Hanging out your Shingle: Setting up shop at Etsy, Part 1

As I wrote in another blog, Etsy is a new phenomenon to me, but one I have gotten to know quite intimately over the past few months.  There are moments when I love Etsy and wonder where it’s been all my life (mostly as a buyer), and other moments when I wish it were a corporeal entity so I could throw it out the window (mostly as a seller).  I do wish I’d known how much work the marketing would be, and how relisting kind of offsets the money I planned to save by selling through Etsy.  But those are things I have learned how to roll with, and I don’t think my ignorance of those things hurt me too much in the early months at Etsy.

However, there are some nitty-gritty details I wish I’d known when I opened my shop “doors” for the first time.  In other words–my mistakes become your gain.  I’m sharing them with you, in hopes that you either haven’t opened up your Etsy shop yet, or perhaps just dusted off your banner for the first time recently.  Or perhaps you’ve opened up a shop and have no idea why you aren’t seeing traffic and sales.  Thus, I present:

Things to Know When Opening at Etsy Shop (That People Don’t Usually Tell You):

1.  Show up in the forums and have a pretty pitcher.

Truly, if you follow this piece of advice, you can probably just stop reading my blog right here and now, because the forums really contain nearly everything you need to know before you tack up your shop shingle.  (Although I must add the caveat that you can’t always find the threads with the info you’re looking for, depending on how they were titled.)  Go and do a search for “newbies” and you’ll find all kinds of useful threads–plus, you’ll start that all-important networking to get your brand out there into the web ether.  (But that’s really a topic for that elusive marketing blog that I haven’t written yet!)

I’d also recommend a cute and eye-catching icon to entice people to click (which of course takes them to your shop page).  I used something dark at first, but immediately realized it was too dark to make out what it was (beads), and then switched to a picture of a some beads in a teacup.  I love that pic, but it still didn’t convey exactly what I *do*, so I switched to a picture of a necklace I made.  However, the necklace is fairly somber-toned and didn’t really “pop” like other folks’ icons, so I chose (and now use) a picture of a simple white necklace that has gotten a lot of views in my shop.  So my advice is pick a picture that’s light in color and has gotten a lot of flow on Etsy or Flickr and use it–assuming the size change doesn’t diminish its charm.

2.  Build inventory gradually.

Because Etsy defaults to “most recently listed” in the search results, and because so many of their browsing tools rely on recently-listed items, it’s recommended to add only a handful of things at a time, and space it out through the day, to maximize exposure for your shop.  I didn’t know this–I didn’t open my shop until I had 30 pieces of inventory, and I listed them all in one day.  I could have gotten a lot more early eyeballs on my shop if I’d dribbled it out over a week or so.

However, it’s also true that shops with low inventory (say, less than 15 items) tend to sell very little, so make sure you do have enough stuff already made to have at least 15-20 items listed by the end of the week.

3.  Have a banner ready.

Even if it’s just a quick and simple one, people really do expect to see a banner when they click on your shop.  If you don’t have the skills or money for a real logo design, then simply try your shop name in a nice font with some thumbnail pictures of your work (which is all I currently have up).  At first, I didn’t have one, then quickly realized I did indeed have to have one, so I tried my shop name over a fiddled-with photograph of some beads, but it was too dark and foreboding.  It looked like it was going to fall down onto my welcome text and squash it.  Keep it light-colored (unless of course you make Goth or Halloween-themed items) and easy on the eye.

Enough for today–next blog will pick up with point #4 in Honing Your Etsy-Seller Kung Fu, when I talk about exactly what to write on all those “pages” you need to fill in on your shop.  Leave comments, questions, inspirational quotes, meerkats, mice, and SPF 60 sunscreen here or to particlesofstone at yahoo dot com.  Cheers!

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3 comments so far

  1. […] my best tips, in the process of starting up an Etsy shop.  You can read the first part of the blog here; now we pick up with Tip #4, which deals with all those crazy pages you have to write stuff on, […]

  2. […] a relevant comment on any of my other blog posts, then leave a comment here with the title of the blog you commented […]

  3. ch3ryl22 on

    etsy shops are easier to set up then other shopping carts


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