Some Ideas and Hints for a Newbie?
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I've had lots of experience selling my work via the web for the last two years now and in the last six months have let things slip considerably as my focus was more on venues outside of the web. I decided to give Etsy.com a try to see if it could work a little harder for me.
Are there any tried and true tips for new Etsy.com shop owners? What's the best way to get shoppers? To organize your shop? I've noticed that some shops have been around for quite a while with no sales, while some have sales nearly every day and there appears to be little rhyme or reason between them (different stores and very different items).
Feel free to rummage through my shop and give me your thoughts too.
Posted at 1:08pm Jun 25, 2006 EDT
Well since you asked...
Here is my "welcome to Etsy letter". After typing it umpteen times, I finally saved it to paste into letters to newbies! I hope you can gain some good information to help you become successful here at Etsy! Not all items will pertain to your product line:
It is sad that I must start this letter on a sad note, but I want you to be very aware of some not-so-nice people "out there"!
First, some warnings about scammers! If you get an e-mail requesting several of your products, immediately, to be sent to a foreign country, to be paid by "counter check,money order, bank transfer, etc.", BE VERY SUSPICIOUS!! These are usually scams. Here's the scam, They offer to send you a "cashier's check" ( which is usually backed by the bank that prints it), they offer to send you an additional amount which you are supposed to send on to their "shipping agent", often they offer you a premium for this service (sometimes thousands). They insist that you send it immediately (so you don't have time for their counter check to clear). So, you toddle on down to your bank machine, deposit their check, send a personal check to the "shipping agent", and package up your items for this shipping agent to pick up. Nobody shows at your door, your check gets cashed and your bank bounces the "counter check" because it turns out that there is no bank by that name! This is often done with cars for sale. They send you a bogus cashier's check or money order with an extra $2,000 which you are to send to this nefarious shipping agent, who never shows up, but your check for $2,000 clears and their cashier's check does not. REPORT THESE E-MAILS TO ETSY ADMIN IMMEDIATELY! They'll look into it and close this person's Etsy account! You'll see a link on the right side of the e-mail message to report it as Spam. Or you go to the bottom of the Home page and click on contact us. Send admin a copy/paste of the entire message.
PayPal has their share of scammers as well. Emails arrive at your home, looking like they come from PayPal, claiming that something is wrong with your PayPal account, would you please log in and fix the error. DON'T DO IT! It sends your username and password to the scammer-who cleans out your account!!. If the email is from PayPal, they will use your name at the top, not "Dear PayPal user..."! PayPal NEVER asks for your log-in data! Copy/paste these messages to the PayPal admin immediately! I get several of these messages a week!! I found that by blocking the senders I effectively blocked the PayPal website from my computer! So don't block them unless you know your computer better than I know mine! Also report these people to your web service provider. If you can't find an addy for your provider, call the number on your monthly internet usage bill.
If you suspect you've got a scam message, the fastest way to get a response is to contact an Etsy mentor or paste the message into the Help forum. (Link directly above the big orange Etsy box) We Etsyians are always happy to help each other in situations like this!
If a buyer looks suspicious, you can trace them back to their account to see when they joined and whether or not they have purchased/sold anything on Etsy before. You'll see their feedbacks, given them by their previous transaction-mates. If they have no feedback, proceed with caution! I'm not saying refuse them, just make sure you have money in hand before you ship anything! Often these new buyers need their hands held through the buying and paying process, so it helps if you know how it works. (go buy something, pay through PayPal, learn the system)
MOST buyers on Etsy are legit, assume the best first, but be alert to possible scams too! Okay, now on to the good stuff!
Etsy takes a while to get "into", but you can do it! Read some of the forum discussions (link above big orange Etsy box), they will assist your understanding of how Etsy works! Visit all the different listing categories to see if your products fit there (weddings, accessories, geekery-that's fun!, supplies, etc) Also read the Alchemy daily; it is where people request items and other sellers can bid if they can fill the need! I've bid on a few, I've filled one so far! There is a fee reversal in this situation, the winning bidder pays the listing fee, not the requester.
You've got a beautiful product line. Now you must get people here to see it! Exposure is the key, get seen! By hook or by crook, get seen!
First, put your store addy (www.yourusername.etsy.com) in your email Signature file!! That way your store address goes with all your emails to family and friends, with any posting to any chat groups, etc. Do this in Outlook Express by going to Tools, Options, Signature. Or go to askjeeves.com like I did!
Next join and post to various groups (MSN Groups, Yahoo Groups, etc.). I just joined WWJFlea Market-a sister of WireWrappedJewellery group. Most have posters with Signatures a mile long, and put up with it, so go for it! your Signature will post right below your posting. Even dumb postings like "How do I...Where can I find...How do you..." Everyone helps a newbie! This is ho I found Etsy! I was lurking (reading without participating) one of my chat groups and followed one poster's signature link, and found Etsy! I joined that same day, and the rest is history!
PayPal is the way to transfer funds!! It is instant, cheap, and has record-keeping software! Some merchants don't like PayPal, you can see their concerns in the fourms by searching the forums for "PayPal". Customers love PayPal because they have options for paying you, including debit and credit cards! I love PayPal because I have the memory of a 70 year-old after getting struck in a cross-walk at age 33, I have to see the package on it's way before it gets lost in my home and in my poor memory! You can send bills to customers, which make it super-simple for them to pay you--they have only to press a few buttons and the money is on it's way, no technology degree is needed! You can also send polite reminders to slow payers that you are waiting for them to pay-all with the click of a button, no nagging, begging, or grovelling! Get two accounts with PayPal. That's right, two, if you can swing it! You'll need two email addys and different bank or credit card info. I say two accounts because there are fees associated with the business account, for every transaction, even cash!! I don't mind paying the fees for credit card transactions, but cash? Called "existing funds", these are the monies that you have "on account" with PayPal. receiving these funds costs nothing, unless you have the business account. The fees are .30 per transaction, and 3% of the total, so a $100 order costs 3.30, while a $1.00 order costs .33. I sell a lot of items for one dollar, I resent paying a third of my sale for these small amounts! Get a personal account for cash transactions, another for credit card transactions to avoid paying these fees on cash transactions. Watch when you are transfering monies between your accounts! I got nailed with these fees for every transfer I made to my business account!
Get cards printed with your store address! Give them to friends and associates! Even the girl at the bank! She may not have time to shop for jewellery, but she'll have money to spend! Do not put your home addy on the card unless you want people coming to your home! I haven't had any visitors to my home, but I don't want people watching 'till I go out either! I print my name, my etsy store address, email address, and phone number. You can get free business cards from www.vistaprint.com! They limit you to a few coloured card fronts and what ever font that it is made in, but you only pay shipping ($5.00 +, depending where you live). They also print their address on the backs of the free cards. You can upgrade and have hundreds of options, thousands of fonts, even upload your own graphics, logo, etc., and no printing on the back (unless you want it) I use pictures of my craft as the face-plate for my business cards!! They cost more than the freebies, but they are WAY less than a full-colour printed card would cost you any where else! E-mail me and I'll show you my latest free business card! Oh, they are in Jamaica, so expect a wait for shipping, or pay for faster delivery!
I find that I must contact other Etsy sellers daily if I want them to see my site! This is how I make the majority of my sales. Be careful though, if you send multiple messages that are cut/pasted or similar in content, you may get your conversations frozen! Etsy admin consider this Spam. You will not have the ability to send or receive email until you politely request admin reconnect you! Their link is at the bottom of the Home page (contact us). Forums are a good place to put your ads for newly listed items. You have to be creative about it or no one will look at the post, or not reply so it just dies a quick, natural death. Titles like "everything on sale!" generally get no response. Titles like "show me your..." work very well and bring people in by the dozens! I once got 60 hits on one item by promoting it (in Promotions and Critiques) simply as "Rhodochrosite!!" People responded to my post and came to see my new items! Replying to posts with links to your matching items works well too-sy someone posts "Show me your Flower items", you go to your shop, see what has or looks like a flower, grab the link and post it into the reply box with a few words about the flowery-ness of the product. I also tell everybody on the street about Etsy, especially other crafters, even others who sell jewellery (my craft)! Once the other merchants join, they'll bring in different customers. Those customers will look around, and they will buy items. Then they'll join, they'll tell their friends, and on it goes! But you must first spread the word, and if need be spread it thickly!
Many sellers on Etsy can make you a banner and an avatar if you need one. Anyone with any photo manipulation program that adds text can make their own. Just use a long picture of one of your items, add your store name to that picture and upload it. There are instructions in the forums, just search forums for "banners".
A great way to rack up sales and feedback is through the Pay It Forward promotion/game. Read the first few postings, then a few at the end as there are over 2,000 posts to this forum thread! Basically someone puts an item into their store which they are willing to ship out free of charge, then the "buyer" must do the same! Many people will come to your shop to see the item you are offering, so you get lots of lookers in a very short time frame! When you decide on an item, make a link to your store, not just the item, as many have done. If you link to just that item, you will not get people looking at all your items, just that one item! I tried the "Scavenger Hunt" idea, but most people are too lazy to look through 10 pages of stuff looking for the PIF products. (though all it takes is listing the items cheapest to most expensive once you get to the person's site!)
You certainly don't need to offer one of your priciest items, or even something similar to your product line! A bookmark with one little rock, ear rings that you never did like how they turned out, or something you made for someone and they didn't come back to buy it (you know, the bad memory stuff, we all have those). I've done ear rings and greeting cards, even lace snippets.
You have a spell-check in your email program, if not somewhere else on your computer, use it to ensure you've got everything right.
You can find a wealth of information in the Forums! The link is in the upper Left corner of Home page. Here are some of the topics discussed there, and links to the discussion:
Try to list at least one item a day. I've noticed that items that appear on Etsy's Home page have usually been listed within the last few days! All 3 times I've had an item featured on the front page, they had been listed (or re-listed) with in the week, often within the last 24 hours!
This is from another seller. She holds weekly discussion forums on topics of concern to businesses. Some of the titles are linked below. "If you're new, I suggest checking out the member FAQ. It has just about everything you'd want to know, or at least offers a place to start. Take some time over the next week to get acclimated and read through it. It's great for coffee break reading. You can just browse through the topics that are most relevant to you now. I'd recommend bookmarking it for future use, when you may be in need of things like selling tips or shipping info."
Here are some of those forum titles:
4/17: Absences: Managing your store and listings during fairs/shows, vacations, and other scheduled absences: www.etsy.com/forums_topic.php?thread_id=5976
4/6: TAXES: dealing with taxes, deductions, preparation:
3/27: PROMOTION: ways to promote & how to stand out:
3/20: PRICING: Pricing: profits, competition, valuing time:
3/12: FRESH: Keeping biz flowing during slow times:
www.etsy.com/forums_topic.php?thread_id=3432&page_id=7 (summary on page 7)
My two very successful shops on Etsy are: www.modadesigns.etsy.com & www.cheapboutique.etsy.com See you there!
Gee, I can really chat, can't I? Chat groups are located in the forums. (link above the big orange box). Once there, go to the right side of the screen and click one of the colour links. If that room is full, it will tell you to try another room.
Go buy a few cheap items just to get feedback!
Reply if you like, and if you have questions!
Posted at 1:16pm Jun 25, 2006 EDT