It’s hard to believe that we have been hard at work together for about five months now at our shop. It’s exciting to know that we are still moving forward, but also daunting to look ahead as our shop, and our business ideas, still seem very new to us. We feel thankful that we have gotten as far as we have, but also know it was a bumpy road along the way. Here are five things we wish we could have known before opening our doors with Etsy five months ago.
1. Paypal – Get established with Paypal if you haven’t already. We connected our shop with a new Paypal account originally hoping to keep our personal accounts and business account separate. This may have been a good idea – yet it was done without knowing about Paypal’s 60 day policy. When you are a ‘new’ member with Paypal, they put a hold on any money you make until your buyer has marked the item has shipped, you have completed at least 5 sales, and you have been a member of Paypal for 60 days. This was a tough one for us to swallow. As you can imagine we are not working with a huge startup budget – or any startup budget at all for that matter – and many times needed the money made to finish creating our products. Now that we have survived all of their terms we are in a better place, yet had we used one of our more established personal accounts, we may have been able to bypass this obstacle.
2. Promotion – When we first started up I think we both had the idea that our listings would appear at the top of page one easily. We expected to see a huge number of views each day after listing an item. Neither of us expected to have to do much promotion at all. We realized quickly, however, that this was not reality when attempting to start an online business. An IMMENSE amount of time and work are needed to get your shop’s name and listings out there and seen by customers. We began with just adding our pictures to Pinterest, but quickly realized that we needed to connect our shop with all forms of social media. Soon our little shop was completely ‘socially’ connected and even had a Twitter account – something that was foreign to the both of us. In addition to our shop’s tweets, we also realized that we should consider paying for some advertising. As of now, we have only tried paid advertising through social media. This is something that not only is new to us, but we’re also hesitant to do too much of, as our budget is still very tight. Yet, sites like Facebook, allow you to set a small amount of money aside daily for advertising and they also connect directly to Paypal which is very convenient.
3. Lots and Lots of Listings – This is another area where we continue to struggle. It’s tough as a new business to increase your listings on a very small budget. Yet adding listings is another important step in increasing your views and hopefully sales online. At the very beginning, when our shop only sold shutters, we only had one listing. We naively thought that this one listing, which explained all the options for our customizable shutters, would be enough to get sales. Yet we soon discovered that customers, needed to visualize these different shutters. If they wanted a different style, chances are they needed to see the picture first before they ordered it. We slowly started adding various styles of shutters to help give our customers a better idea of what we could offer. I have read that many shop owners renew their current listings just to get a little more exposure without having to add completely new listings. This strategy we have tried only a few times when we listed an item at an off time and wanted to get a few more views. Before doing this, however, keep in mind that each time a listing is renewed, you will have to pay the listing fee again. Although a price of 20 cents per listing may not seem high, it can add up. Renew with caution!
4. Teams – Teams are something about which we had no idea, but can be so helpful to you as an Etsy seller. There are lists and lists of teams to join, just pick ones that sell similar items as your store. Make sure before joining that they have had some recent discussions in their threads as you’ll notice that there are some abandoned teams as well. Also make sure to read the team’s rules before posting. In addition to joining ones with similar products, it’s also a great idea to join business focused teams. These can give you great advice, support, and also exposure. The more active you are with your teams, the more exposure your shop will get.
5. Shipping and Delivery – Depending on what your shop is selling, this may not be an issue for you. For us, however, this was and continues to be a big deal. With the exception of our pillows and cushions, all of our items are large and heavy and not the easiest to ship. We know there are several shipping options available for large items, such as uShip and greyhound express however we have seen mixed reviews on each of these less expensive options. For our local customers, we offer free delivery within a 25 mile radius, and add a small fee for those that are further. Delivery can be a little tricky however as well. With furniture pieces, the customer needs to be at home when we arrive, and sometimes just coordinating schedules can be a headache.
Five months have flown for us, we’re hoping we can keep our momentum going in the right direction with our shop. We have learned so much in this time and know that the next five months will teach us so much more about running an online business. Hope these ideas help steer you in the right direction. Did we miss anything? What other important ideas would you add to this list to help the new Etsy seller?
Thanks for visiting!