Are you interested in getting your business online? Curious, unsure, maybe even apprehensive about it? Put your worries to rest; its not as difficult as it seems! There are many routes an entrepreneurial artist may take to show their items off to the world; some can be involved and cost a fortune, while others can be a welcome experience.
What is Etsy?
If you have never heard of Etsy, prepare yourself, your world is about to change. Etsy is the very best place in the internet to find unique, hand-made, amazing and usually one-of-a-kind wonders. It’s the A-Z of hand-made items, supplies and vintage things; the leaders, if you will, of the hand-made revolution.
What can Etsy do for you?
Etsy is a great place to start your business. Adding your unique items to the massive mix that is Etsy will allow potential customers from around the world come in contact with you and your items.
How can you stand out among that ‘massive mix’?
I am not going to sugar coat it for you, Etsy is big. Really big. The very best way you can stand out among the crowd is to completely be yourself.
Take the very best, clean photos of your items. Presentation is everything.
Create warm, heart-felt item descriptions. You really can say anything you want, but most Etsy buyers are looking for some sort of connection with their seller.
Quality! Most Etsians are happy to shell out the extra dollars for high quality, one-of-a-kind pieces. This is where you can show it off!
Tag your items! Tags are your most important and often the most neglected tool. Tags will help your customers find your items.
How much does it cost?
Depending on the price of your items, Etsy can either be a good investment or could cut into your potential earnings. It is a tough choice to make, but when the sales are coming in and your work is being seen all around the world, it can feel like a no-brainer.
The pros: to open a shop is free! Each item listed is only $0.20 USD per quantity in stock. Once listed, the listing does not expire for four months (though most users renew with varying frequency). Many sellers will re-list an item as it sells. Additionally, instead of having to spend hours writing out item descriptions, you can ‘copy’ them and re-work them to be more specific to each of your items, saving you hours of click-clackin’ at your keyboard when you should be creating awesome products.
The cons: everybody has to get paid. Etsy gets a 3.5% cut and PayPal also takes their 2.7% of the sale price. However, credit card is not the only available payment option. If you are open to it, shop owners can allow payments by cheque or money order. (Note: In my two and a half years selling on Etsy, I have never received payments other than by credit card.)
Recently, for American sellers, Etsy has begun to dabble with direct payments, essentially cutting out PayPal. There have been mixed reviews in the forums about this, but maybe that can be the topic of another post at a later date. The direct payment option costs $0.25 + 3.0% of the total cost (including taxes and shipping). While the percentage is lower than paying both Etsy and PayPal, cutting out PayPal may lose customers, who trust the buyer guarantee of PayPal.
In reality: the total costs paid to Etsy and PayPal are some of the lowest in the industry. Etsy has evolved greatly over the past two years to make creating and renewing listings extremely easy for shop owners.
What makes Etsy great?
Etsy provides shop owners a clutter free store front, great tools like shop statistics, allows users to ‘favorite’ items (much the same way you can ‘like’ a post on facebook) and they have a great resolution center for missing or damaged goods (because every once and a while, a shipment slips through the cracks). In a nutshell, Etsy can give you a wealth of information about how users view your items, while allowing you to set your prices, shipping costs and item descriptions on your own terms.
Is there anything else?
Etsy is more than a storefront for your business. It is a fully-functioning community with forums, daily and weekly newsletters and if you sign up for them, sellers guides that cover everything from photography tips to how-to’s for preparing for the holiday season, ect. Etsy features successful sellers and asks them questions we’re all dying to know the answers to: how did they quit their day job? Because ultimately, whether you’re just starting out or have been slowly growing your business over the years, it feels good to be successful, to profit from your hard work.
What are teams?
To encourage a deeper sense of community, Etsy created teams where like-minded individuals can contribute on a more intimate, one-on-one level. Teams can be used as a smaller forum for questions and answers, to set themes for treasuries (read below for more information), and to promote fellow members through community events, meet ups, whatever you can imagine!
What are treasuries?
A treasury is a living-breathing-member-curated collage or gallery of items. Most curated treasuries have themes. Any Etsian may create a treasury, like a treasury, or comment/tweet/like a treasury. Many users create treasuries based on weekly themes and some Teams often broadcast member-curated themes as well. Treasuries are a fun, easy way to interact with the Etsy community. Featuring up to 16 separate artists whom you admire can really help to cultivate that sense of community we are always hoping to be a part of. Creating a treasury creates excitement about the featured artists items. Commonly, once featured, an artist may then reciprocate the karma, featuring your items as well. I really have a lot of fun searching through images and theme words looking for the perfect items!
How do I know all of this?
While I admit I am no Etsy-expert, I have been around for a while. I began my business with Etsy and used one of their applications, Etsy Mini to embed my storefront on my website. Without having to spend the time and or money on my own private shopping cart system, I was able to open my doors (so to speak) with very little cost investment. I did my homework; reading dozens of shop policies and shipping policies and developed my own; which, by the way, have protected me from losing money from time to time. I took pictures of my items from different angles and posted them. The sales weren’t immediate, but goodness, did that first sale feel good.
What advice can I offer businesses not yet on Etsy? Just do it. If your product can be photographed, packaged, and shipped, it can’t hurt to at least try it out. Join teams, meet others who are in your trade and converse with them! You will be able to enrich yourself and your business with their how-to’s (for example, how to do your taxes), will find people from all over who absolutely love your items and if you’re really lucky (and you work hard), you might be able to make enough coin to take your business to the next level.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Portobello West for believing in me. I moved to Vancouver early 2011 and they were gracious enough to accept my application to the November market. I have been working very hard on my business and overall branding and I finally feel like LanaBetty is in a very good place, creatively. I have been able to connect with other like-minded, creative entrepreneurs in the city; sharing ideas and learning new skills! I love it!