Time to Read: 10 mins
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So you’re a woodworker? A welder? A jewelry designer? A glassblower? You make macaroni art?
You’re a creative.
Do you love it enough to do it for a living?
Well good, all you have to do is, start making your homemade products, develop some standard operating procedures, maintain some design consistency, go out to retailers and distributors and sell them on the idea, all while under the possibility of it not working…
Just kidding! With the capabilities of internet stores and online marketplaces you can just slap your stuff online and make a killing!
- Real World Examples
So The First Chute is all about making some money without having to invest too much of your blood and tears in creating a scaleable business model (that’s what The Second Chute is for). So naturally, Etsy is one of the first platforms that would come to mind for something like this.
For those who don’t know, Etsy is an online retailer that holds it’s niche in handmade and vintage products. Like Ebay, Etsy is a platform that anyone can use to sell their stuff but Etsy is specifically for things that you created or are from the past, so their unique selling proposition (USP) is actually uniqueness itself.
And so, on a separate note, there are techniques and ways to acquire and sell vintage goods, but this article will be about the crafting and handmade side of using Etsy for income.
This article will also assume that you have something unique that you are already able to create or have the means to create. This will mainly focus on the ins and outs and then leave you with some further resources if you decide that this is going to be your choice of First Chute!
A quick run-down of creating your “shop” on Etsy:
- Create an account
- Name your shop
- Add a listing (product for sale)($0.20 listing fee per listing, no matter the quantity), along with photos and description
- Set up your shop settings:
- Banner Photo
- About (for your shop)
- Set up your money settings:
- How you will get paid
- How you will pay Etsy
- Etc… (It will walk you through it)
- Finalize your shop with finishing touches
- Make more, list more, share more, get exposure and explode into the most popular Etsyizer in the world!
See, it’s easy.
Tips and Best Practices
So you’ve got your shop set up but at this point you are just like everybody else. How can you stand out and be different and better?
Here’s a compilation of what the Etsyizers of the internet say to that, organized point by point:
Rating is important. Take care of these things to stay in good standing:
- Ship right away. Ship quick. Use USPS and get your own scale and printer and set up a pick up so you can do it all from home.
- Packaging. Keep it clean and maybe throw in something unique and enjoyable, like a little bow, but either way remember that your packaging will play a big part in your rating. How you make people feel when they open your package makes a difference.
- Stick your logo to your package with a label.
- Have a good response rate — be quick and get back to people
Get out there.
Etsy is already niched down. It’s a hub for niche products. So when the eyeballs are there looking for what they’re there for– how often is your product going to win against the 100 other similar or same products. To beat this takes some work in SEO (search engine optimization), good photography and keyword usage but you could also just go around it, by promoting your stuff elsewhere.
As with all branding, another way to get your name and products out there is to go contribute on the social medias and the Youtube. Then link back to your store anywhere where you have sparked an interest in your products or helped someone enough that they want to return the favor and buy your stuff. You may also want to consider buying some Google, Facebook, Etsy and Pinterest advertising too.
Or do both — but if you’re going to put that much effort in you might as well start focusing on Etsy full-time as opposed to trying to build a separate business along with it (as is taught in The Loot Chutes).
You can also post your goods on more than just Etsy for more exposure. Some other platforms: Amazon handmade and Ebay — but be sure not to double-sell anything that you only have one of.
Photography is key. For your products to sell, they must look good. Here’s a etsy photo tutorial linked up: link
And here’s a photography tutorial from an Etsy user on YouTube: link
Brand Yourself — consider yourself a brand and go to different online communities and forums and engage with people that might be interested in your product. Don’t be salesy, just be helpful and when it comes up that you have a store, invite them to shop with you.
Match your brand with your product line — don’t mix and match. If want to move into a completely different product territory, create another shop.
Have a good looking logo and header.
Work the social media channels — gather followers and let them know when you come out with new stuff.
Have multiple payment sources including PayPal.
When figuring out your pricing, consider taxes, shipping, Paypal and Etsy fees and labor and material costs… and profit!
Remember that Etsy sales skyrocket during the holidays.
Pitfalls and Common Mistakes
These are the mistakes most commonly mentioned in the Etsy forums and blogs:
- Don’t sell the same thing to two different people if you only have one of it and it’s not reproducible.
- Don’t underprice your stuff. How to price.
- Make sure that your packaging keeps your product safe.
- Don’t forget to include dimensions of a product or somehow neglect appropriate description specificity.
- Balance your personality with professionalism — don’t be an annoying weirdo but don’t be uptight and impersonal either.
So now that you’ve got an intro, the tips for prosperity and the pitfalls to avoid, the rest of this article will be about further honing your success and will dig a little deeper.
Starting with some tools and resources that you may want to check out before or while you are doing your Etsy thing.
– This article is called the 10 best tools for getting started on Etsy.
– The Seller Handbook is Etsy’s guide to selling on Etsy and is a compilation of helpful articles organized by, photography, shipping, legal, productivity, getting found, branding and marketing, pricing, taxes and finance, growth strategies, community, and seasonal tips.
– The Etsy subreddit is a great forum for questions, stories and opportunities to share your stuff.
– Etsy forums are the forums that Etsy runs and are helpful as well.
– Flourish is a paid community for Etsy-preneurs that includes videos, case studies and guides. The community costs $15 a month to join, as of September 2016.
Choose any that you like.
So once you’ve got your bearings — that is, your impenetrable castle of Etsy knowledge and capability, you are going to want to sustain that knowledge and capability by following real-world examples of Etsy-ators.
Through my studies I have found many-a-Etsyatron, but these were the most professional and consistent with their content, that I could find:
Webinars with successful Etsy sellers and other videos around the concept of “the handmade online business.”
Texas Gal Treasures
Daily videos. Etsy tutorials and vintage item tutorials.
Weekly “what I sold” on Etsy. Vintage and antique “haul” videos along with follow-ups.
Etsy tips, crafty ideas, photography tips, small business tips, and a handmade directory.
So nothing can go wrong in the present front, so now to look to the future of your Etsy…
“So this seems a lot like a business — with an easier entry fee at that,” you say, “so why is this in The First Chute and not The Second Chute?”
Well, you could totally use this as your business. This is one that can flow from The First Chute to the Second Chute. You can brand and advertise your store, online and elsewhere, and with certain products, you could even eventually hire people to make your stuff for you. There are a few things to be careful about though when entertaining the idea of building a business with Etsy:
- Etsy has control. Etsy could decide to change around the website, change the rules or change the search algorithm. If you decide to make a real, scaleable business out of your Etsy store, make sure that you have a plan to branch out on your own at a certain point, so that you can end up with control.
- It’s not always scaleable. If you are the only one who can make what you sell on your Etsy store then success may end up being more than you bargained for and may put you in charge of making 100 stump sculptures a day just to keep up.
- Etsy has control. If you are claimed to be using someone’s copyright and copying someone’s design, whether you are or not, Etsy can freeze you out for as long as it takes to resolve the conflict. They have control and they can do whatever they want.
- No email list building. Growing your email list is essential to customer retention and future purchases and if you want to grow an email list, you’ll have to do it separate from Etsy. Take it into your own hands and ask if your customer wants to give you their email address, or on a social media page of yours have a link to give their email address, so they can be notified when you list new items.
This is in The First Chute for a reason though because Etsy is a pre-existing platform that you can jump right into and start making money, where-as in The Second Chute you are building the platform — be it a website, app or brick and mortar store — for a chance at big profits down the line with relatively less at first.
Really, after writing this article, I’m realizing that Etsy takes a lot of work to actually make sustainable income. You would make your own hours — and you would have a potential to scale it into The Second Chute and run it as a business, but a drawback is that you may need to partner it with another choice from The First Chutes, and have supporting income coming from that.
Etsy is more of an in-between of The First Chute and The Second Chute, because it’s an existing platform that you can jump into (First Chute) but it takes a lot of work for it to become sustainable, and The First Chute is all about sustainable income at your own hours. And then again it takes branding and marketing and exposure to really start making money, and that leads into building a business and scaling up, which is what The Second Chute is all about.
I’m going to leave it here in The First Chute archives but know that this is a special case of The First and Second Chutes, that would resonate well with people who are already being supported by other income and try it out initially to make a few bucks on the side and eventually build a business around it independent of Etsy, if applicable.
If you make a store leave a link to it along with a quick description in the comments.
Thank you for reading! Subscribe for more!
One quick article to throw in there about taxes: Here
References (separate from the other ones linked throughout the article):
- One of the best first-hand etsy seller articles