This month, in 2013, I opened my Etsy shop with a handful of items and little clue what I was getting into. I made my first sale within 24 hours and went on to sell 27 orders that month. (Read more about my first month on Etsy right here!) That means I’m celebrating my five year business anniversary now!
Thinking back, it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come. My Etsy shop started as a hobby, as most do, but eventually grew into a business. It allowed me to quit my job and purse my passion full time. Living the dream, y’all!
As you can probably imagine, I’ve learned a ton over the past five years selling on Etsy. I’ve made mistakes, cried tears, had success, and celebrated. Being an entrepreneur is always a bit of a roller coaster, but I couldn’t be happier with my business today. This blog is a full testament to my journey, but I wanted to share a few major things I’ve learned since starting my Etsy shop.
It can feel really overwhelming to think about all the competition on Etsy. You might believe the myth that the platform is saturated and that you missed the boat on starting an Etsy shop. Hold up, sister! (or brother!)
Sure, the number of sellers and shops continue to grow, but so does the number of buyers! In 2017, the number of buyers on Etsy grew to 33 million. That was an increase from 2016’s 28 million. That’s great news for you! As Etsy continues to grow in popularity, the audience of shoppers will as well. It’s actually the perfect time to begin selling and growing your online business. You’ve just got to be intentional in finding a way to stand out.
The key to Etsy success is to first – get found. This means having great SEO and a well developed shop. The second step is to stand out. Buyers will be looking at hundreds, thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of listings and it’s important to make sure your listing is the one they click on.
There is no shortage of competition in some of the most popular categories, so it is super important to devise strategies to stand out. Think like a buyer browsing when deciding how to differentiate your shop, branding, photos, and descriptions.
So, how the heck do you stand out on Etsy?
My advice to anyone when they’re beginning their Etsy shop journey is to “just start”. If you wait until you think you’ve figured everything out or have perfected your ______ (brand, photos, listing descriptions, WHATEVER) you will never take the leap. You have to truly jump in and open your shop before you can really learn and grow!
After I’m done shouting JUST GO FOR IT from the rooftops, I will tell you there are a few things you should get a hold on before turning on the (figurative) open sign – but, they’re easy I promise!
It’s no secret that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest time of the year from most retailers, which includes Etsy sellers. Tis the season to shop and it’s reported that there are over 32 million active shoppers on the platform (check out more Etsy statistics here).
The good news: There’s a ton of opportunity during this short amount of time! Plenty of Etsy shops do the majority of their business in November and December. The cha-chings will start rolling in and you’ll be making that money, honey!
The bad news: Because it is such a short window of time, it can be really hard to manage everything. The overwhelm can lead to stress, burnout, and bad customer service. Finding the time to juggle everything might seem impossible.
So, how do you get through the crazy busy holiday season as an Etsy seller without suffering from negative consequences?
In the beginning of any new business venture, the investment can always be a little bit scary. It’s often difficult to wrap your mind around the what ifs and the unknown. How much should I put in to start? When will I get my money back? What if it fails completely? Although I’m all about thinking positively and believing in yourself, these are legitimate questions and fears that come along with starting something new.
In true “zero to biz” fashion, I break a lot of the rules by telling you to just get started and worry about perfecting things later. Once the dollar dollar bills start rolling in, you can always adjust and uplevel as you start to grow. I would never recommend splurging for a custom website, hiring a professional photographer, or buying a ton of inventory before you prove that you have something to sell – and that you still enjoy doing it once the orders come in.
This is why I suggest Etsy to anyone starting out. The financial risk is extremely low compared to most other avenues of selling online. With no cost to open a shop and no recurring monthly fees, it’s really ideal for a business in the infant stage (yes, a baby biz!). Other than a $0.20 fee, you won’t pay anything until you actually make a sale and it’s taken out automatically so you can build it into your pricing.