. And I think a lot of people don't realize how much poor photos is hurting their chances for sales.