Lesson 01 | Introduction
Hi, I'm Holly. Welcome to my course, Craft Biz 101. I'm so happy that you're here, and I'm excited to teach you all that Etsy has to offer.
Etsy truly changed my life. I graduated with a marketing degree and no clue what I wanted to do with my life back in 2009. After graduation, I took random job after random job (usually doing entry-level administrative work). I was dying to do something creative, but I didn't feel like I had the skills or knowledge necessary to make that happen. I started a blog while working at a mind-numbing receptionist job and was instantly hooked into the world of online creativity and community. I spent what was left of my college fund on the Adobe Creative Suite, and I started teaching myself graphic design in my free time. I found myself dreaming of the possibility of selling my own products and owning my own online shop.
I had always wanted to own my own business, ever since starting a Barbie fashion magazine in the first grade that I sold to the kindergartners. When I was 12 I started a babysitting business with a friend. The entrepreneurial spirit is something that I've always had, but as an adult, I struggled with confidence. I finally got the courage to start selling my work while I was living in Nashville, surrounded by professional creative people. I started, of course, with an Etsy shop.
I opened my shop in January 2013, and by the end of 2014 I had 6-digit sales numbers. Fast forward to present day, and my products have been featured on countless blogs, Zulily, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Self, and more.
And it all started with an Etsy shop.
Etsy puts the products that you make in your living room in front of the entire world. Etsy gives you the ability to create an online shop even if you have a tiny budget and limited tech knowledge. Etsy helps you to make a profit doing what you love. That's the ultimate dream right?
If that sounds like a dream to you, then you're in the right place. Purchasing this course has already put you way ahead of the learning curve. It's the best first step that you could make. When I opened my shop 3 years ago, there was no information about how to do it the right way. Not only that, but no one in my family had a creative or entrepreneurial job like this so I was totally on my own figuring out how to start a business. Everything was trial and error and learning as I went. Let's just say, I did a lot of googling. If I knew then what I know now, I could have made better decisions and more money in much less time. Taking this course means that you will be learning from my mistakes and completely short-cutting a lot of the struggles that new sellers face.
I want you to take a minute to think about what it would mean for you to have a successful, profitable Etsy store. Would it mean more time with your children? Would it mean that you could make a living doing what you're passionate about? Could you quit your job? Think about what this dream looks like for you, really visualize it, maybe even write it down! Because every success starts with a clear vision.
Now, let's get started!
Lesson 02 | Evaluating Your Skills & Expertise
First things first: what are your skills?
Did your grandmother teach you how to knit? Maybe you went to school for graphic design? Or maybe you're an expert at finding on-trend vintage pieces that your friends go crazy over? Whatever skill(s) you have, it's going to be the basis of your Etsy shop. But determining what your shop is going to offer doesn't stop there. You need to find a way to be different if you want to be successful on Etsy.
One way to do this is to combine a couple of skills. For example, if you are great at graphic design and you want to start a clothing line, you could design graphics or illustrations to imprint onto your apparel. If you want to start a jewelry line and you are also into painting, think of a way that you could create unique jewelry with a hand-painted element.
Another strategy is to look for a void in the market. If all of the knitwear shops that you see on Etsy sell scarves, maybe you could focus on baby blankets. If all of the sellers in your industry have a very similar style (hipster-looking, dark moody photos), your shop style could be bright and colorful. If every stationery designer is doing letterpress, you could design hand-painted cards with gold foil.
While every other letterpress shop was focusing on serious, heritage-style branding, Kristen Ley started a letterpress shop that is fun, whimsical, and bright. Her colorful style stood out big time in the letterpress stationery market when she opened her business.
Another idea is to look for trends in other industries. For example, if you've been seeing color-blocking on every interior decorating image on Pinterest, maybe your crochet shop could specialize in color-blocked items. If you've been seeing gold and pink color palettes everywhere, maybe you could have an all gold and pink jewelry line.
Are you inspired? What are some ways that you can use your unique skill set and story to come up with a really marketable brand that will stand out among your competition?
Lesson 03 | Determining Your Niche + Target Customer
DEFINING YOUR NICHE
When I first opened my shop, I knew that I needed an ideal target market but other than that, I really didn't understand the importance of a niche. I created all kinds of different products. I wanted my grandmother, friends from college, husband, and neighbor down the street all to be able to find something that they loved in my online shop.
If you have an online business, the worst thing you can do is try to please everyone. Think of it this way: if you're shopping online for a stylish dog bed, for an example, would you rather check around at several big-box retailers' websites on the off chance that they carry a dog bed that matches your modern stylish decor, or would you rather go to an online shop that carried nothing but tons of different sizes of modern dog beds? I don't know about you, but I would rather go to the shop that specializes in that one type of product. For the niche group of people looking for the perfect comfy and stylish bed for their dog, they're going to arrive at that site and say, "YES. This is what I was looking for," and that, my friend, is how you get sales.
Now, it may seem risky to open a modern-dog-beds-only shop. What about all the people who have more of an old-fashioned style, or who don't even have a dog? That is the most common fear that people have when creating their niche: "If I choose this super-targeted niche, I'll be excluding all of these other people!". But in the world of online businesses, that doesn't matter. It's better to get an entire group of a small niche than it is to try and be everything to everyone, and in the process, no one actually falls in love and makes a purchase.
On top of that, there's this little thing called SEO (we'll cover this more later in the course) that is enormously important for online businesses. So, if you have a modern dog bed shop, when people search for "modern dog beds", your shop is going to come up toward the top in Google. If you have a shop with lots of different things, it's harder to show up in searches.
Don't just sell baby blankets; sell modern black and white baby blankets
Don't just sell stationery; sell intricate letterpress Christmas cards.
Don't just sell apparel; sell hip, hand-lettered tee shirts for college athletes.
Or in my specific example...
Don't just create a gift shop; create an inspirational gift shop for creative female entrepreneurs.
See what I'm saying? Trust me, this is the secret that takes potential customers from "it's okay" to "I WANT IT ALL".
DEFINING YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER
Part of this process is determining who your target customer is.
I attribute a large part of my early online shop success to the fact that I took a few hours one weekend and made a huge list of all of the traits of my target customer.
Because my background is in marketing, I knew the importance of having a laser-focused target customer. It made all the difference in getting my shop off the ground. Here are the main reasons why getting to know your target customer is super important.
1. You'll Know Where To Find Them
The more you know your target customer, the more you'll know where they hang out, shop, what types of blogs they read, how they spend their time, etc. Without that information, marketing your shop becomes a guessing game. But with that information, you can strategically invest your time and money into marketing that you know will work.
2. You'll Know How To Connect With Them
The language of your copy, the photography that you use, and the social media networks that you implement are very different for, say, a 65 year old male target market than a 13 year old female target market. The better you know your target customer, the easier it will be to reach out to them in a way that they will connect with and pay attention to.
3. You'll Know Which Products To Sell (& Which Not To!)
As my online shop grew, I often ran into decisions about products to add and directions to go with my business. But because I had a straightforward and clear idea in my mind of who my customer was, making those types of decisions was a breeze.
Does having a focused target customer mean that your market will always have to stay true to that? No, your target market can grow as your shop grows.
Does it mean that you'll never get customers who are outside of your target market? Absolutely not, and that's totally fine! When it comes to customers, the more the merrier!
It just means that you'll approach your marketing efforts and details of your brand in a focused, clear way. You'll be able to find customers who will love your business, and your shop will present itself clearly. People will GET it, and getting it leads to buying it.
TELLING YOUR STORY
The last part of this branding process is finding a way to tell your story. How did you get to this point in your life? What inspires you? What made you want to be a business owner? Is there a story from your childhood that marked a turning point for you and sparked your initial desire to be a maker?
Let people know about you and your unique journey. As a creative business owner, your brand is you so find a way to fit your personal story into the story of your brand.
I created two printable worksheets on this topic for my blog, which you can download by clicking the links below. They will help you to brainstorm and identify your target customer as well as your niche in a very clear and focused way.
Lesson 04 | Naming Your Business
You might already have a name in mind for your business, but I would recommend being open to changing the name that you planned on using if it doesn't follow the guidelines listed in this lesson.
I'll start with a big screw-up that I made (I told you that you'd get to learn from my mistakes!). When I opened my first Etsy shop, I was blogging under the name Holly Would. I thought it was clever and I honestly had no plan for my blog at all, so that's what I went with. Then, when I opened my shop, I wanted to use the traffic that I had built with my blog, so I called the shop Holly Would Press.
This was not a good name. Let me count the ways:
- It contained my personal name, which I don't recommend (I'll explain why later).
- It wasn't intuitive to spell ("Holly Would - no not Hollywood. W-O-U-L-D")
- It was too long.
- It didn't have a meaning, other than the fact that my name was in it.
- It didn't work with my branding, or convey any brand "vibe"
- It contained the word "press" which was very limiting and specific to letterpress work, which I didn't end up sticking with.
I later closed up shop and reopened with a plan, a brand, and a much better name, Charm & Gumption.
Let's not make the same mistakes that I made, shall we? Let's get you started on the right foot from the very beginning.
1. The name should be impersonal to you.
I'm sure there are people who have made very successful businesses using their personal name, but in today's world, I wouldn't recommend it. A good way of thinking about naming your business is to build your business with the intention of selling it. If the intention is to eventually sell, then you want to create a name that is bigger than you; a name that represents the brand as a whole. You may have no desire whatsoever to sell your business someday, but if you adopt this mindset, you will make better business choices because you will be thinking long-term.
A few exceptions: if the business is you then it should contain your name. Some examples of this are coaching, blogging, service-industry businesses, or artists (painters traditionally sell their work under their own name).
2. The name should represent the brand & vibe of your business.
We've already gone through the process of defining your niche and target customer, so you should already have a pretty good idea of the vibe that you want for your business. Your brand name should fit with that and should resonate with your customer in some way.
3. The name should sound nice.
Phonetically, you should like the sound of it! If the name of your brand has a meaning behind it that is perfect for your shop, but it sounds horrible when you say it out loud, that's a very bad thing! It should be catchy and "roll off the tongue".
4. The name should be simple.
Don't choose a name that is difficult to spell, or purposely misspells something. You want the name to be easy to remember and spell because the whole point is for customers to be able to find you!
5. The name should be unique.
I don't care if you've found the perfect name for your brand - if someone else is already using it, it's out. Don't make the mistake of using the same name but adding "studio" or "company" at the end of it, or worse, changing the spelling in a counter intuitive way (see above) so that you can still use it. You definitely want a name that no one else in your industry is using. Ideally, you want a name that no one else has, period.
The other piece of this step is making sure that the URL, Etsy shop name, and social media usernames are available.
6. The name should be short & sweet.
This is getting harder and harder to do because the more businesses that open, the more names get used up and you have to combine words to come up with something original. Charm & Gumption, my business name, is pushing it on length. I often wish that my business had a shorter name for times when I need to stamp my logo onto something. So, I definitely wouldn't go longer than that!
7. The name should be in line with your long-term goals.
Going back to building your business with the intention of selling, you should have your long-term goals for your business in mind when you name it. Are you positive that you want to only sell a certain type of product forever (ex: Yankee Candles)? If not, you should probably keep the name vague. I had that mindset when I named Charm & Gumption. Rather than calling it Charm & Gumption Paper Co., for example, I just kept it Charm & Gumption which allowed for a lot of growth in different directions.
Take some time to brainstorm words that represent your brand in your mind (it may be helpful to get out the old thesaurus!). Using the guidelines above, come up with some unique and on-brand name options for your business.
Lesson 05 | Writing a Simple Business Plan
A business plan takes all of the thoughts and hopes and dreams that are floating around in your head, and puts them down on paper in a concrete and simplified way.
I used to be more of a "wing it" kind of person; I made big plans and ideas and hoped for the best. Don't be like the old me. What I've learned over the years is that to be successful, you have to combine your creativity and big ideas with some clear and concrete steps and structure.
Here are all of the wonderful things that a business plan will do for your new business:
- provide you with a clear vision
- make you see your Etsy shop as a serious business, so that it will become one!
- keep you from being overwhelmed because the plan is step-by-step and on paper
- help you make future business decisions
- help you track your progress
- give you a budget
- help you to analyze your growth
The good news is, a business plan doesn't need to be a super lengthy or complicated and can actually be, dare I say...fun? Don't worry about writing your business plan in a formal, stuffy way. Just write it in a way that feels natural to you, and don't get overwhelmed. Just fill it out a little bit at a time and before you know it, you will be all official and awesome and ready to grow your business on a solid foundation.
What your business plan should include:
- Summary: 1 page about your business, short & sweet (the rest of the business plan is more detailed)
- The story behind your business / history
- Your mission / vision
- Your tagline (optional)
- Your Target Customer: Use the exercises that we did in Lesson 2 to sum up your target / ideal customer
- Income level
- Frustrations that you can help them with
- Anything else that you know about them
- Competition / Competitive Analysis
- Who is your competition?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- How will you stand out or differentiate yourself?
- Your Brand & Goals
- Brand Description: Describe your brand, the vibe that you want your business to have, what types of pictures you'll use, how do you want people to feel when they visit your shop.
- Goals: List the specific, measurable goals that you want to achieve in the next 6 months - 1 year. Examples: I want to reach 100 sales by (date), gain 20 Instagram followers per week, etc.
- Strategy: Specific ways that you will make your goals happen. Examples: I will list 1 new product per week, I will attend 3 craft shows per quarter, etc.
- Long-term vision: How to you plan to grow your business? Where do you hope to see your business in 5 years? What is the long-term vision or dream that you have for your business?
- Marketing Plan: How will you get your products in front of your ideal customer? Some ideas:
- Social media
- Craft shows
- Local events
- What will your schedule be like?
- How will you be as efficient as possible?
- What routines are you going to put into place to ensure that everything gets done?
- Describe your process, from an order coming in to an order shipping out.
- How much money will you need to run your business?
- How many products do you plan to sell (realistically)?
- What will it cost to make your products (cost of goods sold)?
- What will be your profit?
To make your business plan, simply open a word document and write all of the information above, using bullet points. It doesn't have to be fancy! You will be so happy that you have this plan to refer to down the road.
Lesson 06 | Legal + Finance Basics
Now that you know what you're selling, who you're selling to, what type of business you want to have, and your business name, it's time to get things legal!
Technically, this isn't something that has to be done before you open shop, but I would recommend it. Getting everything officially set up from the very beginning saves you the time and headache of worrying about all of it once sales start coming in (and you're much busier!).
What you will specifically need for your business varies by your location, so I would recommend getting in touch with your Chamber of Commerce to make sure that you have everything you need.
On the most basic level, you will need to:
- Register your business name
- Get a Tax ID
- Open a business checking account
On top of that, I would recommend starting a Quickbooks account, which will link up to your business checking account and help you to keep track of your sales, expenses, and profit (makes things so much easier when you have to do your taxes). If you want to take things a step further, you could get in touch with an accountant in your area to help you around tax time.
46 states require sales tax. Etsy thankfully automatically calculates this and adds it to the appropriate customers' purchases based on your location (I'll show you how to set this up in the video tutorial later).
Lesson 07 | Logos + Graphics
Now is the part when things start to get fun! :) You've got a clear vision of your brand, and it's time to get a visual brand identity (colors, logo, Etsy banner, etc) to represent that.
A common newbie seller mistake is to treat the brand identity as an afterthought. Your brand identity is essentially the first impression for your shop, and is therefore super important! It needs to represent your brand, and help to portray your brand vibe at a glance.
I can't tell you how many Etsy shops I've seen with great products but little to no sales because potential customers are totally turned off by the branding when they arrive at the Shop homepage! A professional looking brand identity portrays the idea that you are a serious business owner, which is one of the first ways that you can develop trust with your potential customers.
Creating a Mood Board
The first step that I would recommend before you even look into hiring anyone is to create a mood board. Create a secret Pinterest board, and start pinning images that represent the brand that you have in mind for your business.
Then take a look at the Pinterest board as a whole and try to see if there are any common themes in terms of colors, materials, or fonts. Take the top images that you love the most from your board, and either import them all into a Word document, Photoshop file, or just print them out and tape them together so that you can see your mood board images all together.
The video above shows the process of creating a unique brand identity from start to finish. If you need more clarification on how to create a mood board, this will show you how I created mine.
My BRand Mood Board
Getting Your Brand Identity Designed
You have a few options:
- Completely Custom
Hire a designer to create a completely custom brand identity.
Pros: The graphic elements will fit your brand perfectly and will be 100% unique to you
Cons: Can be quite expensive, and if it's cheap, it's probably not high quality
- DIY it.
If you have graphic design knowledge, you can create your own logo, or have a designer friend help you with this for free. If not, you can use Canva.com to create an Etsy banner for free (or only a dollar or two). Check out the tutorial video in the next lesson to see how to make your own Etsy banner using Canva.
Pros: Inexpensive (or free!), you can easily change it in the future without hiring someone all over again
Cons: Probably not as high quality (unless you are used to designing logos & branding materials). Less unique.
- Premade Branding Kits
These are sort of the best of both worlds, and are great for new sellers who want that professional look without spending a ton of money. I have a branding shop available on my website that contains kits specifically for Etsy shop owners (banner, logo, and reserved listing graphic), but you can also find similar kits by doing some looking around on Etsy and Pinterest.
Pros: Inexpensive, professional quality, made specifically for Etsy shops
Cons: Not necessarily unique to your shop (kits can be sold multiple times).
What You Need
You can take your brand identity elements further, but the basic items that you'll need for your new shop are:
1. A color palette
2. A square logo for your shop icon and social media (at least 500 pixels x 500 pixels).
3. An Etsy banner (760 pixels x 100 pixels) for the top of your Etsy homepage.
4. (optional) An alternate, horizontally-written logo, for other logo placements / packaging / etc.
5. (optional) A "reserved listing" image that you can use when you list any custom orders.
Make Your Own Etsy Banner
This tutorial will show you how to design your own Etsy banner with Canva, even if you have no graphic design knowledge whatsoever!
Click here to visit the Canva website: https://www.canva.com/
NOTE: At the end of this video I say that I will show you how to upload the file in the next lesson - that information is actually located in Section 5. My apologies for the error.
Lesson 08 | Creating a Cohesive Product Line
The most important element of your online business is obviously your products! Maybe you have already dabbled in creating some product samples that you could sell. Maybe you have no idea what you're going to sell, and you were planning on just winging it.
I highly, highly recommend taking the time to plan out your first product collection in a very strategic, cohesive way.
A cohesive product line solidifies your brand. When a potential customer arrives at your store, they will feel a sense of your company's vibe and brand. Have you ever walked into a store and immediately felt calm or energized or happy? Physical retail stores are very in tune with the vibe that their store is creating for customers. As an online store owner, it is important to utilize this same mindset when planning out your products. All of that branding work that we did earlier? It should be carried through to your actual products themselves. Actually, it is critical that your products are in line with your business's brand image. Otherwise, your business and your brand won't make sense.
A cohesive product line makes your business seem more legit. You don't want for your business to feel like a random garage sale where someone decided to sell a bunch of stuff that they had laying around. An Etsy seller who is intentional with their product development gives off a professional feeling to viewers, which establishes trust and increases the likelihood that the person will make a purchase.
A cohesive product line is more likely to get featured. One of the best sources of traffic that you can ask for is a blog or media outlet feature. This is when the blogger or editor posts a photo of your product, and links back to your shop. Bloggers and editors are drawn to beautiful photography, and they are much more likely to feature you if you offer consistent, cohesive products throughout your store.
So, how do you do this?
I start the process of planning a product line in the same way that I start nearly every creative project: I create a mood board. Get on Pinterest and start a secret board. Pin images that reflect the feel that you want your collection to have, and once you have a fairly large board built up, take a step back and look at the board as a whole. Look for commonality and patterns throughout the board.
Print out my workbook A Cohesive Collection, and use the prompts alongside your mood board to help you plan out your first collection.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Your target customer. Who are they? What do they need? What benefits can you provide them?
- Price point variety. Try to create a line that offers products at a variety of price points. Have higher priced items mixed in with lower priced items - this is a great way to get more items per sale.
The Cohesive Collection Workbook (linked above) includes a list to keep track of your suppliers. This is really helpful because you will have that information readily available when you need to reorder more materials.
Take the time to get all of this information organized. Take the time to find suppliers that offer the materials you need at the best quality and pricing so that you can make a profit. Make sure that the items that you order will be available when you need them, and that they aren't something temporary that you won't be able to find next month.
Once you have found quality suppliers at an affordable price for your business, write down their names, URLs, item numbers, and any other information that will be helpful for future orders.
Also - a lot of people ask how many items they should have in their shop. There isn't really a right or wrong answer to this question, but personally I would try to have around 12 items to start. That's enough to make your shop feel full and complete. With that being said, your main focus should be on creating quality products that work together to reflect your brand image. You can always increase your product offerings later.
Lesson 09 | Purchasing Packaging & Shipping Supplies
It's so overwhelming trying to figure out the best places to find materials - I remember! In this lesson, I'm sharing my favorite places to buy packaging and shipping materials. Here is a general list of the types of items that you'll need. The video below explains what I like to purchase from each website.
1. Inner Packaging
This is the more "pretty" packaging for your items. If your item was being sold in a brick and mortar store, this is the packaging that it would be shown in. The purpose of this is first of all to make the item look nice and professional, and secondly to protect it a bit as it's sliding around inside of the outer packaging / shipping materials.
Inner Packaging Ideas...
- Prints / Stationery / Flat Paper Items: clear sleeves
- Jewelry / Accessories: jewelry boxes or small stamped bags
- Stamps / Other Small Items: stamped muslin bags, tissue paper with washi tape or a sticker
2. Extra Protection
This is the stuff that has no "pretty" factor at all - it's purpose is simply to protect your items.
Extra Protection Ideas...
- Prints / Stationery / Flat Paper Items: Cardboard sheets to keep the item from bending
- Fragile Items: Bubble wrap, inflatable protective stuff, recycled paper, kraft paper, newspaper, etc.
3. Promotional / Branding Materials
This usually includes some type of card that portrays your brand and provides links and other information to keep your customer coming back and/or subscribing to your social media. It also might include a logo stamp or stickers for the outside of your packages. I design my own and have them printed by my printing company that I use for all of my shop items but there are lots of places online that can print these types of items for you, or you can contact a local printing company in your area.
Promo Material Ideas...
- Business cards
- Larger cards that tell your story / show photos
- Custom tissue paper
- Custom packing tape
4. Shipping Materials
This is the outer protection for your package, and what will be arriving at your customers' doors. Depending on the size and shape of what you sell, this might be either a box or a flat mailer. Shipping materials also might include a shipping label printer (I use this one), sticky labels, and the invoice for your order. Rather than including an invoice with prices, I always just include a gift receipt. I get a lot of requests to not include prices in the packaging so since I already send a full receipt via email, I don't include the prices in any of my orders. This is your personal preference.
Shipping Material Ideas...
- Flat mailers
- Bubble / padded mailers
- USPS flat rate boxes and mailers (note: this can be a great option depending on the weight of your items. I recommend weighing the cost of shipping flat rate vs. using your own box or mailer and seeing what works for you.)
- Shipping Label Printer and Sticky Labels (Etsy offers a discount on this one, and it is the one that I use)
- "DO NOT BEND" self-inking stamp - this is a MUST for those of you who sell flat items that cannot be bent. I designed my own and have them made at rubberstamps.net
Moo.com (< get 10% off when you use this link!)
Lesson 10 | Pricing Your Items
Now that you know the exact materials that you'll be ordering, it's time to price your items. Don't forget to including your packaging costs when coming up with the totals. The standard formula for pricing handmade work is this:
Cost of Materials + (Hours of Labor x Your Hourly Rate) = Total Cost
Total Cost x 2 = Wholesale price
Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price
New sellers often have a hard time coming up with their hourly rate. I would say that you want to at least be making minimum wage. You can always increase your hourly rate as demand for your items increases.
It is super important that you price your items in a way that will enable you to make a full time living from your shop at some point. What does this mean? DON'T UNDERVALUE YOUR WORK.
It keeps you from ever making the money that you deserve, it makes your items seem "cheap", and it undervalues the entire handmade community (therefore customers start to lose the value of handmade items and they might as well go to Walmart).
Not only that, but what happens if you price your work extremely cheaply, and you get a big blog or media feature? Then you've got tons of orders coming in, and you're not even making minimum wage.
Save yourself a headache in the future. Price your items so that you can take on wholesale orders, and so that if The Today Show comes a-knockin' and wants to feature you, you can easily hire someone to help you get all of the orders filled without losing money.
Print out the attached PDF and use it to easily figure out the prices for all of the items in your shop.
Lesson 11 | Setting Your Shipping Prices
You might be wondering, "How the heck do I know what to charge for shipping?"
When I started selling on Etsy, calculating your shipping prices was complicated, confusing, and tedious. It required frequent trips to the post office, and most of the time I wasn't sure if I was losing money on shipping or not.
Thankfully, they have since updated their shipping system, making it much easier for you to reach the most customers possible, and to know exactly what to charge.
Price Your Postage
You can use this page to calculate a shipping estimate: https://www.etsy.com/shipping/us/price-your-postag...
Create Shipping Profiles
Shipping profiles make it really easy to input your shipping costs when you create a new listing. If you have multiple items that are the same size & weight, they will cost the same amount to ship so you can just create a shipping profile and use it for all of the appropriate listings, rather than manually typing it in each time.
Go to Your Shop > Listings > Shipping Profiles and add a new shipping profile.
This article explains the entire process, and everything that you need to know about Etsy's new shipping calculator. They calculate the pricing for you, and even offer discounted shipping rates.
It's so exciting to be able to offer expedited shipping and other options without any extra headache! You will have a lot of customers who want to get their order as quickly as possible, and Etsy's new shipping system makes that possible.
Lesson 12 | Product Photography Tips & Examples
Product photography is one of the most important keys to having a successful shop.
Your product photos should be cohesive throughout your store, without being exactly the same. They should represent your brand identity, and quickly show customers what your shop is all about.
Ideally, your listings should contain the following photos. The photos should be taken vertically, so that they are optimized for Pinterest (a top traffic source for Etsy):
1. The item on a plain white background.
This is a no-frills, simple look at the item that you're selling.
2. The item in use (1-2 photos)
Give the customer 1 or 2 ideas of how to use or wear the item.
3. The item being made
Show customers the time and skill that goes into creating the product, and humanize your brand by showing a photo of you creating it.
4. The packaging that the item will be shipped in
Get customers excited to receive their item by showing them all of the special details that go into their order.
5. Any customization options available
Don't just say "I can customize this in any color" - show customers their options. People get overwhelmed by too many, or infinite options.
Here's a video that may be helpful for you about how to take quality photos using your smart phone. This is a great option for a beginner with no photography experience, and it still takes really nice looking photos.
One change that has happened since I made this video is that you can now edit the photo right on your phone without importing the photo to an editor like Photoshop! Simply edit the photo on your phone and adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, and temperature until it looks really clear and bright.
Lesson 13 | Creating a Product Listing
The Anatomy of a Good Listing Description:
1. Product overview, "sales pitch", benefits of the product, include keywords.
Example: "The perfect gift for a teacher! This handmade bracelet features unique charms in a beautiful rose gold color, and is sure to be the envy of everyone in the teacher's lounge."
2. Dimensions / size info
3. Materials used to make the item
4. Customization info, if needed
If you need more information to fulfill the order (example: a custom name to be printed on it), let customers know exactly what you need and how to get it to you - make it CLEAR and SIMPLE.
5. Important shipping information
Even if you have this info elsewhere, most people don't check in seller's policies so include it here too!
6. Any other information about the item
7. Link(s) to your shop page and/or another section of your shop
Etsy has a lot of links that cause people to click out of your shop (NOT GOOD). Include a link back to your shop site, or to another section of your shop, so that people keep shopping in your shop.
8. Link(s) to any other place that you would like visitors to go (social media, website, mailing list.
Links mentioned in video:
Product Listing Example 1: https://www.etsy.com/listing/155483490/tiny-teardr...
Product Listing Example 2: https://www.etsy.com/listing/229842335/sarah-small...
Symbols for Bullets: http://fsymbols.com/keyboard/windows/alt-codes/lis...
Lesson 14 | Tags + Keywords
keyword generator: http://keywordtool.io/
Lesson 15 | Customizing Your Shop Settings
Title & Announcement Sections
You want to do 2 things:
- Improve SEO by using keywords
- Inform potential customers about your shop
Include keywords in your SHOP TITLE (if you have a lot of different keywords you can separate with line breaks, backspaces, dashes, etc. so that it's easy to read).
The SHOP ANNOUNCEMENT should be organized similarly to the way that you organize your product descriptions. Use spaces between each section, uppercase text for section titles, and bullets for lines of text.
Some things to include in your shop announcement:
- Friendly, conversational description of your shop. What you sell, where you live (ex: "handmade in Ohio"). This should be a little description that reflects your branding and what you're all about.
- Calls to action. Include a link to your main website if you have one, your social media links, your mailing list, etc. (NOTE: It is a common misconception that linking people to your website is against Etsy policy - go for it!).
- Contact info. Even though Etsy has a messaging system, you should still include your email address and office hours.
- Any other important notes or information.
- Legal info (copyright, your legal business name, etc.)
My Shop Announcement (for inspiration):
Stylish and spunky gifts for girlbosses and creative entrepreneurs. Coffee mugs, art prints, tote bags, tees, and other cute gift ideas for the ambitious women in your life. Made in the USA.
♥ Facebook: http://facebook.com/charmandgumption
♥ Instagram: http://instagram.com/charmandgumption
♥ Twitter: http://twitter.com/charmgumption
♥ Use the hashtag #CHARMANDGUMPTION << We repost our favorites!
♥ M-F 9am - 5pm EST
♥ I do my best to respond to all emails and messages within 24 hours.
Copyright © Charm & Gumption. All rights reserved. Original design by Charm & Gumption. Graphic design is not to be copied, modified or redistributed in any way. Purchase does not transfer its design copyright.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE:
Message to Buyers
This is the information that is sent to your customers once they make a purchase. Some important things to include:
- Thank you to customer
- What to expect (processing time, shipping time)
- Contact info, including your email address and office hours.
- Another thank you, or note of appreciation.
This is the source of information for your customers, with all of the important information about how you run your business.
Your policies should be:
Some important things to include:
- Fulfillment and shipping times
- Your refund policy
- The types of payment that you accept, or don't accept
- How you handle customs fees
If you start to notice that you're being asked the same question frequently, add a section about that topic in your policies.
You can find more advice for writing your policies on the Etsy website here.
Lesson 16 | Customer Service & Getting Reviews
Having high standards of customer service is an absolute, 100% must for an Etsy shop owner.
Even though Etsy has been around for quite a while now, there are still a lot of people who fear making a purchase because they've never done it before and/or they've been ripped off in the past.
Not only that, but Etsy displays your reviews publicly - right on your store page and on every listing in your shop. It's absolutely crucial that you have good reviews. Typically, the reason that sellers have bad reviews comes down to one main thing: poor customer service.
I made a lot of mistakes when running my Etsy shop, but the one thing that I got right from the very beginning was customer service (years of working in retail helped!). Because of that, my Etsy shop has over 1000 5-star reviews. A good reputation is something that money can't buy, and it can mean the difference between getting tons of sales and getting zero. When it comes to customer service, there are a few important things in mind.
1. Under promise, and over deliver.
On Etsy, I would recommend that you under promise on the speed that you'll be able to get orders out. If you think that you can get your orders out in 3 business days, say that you can get orders out in 5. That way, if something unexpected happens, you have plenty of time to get the order out on time. Then you can over deliver, by getting the majority of your orders to your customers quicker than they expected. They will be pleasantly surprised, and boom. Good review.
The alternative (bad option): over promise, by saying that your fulfillment time takes 3 days (the quickest possibility that you are capable of) because you think that will get you more sales, and then when you inevitably get a few orders out late, your customers are disappointed / upset because you under delivered. Boom. Bad review.
2. The customer is always right.
I hate to say that because it's such a cliche, but it really is true. I worked in retail for years before starting my own business, and I used to get so annoyed by that saying because obviously there are times when the customer is wrong. They will get upset about things that are totally out of your control. They will send you a nasty email over something that was not your fault. The bottom line is that whether or not they really are right, you need to make things right with them.
There are quite a few examples that I can think of of a customer making a mistake that was not my fault, but me making it right with them anyway:
- A customer emailed me saying that they didn't receive their order because they accidentally entered the wrong address at checkout.
- A customer was upset by the size of the item that they ordered, even though I gave the exact item dimensions in the listing.
- A customer's order was lost in the mail by the postal service.
These are all examples of situations that were not my fault. They are also situations where I could have sent a nasty message back to the customer ("it's not my fault you can't read!"). How did I choose to handle these types of situations? I made it right with the customer, no matter what. If that meant sending them a new item, I would. If it meant giving them a refund, I did.
It's a tough pill to swallow to lose money on something that wasn't your fault to begin with, but guess what? Those customers were always so delighted by my customer service, that they would leave raving reviews.
3. Be honest.
Pretty basic advice, but one reason that people get negative feedback is because they straight-up lied, or were super shady about their products. Don't lie about what your products look like. Don't be deceiving. Your items should look like the photo, as we discussed in the product photography lesson. Also, if something happened with an order, just be upfront with the customer. Don't give them the run-around. People appreciate transparency and honesty, especially in the world of eCommerce.
Lesson 17 | Getting Repeat Customers
Effectively growing your business means getting repeat customers, or as I like to call them - superfans!
Assuming that the customer has had a positive shopping experience, there are a few key ways to get them to come back:
1. Get their email. I use Mailchimp to collect emails, which I recommend because of the user-friendly platform. Include a link to your mailing list signup in as many places as possible (your "about" section, announcement, and each individual listing). You can also include sign-up links on your social media pages and your website, if you have one.
2. Give them an incentive. Include a coupon code in their order package that they can use for their next order. Encourage them to tell their friends, and to post product photos on Instagram.
3. Go above and beyond with your packaging. If the details and extras of the customer's order feel really special, it's going to stand out to the customer more than an order from a big-box retailer. Some ways you can do this:
- Make every piece of the packaging experience branded using stickers, cards and stamps.
- Include a free sample. Depending on what you sell, there may be an opportunity to include a low-cost item in the package along with their order. This introduces them to something else from your shop that they may not have seen otherwise.
- Take the opportunity to include a personal aspect of your shop. Maybe a photo of you, a photo of your studio, info about your geographic location (especially if you live in an interesting place or a place that adds to your brand story), or your signature.
- Include a handwritten note. If you have the time, it definitely makes customers feel special and it adds that personal touch that so many businesses do not have. It doesn't cost you anything extra except your time!