The beauty of Etsy for people who love unique and artsy things is that you can go there and find just about anything you can imagine. The beauty for people who craft those products is that you’ve got a potentially huge audience for your masterpieces, and it’s a pretty simple process to join Etsy and put your product out there. Unfortunately for those crafty sellers, the congregation of artists and art lovers in the same place is a double-edged sword due to overcrowding, and can cause your products to get lost in the Etsy crowd.
So how do you avoid that fate and make your product stand out and sell? Starting a “business” on Etsy isn’t that different than any other small business. You’ve got to brand yourself well, learn how to market to the audience you want to reach, and create either an incredibly unique but desirable product… or if you’re one of the hundreds of people making bibs, make them so amazingly well that everyone will want yours instead of the next guy or girl’s.
Take amazing photos. Think about something like Craigslist for a second. Does anyone even look at the ads for items that don’t have pictures attached? I know I don’t. And if you don’t have fantastic photos to pair with your product description, not only sales but views are going to be hard to come by. Take photography classes or work with friends willing to do it to help their portfolio if you have to, but make your pictures stand out.
What’s in a name? A lot. So choose wisely when making a name for your Etsy business. You want something short and catchy that still conveys your style and what you do. Perhaps more importantly, you want something that can travel and grow with you, meaning you should make sure no one else has trademarked this particular name or already owns a website called that. Ideally, once you settle on a name, you want to be able to use it no matter where you’re selling to raise brand awareness.
Study, study, study. Take a look at the sold items to see what people are buying the most. If you already know what you want to make, check out popular blogs and sellers related to what you do and see what’s working for them and what isn’t. Ideally, you want your product to be that magic bullet that no one has ever thought of – Velcro jeans that pull apart to make jean shorts! – but just seems obvious when someone finally puts it out there. Feel free to take that idea if you want it… and good luck with that. Let’s be honest, though (besides admitting that combo jeans/jean shorts is a terrible idea), chances are your idea isn’t going to be a completely new and original idea. And that’s okay. Lots of businesses sell similar products and they’re doing just fine. But what you do want to do in a crowded marketplace like Etsy is to make yourself stand out as much as possible. You make t-shirts? Great. You and 1000 other people. Sports t-shirts? Okay, that narrows it down to a few hundred. Funny sports t-shirts? Better. Funny sports t-shirts featuring Ohio teams? Now you’re cooking. Unfortunately, your audience might be too narrow for something like that, but at least you get the idea. What makes your store unique?
Uniquely the same. Okay. So you’ve defined yourself as the funny Ohio sports team t-shirt guy, but now you just had a great idea for a more effective dog harness that you just know will sell like hotcakes. Should you put it on your shop? No! If you’re going to expand your product line, try something like funny Ohio sports team shorts. Or underwear. Or ties. Or hats. You might even be able to expand to things like mugs and greeting cards, but only if they are funny and involve Ohio sports teams. If you just have to make that dog harness, open a new Etsy business. Maybe – and this is a big maybe – if you started making funny Ohio sports team clothes for dogs, you could eventually expand into making more dog products, but certainly not until you’re a known quantity.
Make sure the price is right. Technically this should fall under research, but you definitely want to look around at the prices of similar items to see what’s selling and for how much. Discounts and promotions aside, you want to be in the middle of the pack.
Admit defeat and try, try again. Sometimes, for whatever reason, people just won’t buy what you’re selling. If you feel like you’ve done everything you can and your sales are still in the basement, it’s okay to give up and move on to the next equally amazing (and hopefully better selling) product.