Thursday, March 13, 2008

Selling on Etsy

Chapter I: What is Etsy?
Chapter II: Registering and Shopping on Etsy
Chapter III: Selling on Etsy

Welcome to the third chapter of my Etsy Tutorial, a series designed to help craft aficionados buy and sell handmade goods online.

So you're a crafty person and would like to sell your creations? Etsy is a great place to do so, and the fees associated with using Etsy as a host for your shop are very reasonable. I recommend using Etsy, especially for those new to selling online. You do not need to be a computer wizard to set up shop, Etsy does all the hard work for you.

What are the benefits to using Etsy as opposed to other hosts or just setting up your own private website?
  • Low fees compared to other hosts (fee details below)
  • All shops are created equal: Each seller is allowed up to 5 pictures. No sellers are allowed bold, flashy colored, or different fonts. Banners and avatars are all the same standard size. Everyone is entitled to the same privileges, so aside from items that the sellers offer and the quality of their picture taking, each shop has equal capabilities, regardless of the seller's ability to write HTML protocols and so on. Like I said, it doesn't take a computer wizard.
  • The shop is all set up for the seller. The only thing left to do is customize it with your shop announcement, profile, banner, avatar, create up to 10 sections (categorize your items) and of course, add new items to your shop. Everything you need is included. No need to import shopping carts, set up a connection to PayPal, all those things you'd have to do when creating your own private website.
  • Forums. You have a question? Someone has an answer. You can use the forums to promote items, sales, and your shop. You can work with other members and share ideas about marketing and materials. Administrators often jump in to answer questions or to close threads if they get out of control.
  • The people. For thousands and thousands and thousands of people that are in competition, its amazing how much they can help each other out, promote each other, and critique/make suggestions for improvement.
  • The advertising that you aren't directly paying for! We've been mentioned by Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, Oprah. Etsy is getting exposure.
What are the fees associated with selling on Etsy?
Unlike other hosts, there is no "rent" fee meaning you do not pay for opening your shop and you do not have a monthly fee. It costs only $0.20 to list each item, and Etsy charges you 3.5% of the sale price of an item, not including shipping. So if you list an item once before it sells for $20.00, Etsy only makes $0.90 cents off that item. PayPal also charges a fee (usually 2.9% plus a 30 cent fee) when you receive money. It is important to include these fees when pricing your item. If you want to make $20.00 on something, plan ahead and account for the Etsy and PayPal fees and charge $21.78.

How do I sign up to sell?
You first register, see Chapter II. If you are already registered as a buyer, just sign in under your name and click on the Sell tab. You will be directed to an online form to fill out. Follow the directions provide your credit card number. Nobody will see the credit card number, it must be submitted because that is how you pay your Etsy fees. Your Etsy bill is due the 15th of each month and you just pay with the credit card on file.

Keep in mind, as mentioned in Chapter II, you cannot change your user name once you register, so the user name you register with becomes the shop name when you decide you want to be a seller. Your store website will be http://your user

How do I customize my shop?

There are only certain ways you can customize your shop appearance, so it is important that you make it as eye-catching as you can so that you stand out. Etsy walks you through the process of setting up shop here. Instead of reinventing the wheel that Etsy has provided you with, I will just make some suggestions:
  • You need a banner and avatar, it adds pizazz to your shop so you stand out from others. If you are not graphically inclined, have no fear - you can even shop for a custom banner/avatar on Etsy! Yes, people sell those on Etsy too! You can use a picture of one of your items for an avatar too. You can always change your banner and avatar in the future.
  • I recommend putting your store policies in your profile, saving the announcement section for sales or important current information, such as if you are on vacation. The larger your shop announcement is, the less items will display on your first page.
  • Feature items - you're allowed three, use them! I suggest choosing your three feature items as items that are not on your front page. Why show the same items twice on the same page when you can have the opportunity to show off three extra ones?!
  • Sections! You are allowed 10 - utilize them. As a buyer, you do not want to flip through 6 pages of items when looking for one particular thing. If you sell handmade clothing and I want to buy a pair of women's pajamas, I do not care about looking at all the men and baby clothes you have. I want to be able to click "women" and see items that pertain to my search. You can always change your section names and what you put in them.
  • You need to include your policies, either in each listing or refer the shopper to your profile for them. Policies should return how you handle shipping and returns.

How do you put items up for sale?

This is called listing an item. Etsy has posted a step by step process in the Help Guides, which I suggest checking out. What I've learned from experience is:
  • When you first open your shop and you're all excited and you have so much stuff and you want to sell sell sell and can't wait to get everything up and you're on a roll and you have all your pictures and shipping supplies and you're ready to go and list your entire stock.... STOP! List a couple items a day. Spread them out. Etsy features the Time Machine which lists items most recently listed in the beginning. When people do searches, the search defaults to the most recently listed. For example if you list 10 handbags tonight, and next week someone searches "handbag," your handbags are going to buried below a weeks worth of handbags, they may never find your shop. But if you list one a day, someone may see your handbag that day. All it takes is one click on your item and they are in your shop. Even if they don't want to buy the item, they may still want to look around your store. Most of the sales I've made have been within 24 hours of listing an item, usually not even the item that I listed that day!
  • You only get to show five pictures of each item. Make them good and use as many as you can. OK, so there are only so many ways you can show off a pair of earrings... but say you sell handbags. Show the whole handbag, show the inside of it, show someone modeling it. Get a close up of the pattern. Show how much you can put in there!
How can I get the word out without spending a ton of money?
There are many things you can do on your own that don't cost much if anything. You can make your own business cards for a relatively low price. Throw a few in when you ship your items out, maybe the buyer will pass them on to your friends. If you make things of everyday practical use, make some for yourself. I've made some jewelry for myself and for my mom. If someone gives me a compliment on a necklace, I shove a business card in their face. Just kidding. I DO say "Thanks, I made it." I've gotten a few jewelry repair jobs through my mom who has a pocket shrine of me that she shows to her coworkers.

I put a poll up on my blog a while ago asking visitors with Etsy shops what their best promotional online tool was. The winner by a mile was having a blog. Flickr also was at the top of the chart. Low votes were Twitter, Facebook, and Squidoo, but only 36 people participated.



I bookmarked this to read, I always love reading advice like this!

Anonymous said...

It was great of you to put all of this on your blog.
Very helpful :)

Levi & DeAnna said...

I agree.... Make use of all options and invest some time and money into a great camera... Good luck sellers!