The longer you are involved with something the more you are bound to learn. Karina has been selling on Etsy for over 4 years and she has kindly shared her tips for running a successful Etsy shop.
Karina from KreatedbyKarina says: Veteran
In a few months I'll be celebrating 4 years on Etsy! To mark the day, I thought I'd share some of my best-kept secrets from running Soap That Makes Scents (well, ok, they are not really secrets but rather segments of advice I have given out here in the forums or in convos as a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Team). An FAQ of sorts, and it's all here in one place for you--might be a long read but you can pick out the parts you find useful to reach your own level of success:Read more awesome tips from Karina about money, competition , and newsletters HERE in the Etsy forums.
~ Promoting ~
Probably the most common question I get asked is "how do you promote?"
My best tip is to figure out your target audience and promote directly to them.
Promoting to a wide audience is fine, but in the end you'll save yourself a lot of time, money and energy focusing your advertising strategies on those people who are more likely to purchase your products.
Think about the ideal person who would shop in your store---how old are they? What sort of websites/blogs would they most likely visit? What kind of magazines do you think they likely to read? What areas of the city would they live in? You can expand to other brainstorming questions but those few should give you a good start in figuring out the type of people who frequent your shop (as well as the type of people you want to direct your items to).
Once you've figured out your target audience, you can then take out ads on those same blogs, websites, magazines etc. Or concentrate on doing craftshows geared towards that "type" of audience.
~ When Selling, Think Like A Buyer ~
For instance...when trying to figure out how to tag your items, think of how YOU search for items when shopping. Do you search by color, or by certain keywords you find yourself using over and over? If so, use them in your tags as well. A great way of figuring out how to describe/tag your item is to ask friends and family. Let them take a look at what your selling (or give them a sample!) and ask what single words they would use to describe it to others. Pick out the most relevant and common ones and use those as tags if they fit, or incorporate some of their suggestions into your item descriptions.
Also---think about what promotional tactics work on YOU. Do you sign up for lots of newsletters? Maybe it's time you offered one of your own to your customers. Do you find yourself throwing away business cards, but keeping magnets and always reminding yourself "to check out that store" everytime you see it on the fridge? Invest in getting some promotional magnets made to give out with your orders or to people you meet. Things like that.
~ Organization Is Important ~
When I started out, I had supplies laying around everywhere--and I mean *everywhere*. My husband used to joke that at times he felt as though he lived in a warehouse. I realized that I was wasting a lot of time by having to go to one place for a box/envelope, one place for a pen, one place for a business card and soap sample, one place to collect the invoice, etc. Now I have a room dedicated to packaging, shipping, wrapping and labeling--Everything is stored in clear plastic bins, and out of reach from tiny hands. Recently we moved the computer in there as well just to make things even more easier. Keeping everything in one place can streamline the process from the time you receive an order, to the time it's shipped out.
~ Going Full Time~
(I took this part below from part of my QYDJ Storque interview so it may seem repetitive if you've read it)
Another common question I get is about how I made the transition from part-time soapmaker to full-time soapmaker. The easy answer would be "I just took the leap, and everything worked out fabulous!!" The more realistic answer is that it was a lot of planning ahead of time, tight budgeting to make my business self-sustainable and turn a profit, plenty of sacrifice (time, energy, luxuries), a bit of luck, and old-fashioned hard work.
If you don't have a Business Plan drawn up, I seriously urge you to get one. You can find lots of information and templates (as well as full examples) at www.sba.gov It truly is my opinion that no business can succeed fulltime without one. My husband and I sat down and wrote ours several years ago. A business plan covers not only your company's mission and planning out your target audience, but also your fiscal projection for several years ahead, all costs associated with running it from the beginning (ie. license cost, capital needed, utilities, supplies, advertising budget and a slew of other areas), HOW you plan on covering these costs, short and long-term goals, and will become your Business Manual of sorts. Plus, if you need to go to a bank for a loan to finance your business at any time, many will want to see your business plan (which should then also cover how you plan on paying your lender back).
As it stands now, Soap That Makes Scents pays for itself, with enough left over to pay our bills and rent, as well as groceries, etc. Etsy has been incredible in exposure and while they are the forefront and a large part of my business, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that craftshows, wholesale accounts, and private soap parties (and online soap parties!) make up a large portion of my income--although I wouldn't have gotten any of those accounts if it hadn't been for them finding me on Etsy.com
It's our goal for my husband to quit HIS day job in either 2011 or 2012 by the latest. He's already taken the first step by reducing his hours at work.
Giving important Etsy forum threads written by the Etsy community a second look, so Etsy sellers can Read, Learn, and Apply! Find more Etsy Tips Here!