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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Mon Apr 22 2013 11:38:10

Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success

By: Julia Wilkinson
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A recent article from an Etsy newsletter I receive gave tips from full-time Etsy sellers about what helps their businesses succeed. I thought there was a lot of good information in there that can help sellers on any venue. For me, it comes at an especially good time, as I am recasting my own Etsy shop.



Here are some of the highlights:

- "Drool-Worthy" Photos; Unique Backgrounds: We may forget the power of a good, clear image in selling our products. One of the things that struck me were the use of a different but unique background in the photos from seller Stephanie of Etsy shop "metalicious."


Here, you can see the background flatters the items and allows her own style to come through and "my jewelry could finally stand out," as Stephanie says.

This, of course, doesn't mean everyone needs to stray from the plain white background, but it was an interesting idea that I think works well for Stephanie's items, and you might consider too, depending on what you sell.

- Excellent Customer Service and Memorable Packaging: I'm combining two tips in one here because I think they go hand-in-hand. Some of the best and most creative packaging I've seen has come from sellers I've bought from on Etsy. They all seem to go the extra mile. This also helps create good word-of-mouth and repeat customers, two other tips the sellers gave. Here's an example below from Amy of "AHeirloom," which sells wooden cutting boards shaped like states and other shapes. (I soo wanted to stop writing this and buy the Virginia-shaped board, but I think I'll need to wait on that).



- Be Judicious about the Social Media Marketing You Use, But Do It Regularly: I'm paraphrasing here, but full-time Etsy sellers, as all sellers, don't have time to blog, tweet, pin, Instagram, and Facebook all day. (And whatever other current social media trend is hot). But they find a method that works for them and do it regularly. I've been making a practice of adding some of my nicest eBay items to my "Stuff I'm Selling" Pinterest board, and I've noticed those items are getting more sales. (Stephanie prefers Facebook, but "BostonBagLady" likes to use Instagram).

- Send Samples to Bloggers and Other Tastemakers: I don't think I'm ready for that yet, but if there is a blogger or member of the media who writes about your niche, it couldn't hurt to send them something.

Another Etsy tip I just picked up today via LinkedIn: on this interesting thread,
"What do you wish you would have known when you were first launching your Etsy site?", Shirley says, "...you have to go into the expired items tab and renew your items when the 3 months is over, you do not have a reminder and if you do not go in and renew them...pretty soon your store is empty and you do not know where all your items have gone. Pretty basic but I was not aware of it at first."

Also, "the teams on Etsy are a wonderful help so join a few teams , meet some other Etsy sellers and you will learn a lot, I know I have and I am still learning from others."

I know I also have learned from other Etsy sellers. Do you sell on Etsy? If you sell on other sites, what tips do you have about photos, packaging, and making social media work for you without becoming overwhelming? Post a comment here!



Comments (13) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
This user has validated their user name. by: Ina
       
Mon Apr 22 12:45:18 2013
I'm always impressed with the quality of selling tips Etsy publishes, and as you said, Julia, many of them apply to wherever you are selling.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Apr 22 15:59:03 2013
We all know that etsy is doing very well.

But what does a full time seller mean?
Is is someone who makes a good full time wage as much or more than they would working a normal 8 hour day?

Or is it s stay at home mum selling a few items every week?

How many full time sellers does etsy have?
How many does Bonanza have
How many does ebid.net have?

Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Apr 23 00:10:03 2013
To me a FT seller means they are available to reply to emails and transactions almost instantly. This increases my sales and also repeat buyers. FT also to me means you go the extra mile but with balance in all aspects; such as taking the time to actually correspond to the customer and have meaningful but short conversation which is genuine and which reaches the heart as the seed of motivation is the heart. Hopefully they will be motivated to purchase and buy again from start to finish. In order to do this and also provide nice packaging I need to be very organized and have things done ahead of time so that there's no delays in shipping their pkg, and so I can be as productive as I can. I always ship either the same day or next day. I also include samples of a specific item I am selling such as soaps for example and which always increases sales, makes them feel extra special, and it is memorable. Who doesn't like getting a gift? I also write out a receipt for every order instead of printing it out to save on ink. It shows the customer I was willing to take the extra time to do that and it is professional to provide it. At tax time I have all of my sales records saved in the receipt books which is also nice. Ink is much more expensive than a receipt book. Even though all the extra time is put into my business, it all does make a difference. I make a private note in the massage area of my sales re what I may have spoke to the customer about or what they shared so I can go back 3 or 6 months later and email them to see how they are doing, send them an offer, show them something new, send them a little gift card...that usually always brings them back for another sale and they tell friends. I make sure I complete my feedback right away and always build customers up no matter what; looking for the good. I have seen a hundred fold increase over the past 2 years just by improving on these things.
To me a FT seller will strive to build up all areas of their business based around their customers. So it is not just being available. A person should not be in business if you are only working for the money and do not want to care about your business and customers, and go the extra mile. No matter how much you are or are not available if you go the extra mile with everything you do; building a good foundation you can succeed in anything.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: LCA This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Apr 23 00:15:19 2013
I just recently started selling on Etsy, after more than a decade with eBay.

I am so impressed with the site - so much about it just makes me smile and it's inspiring - all the creativity, energy, and colours.

I'm still getting used to the place but it's enjoyable.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: truehandmade This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Apr 23 05:20:22 2013
This post as well as 100's of others posted by Etsy in their own blog fail to include on purpose that most if not all ''full time sellers'' reach this status and benefit every selling day by being hand-picked by Etsy for free promos throughout the site, prominent front page coverage and frequent editorial features written by and controlled by Etsy. All other sellers do not benefit from this constant free promotion and their traffic and sales show that Etsy controls what and who sells well on the site and who does not.  Sellers willing to produce and list products that fit the site's tight editorial control benefit and this grooming/promo trick has been used by Etsy for self-promo from day one.  
The truth is most sellers do not sell on Etsy but those handpicked by Etsy employees do.  
These high-volume sellers never ever talk about the benefits they receive worth tens of thousands of free advertising dollars from Etsy.  Most sellers never benefit and their lack of sales proves just how this Etsy-system works.  Great propaganda tool but most sellers will tell you that Etsy exclusion means little traffic and little to no sales at all.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: PriTrendz This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Tue Apr 23 09:51:11 2013
Very impressed and satisfied with my experience on Etsy. I have shared my experience to help other sellers and beginners.
Please share
www.PriTrendz.com/blog
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle
       
Tue Apr 23 10:07:13 2013
ok, now don't get mad at me...but...

I think the #1 reason ''some'' people have trouble selling on Etsy is the sheer competitiveness of the site.  Pick almost any category of hand-made items, and you will see a range of quality from embarrassingly poor to unbelievably  artistic.  

buyers on Etsy are looking for the best product - price is often not an issue.  This is very very different from ebay or ebid or bonanza.  Quality, craftsmanship, imagination, beauty - these are what are valued most on Etsy.

when I first posted items on Etsy, I did it exactly like Ebay, and after 3 months, sold nada.  then I started looking at competitive items - i mean really looking at them hard.  I modified my listings, explaining how I made the product, my source material, and workmanship.  I improved my pics - went more artistic. suddenly, they started selling.

btw, I've never been featured or mentioned or ever read or written on any Etsy blogs.

I am currently working on a complete line of new products specifically for the Etsy audience.  Etsy sales numbers don't lie - they are extremely impressive.  no other 3rd party site comes close.  but to tap into that market, you have to understand that market.

I would guess that 90% of these huge sales numbers are with less than 25% of the artists.  I think that is the nature of this market.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: ItsSewSusan This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Apr 23 12:14:32 2013
Cayenna stated: "ake a private note in the massage area of my sales re what I may have spoke to the customer about or what they shared so I can go back 3 or 6 months later and email them to see how they are doing, send them an offer, show them something new, send them a little gift card...that usually always brings them back for another sale and they tell friends."

I have wanted to do this for a long time but was told it is against Etsy rules to contact the seller after the close of the sale. Would someone please clarify? If my understanding is correct, I think it is a real mistake on Etsy's part. As Cayenna explained, this contact really increases sales for us, but also Etsy.

Susan
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam
       
Tue Apr 23 18:12:12 2013
I started selling on Etsy about 6 months ago. Specifically to start weaning my business off of ebay. Listed about 150 items on the store inventory. Paid extra for "Top Page" advertisement & prices were competitive. The result was 3 sales in 1 month (I sell triple that in a DAY on ebay) Quite pathetic. In fact, I let all the listings expire, sales dived to 1 per month. I would be more than willing to transfer my total inventory to Etsy (about 800 items) if I can get 70% of the sales I get on ebay. Maybe someday this will happen, just not today.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: EKE This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 25 10:05:37 2013
truehandmade above is correct. After Etsy initiated Gift Cards and the new Browse feature, chasing after a Pinterest-like appearance, our sales on multiple stores bottomed out. Scary bad. And their staff give the most insulting responses to requests for help. Their new Admin is the Ebay Donohoe clone. So much of what sells there is China merchandise now. Regretsy posted a piece showing their new CEOs sales - it was stuff from China. The Etsy of old has disappeared. Plus, the flood of sellers from Ebay to Etsy, undermining the market value of vintage goods, has eroded the vintage market. Thanks, Ebay. The world is your low-ball, undervalued  oyster. The race to the bottom is on!
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: EKE This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Apr 25 10:10:02 2013
I forgot to add something I think is really telling about Etsy. Did you notice that they have done away with ANY form of seeing what has sold on Etsy? This is highly unusual, very suspect. People were actually showing the truth of what truehandmade above said, so Etsy pulled the plug on being able to see what items were currently selling there. I think they are probably the only venue that does not allow sellers OR buyers to see what has sold, what current trends are in their market. Their refusal to pull huge China sellers also shows that they are more concerned about their own corporate bottom line. Products are buried now in their new Browse. And soon they will eliminate Categories. So, the buyer is faced with browsing up to 250 pages. If you're not lucky enough to show up in whatever their Relevancy is (and they don't explain even that), you are forever buried.
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt
       
Thu Apr 25 14:49:12 2013
In regards to ''memorable packaging'', the only thing I'd remember is never to buy from that seller again. Custom branded shipping materials cost money, guess who pays for that? Even for a novelty item like a wooden cutting board shaped like states, who in their right mind is going to buy again and again because or packaging? Oh yeah, grandma, instead of sending another sweater.

Have to add, I like to cook and if someone gave me or my wife an irregularly shaped cutting board as a gift, it would end in the closet to be re-gifted at the next office Christmas party.

This type of advice does nothing to help sellers and is pure nonsense. Reminds me of those clickbank e-books that pretended to teach people ''the secrets'' of how to make millions on eBay by using dropshippers.  
Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success   Full-Time Etsy Sellers Share Secrets to Success
by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Apr 27 21:36:21 2013
EKE, what the heck are you talking about? I can still see sold items in other people's Etsy shops. If you can't see them, then maybe you're part of a test. Please don't post un-truths; that helps no one.


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