I talk to a lot of new Etsy sellers out there that struggle with how to increase sales on Etsy and, at the same time, complain about their competitor continuing to make droves of sales.
Etsy lends itself to part-time Shop owners who have started a Shop as something to do in their spare time, outside of a full time job (almost 88% of Etsy Sellers are women). It’s a great opportunity to earn a relatively passive income, but new Etsy entrepreneurs often focus more on the products than the marketing of those products.
This is unfortunate, because — let’s get this out of the way — every Etsy seller needs to think about marketing. If you’re interested in creating a successful business (which is defined differently by everyone), you’ll need to accept that on a week-to-week basis you’ll have to engage in marketing in addition to creating products.
Why Do Other Shops Sell More Things Than My Shop Does?
The shortest answer is because they do.
I was recently selling a car and someone inquired as to why it had “so many miles”.
“Because that’s the distance it was driven,” I replied. They did not end up purchasing my car.
My point is that it’s the wrong question to ask. It’s a question so big that beginning to answer it is likely to leave you drowning in a sea of Googled information, some of which might make sense.
A much better question to ask is why your Shop doesn’t have any sales.
This tiny distinction keeps your sanity and puts your Shop in perspective.
Stop comparing yourself to large, multi-employee, outsource-powered Etsy Shops that have a professional staff for marketing.
You can’t compete with them in the same way.
So, You’re Telling Me I Should Give Up?
No! This is not what I’m saying.
I’m saying you shouldn’t longingly gaze at Etsy Super Shops and ask yourself why you can’t have that. You can, but those Shops are the result of many actions taken by those Shops to reach that level.
In other words, it’s better that you choose strategies that make sense for your small size with the same fervor as the bigger guys.
Are You An Owner-Marketer?
Realize that you aren’t just the owner of a Shop, you’re, what I call, an owner-marketer.
An owner-marketer means that you’re simultaneously doing a lot of things related to having an Etsy Shop (e.g. creating items, shipping orders, writing product descriptions) and also responsible for the marketing that enables all those owner activities to happen.
While not always the case, I’d throw in the following attributes you could apply to yourself:
- You have a small marketing budget, if any marketing budget at all.
- You might be doing things for your Shop in addition to a full-time job or role.
- You’ve had a limited number of actual sales on your site.
- You have very few views on your Shop.
- You may know more about your craft or product vs. digital marketing.
- You have a limited amount of time each week to devote to marketing.
All these factors have one result: they eat way at your ability to promote your Shop.
Momentum As The Key For Sales
The key to producing sales for new or small Shop owners is momentum, which I define as critical mass of consistent marketing efforts designed to increase
Momentum is a state of “firing on all cylinders” with your marketing. It’s you with a cup of coffee, all jacked up, and making your marketing happen. It’s guerrilla marketing that’s meant for the small guy to do themselves, each and every day, to make sales happen.
I’m using “momentum” like you would with a successory poster with a giant eagle soaring above a mountainous landscape, but the word also describes another aspect of momentum: speed.
Just like physics, an object at rest likes to stay at rest. Your Shop needs a critical mass of public relations, advertising, social discussion and a host of other things to reach full speed.
That process is slow and discouraging.
That slowness will eat away at your ability to be proactive about the things that, at first, will seem like they aren’t doing very much for your Shop or your bottom line.
Be Intelligent With Your Time
There are activities that are a waste of your time. Case in point is self-posting promotional items in a forum filled with other sellers who are doing the exact same thing.
Your goal is to be smart vs. being everywhere.
Last week I asked in the Google+ Etsy Marketing Community if the posts in self-promotion actually produced traffic. Only two people responded with any meaningful insight.
The point is that other sellers are not your consumers; especially not in a place where all the other sellers are just there to promote their own products.
This kind of activity may make you feel like you’re doing something, but I doubt it results in actual sales.
What Momentum Looks Like
Momentum is a gigantic checklist of things you promise to do each week; it’s a strategic and planned series of activities designed to slowly grow your traffic and audience over time.
Now this approach assumes that 1. You’ve not had any sales and 2. You don’t have a separate website. On a sidenote, I personally believe you do need an external website, but that’s best left for another day.
1. Contact An Etsy Seller Each Week
There exist, with every product, the ability to create relationships with other businesses. Chances are that there’s the opportunity to connect with an organization that sells something complimentary to what you sell.
I gave this example in the Etsy Marketing Community, but if someone sells knitted hats and you sell knitted gloves — it’s time for you two to connect.
It’s a great chance for you to build real relationships with other sellers in a way that increases your sales and allows you to both maximize your opportunities; in economics this is called a competitive advantage.
If nothing more than to say “Hi, I love your stuff. Here’s what I’m making and could you promote me on your Facebook page?” People are often flattered by this — if you do it in a way that’s engaging and respectful.
2. Contact A Company or Business Each Week
This is pretty much just like the suggestion above, but involves you contacting businesses that, again, sell things similar to you or are complimentary in nature.
Alternatively, a good argument for this is the idea of audience. If you make those little blackboards that parents use for photoshoots of their kids to show off their age, it makes sense for a small blog oriented towards parents to refer people to your Shop.
Again, it helps to express that you are a fan of this organization/business and, at worst, all they can do is say no; you literally have nothing to lose.
Be upfront with what you want — whether it’s a link to your Shop or a simple promotion on one their social media properties. But don’t be spammy.
3. Become A Member of Digital Communities Where Your Audience Lives
I referenced above the not great idea of posting in forums or social media pages that are only filled with other sellers. This activity isn’t hurting you, but it makes more sense to be a part of communities where that same audience might like the things you sell.
The problem is that you’ll get flagged as spam if you simply slap up your own stuff and say “Look at this! I’m great!.” Instead, focus on participating and interacting at many different levels and occationally sprinkling in your own content.
On one level, you’ll absolutely start to gain a following just by participating, but you’ll also establish yourself as a legitimate card carrying member of the group.
And people want to support you when they feel like you’re “one of them.”
4. Create A Social Media Page and Update It Several Times A Week
Marketer-owners often complain they “never know what to say” on their own social media accounts. True Story: It doesn’t matter that much.
Gasp. I’m not supposed to give that advice out as an inbound marketer. But having a presence somewhere, posting up things that you like, and keeping a constant conversation is more important.
The retweets, repins, and likes will be your guide as to what people like and what they don’t like.
More importantly, creating a social media page ensures that you’re hooking into search engine optimization. Google, you see, is using social signals to determine how to rank websites.
The more social media indicators you have to your Shop and its items, the stronger your SEO profile will be.
I highly recommend choosing just one outlet. Pick your favorite one. Instead of 55 different places that are frequently not updated (or you’re simply reposting content between all of your social media pages), it’s better to have one really good one that’s updated often.
5. Create An E-mail Newsletter and Send It Every Two Weeks
E-mail is a powerful way to engage your customers. At any moment, on this site, you can sign up for the MRKT Update — A weekly newsletter where I tell you about digital marketing things that you might like to know about.
This newsletter already has over 1,000 subscribers, and I’ve had it up for less than six weeks. Every time I send it out I receive traffic on my site and, often, a call from a client wanting to ask me a digital marketing question. E-mail is good for sales and good for your site.
Building an e-mail list is hard work, but even if it’s no more than your friends or family it can help to start generate traffic to your site.
Make Your Momentum Checklist Today
Make a checklist for your marketing today. You do not need to do everything I’ve recommended — start slow and move into each task.