ENTREPRENEURSHIP / DEC. 27, 2014
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How to Start a Creative Business on Etsy

Selling online has never been easier for artistic and creative people just like you! Etsy has become the online marketplace of choice “where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods”.

Whether you’re selling vintage clothing, handmade jewellery or digital wedding invitations, you can start your own business on Etsy today with this easy-to-follow, three-step guide!

1. Setting up Shop

Doughnut

Image source: Etsy

It’s all in the Name

It sounds intimidating, and the truth is, it can be. However, don’t let that stand in your way of coming up with the best name for your Etsy store. Keep it short and memorable. If you’re selling handmade wedding bouquets, name your shop something like Daphne’s Bouquets (if your name’s Daphne, of course).

Customising Your Shop

You’ve got your own online shop now, but you need to make it yours. Your brand needs to be recognisable, so start by adding a shop banner, your payment and refund policies, and don’t forget to include an About page to let your customers know who you are and what you do. Meanwhile, organising your shop into sections highlights your different product lines and allows customers to navigate through your shop with ease.

Getting Paid

Sellers can choose to set up their accepted payment methods, including Direct Checkout (currently available in only 16 countries), PayPal, and cheque or money orders. You can even add a payment method that is not supported by Etsy – if you want to accept payments via bank transfer, simply include all the relevant information.

2. Listing Items

EtsyList

Image source: The Women’s Organisation

Create your custom product listing of a physical item or digital file, select a category, product variations, and add a good product description. You can even offer discounts (this is especially advised for new shop owners to get their business going) in the form of coupon codes.

Snap a Good Photo!

An appealing product description coupled with high-quality product photographs make up the perfect listing. It can widen your audience, and even land you on Etsy’s front page and blogs. You don’t need to be a pro; you don’t even need a professional camera – just your smartphone, a white or light grey backdrop, and good lighting, according to this Shopify article. You can retouch your photos on downloadable software like GIMP (the free equivalent of Photoshop) to create beautiful, professional-looking images to accompany your products.

The Price is Right

Chances are nobody’s going to want to pay an extortionate amount of money for a pair of vintage shoes that they can buy for $40 less from another seller. Before pricing your product, do some market research: visit other stores on Etsy that specialise in the same type of products you’re selling, and get an idea on what they’re charging. Don’t forget to look into shipping costs, too – find out what your local postal and courier services are charging.

3. Open for Business

Open

Image source: iStock

Now that you’ve listed all your products and you’re ready to start selling, there’s only one thing left to do: flip your virtual door sign to open!

Shout from the Rooftops!

Figuratively – and literally. Okay, maybe not literally, unless you don’t particularly mind looking like an escaped mental patient. Use different promotional materials (flyers, posters) and social media marketing to promote your business. Social Media Examiner reported earlier this year that more than half of marketers who spend over 6 hours a week using social media saw an increase in sales. It also found that 54% of marketers chose Facebook as their preferred social media marketing platform, followed by LinkedIn at 17% and Twitter at 12%. Don’t forget that the more traditional, word-of-mouth marketing still works, too.

Patience is a Virtue

Easy there, grasshopper! You’ve only just opened your shop! It may take hours, days or even weeks before you make your first sale. Naturally, a fast-growing business is desirable, but there’s no real pressure. Forget Rome; even Martha Stewart didn’t build her empire overnight – it took her almost 10 years to even come close to becoming the successful businesswoman she is today. Be patient, keep promoting yourself, and most importantly, don’t give up!

Strive for Customer Satisfaction

You’ve made your first sale (yay!) and you’ve shipped the order. Customer service, however, does not end there. Etsy advises sellers to honour their shipping and processing times and to “respond to conversations in a timely manner”. Sadly, disagreements and disputes are bound to occur, and it’s your job to work it out with the customer. The better your customer service, the more people shop from you!

Main image source: Ishtar Olivera

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