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etsy made easy


November 2014

Written by
Katie Vincent


Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, makes it quite simple and straightforward for low-budget crafters to start selling their products to a wider audience. So simple, in fact, that just about anyone could sign up and start a business in 15 minutes. This ease of access, however, means that it takes some smarts to navigate the interface and distinguish your shop from the hordes to successfully create a following. We’ve asked three local veteran Etsy vendors to share their wisdom.

Etsy photo

Etsy Shop: Glass Gardens NW

Vendor: Barbara Sanderson (Mukilteo, WA)
Established: November 2008
Product: Hand-blown glass for home and garden

How do you market your brand?
“I post items on my Facebook fan page, Twitter and sometimes directly through e-mail to my existing customers. Also, other sellers on Etsy run Treasuries (an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery) where items are featured and promoted.”

What are the benefits or drawbacks to selling on Etsy?
“Benefits include using Etsy’s marketing to present my art to people who may not otherwise find my work. One drawback for me was that many of my early photos were stolen and used on a Made in China company. This was before I started adding watermarks to everything. This company stole not only my images but also my item descriptions—line by line!”

Advice for newbies:
“Read all the helpful information available on the Etsy blog. There are loads and loads of articles and videos with helpful tips and advice. Join a group or two and discussion groups as well. Fellow vendors are very helpful with questions.”

Etsy Shop: Sugar Sidewalk

Vendor: Hope Schoenbacher (Bellevue, WA)
Established: February 2012
Product: Handmade, sometimes personalized, jewelry

What is your time commitment?
“There are sellers who work full-time (or more), and others who spend just a few hours here and there. It’s my full-time endeavor. Etsy takes up about 60 percent of any workweek. You get out what you invest, so unless you have invented the next pet rock, be prepared to spend some time learning what works and what doesn’t.”

How do you market your brand?
“The best marketing I have done is by providing the very best experience for my customers. I have a lot of repeat and referral business. If I make it incredibly easy to do business with me and offer a high-quality product, I succeed. I created my packaging with the intention of creating a wow moment for the recipient.”

Advice for newbies:
“Make sure you have an idea of how you will fulfill orders. I know that sounds funny, but I have talked with plenty of Etsy sellers who made their first sale, freaked out in happiness and then had the um moment when they realized they hadn’t spent a lot of time learning how Etsy order management and shipping works. ... I always encourage new sellers to be open to selling all over the world. Learning how to ship internationally can be daunting, but it’s worth it.”

Etsy Shop: Super Herbalist

Vendor: Natalie Hammerquist (Seattle, WA)
Established: February 2011
Product: Handmade herbal oils and  tincutres to alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia

What are the benefits or drawbacks to selling on Etsy?
“There is another website just for herbal medicines that is a lot like Etsy [Poppy Swap] but you have to pay for it, it doesn’t get as much traffic and the interface isn’t as easy. Etsy is well known and well run. But I haven’t gotten a lot of sales [off Etsy alone], to be honest. I’ve had better luck at craft fairs. Herbal products aren’t what people think of when they go to Etsy to buy something. And since my unit price is pretty low, I need bulk sales to make any kind of profit. On the other hand, I’ve made a lot of custom listings for people who contact me outside of Etsy wanting to buy something, and that has been a really convenient way to use Etsy.”

How do you market your brand?
“I write a blog with a link to my Etsy store, and I talk it up to people I know. I give away a lot of medicine to people who need it, and those people talk me up to their friends. Occasionally I post on Facebook when I have something new. Facebook is really the best marketing tool.”

Advice for newbies:
“Decide if you want [Etsy] to be a side or main gig. If you want it to be a main gig, spend a lot of time posting good pictures, thinking about pricing and even invest in promotion. You need to have a way for people to find your store. Once you get a following, people might start putting you in their collections [or treasuries]. Ultimately, I think a good product will speak 

The Logistics

Cost: Free to set up, no membership fee, $0.20 to list an item for four months.
Commission: Etsy collects 3.5 percent fee on the sale price.
Prerequisites: Shop owner must have credit card or PayPal account.
Products: Must be handmade or vintage (20+ years old). Shop owner must have a role in creating products or know how products were made.
How to Start: Scroll to the bottom, left-hand corner of the page at Click “Open an Etsy Shop” icon.

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