I get a ton of questions. I’d say everyday I receive at least 2 emails/messages asking for advice about Etsy and it takes a lot of time to respond to everyone. I must say, its nice knowing that it looks like I have my sh*t together enough that you’d ask me haha. So. I’m going to write a blog post about some of the typical questions I get asked. I still consider myself an amateur when it comes to all of this so I can’t offer you all the right answers. These are just the things that I did.
#1. How do you get started on Etsy?
Answer: You do research. Go to the dollar store, buy yourself a notebook, go home, and ask yourself questions. What will you be selling? Will you love this thing in a year? Who is your audience? Do you think these items will sell? Are there any sellers who are doing what you want to be doing? What do you think makes them successful? How can my items be unique? Do I have the finances to open a shop? How do I get finances to open a shop? What materials do I need? (If you want to sell art prints, I made a video about what you should buy, video can be found here.) Can I make time to have an Etsy shop? What is your brand statement? (honestly, I don’t even know that one yet) I can’t answer these questions for you, you kinda just have to search around until you get closer to figuring out your brand. It may take a while to figure out. You don’t have to have it all figured out to open your shop, however. You learn as you go.
#2. How do you price your items?
Answer: Trial and error. I think shop owners price their items differently. Personally, I started out by pricing my artwork based on how much I think I should be getting paid. I put a lot of effort into my items, it’s my full time job, I need to eat and afford to live. But recently I bumped the price down a bit because I found that other shop’s prices are just a bit lower than mine and some of my artwork is a year old now and its grown old in my eyes. If you make your prices too high, they may not sell. If you put them too low, you’re not getting what you’re worth and you’re messing it up for all other artists (some large shops are selling full color large prints for $5, WHY?!). Find your market, and see what sellers that are similar to you are pricing their items for and make a price that works for you. Trial and error. You’ll find something that works eventually.
#3. What resources did you use to figure all this out?
Answer: Good ol’ Google. I think a lot of it is common sense. When you think about opening a shop, you think “What will I need when someone makes a sale?” Packaging supplies. “What will I be selling?” Art prints. Google search: “How to package art prints”. Boom, there’s a YouTube video. I think what was great about my situation is that I decided on my own that I wanted to open a shop. I didn’t know anyone personally who was already doing it. I jumped in not knowing what the hell I was doing. I didn’t have anyone to ask questions and it forces you to make decisions. It forces you to get shit done and make mistakes. All these questions come naturally. Since I’ve opened my shop, I’ve watched various webinars and picked up some library books here and there, but honestly nothing teaches you better than just being in the thick of it and learning as you go. When I made my first sale (which was my mom, by the way) I remember thinking “Holy crap how do I do all this? What do I do?!” You just have to breathe and take it step by step. Etsy makes it easy to print shipping labels and receipts. Just remember to breathe and do your best. I can admit that when I first started out, what I thought was cool about my packaging definitely looked very amateurish and I can laugh about it now.
#4. How do you Advertise?
Answer: Personally, I advertise all over the internet. 80% of the time it feels hopeless so I don’t feel like I should be at liberty to tell you what to do in this case. Advertising goes hand-in-hand with figuring out your audience. I know some Etsy artists who do really well because they have a huge Tumblr fan base, some people have tons of Instagram followers, some people sell at conventions and they have a huge fan base, etc. It seems like each social media platform has different audiences. I’m trying all the ones that appeal to me. Right now I’m active on Twitter, Instagram, Twitch (streaming service), Youtube, Facebook, my website, and Tumblr. I’ve made a few sales from all of them but with great attempt. I’m not lazy about anything. I stay really busy and talk people’s ears off about what I do. Seriously, I annoy myself with how much I talk about it. You’ll discover new ways of getting your name out there, just don’t be lazy about it.
#5. Etsy SEO? What is it?
Answer: Its the keywords you use to get found on Etsy for each of your product listings. For artists, oh man does it suck. I never rely on Etsy SEO. I’ve tried out tons of different keywords and haven’t found any that really work. I rely on outside advertising. If you’ve come up with a formula that works for art prints, let me know! But pretty much, there are so many items on Etsy that yours can easily get lost. You can use Promoted Listings which is paid advertising through Etsy to get your products to appear higher in search results, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve done research about Etsy SEO on multiple occasions and I think it’s just trial and error when it comes down to it.
#6. How can you afford to do Etsy?
Answer: Honestly, I can’t. Etsy is expensive when first starting out. I’m in my starving artist phase and I’m in love with it. I get through it by thinking about how Steve Jobs started Apple in his parent’s garage (not saying I will ever be as successful as Steve Jobs was, but yenno). I have no house payment, no car, no kids, and in decent health, I may not get another opportunity to pursue my passion so I’m frickin doing it now, guys. I’m going all in. I’m taking risks. Going against society. REBELLING. Aren’t I so cool? lol No, its not cool. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I work my ass off 7 days a week and get burnt out a lot. But as they say, “do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life”…or something like that.
#7. Do’s and Don’ts?
Answer: DO be professional. Try your very best to respond to all emails. Be polite. Sign your name at the end of emails. Have business cards on you at all times. Celebrate small victories. Save your receipts and do accounting and pay your taxes. Support other artists/sellers on Etsy. DON’T be afraid to say no: if someone is asking if you can design something that you are not comfortable with or you’re just not into, just say no. DON’T neglect your Etsy shop and expect to still get tons of sales. DON’T make things you don’t like (people will want to see more and you’ll be making stuff you’re not into). DON’T stop learning and seeking knowledge. That’s all I can think of right now.
#8. Why are you selling artwork?
Answer: I should make a video about this. I’ll make a video about this sometime soon. Keep an eye out on my YouTube.
#9. What are your goals?
Answer: To be able to live comfortably working from home selling on Etsy and freelancing. To have my artwork spread across the world. To make a sale in all 50 states in America. To be able to fully express myself through art. To make spot illustrations for magazines. To finally get a hold of my social anxiety and gain the courage to sell at art fairs. To move to Oregon and live comfortably with my bf and cat Seelie. To have my art be so popular that I don’t need to sell on Etsy, I can have my shop directly on my website. To be so cool that my favorite popular artists will follow me back on Instagram. To be HAPPY and fulfilled!
I also make YouTube videos about Etsy, Art, and Life in general.
And for any further questions, I do live art streams every Tuesday morning on Twitch Creative from about 9:30am – 12:30pm, follow my twitter account to stay most updated. Its free and super easy to make a Twitch account. Just hit the “Follow” button and you’ll have the option to receive emails every time I go live. You can watch me work while interacting with me through a chatbox.
Live Art Streams: Twitch.tv/SheHeeps
You’ll learn as you go. Start out with a few items on Etsy, make sure you have packaging to ship them out so you can calculate the shipping charges for your buyers (you’ll need to know that when you post an item). Your family/friends may be your first buyers, that’ll give you some practice. Ask for feedback from them. Make your shop look pretty and complete. Fill out as many empty information slots as you can. Post a professional picture of you, the seller or your logo. Remain calm. Don’t feel the need to rush to the post office immediately after getting a sale. Pick times that work for you to go to the post office (my days are typically Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). Always be professional. Wing it 😉 Don’t be afraid!
Hope this helps a bit.