How to Make Your First 6 Months on Etsy: Real Tips from Sellers for Successfully Selling

How to Make your first 6 months on Etsy: Real Tips from Successful Sellers

On May 17th of this year I made my first 6 months on Etsy. Although I didn’t reach my goal of 100 sales (I came pretty darn close), I have learned quite a bit about what you need to do to be a successful seller and how persistent you need to be during your first six months.  I decided to try Etsy in November 2012 – right before the Christmas online shopping rush. Or actually right at the start of it! Though it has been alot of persistence I started to see sales come in after about three weeks. Prior to selling on Etsy, I sold on Ebay for over 4 years as well as other sites including Ebid, Bonanza, and ECrater. Now as I mentioned I began seeing sales role in during the first week of December. Yes this was Christmas time – so there was a slight advantage here….but 3 weeks is still relatively quick to get your first sale.

If you want to be a successful seller and survive your first 6 months, there are certain steps to take to ensure you are successful. Here are my top tips to get you started as well as some real tips from other Etsy Sellers of which I am so excited to feature! Eventhough now I have my own shop website with a fully functional shopping cart, I still enjoy selling on Etsy and am always using the Etsy seller tools and resources for reference.   

I hope you enjoy reading these tips, and if you are not an Etsy seller, I hope you find a special treasure and support one of these great shops!

Phenomenal Photos

Photos are absolutely your most important asset and always will be. Without shoppers being able to touch your items, your pictures need to be the absolute best they can be.  Very detailed, clean, clear, and showing the product from different angles.  Just remember that after a potential customer looks at your photos they should feel that they have been able to virtually handle the item and are ready to make their purchase. And try to be consistent with your photos – by this I mean that if you use a white background for one – then use white for all the rest of your products. Do not mix and match different colored backgrounds, use distracting props or use different sizings. Stick to one size, create your style and let it shine through in your photos. I have found that simple works best and don’t make the backgrounds too busy as that distracts from the actual item you are selling. If possible too, get a model shot of your product. This can sometimes be difficult, but I had alot of requests from customers to see the product being worn and it does add an extra edge. To get started read Etsy’s Guide to Photography.

Know your Niche

This is Crucial. Who are your target customers? Its best to focus on this group and focus your marketing efforts to them only. I think that this can be difficult and it took me a long time to figure it out, and in some ways sometimes I still am figuring it out. But if you ask yourself some questions such as: Are they male or female?  How old are they? What areas do they live in? What do they do for a living? How much money do they make? How much money do they spend? Are they fashionable? What qualities and characteristics describe them. This is most significant if you’re selling expensive or luxury items.  Obviously a customer who buys a bracelet for $5 looking for a super deal is very different from the one who is more concerned with quality and will spend upwards of $100 for handcrafted materials. Knowing your target customer is critical with how you brand yourself, how you price your items and directly correlates to the level of customer service you provide.

The Customer is Always RIght

DO Remember that the customer is always right – even when you may think that they are not. Always reply courteously and in a prompt manner, be kind, and once an order is placed notify your customers that you have received it and tell  then when you will be shipping out their item. This is an extra step but its the nice extra added touches like this that really make a difference to your customer service aspect. I once had an upset customer who bought a bracelet from me. The glue adhesive came apart relatively quickly and she was obviously not happy. At first she wanted a full refund without exchanging. However, I explained to her that she would need to send the bracelet back (as it was completely repairable) and I would fix it for her. Of course, I did right away and additionally refunded her return shipping plus 20% of the item cost due to her troubles and for the hassle of shipping it back. She really did love the bracelet and in the end I saved the relationship with the customer and she was really happy and thanked me for the extra time I put in to make things right with her. It’s acts of kindness like these, learning from your mistakes (I now use a better cement glue adhesive for my bracelets!), and keeping in mind that the customer is always right , which will ultimately help you succeed with your customer service.

Always Keep Learning

Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. There is no magic formula here.  I highly recommend the Etsy Seller Handbook. Give it a read through and every week or every other week focus on one aspect of the handbook to concentrate on. If you try to do everything at once it will be overwhelming! You can also check out the Etsy Forums for advice and tips and if you have questions I have found that other sellers are more than willing to help eachother out.   If you have a passion for what you are creating and selling you will succeed no matter what.  Love what you do so you can ultimately do what you love the most and remember that you will always keep learning and improving with your shop.

Featured Seller: Anja Verdonk from Asymmetree in the Netherlands shares with us her top Etsy tips for sellers as well as the innovative style behind her Parametric & Laser Cut Clocks and Jewelry

Asymmetree Design

Asymmetree Shop | Parametric and Laser Cut Clocks and Jewelry

Can you tell me a little about your style for your shop and from where do you take your inspiration from?

All my products are inspired by nature, architecture and science. Designs and patterns are created through the use of parametric design. By generating computer simulations of various natural processes, different shapes evolve, with an infinite number of variations. My inspiration can come from anywhere, from macro photography of plants or mosses, from coral growth, or architecture! You never know when it hits you.

Which are your favourite materials/metals to work with?

I love working with wood. I like the way if feels, the way it looks and the way it smells when I cut it. I am planning to experiment with different types of wood. At the moment, I mainly use Birch wood but I’m going to try to cut some bamboo later on!

What are your top tips for sellers on Etsy? Specifically, What advice would you give to new sellers on Etsy?

Patience, my friend…there is a huge amount of shops on Etsy, specifically if you are in the Jewelry category. It simply takes time, more time and a lot of work to be found. Also, it takes time to continue to be found! There will be ups and downs in traffic. Sometimes you will understand these, but most of the times you won’t. Try not to worry about it too much and just spend your free time between sales on creating new and amazing products! The more products, the bigger your chance to be found! Work on great photography! You can find a lot of information on the forums about this. You do not need a really expensive camera, but try to get the lighting really good and get used to working with image editing software on your computer. Better pictures attract customers and increase your chances of being in treasuries. Being in treasuries increases the chance you’ll hit the frontpage! And then the last thing, work on your tags. Also, this can be found on the forums and there are specific teams that can help. I am not sure if I got the hang of it for 100%, but I think I am doing ok. However, I am also still working on this on a weekly basis.

Featured Seller: Maru from Maru Wool Designs in Estonia shares with us her top Etsy tips and the inspiration behind her traditional Estonian style knitted creations. 

Maru Wool Designs

Maru Wool Designs

Can you tell me a little about your style for your shop and from where do you take your inspiration from?

I see my style somewhere between romantic and practical. My general rule is that I won’t make and sell anything I wouldn’t wear or use myself, so my shop describes me very well. Most of my items are my own designs, I find it more fascinating to dream and create, rather than just copy someone else’s patterns. 
I often get my inspiration from old Estonian knitting books. My oldest traditional Estonian pattern book is from 1940′ties and it is an endless source of inspiration. A lot of those knitting techniques are forgotten over the years and it’s a much fun to discover them again. Another big favorite of mine is Estonian lace knitting, mostly known as Haapsalu shawl pattern. Knitting an identical Haapsalu shawl is even a challenge for very experienced knitter, because it’s standards are high: exact measurements, yarn, pattern and border lace all have to harmonize. I use fragments from Haapsalu shawl patterns for my different lace gloves and knit dresses. 

Which are your favourite materials/metals to work with?

For past 5 or 6 years, I have been working with natural fibers only, such as merino wool, alpaca wool, cashmere, organic cotton or silk. My personal favorite is cashmere, which is a fiber obtained from cashmere goats. It is strong, light and soft and garments made from it provide excellent insulation. If you have worn cashmere once, it’s very hard to satisfy with something less luxurious. Negative side of this fiber is is the price, cashmere is one of the most expensive materials in fashion/knitwear industry. Therefore I often use merino or alpaca wool in my designs. Best merino sheep live in New Zealand, where the weather is perfect for producing extremely soft wool. Alpacas are very popular in South America, they are mostly grown in Peru. Alpaca fiber has a silky texture and it’s hard to find something warmer than that. I have always been true to my faith for natural yarns and this is the reason why I haven’t done any quality exceptions: my clients deserve only the best. 

What are your top tips for sellers on Etsy? Specifically, What advice would you give to new sellers on Etsy?

I have been on Etsy for less than a year, but over this time I have learned a lot. 

First, I recommend to invest into photos. Buyers don’t have an opportunity to touch your items, so only thing that really makes the impression is the photo. 
That doesn’t mean you have to spend much for hiring a professional photographer. Maybe you have a friend who is a photography enthusiast and would like to practice with your items? This is how my best photos are made – a good friend of mine does them for a very small fee and uses them for her own portfolio later. And if you don’t have anyone suitable nearby, spend an afternoon on Google, it is full of great photography tips! Secondly, be consistent. I was lucky to get my first sale in less than two weeks, but not everyone does that well. Building a shop and a brand takes time and good things don’t happen overnight. I learned my lesson after the Holidays. I did pretty well before Christmas and once new year arrived, I was sure that everything will continue as it was in November and December. I spent less and less time promoting my shop and making new things, and ended up in a point where no one remembered me nor find me from searches. If you don’t work for your success every day, you will be soon forgotten, because there are tons of talented people in the world. Talent itself won’t pay the bills, it is the hard and consistent work that does. And last but not least, don’t hesitate to ask help if you need it. No matter if you post your questions to the forums or ask a friend to model for your shop – it is important not to stay alone. * Readers can get free shipping (registered airmail) to all items at Maru Wool Designs. SImply use Coupon Code: FREESHIPPING3108  (valid until 31.08.2013).

Featured Seller: Camilla Hellman from Sinona Design in Jacobstad, Finland shares with us her top Etsy selling tips as well as her style for her earthy inspired leather beaded bracelets. 

Sinona Design

Sinona Designs

Can you tell me a little about your style for your shop and from where do you take your inspiration from?

My shop, SinonaDesign, has a bohemian beachy style. I like natural, earthy colors and many of my pieces reflect that. I am often inspired by the materials themselves, I lay out different combinations and play around with them until I’m happy with the look. Nature, fashion magazines, blogs and browsing Etsy, also gives me inspiration. Right now I’m sketching on new designs, as I will start working with metal this summer, ideas pop into my head all the time. 

Which are your favourite materials/metals to work with?

Semiprecious gemstone beads are my favorites, I spend way to many hours looking at what I have at home and planning what to buy next. 

What are your top tips for sellers on Etsy? Specifically, What advice would you give to new sellers on Etsy?

My 3 tips would be to learn SEO, take good photos and write clear item descriptions. Being found is the first step in selling! So my first tip is to learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and apply them in your shop. I have learned a lot by searching the forums. But basically you need to choose appropriate keywords and repeat them in the items title, description and tags. Once your item shows up in a possible customers search you need photos that make them want to have a closer look at your product. So spend some time learning to photograph and edit images. I have been learning as I go and evolving my photo style along the way. Once your customer has clicked your photo you will need to give them a clear description of the item itself. I prefer to keep my descriptions pretty short, but that is up to the seller, the important thing is that you give your customer a clear description of the item

Featured Seller: Zane Sproge from Akwiinas in Riga, Latvia shares the inspiration behind her bold, bright and colorful silk ties as well as her most important Etsy tips for new sellers just starting out. 

Akwiinas

Handpainted by Zane

Can you tell me a little about your style for your shop and from where do you take your inspiration from? 

My shop called akwiinas, don’t have one specific style, but all my items are connected with formal outfit style – I am creating fresh and artistic silk neck ties and bowties. Each tie is different not only by design (hand-painting silk does not allow making identical items, but every tie is different). Some ties are suitable for everyday wearing with suit, but some are more for events, like ball, party or even – weddings.  All my ties are different just like my customers who buy them.I live in a small country and my inspiration usually comes from nature – while I am away from routine, my minds clears and a lot of new ideas arise! Sometimes I make sketches in my planner while going back to city just because getting off the usual way makes me see the usual things in a different light. 

Which are your favourite materials/metals to work with?

In my Etsy shop there are only silk bow ties and neck ties, that’s the basic material I work with. From paints I prefer Marabu silk paints because of their bright colors and till now, I have always been satisfied with results. 

What are your top tips for sellers on Etsy? Specifically, What advice would you give to new sellers on Etsy?

I started my Etsy shop just for interest- what is Etsy. I had made a lot of ties as gifts for my family members and then I created one just for fun. I liked result, but I had no one to give it to. So I found Etsy and listed my first tie. Shortly after that, I forgot about Etsy and remember it only when received email from Etsy and Paypal about purchase. So I got my first sale without any promoting, with poor English and without tags 3 months after shop opening.  So I really suggest you to make a great product! Make something that doesn’t look like the same that 5 other Etsy shops sell. Spend so much time with each item till it looks like you would like to purchase it yourself! It will be easier and harder at the same time to be found and to compete with others, if you choose to make something unique.Next advice is more for those who has just started to create and wants to sell handcrafts. Practice, make a lot of items and practice again.  Creating a lot of items doesn’t mean you should spend less time to each of them just to make more. It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. The more you will create, the more you will practice. The more you will practice, the better the results will be. My first necktie was not at all as great as my last neck ties. Now I know much more about technique, about paints and silk. I have my tricks already. The last advice actually is very simple – Love what you do. If you will love your items, you won’t price them too low, it will be easier for you to value your work. You will know how to describe each of your handmade or vintage items just because you love it and you could tell a story about each piece in your shop. You will find way to spend a lot of hours in Etsy just reading tools and other tips. You will package each of your sold items just like a gift. Because you love your shop, your items and this is not some kind of job you are doing just to earn some money, but you are doing it because it is in your heart!

Featured Seller: Pearl from Crystal Pearl in London, UK shares with us her inspiration and seller tips for her classic, traditional and repurposed vintage jewelry, including bridal and custom pieces, vintage clothing and accessories.

Crystal Pearl

Crystal Pearl

What are your top seller tips for Etsy?

My top seller tips for Etsy are be prepared for the long haul. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Also, Social media is an important tool for getting your name and product out there in the marketplace. Don’t spread yourself too thinly, or you will burn yourself out, but find out which sites work for you and post regularly to them. Engage in the Etsy forums and help your fellow sellers who need advice.

Being a vintage jewelry seller, what inspires and motivates you with your shop?

I have a love of beautiful vintage jewelry and also enjoy indulging my creativity by repurposing vintage pieces into something new. I love custom orders and am inspired by the bridal clients who put their faith in me to produce dream jewelry for their special day.

What are your own best Etsy selling tips? With that I leave you with a great summary of what this post is all about. Please feel free to share your ideas in comments below and thank you for reading!

Work Hard Be Kind and Success will Follow

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8 thoughts on “How to Make Your First 6 Months on Etsy: Real Tips from Sellers for Successfully Selling

  1. Nicole says:

    You said you now use a stronger sement glue for your pieces, may I ask what type of glue it is? Maybe the brand and where you got it? I’ve been having a tough time finding a glue that works well but doesn’t leave a huge mess. Thanks!

    • Hi Nicole! Thank you for your comment. I use hypo cement. Its in a small tube in an orange box. You can buy it on Ebay and Amazon and many hobby stores. It works great and dries clear. But the smell is awful so make sure you keep the windows open for ventilation when you use it, especially for health reasons as I think its quite toxic!

  2. I am a newbie of ETSY and these advices will surely help me in future…. I made things such as puzzle box, handemade jade bracelet and ship in a bottle , i dont know how they perform on etsy , lets see

  3. Great article with lots of useful advice, thanks! I’m still waiting for my first Etsy sale so shall be putting some of these tips into practice :)

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