“Preparing to sell on Etsy” is Part 3 of a 3-Part series on turning your hobby into a full-fledged shop on Etsy. Click here to read the first part of the series: 5 Signs That You Should Use Your Creativity to Open an Etsy Shop. Click here to read the second part of the series: Time to Open Up Shop: How to Get Started on Etsy.
We last left off right after you clicked the big orange “Open your Etsy shop” button that was beckoning you to your future. Your shop’s open, and it’s time to add listings for your beautiful pieces and get started taking orders. Bismillah!
The following is a breakdown of the process and pieces of the perfect product listing puzzle (say that three times fast!).
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My formula for the perfect product description is hook + details + care info + blurb & links
With the hook, you rope your customer in by painting your product in a gorgeous light. Describe your work in a way that has them imagining it as a part of their life, or as a great gift for someone they love.
Hook example: Keep warm and cozy in this hand-knit scarf, perfect for cool and crisp fall days.
The details should answer all of the questions the customer may have. Give the facts on what the product is made of, how it was made, and other relevant information.
Details example: This scarf is in the color carmine, created from llama wool and hand-knit by myself. It is an infinity-style scarf and can be styled in many ways. It was knit with care and love.
In the care information, let the customer know exactly how to properly care for the product.
Care information example: Hand-wash only, and drape over the side of a llama for proper drying. If a llama is not available, a lamb will do.
In the short blurb and links section, let the customer know what your shop is all about, and what it is that you make. Link them to the shopfront, and if you have similar pieces, link to them as well.
Short blurb example: I Llama You a Lot is a shop that specializes in llama wool scarves, hats, and miniature llamas! Visit the shopfront at www.illamayoualot.etsy.com. This scarf is also available made to order in the color royal purple. Click here to take a look!
For the clearest, most vibrant photos, use natural lighting and a white backdrop. I was able to do this with a white flexible posterboard (from The Dollar Tree, no lie), against a wall near a window in my bedroom, with my iPhone! These look very similar to the ones I used. Use a photo editing app to adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation in the photo. My personal favorite app is VSCO.
Be sure to stay away from props that are irrelevant to the product. Take photos from all angles, and use all 5 available spots for photos in your listing. If your work is meant to be worn, put it on a model – a live, human, model does best – but be sure to zoom in on the thumbnail to avoid confusion by the customer.
Etsy’s formula for pricing is on this page, and I think it works particularly well, but I have a note for you in regards to labor.
As former hobbyists and current small-time entrepreneurs, we tend to undersell ourselves. The price of our labor is the price of our own work, what we value as our own time, and knitting – or your handmade skill of choice – is time-consuming, skilled work. If you spent 10 years perfecting the art of the loop-around under-over rounded upside-down cable-back llama-rama-Alabama knit, your price must reflect that. Do not undervalue your work or your time!
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The packaging of your piece definitely depends on the type of handmade items you create.
Here’s a crash course: Take a trip to Walmart or Target, and purchase 2-3 boxes that will fit one of your items. Pick up a small amount of bubble wrap, a little more if your item is particularly fragile. Once home, wrap your piece and package it as though you are sending it to a friend. Then, shake the package. Is there any rattling? If there is, you need to add more bubble wrap, or invest in some packaging paper.
This method is not perfect. You will definitely have to make changes along the line, as you add branding, ship internationally, and have the inevitable damaged package pop up.
Do not purchase any shipping supplies in bulk just yet. We are trying to minimize costs as we begin, and you can always make another trip to purchase more, once the orders start coming in.
Shipping CAN be a major headache, but Etsy has a built-in solution. Down the line, you may want to switch over to something more powerful and cost-effective, but Etsy’s solution is easy-to-use and extremely helpful. Once you take your first order, you’ll have a chance to explore the setup.
You’re going to need to decide: are you going to sell your work made to order, or ready to ship? In the case of many handmade goods, you can choose between the two.
There are key differences between them, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.
If I choose to sell my scarves on a made-to-order basis, I won’t waste supplies creating pieces that might not sell (because pieces are made AFTER they are sold), but I will need to consistently have supply inventory. I will also not have any solid estimate or idea of how many pieces will sell at what speed (and thus, how I can arrange my daily schedule). I’ll have longer turnaround times, which affect my customers, but I’ll be able to easily accept custom orders.
If I choose to sell my scarves on a ready-to-ship basis: my pieces are created, then photographed, then put up for sale. This will take a bit of time, but I’ll able to have super quick processing times, and I’ll be able to control exactly how many pieces are available for sale in my shop at one time. I can easily schedule my day because post-order work consists of packaging, primarily.
P.S. In the case of photography, it’s not impossible to put up a photo of a blue scarf and let the customer know that the one they will be getting is red, instead, but I highly highly advise against it. It will cause confusion for both you (at some point) and your customers.
Feeling overwhelmed? Take it step by step.
Know this, before you even begin: DONE is better than completely paralyzed because everything isn’t perfect. Every day is a learning experience, and every step you take with your shop is an experiment. Take it one step at a time and know that tomorrow is always there, inshaAllah, to make even more changes to bring in more customers and even more orders.
Download the Sell on Etsy app to hear that cha-ching!
You have no idea how good it feels to hear that notification sound ping. Cha-ching! during lunch, Cha-ching! at work, Cha-ching! while in the middle of class (I’m kidding. Put your phone on silent or you’ll get the weirdest looks).
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Excellence on Etsy emails, packed full of the techniques I used to make cha-ching on Etsy. Click here to join.
About the Author
Rawa Saleh is a lifelong student and educator. She runs on coffee and ice cream (not the healthiest, she knows), and has a little bit of an obsession with the color maroon and florals. While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree, she created an Etsy shop on a whim that became quite the success (Alhamdulilah!). She doesn’t take orders anymore, but she decided to pass along the information and experience she acquired through her years hand-making, to help Etsy sellers find the same success. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.