The Etsy Experiment: Month Two

After writing about seven businesses you can start for $100 or less, I decided to take my own advice and give some of them a shot. So to start with, I opened an Etsy shop and listed my oil paintings there. I’ll be tracking and reporting the results of the experiment here for the first six months of this year. (Six months is the length of an item listing.)

Comparing results

I started by listing 9 of my paintings at the tail end of December, and did not sell any paintings during January. (You can take a look at the detailed month one results if you like.)

By the end of February, while I still hadn’t sold any paintings, the stats had changed to: oil painting

$9 spent.
$0 earned.
1 shop category.
10 shop admirers.
9 items listed.
259 total item views.
23 total item admirers.
2 treasury lists.

Essentially, my item views, item admirers, and treasury lists had all increased, but not by any sort of dramatic amount. In fact most were reasonably close to double the previous month’s numbers, which leads me to believe that not much had changed despite my feeble marketing attempts. Shop admirers had increased as well, but not by a large amount.

Feeble marketing efforts

Marketing is one area where I definitely need to improve. While I’m getting better at it in general (you can only go up from no skills at it, right?) I’ll need to actively focus on it if I want to make real improvements. Unfortunately, that’s not what I did in February. At all. Instead, with the exception of posting about the Etsy experiment on my blog, I pretty much let the shop sit there for much of the month without doing a thing.

Until I found Pinterest. In addition to the idea of using Pinterest as a vision board, it’s got great marketing potential for folks whose products are visual (or can be made visually appealing or shareable.) People “repin” your stuff, which is just another way of saying they share it with other users. And most of the images there link back to the original source.

So I started a board there called My Paintings, and pinned all of them there using the images posted in the Etsy store. That meant that they were linked to my shop, and that if anyone repinned them they’d also be repinning that link. The paintings on that board got a total of 10 likes and 19 repins, which isn’t bad considering most of the things I’ve pinned to other boards have gotten zero. (With the exception of one thing that went crazy and had a bunch of repins — if only that would happen for my art!)

Lessons learned so far

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t sit around waiting for things to happen. You’ve got to make things happen by actively working at them daily. In other words, try, try again until you get what you want.

One thing I’ve known about myself for awhile now is that while I usually do see my plans and ideas through to fruition, I’m incredibly s-l-o-w about doing so. I also get distracted easily (hi ADD! hi beautiful stuff in the world!) and am interested in so many things that they all progress at a snail’s pace until one of them seems urgent. But, I think that’s ok — as long as I’m also ok with correspondingly slow progress.

I will be kicking it up a notch here though so that my reports don’t all read as “well, I haven’t gotten to it yet this month”. One of the things I learned from working with Elizabeth on Women’s Money Week is that I can accomplish a heck of a lot if I put in the time and effort.

Do you have an Etsy store, or are you working on building up a small business? How has it gone for you?


  • Good job on working on a new income stream :) I hear very good thing about Etsy. And Pinterest is ideal for etsy stuff.

  • I think Etsy and Pinterest go together like hot dogs and mustard.

    I also have an ADD “squirrel!” personality, but I think that’s why things like Pinterest can hold my attention for hours….shiny objects….

  • Great update. I always wondered how hard it is to start on Etsy. It looks like marketing takes a lot of work.

  • I think it takes some time to pick up speed on Etsy. Two treasuries in one month’s time is impressive. Have you thought about adding an ad or an Etsy icon to the blog? I have ads for my store on both my blogs and it helps drive a little traffic.

    • I’d vaguely thought of that, but am not sure about it yet. I guess it couldn’t hurt. Although as far as driving traffic goes, I’d rather drive it toward my iPhone app.

  • I’m loving that you’re sharing your experiences through this process. I haven’t ventured into Etsy yet, but I’ve also learned from other projects that marketing time needs to be factored into everything.

    I am so the same way about getting things done slowly. Jack of all trades, master of none. It’s a constant curse.

  • Maybe because I worked as a Business Coach for a few years, the process your working through really resonates with me! I’ve seen many clients work through the same challenges. Congratulations to you for taking on a new challenge–it’s not easy! I think you’re right–marketing is the key, and also for many the most challenging part of growing a business. Ideally, you just want to paint, right? That’s the part of the biz you enjoy most maybe… Good luck, and persevere!