Online Selling – Etsy and Beyond
– Lori Peterson
Lori Peterson wrote this article about online and Etsy sales. You can see her beads at http://www.loribeads.com
Picking a name
Try to pick something that will either identify YOU or what you are selling. “Your Name Designs” is one that I recommend (i.e. Lori Peterson Designs). It covers a broad range of products and services, should your focus change. I chose Loribeads before I really thought about that. Also, think about what website names are available. Chances are if you want something like Lampwork.com or FusedGlass.com it is already taken. Do your research before making a final decision on picking an etsy store name.
Policies & returns
I could load this section up with examples of what not to do. Put enough info in the policies to inform and protect your interests but not so much that it puts buyers off of doing business with you. Keep it simple, straightforward and above all else, shopper-friendly. Don’t gouge customers with shipping charges. If you want to make more money on the product, price it accordingly. Returns policies should reassure customers that you want them to be happy with their purchase. Try to keep that in mind. Occasionally you will get a difficult customer, that’s just the way it is. Try not to let those experiences form your policies. This is my opinion only.
Logos and branding
Pick a look and create a logo, online banners, etc. Etsy is a good place to look if you want someone to create all that for you. Some website hosts will have templates you can use and customize. Branding is so important that unless you are just dabbling in selling, spending time getting this right is really important. Make sure your logo/banner says something about your aesthetic.
Announcements and artist intro
Here’s the place to announce your grand opening! You can also announce sales, coupons, new products and even general chit-chat here. Artist profile is the place for your artist statement, how you came to be an artist, stuff like that. I don’t like to shop at a store when I don’t know their location so be sure to put where you are, too.
Photos, photos, photos
-lighting and cameras
Honestly, it’s more about the photographer than the camera. Get a decent camera – no need to spend a bundle – most point and shoot cameras are fine for web photos. I sell beads so I made sure the camera I picked had a macro setting.
-photo tents and lighting
Light diffusion is pretty important, especially when photographing glass. I recommend getting some good, bright lights and a photo cube, sized for the product you intend to sell. Ott lites are a good choice for lighting but other daylight bulbs will work just as well. Most bad photos are bad because there wasn’t enough light.
Photoshop, Gimp, Paint Shop Pro, there are many different photo editing programs out there. Some are free, some are really pricey. I have tried them all and trust me when I say that none of them can turn a bad photo into a good one. Pick one that works with your level of photo-editing interest. Photoshop can be a resource hog on a slower computer and is very expensive and has a pretty big learning curve but it is the industry standard for photo editing so if you get stuck and need help, you’re likely to find someone online who will have an answer to your question. The bare minimum you will need from a photo editing software is to be able to resize photos. Out of the camera, they will likely be too big. Etsy has a 1000×1000 pixel recommendation for your shop photos.
Descriptions / Categories / Tags
-take a look at similar items for keyword/tag/category help
I know this seems like cheating. But, really, it is the easiest way to make sure you get tags that make sense for your product. Take a look at a few different products before you pick tags, though. Some people use tags inappropriately. Make sure the tags you pick actually make sense for the product you’re selling. If they don’t, someone might report you and your item may be removed.
-dimensions, materials used, facts
Make sure you give all the pertinent information for the product. It may seem obvious to you that the item you are selling is teeny-tiny because it’s in front of you. When you look at macro photos of the item, it may seem MUCH larger. Let the customer know what to expect so they aren’t surprised when they receive the item. Same goes for materials used. If you used sterling silver, let them know. If you used base metal containing nickel, let them know. Nothing worse than wearing something that gives you an unexpected rash!
-inspiration and artist stuff
Some artists like to include a story, like how the item was conceived, inspired or stumbled upon during the creative process. Customers like to catch a glimpse of the artist’s soul. Remember, you’re selling yourself as much as you’re selling the item!
-list a few items a day rather than all at once
The default search result for Etsy is newest first so you probably want to be on the first or second page when someone searches for an item like yours. If you list frequently, the chances are better you will be easy to find and be seen by more people. Also, keep in mind that the more items you list, the more items you will sell, generally speaking. If you only have a couple things in your store and never update it, you won’t be as successful a seller as someone who keeps their store fresh and fully stocked with exciting new items.
-list and promote, list and promote, list and promote
Etsy makes it really easy to promote your items now. One button push and you can publish your item to your Facebook page! Same goes for Twitter, too. You can also send out newsletters to your customer list to let them know when you have new items and sales.
After the sale…
If you want feedback (and you do) you need to leave feedback for your buyers. Thank them for their quick payment or for supporting your art.
-tracking sales/ customer base/ follow up
Keep a list of customers and get a mailing list going. Make sure you check with them before adding them to the list. No one wants spam. There are a lot of free and paid opt-in mailing list generators you can use that will add a form to your website. Some of those are Bravenet, Constant Comment, Vertical Response.
-packing and shipping
Pack your items securely so that they will arrive at their destination in once piece. Make sure you include a hand-written thank you on the receipt or even on the back of a business card. You can personalize your packages by adding special touches like gift boxes, pretty tissue paper or whatever makes you happy and furthers your brand image. Get creative! Oh and don’t forget to ship promptly!
Advertising and Promotion
Paid and Targeted
There are tons of advertising opportunities for artists out there but you have to look for them. If you want to pay for advertising you can sign up for Google Adwords or buy an ad in a magazine that targets your audience. I like advertising on forums I actively participate in. It is pretty reasonably priced and super targeted. It pays to do some online research to see where your customers are gathering.
Blogs / Facebook / Twitter
A blog or posting to Facebook or Twitter is a great way to talk about your creative process, promote your items and let customers know about your latest creations. If you’re not a good writer, just post photos and links!
- 7 Sites Like Etsy: Alternative Options for Selling Your Homemade Designs (brighthub.com)
- Etsy Draws Fans (nytimes.com)