After working with hundreds of makers over the last few years, I regularly see people making the same mistakes in their Etsy shops over and over again.
In this episode, I share the top 5 mistakes I see people making with their online shops. I’m focussing on Etsy today, but honestly, these issues crop up no matter what online venue you are using – so even if you’re selling somewhere other than Etsy, you will benefit from this episode.
Today I share some really vital things which you can quickly and easily change right now to make your online shop more professional and encourage customers to purchase from you. Other issues I touch on might take some time to get it right, but it’s important to start on these now so you can add to your skills
I hope you don’t recognise these mistakes in your shop – but if you do, at least you now know what you need to work on to make it better!
Your shop will never be perfect: but you can always improve and be the best you can be.
Are you making any of these 5 mistakes with your Etsy shop?
You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher
Quotes and highlights from this Episode:
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at somebody’s store and they would have maybe 5-10 items. I can tell you immediately that this will be a turn off for people. They won’t take your seriously if you don’t have a well-stocked shop.”
If you have high priced or artist pieces, you might be able to get away with less products.
With Etsy, you should have 25+ products which will give you more than one page of products.
You want your shop to look full and that you’re serious about business.
But you also don’t want to have too much choice.
100 products is said to be the magic number on Etsy but don’t panic if that’s out of the realm of possibility for you.
Grow your items slowly but surely until you have a good selection but don’t go the other way and have too many products.
“I ended up having too many with 400+ items and I had a lot of older ones which I made the decision to narrow my brand and took a bunch of them down. My business has grown more since then than ever before.”
Don’t be afraid to get rid of things that aren’t working.
Don’t use flash photography as it looks awful and makes harsh shadows nor does it to any products any favours.
A bit of styling is OK but don’t clutter the image.
Dial back your styling until your product is the star of the photo.
If your item blends into the photo, it’s too cluttered.
Taking photos freehand will definitely give you blurry photos sometimes.
On the camera screen it might look fine but if you blow them up on your computer screen and they aren’t sharp, redo them.
“I’ve made all these mistakes which is why I can talk about them. But I’ve learnt a lot since then and I’ve come a long way.”
It will take trial and error – you can do it, it just takes time.
Filtered or ambient light is best.
Before you work on your marketing, spend time on your photos and getting them right.
It’s important that people can see who you are especially with resellers and big companies infiltrating the market.
Show behind the scenes photos to show social proof that you brand is genuinely handmade.
Customers can separate your quality from all the rubbish that is out there.
It’s important with connecting with your ideal customer.
Be genuine and warm and tell them why you make what you make and why they’ll love it.
If you don’t have Policies or a FAQ in place, make that a priority.
It will make dealing with issues really easy since you will have a policy to refer them to.
Customers can know before they buy what your policies are and can make an informed decision to buy.
“Good policies will nip a problem in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.”
There’s lots of great examples out there and see which ones are clear and especially in your specific niche.
Descriptions help you convince your customer to buy.
Most of the time you want to tell customers that you have what they need and the detail in your descriptions will do that for you.
People are inherently lazy and want to know all the answers to their questions upfront so describe the item as if they can’t even see it.
Benefits and Features are the most important aspects of your product so figure them out first.
What is the emotion attached to the item? Include that story in the description.
We all struggle with choosing – and sticking to – a direction for our business.
In the beginning, you probably didn’t even have a direction in mind. You just had something you loved to make, and you wanted to start selling it.
Things like finding your ideal customer, marketing, goal-setting, long-term planning, and conscious product development were likely not even on your radar. You might not have even planned on having a ‘business’.
But now you’re here. You’ve realised that you not only love making things – you love being able to share them with the world, and make money doing so. You’ve crafted yourself a business.
But are you clear on where you want to drive your business to?
Or is it driving you?
Camila Prada – one of the successful makers I profile in the SHIFT Gold Member Case Studies, has this to say about finding direction.
[Struggling with direction is] a constant for me. I think it is for most entrepreneurs, simply because of the fact you have to switch back and forth from CEO mode to worker bee mode. As the creator of a business you are always second guessing yourself, questioning, thinking of how to make things better.This makes it hard to execute plans in a focused manner, and of course YOU have to execute these ideas and plans yourself at the beginning, as there is no one else to do it.
Another of our Case Studies, Tracey Matthews (you might know her from Flourish & Thrive Academy) actually grew her first jewellery business to a huge level of success over 10 years… then let all of that go to re-start with a completely different business model for her jewellery.
She says: “Struggling to find direction is just part of life. The difference between those who succeed and those who stay stuck in the struggle is the direct correlation between your ability to make a choice and to take action.”
I totally agree with Tracey. I wrote about this on the blog recently – the terrible habit of not taking action because we’re waiting for something… whether that something is more time to think through a decision (hint, there will never be a point where you are 100% confident… about anything) waiting for perfection, waiting for the ‘right time’… or any of the other myriad excuses we make to ourselves about why we haven’t taken action.
The 4 makers I profile in the SHIFT Gold Case Studies all have this one thing in common. They have made decisions (sometimes, really tough decisions) and then enacted them.
Another thing they have in common is a clear direction.
They know who their customer is – and who their customer is not. They are not trying to be everything to everyone. They know what they want, and every decision they make drives them closer to their chosen destination.
Do you have this clarity?
Or are you still floundering, lurching from task to task, always feeling like you’re behind the game?
If you’re driving your business aimlessly, it’s time to make a shift.
I created SHIFT – my e-course for makers and creatives – to help you do exactly that.
Why did I create this course?
Because I’ve been in your shoes. It took me years to get clear on what I wanted my jewellery business – Epheriell – to be, and the direction I wanted to drive it. From when I started it as a hobby in 2008, it took me 5 years before I finally got really clear and focussed as to what direction to take my biz.
Sure, I had attained some level of success – I was making regular sales, and making money. But things were growing slowly, and it wasn’t until I consciously chose a specific, defined direction that things really took off.
Once I got that clarity, and committed myself to one micro-niche, my business exploded. In fact, my jewellery business revenue in 2014 was double my revenue in 2013.
And that was after culling over half my product line!
Attaining this clarity and direction makes everything so much easier. Your marketing, product development, time management, heck, even the amount of supplies you need to keep on hand.
It makes things simpler, more straightforward, and you clear so much mental space because you’re not wasting time constantly asking ‘this or that’?
You know your Core Values, you know what part you want your biz to play in your life, and you know your WHY.
If you need help finding this clarity and direction for your business, join me and a passionate group of fellow creatives for SHIFT.
The course kicks off March 9th and runs for 30 days. Registration closes Sunday morning, AEST.
As with all of my courses, you get lifetime access to both the content and the private course forum.
I hope you’ll join us and #SHIFTyourbiz in 2015!
P.S. Don’t just take my word for it. SHIFT Alumni, Carolyn Kospender, says of the course: “I feel like I’ve read so many books and essays on information that never really hit the point. But your course not only gave me concrete steps and plans to get me going but more importantly, opened my eyes to the true purpose behind what I do.”
P.P.S. If you have any questions about the course after reading the course page and FAQs, just leave a comment below or email me and I’ll get back to you asap.
So, remember a while back I mentioned a free bootcamp that was coming your way in 2015? This is it!
I was honoured to be invited by Etsy to co-teach their #EtsyResolution bootcamp for new Australian Etsy sellers alongside the fabulous Clare Bowditch.
It’s a free, 4-week program that will help you open your first Etsy shop – or help you spruce up the shop you already have.
It is aimed and written specifically for Australian sellers, BUT anyone is welcome to join, so my lovely international peeps, don’t hesitate to come on board! The majority of content will be perfectly applicable to you, too.
Each week there is a video with me and Clare, as well as two written lessons. There’s also a Facebook group for participants, where Clare and I (and a number of awesome Etsy admin) will be hanging out during the bootcamp, answering questions and generally helping you out.
Here’s the class schedule:
January 27 – Telling Your Brand Story
January 29 – Find Your Target Market
February 2 – Photography: Telling Your Shop’s Visual Story
February 5 – Shipping Tips & Tricks
February 9 – Search Engine Optimisation: Getting Found Online
February 12 – Get to Know (and love!) Your ‘Shop Stats’
February 16 – Marketing 101 (for creative types!)
February 19 – Creating Happy Customers (and nailing the art of repeat business)
February 25 – Live online Q&A with Clare and Jess
If you’ve done my course Set Up Shop, this will be a great refresher. We’ve tried hard to cover a lot of practical topics that will help you understand the details you need to know to get your shop up and running. Obviously we’ve done so in an Etsy-specific way, (unlike SUS which applies no matter where you want to sell online).
If you haven’t done SUS, but have been thinking about it and want to sell on Etsy, definitely sign up and give #EtsyResolution a go. It will definitely be a fab kick-starter, and will give you a feel for my teaching style, too 🙂
(In case you’ve been holding out for the next session of Set Up Shop, it will run in mid-March.)
The end of 2014 is almost upon us, and hopefully you’ve carved out a bit of down-time over the Christmas/New Year period. If so, you might be in need of a bit of holiday reading to get you geared up for 2015… so I’ve put together this round-up of the best posts that we’ve published this year!
In no particular order, here are the 15 must-read posts on the blog from 2014
Enjoy… and I’d love to know your fave for the year (whether it’s on this list or not).
Sure, you can pretty much learn anything you want by googling it these days… but is that the BEST way to learn? Find out why and when you should invest money in an e-course rather than muddling along on your own.
In this post, I break down, step-by-step, how Nick and I process our orders – from when it hits our inbox until it goes out the door. Systems are crucial to your business running smoothly, and I hope this post helps you streamline and organise your own order processing.
If you follow C&T on Instagram and Facebook, you might have seen a little teaser for something awesome I’m bringing your way in January to help you have your best year in biz yet. Keep an eye on your email to be the first to know when I announce the challenge!
Have you helped me help you by filling out the (super-quick and anonymous!) C&T 2014 Questionnaire yet?
Click here to help me give you the most useful, relevant content to help you grow your biz and thrive in 2015.
Is selling your craft online right for you? Or would you be better off selling it via markets, shows, or to shops via wholesale and/or consignment? Or should you do a combination?
I think it is pretty clear these days that you at the very least need to have a presence online. That means a basic website and blog, as well as a few social media channels. No matter how you actually sell your craft, you still need an online presence so people can find you, connect with you, and become (hopefully) raving fans of your work.
But does that mean you have to sell online? Not necessarily…
The decision as to whether to sell your craft online or focus on offline sales is a personal one, but there are a number of factors to consider when you’re trying to make the decision. I’ve put together a list for you to consider below.
1. It will take longer to make money
No doubt about it – if you decide to focus on selling your craft online, it will take longer to make decent money. Markets allow you to make money on-the-spot much faster (provided they are successful), and selling to shops via wholesale means you get a nice chunk of cash straight up.
That said – once you’re established, you’ll be making money every day – even while you sleep! I love waking up in the morning and checking my sales from overnight. By selling online you will get smaller bursts of money more regularly – whereas markets and wholesale will give you larger chunks of money less frequently.
2. Is your item easily shipped?
If you make small items and/or light items, selling online is pretty straightforward. Shipping costs can be kept relatively low (especially in Australia if you can ship via a large letter size rather than a parcel) and it’s not too hard to carry a bunch of parcels to the post office.
However, if you make large or heavy items, shipping – especially internationally – can get pretty darn expensive. You might be better off selling at markets or to shops in your town/city to eliminate this problem.
Expensive shipping can definitely put off some customers – however, you’ll be surprised what some people are willing to pay for shipping if they REALLY LOVE what you are selling.
That brings me to…
3. Are you happy to sell internationally?
If you’re selling online, you’ll grow your business faster and make more money if you’re willing to ship all around the world. Don’t be put off by slightly higher shipping costs, or any other fears – it’s well worth the effort of working out a range of shipping costs up-front to get those international sales.
Around 75% of my jewellery sales are international – mostly to the US, Canada, and the UK, but I’ve also sold to Russia, Italy, Singapore, and many, many other countries.
If you’re worried about parcels going missing – don’t. I usually have around 4 parcels go missing each year (out of thousands) and they are just as likely to be within Australia as overseas! For me, lost parcels are just another one of my costs – I write them off as expenses and send a replacement piece.
The language barrier is also no longer a barrier thanks to Google Translate. I love being able to write a message in English, pop it in GT, and send it to my customer in their native language (with a disclaimer that I’ve used GT in the case that I’ve said something awkward, of course!).
4. Is your work easily reproducible?
This is big one. If you want to have a successful online craft business, at least some of your products must be reproducible. Why? Because when you sell online you not only have to do the work of making your piece, you also have to photograph it, edit the photos, upload them, write a description, calculate shipping costs, choose keywords… and the list goes on. If you’re doing this for OOAK products (unless they are very expensive – like high-end jewellery) you’re going to hit a wall and not have enough time to make products and do all of this work AND make a decent profit while actually enjoying life rather than being a slave to your work.
By having reproducible products, you do all this secondary work just once – then you can sit back and sell the same design over and over again. Each one can be and is unique and handmade, but you do have to have a design that you can reproduce to be almost identical to your online display item.
5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?
If you’re an introvert, then selling online is perfect for you. You can interact with customers and potential customers on your own time, at your own pace. You don’t need a phone number (I don’t make my number available – I work exclusively via email and in the 6 years I’ve been in business this has never ONCE been a problem).
However, if you’re an extrovert, and you adore face-to-face contact with your customers, then you might find selling online a little disheartening. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from selling primarily online and still attending a market here and there to get your ‘customer fix’.
And, you can still interact with your customers via email and social media – I do this every day and it’s part of my job that I love.
6. Do you have the products to do markets?
Because I have focussed on online business – and reproducible designs – I no longer do markets. Why? Simply because I don’t have stock to sell at them! When I make a new prototype design, I make it, photograph it, and then, more often than not, keep it for myself or Nick. It means we have a nice bank of our own jewellery to wear when we’re out and about – which is of course one great way to market your work.
So, for me, markets don’t make financial or time sense – I can make as much online in a day as I make at most standard markets, and I spend way less time and effort to do it.
If, however, you make the sort of thing where you’ve always got stock laying around, or you can make lots of stock quickly, then markets are a great idea!
7. Do you like having your weekends free?
This is another reason I don’t like doing markets, personally. I know I’m self-employed, so I can set the hours and days I want to work… but most of my friends aren’t! So, if I want to hang out with them, I have to do it on the days they have free – and that’s generally the weekend. I don’t like having to get up super-early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and schlep myself and a car full of stuff to a market, then stand around all day in the hope I make a few sales.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done many a market, and there are lots of fun things about it: interacting with customers, hanging out with my crafty peeps, seeing how people respond to my work in-person… but I can do most of this by just attending a market (and spending lots of money on other people’s stuff… ahem…) so that’s my preferred thing to do.
Some folks, however, adore markets and everything about them! If that’s you, then go for it.
8. Are you willing to invest the time to learn how to take and edit stellar product photos?
When you sell online, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling the photo. If you’re not willing to invest the time (or money) in getting stellar photos of your work – don’t bother starting. I know that sounds harsh, but with SO much high-quality competition out there, you have to be willing to step up and get your photos right. Nothing else matters until you get this sorted – truly.
That said – if your photos aren’t stellar just yet, don’t let that stop you from at least getting going. Start where you are. Do what you can. Then LEARN and experiment until you end up with high-quality photos. This may take a week – or a few months – or even a few years. I don’t think anyone is ever 100% satisfied with their photos, but once you can put them side-by-side with the best in the business and compete, you’re doing okay.
9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?
There’s no way around it – if you start your own business, you are now a salesperson and a marketer. No matter if you decide just to sell to shops in order to avoid having to sell and market your work direct to customers… you still have to sell and market your work to retailers. There’s no way around this fact.
So – do you enjoy telling your story? Because really, that’s all marketing is – storytelling. If you can change your mindset and come from a place of telling the story of you and what you do, then marketing becomes much easier, authentic, and less ‘icky’ feeling. You might even end up enjoying it…
10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?
When you sell online or at markets, you of course get the full retail price for your goods. Wholesale and consignment are a different story. For wholesale, you should expect to be paid 50% of the retail price of your work (of course, you set the minimum volume/minimum value that the retailer has to order to make it worth your while). For consignment, you can expect to get a little more – maybe 60-70% of the retail price – but of course you don’t get paid upfront, you only get paid when your work sells.
Consignment is a good way to get the foot in the door when you’re just starting out, OR to get into a specific shop or gallery that don’t work on wholesale. However, consignment isn’t really a viable way to make a living long-term, because the money is just too iffy. If you want to focus on selling to shops, you want to focus on gaining wholesale customers who end up being repeat buyers – that’s the way to grow a sustainable wholesale business.
Of course – you should be pricing your products so you make a profit on the wholesale price – not just the retail price. If you’re not doing this, then don’t start selling to shops, because you’ll end up running your business into the ground through not making enough money to support its growth.
11. Do you have the time/skills to set up an online shop?
I included this one because it’s often the excuse I hear from people as to why they’re not selling online. Look – no matter what avenue you take, it will take time to get and keep your business going. If you do markets, you need to invest time in creating displays, sourcing markets, applying, getting to-and-fro, actually attending etc. If you sell to shops, you need to research possible buyers, contact them, follow-up, do trade shows, etc. If you sell online, your time will be spent working on product photos, building/tweaking your website, sourcing new venues to sell on. No matter which path you choose, it will take a good chunk of time to run and grow your business.
As for skills? Photography is really the main thing. You can set up shop online SO easily these days, especially if you start out somewhere like Etsy, where all you have to do is upload pictures and words, and they do all the techy stuff for you. Don’t let a current lack of technical know-how stop you from going the online route. You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started!
In the end, this decision will come down to your products, your personality, and your business goals. No-one can tell you the ‘right’ way to sell your craft – it’s something you have to work out for yourself. Of course, once you do, you can find folks who’ve done it before you who can help you figure out the ‘how’ a whole lot sooner!
Do you have any questions, or other things that you think need to be considered when it comes to deciding to sell online? Share them with us in the comments.
Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time? Join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course that teaches you just that. I learnt the hard way, but you don’t have to – join over 400 crafty entrepreneurs who’ve already taken the course and get your own online shop up and running!