I see a lot of threads on the Etsy forums from people who are waiting for that most wondrous moment – The First Sale. A few only have to wait a day or two, but many more wait for weeks or months for it to happen. So how can you speed up that event?
I have been working on a list of ideas of things you can do whilst you wait for that magic moment.
To do list at the ready…
1 Make sure you have your policies filled in
This is your chance to clarify things like shipping, returns and other such important details. You can also reassure your customer about things like whether you use natural ingredients, or how well you are going to look after them and their purchases 🙂 Having no policies can make it look like you are not really set up and ready to trade yet.
2 Add an avatar picture and a banner
Again you will now look ready and more professional. Don’t worry about the banner being super-artistic. You can purchase one from another Etsy seller, or you can make a simple one for yourself.
3 Check your local laws and regulations for trading
In the US you may need a DBA licence, details vary from State to State so do check for your area. In the UK you need to register with the taxman within 3 months for opening your new shop. In most everywhere you will need to declare takings for tax purposes – even if you make a loss. Again, be sure you know about this in advance, and keep ALL receipts relating to EVERYTHING you buy for your new business. You only pay tax on PROFITS, so everything you can legally deduct as costs will lower this figure, yay!
4 Do some research
Read the Etsy Seller’s Handbook and make sure you read a few threads and articles on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is something than many people are not really very knowledgeable about before starting to trade, and it can seem a bit confusing at first. But really it is very logical, and once you ‘see the light’ you can make sure your titles and tags are tweaked to perfection – and this will get you noticed!
There are loads of videos on YouTube about selling online, ideal if you prefer this sort of information delivery.
Check out podcasts on online selling. You can listen whilst you create!
Be sure to check out my other posts on selling crafts online. Here is a link to them – Tin Teddy Online Selling Blog Posts
5 Be sure you have the right name for your shop
You can only change it once, so it is best to get it perfect BEFORE you do a lot of promoting etc.
It is a good idea to register a domain name for your business name. This is very cheap (around $10) and has many benefits for you. If possible get the .com as this is often considered more professional than other domains. I bought my domain names from GoDaddy.com and have been pleased with their price and service.
With your new domain you can point it at your Etsy shop. Now you only need to tell people this new name, which is shorter (and bound to be easier to remember) than the Etsy version. You can see this in action in my vintage Etsy shop which can easily be reached at www.AntiqueDogPrints.com as well as its usual Etsy address.
You can also often get an email address for the domain – like I have email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Having your own personalized email looks far more professional than a Gmail or Yahoo one 🙂 For more advice on picking a name, check out this article on my blog – A name for your Etsy Shop
6 Get some business cards
Places like Vistaprint and moo.com even offer free ones, or you can design your own. Always carry a few with you – you never know when you will get into a conversation with someone and want to tell them your shop details. Plus you will need them to pop in with orders when you sell . Check out my post on Business cards and why you need them.
7 Photos are very important
Be very fussy and critical of yours! Make sure that every item has the best pictures you can take. Are they sharp and clear? Uncluttered backgrounds? And do use all the slots if you can.
This is your big chance to show off your item and tempt a buyer. Show the front AND the back, show the inside of bags etc. Show close ups off how lovely your stitching is. Include something in one of the pictures to really make sure the scale of the item is clear.
Look at other people’s pictures and think ‘Is this attractive, why?’
8 Work on your listings
Have you answered all the questions a potential buyer might have about your item. Have you clarified sizes? What it is made of? A little about how you made it (a great thing to add to handmade items!).Have you pointed out your ingredients are top quality and natural? Did you mention how your children’s products all conform to the legal requirements? Have you pointed out any damage to a vintage item? Have you made it very clear how many of an item they will get for supplies?
Check out my blog post on Product Listings when Selling Online.
9 Get social
Create a Facebook Fan page for your shop, and make sure you have a Twitter account. Every time you list on Etsy you will be reminded to Tweet and post. Even if you only have 1 or 2 followers at first (poke friends and family to help you out, hehe) it WILL grow over time. Get into the habit of using these tools early on. Read up a bit on how to really utilize social networking to promote your shop. Social networking is NOT just advertising your products, to make it work you need to communicate with your followers.
Pinterest is a great way to promote your products. Set up a Pinterest Business account and start posting things in your niche. There are lots of good guides to using Pinterest, so read up a bit and get pinning!
10 Make more stock!
The more you have, the more chance that someone will spot something they want. If you only have a couple of items in your shop then you will struggle to stand out in the millions of products on Etsy. Aim to have at least one full page of products in your shop – ideally more.
Consider listing variations as separate listings if you only have a small amount of stock – to bulk out your shop until you get more.
If you are selling higher priced items, think about creating some smaller/simpler products with a lower price point both to fill out your shop a bit and to encourage sales to start.
11 Sort our shipping rates BEFORE you have to actually post something
It is easy to underestimate. Ideally get some little digital scales, they are not expensive. Check online to be sure you are offering the best value shipping option, then you will not get a shock when you come to actually post your first sale.
Test wrap an item to see how much more the packaging actually weighs – you may be surprised.
Be sure you understand how Etsy shipping rates/labels work (if you use this, not all countries can) before someone buys.
Do not put the shipping price to zero unless you mean it. Expecting your buyer to contact you about shipping rates, or to be ok with being billed later on, is a recipe for disaster. If in doubt, put a higher shipping rate than you will need and point out that you will refund any shipping overage.
12 Tell your family, friends, anyone who will listen!
Don’t be shy about your new business – I know many of us find this hard, but you do need to blow your own trumpet a bit. Similarly avoid putting things on your policies about how you wondered if you were good enough to sell, or that your items are not very impressive.
If you don’t have any confidence in your own products, why should anyone else?
Most of all…
Be patient – I personally would advise NOT to post on the Etsy forums that you have no sales, are invisible, are feeling desperate etc. Every forum post is indexed by Google. When you are trying to build up your brand you do not really want people to search for your name and find posts about how you are apparently failing!
If you feel you really need to ask for help, try to be positive about it.
“Could anyone please advise me on ways to further improve my store?’ or “Does anyone have any hints on really tweaking my pictures to perfection?’
Here you are asking for practical, targeted help, but not knocking your shop at all. Remember, you really CAN succeed, but knocking your own products and shop is not going to make it happen faster!
You can ask for critiques in the forums, as well as in the many critique teams. Read as many other critiques and help threads as you can! Setting up an Etsy shop is a learning process at first, for us all 🙂
I hope these little idea give you some positive ways to improve your chances of getting that wonderful first sale.
Would you like a detailed critique and review of your Etsy shop? I offer this service, covering all areas of your Etsy shop. My aim is to offer you lots of useful help, quality suggestions and inspirational ideas to help your grow your Etsy shop and business. For more information, please see my listing on Etsy – Tin Teddy Shop Critque and Review