tips for starting an Etsy shop
I’m no pro, having only had my little shop for two years, but I’ve picked up a thing or three along the way. While my children unhappily have succumbed to sleep, I thought I’d share my small semi-precious (costume jewelry?) stones with you. My shop, Whole Parenting Goods, is a source of fun, creativity, and sometimes a little side of stress for me. My shop has a number of sections:
Bandit Bibs, Contour Cloths, Very Large Blankets, Large Blankets, Lightweight Blankets, Knits & Crochets, Little Girl Skirts, and my girlfriend Cynthia’s beautiful work under her label, Interior Castles.
1) Why Should I Start an Etsy Shop?
If you are an artisan and love creating, do it. Whether or not anything sells, if the process is enjoyable for you, it’s worth it. You have to love making what you’re making, and feel compelled to share it with others.
2) Why Shouldn’t I Start an Etsy Shop?
If you’re expecting to make a lot of money. There is no steady stream of income. People order 10 things one month, and 1 the next. There’s no predicting it. Also, often people want custom items so they like that blanket you made, but they want it in a different fabric, bigger, smaller, oh, and then after you’ve corresponded for weeks on the specifics, they don’t actually want to buy it from you. It’s a bizarre blend of custom work and then the quick outright purchaser.
3) Who Buys From You?
I get asked this all the time, but no, despite what you might think, actually most of my patrons are total strangers that find me through searching key words on etsy.
4) How Do I Figure Out What to Sell and How to Price It?
The funny thing about etsy is that the demand is there for everything, meaning, you could make and sell the exact same things as me and not be in competition because one buyer loves your fabric selection over mine, or your blanket is the size they’re looking for! There are two ways to go: selling inexpensively handmade with less costly materials ($30 for an acrylic hand knit blanket, for example), or selling at a higher price point with more expensive materials ($50 for an organic hand crocheted blanket) of equal size. You may sell the less expensive ones faster, but you also may make more selling the more expensive ones, just in a longer time frame. Or you may sell none! And it’s totally unpredictable!
To figure out your products & pricing, I’d do a bunch of searches on items you think you’d sell, check out their pricing, presentation, and materials used. Then pick your market based on that.
5) How Many People Start & Stop?
I know many people who’ve tried opening an etsy shop & closed it. Mostly it didn’t work because they didn’t have enough traffic to sustain their own interest, or their other jobs and pursuits took them away from making new things for the shop. Some people open it, and let it just hang out while they pursue other things.
6) What Do I Need For a Shop to Do Well?
Aside from quality handmade products, you really really need a good camera. Good photos are crucial to people considering your work for purchase because they have to buy with their eyes. And luck. You need luck. And good reviews & feedback.
7) How Much Work Is It?
It’s a lot of work up front because you want to offer 10-15 things when you open your shop, in my opinion. You may get some first-time buyers right off the bat, but your handiwork can sit there for months and months and never ever sell. On a daily basis, it’s not that much work. If you have some screen time on your hands, you can “follow” everyone who likes your items, spend a little time “favoriting” other people’s shops and items which drives traffic back to you and spreads the good karma. On a monthly basis, at this point, the shop kinda takes care of itself. I put up a new item or two when I have them. I also keep items up that I’ve sold but I can easily remake again without too much expense because I have the fabric leftover from the first go ’round.
8) Will I Make Money At This // Is It Financially Worthwhile?
Yes, you have a good chance at making a little pocket change. And maybe you’ll be one of those wildly successful people who quits their day job and runs their life off their small business. Hey, it happens all the time!
If you have the inertia to start knitting & crocheting or sewing while you’re not at work or chasing your kids, I’d advise making a stash of 5-8 things. See how stressful it is and how long it takes you and how much your yarn & fabric costs. If it’s not a big deal, then why not start the shop? Etsy takes 2.something% of your sale and you need a paypal account associated and they take a little sliver too. The expense is very minimal. If nothing moves and nothing sells, and you’ve not invested a ton into the materials and making, it’s a nice side thing.
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