Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I just started a month ago, and it was after significant frustration as an Amazon seller that I decided to give Etsy a try. I consider myself more of a ‘maker’ than an ‘artist,’ and one thing I appreciate about Etsy customers is that they appreciate the uniqueness of the items on Etsy.com and the work that goes into them.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I’ve been involved in e-commerce since early 2018, but not on Etsy. Until recently, I didn’t sell products that fit the Etsy platform. In 2019/2020 I developed several product lines that were a perfect fit.
What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My shop is focused exclusively on party supplies. The most popular items in my shop are related to ‘Mermaid Birthday Party Supplies and Decorations.’ I use a variety of materials – paper, plastic, and then also natural materials like cotton and moss.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations
I am self-taught and it truly boils down to trial and error, not just with the things I create but also with customer appreciation and feedback. I try to keep all products fluid based on customer feedback.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
My goal with Etsy was to see if I could make 10 sales a day. Depending on the product mix and margin, this would provide solid, part-time income. I am a mom of one, with another on the way, and I still work full-time. For me, that means Etsy is a big commitment, but I’m hoping to turn those 10 sales into 20 and 20 into 30 a day to have more time with family (and quit my full-time job).
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
I was very concerned about profitability, especially having two years experience on Amazon. Something I’ve learned is that Amazon customers are taught to be price sensitive because they don’t realize they’re accessing Chinese pricing. This is a new age where Chinese sellers dominate Amazon and offer rock bottom pricing. I thought Etsy customers would expect the same pricing structure and not want to pay for shipping. I’ve been proven wrong time and again. They are eager for a great product and great customer service, and I try to deliver both each sale. They understand quality costs money.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
I was very nervous about making my first sale. My shop was live only one day before I made three! Since then, I get so excited (like every sale is my first!) every time sales pop up daily. I can still hardly believe it!
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
I am a full-time stay-at-home mom, I work full time (nights), and I run an Amazon and Etsy shop. My days are busy! My daughter is seeing woman entrepreneurship modeled, and to me, that’s invaluable. I would love Etsy to turn into full-time income so that I can be home more.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
Most of my products are created ahead of time, in small quantities, as time allows. I do receive custom orders, and I’m always happy to customize anything I sell!
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I try to think through the time to make a product, package and ship it and then price my time appropriately. I then try to balance this number with what I believe customers will be willing to pay. Because customers are willing to contribute towards shipping in many cases (not all of my products charge shipping), that can really help my bottom line.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
I use Pinterest very heavily for inspiration and then a mix of two questions: ‘what would my daughter or son think is an awesome addition to their party’ and then ‘what would I have loved as a kid?‘
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
I do ship internationally, and I ship all orders same day. Customers really appreciate this commitment to fast turnaround times. Sometimes I offer free domestic shipping, but I do ask international customers to cover, or help cover, shipping costs.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own standout?
I am very careful to choose products that I can differentiate really well. I don’t think ‘me too’ products, or products that are highly saturated, are worth pursuing. I want my customers to remark ‘that’s so cool, I haven’t seen that on Etsy!’
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I communicate in many ways with my customers. I want them to be so thrilled that they choose to leave a review (to me, this means they’re so happy they want to share their happiness with others). I wrote thank you notes, I respond to inquires right away, and I do all I can to help coordinate shipping that meets their time expectations.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
So far, I have not been stressed at all, just purely happy and motivated by my customer’s positive feedback! I am truly amazed that I’ve had success from the beginning.
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
I use Pinterest to create buzz for my most popular and unique products and find that this is the best strategy to generate sales. Whether it’s pinning to boards, creating pins or through paid advertising, it all seems to generate a good return on my investment.
What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
Some of the user interface could be a bit more intuitive. I would love to be able to buy and print shipping labels via the app, and I would really appreciate better invoices that include shipping information in a clearer way so that I can better track my finances.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Great pictures sell the product. I never want my customers to have to read (choose to read, yes, but not be confused enough to read). I offered free shipping on everything for a while, and that was an unneeded offering that cost me a lot of money. I’ve since changed my shop item-by-item to better include product costs.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
There is no ‘build it and they will come’ version of e-commerce. Sellers have to offer unique and desirable products at the right price points. If new sellers do this, I think everyone has a chance to succeed.