Little things I have learned from selling on Etsy

I've had my Etsy shop for a few years now. Whilst it started off slowly things are picking up. I'm not there yet, but I'm heading in the right direction and I'm having fun doing it, so that is what counts, right? :)

Here's a little of what I have learned and how I run my shop:

I've not got super snazzy mad skills when it comes to taking photographs, but I do have a lovely camera and every time I use my Nikon I take better photographs than I did the time before. I'm always learning and that cheers me up.
I recently started using wallpaper backgrounds, instead of blank white space and I think it has made a difference. And in a few months from now I'll take better photos than these ones. And since the internet loves an update for the old google rankings it's a win win.

I've never really understood the term 'lifestyle shot'. (I think it sounds a tad pretentious!) Does a wallpaper background count? It is difficult to style when you're normal & don't live in a house Kevin McCloud has reviewed on television.
Aeschylus and Virgil, posing in front of some signage themed wallpaper. I love a bit of lettering!
And I think we can all agree that THIS is better than THIS :) Whenever I get the chance I'll take some more and hopefully my photographs will keep improving.

Recycling and environmentally friendly enterprises have always been an important element of my business. However this is one area where I have learned to bend my green rules a bit. Finding handsome, sturdy boxes was a bit of a pain, but now I deliver my sculptures in fancy gift boxes with a lovely ribbon bow, with old fashioned brown paper and ribbon surrounding the parcel and customers comment all the time on what a delight it is to receive my parcels in the post. How lovely is that? As well as messages and emails, the numbers of lovely people who go out of their way to write an etsy review rose too. And I never prompt people to write a review, despite every marketing person telling you it's a must. I find it a bit pushy and that's not me.

These days I'm enjoying using a grosgrain polka dot black and white ribbon. Ribbon is such a joyful thing! I've always thought if not birdie maker my ideal job would be in the packaging department of Father Christmas's workshop. Nobody enjoys wrapping more than me.

I'm never sure what to write in my descriptions, or what on earth my tags should be! Who knows what people might be searching for in order to stumble upon a handmade custom-made barn owl sculpture? My work doesn't exactly fall into the must-have/need/even-know-it-exists kind of categories. Sometimes I am a bit jealous of those who make things a bit more regular!

In no nursery in the land has a new mum decided little George NEEDS a great horned owl baby with his own name plaque.

I'm not even close to cracking this titles and tags malarkey. And that's okay, because Etsy and Google both like it when information is changed and updated. So when I tweak my details I get bumped higher up the search. This is about the only SEO thing I come close to understanding.

I try to answer my emails as soon as I get them. Nobody likes to feel like their custom isn't valued or appreciated and I do my best to make my customers feel like they are my absolute priority. And that doesn't matter if they're ordering something for £500+ or £20. When people order (big or small) commissions from me they always tell me so much about their relationship, or how they proposed, or how excited they are about their new baby girl. Often they want to see behind the scenes photographs of their piece being made or have some input into the design process. They are as much a part of the design as I am and I'm delighted when they are pleased with the end product. Not everybody is like that, but most people like choices and options and bespoke services are useful for that.
A bespoke piece for a Paper Anniversary gift, incorporating colours from their wedding day.

I have started listing custom pieces on my etsy shop. I have found that it has grown the amount of people who want to get in touch about customizing other items from my shop, or having something completely unique for them. It's opened my business up for conversation and that is very useful.


My full range of work isn't online, so I need to make a few more pieces and get some listed!

I'd like to look into getting my work featured in more blogs etc. I can be quite shy around new people, so I don't tend to approach galleries or bloggers or indeed people of any kind! I should be more proactive and overcome my fears a little bit.

Etsy Groups- these seem very useful things. There is an Etsy Manchester group I always plan to get involved with and then shy away from. One day, Kate!

Mostly I plan to update, rearrange, review etc as I progress. It can be time consuming, but the more effort I put in the more sales I have. It is obvious from month to month in my sales stats!

Selling handmade items online can be tricksy. I worried that it wouldn't work for my work, but good communication & good photographs help loads and that's what I spend my time striving for. I really like Etsy because strangers will add you to their treasuries of favourite items and write you messsages of encouragement. It's not just about the hard sell. Things that remind you how nice strangers can be are lovely.


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A selection of items that are available to purchase in Kaper's Etsy Shop: