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Newbie Tries Selling on Etsy

After trying eBay, Amazon, seller says Etsy fits her personality better.

Hostess cupcakes didn’t bring Web designer and Etsy seller Megan Bielich online selling success. But she hopes black mustaches, red, glittery lips and orange leprechaun beards will.

So far, things are looking good. Bielich, the owner of Mustache Sally—a photo booth prop store on Etsy—has sold eight sets of props. The latest shipment was headed to St. Louis when The Online Seller last spoke to Bielich. Getting the sale made the merchant giddy. Like many sellers, Bielich tried selling on other marketplaces but only broke even on those sites, she notes.

“I thought I had something with the Twinkies; I really did,” she recalls.

With the few sales she’s made on Etsy, Bielich is hopeful for her store. She believes in the products she’s selling and this marketplace fits her personality better, she says.

Knowing how intimidating it can be to start a venture on a new site, we asked Bielich to share her experience so it might help other newbies who may worry about trying a new marketplace. Here’s her story.

“[Photo booth props are] just goofy. They’re kind of like dress up but not as involved. It gets that little-kid fun out of people”

Why Etsy?

Bielich opened her store on Feb. 4 and chose Etsy because the marketplace fit her personality better than eBay or Amazon. Other sellers on the site are creative, like her, and they sell items they care about, she says.

She also liked the idea of selling something she made and listing those items on a site that is so visually appealing.

After all, it was that visual appeal that first caught Bielich’s eye as a buyer. When she decided to list on Etsy, it was just a matter of finding the right product.

She settled on photo booth props having made some for a New Year’s party and seeing how much fun her friends had with them.

“I love funny photos, just the nostalgia that’s connected to photos, and friends and funny faces,” she says. “[Photo booth props are] just goofy. They’re kind of like dress up but not as involved. It gets that little-kid fun out of people.”

Bielich researched Etsy to make sure there was a demand for her items, making sure people were selling and buying photo booth props. Then she chose a name for her business.

As she brainstormed ideas, she knew she wanted a name that would reflect an aspect of photos, photo booths, props or funny faces. Interestingly enough, most of the names she came up with started with the word “mustache,” and she settled on Mustache Sally.

Bielich thinks newbies should think thoroughly about their business names when they open a shop. The name should reflect some aspect of their niche or product, but they shouldn’t spend too much time on it.

“I didn’t,” she notes. “If you do and you get stuck on a name but it’s not available, you’re out of luck.”

A store with personality

“You have to have the information about the product, but then I think it’s fun to give a little intro to get someone interested in your product”

Bielich says setting up her Etsy store was easy. The store setup wizard walked her through the process.

Listing items was the most time consuming aspect of selling. She had to come up with inventory, photograph products and write descriptions that would grab buyers. To do this, she tried to give her text a little personality, she says.

“You have to give information about the product, but then I think it’s a good idea to give a little intro to get someone interested in your product

“I want to paint a picture with my descriptions,” she continues. “I want to make it fun and give my products a personality.”

When it came to her store’s logo, being a designer, Bielich’s initial inclination was to create the piece, but after doing a Google search for words that described what she wanted to achieve with her design, “fun, retro and vintage,” she found the perfect image on a stock photography site and bought it for $30.

Not having to create it meant she had time to design more props, build them, photograph them and focus on her store. Plus, she knew she would be less “nitpicky” of someone else’s work than her own.

Figuring out the packaging

Deciding how to package her items was fun, the merchant notes. However, finding the right shipping option was tough.

Photo booth props consist of paper and wooden dowels, so they are light weight, which can make shipping cheaper. With their size, Priory Flat Rate Mail was the cheapest option, but it meant props would have to be shipped unassembled.

“I’m such a stickler for quality. I really like when something is taken care of and packaged well. It shows somebody took the time to invest in giving me a product they’re proud of”

With the props being made of paper, they could tear or bend, so Bielich decided to use a box. Buyers get their items in an 11-by-17-by-2.5-inch box, and the items come wrapped in white tissue paper for added protection. She says the boxes are perfect.

They’re high quality, sturdy and nice enough that buyers could store their props in them for their next celebration.

“I’m such a stickler for quality,” she says. “I really like when something is taken care of and packaged well. It shows somebody took the time to invest in giving me a product they’re proud of and that I can enjoy, and I want to be proud of my products.”

To keep shoppers coming back, Bielich created a two-sided marketing slip that thanks customers for orders and gives them a coupon code for next time.

She also tells them to like Mustache Sally on Facebook, follow the business on Instagram and tag photos of them with #MustacheSally. This is great for marketing and a good way to get feedback from customers, she notes.

In the future Bielich may have social media contests with giveaways or include something extra per order. But for now, she’s just focusing on getting fully set up and getting orders.

A Valentine’s launch

Bielich got her store running in February to take advantage of Valentine’s Day.

“Photo props are holiday and event things,” she explains. “It was the first holiday, where I could see people using photo booth props. I don’t see them using them for Groundhog Day.”

She had thought of shooting for a Super Bowl launch date, knowing that lots of people have—or go to—Super Bowl parties. However, working full time, she didn’t have time to design her pieces, get them printed, assembled and listed, she notes. So Valentine’s Day it was.

“I think this first year is going to be the most work in getting set up, just to get things designed and have a basic set of products. But I’m really excited”

She now has St. Patrick’s Day items up for sale, along with a packet meant for weddings, another popular occasion for photo booth props.

Bielich would like to eventually add more items to her shop, expanding the number of props she carries and the types of products. She’d like to add signs, photo booth backdrops and banner that party-goers can enjoy.

But for now, she’s just focusing on getting her business going.

“I think this first year is going to be the most work in getting set up, just to get things designed and have a basic set of products. But I’m really excited,” Bielich reports. “This is a great way for me to be creative while not letting my creations pile up.”

We asked Bielich to share a piece of advice she thinks would help other newbies.

She says, “Be excited about your product. All the other stuff that I tried selling, I wasn’t really excited about. I’m excited about Mustache Sally because I’m having fun while I’m doing it. Make sure you’re having fun, otherwise it’s going to be a chore, and who wants more chores?”

Visit Mustache Sally on Etsy.

Megan Bielich, the owner of Mustache Sally on Etsy, shares her packing tips.

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About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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