This will be a very long post, but it's all for you!!!
My first sale and your messages brought me to the idea of doing an interview with a skilled seller. You wrote me messages and posted comments with all your questions. Last weekend I put all together and send the huge amount of questions to Megan.
Megan has her Etsy shop since July 2008 and made more than 300 sales. I chose her as my first interview partner for all your questions because I bought my first item through Etsy from her. She makes old and used books into journals. But please go to her shop and see for yourself:
my first purchase from bindingbee
Now lets go to the answers from Megan as promised:
(I haven't edited the answers from Megan!!)
I have been successful because I have worked hard to develop and diversify my business. I sell on etsy, maintain wholesale accounts to local and national boutiques and attend fine art and craft shows in my region. Some sellers are able to make their full pay check and "quit their day job" solely on etsy, but I think that might only be 1-2% of sellers. You can check the stats on that one, but I know that it is pretty low.
If I were to start as a newbie today, the advice I would give myself straight away would be two fold. #1: Keep excellent records from the very first bit of materials purchased and mileage used. #2: find a good business mentor to ask questions of, share concerns and get feedback from.
It has taken me about two years to really see my sales consistently strong on Etsy. I got my first sale shortly after opening my shop but the growth has been a bit spotty. Some months were great while others were really slow. Just this year have I started to see consistent, dependable sales every month on my etsy site. Getting good press has helped, as well providing more custom work that really sets me apart from my etsy competitors.
Packaging is hugely important. I learned this lesson before I started selling when I was just purchasing handmade goodies from other etsy shops. The orders that came wrapped neatly in tissue with string and a hand-written note really impressed me. That little bit of extra care made me much more likely to be a return customer. Those little things really do matter!
I use etsy's postage calculator. It's pretty accurate. I also have a scale and can always double check postage prices on the USPS website. I do all of my shipping through my local post-office. I've also taken advantage of printable stamps from paypal.
I advertise on facebook, use twitter, and hand out cards at all of the art shows I go to. Doing a good job tagging items also helps to get customers to the shop.
REALLY good photos is probably the best marketing tool for Etsy. It really, really matters! I hired a professional photographer to shoot some of my work and the pieces that she took photos of sell much quicker than the photos I had taken. If you are good at photographing your items, keep it up! If not, it's a worthy investment.
The $7.00 promo spots are not worth it. I have never done it but have quite a few friends who are sellers who have tried it. None of them have seen increased sales as a result.
Tagging is important! Do a search for items similar to yours and see which ones come up most easily. Research how they tag. Read the forums too! There is great information about how to tag items to get search results.
I use social media to keep my brand name in people's minds. When they need a wedding guest book, a new journal, or something hand-bound they think of my brand because they see a little post by me in their news feed every day or two. Plus, I just really enjoy twitter.
I have not gotten into circles at all. I don't have anyone in my circle because I found it annoying to see everyone else's activity when I logged into etsy I'm the wrong person to ask about that!
My single best selling item is by far my custom wedding guest books. It is a unique and beautiful product, a good price-point and I work very hard to make each of my customers happy.
Crafting an MBA has great information about how to properly price items. Check out her site for some great articles regarding that.
15% for a Christmas sale.
I do sells through the Etsy app, "etsy on sale"
That is all that I can do! Thanks again for getting in touch.
I would like to take the chance to thank Megan for her very detailed and helpful answers and of course to take the time.
PLEASE take the time to write a comment to let her know what do you think and if it was helpful. Also browse her shop and see the beautiful books she makes.
I wish you all an amazing weekend and enjoy it!!!
learning and packing* greetings
*go on a short trip to visit friends