I love reading advice posts, especially if they are written by a real person. Believe it or not I am a real person. Sitting here thinking how I should begin this very post. It seems that I have thought of something! I can feel myself straying from the message of this post already! Anyway!
I was surprised to see that quite a few bloggers are fellow Etsy sellers, it's also great to see Etsy sellers begin blogs to advertise their stock. (more on that later). When I heard people speak about Etsy I thought of it as a complex ebay type 'thing'. It was one of my best friends that suggested that we really go for it and start a shop whilst I was at Uni. That was the birth of my shop 'Felt Geek' and my friends shop 'Winter Prim'.
At first we were completely hopeless, we had 2 items for sale each. We weren't making anything knew and inspiration was lacking. But after a few months (yes months) we really really gave it a go. I don't want to start going into the history of my Etsy life, I just want to share a few basic tips that I have found helpful in the past and present. If you are thinking of starting an Etsy shop from fresh or alongside your blog, please take and use these tips! Share them on your blogs etc. Good luck and I hope you find these just a little bit helpful. (scroll to the end for the speedy stamps review!)
1. Name: Before you start anything you have to have some idea as to what you are going to sell. What you sell nearly always influences what the name of your shop will be. The clearer the link the more easy it is for customers to recognise what they want. Which is most important! For me choosing Felt Geek was relatively easy. I was using Felt as my main material and I was making geeky things. Please make sure there aren't any shops with that name already! Not just for copyright reasons but also because you want to stand out in a crowded market not be confused with a possible competitor!
2. Look: Now for me is the fun bit. I love design. Leave me in a room with Photoshop and a few fonts and I'll be there for hours. Most people turn to Word or (dare I say) paint to create logos for their business. For most people it just isn't a big deal. BUT IT IS! I can't tell you how much influence good quality appearance makes. So please no blurry or pixelated images with Comic Sans font. So what do you do if you have no idea about Photoshop. Well, my best friend is Pixlr.com. It has three levels of difficulty in making and editing pictures etc. Have a play around and see how you get on. If it's not for you then look for people like me who don't charge £100's to create a logo etc. They do exist, ask one of your friends or family.
3. Stock: Etsy say that you are more likely to be found in a search if you have more stock. Of course they are going to say that. The more listings you create the more money they get. Unfortunately this seems to be true. If you are starting an Etsy shop make sure you have a little cash set aside for starting everything up. I noticed that my traffic increased by 100's when I had around 40 listings. It takes time to build up stock, so don't rush. Also don't wait until you have 40 items to put them all up at once. Add them as you go!
4. Financial: As I mentioned you do need to have a little cash set aside. Take into consideration Etsy fees, PayPal fees and material costs. Don't let it put you off though! I honestly don't notice it too much, as long as you keep on top of everything.
5. Social Media: Welcome to the crown jewel. You've finally set up your shop. Social Media will now be your new favourite, pet, partner, place and portal? I don't know! You don't need to have 100's of followers already, build up a loyal and friendly fanbase. It takes time, sometimes a lot of time. Like most things it's worth the wait. Take the time to make sure all your logos and banners match on every social network that you exist within. Make people notice you, and link, link, link!
1. Social Media: It's time to open your shop! Woo! Look whose popped up again. You're favourite 21st Century entity; Social Media. Hopefully you've started a few social networking accounts. My top 3 are: Twitter, Pinterest and Blogger. I do have a Facebook account but the likes just don't come as often as the follows and pins. It's still a good idea to have one linked up so people at least have the option. Don't limit yourself or your shop when it comes to Social Media. On the other hand make sure you can realise what social media is working best for your shop, and put the most effort into that one.
2. Word of mouth: Don't just rely on the interwebs. Reach out to your community! Put up posters in busy social areas (asking permission first of course.) Business cards are a great way to reach a wider audience of people, keep them in your bag! You can usually get a few free ones with some printing companies, thats what I do.
3. Outside World: If you are okay on the stock level it might be an idea to take part in a small craft fare to dip your toe into the selling world. Get some feedback. For anyone that buys something let them know about your shop and offer them a coupon!
4. Special Offers: I said coupon didn't I! One great aspect of Etsy is that you can create custom coupons. They can last for as long as you like. It can be money off, free postage or a percentage off. I find percentage works best (25% off etc.) Use Social Media to promote your shop. Maybe something like: New customers can get 25% their first purchase with coupon code: OPENTODAY.
5. Advertising: I'm sure you've noticed that most things go hand in hand when it comes to Etsy. Try and keep on top of advertising your blog online. Hoot Suite is a great tool that you don't have to pay for. Set up your tweets for the week and your set. Use up the keywords (tags) on your listings as well, that's where most of your early traffic is likely to come from. Another great tip! Is bloggers and vloggers! See if you can get in touch with them and ask for a review. They'll usually do it for free if they get the product for free!
1. Organisation: For some organisation is fun for others it isn't. But you cannot deny that it is essential in running a business. The word business shouldn't be scary. It isn't a word reserved for those making millions in sky scrapers. It for anyone! You have a fabulous unique business, one that needs to be kept organised. Get yourself a ring binder (folder). I have one that has; a wallet for postage receipts, invoices, stickers, stock checks, price lists, material lists/prices. It's up to you to decide what you think you'll like to keep track of.
2. Production: This is where I fall majorly behind. With a busy life, the production of items can be tricky. When I first started I made the wrong decision of setting my production time to 2-3 days. Which is crazy! Especially if you are hand-sewing bespoke items! I think that 5-10 days is a good time to get each order finished. If you have any spare time, keep up to date with stock. Make a few copies of your best selling items. If relevant; create templates! They save SO much time!
3. Social Media: Just a reminder again to keep up to date with that Twitter. It can be annoying for some people but it's got to be done. Don't spam though, I would say about 4 tweets a day is good. 2 in the GMT(ish) time zone and one for the US time zone. (if shipping internationally)
4. Professionalism: Remember you are a business so it's a good idea to always remain professional in emails and communications. I think creating invoices or receipts is a super easy form of professionalism. Mine have a little message, pictures and a geeky quote on, make it more personal.
5. Personal Touch ALWAYS! Just because you are professional doesn't mean you can't be personal. You are a small business. The odd smiley face in a message is great! And also I wouldn't sound too formal on social media. :)
The Boring Stuff:
1. Taxes: It's different wherever you are in the world. I'm based in the UK. I am well (WELL) under for paying tax. However I think you are still expected to notify the tax office. I would just phone up (such fun!) the tax office and discuss your options. It's better to be safe!
2. Copyright: I've recently had a little rumble with 20th Century Fox over a Hunger Games item in my shop. Please be careful what you put in the description and title of your items. I would be very clear that your items are 100% original or inspired. Do your research before committing to a design. You could always look into contacting companies and asking about applying for copyright usage.
3. Postage: I would start off shipping locally so you can get an idea what postage system works best for you. Remember that your customers have to pay postage so you'll want to pick the cheapest and safest option for them. In the UK its the Royal Mail. I choose to charge exactly how much the postage costs no more, no less. I would highly recommend shipping internationally if available. I would say that 75% of my customers are overseas (US).
4. Fees: Fees, Fees, Fees, don't you just love them? Oh right. No we don't. But someones always got to make money haven't they? There are Etsy fees and Paypal fees to take into consideration. Here's what Etsy says about their fees: "Joining and setting up a shop on Etsy is free. Each item listing on Etsy costs $0.20 USD when the listing is published. A listing lasts for four months or until the item is sold. Once a sale occurs, we assess a 3.5% transaction fee on the item's sale price."
If you know you can fulfil orders always keep your listing stock number high (x10) this will mean you won't have to pay for more listings if you sell the item.
Here is Paypal: "PayPal charges UK sellers a fee of between 1.4% and 3.4% of the total sale plus 20p per transaction within the UK. The fee depends on how much you sell, so the more you sell, the less you pay."
It's not always going to be easy, but I think it's important to remember that you are in control, so if it all gets too much? Close the shop, or put it in holiday mode for awhile. Your passion shouldn't become something you loathe, it should be an enjoyable hobby (most of the time.) Remember that all businesses start off small, tiny even! I started my shop 10 months ago and have just reached over 100 sales. I've still got such a long way to go till I join the 100,000's club. But I'm not giving up! Be brave and start something new! If you can, then why not try it!
I was recently contacted by Speedy Stamps. At first I wondered why they were contacting me. But they told me about their awesome custom stamp service! I'd always printed off my own stickers to put on my packages for Felt Geek. It always took ages, ink and sticker paper isn't exactly cheap! They were kind enough to send me a stamp to review. They asked me to send them a black and white image of my Felt Geek logo. A few days later I received my own big stamp! They come in all different sizes, but I loved the bigger one as I want people to notice it on the package.
You get a really great quality ink pad too. The ink sits on the stamp nicely and doesn't clog up. Just make sure you apply the ink evenly on the surface of the stamp. The stamp by itelf is really easy to clean aswell. I was surprised at how detailed the small writing comes out on the stamp. I've taken quite a few images so you can see for yourself. Pop over to their site -click here- you can see how the made to order stamps work and how you can order one! :)
I think it's a great and unique way of advertising your brand. Of course it's not just for Etsy sellers it's great for bloggers too. Any promotional material will look great with a cute stamp! I think I'm going to get another one with my blog logo on.
I hope you enjoyed this rather long post! I suppose I have to make up for my incredibly long and uncalled for absense from the blogging world! But I'm back, I have a few important and fun posts coming up. If you still read my blog then really you are the best <3 Don't forget I'm always looking for other bloggers etc. to collaborate with. If you need any help with design or anything I'll be here to help. Sometimes I think it's nicer to get help from someone whose in the same situation as you. I'm not a professional in anyway but I learn from my mistakes and enjoy learning from others. I hope you have a lovely rest of the week and I'll see you in the next post.
(I was not paid in any way for this post. The item was sent to me to review)