A Tool or Machine to Help Grow their Business
DYMO Label Writer
This DYMO 4XL Label writer was downright one of THE BEST things that I ever purchased for my business. This machine is a magical tool. If the person you’re shopping for happens to ship at least 1 to 2 packages a day then I would suggest looking into this nifty machine. That is, if they’re printing out labels on their home printer and cutting/folding them and sticking them on packages with tape.
Does this certain person enjoy coffee or tea while they work? Then consider gifting a new Kureg machine. I couldn’t imagine working without my hot tea. These machines are totally awesome and worth every penny.
Amazon Prime Membership
An Amazon Prime Membership is essential for running an online business. Especially if it’s for a shop owner who wants to spend more time crafting new products and not wasting their time in line at Staples. I purchase most of my shipping and packaging supplies from Amazon, including:
A Desk or Workstation
I recently designed and assembled my own workstation in my office and I am in LOVE! I have so much room to work now that I have a whole room dedicated to my business. I purchased desk tabletops, legs and drawers from the Ikea Linnmon collection. The result is amazing and the cost was VERY inexpensive. The desks don’t feel cheap and they are all white which is my favorite. The drawers are especially helpful for storing odds and ends like my packaging tape and tissue paper. I hope to write a whole article about my home office soon, but half of my home office is also a storage area and kids playroom which is filled with toys so hopefully I can get that cleared up soon.
A Professional Camera
A professional camera is also a great gift giving idea for a crafty Etsy seller. Let’s face it, smartphone photos are okay but can’t compare to a DSLR camera photos. Being able to showcase beautiful product photos gives someone a step up in the game. A DSLR Camera such as a Cannon EOS Rebel T6 can provide excellent quality photos when paired with a 50 mm camera lens.
Another product that’s helpful for capturing amazing photos is a lightbox. A lightbox is usually a small portable kit that includes lighting and backdrops for showcasing products. Perfect for photos that look professional and not cluttered.
With that in mind, it’s time to get your shop in tip top shape now. Like, right now! The holiday shopping season can take weeks or even months for online retailers to prepare. Now is the time to act and map out your plans to boost your sales.
If you want this holiday season to be your most successful one yet, check out these 9 tips for preparing your Etsy shop for the holidays.
Sell Holiday Items
Depending on what your actual niche is, there’s usually something that you can sell that is holiday themed. Seasonal items are actually a big seller for me. So for example, I design and print invitations for baby showers, bridal showers, etc. I have created winter wonderland baby shower invitations that sell extremely well during the holiday season.
Let’s use another example. Let’s say that you create hair bows for girls. You can create different holiday bows such as bows for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.
And that’s another thing, don’t forget that there are other holidays in December! Create items related to all holidays for maximum exposure.
This may be a “well, duh” piece of advice, but make sure that you’re all stocked up! Spend the months of September-November really bulking up your inventory to prepare for the holiday rush.
But besides bulking up your inventory you’ll also want to make sure that you have enough mailing supplies, packaging supplies, etc. I order some of my mailing supplies through the USPS and it takes a few weeks to arrive so I’m going to order some more right now.
If you’re expecting to do a lot of shipping this holiday season I would also recommend investing in a DYMO 4XL Label Printer. Yes, it is a bit pricey but this thing is such a time saver! And also a money saver considering it does not require any ink at all. Grab some extra packs of labels too!
Include A Lot of Photos
Etsy recently expanded the limit on the amount of photos you can use in your listings which is now 10 photos. I know you’re probably thinking how the hell you’re going to come up with 10 different photos of your products.
Well, offer multiple angle shots of your products as well as your products being used in real life. Photograph them against a plain white background as well.
If you have special instructions for ordering your product you can also use a photo slot for your instructions (because we all know that most buyers never bother to read the details anymore). Simply create a free graphic (1000px x 1000px) with your instructions via Canva.com. Then download it as a JPEG file and upload it to your listing! I know, I’m a genius, right?!
For all of my other genius photography tips, check out my 10 Photography Tips for Your Etsy Shop.
Optimize Your Listings with Keywords
Since I am a computer nerd, I always stress the importance of SEO (search engine optimization). Search engine optimization may seem like a scary subject, but it’s really not. SEO is all about placing the right keywords in the right areas of your listings so that customers can find you by searching for those specific keywords or phrases.
During the holiday season it’s best to include some holiday related keyword phrases in your listings because people are going to be searching for keyword phrases such as “gifts for men” or “handmade Christmas gifts”.
Luckily for you, I’ve included a 50+ keyword phrase list that you can download for FREE!
So, where do you include these keyword phrases in your listings? Well, first you want to choose 1 specific keyword phrase to use for each of your listings. So let’s say for example that you’re selling a customized leather wallet. You may want to include the keywords “Gift for Dad” since it may be a popular gift for a dad. There are three main areas in your listing to include this keyword phrase:
- Product Title
- Product Description
So make sure that you’re including that keyword phrase in your product title, description and tags. It’s important to use the same exact phrase throughout your listing to enhance your ranking for SEO.
I cover SEO in more depth in the Ultimate SEO Guide for Etsy Sellers.
Edit Your Category and Other Details
Another important factor when it comes to search on Etsy is checking to make sure you have your listing details filled out as much as possible, including:
- Primary Color
- Secondary Color
When customers are searching for a specific item, they may be ticking boxes to narrow down the search results. So if you don’t have these options chosen you may be losing potential sales because your product isn’t showing up in a narrowed search.
Offer Free Shipping
With the increasing use of Amazon Prime and their free, 2 day shipping option, you may want to offer free shipping with your products.
But shipping is freaking expensive, how can you afford to offer free shipping?! Well, there are two ways:
First, you can offer customers a free shipping offer if their total purchase is over X amount of dollars. Of course the minimum purchase would be up to you. You would have to make sure that you make enough profit to be able to ship the items for free.
To do this, just create a sale in the marketing tools section of your shop dashboard.
Or, another option is to include a flat shipping price in with your product price.
So for example, I usually ship all of my items in a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope (whew.). I know that the average cost of the shipping is $6-$7. When I factor in my other shipping supplies and my time to actually pack and ship the item I get a flat fee of $7.50 for shipping each order.
I have a pack of 20 invitations that I normally list for $12.50, not including shipping. I just factor the $7.50 into that price, making it $20 for the 10 invitations and free shipping.
So essentially I am not missing out on the shipping costs and the customer believes that they are getting free shipping. This seems sneaky, I know. But, trust me when I say that all online retailers, including Amazon, factor shipping into their prices for items that include “free shipping”.
Offer Gift Wrapping
Another possible option that you could offer this holiday season is a gift wrap option. If your product(s) make a great gift for the holidays, then why not offer to include gift wrapping for a small fee?
Etsy recently announced that they will soon offer this add on feature for shops, so keep an eye out for it!
Plan Out Your Calendar
Now is the time to really start strategically planning out your calendar. Plan out your sales and set them on your calendar. Determine what dates are the “cut off” dates for certain holidays so you can notify your customers ahead of time in either your shop announcement, your description, or even by placing a graphic with the cut off date in your photos so they definitely don’t miss it.
Plan Out Your Promotion and Marketing
Lastly, you want to start planning out your promotion and marketing strategies. Promoting and marketing is super important around the holidays because, well, you want the business!
There are so many ways to promote your products and your Etsy shop, including:
- Using Promoted Listings on Etsy
- Facebook ads
- Promoting on Pinterest – check out How to Use Pinterest for Your Etsy Shop
- Host a giveaway on Instagram
- Promote on Instagram
- Start a blog that’s centered around your products
- Be a guest blogger for someone’s blog
So I couldn’t be any more creative to come up with an even 10 tips for preparing your Etsy shop for the holidays, so I will just stick with 9. I hope this blog has help you and your shop, stay tuned for more!
First off, happy fall y’all! Okay, technically it’s not fall just yet. But, it’s back to school time, which means fall. Am I right?! Who am I kidding I’ve still got my 4th of July decorations up.
Anyways! Now that fall is creeping up this is the most perfect time of the year to start getting down to business, perhaps revamping your business? Rebranding? (Psssst .. I have an entire article dedicated to branding your shop here) How about re-thinking the way your products are displayed online? Because you know, the way your products are displayed are a key factor of whether or not a customer will purchase your product.
A few weeks ago I really wanted to put more effort into marketing my products, so I took a photography class and I learned so so much. After learning how to work my DSLR camera I wanted to build a nice backdrop I could use for my products. Okay, so I should probably use the word “assemble” because I can’t build anything for sh*t 😉. I have zero building skills so I knew that I had to find a workaround. You can read more about that below.
Here is the full list of supplies that I gathered for my project:
- 4 poplar boards .5″ x 3.5″ x 48″
- Wood glue (I used Gorilla)
- Walnut stain for wood
- White acrylic paint
- Staining brush
- Sand paper or a sanding block
- Hammer (optional – not required)
About my supplies:
I found my wood in the “hobby wood” section of Home Depot. You could ask a worker where that is or you could look up “Poplar Board” on the Home Depot website and see what’s available at your store. The website will tell you what aisle and bay the wood is located at so you can pretend to know what you’re doing at Home Depot just like I did!
You’ll want to cut your boards in half so they’re 24″ long. If you don’t have the power tools at home there’s usually a person who can cut the boards for you at the store.
Next you’ll want to find a wood stain (I used a dark walnut) and pick up a staining brush as well as a regular paintbrush and don’t forget the wood glue (I used the brand Gorilla brand). One last thing, find some sand paper or a rough sanding block. You’ll have to go to a craft store such as Michaels to find the acrylic paint.
Once you’ve got your supplies in order you will have to plan your project accordingly. Since you’re going to stain wood and it will require drying so make sure you check that the weather will be nice for a few days. You will have to stain outdoors because doing it inside can be dangerous with all of the fumes.
When you have the perfect day to start your project put on some old clothes and lay some old towels on the ground outside to start your project.
Now before you start assembling the entire thing, if you want to achieve a really rustic effect at the end you’re going to have to beat your wood (woah, the sounded really r-rated). But seriously, take out a hammer and put some knicks and dents into the boards. I used both sides of the hammer to beat the boards up. Here’s a quick example.
Once you’ve beat your wood it’s time for fun!
First, lay down 6 of the boards all next to each other and leave little spaces in between each of the boards so the cracks are noticeable but don’t have too much space between.
Once they are all lined up perfectly draw lines of glue horizontally across the boards like the photo shown below.
Next, lay one of your extra boards on top of the glue.
Do the same thing to the opposite side of the board that way all of the planks will stay in place once the glue dries! Once you’ve finished let the glue dry for at least an hour.
Once it’s dry it’s time for staining. Wear gloves to protect your hands, old clothes and a mask if you’re not sure you can handle the fumes. Wood stain is powerful. I actually love the smell of it.
Dip your staining brush into the stain and gently remove the excess by scraping the brush along the sides of the can, then lightly brush the stain onto the entire board except for the bottom.
Let the stain dry for an hour or so then add a second coat and let dry outside for 24 hours.
Pro tip: don’t leave your project in the path of your sprinkler like I did.
When the stain has been completely dried it’s time to start painting. So grab your acrylic white paint and gently brush it on your boards in an up and down motion. When you achieve the color you like you can let it dry for another 24 hours.
When it’s all dry again you can start the fun part, distressing the wood! To do this just take your sand paper or sanding block and sand the paint down until the dark stain starts to show through in some areas.
And that’s all there is to it! Easy, right?! I love that this project required no cutting or power tools. Tag me in your finished projects on Instagram, my user is @christinaceoblog
SEO. Everyone always talks about SEO, but what exactly is SEO and why does it matter when it comes to being an Etsy seller? Well, I’m going to cover all of your questions about Etsy SEO in this blog post, so sit down and breakout a pad and paper and take notes! Oh and grab a snack too!
And, you can download this super awesome workbook that you can print out and use for your shop.
See, I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2014 and I’ve learned all of the ins and outs about SEO on Etsy. Most of my items are on the first page of search results which is the ultimate goal when it comes to SEO for your Etsy shop. I earn 6 figures a year on Etsy and having strong SEO is one of the reasons why.
SEO sounds complicated and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be! Follow along as I spill all of my secrets below 🙂
What is SEO and why is it important for your Etsy shop?
First things first, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your product page or listing in a way that customers will find your product when searching for it. Make sense?
Well, if I just completely confused you let’s put it in simpler terms. You want customers to actually find your products, right? Well of course you do! And that’s what SEO is about.
What factors contribute to SEO on Etsy?
There are multiple factors that contribute to SEO on Etsy such as product titles, descriptions and keyword tags, customer experience, product quality, recency, your shop title and about page, backlinks, and your click through rate.
Got it? Alright let’s dig in!
Optimize Your About Section
Okay, let’s start with the basics. Do you have your shop’s About section filled out? If not, you really need to get on that. And if you do then let’s see if we can improve it!
To edit your About section for your shop, click on the pencil icon next to your shop name under “sales channels” on the shop manager menu.
Once you’re in edit mode scroll towards the bottom until you see the About section.
Start off by adding 5 awesome photos of your shop, workspace, favorite product, or anything that represents you and your shop! These photos should be crisp and bright. You can also add a video if you’d like, but I never had any time for that 🙂
After you add a few awesome images, you should fill out your shop title. Your title should be short and it should pull the customer in. Choose three bomb ass keywords that describe your products. Here is my current title:
“Are you looking for affordable, professional, high quality invitations?”
See, that type of question will get the customer to read the next area of the about section, which is the description about your shop.
It’s also important to use awesome keywords in this area because it will help boost your SEO. Etsy will “rank” your shop higher if you have this information filled out.
The biggest tip that I can give about your description is be honest and personable. Don’t tell your story like you’re this big corporation when it’s really just you. Don’t use “we” instead of “I” when writing this section. People love when things are personable and usually like to support small businesses.
Give a little background on yourself and what got you started on your business journey. Write a little about your process without giving away your secrets. Most importantly, write about why your products stand out from all the rest!
If you’re totally stumped on writing this description feel free to use my “mad lib” template that’s included with the workbook that’s provided above.
Once you’ve established an amazing About section, let’s move onto product SEO, which requires a lot more dedication. There are a lot of parts that are involved with product SEO, and the biggest factor are your keywords.
Keywords are extremely important to use throughout your product listings because customers are using keywords to search for things they want to buy. Let’s get started on brainstorming keywords.
If you’re using the workbook I provided write down the answers to the following questions:
- What is it?
- Who is it for?
- Is it for an occasion, if so what occasion?
- What materials are used?
- What is the main color or pattern?
- What size is it?
- Is there a scent? If so, which?
- Can it be used as a gift for someone, if so who?
- Are there any synonyms related to what the product is? (example: sweater, cardigan)
- Are there any adjectives to describe your product? (example: elegant, rustic, modern, chic, etc)
Next, write down a few other keywords that may help to describe your product.
Finally, look to see what keywords your competitors are using! You may be thinking, isn’t that sneaky? Well, probably. But there’s nothing wrong with it just as long as you’re not copying your competitor word for word! It’s completely normal to check out what your competition is doing.
So with that being said, do a quick search on Etsy for your type of product and see what keywords other people are using in their titles and descriptions. Here’s a quick example:
Here’s one of my products that I’ve been selling as “Greenery Bridal Shower Invitations”. This product wasn’t selling for the longest time and I know something had to be wrong with my keywords. So I did a quick search and realized that similar styled invitations were being sold as “botanical bridal shower invitations”. Lightbulb moment! I honestly would have not thought of that before.
Using Long Tail Keywords
Now that you’ve got some keywords written down, you’re going to want to come up with long tail keywords.
Say what???! Long tail keywords are like a group of 2-4 keywords used together to describe your product. It’s so much better to use long tail keywords.
For example, so you have a sweater that you want to sell. Sweater? Um yeah, there’s like a million “sweater”s available to purchase online. How about this: Light blue cotton sweater. Much more descriptive, right? By using these groups of keywords together, you’re helping customers find the exact thing that they are looking for.
Different combinations of keywords are going to work for different types of items, feel free to use my long tail keyword planner as a guide for your items.
Whew, is your head spinning yet? Because mine is just by writing this blog! Onto the next: boosting the SEO for your product titles.
Product titles on Etsy have a maximum character length of 140 – you’ll want to use all of the keywords in your titles as you can! This is called “keyword stuffing” and it’s usually a rather old method of SEO but it’s totally okay for Etsy still!
Remember those long tail keywords I talked about? Well I want you to use your best long tail keyword in the very beginning of your title – this is SUPER important! The first few keywords used in your product title are the foundation of the SEO for the entire listing.
After your first group of keywords, add a hyphen or a comma to separate each group of words to make it look somewhat organized. Many people believe that adding a hyphen or a comma in the title is bad for your SEO, but that’s a total myth!
Here’s one of my titles: “Fall Baby Shower Invitations – Printed Invitations – Little Pumpkin Baby Shower Invitation – A Little Pumpkin is On the Way”
Don’t forget to use all 140 characters for your titles before moving onto the description.
Product Details and Description
“Floral baby shower invitations for sale. These invitations are perfect for a spring baby shower or any time year round! You can select a digital version to print yourself or you can have us print them to save you the hassle! See full details below”
“Do you love the smell of vanilla bean? If so then this vanilla bean body scrub is for you! It would also make a perfect gift for your mother’s birthday or even your wife’s birthday, whoever!”
Besides having an awesome introduction paragraph, there are a few other things that I believe are essential to have in the description including exactly what’s included with the purchase, directions for ordering, followed by your processing and shipping times and any disclaimers and/or copyright information that you may have.
I separate my descriptions with sections just like that so it’s easy to understand and hopefully answers all of the customers questions beforehand 🙏
These sections are amazing from a customers perspective because they know exactly what they’re getting, they know how to order, and they know when they should expect to receive it.
Use the workbook to finish up the rest of your product description.
The product listing tags are probably the most overlooked area by new Etsy sellers. This section may seem non-important to your SEO, but believe me, they are super important!
What most people do is use one word for each tag. While that’s all fine and dandy, I suggest using long tail keywords for your tags as long as they’re under 2o characters long.
Yes that’s right, you can totally use 2-3 words in ONE tag. And you should! You will see a lot more results by using “elephant baby shower” instead of “elephant” “baby” “shower” all separately.
Curious what tags your competitors are using? Find a product listing on Etsy and scroll all the way to the bottom where it says “related to this item”. Shhhhh… you didn’t hear this from me!
Use up all 13 of your tags!
And as for “materials” I’ve heard that this area doesn’t effect your SEO, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right?
Having a quality product is absolutely huge. You have to believe in your product 100%. Your customers are trusting you to deliver a quality product. If it easily breaks or rips, or whatever, then you risk getting negative reviews. Once negative reviews roll in your SEO will drop drastically and your listings will fall behind in search 🙁
Good Customer Service and Experience
Another thing that I cannottttt stress about SEO is customer service. Seriously, if you cannot handle customer service then you probably shouldn’t be in the retail industry, period. With that being said, I’m definitely not telling you that you have to kiss the ass of every extremely rude customer because trust me, I don’t.
But, what counts as customer service and experience? My pro tip: think of every detail from the customer’s point of view. This starts with your listing itself. Make sure your titles are clear and understandable. List every bit of detail in your description and include very detailed photographs of your products.
Shipping your orders on time is also important not only for your customer service, but also because Etsy “punishes” your search rankings if you’re not shipping packages on time. They announced this at their 2016 Etsy Up Conference in New York. So at the end of the day always check that you’ve shipped your items on time by their ship date. If you can’t make the shipping deadline then I suggest contacting the customer and updating the ship date.
Another customer service tip I can give you is COMMUNICATION! Communication is HUGE on Etsy. After every order that’s placed I personally message that customer with the details of what they ordered and exactly how long it will take for processing and shipping. I also ask if they have any questions about the purchase. This is excellent for customer service because I confirm with them the details and make it more comfortable for them to ask any questions.
And lastly, when it comes to shipping issues: the only thing that I can say is again, look at everything from the customers perspective. If the item arrives defected or broken then either refund the sale or resend the item. Please do not put the buyer at fault if something arrives broken or it doesn’t arrive at all. That’s totally not fair to them.
The recency of your listings is also a determining factor for your SEO. You see, if your product is constantly selling and the listing is being renewed at least once a day, Etsy’s search engine is going to believe you’ve got a trending item. This can happen organically of course if you do in fact have an item that’s selling at least once a day. But, there’s also a way of “tricking” the system.
Yes, that’s right, you can actually trick the system by manually renewing your products. You can manually renew your products by clicking the gear icon on a listing from the listing manager page.
Or! If you’re like me and totally don’t have any free minute of the day to do anything, you can use an app to auto renew your listings for you. I highly recommend using the Etsy on Sale app. Click here to sign up and enjoy 10 FREE credits!
For only 5 credits you can schedule up to 10 listings to auto renew once a day, twice a day, or whatever floats your boat!
Click Through Rate
One of the major factors of SEO is your click through rate. Your click through rate is the percentage of people who are clicking to view your items from an internal or external source.
Okay that’s cool and all, but how do you increase your click through rate? Well there are tons of ways!
To increase your click through rate internally (via Etsy only) you’ll have to have amazing photos, titles, descriptions and keywords like I stated earlier. The more you work on those factors then the more clicks you’ll receive by people searching on Etsy.
To increase your click through rate externally, start out with what you may know best: social media. Pinterest is my absolute favorite! I’ve written an entire blog dedicated to marketing on Pinterest for your Etsy shop. If more people are finding you through Pinterest then your click through rate will increase! This goes for any other platform too such as Facebook and Instagram.
Another way of increasing your click through rate is by blogging (hey that’s what I do!). If you write blogs about your products and include links back to your products then that will surely help boost your SEO. You can also look around the internet for blogs that offer guest posting. Guest posting is where you write an article for a blog and in return you get exposure from their followers! Including the link to your Etsy shop will boost your click through rate!
Whew! I believe this is the longest post I’ve ever written. Over 2700 words to be exact! And yes, I actually WRITE my blog posts in a notebook before typing them up. Crazy, right?
I really hope that this blog has taught you the ins and outs of SEO on Etsy. I’ve included a full checklist for you at the end of the workbook that goes along with this blog.
Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have 🙂
I don’t know about you guys, but June happens to be my slowest month of the year selling online. I’ll be lucky if I can get 5 orders a day when I typically get 10-15 orders a day on any other month. So with that being said, I panic lol. And when I panic like that the first thing that I think to do is to create new products for my shop.
But, how do I come up with ideas for new products? There are so many different ways that I brainstorm ideas. I actually have a list of idea’s that’s so large it’s quite overwhelming.
Here are the 10 ways that I brainstorm ideas for new products.
Improve Existing Products
Before you go off to create more products perhaps you can improve on products that you already have? I do this all-the-time. Over time I’ll realize that a product is not selling as much as it used to, which usually means it needs to be updated. So before I jump into new projects I focus on updating my existing product designs first.
Offer Matching Items
My business exploded overnight from just this one simple tip: offer matching items or items that go well with your products. So for example, I was selling just printed invitations for the longest time, and baby shower invitations are among the most popular. After a while I had a lot of customers messaging me asking if I offered matching diaper raffle tickets or thank you cards. So over time I slowly started to add matching items like those to my shop. I know 100% that offering matching items makes a difference.
In fact, when I was searching for a specific quilt for my daughter’s nursery I found two different quilts that were made by two different sellers. The one seller had an option to purchase a super cute matching pillow along with the quilt, and that’s what sold me on that purchase. The other seller lost my potential sale because they didn’t offer the matching pillow.
Sell Holiday Themed Items
Another way that my business exploded was by offering holiday themed items. People LOVE seasonal items. If you can sell an item with a seasonal theme then please do! You would be surprised how much pumpkin stuff sells in fall. Fall is surprisingly my biggest season for selling online.
Search for Trends
Where on earth did this unicorn trend come from?! I have no freaking idea! But I do know that if you jump on a trend quickly you can make some big $$$. But, how do you find out what the latest trends are? Research, research, research! Use platforms such as Instagram to see what people are posting. Use #hashtags to search for terms related to your products and see what’s going on in the world!
Use Stats on Etsy
If you sell products on Etsy then you should definitely check out your stats page! There is a brand new feature which I absolutely LOVE! When you locate your stats page, click on the “customers” tab. There is a super useful tool called “What else your customers have searched for”. Use this information to your advantage! See what other search terms your customers are searching for and brainstorm new products based off of those keywords.
Use the Search Bar on Etsy
Another one of my best magic tricks is to use the search bar on Etsy. Did you ever notice that when you start to type words into the search bar on Etsy there are keywords that start to pop up on a dropdown list? For example, if I start to search for “Baby Shower Invitations” on Etsy the search bar automatically suggests search terms like “baby shower invitations elephant” or “baby shower invitations for a girl”. I can use these search terms to work off of when brainstorming products.
I can even go further by using the search bar for searching for terms alphabetically. What I mean by this is there are only a limited amount of suggested terms that come up when I search for “baby shower invitations”, but if I try to further my search with each alphabetical character, I can find more specific commonly typed suggestions.
Yeah, that was totally confusing. Let me show you. I’ll start searching for “baby shower invitations a” and additional terms pop up such as “baby shower invitations all star” and “baby shower invitations animals”. Then I can search for “baby shower invitations b” and terms pop up such as “baby shower invitations boy” or “baby shower invitations boy nautical”. I can keep repeating this step for the entire alphabet to gather ideas for my newest design!
See What’s Selling
Another way to brainstorm ideas for new products is to see what’s selling. A lot of people feel sneaky doing this, but it’s actually something that all businesses do. It’s very smart to see what the selling trends are. On Etsy you can view what’s selling by typing what you sell into the search box and then refining the search by showing “most recent”. So for example, if I type in “baby shower invitations” into the search box I can select “Sort By” and click on “Most Recent”.
The most important point that I should note here is that it is SUPER important that you see what type of items are selling, but not to actually copy those items. Copying items or designs can get you in trouble with copyright infringement. Make sure that you are using this information wisely and to create completely different items from your competition.
Play a Word Game
This may seem silly, but playing a word game is an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing. My favorite word game to play is called Word Storm. The way the game works is very simple, you write down a word, then write down a bunch of other words that come to mind when you think of that first word. Before you know it you’ll have a long list of random words that you can work off of to brainstorm an idea for your next product or design.
Create a Mood Board
I bet you landed on my blog from using Pinterest, am I right?! 🙂 Well, Pinterest happens to be my #1 place for creating a digital “mood board”. A mood board can be a physical board or a digital board (Pinterest) that’s made up of pinned photos, doodles, and ideas for your next project. Pinterest is great for creating a mood board for your next project.
Create a Pinterest board and call it “Mood Board” or “Brand Board”. You can set the board to private if you’d like.
Next, take the keywords that you chose to describe your idea for your project and search those words on Pinterest. Choose anything that you would like to use for inspiration for your project and pin it to your board. Photos, color palettes, fonts, etc. Try to find as many inspiring things as you can.
Soon enough you’ll have a big giant board of ideas to work off of.
Finally, the biggest tip that I can share with you is to ask your customers directly. I don’t mean that you should message each and every one of your customers to see what products they are interested in, but you can post a question to social media or create a poll. If you have an email list you can certainly send out an email with a survey and perhaps offer a coupon for those who complete the survey.
Hopefully this long list of brainstorming tips has helped you brainstorm ideas for new products. What other ways do you use to brainstorm ideas?? Let me know in a comment below 🙂
Hooray! My long hiatus has finally come to an end! For those of you who don’t know, I recently had a baby at the end of February and I’ve been SUPER busy ever since. Even though I’m a work-at-home mom it’s still very hard to juggle my business, blogging and two babies (I also have an 18 month old).
I’ve also been really busy with a couple of other new ventures I’ve been pursuing and selling on Amazon is one of them. I recently applied to be a seller at Handmade at Amazon and I was accepted 🙂
Update: I have stopped selling on Amazon Handmade after less than a month! Check out why with my newest blog Why I Stopped Selling on Handmade at Amazon.
I know I post a lot about selling on Etsy, and that’s because Etsy is my main squeeze. And now Amazon is my side snuggle 🙂
Handmade at Amazon is still in its early stages. Currently, you have to apply to be a handmade seller at Amazon.
What is Handmade at Amazon?
Handmade at Amazon is a new section on Amazon.com that offers handcrafted items. You can list, sell, and ship your handcrafted items via Amazon just as you would with Etsy.com.
Why did I choose to sell on Amazon instead of strictly selling on Etsy?
Well, for lots of reasons. I’m a firm believer in never putting all of your eggs in one basket. God forbid, what if something were to happen to my Etsy shop? I’ve heard tons of horror stories about shops being suspended. I would be left with nothing. I wouldn’t be able to provide for my family. That’s seriously my worst nightmare. So, selling on Amazon is kind of like a “fall back”, I guess.
Selling on Amazon also opens up my business to a different audience, meaning I can reach more people and achieve additional income.
I also wanted a new challenge. I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2014 and I’m pretty used to the operation on Etsy. By selling on Handmade at Amazon I’m opening myself up to a new challenge, which is much needed.
What are the requirements for selling your products through Handmade at Amazon?
The first requirement for selling on Handmade at Amazon is that your products have to be made entirely by hand, hand altered, or hand assembled. Massed produced products are not allowed to be sold through Handmade at Amazon and you cannot sell items made by other people.
Next, there are only certain categories of products that are allowed to be sold on Handmade at Amazon, here is an insert from their website..
“Right now, Handmade at Amazon is open to artisans who make Jewelry, Home products (Art, Baby Bedding, Bath, Bedding, Furniture, Home Décor, Kitchen & Dining, Lighting, Patio, Lawn & Garden, Storage & Organization), Beauty & Personal Care, Pet Supply, Party Supplies, Stationery, Accessories, Baby, Sporting Goods, and Toys & Games. If your products don’t fit into those categories, don’t worry – we are working to open up more categories in the upcoming months. Sign up to be the first to know.”
Are you allowed to sell your products on Etsy and Handmade at Amazon?
Yes! You are absolutely allowed to sell your handmade products on Etsy as well as Handmade at Amazon.
What are the costs of selling on Handmade at Amazon?
So far, it seems to me that the price of selling on Handmade at Amazon is much steeper than the costs of selling on Etsy. Unlike Etsy, there is no fee to list items but there is a $39.99 monthly fee for the professional selling plan. In addition to the selling fee, you also have to pay a referral fee for each product that you sell, which is 15% of the entire transaction (including shipping fees) or $1.00, which ever is greater. So, if you are selling something for $29.99, your referral fee will be about $4.50. That’s a pretty hefty fee if you ask me, Etsy only charges a 3.5% transaction fee and shipping costs are not included.
How to Apply for Handmade at Amazon
Applying to become a seller with Handmade at Amazon is easy, you’ll need to apply on a desktop computer and the application takes approximately 30 minutes. Click here to begin filling out an application. You’ll be asked to provide photos of your products, your workspace and your production process so make sure that you have those ready to go 🙂
Once you complete the application it will take about 1 week for Amazon to review the application and send you an invitation. Once you accept the invitation you can fill out your profile and start listing products for sale!
The Pros and Cons of Selling on Handmade at Amazon
Lastly, I want to give my final all around thoughts on selling at Handmade at Amazon so far. I’ll be honest, selling on Handmade at Amazon is nothing like selling on Etsy. It’s similar, but definitely different. For one, I don’t believe that I get as much traffic from Handmade at Amazon than I do from Etsy. The reason for this I believe is people go to Etsy specifically to look for something handmade.
Not many people go to Amazon to search for handmade products. Also, when people are searching for products through the search bar the first products that show up in search are the Amazon Prime products, unless they’re searching directly underneath the “Handmade” category. Selling on Amazon Prime is different from selling on Handmade at Amazon. To be honest I’ve only made about 5 sales within the past 3 weeks.
And as I mentioned earlier, the prices are pretty steep compared to selling on Etsy. Not many handmade business owners would want to pay the $39.99 monthly fee, especially if they’re just starting their business.
I also feel that navigating the site is not very user friendly. Link text is small, pages are hard to locate. It’s confusing when you’re a first timer, but I guess that happens when you’re trying new platforms.
One good thing about selling on Handmade at Amazon is that you open yourself up to a new audience, as I stated above. You can use Amazon as an additional income stream like I am 🙂
If you happen to try Handmade at Amazon let me know about your experience in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
If there’s one thing that I’m constantly trying to improve about my Etsy shop, it’s got to be my packaging. Seriously, my shop has been open since 2014 and I’m STILL constantly changing up the way that I package my orders. However, I think I’ve finally found a happy medium so I decided to sit down and write about the things that I’m currently using to package my products.
In case you’re wondering what I sell, I sell printed invitations. You’ll see that I don’t have the most fancy packaging, and in my opinion, packaging shouldn’t be over the top anyway. At the end of the day it’s just packaging and most likely it’s going to be thrown away. Keeping packaging costs low keeps your prices low, and I like to save my customers money any way that I can.
If you’re just starting out selling online and you aren’t comfortable buying packaging supplies in bulk just yet, you can certainly find most of these shipping supplies in a department store such as Target or Walmart. But, if you find that your sales are starting to pick up you’ll save a ton of money by ordering these supplies online in bulk. I’ve found that my Amazon Prime membership is worth it’s weight in gold because I order from there so much.
Anyways, let’s hop to it. Here are the products that I’m currently using to ship my packages.
DYMO 4XL Thermal Label Printer
The DYMO 4XL Thermal Label printer is hands down my absolute favorite thing to use to ship my products. Before getting this little nifty machine I used to print labels out on my home printer, cut them down to size and tape them on with packaging tape. And don’t get me wrong, that’s totally fine. But, when you start shipping more than 5 orders a day that process is tedious. This machine changed my life. You simply connect the machine to your computer via USB and you can print labels instantly through Etsy. Just peel off the packer and stick the label to the package! So easy. No cutting, no taping. Best of all there’s no ink required! It uses thermal technology to print labels, it’s like magic.
You can learn all about the reasons why I highly recommend this machine, just check out the 5 reasons why you need a DYMO printer for your online business.
These 8×10 clear cello bags are perfect for keeping my paper products nice and snug. I feel as if they’re a step up from using ziplock baggies. They also keep the invitations safe from any water damage just in case anything were to happen to my package. I love the fact that they have an easy peel and seal strip.
After I seal the invitations and envelopes in a clear cello bag, I wrap the whole bag in tissue paper. Luckily I found navy tissue paper to match my branding off of Amazon as well (like I said, the Prime membership is worth it’s weight in gold!!). The tissue paper is a great way to add some padding inside of the box so the invitations don’t bend in the corners while in transit.
Thank You Cards
I also include a 4×6 thank you card with each of my orders. I make sure that I thank my customer for their support and I include a coupon code on the thank you card. If you’re interested I’ve created a FREE thank you card template that you can download along with the 2″ stickers mentioned above. I designed this card specifically so that it does not use up much ink if you’re printing at home. Simply print these 4×6 thank you cards out on cardstock and cut them out by using the black guidelines that I’ve included on the PDF. You will need to have Adobe Reader (this is free) or Acrobat in order to open and edit the thank you card.
*Also, you will receive the files in .ZIP format because there are 2 different files attached. You will need to unzip the folder in order to open both files. If you’re already signed up on my email list you can access these files via the free resource library!
White Shipping Boxes
USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail Padded Envelopes
I’m going to let you in on a big secret of mine. I’ve noticed that if my package weighs over 1 pound it’s actually cheaper to ship it via USPS Priority Mail than it is to ship it via ground service. And, I’ve noticed that I can save even MORE money by shipping my packages with USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelopes.
How do I do this? I stuff my white boxes into the padded envelopes (I keep my invitations in the white box for extra protection). You can request free padded envelopes from the USPS website, they ship to your location for free too!
Kraft Packaging Paper
When I have to use a bigger box than the 9x6x2 I have to use packaging paper to pad the invitations so they’re not flopping around in the larger box while in transit. I found a large roll of kraft packaging paper off of Amazon along with this paper cutter that I can attach it to and use to easily roll out and cut. The roll is over 1,000 feet long so it lasts a long time!
What are some things that you use to package your products? I’d love to know! I’m all about discovering new ideas for packaging. Let me know in the comments below!
Networking. Ugh. I cringe when I hear that word. When I think about “networking” I think about my previous corporate career graphic design job that required us to gather together in our lunch break room every Friday for a “happy hour” (aka a networking event where we are required to ‘fish’ for work from clients). It was awful. I hated “networking”.
But, when you become a business owner sometimes networking is a nessesary evil. There are many benefits of getting yourself out there. You never know who’s path you may cross while networking or what opportunities you’ll be presented with. With that in mind, networking should be a part of your marketing plan.
When you think about it, networking is the least expensive and often times most effective way to promote your handmade business.
And, trust me, there’s more options to networking than showing up to a corporate event with a stack of business cards in hand. You can even network with other business owners online if you’re more comfortable doing so.
Here are 10 networking tips for a handmade business owner.
Network with Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are an amazing way to get yourself and your business out there. Many people are not aware of the many benefits there are in joining a Facebook group.
If you join a group that is related to your niche you will see that there are other inspiring entrepreneurs just like yourself in the group. If you have a question related to your business you can usually ask on a group board and chances are that someone will have an answer for you. I’ve learned so much from Facebook groups.
I’ve even created my own group for creative business owners. Click here to request to join the CreativeCEO Facebook group.
Network on Other Social Media
When it comes to networking, don’t just limit yourself to doing it with Facebook groups. You can also network on other social media platforms as well. Comment on Instagram photos or Pinterest pins. You just might find a new business bestie!
Do an Online Coffee Meeting
Another popular option for networking in the handmade community is to have an online coffee meeting. I’ve seen many people requesting coffee meetings on Facebook groups. Request to have a coffee meeting so you can chat it up about owning a handmade business, juggling personal life and business, etc.
Participate in Online Forums
Forums are another particular favorite of mine. I’m usually active on the Etsy subreddit on Reddit and I also participate in the forums on Etsy. Make it a habit to check these forums daily. There’s always tons of networking opportunities in online forums.
Join a Chamber of Commerce
If you’re looking to get yourself out there in the real world, you can join a local chamber of commerce. Sure, there may not be many handmade business owners that belong to a chamber of commerce, but that’s what will set you apart from the crowd! Search Google for a local chamber of commerce. There’s usually a website available with information available on how to join. Look for a list of events that are hosted by that chamber of commerce and see if it’s worth giving it a shot.
Check Out Eventbrite
If you don’t want to take the leap of joining a local chamber of commerce you can always checkout Eventbrite. Eventbrite is the worlds largest event technology platform. You can search for events that are happening in your area. There are usually plenty of networking events that are available to choose from. Just select “business” from the dropdown menu list to see all of the available events that are business related.
Plan Out Ice Breakers in Advanced
Whether you’re networking online or you’re attending a networking event in person, you should try to plan out some “ice breaker” questions in advanced. This is especially important for introverts such as myself. Ask them what motivated them to attend that networking event, or ask if they have any great business tips that they can offer.
If there’s one tip that I could give anyone about networking, it would be to be yourself. I know that networking can seem intimidating. You may even feel the need to dress up in a corporate looking suit. But, just be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or share personal stories. Be authentic!
Don’t Forget a Business Card
If you plan on going to an in person networking event then make sure you don’t forget your business card! You’d be surprised at how many people actually forget their business card. If you don’t currently have a business card you could create one with VistaPrint.com or Moo.com. Your business card should at the very least have your name, title, business name, business website and a form of contact (either a phone number or an email address).
Ditch The Sales Pitch
It’s important to remember that networking is about connecting with other people and building relationships, it’s not just about getting your business out there. Don’t push the sales pitch. If someone happens to ask you what you do simply give a quick description of your business and hand them your card. Done! Keep the rest of the conversation casual. People are more likely to work with you if you’re not constantly trying to sell them something.
Hopefully these tips will help you when it comes to networking your handmade business. Is there something that you struggle with when it comes to networking? Let me know in a comment below! I’d love to help 🙂
*This post may contain affiliate links for products I love. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. For my full disclaimer, click here.*
When I first opened my Etsy shop in the spring of 2014 I had no idea what I was in for. I spent days slaving away creating new products, anxiously waiting for my first sale. Then, finally, “cha-ching”! My phone made this random register noise that I had never heard before. Turns out that it was a notification of a sale in my Etsy shop.
Cue the happy dance.
Fast forward almost 3 years later, I am so very fortunate to be able to say that I have had over 10,000 sales on Etsy. I was also able to quit my corporate career once I was earning six figures a year on Etsy.
But, I’m not going to lie, achieving this success was no overnight thing. I put everything that I have into my Etsy shop. There were nights where I was up until 2 in the morning finishing orders. I’ve even passed on taking vacations because that would mean I would have to shut down my shop while I’m away.
Needless to say, I’m obssessed.
Here are 10 things that I’ve learned after 10,000 sales on Etsy.
Owning an Etsy Shop is a Building Process
If you take a peak at some of my most recent earnings reports you’ll see that I earn a full time income on Etsy. But, I’ll be 100% honest and let you know that’s not always been the case. I opened my shop in the spring of 2014 and I did not become a full time seller until January 2016. I’ve learned that owning an Etsy shop is definitely a building process. Anyone who tells you that earning a full time income on Etsy right away is a liar, or a scam artist.
I’ve learned that you should start small by offering a few products to start. Once these products sell you should invest most (or all) of your profits back into your business by creating more products, advertising, etc.
I personally like to think of it like a game. I LOVE tycoon games.
You Have to Work Hard
I’ve also learned that once you decide to open up an Etsy shop you’ve got to work extremely hard to achieve the success that you want. You can’t just list a few products and expect sales to come rolling in. You’ve got to really work hard and educate yourself about everything there is to selling on Etsy. I spend a lot of my spare time reading blogs, watching YouTube tutorials, and participating in Facebook group discussions.
The Forums on Etsy are Very Helpful
There are many people who aren’t aware that there’s a forum community on Etsy. I make it a habit of checking the forums daily. You’ll see that the Etsy team gives updates to recent changes almost every Monday.
If there’s any glitches on the Etsy website it will be posted in the “bugs” section.
But, if there’s anything that you need help with that’s related to Etsy then feel free to ask others in the forums.
SEO is Important to Learn
SEO (search engine optimization) is extremely important when it comes to achieving sales. I’ve spent a lot of time learning all that I can about SEO on Etsy. Take a moment to read my 10 Tips to Improve Your Etsy Shop SEO and Rank Higher in Etsy Search to learn how to optimize your listings for search.
I go over things such as improving your product titles, listing descriptions, keywords, and more!
The more you work on optimizing your products the higher they will rank in search when someone is looking for something in particular. And, the higher your product ranks, the more it will be seen and purchased by others. Make sense?
Ship Orders on Time
Another important thing that I’ve learned over this past year is that your shipping rate is one of the factors that determines your placement in search. Etsy recently announced this in a conference. So, not only is shipping packages on time important for customer service, it’s also important for your placement in search. The more orders that you ship on time, the better placement you will have in search.
I kept running into a problem when customers would fail to leave the information that I needed to fulfill orders. If that happens I’ll try to reach out to that customer and if I can’t get ahold of them I refund and cancel their order.
Etsy Does Not Tolerate Copyright Infringement
I belong to a lot of Facebook groups that are related to Etsy and one thing I’ve learned from these groups is that Etsy does not tolerate Copyright infringement.
I’ve witnessed many people lose their Etsy shop due to selling things with Disney characters, college logos, etc. I’ve definitely made it a point to stay clear of any material protected by copyright or trademark.
Setting Goals Keeps You Motivated
One great way that I’ve found helps to keep me going every day is by setting goals. I have a goal list saved on my computer which I list monthly goals and yearly goals. Every month I set a couple of new goals such as “create 20 new products” or “make x amount of money”. These goals are what keep me motivated to keep going every month.
More Products = More Sales
I know that this may seem too obvious, but the more products that you have available for sale, the better chance you will have obtaining more sales. That’s why I’m constantly focused on creating more and more products.
But, I always ensure that the products that I’m creating are great quality. There are shops who sell similar products as me who have thousands of products for sale, but most of their stuff is 👎. Therefor, I’m always about quality over quantity.
Pay Quarterly Taxes
I’ve definitely learned a lot about taxes, especially over the past year. One of the things that I’ve learned when it comes to taxes is that if you’re making a decent amount of money it’s a good idea to pay quarterly estimates to the IRS. Hopefully you use a good bookkeeping system such as Outright by GoDaddy. Programs like these automatically track your profit and loss and generate an estimated amount that you should pay to the IRS for a specific quarter.
Do yourself and your accountant a favor and just pay these quarterly estimates. You can easily fill out and print the quarterly voucher here.
Track Your Inventory
Finally, one thing I never realized when it comes to tax season is that you have to track your inventory of supplies. Basically, you can’t claim supplies that you haven’t used up for the year.
I found out this information through the Accounting & US Tax Compliance Facebook group. This group is extremely helpful when it comes to tax time.
To learn more about tracking your inventory and other tax related information you can check out Paper and Spark.
Well, in closing, I hope that above 10 lessons that I’ve learned have helped you and your handmade business. I’m so extremely fortunate to be able to say that I’ve achieved over 10,000 sales. Maybe I’ll have more lessons learned after I achieve 50,000 sales 🤔