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Sunday, November 29, 2009

JBT's FREE Etsy Guide to Selling

Rule Number 1
Unless it's my guide to Etsy you do not need a crappy guide!!! LOL

Okay, let's get business serious now. When you want to make money and sell, you go to eBay. When you want to wear fingerless gloves, stare at wide eyed girl pics, and play with clay, you set up shop on Etsy.

So what's next?

Easy Peasy Etsy Selling Guide

Feedback First

You need to buy! You need to get some positive feedback and you need to get it ASAP. Do not let your shop sit w/items and no feedback for too long. No one wants to buy w/out feedback. You should also do a PIF = Pay it Forward. *Side note, I am really sick to my stomach that some people are charging shipping/reduced prices and calling it a PIF. PIF is a FREE listing that you purchase or list. You cover the entire $.20, shipping, and purchase yourself as a seller. As a buyer you should do nothing but purchase and pass it on to someone else.  We all have some material or small project laying around that we can do this with. Why not spread the good will in the Etsy community and acquire some great feedback in the process!

Time To Set Up Shop

List away! List up to 2 pages or more and flood the Time Machine with new items. Do this daily at different times as much as your product allows. Use all of the Etsy categories to define shopping parameters. Put every single bit of info. in your Title so that search can find you easier. Also, use ALL the tags Etsy gives you for individual listings. Have a short and sweet description that includes stats, measurements, colors, and sizing. Etsians are really smart about components, gemstones, etc. They know price, quality, and if you are listing incorrectly, so do your homework.

Prices, prices, prices:( I don't care what anyone else tells you, if you start out pricing your items way above the Etsy average you will have no sales. Unless we know you, the quality of your work, and you have been hanging out for a while, no one will pay more to shop w/you yet. What you can do in the meantime is maybe put realistic prices ranging from low to high. Still pay yourself well for your time, labor, etc. but don't go overboard and give yourself $15 an hour for charms on hooks, k?

Take fab pictures! Not as hard as it sounds and this is the one that really freaks people out. Have a digital camera? Great! Get out some white paper, throw it down on a hard desk or table, position lights everywhere, and click away. Now at this point your pic may suck. So use Photoshop, Gimp, or whatever you have, and fix those pics up! I crop as close as possible, bright/contrast, and replace the bad background color. I have recently acquired a cheap lightbox and it's amazing! There are a million web tutorials to make your own so don't despair if the white paper/desk/photoshop thing doesn't work for you. Notes on this, no walls, surfaces, or aunt whoever in the photo w/your item. Jewelry on people is gross for a lot of us, so buy a mannequin, jewelry stand, or just lay flat. I don't like seeing models either, but that's my personal preference.

Promote your a$$ off till it hurts!!

Okay kiddies, now the real work starts. And you thought it would be fun to work from home at the Etsy office, ha, ha, there's something you don't know... Your gonna have to make your own market! That's right, Daddy Etsy is not your publicity agent and we won't go there here saying what I think about that:( Any hoo, you need to get out of the fresh air for at least 2 full days and after that daily to achieve the start of your promo journey.

List of Promotional Ideas That I Personally Think Work

You have to get a blog and it should be blogspot if you are new to the blogging world. It's super easy and you can use it w/all types of advertising and html. Why do I need a blog you say? Well, wait till you realize that you can't exchange links, add graphics or coding, or pics to your Etsy shop. Remember what I told you about Daddy Etsy?? So you need somewhere to dump all your ad cr#p. A free blog is the perfect place for the new blogger.

Another Tara Tip - Search Engine Directories are not only there for personal websites, they can work for you too. There are quick submission sites all over the web to put in your Etsy link to different directories, lists, and search engines. No reciprocal link back is required and hey, it's free:) You can also do this for your blog.
Project Wonderful

Stuff I Think Doesn't Work

Don't spread yourself too thin in the Etsy advertising world and pay to advertise everywhere. You will not stand out doing showcases on Etsy. There has been much discussion on this over the years and most Etsians agree it is a waste of money. Your time would be better spent on the forums or getting a treasury. At least that way you might make front page, (get your  moustaches, cowls, and other uninspired crap that is trendy if you want to stand out in a sea of sheep). Other places that I find silly to advertise on are all the Etsy offshoots that give you code, info., etc. People aren't going there to look at your ads, they want to check up on their own business.

Tara Tip #2 - Do NOT send your wares to bloggers, magazines, and stores online/offline, who say they want to promote you. Unless it is Vogue, Nordstrom, Martha Stewart, or Covergirl, you will not win in this situation. Reputable people, (such as moi), would never ask a wonderful artist to send items to receive something in return. I only promote people here that have obvious talent.

And back to the marketing section:)

Yay! You have a blog now and it's time for the real fun. Do you suck at writing? It's okay, let your blog write for you! Feature some wonderful artists and yourself weekly. Make your own treasuries or show other peoples items. Exchange links with other Etsy bloggers to spread your blog love, sign up on every promo thread about blogs, and remember to start your own thread as soon as you begin blogging. Spruce up your blog by using your good friend Google for templates. It's always more fun to read a blog that reflects someone's personal style.

Blog/Website Paid Advertising

Project Wonderful The only place on the web where you can advertise for pennies a week. One time I put $5 on my account and stretched it for 3 months! PW ads not only get your name out there when you promote yourself, but listing them on your blog can be great marketing too.

There are a ton of other programs, entrecard, adgitize, etc. But please don't blow too much money on this or crowd your blog w/lots of unseemly advertising. It could get ugly and expensive.

How about your own domain? Even better, your own off Etsy site. Another fab dumping ground for all that is internet you. If you don't want your own site you can always buy a domain name and forward it to Etsy.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace

These are fun, but I don't use any of them anymore and I've had no slowdown in sales since I returned in mid September to Etsy. Having 2000 Facebook friends doesn't guarantee you any more sales then just hanging out at the mall w/fliers. They have friends too and most of them sell what you are selling! The complexity of keeping up w/all these sites can become more work than your actual shop. This is my own opinion, I'm sure others have different experiences.


Another, I don't care what other people say, this is the way I think you should do it. I personally do not want dirty used Ziplock bags, newspaper, or cereal boxes surrounding my purchases. Recycle on your own time and spend some money for shipping. There is no reason to force your dirty old stuff on others. If you want people to believe handmade is just as good as retail and has the same quality, why are using the recycling bin to show off your wares? Please, if nothing else use some jewelry bags or tissue paper. Maybe even recycled tissue paper? You can always put something in your listing that states you will remove the pricey packaging and substitute the recycled if they prefer.

Do not list what you don't have in stock. If you don't have the materials to make more, wait. Suppliers are notorious for slow, late, or loss of stock. You can only rely on yourself in this game. Also, you do not want to get behind on items when sales get going. So setting yourself up for a day of making 100 domino pendants is not ideal. Yes, this happened to me. Make it first before listing I say!

Please ship quickly unless it is a customized item. This goes with what I just talked about in the previous paragraph. Unless you have 2 assistants and a B&M shop, why are you so behind in making products you've already listed? It's okay to have certain P.O. days or rules about certain size or custom related listings. But if someone is buying a pre made journal, why does it take you 3 weeks to ship domestically?

International shipping is a must. You will upset people on Etsy if you do not offer this and it's super easy to accomplish. Have your local post office employee talk you through it the first time and from then on you're fine:) Please don't make your customers convo you for international info, 9 times out of 10 you have just lost their sale. When you set shipping prices stick to them and do not refund a customer's money for over paid shipping. What about handling? Your time, packaging, etc. Shipping should be slightly higher to incorporate these things.

I've go to get some fresh air now, but I'll try and add some more thoughts to this list later.

Selling Super Stuff


Nicole Bergman said...

"Do not list what you don't have in stock"
... ah, I learned this the hard way. Never again! ;)

Great tips though- I really enjoyed reading this post.

Jessica McCarty said...

You lost me when you said anyone can do a PIF and then listed your rules.

There are no official rules to PIF's on Etsy and not everyone has to cost to cover materials, shipping, listing, etc.

Selling an item at the listing fee and exact shipping is very generous and is a PIF, in my opinion.

You would do well to write help guides in a non-biased form.

Jewelry by Tara said...

Jessica McCarty This is a free off Etsy blog w/my personal opinions. It is more than fine w/me how you do your PIF's. I have been selling online/offline for 11 years and sold on Etsy for 4 years w/3 shops. This is how I've learned it. If I was doing an official Etsy blog then I would have stated their rules. As you probably already know, Etsy does not endorse PIF's or get involved w/transactions dealing w/them.

Other than that, not sure what to tell you. This is my blog and it's biased. That's why I am not posting this info. on Etsy.

Have a great day!

Jewelry by Tara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mangogyrl said...

Tara, thank you for taking the time to write this and HELP people for FREE when people charge for this kind of information. Take what you like and leave the rest, just like anything else. This is a personal blog so I think the owner of the blog has every right to post their personal thoughts and ideas for success. For someone who has over 1000 sales, you must be doing something right!

AMIdesigns said...

thanks for taking the time to do this helpful and funny piece.

would write more but am running off to make the items that I've listed but don't have in stock :D