You’ve spent your time choosing a perfect shop name, mastering your product, and taking photos but the cha-chings haven’t started rolling in yet. It can be so frustrating to feel like the time you invested in getting set up is wasted.
I hear it all the time – people become very impatient when they don’t get their first sale quickly. They start wondering what they did wrong and begin pondering if starting an Etsy shop was even worth it.
If you’re reading this, you might be one of said people. And I’ve gotta tell you to slow your roll and/or hold your horses because Etsy success does not happen overnight! Giving up on your shop will guarantee that you never get that first sale. Continuing to invest your time, put work into it, and try new strategies ensures that it will happen. I promise!
I’m sharing the most common Etsy newbie fails I see and how to fix them! Bring on the buyers!
Fail: Setting Up Shop and Waiting for Success
Don’t set up your shop then step away and wait for the magical cha-ching. Even if you have awesome photos, detailed descriptions, and great keywords, you can’t log out of Etsy, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve done a good job of listing your items, you’ll likely get the sale … eventually. But you might be waiting a while.
Make sure you’re checking your shop daily (at least every couple of days at the very minimum) to monitor your stats, view your traffic, and see what patterns you can find. Use this information to continuously tweak your listings and freshen up your shop. Keep learning about the platform itself and how you can utilize the tools provided to increase your views, leading to sales.
Fail: Relying on Etsy to Do it All
As mentioned above, the saying “build it and they will come” does NOT apply to starting an Etsy shop. Often I see newbies on Etsy confused on why their views are low, but they’re not doing anything off Etsy to drive traffic.
Etsy does a great job of using their existing customer base to bring potential buyers to your shop, but it’s usually not enough. I recommend choosing 1-2 platforms outside of Etsy to create a presence for your shop and show off your products. My favorites are Pinterest and Instagram (read this post on using Instagram for your Etsy shop), but choose what works best for you! It’s a combination of being present in multiple places that leads to really growing your business.
Fail: Your Product Line is Stagnant
There are unique situations where a maker creates a single product that is a home run, but often we need a variety of items to get found and increase the likeliness of making a sale. It’s no secret that more listings equal more items in a search, which equals more changes of a buyer clicking on your product.
You don’t need a hodge-podge of products as it’s important to stay on brand, but think what other things you can offer within your niche. Brainstorm about making your most popular products in other colors, sizes, or materials. If you sell bracelets, consider adding necklaces. If your shop is focused on invitations, add listings for matching thank you cards.
Another reason people fail at Etsy is because they miss the mark on trends. What was popular last year, might not be considered appealing this year. Remember when the chevron pattern was on everything circa 2013? I used it in many on my designs, but when the chevron fad faded (say that five times fast) I had to adapt and make changes.
This is part of being a maker, a creative, and a business owner – stay aware of what trends are circulating in and out, what people want, and how you can offer your own twist on it!
Fail: Ugly Photos
Ok, seriously – photos. are. everything! When a buyer searches on Etsy, they’ll be bombarded with options and they make a decision to click in less than two seconds. Having clear, quality photos is key to getting YOUR item clicked on. If your photos are low quality, dark, or confusing it’s a major fail.
Take your time styling, photographing, and editing the product photos for your Etsy shop. Read some of my photography tips and other ways to stand out on Etsy in this post!
Fail: Not Using Keywords
You can’t make a sale if you’re not getting found and you can’t get found if you’re not using keywords. I recommend thinking like a buyer when creating your keyword strategy – what would someone searching for a product like your use? Use multiple word phrases to create tags. You can add or change tags under the listing description on the editing page of an item.
Etsy SEO algorithim is constantly changing, so it’s important stay in the loop on their updates and use your analytics to guide you as to what keywords are and aren’t working for your shop. Marmalead.com is also a great resource for new Etsy sellers working to develop a keyword strategy.
Fail: Your Descriptions Suck
Imagine this: you’re shopping online and find something that looks like it might fit exactly what you’re looking for – but there’s little to no description of the item. As a seller, it’s super important to describe as much as you can about your product (this also helps with SEO, so win-win!) Depending on your item, you might want to include: the size, the materials, how it’s made, how to care for it, it’s uses, etc. Buyers also want to know how long it takes to make and/or ship and if they can customize it – so add that information as well.
In the beginning, think of what questions a shopper could have and add them to the listing description. As you sell more, you’ll notice what questions are repeatedly asked and you can add those answers too. Bonus points for writing what inspired you to make the product or interesting information about your process!
Fail: Treating it as a Hobby, Not a Business
Although your Etsy shop may not be a full blown business yet, if you never treat it that way – it never will be. That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. A big part of growing the business is mindset and if you want your shop to eventually be more than a hobby, I encourage you to go in with intentions of growing it that way.
Things that fall under the hobby category: not opening a separate bank account, not telling your friends and family about your new venture, not putting in the work once your shop is set up. Also, you’re going to always be a hobby if you’re committing some of these Etsy fails. Get serious from the beginning if you want to be an Etsy success! Be willing to get a little uncomfortable in order to take the next step in your biz journey.
Did you find this post helpful? If you’re currently selling on Etsy, but not seeing the success you want – you’ll love the Strong Shop Makeover. Learn how to audit your products, maximize your listings, get consistent sales, and grow your shop!
Very helpful post.
I’m so glad you found it helpful, thanks for commenting!
Enormously helpful and I will be using all your great advice 🙂
Thanks so much for commenting, Emma! So glad it was helpful. Wishing you the best in your biz journey!
Thank you for the info, I just created my shop and am designing my digital products, these tips will really help!
Yay, so glad to hear that! : )