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Etsy Guide for Beginners : Part One

Hey team, I wrote this guide for my design blog but I think this will be useful for our team too. The guide will be posted in several parts because they are really long.


Preparing yourself

First and foremost, to know your way around Etsy, the best is to explore it yourself. And read the official Etsy Handbook (very long and with a lot of links, if you don’t have time to read all now, at least bookmark it for easy reference). Etsy also comes with their own Etsy Wiki for tips and a lot of good links of know-hows, do’s and don’ts. Hang out in their forum and chat rooms. You will meet with a lot of friendly Etsian who is always ready to give you a helping hand. I socialize a lot in the forum and chat room, not only I get sales from there but I met a lot of wonderful friends and learn a lot helpful tricks from them. If you’re a lazy reader, at least, just go through the dos and don’ts.


Setting up your storefront

1. Choosing your username

Is not the same like choosing your email name, please bear in mind that this will be your shop name and also stated in the url. For example, naming your shop Baby1984 is a bit weird and unprofessional for a serious online shop. Spend your time to think of an appropriate shop name, which you will later use for branding your work, yourself and your shop. The name does not have to be your own name, but if you’re an artist who wants to name your shop after your real name, that is a good idea too. Think of a short and sleek name like FlooFloo (if you’re selling something cute) or Wishful (if you’re selling more sophisticate jewelries or clothing line). Try not to create names with a lot of words joint together like lovelyenchantedfairies or frommetoyouwithlove. Those are not wrong, many use to create name this way but names string together with a lot of words are not really eye-catching and difficult to remember.

2. Fill up your profile and shop policy
I know many of you did not bother to pay attention on this two pages but profile and shop policy pages are equally important as the frontpage. A storefront is not complete without a brief introduction of a person behind the shop. Your potential customers will want to know the person operating the shop, write a brief introduction about yourself, your contact info (email, facebooks, etc), your passion or hobby, just a little something to let your potential customers know that there is a human behind the online shop.

Shop policies is the rules and regulation of your shop. Lay out a few important shipping and return policies to show your potential customer that you have a business plan in place and make you look like a serious seller. No shop should operate without a clear cut shop policy, so spend a few good hours and fill this page up before you start selling.

Oo…and don’t forget to make a nice avatar too. (Avatar is the small picture beside your username)

3. Writing title
Ok, after you choose a nice username and filled up your profile and policy page, it’s time to list some items in your brand new shop. Title of your item should be eye-catching, brief but descriptive, inspires curiosity, but also explains what your product is. Try to avoid short abbreviations (some might just not understand your short words), jargon, and check your spelling. DoN’t TyP3 L1Ke TH1s, very immature. Here’s a few good and bad titles:

Good Title: I’ll be waiting for you in my father’s orchard, under our tree. 5×7 print.

Bad Title: Print of a Girl Under An Apple Tree

4. Writing description
I despise writing description too but this part is most essential part in setting up a customer driven shop. So, brush up your writing skill and describe as if you are describing your item to the blind. That is the thing with online shopping, potential buyers are not able to touch and feel the item so description and pictures are the only thing that can satisfy their curiosity. Photography part will come later in this post, now we focus on description writing first.
Things to be describe :
-Overall and physical condition of the item: color, texture, pattern or style
-Measurement: give the measurement unit in both cm and inches (don’t be a lazybum, measure it!, measurements are very important)
-If you could come up with a little story behind each creation/item, that would be even better, or suggestion how buyer could use them for, how they could decorate them which give a meaning(if not urge) of buying your item. Try to give a life to your creative work. And if you’re selling supplies, give them a purpose for use.
-Other details like material used, method, special care etc. It’s also ok to let your customers know if this is a promotional item, the price before and the price after discount.
-You can also highlight a brief of your shop policy here too
-Description should be around 100 words count and not less than 1 sentence.

-Check spelling, don’t make your description look like you write in a haste.

5. Tagging
If you’re familiar with the world of blogging, you will know about tagging. It will optimize your shop for better search-ability in Etsy search engine. This will directly improve your visibility. Etsy gives a maximum of 14 tags, so use them all and tag accordingly. Think what people might use as a word when they trying to search for something.
-What is your item? Illustration, ATC, print, pattern, bag, purse?
-Colors ? Be specific, maroon, pastel or solid red?
-Synonyms : If the print has a dog in it, try to use a few different word for it, puppy, animal, pup
-Usage? Room, kitchen, children, women?
-Other theme surrounding the item. Valentine, Christmas, friendship?
-Style : Vintage, victorian, gothic, cute, retro?

6. Categories
Like any e-commerce shop, Etsy provides categories. Categorize your shop, cluster them together for easy browsing. Etsy allows up to 10 categories slot so you can categorize them according to :
-Names : necklace, bracelet, hairpins
-Size/measurements : Usually for listing artwork or similar items only difference by size, 4″X4″, 5″X7″
-Prize : On Sale, $5 and below, $5-10, $10-50, $50 and above

Keep your items in your shop similar or complimenting each other and not look like department store or a garage sale. If you are selling cute handmade dolls, keep you shop full with dolls of different design or similar work that complimenting each other ‘cuteness’. And if you also wants to sell vintage clothing or vinyl wall stickers design, you should consider opening another shop instead of putting everything in one shop. Cute plushies, vintage clothes and vinyl wall stickers just don’t go well in a bunch.

7. Pictures
Like I said before, #4 description and pictures are the ‘touch and feel’ of your item. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a professional photographer to get your product shoot, you can achieve a really good pictures even with a 3.2mp digital camera. But please, no mobile phone cameras or web cameras. Even if you have a 10mp mobile phone camera, they shoot lousy pictures, trust me. Get a real camera, they are so cheap nowadays. I got mine (10mp Panasonic Lumix) for $100 only. I am sorry to tell you that you have to leave the e-commerce playground if you don’t have a digital camera.

Photography skills are not something you can pick up in a few days but here is some quick tips for a good product pictures.
-Natural lighting. Take pictures on bright day light, beside a big window with strong direct sun light hitting into the room, turn on the florescent light for more bright lighting and take the picture in the bright room.
-Turn on the little flower icon on your camera. This is the macro setting to get sharp close-up pictures of your item. Unless you are selling clothes or bigger size items, then you will not need this.
-Etsy allows you to put maximum 5 pictures, fully utilize the slots and show all angle of your item, top view, side view, show your item being used and put a ruler beside it to indicate the size.
-Background color, please try to avoid using dark background such as black, brown, grey. Those color will not make your item to stand-out and but make it look dull and boring instead. Personally, I love to use white background (and whiten it out even more using Photoshop). You can also use complimenting things or create an appropriate setting for your item but not too over-the-top or bright as it might be too eye catching and overtaking your item’s pride. I always think simple setting is the best.
-You can create your own light box for better lighting control and macro shoot.
-and I repeat again, as this is a important pointer, even if you took a very good professional picture, one is not enough. Put at least 3 pictures.

Check all of the 7 pointers in Step One of this guide. Tedious? Hard? Well, selling on Etsy is difficult and challenging, just as any business out there that you might want to try your hands on. Business is never an easy ordeal. But if you do it the right way, and put in effort and commitment, you will definitely reap what you sow.

Good luck for the start and I will continue writing the guide for
Part Two : Money Matters
Part Three : Marketing and Advertising
Part Four : Packaging