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Is Selling on Etsy Right for You? Part 3

Marketing and promoting your Etsy store

If you’ve read the other articles in our series about selling on Etsy, you should have a good feel for what sells on the site, who shops on it and how to go about setting up your store.

Once you have your Etsy shop ready for business, the next step is getting customers to come through your online door.

Unfortunately, “many Etsy sellers work off the ‘if you build it, they will come’ philosophy, but Etsy definitely doesn’t work that way,” says Jesi Josten, who operates Hip Violet. “Once your shop is fully stocked, you need to spend many hours getting the word out.”

Kate Pixley, of kate pixley designs agrees. “You can’t just expect someone to come to your shop,” she says. “You need to go and grab them.”

“You can’t just expect someone to come to your shop. You need to go and grab them”

The right look and feel for your store

But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves just a bit. First, let’s make sure your store is a place that will entice people to stay and shop before we discuss how you will attract customers.

In this context we’re talking about branding, the need for a “look and feel” that will appeal to your target customers. Yamini Kukreja of KangarooCrafts says that, as part of creating her store, she took time to create a brand name, complete with a logo and color scheme.

“I then designed matching packaging/tags/labels to give my shop a more clean-cut image that may be retained in a viewer’s mind,” she notes.

Along these lines, Pixley suggests you find your look or brand.

“I love pink and silver, and in the beginning I tried to follow what others did, how their sites looked and what they did,” she recalls. “Then I decided with the launch to make my look cohesive and me.”

She suggests sellers ask people what they think describes them and their store’s offerings.

“I use a silver chevron as a back drop. I had a client say ‘I saw this pink and silver chevron and thought of you Kate,’ and the client then pinned me on Pinterest,” Pixley tells us. “How cool is that? So find your ‘look’ and incorporate it in everything: your header, backdrop and overall theme.”

“Pin your item, share your item and tweet it! Offer a ‘pin to win’ post on your store’s Facebook page”

Creatively using social media

Once your branding is underway, it’s time to work on driving those customers to your new store. Yes, we’re going to explore using social media as a way to do that because it can produce results.

Pixley is a fan of the buttons for social media sites that appear to the right of each listing. She doesn’t hesitate to click on these to spread the word, promote, and reward her fans and followers for sharing.

“Etsy has these awesome buttons on the side of your listing,” she reports. “Pin your item, share your item and tweet it! Offer a ‘pin to win’ post on your store’s Facebook page. So you post ‘pin to win’ on Facebook, telling your fans to go to your Etsy shop and pick any item, and pin it, then they are entered to win. Pinterest will link back to Etsy, and thus more sales and fans from all over the world!”

Kim Piotrowski of kipi is an artist who uses her blog to create posts about things related to art, fashion and travel that grab her visually.

“I really love to wander around and take photos, so I have an extensive archive,” she says. “If there is a current event, holiday or anniversary that is related to photos I may have tucked away, I often put up a little blurb about that event. I also write about things of interest to see around New York City, I conduct artist interviews and, as far as Etsy, I sprinkle in my current art pieces that are for sale.”

But when using social media, Piotrowski reminds us to “make it a conversation, not a sales pitch.”

“I learned that everything you put out in the digital universe cannot be a sales pitch or about me, me, me,” she continues. “What a turn-off for your followers! Your content has to consist of an interesting mix. If you’re selling something, it has to be subtle, not a daily blast. It will take time. The downside is that some people still won’t make the connection.”

Craft shows mean Etsy sales

“I have found that meeting customers face to face and letting them see my products in person has really helped my Etsy sales”

With all the emphasis on social media these days, it’s easy to lose track of other opportunities to promote your business. Josten finds one of the best ways to promote her store is through local craft shows.

“But these aren’t your mom’s craft shows,” she adds. “Many cities now have great ‘indie’ shows that showcase artists and craftspeople of all kinds with amazing talent. I sell at about one show a month during the spring and summer, and every weekend in the fall for the holidays. I have found that meeting customers face to face and letting them see my products in person has really helped my Etsy sales.”

She reports her sales went up dramatically once she began attending shows, and that most of her sales are now local.

Etsy site tools

In marketing and promoting, Etsy is your greatest ally. For example, you can use the site’s customizable widget to showcase some of your store items on your blog or website.

Piotrowski, for example, says that widget is always on her blog page. Then there’s the Etsy community of sellers who enthusiastically support each other.

Michele Rappoport, who operates Blingaling, notes sellers “favorite” each others’ shops all the time. When she supports others jewelry shops in this way, she doesn’t worry that they may be competitors. It turns out many of her buyers were other Etsy sellers!

Pixley is a big fan of Etsy’s forums, which are a place where Etsy sellers can share ideas and get advice. She suggests merchants post there frequently as one way of networking with other sellers.

If you network through the forums you’ll “meet” other merchants and, like Rappoport, Pixley’s found that as sellers get to know one another they will promote one another’s stores. Aside from the forums, Etsy also has “teams” where sellers can “meet people with common interests and collaborate.”

How much you can earn as an Etsy is unlimited. “It’s all up to you”

Elizabeth Cogliati of Lizbeth’s Garden recommends sellers join and participate in these teams.

Money matters

Now it’s time for the question that’s sure to be on your mind: How much money can you make as an Etsy seller?

Well, we didn’t ask for actual figures but more than a few of the people we interviewed for this series tell us they were eventually able to quit their day jobs to sell on Etsy full time. For example, Liz Binder of Pinch of Spice Designs found that within a few years, her shop was so successful she was able to quit her full-time job and work from home.

Hip Violet’s Josten has watched her Etsy sales skyrocket.

“This year I saw a 67 percent increase in sales. I had a 77 percent increase from 2010 to 2011,” she says.

How much you can earn as an Etsy is “unlimited,” adds Lisa Sumner of JustCoolRecords, who is also an Etsy instructor. “It’s all up to you.”

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Hello, this is Lisa Sumner of JustCoolRecords, and I’d just like to know where/how you got my quote? I did say that, I’m just curious as to how you got my name and info. Thanks so much for featuring me!

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