Friday, May 20, 2011

Etsy: Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Etsy is a great way to sell handmade items

A couple of days ago I saw a post on a forum that I am on about someone getting ready to throw in the towel after not having much luck on Etsy. I provided a little personal experience and a little advice. The response to my advice was so good that I thought I would make it into a blog post so that I might help others out. So here it is, only slightly edited.

When starting a new brick and mortar business, the rule of thumb is to have three years worth of rent/utilities/expenses saved up before you start. The reason being is that you will not make a profit the first three years. Even the IRS does not expect any kind of positive return for the first three years.

Online businesses need about a year worth of funding because you rarely make a profit in the first year. Now some businesses make money right off and others just never make any money. Usually if you are not making any money after a year of being on the Internet it is time for a complete restructure and re-evaluation of what you are doing.

Making back almost half of your $200 investment in less than 6 months would put you well ahead of the curve. I personally have invested a couple thousand dollars into my shop with lets say not even close to half in return in the three months or so I have had my Etsy shop open.

A lot of the hard work you do promoting your stuff online is actually a long term investment. Google can take up to a year to properly index your content. That is a year from the start. Being on blogs is a good thing, of course blogs with lower follower count will be more likely to interview/list you. That is another investment into the future. 20 followers now and maybe 200 followers in 3 or 4 months. New followers tend to check out older content when they follow.

One thing to look at is the possibility that your items are priced too low. Lowball pricing might translate to someone that your product isn't good or that it is cheap rather than inexpensive. Raising all your prices 10% to 25% could greatly increase your sales. I know it sounds crazy but even people seeking a bargain do not want to buy something so inexpensive they think it is imported and resold.

Shops with only a few items look sparse and like it is more of a hobby. To really look like you are in business, you need a lot of items. Shops with 100+ items do much better than shops with 12 or 15 items.

How many teams are you a part of? I am a part of a lot of teams, and just about every one of them has a "Newly Listed" thread. Every time I add a new item I make the rounds and spread the word. I also post almost every item to my twitter feed, both of them.

Have you added people to your circle? I added about 10 people a day to my circle until I reached the Etsy circle limit. About 3/4 of the people I added added me back. Anyone who puts you in their circle sees an item newly listed or a treasury created by you. It is kind of cool too. The more people who circle you makes you look important and the more people that see you are in a lot of circles add you because there must be something up!

I hope some of this helps you out. I started on Etsy in March. I lost my job in April. I am aiming to make online sales my main income one day. I am doing a lot of legwork and I am always happy to share. A lot of this information may not make sense if you do not have an Etsy shop or an ArtFire shop. Some of the advice may actually translate well to Brick and Mortar shops, some might not.

I would really like to hear what you think about it. Feel free to make a comment, make a suggestion or add to this in any way.


  1. I'm taking all of this to heart. We're approaching our "One Year of Etsy" mark, and have 97 sales. I suppose that could be considered moderately successful, but sometimes the dark cloud of discouragement creeps overhead. SO, right now, chin up, shoulders back, middle finger firmly in the air. WE CAN DO THIS! Thank you for the kick in the ass. Now off to start adding to our circle...

  2. i'm interested to know how you're doing on artfire, i checked it out last week bcuz of your blog, but was really underwhelmed at the site.
    i just asked on my blog this morning how people shop online, where do they go, what do they look for, how do they shop, in the hope of getting some answers that will help me refine my etsy shop, haute mélange, a lot more.
    i've not worked much on it and my sales certainly reflect that. but now, divorced and without an income all that's got to change.
    i'm re photographing, rewriting, following your advice, blogging, reading, i've really got to make a go of this!
    and thanks, i really enjoy your blog!
    find me at


  3. Loved the advice you gave in the AA forums and it's lead to me following you here! (And as you well know, I'll be featuring you on my blog in a few weeks)! :)

  4. This is good advice :-)

    I think you've got circles slightly wrong though, I don't think people see your new listings, just what you've added to favourites, or made treasuries, or added people to your circle.

    And they've stopped limiting the number too, so go knock yourself out!

  5. Circles are confusing to be sure. The new limit of how many people that you can add to your circle is now 1080. Yes, it seems I was incorrect about new listings and renewed listings. Favorited items and shops and treasury listings is all that is in your feed. Thanks for pointing that out.