I want to help you build a sustainable, profitable handmade business that makes you consistent income and sales. I only ever teach or recommend marketing, social media, pricing, production and branding tips that I’ve personally used successfully in my own 7-figure handmade businesses.
I'm Mei, from Los Angeles!
starting a business
get more traffic
running a business
make more sales
growing a business
mindset & productivity
pricing & money
selling on etsy
selling on amazon
We’ve been on Etsy for almost two years and made SO CLOSE to a million dollars in sales.
In this post, I’ll share with you a month-to-month breakdown of how much money we made every month, what happened during key months, why it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, and read to the end of the post where I share more on how we became successful so quickly. We started selling on Etsy in July of 2020.
So for the first month, we made $2310.50.
So let’s stop there and talk about what happened during this phase.
We found success on Etsy very quickly and the only reason for that is because we had already been selling on our own website for months before we started our shop on Etsy.
In other words, we were selling products we knew were in demand and were working well for us.
The mistake I see a lot of people make is that they start on Etsy first instead, with products that have not yet been validated for sales, so it becomes an uphill battle.
For us, we had one less thing to worry about, which is our product, because we knew people liked it.
That allowed us to focus on everything else to get sales coming in, like optimizing our product listings, keyword research, and how to stand out in Etsy search.
So what I recommend my students do is always start with your own shop first, and yes, it’s harder that way, but that’s how you build a strong foundation that you can then apply to any platform and it’ll do well.
As I’ll mention later, there’s a lot that’s out of your control with an Etsy shop, which is why you don’t want it to be your main source or only source of income.
We start off really strong and started making five-figure sales right off the bat, and it’s looking like our first holiday season would be really amazing on Etsy.
But then we ran into some issues.
The first issue was later in October, we had a competitor shop file a DMCA claim on all of our products which resulted in our entire shop getting shut down for 14 days.
DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act which protects intellectual property.
So you’ll see here that we had no money coming in from our Etsy shop.
DMCA is unfortunately a weapon that anyone can use against your Etsy shop even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
The process to file a DMCA claim against another Etsy shop is not monitored and people can lie when they fill in a report.
And once a report is submitted, your listings automatically get shut off.
It was really painful for us because we didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t copy their products. In fact, it turned out they ended up copying some of ours.
And there was nothing we could do about it but to wait the 14 days.
When our shop came back up, we started making sales quickly again because thankfully, it was November and people were shopping for holiday gifts.
We should have made at least twice the amount we did if our shop had not been shut down for half the month.
Now, the second issue that happened was after the first week of December.
Etsy Trust and Safety removed our shop’s visibility for having too many open orders.
So, this is Etsy themselves preventing us from taking any new orders.
And the reason we have so many open orders is that our products are all personalized and every single one goes through a review and approval process with the customer.
As you can imagine, that extends the time that we can send the artwork to our printer to get fulfilled and shipped out. Customers don’t always get back to us in a timely manner either.
Apparently, Etsy does this with a lot of newer shops that get a lot of traffic and it’s their way of making sure we don’t overextend ourselves.
I got that, but this was really frustrating because we were doing everything right on our end, but getting penalized for things out of our control and we were literally forced to stop taking orders.
We had no choice.
At this time of the year, our holiday cut-off date was going to be three days later anyway, but Etsy made that decision for us.
Our shop didn’t get shut down completely at this point as you can see, but our listings were being suppressed from showing up on Etsy searches or Etsy ads.
We were still making some sales as people had direct links to our listings or our items were already in people’s carts.
So let’s move on to the next phase of our timeline here.
All right, let’s pause here and talk about what happened.
The holiday season is over so it’s normal for the new year to be slower in sales.
Nothing to be concerned with here.
The big dip that we experienced in April and May though, was two additional DMCA claims, by the same competitor shop from the last year, which took our shop down for almost an entire month.
So our first year on Etsy was filled with quite a few stressful events that were out of our control.
It was way more drama than I could handle so my husband took care of it.
Thankfully, our next year with Etsy goes a lot more smoothly.
After the DMCA claims, it takes a bit of time to get our shop up to speed with the same momentum it had before.
This is another reason why I tell people to avoid putting their shop on vacation mode because they are losing out on that momentum which is important for the algorithm.
But once it gets going, we have a smooth rest of the year with an amazing holiday season, hitting an all-time high of $79k in November.
And keep in mind, this is just our Etsy shop, which doesn’t include sales numbers from our own website.
The new year rolls around and sales go down again, as usual.
So let’s talk about what you’re probably wondering, which is how we can make five figures every month on Etsy.
Keep in mind that all of what I’m going to share with you goes back to the fact that we already had a strong foundation.
We weren’t learning as we go, we started off having really high standards for each of these things.
The first is product photos. We spend a lot of time making our product photos look good, unique, and stand out from the competition.
Most of our photos are mockups but we’re not using the same mockups that everyone else is using because you’re not going to stand out that way.
We also make our own mockups and I did an entire photoshoot and hired a couple to be our models as well.
If you sell art and you’re using mockup photos, I highly recommend you focus on this area in your business if you want to level up.
The second thing that really helped us was product design.
We spend a lot of time designing our products to make sure they really look good and be something we can be proud of.
So really work on your product design so that it can be the best and it will pay off.
Having said that, don’t confuse that sentiment with thinking that if you build a great product, people will just come flocking to you.
Because it’s with great product photos and this next thing, is what helped a beautiful product get seen by people.
And that is, we were able to take advantage of high volume, high competition keywords from the beginning for our product listings.
This is not usually recommended for newer shops, but as I keep saying over and over again, we had a strong foundation and that’s why we were able to compete and do well with more popular keywords that are traditionally harder to compete in.
We have great photos, great product descriptions, great products, great prices, great packaging, and branding.
These are the 5P’s that are so important for any business to have, and I talk about it more in a free workshop that I teach.
If you’re interested to learn more, you can sign up here.
We also worked incredibly hard to provide our customers with the best service possible, which in turn, created a phenomenal review rate.
We get 25% of our customers leaving wonderful reviews on our Etsy shop, whereas the average shop gets only about 13% of their customers to leave reviews.
Those reviews certainly help us make more sales, but it’s proof that we go over and beyond to make our customers happy.
To give you an example, this just happened today, a customer calls our customer service line and my husband picks up the phone.
She says she ordered from our shop but the art print arrived a little bit crumpled and it’s for a birthday party happening next week.
My husband could have gotten the print reprinted by our print-on-demand printer but there’s a high chance it won’t arrive on time.
So instead, he finds the nearest Kinko’s to our customer, calls the store and sends the art file directly to them, and pays for the printing fees out of pocket.
He then emailed the customer to tell her when she could pick up her new print.
Who does that?!
We strive to give our people the best experience possible and as a result, you can bet they’re going to tell their friends about us, and think of us first the next time they shop for gifts again.
I hope you found this post helpful! I know these sound like really large sales numbers but keep in mind that we have a team supporting the business, fulfilling orders, and providing customer service.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you want to share what resonated with you in this post.
Thanks for reading! Don’t also forget to check out my YouTube Channel so that you can stay up to date on the latest advice for your handmade business.
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This workshop is for anyone who makes and sells a handmade or physical product, including jewelry designers, artists, paper designers, bath & body product makers and more!
The #1 mistake people make with Etsy & social media that causes shops to FLOP
The secret to making it with your handmade shop so it's no longer just a hobby
How to make sales in your handmade shop with ease so you can finally get to 6-figures
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Thanks for your honest advice. I will take note of these. great article, keep contributing good articles!
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