Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6 months and 500 sales, advice on building a strong business

I have been on Etsy for 6 months now and just celebrated my 500th sale. I have achieved this in part due to the awesome advice I have found on the forums, and feel that it is my turn to share 10 points that have made a difference in my shop.

1) Treat your shop as a business.
If you treat your shop as a hobby, you will get a hobby's worth of results. Be dedicated to creating new products, filling out your shop, taking excellent pictures, knowing how to work with the Etsy system, and promoting in as many ways as your are able. Search the internet for business topics, read the forums, learn as much as you can. It is not as simple as creating something and listing it.

2) Know your target market.
Knowing your target market and providing a product that they WANT is the foundation for a successful shop. You can make beautiful things, but let's face it, if you targeting the wrong people, or if your beautiful things do not fulfill a need or want in your market you are not going to sell anything.

Ask yourself a few questions and gear your descriptions, or even your products to speak to your market. BEING a member of your target market helps tremendously with putting yourself in their mindset.
-Why would my market be interested in my products?
-What aspects of my product would be the biggest selling point?
-Where does my target market hang out on the internet? (What is the best place to join in the community and quietly promote)

3) Search your key search on Etsy every day (or multiple times a day).
A large percentage of people are going to find you simply by searching on Etsy. It is important that you show up in this search, that you show up early, and that you show up often.
-Think of all the possible search words that you think of someone might type in to find your item and tag your items accordingly.
-Create new items or renew items frequently so that you remain present in the searches. The more times you show up, the more chances you have of someone falling in love with your products. If you drop down too far, it is time to renew, or list a new item.
-Get to know your competition through this search. Analyze their style, how prolific they are, how frequently they list, their success, etc. Use this information to make your shop stand out next to them.

4) Make the most of your tags.
Use ALL of them. Tag colors, your shop name, key selling points (free shipping, eco friendly, etc.), important materials (sterling silver, cashmere, etc.) and descriptive words (soft, shiny, classy, funky, retro, etc), common misspellings, and alternate phrasing.
-Look at your competition's listings for ideas on other tags that you could be using.

Your buyers find you through these tags, as do treasury makers. Treasuries help bring more exposure to you, thus increasing your views, and hopefully sales.

5) Visually stand out from the crowd.
Make your items stand out from your competition. This is about branding. You want your buyers to see your items in the search and know that it is yours.
-Have a unique style that shows up in your photographs. This may be the style of your products themselves, or simply the way you photograph them.

6) Continually improve your photography.
Your photographs will make or break you. Your customers can't hold your items, so the photographs need to be clear, informative, and visually stunning all at once.
-Read tutorials online, and in the forums to improve your shots.
-Use natural light, or a light box.
-Tweek your shots in photo editing software to make them the best they can be.
-Take LOTS of pictures of each item at many different angles. Choose only the best 5 to keep.
-Search around Etsy for another seller who's product photographs you admire. Emulate their style and adapt it to fit your items and your shop. DO NOT copy their style exactly. You want to stand out. Use their style as inspiration on how to pose items, or how something looks best.
-Use all 5 picture slots that Etsy gives you.
-Select 1 shot that is artsy, alluring, and visually stunning that will draw your customers in. Make them want to click on it to get a better look and to see more of that stunning piece. Make this your first shot.
-Give at least 1 shot of the full item. You may loose a sale if your customer has to piece together all your shots to figure out what the whole thing looks like.
-Show important details such as the clasp, patterning, etc.
-Have a shot showing your item in scale. It is difficult to tell in a picture how big, or small an item is. Dimensions in your description are important, but it is difficult to visualize dimensions. Show a necklace or purse on a model, your stuffed toy in a person's hand, or your artwork on the wall next to a piece of furniture.

7) List more
You can't sell it if it isn't in your shop.
-Creating and listing more means more choice for your customers.
-More listings spaced out have your shop show up more frequently in the searches, bringing more people to your shop.
-More variety means more choice for your customers. The more items you have, the more likely someone is to fall in love with a piece and take it home.
-Shops that are filled out have a more professional appearance, like you are running a business rather than a hobby.

As you list more, use your shop sections, so that your buyers can easily find everything in your shop.

8) Diversify your product line
Variety is the spice of life. Additional product lines allow you to list in multiple categories, which allows you to draw people to your shop from multiple searches. If your products are complimentary, it encourages people to find something in your shop they didn't realize they wanted when they typed in the original search. Consistently look at your products and ask yourself:
-Is there a complementary line of products I can also sell?
-Can I make this product in more sizes or colors or patterns?
-Can I offer more products in different price ranges?

9) Make a high quality product
If your customers are delighted with your products they will come back for more and refer more people to your shop. This is free advertising, and the more people they send your way, the fewer you have to find yourself.
-Pay attention to details
-Use materials you are proud of

10) Provide excellent customer service
Each customer that you take care of well and comes back, is one customer you don't have to find.
-Treat your customers as you would like to be treated.
-Check your email and convos at least once a day, if not more often
-Be professional, polite, and kind.
-Ship quickly
-Maintain communication. If something is taking a while, keep them updated. Let your customers know when their items have been shipped.

I hope that this helps you all in your shops and here's to each of you reaching 500 sales :D
My Online Shop:

6 comments:

Audrey said...

Those are really great tips!! Congrats on the 500 sales! So far my shop is a hobby - that's all the time I have to give it. But I'm having fun doing it and being on the etsy forums. Great people there.

Arelel Designs said...

Wonderful advise...thank you so much for sharing. I was already thinking about retaking some of my pictures and now your comments are spurring me on. :o)

GumballGrenade said...

Lots of great advice here!

Purple Daisies said...

such a comprehensive list! thanks for sharing all this,

Tethyis Dreams said...

Congratulations, you've received a blog award, just drop by my blog to pick it up!
Jana

missknits said...

these are really great tips! i so appreciate them! if i knew now what i knew a year ago! lol will definitly work harder on some of these!