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Starting an Etsy Business

Starting an Etsy Business

Congrats! Your taking charge of your life and are starting your own business.  This in itself is a huge accomplishment.  Whether you are considering part time or full time, nothing beats being your own boss.  In this post I will take you through some steps that might help you determine if this is right for you.  I might go more in depth that most in starting an actual business as opposed to just opening an Etsy Shop. 

Creating Your Business

Come up with an idea for a business

This can sometimes be one of the hardest parts of starting a business.  First of all, does this idea excite you? Does your mind race every time you think of more and more ideas? Also, has this been done before? Google or go through etsy and see if someone is doing the same thing or something similar.  If you find out someone is, do not get discouraged! You can think of new and creative ways to do it better or more efficiently.

Think of Name

This can take a while.  Sit down and hash out ideas on paper. It doesn't have to be directly related to your business, but make sure that it has a significant meaning.  Once you come up with some ones you like, do a google search and URL search and see if they are available.

Come up with a Plan

Start to write your business plan.  This does not have to be anything fancy, but something you can reference to make sure your company stays on track.  Figure out who you are going to market to and how you will market to them.  Will you sell wholesale? One of the best references I used when starting my small business was the Small Business Administration Website . They go through step by step what you need to do to get your small business up and running. 

Set Up Your Etsy Shop

Open Shop

Its time to open your shop! Click on the button below to use my invite for 40 free listings (usually .20 each)

Start Designing Your Shop

Go to setting >info and appearance. Start filling in your information.  

Enter in Shop Title and Announcement.  Your shop title is very important as it is used when searching your shop, so make sure to include key words like "handmade silver modern jewelry."  Your Announcement is a chance to describe your business to your buyer. This is a great place to welcome your guests to your shop and also to let them know of the latest happenings (Sales, vacations, holiday delivery, etc)

Shop Icon and Shop Banner.  Your shop Icon can be anything, your logo if you have one, or an image of one of your products.  These photos need to be the correct size or they will not upload. Must be a .jpg, .gif or .png file smaller than 10MB and at least 500px by 500px.  Your shop banner is a little tricky.  My suggestion is to make a free one using PicMonkey. It is super easy to make.  Use a simple background, or one of your photos and add your logo or shop name.  Look through some of your favorite Etsy shops and see how they design theirs.  It is relatively simple to make using PicMonkey's step by step guide found here.

Fill Out Your Shop Policies

You need to take your time filling out this section. Here is your chance to let your buyer know of anything they need to know about purchasing with you. Welcome your buyers to your shop. A very important part of this step is your shipping policies.  State the production times/shipping times and your return policies.  Also point out how you ship (USPS first class, fed ex, ups).  If you decide you want to ship internationally, make sure your state that items will take longer to ship and that you are not responsible for any customs charges.  There are some countries that impose an addition customs charge which can make your customers very upset if they aren't aware.  Make sure they know about it up front by noting it here.  What I always suggest doing is find a successful shop that you like, and read their policies.  Emulate that in your own shop.  

Make Your Listings

Now its time to set up your first listings.  Etsy makes this super easy for you by giving you step by step examples of how to build your listing.  

Listing Title.  Make sure your listing title is very specific because when buyers search for products, they are going to be matching your titles with the key search words (as well as your SEOs which we will get to later).  For example instead of Tear Drop Earring try Blue Tear Drop Earring in Gold.

Photos. This is one of the most important parts of your listing.  I suggest posting at least 3 shots of your product.  The first photo is the most important as it is going to be the first photo that your buyer is going to see.  Make sure the background is simple, your photo is well lit and clear, and your product is the star.  Also make sure that your entire product is in this photo.  Include in your additional photos a close up detail shot, one that shows your craftsmanship, and even one with a prop or a model.  

Taking photos can be daunting if you are not a professional photographer.  I will do a product photography for non photographers on another post, but here are some suggestions.  Use natural lighting when at all possible.  Take pictures by a window against a plain background or a poster board.  You can also invest in a lighting kit.  I like this one from Amazon. 

A table top studio is great for small products and for beginners.  This kit is one of the cheaper choices, but you can get a larger more complex option, depending on how much you want to invest.  This is also great if you are planning on taking photos with your phone.  Honestly, I have done both DSLR camera and phone and both look great!

Write a description. Here is where you need to be as thorough as possible when describing your product.  You can describe the production process, color, textures, size, fit. Try to look at your product as a buyer, or have a friend look at it.  Do you get an idea of what the product is like from the description?  Do you feel it accurately describes the product? After you have written your description, make sure to save it in a word file on your computer.  Sometimes things happen and you could loose all your hard work, so it is always good to save a backup.  

Pricing. I feel like I could do a whole post about pricing in itself.  This is one of the toughest decisions you can make, and it also depends on how you want to run your business.  For mainstream retailers, most products are marked up at least 40-80%, with the avg around 50%.  This is important to note, because if you decide to sell your products at wholesale, most retailers assume they will be getting 50% off the suggested retail price.  Personally, since my business is a handmade, very labor intensive business, I am only able to give a 40% discount for wholesale accounts.  

First you need to figure out your costs.  How much does it cost for you to make? How long does it take to make? Do you pay for your workspace? You need to factor in all these things when it comes to cost. Then determine how much gross margin (profit) you want to make on each item or whats worth it to you.  Add that to your cost.  Then I would double it to get your price.  Also you want to be competitive with your market.  Do a quick search on etsy.  You want to make sure that you are in line or a little under your competitors if possible.  

When I went to price out my business starting out we were at the lower end of the market.  Once we were getting a lot of requests to do wholesale and wewere getting busier, we had no choice but to raise our prices.  You can also do this, but understand you might lose some business in the process of trying to attain things like wholesale and a higher profit margin.

SEOs or Tags You hear a lot of about SEO when it comes to getting your company recognized.  I really love this article about SEO hacks to help your etsy business. Take your time with your tags and titles.  This is what will help you get recognized in search engines.  Did you know you can look at other peoples tags on their products?  Look at your competitors and see what they are using on their listing. 

Shipping and Packaging.   You want to be as cost efficient as possible here.  First off, you are going to need a scale. Here is a cheap one I found. You are going to need this to weigh your packages. 

Anything under 13oz I would ship USPS first class as it is the cheapest you can get.  Once your know the weight of your product in its packaging, you can get a better idea of what your shipping costs will be.  Etsy has a shipping calculator available so you will know how much each package will cost.  I personally do not charge for shipping for my customers at this time, and have it built into my cost structure.  International shipping is also tricky and I would use the Etsy tool to help guide your way through that.  You can purchase shipping labels through Etsy as well, which makes the whole process super easy.

Choose packaging, that is light, cost efficient, creative and in line with your brand.  Customers on Etsy really enjoy, nice thought out packaging, as long as it does not cost them an additional amount.  I used to use ULINE to purchase all of my shipping materials (padded envelopes, tissue, bags) but have since moved to AMAZON because ULINE shipping prices are pretty outrageous.  It is always nice to include a personalized thank you note to show your appreciation for your customers business.  I will do another blog post on packaging, because I LOVE packaging. 

Overview.  Go through your listing and make sure that everything is filled out and correct.  Preview your listing before you publish it to make sure everything looks correct and clear for your buyers (photos, description, price, sizes, etc). Once you are happy with your listing, post it! Congrats you completed your first listing! Do not expect to see sales right away.  It will take a while.  I suggest having at least 30 listings in your shop at all times.  This will give you maximum exposure and also give your buyers a lot of options when shopping your business.  Shops with only a couple of items are not appealing to buyers.  Depending on what your product is, this might be a difficult task.  Try instead of having one listing with all your color options, have separate listings for each color option.  You can do the same thing with size.  

Also make sure your are linking and sharing on your social media.  Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest are great avenues.  I have also found Wanelo is a great place to share. Good luck!

Did I not cover something you have questions about? Drop it in the comments below!

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