Building An Etsy Empire: Practical Advice from Panda With Cookie

2009 September 22

As promised, here is the follow-up to yesterday’s post, wherein Lisa Coulson generously shares the lessons she’s learned from launching her own Etsy shop.

So you have more macramé plant holders than you know what to do with?  You’d like to sell some to support your expensive steamboatin’ habit? I present a handy guide to help you sell your wares online so you can go down the Mississippi in style!

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Photo Courtesy of Panda With Cookie

1- Photos! Photos are the most important part of selling online other than the product. You must have good photos. You don’t need a $1600 camera and a large photo studio, but you do need a clear picture that shows what you’re selling. If it is blurry or out of focus, people will not be interested. Use that macro setting for detail shots! Read your camera manual to figure out how to use your camera to the best of its ability.

2- Product volume! You need product to sell. If I have three plant holders listed in my shop, there isn’t much to choose from. You don’t need to wait until you have 93 made, but you do need to increase your inventory after opening with just 15. The more items people have to choose from, the more likely you are to strike someone’s fancy with that goldenrod and avocado tassel hanger.

3- Descriptions! You need to describe your item well. I sometimes click on a product listing and it says nothing more than made of yarn. I personally include measurements in my listings and make sure materials are listed as well. A brief something about the item is also helpful – why you made it, what inspired it, what it can be used for (doubles as plant hanger and hat!) and anything else that suits your personality.

4- Promotion! You must promote online if you have an online business. Get thee to facebook and myspace and twitter and put yourself out there. And don’t just promote your shop. My least favorite twitterers are the ones who only post links to their shop, eight times a day. Yes, do promote, but also use the venues to get to know people and make friends.

5- Look at trends! I am not a fashionable person in the least and don’t know what’s hot from a macramé plant holder, but it is wise in business to keep up with what the kids these days are talking about as it relates to your product. If hemlines are up or down is not applicable, but if the plant trend is for hanging with chunky wooden beads, then you need to know it. Pay attention to the seasons and post appropriate wares when they change. The same goes for holidays. There’s certainly no need to jump on every bandwagon, but if it strikes your fancy then go for it. Mustaches are big on etsy lately, which I got a kick out of, so I made a mustache pin. And they’ve sold well.

6- Work! As I said before, it is work to run a business. As a hobby you can list things when you have time, but as a business you need to check in every day, more than once. It isn’t always fun taking pictures and measuring and coming up with new and interesting ways to describe macramé, but it must be done. Take the time to research things you have problems with. If your photos just aren’t well lit, search online and find some ways other people have dealt with it. There is a lot of advice out there, and you just have to find it. Ask friends for an honest critique and appreciate it when they give you feedback. When you are floating down the river in your luxury cabin, it will have all been worth it.

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