Starting an Etsy shop from nothing can be overwhelming. There are lots of ways you can ensure your shop does well, and hundreds of ways to get it completely wrong. Here is a list of the Etsy shop mistakes I made when I began.
You have a product you would like to sell on Etsy, you have done a grand total of one hour research into the platform and looked at the best selling items, you are ready to start your very own Etsy shop. I mean, how difficult can it be right?
When I started my first Etsy shop I was clueless, it didn’t take long to get my first item for sale though, that was the easy part. Then crickets, nothing, I think I might have had 4 visitors to my Etsy shop in a week. I wrote this post to help you and highlight most of the Etsy shop mistakes I made, so you don’t have to. Some were oddly sensible at the time, most were laziness and more than one is an embarrassment.
I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2013. I’ve opened three shops, and I’ve had ups and downs in my Etsy success on the sales front. If you are starting an Etsy shop, or have been selling for a while, you will want to read this post. It contains most of the mistakes I made when I began selling on Etsy and others which remain on my to-do list today.
*Please note that this post does include affiliate links where if you follow my link and make a purchase, I will receive a small amount in commission. But I only recommend those things I have tried and use today.
Warning – this is a long post. Get coffee!
Naming your Etsy shop.
I called my shop SurfaceHug. Hmm ok, my Mum said she liked it but what does that mean to a buyer? My shop sells digital paper. I could have called it anything; I should have called it something which would explain what I am selling. Like PrettyDigitalpaper or Sunnydigitals. When deciding your shop name remember to keep it simple and don’t assume you are going to love it forever. You can change your shop’s name, but only once and when you have decided on a new name, you then need to get all the social media handles changed. Avoid if you can.
Choose a name you can logically live with for some time, and if you plan on selling other new products in the future, it’s worth investing some time now getting it right.
Branding your Etsy shop
Even today I look at it, and I’m shocked at how bad it is. My logo looks like a car tax disk, and the picture on the header bears no relation at all to the items I am selling. It’s not even on the same theme. Your shop must have an overall feeling about it. Your logo should match your listings either in colours or style, and the same goes for your header too. There is an excellent book on branding called How to Style your Brand by Fiona Humberston.
Here is my first shop, you can see the horrible name up in lights, but really what do paper tassels have to do with what I’m selling? Seriously, I need to change this, like today. I know this is a major Etsy shop mistake.
Here is my latest shop selling Digital watercolour prints.
Ok, they might not look too bad from your seat, but to me, I can see that the second banner has been received much better.
It shows examples of what is in the shop, and you can quickly see what the shop is about and the feel of it. I have shown some examples of 5-star reviews, and also advertised my sales coupon for 30% off by joining the mailing list. Also, the shop’s logo colours match the shops central colour scheme.
After I had this banner up for a while, I made a new banner below. This banner showcases my latest items and also the discount offered. It also highlights where the buyer can sign up for a free print. I have seen shop banners with clickable links in their banner, although I haven’t been able to do it myself.
My main Etsy shop mistake was not collecting email address. (if you stop reading this post and do only one thing, please do this)
Ok, so I have made 1895 sales as of today and have yet to collect one email address. Crazy. Mad stupid crazy. I could have had a list of 1000 email subscribers who I can contact on a regular basis and direct them back to the shop which equals traffic on demand. But nope, failed there too.
Since drafting this blog post, I HAVE now signed up for Convertkit and have started collecting email address from my other shop. So far I have 192 emails. That is 192 people I can contact when my next sale is happening, or when I create a new product. I was hesitant about joining Convertkit, after all, I am supposed to be making money, not spending it. But let me assure you, I know it will be invaluable to my business in the long run. It provides a direct megaphone to your target market and you can contact them any time you wish. The platform is not basic in its capabilities, but it is easy to navigate, the interface is clean and since I began I’ve now started to place buyers into a funnel for showing them other products and ideas. I’m building a relationship with them and Convertkit has allowed me to do it with ease. If you can collect the email address of even 10% of your customers and even those who are not yet your customers, it really is worth it.
If investing in Convertkit is too much for you now, then you can sign up for a free account on MailChimp and start today.
Updating your Etsy shop announcement
Until Feb 2017 I hadn’t updated my shop announcement for over a year.
All this does is advise everyone and anyone who comes to the shop that you are not there, not listening and not even alive maybe.
Your shop’s announcement does account towards your SEO, and there is some argument that you should not update your announcement too often as it can take four weeks for it to take effect for SEO.
Although if your shop announcement is no longer relevant and needs updating right now, then add some keywords to your first few lines which relate to the items you are selling. You can also add a link to sign up for your email list, promote your social media handles as well. Some shops showcase their best sellers here and sales dates or coupon codes.
Listing new items for sale
After the first initial two sales, I went off to drink coffee for eight months.
I know I’m not the only person out there guilty of this. But it tells Etsy that I’m not there, or alive or willing to invest any time in my shop
Result = no traffic or sales. Then you abandon your shop entirely and write ‘fail’ in your Etsy folders. Not great either. It would have been more useful to have 2hrs a week in my schedule to log on and update.
Listing every item with the same key words in the title
I listed every item with the first words in the title of Digital paper.
Ok – that’s what they are digital paper, but then I’m just competing with myself here. Because Etsy aims to have only one item from each shop on individual search pages unless I was very fortunate, I’d probably have something like one listing on page 1 and another on page 3.
It would have been much better to have taken each listing and concentrated on one keyword for that item and made then more targeted. i.e. Floral digital paper, Spotty Digital paper, Pink Digital paper
For example, I have three items of Blue Digital paper; I could have given each one a focused Keyword such as Sky Blue Paper, Navy blue paper, Stars blue digital paper.
Below is an image of what my shop currently shows as tags, notice how some have the same words at the beginning of the description, these need amending to something more targeted and individual.
Using the Etsy listing categories correctly.
I listed my items just as paper – this is not correct, if I were listing them today I’d list them as Craft Supplies and Tools, Scrapbooking supplies, Scrapbooking clip art.
Make sure that you list your items in the correct category in Etsy and there is no reason you can’t use 2 or 3 different ones and experiment.
When Etsy updated their categories, I then put them on Canvas surfaces. So that wasn’t correct either.
Keep an eye on your categories and make sure you haven’t missed an update.
Here is a link to the current Catagories for you to see where you should be.
Making items cohesive.
Ok, so I’m not as guilty as some on this point at least. I hadn’t Listed granny scarf alongside my homemade golden painted picture frame. Don’t do this. Your shop will resemble a junkyard.
But they didn’t look like siblings either. I’d managed to use several fonts and colours and writing styles to get the job done faster.
Result – my shop had a mismatched feel to it.
You can’t please everyone – but you should try to ensure your shop is designed by the same person at least and your items do have some relation to each other, even if it’s only in the photographs.
Spelling mistakes in my listings.
Ok – so no major issues with this. But let’s say you wanted to buy a chocolate cake and someone can’t spell chocolate, the buyer might think, well, if they can’t even spell correctly, is their product any good, is it even chocolate.?
Some buyers will not buy from your shop if you haven’t taken the time to spell correctly.
You can combat this by creating your listing details in google docs. which helps with spelling and standard errors. I got caught out quite a bit by the dreaded ‘copy and paste’ and copied my spelling errors to the next listing.
I’ve now invested in Grammarly, which helps enormously with the details which can be easily overlooked when you have listed your 15th item that day.
List each item as a new item
I copied and pasted my listing titles from one item to another because they were so similar. Alarmingly I thought this was ok because the more items I had which sounded alike, the more Etsy would love me.
All I achieved by doing this was to have the same title for four listings and competed with myself over titles and tags. Another point to make here is that when you do list a new item, you can copy the old item in the listings page, then swap out the images, descriptions and titles. This helps with SEO also. If you have five items in your shop (you should have more of course) but one of those items receives ten times more views than any other item – then copy this item and change out the pictures and details.
For each item, you do need to have an idea of how you are going to list it.
I keep a sheet of paper for each of my listings which I can easily see when it was first listed and what keywords I was targeting, as well as what I named it in Etsy and gave it the number you can use within your listings so you can find it again. Its called the SKU. So I can quickly see what number the listing relates to.
If you would like a copy of it, please go here and sign up for access to the free library.
I use this sheet when I’m batching work together. I can quickly see which stage I’m at with each listing and go back months later and swap out the key words I used for new ones.
Use SEO in the listings
Ok, so I had taken all the advice I had read and managed to get over 100 listings ready to be posted for sale. I was on fire. But in my haste, I forgot to read the paragraph about SEO, and it does matter if you copy one listing over to the next listing because Google looks at this repetitiveness. Not great.
Even though you have many listings of basically the same thing – do try to vary how you write your copy in the items descriptions. Vary the wording a little and reconstruct the same sentence so you can benefit from a bit of google juice.
Also, I failed to link to other listings inside my item descriptions, and when I did, I put in the long link instead of a short link which makes it look a bit well, – messy. Some people prefer to link to several items at the bottom of their listing, this keeps the buyer hanging about in your shop, and they are more likely to stumble upon a listing and then purchase it. Especially if you have hinted at a saving they can make also.
You can link to other listings by recommending them, i.e. click here to find similar items you might like or click here to see the item in different colours.
You can link to your categories also this way
If you are going to link to other relevant listings, you can use a link shortener such as bitly
Etsy has now made this easier to do, and it’s not necessary to copy the whole URL just the item number. If I were listing again I’d use the short part of the title as below. That way Etsy knows you are linking to other items also.
Utilise the shop header
I know this seems a simple thing, but when you are desperate to get things going in your shop, get your first sale and you’ve readied yourself up to this, a simple idea like a shop header seems trivial. Well, this is all part of your shop’s branding and as such is a highway to engagement for your audience.
What can I put in my shop’s header?
Your 5-star reviews
Your social media quotes
A freebie they can claim
Simple, and outrageously obvious right.
If you imagine the high street with posters for shop windows and not glass, what would your sign look like to encourage the customer to walk inside and take a look? Ideally, you want it to look friendly, apparent to what you are selling and have some hook to drive you inside to take a look.
I’ve seen shop headers which look so great; I just want to buy from them anyway just to have something from their shop.
Here is an example: Wishful Printing
Encourage reviews in the shop.
Many buyers come to the shop and make a purchase and are happy with their purchase, but somehow hardly ever seem to return back and write a review. Maybe because they are too busy, they have their order, the service was excellent, but why take the time to leave a review?
Shops who require engagement with the purchaser, maybe for custom orders often receive more reviews because they have built a relationship with their buyer. I’ve noticed that many reviews are as a result of prior contact. You are more likely to recommend a shop if the sales assistant has helped you look for something, or you have received above standard service. It’s the same on Etsy.
I sell digital products, so how can I do this?
- Encourage more reviews by mentioning it in your notice to buyers. Offer a freebie in exchange for a review in your shop.
Remeber to be conscious that you may not communicate with a buyer in an email unless it’s to do with the order. So in basic terms, you can’t contact them months later and say, Hey, can I have a review, please.
They can only review their purchase on Etsy within 100 days, so during that time, you will have to make efforts.
- Can you include in your digital files and within the notice to buyers a PDF thanking them for asking questions encouraging correspondence together? Building relationships and friendships.
I have in the past put in my shop announcement anyone leaving a review will receive a freebie. I then send them a convo to say thank you for the review in my shop, here you can access your freebie. You can even collect email addresses in this manner. Win-win.
- Another way to encourage reviews is to contact them and say when their order is expected to be dispatched and what you are working on now. Try to have a conversation with them.
For example :
Dear customer, (their name)
Thank you for your order of XYZ.
I expect your order to be dispatched within three days. I am working to ensure it’s perfect for you.
Please let me know if there is anything I can help with further. I will notify you when your item has been dispatched.
Did you know we have a website also at your website
If you would like to sign up for future sales updates, you can do so here…
Every sale is super special to us, and we want to make your experience with us magical. Please remember to leave a review of our shop if you can, and we’ll send you a special coupon to say thank you.
What is that favourite game anyway?
I spent far too much time playing favourite games.
I’m not sure how I managed to get into these, I want to laugh out loud when I think of all the time I wasted. I liked strange items I had no intention of buying. Don’t waste your time, you would be better following a few people who have followed your direct competition. At least then you are encouraging followers who might be interested in your product at a later date. I’m so pleased Etsy reviewed this because now I can see quite clearly a correlation between favourites and orders.
Follow those who follow you on Etsy
I never went back and followed those who favoured my shop.
Ok – so there is no particular reason for this, but by following those who favoured my shop, I am now seeing where my buyers are and what other items they are favouriting. This way I can see which items of mine are looked at alongside my competition. You need to know which items are your competition – right?
Go ahead right now and follow the people who are following your shop. Use the drop-down menu in your dashboard and follow a few people who have favoured your items. Prompting them to come back to your shop and take another look and of course, it shows them you are investing time and noticing them. Please do not contact them via the Etsy email, it is again the Etsy terms to contact anyone unless it is directly related to an order.
I think Etsy might like you too if you are actively following new people.
Utilised your shop sections.
The sections you place your items in within your shop are part of your SEO and can be found with the search term.
I had one called Digital (doh) and one called clip art. (doh, doh) Lots of thought went into that.
Some shops place their items into categories based on search terms, some do it via colours, or even what the items are used for. Trial and error and you probably need to spend time figuring this out in your shop depending on what you are selling. You can go into your search terms in your stats and see if any of those terms suite at the moment.
After making my Clip Art which was the result of having 200 pages of drawings I had lying around. Some did well, others not so well. I felt like my time was worth lots of money. So I priced my items way over the top of the average price bracket. Lots of views and favourites, no sales. Or very few anyway.
Price your products according to the market. Only when you have a dedicated following, and thousands (ok, hundreds) of dedicated buyers can you stretch out and go beyond the competition. Or your product is so excellent and sells like hotcakes, then maybe you should increase your prices before the competition swallows you whole.
Etsy has a lot of traffic which would be impossible for a single person even to begin to replicate, so this is how you can justify lower prices.
Digital products by their very nature mean you can charge anything you like for them once they are up for sale. So my advice is to go lower, to begin with, and then increase in small increments as your sales increase with traffic. A shop looks much more attractive to buyers if they have completed their first 100 sales.
At this moment I have some of my items as 2$ and some at 4.80$, so I also need to work on this.
Note to self: make prices more common sense.
Include keywords in your shop announcement
My shop announcement didn’t contain any SEO keywords.
The first few lines of your shop announcement should contain all the keywords you want your shop to be known for.
So mine should contain the words, digital, Clip art, Papers, etc. etc
Put in the links to your other shops here also.
If you have more than one Etsy shop – you must declare this to your buyers so they can easily see you have another store on Etsy.
You can do this in your shop announcement or your descriptions. As long as you declare it.
Even if you have more than one shop selling the same items, i.e., two shops selling invites, one digital and one printed and shipped. Etsy doesn’t mind as long as you are not listing the same items in two shops.
You can list the same item twice in 1 shop though. I’ve never done this, but it is ok to do so.
Fill out your About Page correctly.
Your about page should give the buyer a brief overview of who you are and what you do. Not that you have ten cats and came in late every Friday. No – it should tell the buyer in a professional way why you are here and include some helpful info on how you started and what your mission statement is.
When writing your about section, make it about the buyer, not about you. Write it giving clear, precise logic on why your items are unique and solve a problem for the buyer. A buyer is, of course, interested in you as a person, but try and use that to solve their problem. i.e. I have been designing hats since I was 12 inspired by the country seasons here in Somerset, so the hat you buy from me is entirely handmade, unique and individual, so your big day will be magical.
Include keywords in the title of your about page too.
Is your photo terrible?
Your photo should be of you, not your dog or your sewing machine. People resonate with faces, and this is an excellent way to show yourself off in good light.
I paid someone to take pictures of me. I only use one in all my shops.
Ensure all social media is using the same picture as well.
People will recognise you, and the more often they see your face, the more significant and authoritative your shop will be – branding is everywhere
Sort your shop view right away
I didn’t sort the view of my shop straight away when Etsy made changes
I’m not sure why but it took me ages to sort out how I wanted my listings to be viewed. I had a random selection on the front page and no rhyme or reason for the layout.
Try to keep the same colours, or similar together. I sell prints, so I have my hottest sellers on the top line with coordinating pieces below. Helping the buyer along to click on more items, even better for SEO.
I know, I know – I didn’t copy anyone’s listings, but I did and still do have listings which are more than a nod to someone else’s listing either in description or tags. It wasn’t done deliberately, but there are only a few ways to show three feathers together. I’ve never had anyone complain or approach me, so I don’t think they closely resemble anyone. Please be mindful when doing your research on Etsy and be unique.
Which leads me to the next point
Listing similar items for sale
I had about 39 listings which were mainly the same item.
Self-explanatory, – I had some items which were mainly the same and believe me, after spending days making them, only one ever sold with any great regularity. It is much better to build your best sellers rather than thinking everyone wants that strange shade of pink and must have it 38 times more. If you have a particular item which does well, then build on it. The item may have done well because it’s genuinely what buyers want right now and it’s your job to the give them more of the same.
Besides if you make 38 items all the same by the time you come to list them, the trend will have passed anyway.
Listen to your customers
I had, and still, have several requests in my 3 Etsy shops for custom orders. Those custom orders are little gems of inspiration because it means someone is looking for that exact item and they can’t find it.
Lightbulb – here is a useful list of ideas for your next listing.
I don’t do any custom work any longer. See below.
Don’t listen to your customers
I know mixed message right?
Yep – this can also be an error. As there are only so many times, you can converse with someone over the colour scheme of their orange sofa. You will never get it right, and it will take 20 working hours to earn 5$. Be careful and considerate when taking on custom orders, this distracts you from the business of making your stuff and guess what, some of them don’t even pay you in the end.
Stick to what sells
I tried to be all things.
In the morning after breakfast I’d be drawing flowers, then at lunch, I’d move on to drawing campervans. Then later I’d be drawing dogs.
There is some good in maximising your listings to deliver the most varied products. There is little point in making 25 items which never sell.
When thinking about your listings, be mindful of what the customer is going to do with them. If you have a listing which repeatedly sells well, make more. Don’t go off on a tangent because you think someone; anyone might buy it one day. Do your research before investing your time in a new listing.
You will only know what sells well if you have several items to choose from, but if you sell 40 prints of the same green, make more, don’t move to brown.
How to name your files correctly
Typically if you are anything like me, you are happily creating away and saving, uploading, – your shop is filling up nicely. You feel finally like you’ve put in a decent amount of work to warrant a little ponder and then a convo arrives to say you have called your Poppy listing a Tulip. Ok, so you quickly log on to do a quick typo and where is the file? I’ll tell you where it’s buried in a graveyard or 78 files all called flowers.
If you keep files for your Etsy shop, name them correctly, better still keep a written document for each item you can quickly scan through and find proocisly what it was called on your computer.
Now I have a PDF I print out for each listing and fill it out, that way if I can’t find it from the title, I can find it from the file name or even in my physical sheets I keep on each item.
Concentrate on your Etsy shop
I spent too much time looking away from my shop
Lots of Etsy shop owners are guilty of this. This morning you browsed several similar shops to yours because they came highlighted in the Etsy email of ‘You might also like.’
If you spend too much time looking outwards, you never achieve anything. By all means, browse other shops, but don’t waste time admiring other peoples work. Do your own.
It is of course hard not to gasp out loud when you see an Etsy shop which has been open 20 weeks and have sold 30 times what you have in a year. The best way to manage this is to see perhaps what they are selling differently, what are they doing which you are not? It may well be that their traffic is originating off Etsy and they are great at marketing and you have not sent any traffic to your shop from other sources.
Do they have all their keywords similar, is their product description much better and informative than yours?
Batch work together
20 minutes drawing, 10 minutes uploading, 30 mins amending, 45 mins listing, 20 mins viewing similar items, 30 mins promoting. (Actually, that’s a lie, 5 seconds promoting seems more like it)
For this time, I should have just done one of these tasks for many items. Kept them in the draft until I was ready to publish. Batching is a great way to feel more organised and do a job well instead of rushing.
If you teach yourself to spend 3hrs a day doing one job for multiple listings your day will flow much better.
Dealing with a bad review
I ignored my less than perfect reviews.
Not getting a 5-star review each time is ok, but follow up on why it wasn’t a good review. I had one customer in such a pickle over her download because it didn’t go to the correct address she gave me a 2-star review. I ignored it.
What I should have done is wrote back to her and given her some help to resolve the problem. Be overly friendly to your customer. If they seem more satisfied, ask them politely if they can look again at your service and if they still feel I was a 3-star that’s ok.
I could have avoided all of this my making my Notice to buyers more informative and given her the help she needed to find the download on Etsy. Which, by the way, is under your profile and purchases.
Selling digital products is easy on Etsy now that they send the files directly. But you will still get the odd customer who wants it to be sent to a new address. I did this a couple of times, but the files are compressed to lower quality, and then the customer complains about the print quality. Then you end up redoing the item anyway.
If you have to send a large digital file to an alternative email address, then you could use a file transfer service such as Wetransfer which allows you to send large files for free to another email address.
Refunding your Etsy sales
I quibbled over 2$
I know it seems harsh but having learnt long ago that it is not worth a bad review, if someone is not happy, just refund them quickly. Contact them to say as a goodwill gesture you have refunded them the shipping or the whole purchase price. A bad review regarding turn around times or quality can put off more in future purchases than it costs to refund.
As annoying as it may seem, it is always better to issue a refund and get on with your day rather than feeling glum later when you receive a 2-star review. This is especially true if you are selling digital items.
Use correct language
I used non-words
I’ve only ever done this once, and it sounds terrible. If your local language uses words that your 13 years old thinks is cool, that’s fine – but please do use them in your shop. Because what is trendy today will be gone tomorrow and who wants to amend 300 listings with a U in the correct place. All of this is part of your branding, as many people use local dialect or swearing in the normal communications, I’m not sure it translates well on the high street.
Who is your customer?
I used zip files but forgot who my customer was
I still use zip files today, and even though I still get the occasional customer who can’t find them on their computer and wants me to find them instead. I now have it quite clearly in my information to customers how a zip file works and how to open them. If you are making something your Grandma needs an explanation for, so will your customer – so don’t keep them guessing and be thorough in your answers from the outset.
A good idea is to include this in your FAQ in your shop.
Protecting your work
I didn’t copyright my stuff enough.
I have one listing which has done very well; the traffic comes mainly from the search on Etsy. But I’ve seen the same file posted on Pinterest which goes to someone else’s very very similar listing on Etsy. If I had put my branding on my photos within the listing, I probably could have avoided this.
It’s not uncommon to be clicking on Pinterest and find the link goes to some random website telling you something which only vaguely resembles what you thought you would learn about. Put your branding on your photos otherwise; someone else will enjoy your hard work and gain your traffic. Recently Pinterest is working hard to delete all of the stolen pins, so this may not be a problem in the future, but it is still good practice.
I didn’t do anything about it either apart from report the pin.
Using keywords in your description
I copied the title of my item straight into the description.
I thought it was ok to copy my item title straight into the first three lines of my description. I’d read somewhere that it was good for SEO to repeat the same words in my description as those in my title.
Ok so this is half true, you should have your keywords somewhere in your description, but maybe only have three key words nicely sprinkled in a natural way throughout a few lines (not 60) times.
As of today I probably have 400 listings which are guilty of this. I have been in amended a few, but gosh this is hard work. Some mistakes cost you more time in the future. Even though SEO is changing all the time on Etsy – you can avoid catastrophic errors in the first instance.
Link to other items in your shop
I linked to the same item over and over with my dynamic copy/paste practice
Ok, this is not a major no-no – but do try to interlink to other relevant listings in your shop. It will keep your buyer in your shop for longer, and they will see more of your beautiful items – thus leading to more sales hopefully.
Promote a coupon code.
I had a coupon code ever since I opened my shop. I put a half-hearted mention in my shop announcement and then forgot about it.
You can add your promotion code to one of your items images, your items description, about section, header, social media, note to buyers, FAQs – your file downloads if you sell digital.
Consider making a visual reference to your coupon and posting on Instagram and Pinterest or where your buyers hang out. If you sell physical items add this card to your delivery.
Use all of the pictures
I didn’t use all five pictures – it’s ten pictures now.
Why I thought it was ok to use one photo of my item is beyond my explanation. But there you go. Use all of your five pics. If you are struggling to get five pics, you can use them to do any of the following instead
- Promotion code
- Close-up of the same picture
- Sign up for emails advert
- Similar listing side by side e.g 4 images of matching items
- Photo of how you made it
- Printable image
- Links to your social media
- Further information about the product
- Photo of a previous customer using the item – please get written permission for the buyer for this
- Great review of the item
- Instructions on how to proceed with a purchase
- The same photo, although I don’t like how this looks on Etsy.
This can seem like hard work, try batching. Spend a week ensuring your photos are the best they can be.
Make your images Pinterest friendly
Pinterest can be a huge traffic driver for your shop if you use it. I made my images so small and square that when I pin them on Pinterest, they looked terrible. That’s not to say they never get repins in that format.
Make at least one of your images of the product Pinterific – long and of good quality with an overlay of some great capture words.
Ideally, make your Pinterest image twice as high as it is wide.
Pinterest has stopped making Etsy pins Rich pins, where you can see the items price in the feed. Somewhat annoyingly, in the future, it’s possible that every pin will have to be an actual image on the website. Recently I’ve been making my first image 2084×3125 pixels, but ensuring the centre of the image is square and so when I upload it to Etsy the preview looks normal, only when you pin it or click on the image does it reveal the full Pinterest perfect image.
Use a watermark
I slapped on a huge watermark over my images.
Ok, so as above I did say try to watermark your images with your shop name somewhere just in case someone from the interwebs thinks its ok to use your stuff to promote their own. But don’t slap on a giant, in your face watermark covering the whole item because if it appears in their feed, they can’t see what your item is. Have something beautiful and simple and recognisable, preferably in a position that someone can’t just chop off the bottom half of your image.
Plan for sales
Sales can bring a massive boost to sales if done correctly. You can have a Black Friday sale, but you need to plan for it. Have an idea of what your sale will be in detail and use a calendar to work backwards and mark off your tasks. Etsy now makes the sale feature much more user-friendly, and with instant access to social shares, all you have to do is make up a few extra promotional pics and schedule your sharing on there. Obviously, it helps if you have an email list, but it is not mandatory to your success.
A good tip is to follow someone on social media and see what they post and how often and you get an idea of how they have done it.
Answer your conversations promptly
I didn’t answer convos for several days
This I think is a big Etsy no-no. I try now to have the last word in any convo so that Etsy knows I am responding. If I have left ten unanswered emails from my customers, my views go down.
Aside from that, you are selling things, and it’s good customer relations to reply promptly and respect them enough to get a response out soon.
Check out this post from Olyvia.
Listen to your clients
Don’t give up
I got worn out quickly and you will too
Etsy is hard work, and there is no substitute for putting the time into your shop. But anyone will tell you that being logged on and making new things every day can get very tiring, especially when you are waiting for those sales which don’t seem to come as quick as you would like.
Give yourself breaks when needed and get away from it all for some time in the day, and also at the weekend.
You can use the convo pre-saved and type out a response and paste it in, at least then your customer knows you are taking a break and will be back in a day or so.
Bring in outside traffic to your Etsy shop
One of the main reasons you started an Etsy shop and not your e-commerce site is because Etsy has ready-made traffic and potential customers already searching.
But as Etsy makes changes, it is impossible to pivot your business model to match. So you do need to make a plan on how else you will send traffic to your shop from outside Etsy. It could be social media, Pinterest or emails. But if I have learnt anything in this time, I know, the way to be successful on Etsy is to be consistently sending your independent traffic to your shop.
I’m planning some posts on this shortly. Stay tuned.
Etsy is continually changing their algorithm for search so they are now moving to having more than 1 item of your’s on each page, which ties in with having a more localized search. So in essence, if I search for pink woolly socks in Europe, my results may well be different to someone searching for the same thing in say, Australia. Even digital items are affected. Does this mean you are out in the cold if your shop is based in Asia and you are trying to target customers based in Florida? – Probably not. But it does mean its even more imperative that you have your own traffic sources to your shop and not rely totally on Etsy traffic.
Stay on trend
I didn’t react to the market – I carried on making chevrons.
Ok, so yes, there was a trend where chevrons appeared everywhere, and I wanted to be part of that too. I did make chevrons, but while I was perfecting my product the market moved on to minimalistic and black and white an then I kept wondering why my chevrons where not selling. I was like a chicken with my head down on the computer, and everyone else in the office had moved onto the next new thing, and I was left behind.
I think I don’t like chevrons because of this. They are a bit annoying now.
Each listing is like a shop window
Listing your items for sale on Etsy is a great way to sell a product. But each one is a shop window to your product, so ensure you have done everything on each listing to maximise it’s effectiveness to the buyer. Use all the pictures, and optimise your descriptions to say precisely what the item is about and how it will improve their lives. Not yours.
Ok, I didn’t give up. But after dedicating hours and hours to perfecting my shop, I just fell out of love with it. I was annoyed that everyone seemed to sell and I had bearly any views, and the ten views a day I did have, I acted like God himself had just rocked up.
After many many months crafting, learning, applying, making and watching, I got so mad, I thought all these people who said they made a living on Etsy were insane. I walked away. I just lost my mojo for a while.
While it is hard to remain positive when it doesn’t seem to add up, get a break and return. Persistence is the only difference between you and the next most successful seller out there.
Invest in your shop
Like any business, you often need to invest in yourself before you can see any improvement in your store. There is a multitude of things you can buy to make your life easier with your Etsy shop.
Grammarly – to help you with those pesky spelling and grammar mistakes.
An Etsy course on everything to do with marketing your shop
An Etsy course on workflows An Etsy app which allows you to tweak some listings together.
A Creativity planner to get you started.
An amazing course on starting your Pinterest journey and how to use it effectively to drive traffic to your Etsy shop.
Don’t forget to promote your Etsy shop
A classic newbie mistake. You post five listings and sit back and wait for your sales to roll in. This doesn’t work, and while there is a benefit to taking advantage of Etsy through traffic (they’ve done most of the hard work for you), there is a considerable advantage in having a small funnel of traffic which you control. Sending people to your shop from outside Etsy is key to gaining an edge over your competitors.
Where to promote your Etsy shop
My first Etsy shop was selling digital papers and Clipart. I started gaining some traffic from Twitter and using the IFTT tool I could automatically promote my shop on the platform. However, for my next shop, my audience hung out on Pinterest.
Find out where your audience hangs out and concentrate on promotion on that platform. Build it up to where you can see an improvement and then try something new.
Do not do what I did and leave your listing with no promotion at all. At the very least I should have had a dedicated board on Pinterest showing only your items. I used a brilliant course called Pinning Perfect, it goes deep into the getting started and maintaining a schedule to dominate your Pinterest marketing strategy. Highly recommended.
Promoting on autopilot
There is a tool out there called If This Then That. Which merely acts for you based on the criteria you set.
So I set it so that if I had a sale on Etsy and an item was relisted in the shop (which it does automatically if you sell digital products), then it would post that as a new tweet on Twitter.
I also set it so that if I posted to Twitter, then post to facebook, then it posted on Tumblr and so on a so forth. So each sale is being promoted automatically.
Where to place the money you earn from your shop
This is not relevant to everyone reading this, but when I opened my shop, I was living in the UK. Roll forward three years, and I moved to Hong Kong. At this time you can not move your Etsy bank account to another country. You must close your shop and open a new one, thus losing a shed load of time or open a new shop with new items and keep the old one on the back boiler with your old items.
So now when someone buys from my shop which has a currency of US$ the money goes into my UK bank account, and I then have to withdraw it here in Hong Kong. So it’s converted three times. Don’t even mention the tax situation.
Get some advise even if it’s only on the Etsy forums about your tax obligations. But don’t get too hung up on this at the begging. Etsy does most of the heavy lifting for you and charges the correct amount of VAT and pays this on your behalf. However, you are still very responsible for your tax or business tax.
Test your listings
I was selling digital items, but I never actually purchased my items. If I had done this, I would have known that the message to buyers after purchase explained nothing apart from prompted more questions.
This is also a good idea to see what your files look like at the other end and how long things take. Be on the other side sometimes just to check.
Open social media accounts.
When I opened my shop, I did think about Facebook and Twitter, but not Instagram or Pinterest. Please ensure you open all of them, it saves time later when you begin to grow.
Set goals for your Etsy shop
I behaved like a windsock!
Each day the wind of information would blow me in a whole new direction, and like any newbie, I spent months running around chasing rainbows when I should have just concentrated on achieving my goals and not flailing around in a sea of ideas.
When you set goals for your shop, you have something in front of you to hone your focus for each day or product. If your goal is to make a full-time income, then write down what that figure is and create a plan of how you will get there. How many sales do you need to complete to make that goal achievable?
Easier said than done but there are lots of goal setting posts out there to help you complete this. It is essential that you have some idea of where you are going. See next point.
The shop is now open for business. You now need listings. How are you going to get those posted? How long does it take you to make each listing with photos and SEO?
Can you realistically get 100 listings ready in 5 days or 5 weeks?
Write down how you are going to achieve this. You need a plan to work with. For example, you want to have 100 listings of knitted gloves in your Etsy shop by Christmas.
How many evenings do you need for each pair? 2, or maybe 7. If you then see that you are ahead or behind, then adjust your goal accordingly.
Goals are excellent if like me you require someone to tell you how great you are to get going – your little goals will go into big goals in no time.
As an example – set yourself a goal for tomorrow –
I will make my bed and clean the bathroom.
Ok, so this might take you an hour, or it might be 15 mins, but ticking that off your list is a goal you have achieved today.
You can even write these down in a gratitude diary after each day together with what you have achieved and what you wish to achieve tomorrow.
Helpful tools to get your tags marvellous
Marmalead wasn’t around when I started. But it has helped me immensely since I have started using it. Before this, I just stalked lots of shops and tried to emulate what they were doing.
Marmalead will help you with tags, giving you plenty of alternative ideas. Thinking like a buyer, and having a long list of suitable tags to get into your items, well the battle is halfway won.
Etsy Rank is another took which will help you analyse your tags, titles and stats in your shop. You can even monitor your competition, keyword tools, your shops rank on Etsy and spell checker. I love this dashboard for getting to know your listings inside out.
Putting your Etsy shop on Vacation
Big fat huge no-no.
No one wants to lose potential sales by actually leaving their shop unattended, so conveniently you can put your shop in holiday mode.
However, it affects your SEO score, and a non-active shop is not great. Etsy doesn’t know you will only be away for three nights visiting your Granny or have charted a boat to go on a product finding tour in Hawaii.
They drop your shops SEO, and it will take a while or maybe longer to get back up to speed. Alternatively, extend your delivery times, or put a notice in the shop, and message to buyers. This way you haven’t thrown off your SEO, and everyone knows you are coming back to attend them.
Know your worth
I rejoiced at 4$ even though it meant I was working for 4p an hour
Ok so this is not a mistake because believe me when you’ve been putting your heart and soul into creating your first listing, you’ve got something for sale. The overwhelming feeling of hurrah comes ONLY when you hear your first kerching. You are officially an entrepreneur.
Lots of advice is out there
Ok, so I’m hardly a Granny, but I’m not a teenager either. I remember reading two blogs almost back to back. Both of which told me I needed an email list. I ignored it, just the same as you will probably skip over several of the things you’ve just read. It is possible to go your own way, but why start hacking down the jungle, when someone has already created the path for you? There is a ton of advice out there, especially on Pinterest. All you have to do to implement it.
Phew, that was a long post and I hope I have given you a few ideas on how to avoid Etsy shop mistakes when you begin selling. Please share this post if you think it was helpful.
Good luck growing your Etsy shop and start today.