Maybe Matilda: Etsy Success :: The Shop

Monday, June 13, 2011

Etsy Success :: The Shop

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway, and thanks for all your kind words about my shop! The 3 winners are Alice, Samantha, and Christina . . . congratulations, ladies! I've contacted all three of you, so if you don't see an email/comment from me, shoot me an email at maybematildaquilts (at) so you can choose your patterns!

Since posting about hitting my 500th sale in my etsy shop, I've gotten a few questions from some of you who have an etsy shop of your own asking for tips and advice. Well, I don't think I have any huge secrets for you, and none of this will be groundbreaking or revolutionary, but I'm happy to share a few little things I've learned along the way that I've found helpful!

I'll be breaking this down into three parts: the shop, the product, and behind the scenes, so keep your eye out for the next two parts!

I'll be straight with you here: I don't think I'm some huge etsy success story . . . I still feel like a bit of a newbie there, and I'm learning new things all the time and am always working on improving my shop and products. I opened my shop just about a year ago and it seemed like it took forever to get going--when I opened, I listed 2 or 3 baby quilts and didn't do anything to promote or improve my shop, so it shouldn't be too surprising that I didn't sell anything for months. I thought customers would just find me on their own and whip out their credit cards . . . I didn't know you actually had to work for it! But when I started to actually put some effort into my shop instead of letting it sit there, ignored and almost entirely empty, I saw a huge difference. Here are some of the shop-based things that I think make a big difference:

Make that shop pretty!
Now, I don't think this first tip is vital to shop success by any means, but I do think it makes a difference when a shop looks nice. Take a good long look at your main shop page (here's mine) . . . if it were your very first time seeing that page, would you want to stick around?
Although it certainly isn't crucial to doing well, I love to see a shop that has a nice banner and a cohesive style; it makes them look more legitimate. If you're good at computer stuff, you can make a nice banner for yourself and save some money . . . my computer skills stop a little shy of Microsoft Paint, so I bought mine here for a few bucks (and, note to self, should probably update it to match my new blog look).

Fantastic photos
Let's say a potential customer heads over to etsy to search for a hat for their baby; here's what they're going to see:
 Page after page after page of teeny tiny itsy bitsy little thumbnail photos. So you darn well better have an amazing shot of your product as the first photo on each of your listings or no one is ever going to notice it in that sea of similar products. If you have any friends or neighbors who are photographers, consider having them take professional photos of your products for your shop.

Honestly, are you going to be intrigued enough to click on a picture like this, especially when it's shrunk down to a thumbnail and surrounded by dozens of amazing photos?
 Nope. You'd scroll right past it without even noticing it. But this one, on the other hand, just might catch your eye--bright, clear, simple, and cute:
Keep the colors and backgrounds simple, get up close to your model/product, and make sure there's plenty of light in your shot! If you need to, edit it up (I use picasa) to make it even brighter and crop in a bit closer. Make sure your first picture in particular is really great since it's the one that has to catch their attention in the search pages, but also include plenty of variety in your other photos--remember, your customers on etsy can't pick your item up and look it over the way they would in person, so include a close up so they can see the detail, shots from the side, top, back, etc.You have to really show your items well to make customers feel comfortable buying it without having held it and looked it over.

  Check out the competition
I feel a little nervous giving this advice because I don't want you to go about it the wrong way . . . I don't want you to pore through every description and picture in similar shops that are selling more than you, obsessing over why they're succeeding when you're not, altering your photos and wording to mimic theirs. The beauty of your shop is that it's you, so don't abandon that! 
But I do think it can be helpful to find a few shops selling products similar to yours (and selling plenty!) to try and pinpoint why they're doing so well. Do they have amazing photos? Are they using tags on their listings that you hadn't thought of? Are their prices significantly lower than yours? It just might help you to identify some things that could be drawing buyers to them instead of you--maybe your descriptions just aren't descriptive enough, maybe their shipping prices are much lower than yours, maybe they're offering more color or size options, and so on. You might find some things you could easily change about your own shop to step it up a bit!

Fill out your profile
One of my favorite things about shopping on etsy (and I'm sure it's a favorite for many shoppers) is supporting an actual person instead of some nameless, faceless entity. So make sure that you aren't a nameless, faceless etsy entity! For the longest time, my etsy profile was completely blank . . . I didn't have a profile picture, I didn't include my location, and I didn't write anything about myself. No wonder no one wanted to buy from me; they had no idea who I was!
Etsy buyers love getting to know the person they're shopping with, so this is your way of welcoming them to your shop. Include a picture of yourself (or, in my case, a picture of my pretty sister), tell your shoppers where you live, and fill out your profile with some personal info (and for heavens sake, please don't write it in the 3rd person). What do you do besides run this shop? How'd you get started? What's the story behind the shop name? What inspires you? I have often moved along after finding an item I loved on etsy because the seller's public profile was blank or boring. No matter how unique you think your product is, believe me, buyers can find dozens of other similar items, so what makes yours special? It might just be you, so be a presence! Let your buyers get to know you through your profile.

Stock your shelves!
So you're browsing etsy and you find two similar items . . . one in a shop with a few pages worth of product, all photographed beautifully and well-described, and one in a shop that only has 4 items for sale. Which one are you going to buy? My money's on the one in the well-stocked shop--even in a handmade marketplace like etsy where customers know they're shopping from home-based businesses and hobbyists, they feel more comfortable buying from a shop that looks and feels professional, and one way to get that look is by filling up your shop.
Make plenty of products, and if that's not an option, maybe you could create custom listings for products to be made to order. Almost every listing in my shop is for a custom order . . . I make one hat, take some pictures, list the hat itself, and then copy that listing as a custom order for that style in whatever size/color the customer wants. That way I've sort of gotten a twofer--my shop is more full, making me look more "real," plus I now have the potential to reach two customers instead of just one! This won't work for every product, but I noticed a big increase in my sales when I started listing more items in my shop, even if they weren't all ready to ship.

Stay tuned for my advice on your products and (possibly the most important piece of all) what you should be doing behind the scenes to make your etsy shop a success story!


  1. Thanks for writing this! I definitely learn a lot from you! Cant wait to see the next one.

  2. Thanks so much for these tips! I've been trying to stock up my etsy shop with designs so I have variety. Congrats on your Etsy Success! :)
    In just a year to have made 500 sales that is awesome!!
    Looking forward to the other parts of your series :)

  3. Thank you for this post (and the ones to come)! I have been debating emailing you.

    I'm a crocheter also and want to start my own etsy shop but I'm scared at the same time.

  4. This is awesome!! Thanks so much!

  5. I'm so excited that I won. I'm going to choose my patterns right now! And thanks for all the great tips!

  6. This is some great advice. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the posts.

  7. I like how you pose live models--especially how to pose a baby, it's something that I find really hard to do! (so I just avoid making baby stuff) I'm gonna look forward to future installments of this :)

  8. You gave us fantastic advice! You rock!

  9. "...because you're amazing... just the way you are" (I have had that song in my head all day...and it fit your post! Hee. Hee. Now you are going to be singing it.) You are amazing! Congrats on your 500th sale!

  10. I'm so excited that you're crushing on my blog. **blushing**

    This is a great post. I have no intentions of opening an Etsy shop but it was still interesting. About a month ago, I told Nate that I was going to quit my job and start selling pillow covers on Etsy. He calculated that I would need to sell like 30,000 to match my pharmacist salary...which seemed like more work than getting yelled at by homeless people all day...but I'll bookmark this just in case. :P

  11. I am so glad your shop has been a success. And I would definitely call 500 sales a success! Heck, i'd call 5 sales a success, so you're WAAAY beyond successful in my book. ;0)

  12. Congrats! 500 sales in a year is an awesome number.
    I second the tip about stocking your shelves. I have heard that 10 is the magic number. As soon as I got 10 items listed, I had sales. So now I am always trying to keep it at 10, but with 3 littles to care for all day is not an easy feat!

  13. Like, oh my goodness! This is such an awesome post. I even "starred" it in my reader. ;) I have a sad, pathetic shop right now that's just sitting there until I figure out what to do with it. This is a great help!

    And congrats on your, that's halfway to 1000! ;)

  14. Thank you for the advice. I have been debating opening a shop but I'm not sure if I am ready. I can't wait to read the rest of your series.

  15. congrats on 500 sales! i hope to get there one day (12 sales and counting!). :)
    you have great advice. especially the part about having great photos.
    look forward to reading the rest!


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