selling on etsy (part 1 of many)

Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog and watching my business grow these last (almost 6!) few months. I really appreciate all the support that I’ve received, and in turn, would like to share some of my etsy wisdom with the rest of the world.

I know that a few of my friends have contemplated opening up shop, and I thought I would write this little guide for those of you who might be a little nervous about taking the next step. Since this is going to be pretty lengthy, it will be broken up into several different posts/sections.


So, you want to start selling on Etsy? There are a few things you should think about before you jump into anything. If you already have a username/account, you may want to consider using it to open up shop. You already have some positive feedback, right? But on the other hand… you really don’t want your shop name to be kutekat666 if you’re going to be selling handmade baby clothing… The identity of your Etsy shop is very important. You want your name to be recognizable, easy to spell and easy to remember. There are hundreds of thousand of shops currently on etsy, so finding a cool name that hasn’t already been taken might be difficult. I know that this step in the process can seem rather time consuming, but this is your identity. Take some time to pick something out that you can live with for awhile… preferably forever.


Think you’ve found the perfect name for your store? Do a search on Etsy to see if anyone else came up with the same brilliant name. If that name isn’t already taken, do a few more searches for it on google or yahoo. You would be surprised at how many other people might be using that combination of words. If you are satisfied with the results, go ahead and register that name on etsy. You might even consider purchasing the domain name as well (if it’s not already taken). You can always re-route the address to your etsy shop and it would be helpful to own the domain name in case you did want to build a website later on. A blog is also another web identity to consider. I didn’t have a blog when I first opened my shop, but soon realized that it would be a useful tool to share my thoughts and ideas, as well as be a promotional tool for paperlust. There are several options to choose from. I am obviously on blogger, but others use wordpress, typepad…



This would also be a good time to think about what you’re going to sell. I’m sure you already have some ideas, otherwise you wouldn’t consider opening a shop. What I mean is that if you’re going to make personalized baby bibs, you might as well offer personalized baby blankets, hats, clothes, shoes, diaper bags… you get the idea. People who shop for one type of item (for others or themselves) will probably buy more than one item from you if you have similar products to choose from. Variety is also important. People like to have a variety of options to choose from. You might think “but I don’t like making decisions…” but you would be wrong. We like feeling that we are decisive and in control. If you only give someone one option, more than likely they will go somewhere else to shop. That being said… when you decide what you’re going to make for your shop, make a list of items that supplement your original idea. This will help you fill up your store, which will keep people looking for longer.



I guess now would also be a good time to mention copyright and copying other’s work. While there is much debate on these issues, not just in the world of Etsy, but the world in general, you have to be careful what you do. While you may think that you’ve come up with the ‘next big thing’, more than likely someone else has already had a similar idea. And while there is no problem with you adding a little competition to the game, do so with respect. Make sure that you are not outright or purposefully copying someone else’s idea. If you knit leg warmers, find a way to do it so that yours stands out from the rest. Embellish them with wool flowers or make them out of some crazy material. What I’m saying is… find a way to make your items unique and memorable. You don’t want a buyer looking at your goods and thinking, ‘I’ve seen these in so-and-so’s shop, they must have copied them’. Find a way to make your product better and/or different, and you will get noticed. Trust me.



Not literally. Now that you have a name, you should put a face to that name. If you don’t feel comfortable designing a logo, there are plenty of folks who would love to do it for you! (me, for example). There are tons of graphic designers on etsy offering their services for logo and business card design. Or you could find somebody local or hire a friend to do it for you. But wait, there’s more! Since you’re going to be online, there is also your banner and avatar to worry about! Don’t worry, these things aren’t quite as daunting as they seem, and the same person who designed your logo would probably be more than happy to throw in some web extras. Etsy does have some pre-made banners and such that you just type in your shop name, and they do the rest for you. There’s not much to choose from though, and in the end you’ll probably want to make something unique for your store. I will go into more detail on designing your own avatar/banner in the photography section.



I will go over this in the shipping section as well… but now is also a good time to figure out how you’re going to package all those cute little baby booties you are going to sell. Now that you have a logo… figure out how you are going to present them to your buyer. Just remember that you have to put them in the mail. Remember this when you want to put them in a cute little box with a big bow on the top. In my opinion, the simpler it is, the better it is. You don’t have to buy a bunch of clear boxes or fancy labels to package your items in. A brown paper bag with your logo stamped on top, tied with a thin ribbon would be nice… or you could make your own envelopes out of scrap paper. Also think about how it’s going to hold up to as it’s being ‘gently handled’ by the post office. And remember to include a nice hand-written note and a business card before you slip everything into the bubble mailer and seal it.



Go ahead and start making some items before you officially open your store. You want to have more than a few products to list when you open… it will look professional and keep people looking around for a little while. Don’t over-do it though. Depending on what you’re making, you should be able to get away with putting together a few things (in a variety of colors/sizes) to photograph.


I hope this has helped you think more about what you need to do before you open your Etsy shop. Next week I will go over how selling on Etsy works. In the future I’ll also go over shipping, photography, advertising, time management and hopefully set up a list of helpful resources.

1 comment:

kd-m said...

thank you thank you thank you!!! I've sent some friends your way for reference as well...