I've written two etsy success posts now . . . one about your shop and one about your product. But I think there's a third, bigger, more important element to doing well on etsy--the work you could be doing behind the scenes to make your shop successful.
You need to have
good great incredible customer service if you ever want any customers to come back for a second visit or tell their friends and family about you or even just leave you nice feedback! If you get an email with a question, answer it promptly and politely (I've lost sales before because I didn't respond to a customer's inquiry quickly enough!). Ship your items as quickly as you possibly can, and package them as if you were sending a gift instead of a purchase--for me, nothing takes the excitement out of an etsy purchase more than waiting weeks for it to arrive, then receiving an ugly, re-used, torn and tattered package in the mail. Send an email to thank your customer for their purchase and to let them know when their package has been/will be shipped so they don't sit around wondering what's going on. Include a thank you note in your packages--it adds a nice personal touch, and makes the customer feel appreciated.
If a customer leaves you especially nice feedback or sends a picture of their item in use (oh, how I love seeing pictures of babies wearing my hats!), make sure to thank them and let you know how much you appreciate it (nothing feels crummier than putting forth a nice effort that goes completely unacknowledged!). Chances are, you'll get the occasional customer who will make semi-annoying requests or just generally be a bit of a pain . . . rather than immediately saying no or acting like they're being an inconvenience, just do whatever you can to be accommodating and friendly, because they'll have the chance to leave you public feedback, and wouldn't you hate to get nasty feedback because you weren't willing to ship something faster than usual, or change a detail on an item, or alter the size? I've made special requests before that were probably obnoxious, like requesting gift wrapping, or asking that an item be sent to an address other than mine (like an adorable necklace I recently bought from Bajo La Luna on etsy and had mailed straight to my mother-in-law for her birthday), and I was so grateful that the sellers were happy to do as I asked. They got glowing feedback from me, and I'll be happy to shop with them again and recommend them to friends because I know they're great sellers who value their customers and are willing to go the extra mile to make their customers happy. Treat each shopper like gold and they'll be happy to come back to your shop and pass the word along to their friends!
You often hear about the importance of having a facebook page and a twitter account to connect with customers and promote your business . . . but I think you need to tread very carefully here. I'm fairly certain there's no more effective way to lose customers and fans and friends than to be obnoxious when you're trying to promote your shop.
We don't need to be provided with a link to every new listing you add to your shop, or every treasury you're included in, or get constant updates on the number of sales you've had. Nor do we need to hear about what you're having for lunch, what you're doing this weekend, or what grade little Susie got on her spelling test. Believe me, potential customers don't want to be bombarded with constant updates, and they'll unlike your facebook page and unfollow you on twitter faster than you can say check-out-my-newest-item! I'm definitely no marketing expert, but I think you should use facebook and twitter (or whatever else you use to market your shop) very carefully. Sure, get yourself a facebook page and include the occasional link to new items or listings you've put on sale or a product you've found that you love, but a little goes a long way!
Everybody loves a deal!
Etsy lets you create coupon codes that customers can use to receive discounts on products, and it's a great way to find out where your customers are coming from and bring them back in for a return visit. I always include a coupon code in the thank you card I send out with my packages that customers can use for a discount on their second purchase, and you can create special coupon codes for different events . . . is it your birthday? Offer a special birthday coupon code for the week! Feeling festive at Christmas time? Create a holiday coupon code! Or are you wondering how your customers are ending up in your shop? Advertise one coupon code on your facebook page, another on twitter, another on your blog, and so on--that way, you can track which codes are being used the most frequently to find out which of your marketing techniques are the most effective.
How 'bout a giveaway?
I think offering giveaways is a great way to find new customers and spread the word about your shop--obviously, you can't go overboard with them or you'll never make any money, but find a blog you like whose readers you think will love your work and shoot the writer an email to ask if they'll host a giveaway for your shop.
Be aware, though, that some bloggers will charge you for hosting a giveaway, but if it's a big blog with a lot of readers, maybe it's worth it--after all, a lot of readers means a lot of potential customers! I've never paid to do a giveaway (it just seems to me like you shouldn't have to pay to give away free stuff), so you can certainly find people who are happy to host your giveaway at no charge. In my experience, you're best served by giving away store credit of at least $20--people love being able to choose whatever they want from your shop, but if you're only giving away a few dollars' worth of credit, they don't feel like it's worth taking the time to enter. And while it might feel like you're giving away a lot of valuable product, think of all the people who will be checking out your shop and falling in love . . . you'll probably end up making a lot more than you gave away!
Maybe you already have a facebook page or a blog to promote your shop . . . another great way to get your shop noticed is to advertise on blogs whose readers you think might be interested in your products.
Most bloggers offer ad space for pretty darn cheap, and you can get some new traffic headed your way as readers notice your cute lil button on the sidebar of their favorite blog. I know, it kind of hurts to spend money on advertising, but if it brings you more sales, it's worth every penny!
One of my favorite parts of selling on etsy is the personal side--making friends with customers and other sellers is a huge part of the etsy experience, so be friendly! Join some teams that are related to your craft or your location to share advice and experience and meet new people.
I love the pals I've made on etsy . . . Lori of Jewllori is an absolute riot, Haley of Handmade by HJWilke always has something sweet to say that totally makes my day, and I think Amanda of Amanda's Beans is my proverbial kindred spirit. Having some etsy friends means you'll know just where to turn for advice on your shop, honest comments about your products and prices, and answers to questions you might have, not to mention that you share a common interest already--we're all hanging out on etsy because we love to buy and sell the things we've whipped up ourselves, and wouldn't you love to have some craft buddies? The only downside of etsy friends is the sad realization that you don't all live next door to each other and probably won't get to hang out in real life, but I guess that's an occupational hazard of etsy selling that you'll just have to come to terms with. Or you could be a little hermit hiding alone in your etsy shop if you'd rather take that route, but the friendly option is probably more fun.
Off you go now! Get to work on your shop and stay busy behind the scenes, and I wish you billions and zillions of sales. Also, I want to come vacation with you in your Tuscan villa when you've made your millions on etsy.