Friday, February 5, 2016

What I Wish I Knew Before my First Year of Running an Etsy Shop - Part 2

Last week we started chatting about some of the tips I wish I had thought about when I first started my Etsy shop in Jaunary 2015. I've got three more today! This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you must know to run an etsy shop. I still have a lot to learn! Perhaps a year from now I'll be writing my "what I've learned after two years post"! (Actually I'm sure I will be writing that...)
These are the keys I've found to be the most helpful in building my shop, and what I think everyone would find helpful before they build a shop of their own, or at the beginning stages of growing their business.

>> If you missed part one you can check it out here

Some of the most important things to mention in your item description are the dimensions of your product, what it's made of, how you made it, where it would be used and who would use it. If there's anything that makes it special now is the time to say so! Think of this as the resume of your product!

I think there are more than a few ways to write an impactful product description. I like to say what the piece reminds me of, or the inspiration behind it, or why I chose to do it the way I did. This is very easy in my case because I create one-off woven tapestries. By giving this extra detail, it puts that idea in the shoppers mind, adding an extra layer of interest to the item. It also reminds them that this item is the only one like it, and that it really is handmade.

Descriptions that tell a story, or delve into the process of the piece are also effective. We need to remember when we write these descriptions that people are shopping on Etsy because they want something that is special, something that is handmade, something that they can't get in Target/Gap/whatever corporate store you can think of. So make the uniqueness of your item part of the pitch.
This is an odd and extreme example, but check out this Portlandia Episode "Is the Chicken Local". Yes it's totally exagerated, (and hillarious) but they've nailed it! People want to know everything about what they're buying! And more to this point, people want to feel good about the purchases they make. Recycled, upcycled, organic, fair trade, sustainable, hand made, hand crafted, small batch, local, artisan, vintage, shall I go on? These are all buzz words right now. If your products are any of these things (Please don't lie for the sake of selling!) there's no shame in using them.


  • Who is this item for? Hip Babies,  Crafty Mom's, Rugged Boyfriends, Modern Yogis, Working Ladies, Fashion Forward Students.
  • What is this item/What is it made of? Porcelin coffee mug, Cotton Dress, Soy candle.
  • Where is it used/When would it be used? At the Office, In the Kitchen, During the Christmas Season, At a Picnic.
  • Why does the customer need it? Your wardrobe isn't complete without it, It's the perfect addition to a Gallery wall, it's a one-of-a-kind necklace, Celebrity-X loves these t-shirts.
  • How did you make it? By hand in your Home-based studio, With locally harvested wildflowers, with your Heirloom pottery wheel.

Things you may not even realize make your product cool, make it very cool.  As an example, I use driftwood to hang a lot of my pieces. It seems totally normal and unimportant to me; I live on the west coast, I wander down to the beach and pick up driftwood for my pieces, no biggie. However I've had people message me asking where I source my driftwood from, where do I buy it, because they want to buy it! Some people are specifically looking for beachy/boho art for their beach houses or want to bring a piece of the ocean home. That's why I always mention that I use west coast driftwood in my descriptions - because not everyone can say that.

I know we already talked about product descriptions but if your title is boring or confusing, no one will click on your product to even read that well written description.
Just like Google, etsy looks at the title of your listing for tag words when searching. You get 140 characters so use them all. Buyers only see the first few words anyway. So make the first half interesting and simple. The second half can be more descriptive tag-type words.
1st words are ranked as most relevant and it goes down from there. Use lots of describing words and use what you think people will search for.

Take this listing title for example
Fringed Wall Hanging // White, Pink, Grey and Yellow on Driftwood - weaving, tapestry, wall art, autumn
I could have named this listing "Pink Lady - fringed wall art". Because Pink Lady sounds like a cute name for this piece and it is fringed wall art. But nobody's searching for the name of the wall hanging. They're looking for something to hang on their wall in a certain style or colour scheme. So that's how I'm going to title it.
Pro Tip: Type items in to Etsy's search bar, it will auto populate with the most searched for items as soon as you start typing. Use this to your advantage and name accordingly.

Just listing your items and hoping people stumble across them on etsy probably won't get you anywhere. You need to promote your business and your shop. I probably spend just as much time on promotion as I do creating product.
Social media is an awesome way to promote yourself, I'd argue the best and most necessary. It's free, it's relatively easy, and everyone is on it. You're an online business, it makes sense to promote online. I use instagram as my main form of social media promotion. I like instagram because I have a niche there and have found it to be the easiest platform to grow my following on. Instagram is a very visual platform, which is why makers do so well on it. Choose whichever platform you're most comfortable with, perhaps you're an avid facebook user and know you will grow a quick following there as you already have lots of friends who will support you. Maybe you already rock twitter and are going to focus your attention there. It doesn't matter what you use as long as you utilize it well.
Once you actually post to you social media utilizing relevant hashtags and joining communities are some of the easiest ways to get your name out there on the internet.

It's called Social media for a reason. You can't just post your pictures or tweets or updates on social media and expect the love and money to come pouring in. You have to socialize. Make sure you respond to comments on your posts, post comments on other users posts, giving compliments goes a long way. At this point you're actually networking and promoting. You'll find the more you interact, the more fruitful your social media will become.

There is still so much to learn when it comes to working and selling online! I believe learning as you go is pretty much the only way to improve, we'll never be successful right from the get-go. What's your greatest Etsy tip? I'd love to hear!


  1. These are some great tips -- both posts in the series! I think people really do think you can just go off and list and wait for the sales to roll in, but there has to be SO much promotion!

    1. Thanks Lindsay! I'm glad you enjoyed the posts!

    2. Thanks Lindsay! I'm glad you enjoyed the posts!


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