Being a Foreign Seller on Etsy or How to Make the Most of Your Shop

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Original Post

When I was a wee toddler my parents relocated us to Texas, USA. Little did I know that this temporary move (about 4 years) would change me completely. To this day – my English is better than my Hebrew, I even still have an American accent.
So when I planned on opening my own vintage shop here in Etsy, I thought it would go smoothly since my English is very good. Behold my surprise when I held up one of my items and couldn’t, for the life of me, think of a way to describe it in English.
You see, I know how to get around in English, I can lead a soul-searching conversation with any native English speaker if I wanted – what I lacked (and still do) is technicality.
Those allusive descriptive adjectives were never a major part of my English because I never needed them PROFESSIONALLY.

I wasn’t going to let my English deficiencies stop me from having a successful shop – there are so many (amazing!) vintage shops here in Etsy (just as any other category has a chunk load of it’s kind) and I don’t want to give my potential buyers any reason to go elsewhere.

I’m writing this because I know there is a growing community of international sellers that probably struggle with the same issues as me. I also think this post is just as relevant to US sellers.

What I’m doing and what YOU could do to make your shop better:


LOOK FOR MENTOR SHOPS:

Unless you’re doing something completely out of the box and unique (and if so, good for you!), as I already mentioned, every category in Etsy has many similar shops. Finding a few selected shops you admire would be easy.
Study your mentor shops’ descriptions – they can give you tons of words and phrases you didn’t know about that could help you get out of your writers block or help you in understanding what key points your descriptions need.
I’m not suggesting in any way you copy your mentor shops’ descriptions (that is WRONG so don’t do it!), I’m suggesting an approach which helped me find more creative words for shapes, colors or styles that I couldn’t have known about as my daily language is not English.


DO YOUR ETSY HOMEWORK:

I think it goes without saying that every shop owner should have the basics –
* Filled in profile and policy pages
* A shop avatar and banner
* Filled in shop announcement
* Featured items up and changed from time to time

These are not a must, however I don’t see how they could hurt you in any way so take your time and give some thought to what you put into or how you design any of these.
Also read your Etsy seller handbook and keep up to date with Etsy articles that might offer you a better insight about a wide range of subjects (they are also a good read).


GET SASsyed!

For those of you who don’t know about the great Etsy team that is “Sellers Assisting Sellers” (etsymentors.com) – now is the time too. They describe themselves as “volunteers who can help you one-on-one with almost anything Etsy related”, and that is 100% true. SASsy has a list of mentors that fit almost every Etsy category you can think about. Also, there are mentors for general and technical problems you might have. I’ve used them before andI highly recommend their services. They also hold virtual labs from time to time so check out the schedule. (for more info on virtual labs in general: www.etsy.com/storque/etsy-news/etsy-launches-the-virtual-labs-622/)


GET CRITIQUED!

Speaking of the virtual labs – Etsy themselves hold weekly critique sessions and I have to tell you after participating that it’s tons of FUN. It’s a great way to interact with other Etsians and an admin, to learn a lot from others’ experience and even get your own questions answered.

Also, Etsy forums offer a huge support system – I always check out Etsy Help, Business and Critique threads and pretty much always find things that are relevant to my own shop. So post, comment and search the forums – they almost always have the answers you need.


FIND YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM

Whether through TEAMS or Shop Local, find other sellers from your country or area that probably know what you’re dealing with and can help you with all kinds of difficulties. These sellers can also make you feel a little more at home. I know sometimes I feel a little lost in the WWW and even reading a convo in my native language can be fun and help you affirm that you’re not alone and people have your back if you need it.


ASK!

It’s as simple as that. For the most part, the Etsy community is known to be a warm and welcoming one. I was almost never turned down when I approached another seller for advice or anything of the kind. Other sellers (as do I) will usually be more than happy to get to know you or find out about a new shop they might like so don’t be afraid to ask (however be kind and courteous about it and don’t spam).


KEEP AT IT!

Check, recheck and then recheck again. I often go through my titles, descriptions and tags and find things I can improve. It’s worth doing these checks even if the only thing you find is a typo – that fixed typo could help someone find you better.
Also I find that as more time passes, I get better at describing and tagging and so earlier listings should be up to par – checking and fixing them makes my shop more cohesive.

Also, “keep at it” is meant to say stay positive and persistent – I’ve been told things take time. What I’m offering is only a small part of what I think an Etsy seller should do to make their shop worth visiting – it’s very hard work, but I find that it’s also lots of fun and rewarding at times if you’re doing something you really love and feel passionate about.

Posted at 6:26am Feb 6, 2010 EST

Responses

raisinlike says

Hear hear! Excellent tips.

Posted at 6:47am Feb 6, 2010 EST

Great tips - thanks for posting!

Posted at 6:52am Feb 6, 2010 EST

bumping, cause I think this is important

Posted at 7:33am Feb 6, 2010 EST

excellent tips for all etsy sellers... thank you for sharing :)

Posted at 7:37am Feb 6, 2010 EST

I'm bumping this too because I think people need to see this. saturday morning is a very quiet time here on the forums tho.
Great advice

Posted at 8:10am Feb 6, 2010 EST

Thanks NiceDaySupplies :)

Posted at 9:41am Feb 6, 2010 EST

I would be very interested in reading people's opinions of this thread..

Posted at 12:47pm Feb 6, 2010 EST

WeeSparrow says

Lovely post with excellent advice. Much of it holds true for all international shops, regardless of language, and for all new shops in general.

Posted at 12:52pm Feb 6, 2010 EST

Anyone else?

Posted at 4:05am Feb 7, 2010 EST