Monday, October 8, 2018

How To Boost Your Etsy Sales This Holiday Season

With lots of changes underfoot, confusing algorithms and an over-saturated market, selling on Etsy during the holidays can be a real challenge!

Some questions and thoughts you might be asking yourself during this time are:

Will customers be able to find my shop amid the oceans of other sellers?
Will I have any sales?
How can I make my shop stand out above the others?
How will I deal with Etsy’s rising fees?
Will I be able to afford to keep my shop open?
What promotions should I use to attract holiday shoppers? 

These thoughts and questions range from the simple to the more complex. Some of us sell on Etsy part-time to supplement our regular income, while for others, selling on Etsy is a full-time job. But things on Etsy have been changing, especially this past year, when Etsy announced that they were increasing fees for sellers from 3% to 5%, taking 5 percent of the final sale price of every item. But not only that, Etsy also announced that they will now also take 5% of a seller’s shipping costs as well.

Along side of the increased fees, there are now also paid options you can choose from for your Etsy shop, monthly subscription-type services which may or may not help your shop. Will these subscriptions really give your shop an advantage over others? That’s a point to be debated. But what I find disheartening is that it used to be pretty much of a level playing field for everyone selling. With the implementation of the paid subscription type services, Etsy is now offering a perceived advantage to those who can afford to pay for it. Do you think this is fair?

Do you need to pay for the extra bells and whistles to stand out on Etsy?

I’m not sure what the answer to this question is. I guess you can always give it a try and see if it works for you. But one thing I can say for certain is that if you do not have a quality, salable, promoted and marketed product with an interested audience, and a well organized shop, you most likely will not attract a lot of sales. Now, all that aside, if you have a flailing, struggling shop I kind of doubt that paying for those extra services will do anything to save your shop. If you don’t have the basics down first, what good is the icing on top of the cake?

So to answer my own previous question, no, you do not need to pay for the extra bells and whistles to have a successful shop. As a matter of fact, those paid services have ZERO direct correlation with the quality of your product and the quality of your customer service! Yes, you heard right, the quality of your product and your customer service are up to you and you alone!

I am forever amazed at the amount of folks who open up shops on Etsy with the idea of the Etsy-encouraged “quit your day job“ who actually believe that they should actually quit their day jobs! Don’t quit your day job! Let me repeat, don’t quit your day job! This catchphrase was merely a marketing scheme to attract and entice people into opening shops, selling them the fantasy dream of quitting their not-so-dreamily-ideal day jobs and selling online as a career with full-time pay. But that is only a fantasy and not the true reality of selling on Etsy, unless you live with someone else who can pay the mortgage and support you while you do so. A very, very small amount of Etsy sellers are able to quit their day jobs and earn a full-time income selling on Etsy. And even then, that full-time income often changes as quickly as trends change and fees increase.

A very, very small amount of Etsy sellers are able to quit their day jobs and earn a full-time income selling on Etsy. And even then, that full-time income often changes as quickly as trends change and fees increase.

With all that said, how can you boost your Etsy sales this upcoming holiday season?

The reason I talked about all of that background information first is so that you have a clear understanding of some of the realities of selling on Etsy. Hopefully one thing that stuck out to you a few paragraphs back was when I stated that paid services have zero correlation with your quality of product and quality of customer service. Read that sentence again and hold onto it tightly, because that is the best way you can boost your Etsy sales over the holidays. It’s not something that someone else will do for you, or that you can pay for, it is something that you have to completely do for yourself!

Here are my top ways to boost your Etsy sales this holiday season:

• Sell a product that is original and unique and different from what everyone else is selling. Different stands out. Unique stands out. Remember that.

• Price your work competitively yet accordingly. A lot of this is common sense. Better quality materials and craftsmanship command a higher price. Both overpriced and under priced items look awkward to buyers. Put a great deal of thought into your pricing.

• Keep your shop neat, clean, and well organized. Use categories to organize your items. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a shop and looked to the categories to help me find what I was looking for only to find a catchall category entitled something like “Other” or “New” which contained the majority of that shops products. Don’t be lazy! Put in a little bit of time and organization and your shop will instantly be more attractive to buyers. Make it easy for folks to buy from you, don’t make it difficult!

• Use top-notch photos. Images that are blurry, too big or too small, or that have distracting props in the background are not good photos. Take some time to learn how to use your camera and photo imaging software. Trust me, you can’t skimp on this. The images are literally what is selling your product. Don’t you want them to be the very best they can be? Sure you do! Work on those photos. Occasionally go through your shop and re-do any old photos that you know you can improve upon. 

• Policies and contact info: have these areas filled out with easy to read information. The same goes for your product description and title: add information! Be descriptive. Also, be sure to share your story. Customers are curious about how items are made and who is making them. Why not share a glimpse into your workspace and into your inspiration? BE INTERESTING! 

• Have lots of inventory. Folks will spend more time in your shop if there are lots of things for them to look at. Offer options if you can: different colors and sizes. Cater to different types of buyers. Options!

• Polish up your customer service skills. Answer emails and convos as soon as you can, and be polite. Yes, you will probably get the occasional convo from someone who didn’t bother to read the title or description. Even if you just send them a quick note that says “all of that specific information is in the description“ that is better than not answering at all. (Remember what I said about completely filling out those descriptions? This will help cut down on those types of convos!)

• Keep up with your social media sharing. You have to be your own advocate. You have to be proactive and promote yourself—constantly. One great way to promote yourself through your social media is to host a giveaway and offer everyone who enters the giveaway a coupon code to use in your Etsy shop. This truly creates a win-win situation!

• Consider having a sale. Share the sale on your social media channels. See how it all comes together? Yes, I know it’s a lot to do, but it all goes hand-in-hand. Etsy makes it easy to run a promotional sale, so give it a try.

• Stock up on your packaging to be ready for the holidays. I recently ran out of business cards and was asked to do a live show on short notice. It was easy for me to make a little sign with all of my business information on it, post it in my booth and have customers take photos of it, but you can’t do that through snail mail with a package! You do not have to have traditional business cards that are professionally made. Simply print something out on your printer and enclose one with every sale.

• Enclosing a thank you card with a coupon code inside a package is a great way to inspire a customer to visit your shop again. Etsy allows you to run sales that begin and end on particular dates, so how about a coupon for “free holiday domestic shipping on orders over $50“ and be sure to note on the coupon that it expires on such and such date. Think about the different ways that you can use the sale and coupon code feature. 

On a side note: when you are creating your sale on Etsy, be sure to type in an ending date for the sale to end. I recently read in the Etsy forums about a situation where a seller had a customer who used an old coupon code that the seller created many months ago, which gave the buyer free shipping—on a very heavy item—which the seller did not intend to offer free shipping on. It was the seller's fault that they did not "end" their sale by adding an end date when they configured the sale on Etsy. AND on another side note: if you are going to create a "secret" coupon code for a sale that you are not planning on sharing with the world (for example, a coupon code that you want to give only to returning customers or first time customers) make it a random combination of letters and numbers. I have heard of buyers "guessing" coupon codes (such as the easy to guess "FREESHIP") and kind of taking advantage of the system. Just be advised! 

• Offer gift wrap and gift card options. Include a photo of a wrapped package in your Etsy listings so your shoppers can see what your gift wrapping will look like. Etsy now has built-in options where you can charge a dollar or two for gift wrap services. Offering this service could be a great incentive for customers who are busy with the rush of the holidays.

• Offer a quick turnaround time for delivery. How fast can you get that package wrapped and out the door? The faster the better. Consider offering same day or next day shipping if possible, and absolutely offer expedited delivery services.

• Consider promoting your shop through other social outlets. We are all on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. But how about writing a blog for your business? Think about what else you could do to promote your shop.

As I mentioned earlier, there is no magic recipe for being successful on Etsy, but if you follow these sensible guidelines you will be off to a good start. Just remember, things get very busy over the holidays so the best thing you can do for your shop is to be prepared. Have lots of inventory and keep your shop well organized and continue to offer different options for customers, as well as provide great customer service! Check out my Etsy shop here!

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Have a great week!

Article and images copyright ©Laura Beth Love for Dishfunctional Designs™ 2018 all rights reserved