The Etsy Experiment: Month One
One of the businesses I mentioned in Seven Businesses You Can Start for $100 or Less was opening an Etsy shop. With its low listing fees of 20 cents per item and its sales fee of 3.5% of the sales price of items sold, it definitely met my “$100 or less” criteria.
And according to this Inc. article, as of April 2010 “…the number of items sold on Etsy totaled 1.3 million, and the statistics have been increasing exponentially since its inception in 2005.” So I considered that proof that at least some sellers are able to make money through Etsy.
But could I do it myself?
Putting Etsy to the test
I decided to put Etsy to the test by opening a shop of my own. I had two possible types of handmade items that I could list: paintings and photographs. I decided to start with paintings since I figured my husband would be happy to have a smaller pile of them in the living room if they sold.
For fun, I’ve decided to track my progress there each month for at least 6 months, so this is my first report. (
Six Four months is the length of an item listing.)
Opening my shop
The first step was to spend a little time getting familiar with Etsy’s rules and suggestions. They’ve got instructions on how to open a shop, a detailed set of selling FAQs, and tips from their community. I did a little bit of searching on Google too to see if I could get additional tips.
In the end, I decided to just get my stuff up there, and worry about doing things to promote my shop later. So I opened it up at the end of December.
This was probably a mistake, but it’s what I did. It was probably a mistake because 1) I opened it right after the holiday season, and 2) the name you sign up with becomes the name of your shop by default. You can change it (once, I believe) but you have to find a name that no one else has ever used on Etsy before. That can take some time. Since I used my own name — which is rather long — my shop name gets cut off when it’s displayed.
But before I could open my shop, I had to have photos of what I was selling. I asked my husband if he would shoot them for me. (While I have no trouble shooting creative photos or doing wedding photography, I’m just not very good at product photography. I don’t have the patience for it, mostly.) So he was kind enough to haul my paintings out and get the photography end taken care of.
If you don’t have access to a photographer, and aren’t good at it yourself, that would be something you’d either have to hire out or learn, because having good photos of your product is critical.
Once he got me the photos, I spent a few hours editing them so that the colors came as close as possible to the colors on my actual paintings. I also sprang for a couple of stock photos of home interiors from iStockPhoto that I could use to provide an idea of how each painting might look on a wall. I came up with 5 versions of the best photo for each painting. In all, I would say I spent about an hour per painting prepping them for listing.
Listing the items
Listing the items was relatively easy, but I did spend a bit of time seeing how other people listed their paintings and working at accurately describing each item. I would say I spent about 30 minutes per item getting them listed and getting the photos uploaded.
The waiting begins
Then of course, I sat back to wait. I wanted to mimic the experience of a typical Etsy seller, and that’s what I figured most people would do. My items got a few views, and a few “hearts”, and a few people marked my shop as a favorite, but that was all that happened.
I then deliberately made another typical newbie seller move, and paid $7 to feature my shop for one day in the slider that appears at the top of each category. I had read that people typically did not see increased sales from that, but would see increased views. In my case, I saw neither.
My results so far?
1 shop category.
7 shop admirers.
9 items listed.
145 total item views.
11 total item admirers.
We’ll see how things go by the end of February.
Do you have an Etsy store? How has it gone for you?