Saturday, July 31, 2010

Starting An Etsy Shop: Sellers Assisting Sellers Q&A with Becky Kazana

Here is a question I've been fielding a lot lately, and not just through Sellers Assisting Sellers either. I've been hearing variations on this question at parties and through Facebook. I'm guessing many of you are interested in the answer too.

"I am considering selling on Etsy. I am hesitant to start an account because I don't know how much time I will have to keep up my site. Can you give me any advice and information about how it works? I'd greatly appreciate it!"

Vintage Jack & Beanstalk Print from More Loose Ends

The first thing I would say is that the single best resource for learning how to sell on Etsy is Etsy itself! Since the site makes more money from successful sellers, they have a powerful incentive to see you succeed and they pour a lot of effort into helping new sellers turn into all stars. This is the first place to start.

That being said, it will take time and commitment to grow your shop. I discovered Etsy three years ago and instantly fell madly in love. I set up an account immediately and started listing items that week. It took months to nab that first sale and only after a great deal of trial and error, I've finally found a niche that works for me. Although it took me three years to get to where I am, I'm really proud of how far my humble little shop has come in that time.

It's easy to get sucked into searching for one magic bullet to start your creations flying out the door. Some people have had this experience, but I suspect it to be exaggerated. There is no magic bullet- It's more like magic beans that you have to plant and water and tend and then one day, you have a tiny shoot and before you know it, your little plant starts unfurling to the sun! You will need to master a combination of skills and be diligent in applying them, even when you can't tell if they are working or not. Obviously, this takes patience.

You will have to find your own combination of magic beans, but here are some of mine:

-Beautiful Photos: This cannot be overestimated. It takes time to learn how to do it well, so be patient with yourself. Here's a post I wrote on my journey to beautiful photographs.
-Re-listing Regularly: At the moment, I do this 4 to 5 times a day. I've noticed that my sales rise in proportion to the frequency of my listing, but I've also honed in on a special niche, so it's hard to say which is the key there.
-Lightweight Items: that are inexpensive to ship, even internationally. USPS is an amazing tool. If you take the time to understand the system, it gives you an enormous advantage. Sometimes I can ship my items for under $3.
-Product I can Duplicate Precisely: This means I don't have to re-photograph and re-write a new listing for every single item. Instead, I can click re-list or renew. If you run a vintage shop or one of a kind products, you can't do this. I urge you to include the photography and listing process in the final cost of your product. It is time consuming and you have to be paid for it.
-Charging for my time: This is difficult for me because I enjoy my work so much. What I've had to learn is that just because I like doing it doesn't mean it isn't valuable. Engineers don't feel guilty about their paychecks because they like solving mechanical problems. Remember that.
-Social Networking: Twitter, Facebook & Blogging have been effective for me, but they also come very naturally to me. I am an extrovert by nature and sharing things I'm interested in is lots of fun for me. This article is a great explanation of how social networking is changing online marketing.

Please do add questions and suggestions in the comments, I'd love to hear from you successful sellers out there, as well as newbies who are looking for support and encouragement.

Etsy has really changed my life in so many ways- it has given me an outlet for my work, a community of like-minded people, validation of my craft, an education on how to be a business person in the internet age and all of this has nourished my creative process and helped it to flourish. I wish the same for all of you.

Bunch of Beans Cards by Fisk & Fern

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

My tip, is to always read tips :)

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