Today’s blog post was written by Megan Hodges, owner of Pretty Letters, a successful Etsy shop featuring custom monogrammed gifts. Etsy is a marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade and vintage products.
Do you have a craft that could turn into a potential business? Find out by reading Megan’s insight on starting an Etsy business.
I?ll be the first to admit? when I first opened my Etsy shop, Pretty Letters, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. On a whim, I opened a shop so that my cousin and her friends who lived in another state could easily buy the personalized wine glasses and monogram decals I made as a hobby. Before I knew it, I was beginning to get orders from strangers?this little hobby of mine was starting to generate a little income and I didn?t hate it.
Over the past year and a half as my little hobby-turned-business grew, I knew I had to step up my game if I wanted to see some real success. A little research, a lot of trial and error, and good ole fashioned conversation with customers led me to three fundamental practices I recommend every first time Etsy seller should think about before opening shop.
1. Do Your Research
Granted, when I began I wasn?t quite looking to start a business, but I did know that I had a unique and trendy item that lots of women were currently coveting. But that?s not always enough. If I could do it over again, I would make sure that my little idea could actually succeed as a business.
Sometimes what we think is a great concept isn?t always a product customers are looking for, so seriously ask yourself the following questions:
Is there an actual demand for what I want to sell?
When I do a Google search, a search on Etsy and Pinterest, and several image searches, are there many similar products?
If so, what would make my product stand out?
If not, why aren?t others selling what I?m selling?
Would what you?re selling fulfill a need somewhere? If so, what?
How much would it cost to make your item? How much time would it take? What would you charge to earn a profit? Would someone be willing to pay that much for your item?
Who is your target market and why would they purchase this from YOU?
2. Evaluate Your Resources
The next big thing once you?ve determined it?s worth it to take the plunge into selling your craft is to really take a good, hard look at your available resources?this means the money you can spend on your business and your valuable time. Set up a budget that you feel comfortable spending in the first few months. This budget needs to include money for a beginning inventory, Etsy listing costs (yes, those exist), promoted listings (if you choose to advertise), shipping costs, and other surprise expenses that every early entrepreneur can accrue. Bottom line: starting an Etsy business ain?t cheap.
Besides the costs, I?d say the single most important thing beginner Etsy sellers fail to consider before starting their business is just how much time it takes. You will spend countless hours creating listings, making sure your descriptions and policies are up to date and well-written, taking photos, having conversations with customers, etc. on top of maintaining sales. In addition, you will inevitably spend even more time pouring over stats, perfecting your social media presence, and thinking up new ideas. The wheels of a well-maintained shop never stop turning.
3. Beautify Your Storefront
Now comes the fun part. Once you?ve nailed down the big stuff, like your target market, your budget, exactly what you?re going to sell, and a name for your business, it?s time to actually create your shop.
An Etsy shop?s storefront has the following basic areas, so pay special attention to all of them:
This banner is at the top of your listings and gives you the opportunity to showcase your brand name in an eye-catching way
This is the area of text below your banner. Make sure it includes information about what types of products you sell, important policies, and any sales, holiday information, or delays you may have. Here is a great way to provide important information to customers before they scroll down to shop.
Your shop sections are on the far left side of your storefront and help categorize the types of items you sell into ease to search sections.
Etsy allows you to select four listings to promote at the top of your listings. These can be sale items, best sellers, or just items you think your customers will like.
Having updated store policies is muy importante. For beginning shop owners, take a look at other successful shop owners? policies to get an idea of what to include. At a bare minimum, determine your refund/return and shipping policies. These will help prevent you from running into issues down the wrong if an order goes awry.
Now it?s time to create your first listing! A great listing should include beautiful, dynamic photos (I recommend at least three), a detailed and well-written description, a competitive price (seriously, stalk your competitors!), what materials your product is made out of, and types of customization available. If you allow customers to request customization, be sure to check mark that box!
Now you get to sit back and wait for that first sale! But even after a couple of years of trial and error, trying to figure out what works best for me, I still don?t always think I have it nailed down. My business is successful because I?m always working at it. I?m always tweaking descriptions and photos, testing out new products, and genuinely getting to know my customers to see how I can grow. Getting that first sale is exhilarating, but opening an Etsy shop is not for the faint of heart.
Do you have a craft you’d like to turn into a business? Comment about it below!
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.