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etsy Start-Up

14 April 2010

The lovely Rose of On A Lobster Placemat asked me recently how much time I spent creating my logo, designing my shop, and creating my starter merchandise in addition to how much time I spend working on my shop now that it’s up and running.  Great questions!  Since I’m a noob myself, I’d love to help another new etsian gearing up to launch her shop.  And please add comments if you have input you want to share!  We can all benefit from each others’ experiences!

{ Branding }

I would say that branding my shop was/still is one of my hardest parts.  I’m a sucker for packaging, so I wanted my packaging to speak volumes on its own to my potential and actual customers.  When they receive the bubble mailer, I want them to be impressed by the exterior look.  When they open the bubble mailer, I want them to be impressed by the gift box and ribbon.  When they open the gift box, I want them to be impressed by the way in which the item has been packaged WITHIN the package.  Basically, I want to wow my customers every step of the way.

To start, I asked a few graphic design friends to help with my logo.  I had a pretty clear concept in mind – with even a similar look to which to reference them – and provided them the art that I’d purchased.  I received help from both people {thanks!!!}, and assembled what I had in Photoshop, which was totally foreign to me.  I spent many a frustrating hour {and when I say many, I mean like probably 12!} wrangling my files in Photoshop, only to need to ask for a bit more help.

When I finally got my logo and banner the way I wanted it, I uploaded it to etsy.  Same thing with my avatar.  I thought that was a good starting place for my etsy shop, even if it didn’t have actual items in it yet.

I also read a helpful post on a successful seller’s first year tips written by nomsa, which details how to write good profile and policies sections.  It recommends treating your shop like a business even if it’s a hobby.

{ 12 Hot Pink Glassine-lined Bags, mrrabbitsir }

{ 12 Hot Pink Glassine-lined Bags, mrrabbitsir }

Shop around for reduced prices for packaging materials.  I use Royal Mailers for my bubble mailers and Nashville Wraps for my boxes, tissue, and raffia.  They sell eco-friendly retail packaging and are very reasonably priced, so I feel good about a lot of the things I order from there.

I order postcards (for free!) from VistaPrint and upload my own design, making them into coupons/thank you cards upon which I include a hand-written note to the buyer and include in my package.

I order my business cards from Overnight Prints, and you can usually find a coupon code for 100 free cards.

{ Creating }

{ Make Do and Mend, farouche }

{ Make Do and Mend, farouche }

I created my etsy shop in Sepember 2009 and worked on the branding for most of that time, until I launched in March 2010.  I tried to create the whole time I was working on my branding.  Usually I’d come home from work and try to make at least two new pieces.  Depending on whether it was a brand new design or something I’d made before (and how complex the design was), it would take me about two hours to make two to three items a night.  Then I sat down one afternoon and drafted all of my listings so that they’d be ready – with tags, materials, and prices – ahead of time.  I use templates for my listings, which saves a lot of time.  And I like being able to list now with everything already in place.  (I even drop my edited photographs into the listings folders on my computer so that the listing folder contains the listing text and the five photographs which correspond to that listing.  Why not be organized if it doesn’t take much extra time?)

Now that I have my shop up and running, I try to make at least five new things a week, though some weeks have slacked a bit.  I’ve read that keeping your shop above 60 or so items is best because it allows for more tags which allow for more traffic, so my goal right now is to get above 100 items.  Only 28 more to go.

{ SEO }

{ vintage French Field Glasses, pearlsvintage }

{ vintage French Field Glasses, pearlsvintage }

SEO {Search Engine Optimization} stuff really confuses me.  I’m still working to get higher in the searches, but this forum post by SEOWebDesign helped as a starting point.  And it’d be even easier if you kept these things in mind BEFORE starting your shop, unlike me.  For instance, don’t name your sections in etsy (section names are “titles” for those pages and are therefore picked up by things like Google Search) things like “Parched Posies” {like I did} because no one on the internet will be searching for that.  Instead make that section named something like “Handmade Headbands”.  There’s a site you can use to check the ranking of search terms, too, which is great for determining what words you should choose for your sections, listings, and tags.

You can do a simple search for “SEO” in the Forums of etsy and finds tons of information.

{ Photography }

{ 5x5 Autographic }

{ 5x5 Autographic }

Photography is arguably one of the most important aspects of your shop.  If your images are dark, grainy, unfocused, too busy, or uninteresting, people will not click through to your shop.

Helpful tips I’ve kept in mind: unbusy your background, stay consistent with your background, don’t photograph something where it wouldn’t actually be used (ie: a dinner plate outside), use the macro setting on your camera, use high-quality images (maxing out at 1000 pixels, etsy’s max), use ALL FIVE image slots, take images of an item from new and unusual angles, and most importantly – use natural light without a flash.

Again, tons of information can be found in the forums.

{ Designing }

{ Roses, Original 5x7, MaiAutumn }

{ Roses, Original 5x7, MaiAutumn }

Now my biggest challenge is coming up with fresh designs.  Luckily inspiration comes from unexpected places, so I’m not worried about this.  But always try to offer new and returning customers fresh products to hold their interest!

{ Forums }

{ The Talking Heads Baby One Piece Bodysuit, trulysanctuary }

{ The Talking Heads Baby One Piece Bodysuit, trulysanctuary }

To wrap this up, since this has become embarassaingly long (!), check the forums if you need help on a particular topic.  Whether it’s for self-promotion, shipping help, or a complaint, you can find someone else who has experienced the same thing.  And if not, you can start a new post!  Posting in the forums, once you get comfortable, can also help drive some welcomed traffic to your shop.

Whew!  I feel like I’ve barely scraped the surface.  I hope at least some of the information has been helpful to you.  And please add what’s worked for you!  Great luck to you, Rose.  I can’t wait to check out your shop!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 April 2010 9:43 am

    Wow, this is fantastic! Thank you so much for going into such great detail. I can see how much time and energy one puts into a shop – and it’s good to know for the future. I think this will be a great summer project for me!

  2. 14 April 2010 1:13 pm

    Very helpful! I’m looking at starting an Etsy shop and have been playing with branding but not really got much further so this’ll be very helpful!

  3. 14 April 2010 7:00 pm

    Great article with valuable tips. Thank you for including my Autographic print. Also, I usually use Overnight Prints for my business cards and some other postcard printing needs. Thank you for sharing!

    Emiko 🙂

  4. 1 June 2010 12:52 am

    If only more than 17 people could read about this!

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