I asked several of our Christian Artists Street Team shops, which have over 1000 Etsy sales each, if they would kindly provide us with their TOP 5 Etsy Success tips.  They've been so generous in their response that I'll be posting the first four shops below and posting another blog post next week. 
Cherie Wheeler



1. Take "magazine-worthy" photos of your items.

2. Create a Pinterest board of your items and also a Pinterest category board of items related to your items and pin your items along with other items...i.e. I have a "Christmas Decorations" board on Pinterest and a "Cherie Wheeler Designs" board.

3. Create a shopping "experience" for your customers....include a description of the history, style, or technique you use to create your item.

4. Use Etsy's online shipping tools and print your own labels at home. This has saved me so much time and money and has made international shipping a breeze compared to waiting in line at the post office.

5. Keep your branding and logo consistent and package your items in a professional way.... always including a business card for the customer to pass along to a friend.

by Cherie of CherieWheeler

MumMumsCrafts



1. Be yourself!! God made you unique, your ideas will not be like anyone else, so be YOU! I don't spend any time comparing myself to my competitors, I am too busy being me :)

2. Never underestimate customer service. Serve your customers as unto the Lord!

3. Do what you LOVE to avoid burnout. Too many irons in the fire = burnout. Stick with the things you love ;)

4. Good photos can always be replaced with great photos, I am still working on this!!

5. DON'T give up!!! Keep on doing what you love, keep on working on improving and success will find you!

by Lucy of MumMumscrafts

CardsbyJeweleighaB



1. We had a CAST member who ran a study group on a book called The Creative Entrepreneur, and she added her own insights as well. This emphasized to me that I am not my own target customer, and therefore I don't have to price based on what I would pay. I would personally make my cards and not buy them, so I am selling to a different type of person than myself. I think I can safely say that I did not think of this prior to the study.

2. When I began to add supplies to my shop (mostly die cuts), my sales increased. This has helped my shop to become profitable, even when I'm not actively using my creativity.

3. A quick response time to conversations and a quick turnover until shipping is always a good thing!

4. Have multiples of items means that a listing can be renewed instead of making a new listing and photographing a new item. I'm just taking this to heart now and realizing that making the majority of my cards one of a kind may not be in my best interest time wise.

5. As cliche as it sounds, 'have fun!' would be a top tip as well. If it's not fun, you won't want to continue doing it, and therefore you won't have success.

by Julia of CardsbyJeweleighaB

ChocolateDogStudio



Looking back at how my business started, I have to say it started by selling what I had to use on hand. We were in a bad financial way and needed a bit of a second income. Personal reasons dictated that what I do needed to be done in little bits of extra time. I started with knit and sewn items. It can be a really hard arena of Etsy to break into. One of my first sales was a really, incredibly bad experience. I almost quit at that point. Finally, I started selling gift tags and $5 and under items. I sold a ton of gift tags and cup sleeves and worked on my shop policies and shipping. I made a bunch of mistakes but people are more forgiving on low cost items than they are on more expensive items. I bought and sold on Buy and Replace and Buy and Stay treasuries. I sold a lot of items for next to nothing + shipping just to get good feedback. Then I slowly started evolving the shop, trying first one item and then another to find items that were a good fit.

Photography

Our oldest son takes photos for my shop and he learned a bunch about photography. I started learning about photography. So my photos improved and my sales also improved. Now, most of my items actually have five photos for every item. It is important for your buyer to see the item from every angle. They don't feel like you are hiding everything. I use Picasa as my photo editor. I try to take photos of the items that aren't blankets in natural light, so the colors look more accurate. He takes the photos of the blankets for me as he is a much better photographer than I am.

Advertising

Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter are your friends as a small business owner. I have a blog and post about different things. I usually always list about my newest Etsy listings, sales, discounts, and coupon codes. Then I will pin my items to Pinterest on different Pinterest boards. It has improved my views and has been good, inexpensive advertising. I will also post about each blog post on my ChocolateDogStudio facebook page. Sometimes I post two or three times a day on my Facebook page, sometimes only once. I try to keep it mixed up a bit. Twitter, I use a bit differently. I am currently using EtsyFU. It is available through the Etsy Aps. The first month is free and I tried it during December. It does an automated twitter posting once an hour for me from all of my listings. It creates hash tags out of my item tags. There is a $5 cost per month for this service. I also tweet all treasuries that include my shop. It only takes a second to hit that tweet button and move on. So most of the advertising up above is free for the taking. I have tried Etsy Search ads but I have never, ever gotten a sale from any Etsy Search ad, no matter how much money I have used to promote my items.

Customer Service

I will admit that I have had people return items. I have shipped the wrong item to the wrong address. I have made mistakes. The main thing is to NEVER ever be afraid to admit to your mistakes. Always offer alternatives to your customer for example:

I will be glad to ship the alternative item to you free of charge. I will be glad to refund the cost of the shipping to you if you would please return the item. Thank you so much for pointing out this error. I will be glad for you to keep the wrong item and I will send the correct one immediately. ($20 and under item, my mistake.)

If the item is larger or more expensive then I ask that they return the item and I will be glad to refund them their costs. IF it is my error I will refund the cost of the return shipping.

Do what you have to do to make it right for the customer. Sometimes you just can't make someone happy and then refund their money and cancel the sale completely. Don't worry about getting the item back or not. I have done this when I have bent over backwards trying to please the customer first.

When I started I made sure that I had kept their money in my account until I knew they had received it and were pleased. Now, there is a bit of a cushion in my account and it isn't as big a deal to issue refund. Please be very careful how you word your e-mails or convos to customers that are unhappy with your items. Remember that it depends on what frame of mind they are in when they read your e-mail. They might be reading it when they have had a really bad day and take everything you say wrong.

Do what you have to do to make it right for the customer. Sometimes you just can't make someone happy and then

Fallacy vs Truths

Fallacy:

1. No sales = bad product
This simply isn't true. You can do everything right with the product and still not get sales. It can be everything from the wrong season for your target market to you shop is just not getting seen

2. No sales = too high a price
There is a sweet spot for every item. When you are new it is ok to look at other sellers and price your item according to what other sellers on Etsy have priced their similar items.

3. No sales = people don't like what they see
People often like but don't buy. They window shop, they check out your shop and may say I can make that myself. Tehy may not have money. Most sales happen on pay days, 1st and 15th of the month.

4. No sales = it is right to quit
No, it takes time to get found. The more items you have in your shop the more you will be found on Etsy and Google.

5. What sells at craft fairs will sell on Etsy or vice versa
I have never made a killing at Craft fairs. I do get sales on Etsy. Sometimes Etsy items sell both places but not always. It depends on your community and your online community.

6. Remove all Summer items when it is winter where you live and the reverse
Remember that in half of the world Summer and Winter are reversed. IF you are willing to ship to other countries.

7. The Christmas season starts on Black Friday
Prepping for each Holiday really begins at least about 6 months ahead of time. Editors are looking for Christmas items in the Spring so keep this in mind.

8. I don't need a business account
You do need a business account. It will help you keep track of how you are doing. It will help you see the money build up in your business account and keep you honest about how your business is really doing. The question you need to ask is, Is this a business or a Hobby?

9. I am selling to people like me
No, you are not selling to people like you. IF you are then you are just an idea bank for them. They will come and look at your things and then go and make the item themselves.

10. I don't need to learn all the technical computer stuff
Yes, you do need to learn some of it. You need to know what SEO is and how to use twitter, and what hash tags are and a ton of the other things that have to do with running an online business. The good news is that you can learn as you go. I google for answers to my questions all the time. Sometimes I understand what is said and sometimes I don't. Libraries are full of "For Dummy" or "Complete Idiots" guide to different topics. They will walk you through anything and everything you might need to know about running an online business. Amazon has tons of e-books on running a Etsy or online business. You can read all of the samples and see which books work for you before you buy.

Brand Your Item

Every single item that leaves your shop should have a tag on it and a business card with it. Three months from now when they are at a coffee shop and someone says to my customer "I love that cozy! Where did you get it?" I don't want them saying Etsy. There are thousands of coffee sleeve sellers on Etsy. I want them to say "ChocolateDogStudio. She has a shop on Etsy. See here is the tag."

Remember, that you have a vision, a talent and a gift that other people do not have. Your business will evolve and change over time as styles and fashions change. You can do this but success rarely comes over night but with hard work. Be the Etsy seller that you want to buy from.

by Karen of ChocolateDogStudio

Post by Sue of SueRunyonDesigns

Comments (12)

On January 9, 2014 at 8:19 AM , Jessica Backer said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks SueR for putting this together. And thanks everyone for sharing your tips.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 8:57 AM , ifrog crafter said...

Thank you all for sharing these tips. I really do see what i need to work on.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 9:47 AM , KarenW said...

Love all these tips! Thanks for sharing.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM , sammysgrammy said...

Wow, this is surely an eye-opener. Thanks for gathering the info, Sue and "teamies", thank you for sharing the secrets of your success.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 10:55 AM , Lorrie Esposito said...

Thank you to Sue and the talented members of our team for sharing their expertise. Great tips!

 
On January 9, 2014 at 12:02 PM , The REAL EverSewSweet said...

This is one of the best posts ever! Loaded with helpful information. Thank you, Sue, for compiling it, and to all the shops who contributed.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM , Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your tips. ChocolateDogStudio's fallacy vs. truth insights are excellent. NellywithWings.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 2:55 PM , Jennifer said...

I love this post. Thank you for all the fantastic tips!

I really love the last statement from Karen (ChocolateDogStudio). I have fallen into the trap of saying "I got it off etsy" to someone who asked where I got my earrings or such. I want to make it clear to someone where my key racks came from.

Thanks!

 
On January 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM , Judy Russi said...

Great advice -- congrats to these successful shops!

 
On January 9, 2014 at 6:00 PM , C. Weed said...

This is so helpful! I only wish I could put tags on my items :) Some of these other things would be a cinch to do.

 
On January 9, 2014 at 6:33 PM , Sue Runyon said...

Thanks so much to Cherie, Lucy, Julia and Karen for their great advice and taking the time to write it up for us.

Stop by the blog again next week when we'll have more shop owners giving their Top 5 tips.

 
On January 13, 2014 at 8:16 PM , JulieandMax said...

Great advice! Thanks everyone :)