A few years ago, it seemed that everyone you bumped into was selling on Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade items. For many crafters, Etsy was one of the best ways to make money, as it allowed them to reach a global audience.
Etsy remains a popular place to buy and sell arts and crafts, but a lot people found it more difficult than they thought it would be to make money on Etsy.
If you have a talent and want to sell your products to the masses, Etsy can still be the way to go. You just need to prepare yourself for reality first.
Selling on Etsy isn’t as easy as it looks. You can have a great product but if you can’t attract any buyers, you won’t make any money.
Make a Plan
Before you begin selling on Etsy, you need to lay out a plan.
Are you selling items as a hobby or are you hoping to launch your craft business, once and for all?
If it’s the latter, you most definitely need some type of business plan before you make another move. Your business plan should include:
- Your mission. What do you hope to accomplish by opening an Etsy store? What is it that sets your products apart for the rest?
- Your market. One of the best ways to make money is to know who you’re selling to, that way you can effectively market to them. Are your products designed for young adults, older adults, or children? Are you trying to target men more than women or are your products gender neutral? Also include ways you plan on marketing your Etsy store and products in the plan.
- Your product. What are you planning on selling on Etsy? How much does it cost you to produce each product? You should also list the price at which you plan to sell each product.
- Financial details. You’ll probably need to spend money before you can begin to make it. Figure out how much it costs to make each item, how much you’ll need to give to Etsy, and how much you plan on spending on advertising and marketing. You’ll need a way to fund your business at the start. Will you get loans or use your own money?
Make Your Shop Stand Out
Once you have a detailed plan in place, it’s time to trick out your Etsy shop. Every item you list on Etsy should have an eye-catching picture along with it.
If your photography skills are lacking, you might want to hire a pro or at least a friend who knows her way around a camera.
Take at least five pictures of each item you list, so that buyers can see the item from as many angles as possible. Your pictures should be well-lit, clear, and accurate. If your items have any intricate details, be sure to include a close-up shot of the details.
Another way to make your shop stand out is to embrace SEO and social media marketing. Keywords are your friend, especially if you want people doing a Google search to come across your item.
Don’t keyword stuff or sound like a robot in your listings, though. Do make use of the tags and labels Etsy offers so that your items are properly listed and categorized on the site.
Social media is a useful tool for connecting with your Etsy customers. Promote your Etsy page on your personal profile at first. If your shop takes off, you can start your own profiles for it and ask customers to like or follow you.
Price Your Products Right
When you are first launching a business, it’s tempting to under price yourself to get more sales. But, unless you are some sort of machine and are able to crank out handmade items at a rapid pace, you’ll never make money if you keep pricing your items too low.
When figuring out what to charge, poke around the Etsy site to see what other sellers are charging for similar items. Try to price your items comparably.
You should also figure out the cost of materials plus the cost of your time. How long do you spend on each item and how much is an hour of your time worth? Be reasonable with your pricing and expectations and items should start to move.
Don’t Expect Magic
Some Etsy sellers rise to the top quickly and begin to turn a profit. Others might languish for years without selling a single item.
The trick to surviving on Etsy is having realistic expectations. If you don’t do the hard work of promoting your site, both to people and search engines, you probably won’t make a sale.
There’s no magic formula that guarantees Etsy success. You have to keep working at it to make a buck.
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.