Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could just add your products to your Etsy shop and the sales just started rolling in?
Customers would leave you nice, positive comments.
You'd be the top shop of the search engine for your products.
If only it didn't take some major research and smart work to get there.
The market would be even more saturated if it were that simple.
You're probably wondering, how the heck can I sell over $2k?!
Well, first thing is the 1989 movie Field of Dreams has lied to us.
If you build it, they will not come.
I’m sure you’ve seen the articles and blog posts about Etsy shop owners making hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) from their Etsy shops.
I think those articles may be misleading hopeful artisans and makers.
Have you recently opened your Etsy shop with little fanfare?
Are you frustrated that you invested time and money and LOVE into your shop, but people aren’t buying?
I feel you.
I see you.
I see you in Facebook groups wondering why you’ve had your shop open for 6 months and have only had one sale.
And I see and hear you in online groups and Mastermind calls asking questions about how to get eyeballs onto your site.
The hard truth is that, as of May 2016, there were 1.6 million sellers and 35 million product listings on Etsy alone.
And that doesn’t account for all the other shops on the internet vying for buyers’ attention.
There has seemingly never been more competition for peoples’ time and attention – and keep in mind: humans have shorter attention spans than Goldfish.
None of this should discourage you, though.
Success on Etsy is possible!
But if I could just give you a smidgen of tough love – I’d like to temper your expectations a bit.
There is no one silver bullet to Etsy success.
It takes consistent time and effort.
You will need to invest money in your business to be successful.
And even if you do everything right, it will take time and patience until you’re making enough money to quit your day job.
When I opened my shop on Etsy in August 2016, I had high hopes, too.
I had been a hungry Etsy consumer for nearly 10 years, so I thought it would be the perfect platform for my handmade, all-natural, artisan beauty & personal care products.
Plus, I spent a decade as a PR and marketing executive, so I know how to sell.
I sat around for a week, looking at my phone every five minutes to see if I missed a “cha-ching!” from the Etsy seller app.
I wondered why no one (other than my mom) had purchased from me and then realized that if I wanted to make sales, I needed to get serious.
Over the next two months, I learned as much as I could, and wound up making just over $2,000.
That’s not wild, run away, Today Show success – yet.
But it’s really, REALLY good for being on Etsy for two months.
And keep in mind, I wasn’t selling on any other platform previously.
I had 0 people on my email list and no social media presence for my brand when I started.
So you may not think $2,000 is a big deal.
But in the world of Etsy sellers – that’s a very successful start.
And it means that if I stay consistent and constantly improve, I will probably be an Etsy success story over the next year.
So here are the seven things I implemented to bring in $2,000 on my first two months on Etsy.
1. Build a Brand and Invest in Photography
When I started my shop, I used Canva to make a logo and shop banner.
There is nothing wrong with using Canva for your graphics.
I still use it nearly every day.
But after perusing many other Etsy shops, it was clear that I needed something more professional if I wanted to stand out.
I hired a designer on Etsy to create this logo and all my shop’s branding, including headers and cover images.
It cost me less than $50.
I also purchased high quality stock photos and other marketing images on Etsy and Creative Market.
Then, I ordered branded product labels, stickers, business cards, and mailing inserts from Moo.
All in, this cost me maybe $100.
I didn’t have very good product photos.
I was taking them on my iPhone, in my cluttered 500 sq. foot apartment with no backdrop.
I’m so embarrassed of them that I’m not even going to show them to you in this post.
I ended up spending just over $400 on a Canon EOS Rebel DSLR camera that shoots photos and videos.
I also invested $29.99 in a white photo backdrop.
My next investment will be a light box.
Better photos and branding made a HUGE difference in my views and sales.
I went from getting maybe 20 views a week to 600-700 on average.
2. Invest in Your Business
As you can clearly see, I have invested some money into my business.
As of this writing, I have probably put $3,000 of my own money into my shop, including the camera, branding, photos, labels, packaging supplies, marketing, business services, website fees, shipping, Etsy courses, and inventory.
So that means I haven’t broken even yet.
But I know it will pay off – and soon.
The harsh reality is that it takes money to make money.
Depending on what you sell, you may not have to invest that much.
But my vision is to be making $10,000 a month on this business by the end of 2017 and to have my products stocked in local Whole Foods stores.
In order to do that, I need to take it seriously.
Which means investment.
And investments should be made wisely.
I purchased a few Etsy courses, for example.
But I researched and researched the best ones out there and took my time making the decision as to how to spend that money.
I track all of my expenditures in Freshbooks so I know exactly where my money is going.
I am conservative with my Facebook ad spend.
I only buy raw materials and supplies to make inventory when I get dangerously low.
3. Learn Etsy SEO
This is probably the most important tip of the bunch.
If you only take ONE thing away from this blog post, it’s this: Learn Etsy SEO.
I took a course on Etsy SEO and invested in a monthly subscription to Marmalead.
You can toy around Marmalead for free but I highly recommend the paid version.
It grades your shop listings, helps you brainstorm titles and tags, and gives you an easy color-coded way (red-yellow-green) to pick the best keywords.
Before I knew anything about Etsy SEO, I was using OK keywords.
Things like “natural skincare,” “lavender,” “essential oils,” “aromatherapy,” etc.
But when I got Marmalead, I realized that those weren’t actually good keywords because they’re so vague and there is a TON of competition for them.
I also learned that it’s better to use long-tail keywords (3-4 words in length) wherever possible, and to think like a buyer – what would they be searching for?
Marmalead helps me do that.
Now some of my listings are the first result on the first page of Etsy!
And most of them show up somewhere on the first or second pages.
4. Partner with Influencers
Mei talks a lot about partnering with influencers – and it works!
When I first started, I reached out to Kimberly Wilson, a blogger who owns two yoga studios and has had a thriving online business in the yoga, wellness & holistic space.
I’ve been a fan of Kimberly’s nearly a decade and knew that her audience is absolutely devoted to her, and that they might love my products, too.
I offered Kimberly free product and she LOVED it, so she posted a glowing review on her blog with a link to my shop, and I got 10 sales in the first day alone.
That was more than I’d ever seen.
And some of those people have become devoted, repeat customers of my products – even referring their friends to me!
5. Hold Social Media Sales
I learned this from Mei.
Through “Selling on Social Media,” I learned how to really amp up my social media presence.
In fact, I have grown from 700 Instagram followers to over 1,800 in a month and a half.
These flash sales have contributed several hundreds of dollars to my $2K total.
I am hosting one flash sale a week on my Facebook & Instagram pages from now until the end of 2016, and I get several sales each time I do it.
My audience LOVES it.
6. Treat Your Shop Like a Business
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not.
Do you really FEEL like a CEO?
Are you throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks – or do you have a comprehensive strategic plan?
Do you have a content calendar for your blog and social media, or just posting here and there, flying by the seat of your pants?
Do you have a plan for reaching out to boutiques and stores to buy from you wholesale?
Do you have multiple revenue streams?
Are you building & nurturing an email list with autoresponders?
Do you have a customer avatar (ideal customer) and know their wants, needs, and where they hang out online?
If any of this sounds foreign to you, it might be time to be honest with yourself.
If you want big sales on Etsy, treat it like a business instead of a hobby.
Understand that you’ll need multiple revenue streams. For me, that’s:
- Etsy and my website
- Artisan markets/Pop-Up shops with stores like West Elm, Pottery Barn, etc.
In 2017, I know what percentage of revenue should come from each of these buckets.
I have strategically planned product line launches, based on researching my ideal customer.
I have content and offers that aligns with those launches.
I have sales goals and know what strategies and tactics (and when/how to employ them) I need to achieve them.
I have made the shift to CEO.
If you need help with ANY of this stuff, I HIGHLY recommend Mei’s “A Sale a Day Business System.”
She has such a sweet & easy way of breaking these things down in a way that isn’t overwhelming.
7. Provide Stellar Customer Experiences
Finally, offer excellent customer experiences.
Consider batching your order fulfillment for certain days of the week (I do 3-4 days a week depending on volume, spread out through the week) so your customers get their packages quickly.
Take time to offer branded packaging inserts with discount codes, write handwritten thank you notes (I do these in batches also), and make the packaging look SUPER pretty.
My customers rave over this and it keeps them coming back.
I also send DIY beauty tips/tricks, and other valuable free content to my audience via email autoresponders.
Remember that it costs more money to keep a customer than it does to find a new one.
So you want them to be happy.
Plus, all those 5-star reviews provide social proof for your future customers.
All of this might sound overwhelming but know that you don’t have to do it alone.
I’m in a ton of Etsy business groups on Facebook and I found a local “Etsy bestie.”
We often partner on opportunities and events, and give each other valuable advice to grow our businesses.
It’s important to invest wisely in Etsy business courses (again, Mei is my go-to girl!) so you have the support you need to grow your businesses.
Have any of you tried these things?
What has your experience been?
Do you have any other helpful tips & tricks to add?
Share them in the comments!
Molly Beane is CEO of From Molly With Love, an artisan indie beauty brand that makes handmade, organic, all-natural personal care products.
Molly began hand-making beauty & personal care products in 2013 to eliminate her exposure to toxic chemicals. There are thousands of chemicals in the products we use every day, many of which are being absorbed directly into the body. So many of her friends started asking her to make products for them that she turned her hobby into a business in August 2016. She is passionate about enhancing peoples’ lives through health and wellness. Molly lives in San Diego with her husband and spends her time doing yoga, volunteering for environmental causes, and reading Tarot cards & numerology for fun.
If you’re interested in green & organic beauty & personal care products and would like access to subscriber-only discounts and helpful free content, sign up for her newsletter here.