One of the best things about blogging is getting to meet other bloggers and become real-life-friends. Last month, I met Julie of Julie Ann Art for lunch and she was so great. Just the same, sweet, intelligent, funny, person you find on her blog. She was real and real people are kind of the best kind of people.
Today, Julie is sharing her insight on running an Etsy shop in Three things I wish I would have known....before opening an Etsy shop.
Hi guys! My name is Julie and I am the owner of the Etsy shop, Julie Ann Art. I opened my shop in early 2008. Since then, I have seen Etsy change, new trends come and go, and the number of sellers increase at a rapid rate. Its been three, wait four, FOUR?? Geez time flies when you're having fun....Four years of learning. So what three things do I wish I had known from the start? Well....
1. Utilize social media.
No-brainer these days right? But hear me out. When I started my shop I scoured the Etsy forums searching for "ways to promote my shop." Fellow sellers recommended a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a blog, and, let me date myself a bit, a Myspace page. Oh! AND a newsletter. Yes, making all these pages was sure to get me sales! So what did I do? I made every single one.
Then what happened? They all just....sat there. It has taken me a long time to find what I believe is a good balance between social media sites. Do I think they are all important? Yes. But only if they are used properly. By this, I mean that you need to use these sites to build relationships with followers. Go beyond sharing new items or announcing a special sale and use these sites on a more personal level.
I always try to incorporate a personal tid bit along with a business update on my Facebook status. Being more personal with your followers will help them to care more about you and your business. Creating my blog was the best business decision I ever made. It definitely helps people relate to me on a more personal level, and vice versa.
2. Be desirable but different.
This has become extremely important as the amount of Etsy sellers, and therefore competition, continues to increase. Originality and creativity are two key factors in having a shop that stands out on Etsy. You have to think about what makes your product desirable, yet unique.
When I started selling on Etsy, I sold original paintings. I quickly learned however, that original paintings were not exactly desirable. You can make a super awesome fantastic product but if it's not in demand, it's not going to sell. I started to think about how I could still make art, but in a form that would be more desirable to a buyer. I landed on cards.
Once you have settled on a product that you know there's a market for it's time to set yourself apart from similar products with a style that's your own. And here's the thing, it takes time. Your product evolves. Your brand evolves. You evolve. Multiple times. So keep trying, keep changing, keep at it. You'll find it.
3. Be fair to yourself.
I think it's easy for new sellers to get so sucked into "sale count" that it's easy to sell themselves short. Maybe they offer big discounts too often, or do a lot of trades with other sellers, because they are focusing so much on getting more sales, rather than making an actual profit. Or maybe, they are selling their product at a price that is too low. This is definitely something that I was guilty of.
When I first started selling greeting cards, I painted them individually....and charged $5. Five dollars for an original painted card that took me an hour to make. But I wanted the sales and I didn't think anyone would pay more than $5 for a card, original or not. As demand picked up and I was having a hard time keeping up with orders I realized I was selling myself short. I also realized I need to look into making my work process more efficient, and therefore, more rewarding.
Don't devalue your time. Be fair to yourself. And if you think there is no possible way to charge more for your product, then work on making your work time more efficient.
Well, I hope these points helped you out! I had a great time! Thanks so much Gina for having me! :] xo JA
I totally, 100% agree with everything Julie said. Such awesome tips - never sell yourself short just to get a sale. I think it's one of the biggest mistakes new sellers can make.