Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Everything you wanted to know - but were afraid to ask.

(about turning your passion into profit using Etsy.)

A few days ago I got this lovely email and I have asked the writer if I could publish it and make my answers public. I get emails like this every so often so here it is!

Hi Emma,

You may not remember me - we worked together one summer and I also went to Moody a couple of years after you did.

I am writing you because I have been so inspired by your Etsy shop! I do a lot of crafting and have toyed with the idea of opening a shop of my own, but have been really nervous about it. I finally decided that if you could do it, I could do it, and I'm taking a huge leap of faith and going to give it a shot. Right now I am working on compiling a "portfolio" of sorts, so that when I open the shop I have plenty of items for sale and will be able to show what I am able to do. It's a somewhat random variety of items that I usually make and that I'll be posting. I have only ever made things for myself and for gifts, so it's a bit scary to make sure everything is perfect for selling! I have a store name registered and hope to fill it with products and get launched sometime over the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, I was just wondering if you had any advice for me as I begin this journey. Are there things I need to be careful of, or any tips that really helped you get started? Anything you have to offer would be really appreciated!

Thank you for being bold enough to step out and pursue this, and for being so open about how you've made it work. I can clearly see what a blessing it has been for you!

Thanks Emma.

- An Old Friend.

I love getting letters like this!
First of all, it really makes me feel great that people would actually look at me as an inspiration. Hearing that never gets old - how could it? I was a brand new shop owner about a year ago and I remember nervously and excitedly opening my Etsy shop. (To celebrate my 1 year anniversary on June 11th I'll be doing a 2 part post on the humble story of how I started my business. Stay tuned.)
Here is my advice in no particular order - these are the things I tell anyone who asks! And to those
who say they don't have the budget to start
an Etsy shop I say -
I opened my shop with a starting budget of 35.00!


About being nervous -
of course you feel nervous. It would be a bad sign if you did not.
 Because you are about to put your heart and handiwork up for sale! Any crafty girl will know how much time and effort goes into making something special and pretty. Making something special and pretty for someone else is even more exciting, and making something special and pretty for sale becomes a whole new ballgame.
 First of all, don't second guess your design. Just because someone is doing well at selling something does not mean you will do well selling the same type of item. It takes awhile to find a niche sometimes and that is okay! I opened my shop with a random lamp and lampshade, a handmade oil pastel drawing, a few sets of handmade cards and a some one of a kind headbands. Yes, seriously! I specifically remember one night in late June I sat in my room stamping cards and thinking to myself "What if I actually do not sell even one single thing? What an idiot I will look like!" And then I kept right on working.
So yes, fear is there when you start something new. Embrace your fear, recognize it is there, acknowledge it, and then let it go. Let yourself be nervous and fearful for about a minute, and then tell yourself you are ready for bigger and better things. You will never know unless you try. You know what - every person who starts an Etsy shop is not going to be wildly successful! Even those who might put hours of work into their craft and have beautiful things might not sell that great, for whatever reason, on the internet. But don't let that stop you. I am so glad I pushed past my fear of rejection and of never selling one thing, and then I just kept plugging away.


 On the perfect number of items to open shop with - there is no perfect number. I've heard several shop owners say that right around 100 items, their views and sales increased dramatically - and I would tend to agree with this.
Right now I am being really selective about what is in my shop (because I've earned the right :) and I only have about 30 items in - my best sellers and the new items i hope will turn into best sellers. (These are all items I renew when they sell - these are things I can make many multiples of, they are not one of a kinds.) When I started my shop I opened with 12 one of a kind items and gradually played around with adding more and more. At the highest point my shop had about 130 items for sale.
 As a new shop owner though, what is the real harm in trying to pack as many things into your shop as possible? Every item you list for sale is a doorway into your shop. The more doorways = the more views = the more sales.

On Branding - this is one of the best suggestions I could give.
You. Must. Brand. Yourself.
  At the beginning I stamped my own business cards. But I always tried to match them with the overall theme of my shop. Eventually I got a little more professional, but you can have a consistent brand for your shop even if your budget is next to nothing.
Brainstorm. What colors represent you, your style, and the items you sell? What feeling do you want to provoke in people when they come into your shop? You cannot look at this as simply an internet marketplace.
 I strive to create a real atmosphere in my shop through my photos and my branding.
 Once you have a shop banner and avatar you love, get yourself an email address with your shop name in it. ((Also - make sure you love your shop name before you open shop, order business cards and get an email account! A word to the wise!))

On Photography - I would highly recommend getting professional photos taken of your items but if they are one of a kinds that would be an awful lot of work, so you can do your own mini photo shoot.
There are so many articles about Etsy product photography its ridiculous, so I won't cover too much here. But remember that a clean white background or a windowsill with lots of natural lighting can be amazing photo "areas".
Never ever use flash, and make sure your photo background is not distracting or too dark. Remember, you are selling an item. Make it look as enticing, as beautiful, as jaw droppingly desirable as you can.

one of my garters - isn't this photography beautiful?

Random Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me -

Learn how to tag your items and title your items
so that they will show up in search results.
You might have the coolest shop in the world
but it won't matter if no one can find you.
Search the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
 and learn all you can about
getting your items to show up in Etsy, Google and
Yahoo search results.

For example - lets say I want to title and tag this necklace.
(Tags = words that show up in search results.)
Heres what I would do -
These would be my tags =
(what are people really going to search for? think about what they will by typing in.)
Green necklace, rose necklace, silver chain, green rose necklace, green, cabochon,
cabochon necklace, vintage inspired, ellarye boutique, childrens necklace, female necklace

This is what I would title it -
Vintage Inspired Green Rose Child or Adult Necklace on a silver chain.
Not a very pretty title, but one that will show up in alot of
various search results.
See what I mean?
Learn how to tag and do SEO and you will be so glad you did.

Save every single reciept!

Be kind to your customers and not overly professional. Talk to them in your emails/Etsy convos like you would talk to a friend. Be prompt, be polite, and be yourself.

Start a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your business.

If you like to write, start blogging and connecting with other small business/blog owners online. These girls and guys can not only become great and very tangible friends, they can teach you and be incredible resources of advice and knowledge. Sponser blog giveaways, email bloggers you love and introduce yourself. Create an online presence.

Stay organized!

Hire someone to do your business taxes. Don't do it yourself, like I did! I learned the hard way!

Wear your own product/showcase your own product in your home.

Always carry business cards with you.

Join a few Etsy teams and make some like-minded friends. My very first sale ever was to a fellow Etsy shop owner whom I met through a team on Etsy. We still email each other and keep in touch!

Be yourself. Don't copy what other sellers are doing. Be refreshing, be something new.

Don't give up. Give it some time. It took me weeks to make a sale, and even after that my sales trickled in for the first few months.

Be confident. If you don't think that what you are selling is the coolest thing since sliced bread, then who else will?

Don't compare.

I wish you the best of luck, friend!



  1. As a fellow Etsyian - Thank you for all your insight!!! Bookmarking your page and going to keep it as my go-to!!

  2. This is super inspiring. Thank you for being so open with what worked for you. It makes me feel like I can be successful too.

  3. Great post! Thanks for all the great reminders :)

  4. Thank you for your insight! I think I'm on the right track, I'm going to open another email address should I use umeone that I've used on ebay and Etsy for years or should I go with Linda Sapp Long for my Pottery? Thank you for your help!

    Cheers, Linda

  5. You are wonderful for sharing. It actually made me to try to blog..and that is a big step for me. I love crafting but can't seem to get my etsy site going I get so depressed but I can't give up I love doing what I do.
    Thank you

    1. Aww, Bethann! Email me at ellaryeboutique@yahoo.com. Lets chat.

  6. thankyou, you are an inspiration :)

  7. Thanks so much for this wonderful post! Very inspirational. The items you mentioned selling when you first started your shop reminds me of myself... :) Wonder where I'll be in a year.

    1. The sky is the limit, Dez! If you would have told me a year ago that I would be selling wedding bouquets and accessories right now, I would absolutely not believe you! See what sells the best for you, or what gets the most views. Do you enjoy making that? Try to focus your energies on those items for a while and see where they take you.

  8. This is great advice, Emily. I'm trying my hardest right now to stay positive. I've had a couple Etsy sales and couple more from outside the site.

  9. Hi, found your post on an Etsy team thread and I -had- to come read your blog entry. Congrats on your successful (and great!) shop. Thank you very much for taking the time to write what you've learned along the way. When my shop grows up it wants to be a success like yours is! Really though, thank you for sharing and encouraging me through your post! =^-^=

    ~Kelly from BaxCatandCo

    1. haha - that was so cute. Thank you for the encouragement friend!

  10. I love this! These are fantastic tips!! You are so darling!

  11. Thank you for posting this and sharing your experience. Learning about your path to success makes have a serious etsy business feel more attainable, but boy oh boy,do I have a lot of work to do! I can't wait to get started! :)

    1. wow- that makes me feel great. thank you!

  12. Very inspirational post - thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope my shop will be as successful one day! :))

    Best wishes
    My blog;

  13. I feel inspired by this post. Thank you for that!