If you love shopping for unique items, you’ve probably heard of Etsy. The site allows individuals to set up their own shops online and sell to customers across the world. For some, Etsy is a way to make some extra money from a hobby. But for some shop owners, Etsy is their primary source of income. Etsy shop owners are also called Etsypreneurs. We interviewed a couple of Etsypreneurs to get some advice and insider information on running an Etsy shop.
Etsypreneur: Jennifer Rees, owner of Urban Hue
Jennifer Rees owns the shop Urban Hue, which sells prints and personalized gifts. She has been an Etsy seller since 2014.
What made you want to start selling on Etsy? I had been in the graphic design industry up in Canada for over 15 years, and somehow always ended up working at an in-house studio. While the jobs may have been good, they always became very monotonous.
In 2013, I moved Kentucky to marry my now husband. I had one goal, start my own business. So in 2014, I registered my shop. I still wasn’t sure what it was going to offer, but I created it anyway. I had clear visions of what was at the end of my 5 year plan and I thought that Etsy was one of the only options out there to help me achieve my goals.
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about starting an Etsy shop? Just do it! Over the years, I had so many ventures that I wanted to experiment with and they all ended up going nowhere. Fear ruled over me and I always had an excuse as to why I couldn’t do something. I was truly my own worst enemy. When I finally decided to open up Urban Hue, I ignored the fears. My mantra became, Believe, Achieve, Receive.
When speaking to other small business owners, fear is a very common thing. We all go through it, you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid! The hardest thing, was listing my first item. Once I completed it, I sighed, grinned and said, “I did it”.
So you can do it too!
What challenges have you faced as a seller? Being on Etsy in general is challenging. There is so much competition and you have to know how to stand out. Even today, I am still learning and researching how to give my listings an edge.
While these next points, may also tie in with the previous question, I’m going to share them here, because they are still a challenge.
One of the biggest things that I’ve read is, the more items you have, the more you’re going to become visible. It is true. I remember when I first started out, I had 12 items and felt so proud that I actually accomplished “my shop”. I however lacked in views and purchases. As I kept adding items, I started getting views, being favorited and the purchases began.
Another big thing with Etsy, is their SEO platform. It is important that you are clear in your titles and your tags. People won’t find you otherwise. Just recently, I became frustrated with my lack of sales and asked for a critique from my peers. They all said the same thing, my tags and titles were a mess. Please learn from my mistake, I had to go back and fix over a hundred listings.
Photography can be a deal breaker. Consider your photos to be your packaging. They are the first thing your potential customer will grade you on. If they are taken in your basement with a dingy light, they are not going to show nicely. This is something I struggle with on a regular basis. 1. My townhouse has horrible lighting. 2. I use a lot of gold foil in my listings and truthfully, that is a nightmare to try and take pictures of. Luckily, my mother is a great photographer and offers her services.
Self-doubt is a huge challenge. It is easy to go down that path if things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d hoped. Stay out of your head, there is no room for negativity. Go do something else, take a break, go away for a weekend. Come back when you’re refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. 9 times out of 10, I’ve usually gotten a sale during those times and it’s just the icing on the cake.
Etsypreneur: Brandy, owner of monsterjeansbyB
Brandy owns the shop MonsterjeansbyB, which offers jeans and jean skirts with colorful and unique patterns. She joined Etsy this year and offered her insight and experiences as a new Etsy seller.
What made you decide to start an Etsy shop? I decided to start an Etsy shop because my position at work had downsized. I still work for the company but, not as many hours and for a lot less. I needed to find a way to bring in the extra cash I was missing. I’m super crafty, I saw a d.i.y special on this obscure morning show. The host was asking her guest if she had any kid d.i.y projects, she told how her daughter ripped her favorite pair of jeans and with some glue and felt she patched the hole. I thought, I can do better than just “patch the hole” and I knew it had to be more durable than just fabric glue. After many attempts Monster-Jeans were born. I hand sew and glue each pair, I work on them before and after my day job. My house is currently over run with “Monsters”. Each pair is like a friend.
What are some tips for people wanting to become an Etsy seller? Hard to believe in this day-in-age but, sadly I am very computer illiterate. I am not on any social networking sites, the only time I get onto the computer is to check my e-mail or my bank account. So this experience has been such a learning curve for me. I ask everyone questions and do my best to figure it all out. It’s been very exciting and stressful. I just launched earlier this week so as far as advice to others I’m not sure I have enough experience yet. Just to say, “whatever your passion or reason, don’t let the anxiety of not knowing how to do something hinder you from doing it.” I plan on opening a Facebook account very soon just for this business. so, yeah me:-)
What are some of the challenges of selling on Etsy? The seller handbook on Etsy has been a life saver and easy to navigate my only challenges have been my own ignorance of the technology I’m know throwing myself into.