Jul 30, 2019
Bonus Ep: How to Sell on Etsy and Make Money Online
Making money online has never been easier. You can start a successful business tomorrow with nothing more than an idea and a Facebook page—or, in Melissa Kaiserman’s case, an Etsy store.
Melissa’s story began like so many of yours. She was using Dave Ramsey’s envelope system and wanted a wallet that would help her divide her cash into different categories. When she couldn’t find one she loved, she decided to make one herself.
And then she made the “mistake” of showing it to her friends—because, of course, they all wanted her to make them one!
Her wallets were a hit. This gave her the idea to simplify her design so she could create more wallets in less time and also make a profit by selling them online. She opened a shop on Etsy—A Time for Everything—and hit publish on her first wallet listing.
Y’all, in just under a year, Melissa’s Etsy store was providing full financial support for her family!
Related: How to Make Money on Etsy
I love stories like Melissa’s because women often find it hard to believe that their talents, passions or hobbies can actually be profitable. Melissa’s story is one of many that proves it’s possible. In fact, her success on Etsy led to even more opportunities. Today, not only does she still have her online shop, but she’s also blogging and selling courses to help other people succeed on Etsy.
You can see why, when it comes to the topic of making money online and successfully selling on Etsy, I wanted to talk to Melissa Kaiserman! She and I took a deep dive into all the things. We started by talking through the pros and cons of choosing Etsy as your selling platform.
How to Make Money Online by Selling on Etsy
There are so many good things to say about starting and growing your business on Etsy. Thankfully, Melissa was able to narrow it down to her top three pros:
1. People know about it.
Etsy currently has 41 million active buyers.1 That’s right—a whole lot of people immediately think Etsy when they need a unique, handmade item.
If you’re just getting started selling online, it’s going to be a while before you can get 41 million people to start scrolling through your personal website. I always tell you to hang out where your customers are. And in this case, your customers are hanging out on Etsy!
2. You’ll get organic Google searches.
SEO (search engine optimization) is just a fancy term for the likelihood that your product, page or Etsy store will pop up on Google when someone searches a particular word or phrase. And the good news is, Etsy does a great job of getting products found on Google.
There are also some strategies you can do on your own to increase the chances of your Etsy store showing up on Google search results. I’ll say more on that later.
3. It’s easy to use.
I like to think of Etsy like a “business in a box.” They make it so easy to set up a shop and maintain it. Not only does Etsy walk you through the whole process, but they also provide the tools to create a profile page and online presence. Plus, they handle the hosting, order intake, and even accept payment for you.
These are all things you’d have to figure out on your own if you decided to start selling from a personal website.
I know all of those pros make Etsy sound great, but I want to make sure you’re aware of some of the cons as well.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Etsy:
1. You have limited control.
Because Etsy handles everything for you, there are some limitations to consider. You’ll have to operate within their rules and guidelines, and you’ll be limited with how you can represent your shop online.
2. They charge fees and take a portion of your profits.
Don’t be mistaken—selling on Etsy is not free! Etsy charges you 20 cents to publish each listing in your store. If your product sells, you’ll owe them a 5% transaction fee. And if you use Etsy Payments, they’ll also collect 3% plus a 25-cent payment processing fee on top of everything else.
3. There will be a lot of competition.
To say there are a lot of sellers and products for sale on Etsy would be an understatement. I’m talking 2.2 million sellers and more than 60 million items for sale.2
There are a lot more buyers than there are sellers, so keep in mind that Etsy wants to be as helpful as possible to the buyer. This means that even if someone is shopping in your store, Etsy will show the customer related products from someone else’s store (potentially distracting them away from your products). So, you end up competing for your customers even after you’ve gotten them to click on your page.
The competition may be fierce, but I still wholeheartedly believe that Etsy is a great place to start (and grow!) your business. That’s why Melissa and I came up with five tips you can use to maximize your Etsy shop and attract more customers.
Top Five Tips for Selling on Etsy:
1. Don’t focus on the competition.
I know we just talked about how competitive the marketplace is on Etsy, but if you choose to use this platform, don’t let the competition be your focus.
Melissa made that mistake early on. She spent a lot of time obsessing over other shops on Etsy and looking for people who were copying her products. At the end of the day, even when she did find copycats, knowing wasn’t helpful. All it did was cause her anxiety in her first couple of years in business.
She finally realized she couldn’t control what other people did. All she could control was where her focus was.
2. Do your homework and be prepared.
Things like registering your business with your state and collecting sales tax is not exciting stuff, I know. But when you take care of that stuff on the front end, you’ll have the peace of mind to focus on the important stuff—like making and selling your products.
Don’t wait until tax season to figure this stuff out!
3. Prioritize your photos.
Etsy is a visual marketplace. When there are thousands of options for the same type of product you sell, people are going to click on whatever product looks the best.
You could have the best product in the world, but if the photo is awful, people are just going to scroll right past it. Oh, and by the way, the less people click on your shop, the lower you’ll appear on Etsy’s search results.
Here are a few quick tips to make sure you have top-notch photos:
- When you’re taking the photos, make sure the background isn’t cluttered. Use a clean, white backdrop with lots of natural light.
- Make it really clear what the product is. Don’t confuse buyers by cluttering a bunch of other items around your product. Yes, it’s a good idea to style your photos, but make sure your product is the focus of the shot.
- Give your store a clean and consistent look by photographing all of your products with a similar theme.
- Make sure you have at least one close-up of your product—that’s the photo you want to be your thumbnail. You can post up to 10 photos for each product, so use the more styled photos to complement the close-up.
4. Write great product descriptions.
Product descriptions are so important for the customer. If you can be really detailed in your descriptions, you’ll receive fewer messages with questions that could have been answered on the product page.
Here are a few quick tips for writing great product descriptions:
- When choosing a title for each product, use the words potential customers would use. This increases the likelihood that your product will appear during a search. That’s SEO at work! Don’t use the cute, branded name you came up with, because no one is going to search for those words! More simply put, you don’t want to make it hard for the customer to find your stuff.
- Again, this is exactly why you want to use keywords and keyword phrases that your potential customer would use in a search.
- Your images can also work as product descriptions. Show your product at scale and describe details in some of your images by including text overtop of them. This is ideal for those customers who tend to skip product descriptions!
- If you’re unsure about whether you provided enough details in your product description, just ask yourself: If there were no photos at all, would my customer understand what my product is?
5. Serve well.
Did you know that 81% of purchases on Etsy are actually repeat purchases? 3 I’m definitely one of those customers!
I remember working with a designer on Etsy to create a custom Christmas card a few years ago. She took such good care of me that the following year, I didn’t bother searching Etsy for another cute design. I just went straight to the same designer I’d worked with before.
The easiest way to get repeat customers is to take really good care of them. Under-promise and over-deliver every time. Not only will they come back to you, but they’ll also tell all their friends about you.
No matter what platform you end up choosing, the important thing is that you just start. I know you’ve got a lot to offer the world, and I’m willing to bet your idea can be profitable. So stop waiting until you’re ready, because “ready” is a myth. Just go for it!
Encouragement: What to Consider When Receiving Feedback
Earlier this year, I trained for the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. It wasn’t going to be my first time running a race while pregnant. I actually ran that same race when I was five months pregnant with my second son, Conley. I trained, took my time, and was able to finish the race in two and a half hours.
I had a positive experience to base this year’s race on. But while I knew I’d run the race before and assumed I could probably do it again, many people didn’t feel the same way.
On my first day of training for this year’s race, I was gearing up to go out on a seven-mile run. Before I started, I posted a quick update on my Instagram. Y’all, that Instagram Story got so many responses. And I quickly noticed that each response was either an encouragement or a warning.
On the one hand, I got tons of messages that said things like, “Yes! You can do this! So inspiring!”
And on the other hand, I got responses that said the complete opposite. People warned me and told me it wasn’t worth the harm I’d do to my body or my baby. They shared their horror stories of going into preterm labor and encouraged me not to race.
These polar opposite responses made me realize one thing: When you get feedback from people (good, bad or in-between), it’s more about them than it is about you—because the feedback will come through the filter of their experience.
For example, the moms who ran while pregnant and had a healthy experience were telling me if they could do it, so could I, while the moms who had a scary experience warned me to avoid the mistake they’d made. Both types of feedback were a reflection of where these people were coming from.
This is so important to remember in your business as well. When you ask for feedback or when you get feedback from your customers, family, well-meaning friends, or strangers on Facebook, keep in mind that while feedback is valuable and helpful, it’s also being filtered through their unique experience.
You can and should learn from other people’s mistakes and take into account their tips and tricks. But you also have to keep in mind that just because someone else had that experience, it doesn’t mean you will.
So, I encourage you to keep asking for feedback and advice. Just keep in mind that the unique perspectives, experiences and circumstances of the people giving the feedback can impact whether it’s helpful or not.
On today’s #AskChristyWright segment, we talk about how to attract your ideal customer on social media and how to determine if it’s the right time to start paying for advertising.
1:17 Tips From an Etsy Expert on How to Make More Money Online with Melissa Kaiserman
25:50 Encouragement on What to Consider When Receiving Feedback
Business Boutique Conference
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