The Etsy Experiment: Month Five

About five months ago, I began an experiment to see if I could sell my paintings on Etsy. I’ve been tracking and reporting the results of the experiment here ever since, and will continue to do so for the first six months of this year.

Here’s what I did in May, along with the stats to date. After renewing most of my items — I had thought that listings expired after six months, but apparently it’s four months — I got serious about marketing. Sprucing up my shop was first on the list.

Sprucing up the shop

Even if you’re just starting out on Etsy, you’ll hear one thing over and over again. Your photos matter. And that’s so true. When all someone can see of your listing is what appears on the computer monitor, you want to make sure they’re getting the best view possible. I’d thought my photos were good (my husband does a good job), but what I hadn’t thought about was what Etsy did to my photos after they were uploaded.

Basically, all of the photos that are displayed on the home page of the shop appear as little horizontal rectangles. That works great for my horizontal paintings that happen to have the same aspect ratio as the little rectangles. But, for the ones that don’t — and especially for my vertical paintings — what appears on the shop really looks nothing like my actual painting.

For example, there’s this painting…

…whose automatically generated thumbnail ended up looking like this on the home page of my shop:

Kind of a completely different look, right? So I went through and redid the main images for the majority of my paintings in Photoshop. (If you don’t have Photoshop, Pixlr is awesome and free.) I gave each primary image a non-distracting grey background to add depth, and made sure their widths and heights were set to 570px x760px so that when the thumbnails were automatically generated they would remain proportional.

Now the thumbnails look like this, which gives a much more accurate representation of the painting to encourage people to click through to see more:

Marketing efforts

Now I just had to get people to see my stuff, which means marketing. I spent a lot of time studying other shops, and reading about Etsy itself. It finally dawned on me that in many ways, having a shop on Etsy is a lot like having a blog. And how do you get traffic to a blog? Well, you participate in the community. You have interesting things for people to see when they get there. You use keywords so that people can find you in the search engines.

My keywords still need to be improved in my listings (and that’ll be up next) but I began participating in the Etsy community. I started by building a few treasuries. According to the Etsy FAQs, a treasury is “an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery comprised of lists of items. Lists contain 16 items. Members can feature their favorite items, items selected on a theme or whatever they like. Any Etsy member can create a Treasury list, and there is no limit to the number of lists you can create.”

Here’s the one I created that got the most views:

The idea is that you feature items from other people’s shops, and in the process gain views to your own shop. (And if you’re lucky, maybe one of those people will feature you in a treasury of their own, too.) They were fun to create (if time consuming) and they did directly increase traffic to my shop and items. I’ll definitely be doing more of them, probably at least one a week.

I’d also heard a number of people talk about relisting your items to help gain more exposure, so I relisted anywhere from 1-6 of my items for nearly every day in May. Each relist cost 20 cents. I don’t think that helped generate much traffic, if any, although I can see why people would think it would, since the most recently-relisted items are shown first in the results by default.

Shop stats

Alright, now it’s time for an update on the shop stats. I’d listed 9 of my paintings at the tail end of December, and did not sell any paintings during January or February. I sold my first (and only, so far) painting in March, but had no sales in April or May.

By the end of January, my starting stats had looked like this:

$9 spent. (All on Etsy fees.)
$0 earned.
1 shop category.
7 shop admirers.
9 items listed.
145 total item views.
11 total item admirers.
0 treasury lists.
0 sales.

Now they look like this:

$28.92 spent. ($21.57 on Etsy fees, $7.35 on shipping.)
$43 earned.
1 shop category.
21 shop admirers.
12 items listed (which takes into account one item sold, and three items added).
712 total item views.
48 total item admirers.
4 treasury lists.
1 sale.

June’s plans

For June, I plan to improve the descriptions of each of my listings, continue building treasuries, work on more paintings, and maybe see what else I could do to bring additional traffic to my shop. All in all, I’m pretty hooked on Etsy. I’d just like to be spending less and making more sales! Here’s hoping that happens in June :)