Who would do something as crazy as starting a new business during a global pandemic? Hey, what’s up, hello – I’m Steph. I opened a new Etsy shop at the end of March – and here’s how it went.
What is supposed to be my busiest season of the year as a wedding invitation designer was brought to a screeching halt by the virus-that-shall-not-be named. Along with everyone else, I felt all the emotions: shock, worry, and confusion.
Those feelings quickly turned into a realization that my business was put on hold. I found myself with some extra time and much less income. I imagined worst case scenarios, but decided to jump into action rather than waiting around for answers that no one had.
I feel so incredibly privileged to have had the time to pour into something new. Even with a significant loss of my livelihood, I realize how lucky I am. I know there are many people who haven’t reaped the benefit of an abundance of time since they’re taking care of children while continuing to work or helping out with sick family members. (Major hats off if that’s you!)
I chose to see my situation as an opportunity to try something new. Rather than focusing on what I didn’t have – I saw what I did: my creativity, my brain, an Internet connection, and some excitement that fueled motivation.
The New Idea
My new Etsy shop was an idea that’s floated around in my brain for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to execute it. It’s related to my current business (wedding invitations) and I didn’t want to create any brand dilution or confusion, which is why I made the decision to keep it separate from my existing shop!
There are so many people already selling the “same” thing I wanted to, but I saw a gap in the marketplace. All these products looked so similar – I wanted to create something that was different!
If you create something that is just like everything else on Etsy, the only way you can compete is by having the cheapest price. After 7 years in business, I know that if you do something different, you set yourself apart and don’t have to price low to get sales. I’m here to make some money, how about you?
Other things that factored into my product idea: I wanted something that was low cost and easy to replicate. My existing business is labor intensive with a relatively high cost of goods, so doing something differently in this way was key!
Wondering what the heck to sell on Etsy? Check out my list of 100+ product ideas here!
Starting an Etsy Shop
I started an Etsy shop in 2013 (with zero idea what I was doing) and really learned along the way. This time around, I know a couple things! I was excited to be a beginner again and start something new. I am truly putting myself into my student’s shoes by opening a brand new online store – I’m starting at zero. Again.
With just 3 listings, I decided to open my shop quickly. I teach my students not to wait until things are perfect and I put that into action. You can always continue adding new products and tweaking what you have as you go. You’ll learn so much if you just jump in, although it can be super intimidating!
From idea to shop open, it was about 3 days. I did a lot of market research, designed my products, created images, wrote the descriptions, and refined the listing with relevant keywords.
On April 4, 2020 I got my first sale – 11 days after I opened my shop. This was exciting because I received my first order in my original Etsy shop April 1, 2013. I had hoped they would share a first sale-aversary, but close enough, right?!
I went on to sell a little over $200 for the entire month. Obviously, this is not a life changing amount of money (especially when I factor in the time, cost of goods, and fees) – but I know there’s so much possibility in growing this shop. If I can do $200 in the first month, during a global pandemic, after I created something rapidly, the possibility of multiplying that number in future months is lookin’ prettyyyy good.
I plan on scaling by continuing to add new listings and marketing my business on Pinterest, my favorite platform for growing your Etsy shop. I didn’t get too much of a chance to market the new biz, so look forward to growing it that way. Setting up an Etsy shop and waiting for results isn’t enough – you have to drive that traffic!
I ended the month with 51 listings in my shop, which sounds like a lot. I did put a decent amount of time into creating, but I had the best time doing it. Learning and trying something new truly brings me joy and I felt like it was a good use of my quarantine time.
Don’t fret though – many of those listings were duplicated variations or combination bundles. I like doing this to not only test different images and keywords, but also to maximize the appearance of having a full shop! You can easily create multiple listings for the same product by having it in a different color, size, etc!
Get to work!
I try to look at everything as an experiment and have fun with it. Of course, the end goal is to make money but you have to take a chance before that’s even possible. I, more than anyone, know that great things don’t happen overnight!
Are you considering opening an Etsy shop right now? My best advice: make a plan and get to work. Just do it!
If you aren’t sure where to start and want some guidance, I’d love to help you! The Getting Started on Etsy Guide will take you through the basics of opening your own Etsy shop – and it’s totally free!
You can jump start your launch by getting my step-by-step instructions on opening a shop in under a week in my signature course, Launch Your Etsy Shop in 5 Days. Everything from pricing and photos to shipping and SEO – I’ll teach you exactly how to build an Etsy shop with a strong foundation so you can turn your hobby into a business.
Thinking about starting an Etsy shop during the global pandemic — or have you already? Leave a comment with your shop link, I’d love to check it out!
I don’t even know if you’ll remember me, but I’m the girl that asked a few questions in laaaate March of this year.
Well, I’m here to tell you that, due to your encouragement, very helpful tips and guides, and a little nerve, I have now had my Etsy shop open for almost a whole month now! (yay!) I also have business accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, partly due to your help with the set-up tips.
I would like to thank you SO MUCH for the time you’ve put into this blog and help you’ve offered to beginners like me.
My Etsy store is LineysDesigns, the online variation of my handmade jewelry business that I’ve had since I was twelve. Due to your help, Steph, I would love to make you a discounted custom piece of jewelry. Check out my shop to see what I can do, and message me if you’d like that discounted piece!
Again, Steph, THANK. YOU. SO. MUCH.
(and here’s my shop link, as requested)
Hi Liney! Oh my gosh, this seriously made my day! I am so happy to hear that you felt encouraged – and MADE MOVES! I know it’s a big step, so congratulations.
Your shop looks awesome (15 sales, such a great start!) and you are going to go far! You are so sweet – I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment and your offer is so generous. I would love nothing more for than you to pay it forward to someone in need : )
Keep me updated on your progress!
Hello! I actually started my first etsy shop during the pandemic! I’m currently not working my job and wanted something to do and wanted to make money. I opened my shop almost a month ago and made one $5 sale. I was pretty excited. I’m just worried that I’ll be one of those shops that never makes consistent money. I enjoy sewing and decided to make baby swaddles which are really popular right now. I also hope to make other items not related to baby products. Is that a problem?
I’m going to be adding more blankets and try to make some cool Eco-friendly reusable paper towels. Here is my shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RibbonsAndButtonsCo
Hi Olivia! That is so amazing, congrats on your first sale – you will always remember that one : )
Your shop looks great! There are shops out there who do offer unrelated products, but it’s been my experience that keeping everything closely related is what really builds your brand and allows your shop to grow. Become the “go to” person for whatever you’re offering! If you’re multi-passionate (like so many of us creatives, I get it!) you can always open a different shop. That being said, I am sure there are businesses out there who have had success doing it the other way. I would do some research on shops that are offering a similar product and see what else they’re selling.
I think that by really focusing on one thing, and doing it really well, you will grow quickly! Keep up the good work, the consistent income doesn’t happen overnight, but it WILL come if you keep at it. Sending you all the goodness as you grow during this time! : )
Thank you for this amazing info!!!
I also launched my Etsy shop during the pandemic, July 22. I’ve had 2 sales:)
My shop is stemgemz.etsy.com
I’ve set up Pinterest and just created my IG page, Stem.Gemz.
Any advice would greatly appreciated!!
Hi Laila! Heck yes, cheers to you! Your shop looks awesome, I’ve never seen the charms like that – they are so cute! Your photos looks great! I’d recommend maximizing your title by adding keywords and using those same keywords in the tags. You can start marketing these as holiday gifts soon, I think they’ll do well – keep up the good work!
So I opened my shop in June 2019 but started to be more serious about it since the pandemic. I’ve only made 3 sales since my “revive” and I’m feeling a bit discouraged to say the least. I’m still trying to figure out that one thing to have my shop be known for, but it’s hard because I only made 3 sales. I sell crochet items. Any tips? CrochetOStitch.etsy.com
Hi Cecilia! Thanks for commenting. Your shop looks great, I love the baby hats : ) Definitely keep adding products so you can get feedback and see what is resonating with buyers. I would also consider collaborating with a photographer to get images of your products in use and on models. I just launched the Strong Shop Makeover which is an awesome way to really dive in, audit your shop, and grow your biz – http://www.zerotobiz.com/strongshop
Keep at it, you’re doing great! Steph
I’m deciding to open up a shop creating digital planners, journals, and printables focused on self love, mindset, and how to create digital products.
I have a healthy unhealthy obsession with planners and journals in real life. I love empowering, encouraging and inspiring others as well as teaching entrepreneurs how to create online courses and webinars.
I thought about combining these 2 loves together and creating planners, worksheets, workbooks, and journals focused on these things for entrepreneurs.
The planning process for digital products can be stressful and imposter syndrome can creep in so I wanted to create these products with inspirational and empowerment quotes, etc etc.
Thank you so much for this post because even as a mom, I see this as an opportunity for me to finally start an online business.
Yes, yes, YES! Love everything about this! It sounds like you are so clear on your products, your why, and your customer – you’re doing to do amazing. Drop the link here for us when you are officially open! : )
I’ve been on the fence about opening an Etsy shop for a very long time. Thanks to your blog, I think I’m ready to try it! I am planning to make various resin items with live, dried wildflowers in them that are native to Minnesota. I can’t do that right now since it’s winter and I don’t yet have the flowers, but I think that’d be a touch of uniqueness to a very common Etsy product. What do you think of my idea? Any tips on helping my shop to stand out more once I open it? Thank you so much for all the great information!
So thrilled to have inspired you to take that step! Love that idea, they sound beautiful! Here’s a great post on my tips for standing out – https://zerotobiz.com/2018/03/stand-out-etsy-make-money/