How to set up an Etsy store that instantly draws in customers and makes you big money, from people who did it
There are almost five million active buyers on the marketplace Etsy, making it the perfect platform for sellers looking to attract customers to their shops. Real sellers reveal the secrets to setting up a profile that garners plenty of attention and revenue. Their tips include making your products super search friendly by using popular keywords and descriptive tags. They also recommended focusing heavily on photography and making sure your photos clearly show what your product is, how it works, and what its uses are. Finally, you'll want to become an active member of the community to learn from experts in the space, as well as set robust shop policies that answer all your customers' urgent questions and concerns. Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Founded in 2005, Etsy is now the premier global online marketplace for both handcrafted creations and vintage treasures. Featuring a staggering 66 million items for sale, it's no wonder the platform's 2.8 million active sellers often seek advice on the best ways to garner the attention of the 4.7 million active buyers searching the site for unique and creative goods. Registering your shop is free and listing a single product costs just 20 cents. But after that, there's a host of contributing factors you'll need to consider that'll determine whether your shop is booming with sales or a virtual ghost town. Business Insider spoke with several key members of the Etsy community to share everything you need to know to run a successful Etsy shop. Optimize your shop and listings for Etsy's search engine When Isabella Diaz needed to pay for college in 2013, she turned to Etsy, opening her own shop to sell handmade floral crowns for special occasions. While she still manages her own virtual storefront, today she's an Etsy employee, serving as a community education specialist for the platform. According to Diaz, the No. 1 tip to set yourself up for success is learning how to optimize your shop and product listings for the platform's internal search engine. "Your listing titles should be descriptive but also easy to read so buyers can quickly understand what you're selling. You want to be thinking, 'What would someone type into the search bar when shopping for this item?'" she said. She recommended that sellers come up with the two or three most relevant phrases to describe their product. "And while it can be tempting to use a style name in your title, it's not usually helpful for search placement. Instead, I'd suggest putting that in the listing description," she added. Beyond your listing title, there's also the matter of tags, a word or phrase that describes your item. Each listing allows a maximum of 13 tags, and Diaz suggested using them all. "Aim to use compound, descriptive phrases instead of single words, and when working on your tags, think about your product's finer details, like your item's style, specific colors, texture and size, themes, and motifs," said Diaz, who shared the following tag examples: stud earring set, ceramic coffee mug, and gift for teacher. Lafayette, Louisiana-based Jill Foreman of Jill Makes, who sells what she refers to as handmade jewelry for upbeat people, said that around the holidays and specific events she includes special tags, "keeping in mind what consumers are shopping for and not just describing the item." A quick peek at her site, which has over 32,000 sales since opening in 2013, and you'll notice identifying tags like bridesmaid gift, gift for her, DIY gift, new mom, Mother's Day, and Valentine's Day, which can all assist in a shopper's search.
For more detailed information on how Etsy's search engine works and to learn helpful optimization strategies, you can refer to the "Etsy Seller Handbook," "Keywords 101," and "Using Tags to Get Found in Search" guides. Take a variety of photos to help shoppers understand your product better "When it comes to products you can't touch or feel prior to purchasing, the power of a good photograph might just be the difference in a sale or not," said Jahje Ives, owner of Baby Jives Co. shop. Her shop was born when she couldn't find an alternative to the ubiquitous plastic nursery mobiles with flashing lights for her first child's bedroom and wound up pulling out her grandmother's sewing machine and making what's now her popular bird mobile.
Ives, who has close to 4,000 sales under her belt, art directs and styles all her shoots in her home while working in tandem with a professional photographer. Others like Foreman, who has layout and style experience, use a Nikon 7000, along with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and a lightbox, to create her product images.
Diaz suggested reviewing "Etsy's Ultimate Guide to Product Photography," which outlines a variety of photo styles to help customers gain a well-rounded understanding of your products. Some of the most popular shots include:
Studio shot: A clear image that shows off the product in natural light with a plain background. This should be the first image of your featured product, according to Diaz. Lifestyle shot: An image of the product in its intended use. This shot sets a scene, bringing your product to life. Scale shot: This shot is meant to properly convey size, dimensions, and the proportions of your product. A common example is a product featured next to a coin. This type of image can help eliminate sizing questions and product returns down the road. Detail shot: A close-up shot that focuses on the details of the product (i.e., the engraving on a pendant, the interior lining of a handbag, the intricate pattern of a scarf) Packaging shot: This type of shot allows shoppers to gain a better understanding of your shop's branding and can also help them see what a great gift your product could make. "All our items are packaged with intention and care. Everything is a gift," said Ives, who includes sticker labels and cards with artwork with all her items.
Put in place clear shop policies Once you're ready to open your shop to the public, be sure to have your shop's policies in place. Policies cover everything from shipping to payments to returns and can help a potential buyer come to a decision on whether or not to move forward with a purchase. Buyers are often turned off by a seller who doesn't list policies, costing you a potential sale, and Etsy encourages and rewards transparency by giving a slight ranking boost to those shops with policies in place. Foreman said one policy that works for her shop is standing behind the quality of their items. "If an item breaks within a certain amount of time of purchase, we are happy to replace the item because we want them to love it," she said. Yvonne Leung opened the virtual doors to her Etsy shop Cardtorial, now Hereafter LA, in 2012 to sell the laser-cut wood cards she designed and made in her parent's garage as a side gig while working a corporate job. Today, her California-based team of seven, who are all immigrant women or the children of immigrants, has sold over 30,000 wood items.
When it comes to her shop policies, she said there's no one size fits all: "We have policies, but I actually find that ultimately, it works best to have the policy to help guide the decision," she said. "Since each case varies, we always need to take into consideration context and situation to come to the decision that feels right for the particular situation."
For example, she said they typically don't make custom single items because her shop doesn't have the capacity to take these sort of projects on. "If, however, somebody comes to us with a very clear and straightforward request with a particularly great cause, and we happen to have the capacity to work on it, it's something we may consider!" she said. Use Etsy resources and become an active part of the community Etsy has a robust catalog of resources and ways to get involved in the platform's community, ranging from forums that allow sellers to connect with one another, teams where one can join forces and collaborate with other sellers, and the "Etsy Success Podcast," launched in 2017 and offering tips and inspiration from fellow sellers and Etsy experts like Diaz. "When a new Etsy feature is released, I check the forums for updates from staff because I always want to understand and take advantage of anything they offer," said Foreman. "Etsy is in this to help their sellers win," added Ives, who joined a team upon opening her shop in 2010 and still counts some of her closest friends amongst her teammates. "We would often ask each other business advice and share each other's shops on social media to help cross promote and drive new eyes and customers to one another's shops," she said. Be open to new possibilities — experiment, pivot, and innovate All of the sellers we spoke to shared a similar mindset when it came to, as Leung put it, "the constant evolution of improvement." By experimenting, Ives has learned more about what her customers want and don't want to buy from her shop. She's gone from a line of handmade mobiles to successfully expanding into organic cotton swaddles, hair accessories, and other keepsakes. She's also added and then eliminated a line of t-shirts for mothers when she realized people weren't coming to her shop to shop for themselves — they were there to buy things for their babies. "Knowing who my customers are and who they are shopping for is really important when I am developing new products," said Ives.
Foreman pivoted from her initial shop selling decorated Toms shoes to opening her popular jewelry line, while Leung went through a complete rebrand last year. Leung's first shop in 2012, Cardtorial, "started with a simple idea — a unique wooden card made to last," she said. "We made things we hoped people would want to give. Our rebrand allowed us to better communicate our purpose and vision with clearer messaging and a more organic story along with new brand colors, a new logo, and a new website/Etsy storefront, all designed to reflect who we are now as Hereafter LA." Foreman added, "Your goal should be to create a brand, not just a product, and that doesn't happen on day one. You need to test what works and what doesn't, adjust and move forward accordingly from there. It's an ongoing process, where you are constantly observing and learning from your customers and applying it all along the way."SEE ALSO: A 21-year-old made more than $50,000 in less than 2 years using basic photos and provocative captions to sell clothes on the popular resale app Depop Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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