Would you like to make more sales on Etsy? Here are the facts: You make a phenomenal product. You meticulously craft it with your own two hands, carefully photograph its every detail, and lovingly package it for shipping. You then upload your work onto Etsy, write a title and description, choose your keywords, assign a price and shipping charges, and publish that beauty! All that work, and what happens next?
Little to no views, and not a single sale!
Times have changed on Etsy, and I can relate. When I opened my shop in 2010, there were approximately 400,000 active sellers. That sounds like a lot, but a new listing still appeared at the bottom of a very popular Etsy homepage. Whatever I published would organically receive 30-60 views in its first hour.
Etsy is an Overcrowded Marketplace
There’s no two ways about it: Etsy’s overcrowded. Worse, there is no more home page. There are no more organic views. A new listing goes virtually unseen, now competing with more than 1,000,000 active sellers and their unlimited listings!
You’re not making sales because nobody’s seeing your work, but it doesn’t have to stay that way! I hear so many people griping about what Etsy’s not doing for their business, but guess what? Etsy’s never been the solution!
Complaining about Etsy is like being mad at a shovel because it didn’t make a garden appear in your backyard.
Etsy is a tool that will help you build a successful creative business, not the source of one. That shovel’s clearly not going to build your garden, and being angry at it everyday certainly won’t get you any closer to having a fruitful garden!
Likewise, listing a product on Etsy does not entitle you to a thriving business.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a lot of sales
It all depends on how you approach your creative business business. Just look at this Facebook response to a blog post I wrote …
I clipped two comments so you can see the difference in seller attitudes. The first person has gained some insight and is admittedly having an “a-ha moment”. She saw the success advice I shared and had a “That’s for me!” reaction. I can totally relate to her mindset because she knows that if I can achieve thousands of sales, she can too.
That second person? I’m so over it. I can’t even pretend to tolerate this mentality anymore. Whether you believe thousands of sales is a possibility or an impossibility, you are absolutely right. And 5 more liked & agreed to it! You’ve got to be kidding me.
However, she is right on one point: thousands of sales in two years is not the reality for more than 90% of sellers. And that’s a crying shame because it is 100% doable if you stop waiting for Etsy to grant you a thriving business.
In other words, pick up that shovel and do the work!
The Daily Scramble
Alright, so let’s pick up where we left off: You create, you photograph, you write, you price, you publish. Then what do you do?
You scramble. You post your new listing on Facebook, Tweet it, share it on Instagram, and pin it on Pinterest to create a whirlwind of buzz and a possible sale. Sound familiar?
I often catch many creative business owners (including myself!) doing “the scramble.” In other words, we wake up today and ask ourselves: what I am I going to do today to get some sales already? And then the scramble begins:
“Why, I’ll send an email! I’ll promote this post on Facebook! I’ll make four new items and list them in the shop, and then I’ll tweet each of them so everyone will come check them out!”
See? I can absolutely promise you that creative business owners are the only small business owners in the world that approach business that way! There’s no method to the madness, it’s just a pure scramble for sales.
Here’s How to Make More Sales
It’s time to cure the scramble and reconsider your expectations of Etsy. It is an exceptional tool, figuratively the best shovel money can buy. But don’t get it twisted; it’s little more than a host for your online storefront. You wouldn’t expect WordPress to send you thousands of readers, nor should you expect Etsy to bring you thousands of sales.
Furthermore, this isn’t about GETTING sales or GAINING traffic. I recently spoke at a conference, where I was asked to give advice on “how to gain more traffic to your website.” I kicked us off by explaining that terminology creates unrealistic expectations and demands instant gratification.
I don’t GET sales; I MAKE them. I don’t GAIN traffic; I EARN it.
Like I said in the beginning, I know you make a phenomenal product. But by not marketing it effectively, you’re not doing it proper justice. A winning marketing campaign is all that’s missing in 95% of Etsy sellers’ business models, and look how much it’s costing them.
Create a Marketing Calendar
Here’s a snapshot of my last business planning and review session:
It’s involved. And necessary. We often start our businesses flying by the seat of our pants, but you’ll soon learn that day-by-day business strategy will keep you growing in whatever direction you’re feeling that day. Instead, you want your daily activities to lead towards your ultimate dream destination, which takes planning, discipline, and a long-term strategy for success.
Stop the Scramble, Once and for all
To stop the scramble, create a business timeline for yourself and schedule your focus for the next twelve months in advance. You’ll need to devote an entire morning to this exercise, at the very least. Let’s get started:
- Get a calendar, your planner, a notepad for to-do lists, a notebook to record and brainstorm big ideas, and a giant drawing pad and spread that all out on a large table, your bed, or a comfy floor.
- Looking at the coming twelve months, take note of where you’ll need time off: summer vacation, the winter holidays, etc. You can either make a mental note, or actually block this time from your calendar altogether. I use that knowledge to help me hone in on where I’ll have the energy to invest in big moves. For example, I have a launch coming up at the beginning of October with some scheduled vacation time a few weeks later. I don’t like to put any big business moves too close before or after my time off.
- On a page of your giant drawing pad, divide the coming twelve months into four columns. It will look quite simple, like so:
Easy peasy! Now we’re ready to do some planning!
Success doesn’t just happen to people – you need a deliberate plan and actions you can take to achieve it! Imagine building your dream house without blueprints – you show up every day and let the bricks fall where they may. Do you think you would be perfectly content with the end-result after years of free-form building? No way!
A marketing calendar is your blueprint for creative business success. I offer my coaching clients a variety of customized marketing prompts, but you can easily create your own. I’ll show you how in a moment, but first!
Think of any income-generating new projects that have been stewing on the back-burner in your business. This year’s as good as any to go for them. Why don’t you plug some deadlines onto your calendar to make sure they become a priority, because growth is critical to a small business’ success. After you’ve assigned a deadline for that project, go through and list anything that must be completed in advance to ensure you achieve that goal.
Understanding where big projects will dominate your time will help you better plan the coming year. It ensures that you’re marketing less when your focus is required elsewhere for the business’ growth.
Your Marketing Calendar Includes:
- Sales and promotions. This not only helps you find more rhythm in marketing, it also ensures you’ll be prepared for promotions (having stock & supplies on hand) well in advance.
- Social media updates. Keep a running log of information, pictures, and conversations you can start with your customers on social media. This will help you tie themes together and keep the discussion on point.
- Blog posts. If you blog for your brand, this will make an excellent editorial calendar as well. If you have a major sale coming up, you can hint towards it (and get people on your list to be the first to know) weeks in advance.
- Projects and goals. It feels good to know what your next tasks are and cross the project off your to-do list well before it’s public release.
- Time off. Being a good marketer includes knowing when not to market and enjoy a break.
If you don’t have a regular list of promotions and campaigns for your customers, here are some tips to get you started!
- Watch the bigger businesses. When do they have sales? How do they advertise for the major shopping holidays? What makes their advertisements so irresistible? How far in advance of a shopping season do they start to promote? There’s marketing gold in the answers to those questions! Mine it accordingly.
- Pay attention to your own buying seasons. At which times of the year are you feeling most frugal? When you go out and buy an expensive treat for yourself, what makes you feel like you should go ahead and get it now? What occasions prompt you to spend the most? It’s likely that your customers are following the same financial patterns.
- Learn from the promotions that compel you to buy. What captures your attention? What compels you to buy right away? Did you know that for online storefronts free shipping is one of the most influential promotions in marketing? More powerful than even a Buy One, Get One offer? As customers, we’re just thankful for no extra charges at the end of the transaction, and we’re simply tired of being overcharged for shipping!
Share Your Day with Me!
Instagram a picture of your planning day and share @iamlisajacobs using #marketingcreativity! I’d love to cheer you on.
If you’re looking to create a comprehensive marketing system and winning campaign for your business, there’s truly no better resource than The Luminaries Club for creatives like yourself.
I do hope you’ll check it out! Here’s to your success,
Lisa thank you so much for this article! It is exactly what I need now!
Glad to hear it, Katerina!
Spot on Lisa!
I have two shops. One is on Etsy and one is my own (www.siriousdesign.com) I just invested in some SEO services for my own shop because I realize the views and traffic will not come on their own. That is the first step in my marketing plan.
Next on my list is to follow your advice and create a marketing calendar for both sites. I have come to realize that Etsy is just another platform to host a site, and if you’re a creative it’s just another place for you to have a presence. Since the days I took your class Lisa, I’ve always respected and admired your insight. Thank you for providing such great value. I read this blogpost top to bottom and will put your advice into action immediately. No more scramble!
So great to hear from you, Siri! I love the progress you’re making, and way to stop the scramble!!
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for this article! I’m getting ready to launch my website & the information you gave is genius! I can’t wait until Sunday when I sit down and do this. I’m flying by the seat of my pants right now & feel so unorganized and out of control. I’m ready to take control and steer my business in the direction that I want to go instead of it leading me! Thanks again!
Thanks for sharing such great information! Exactly what I have been looking for and cant’t wait to apply to my Etsy shop BlissfullyBouge.
Great advice – thanks.
I find scheduling tools such as tweetdeck so useful for planning social media marketing, especially if I haven’t got the time for doing this every day. It forces you to think about what you’re posting and the best times for it to go live on people feeds.
This is great! I can totally relate to the “Scramble” 😉
I need to do more planning!
Thank you so much!
This was a great read! I never comment on blog posts but this deserves one! Beautiful website and honest material.
Thank you! I think this will really help me with my new clothing line
Your question about when do I feel thrifty is a tough one for me because the answer is EVERY SINGLE DAY. Being in the business of reselling used goods means buying all the time, and always, ALWAYS, at the lowest price possible to leave room for markup. Being in the business of always buying, and always buying low has altered my entire lifestyle and affected how I buy everything. My husband and I don’t typically “splurge” on anything in the traditional sense of the word. Our “splurges” are on travel, and I shop for bargains on travel just as diligently as I do for my inventory. Point being, I don’t have any set time of the year when I cut loose and “overspend” on anything. To some this might sound like we’re tightwads, but it’s actually been a great lifestyle for us, and it’s fun to hunt and find the bargains because they’re always out there if you know where/how to find them.
All this brings me to my big question – How can I apply a marketing strategy to selling vintage on Etsy–specifically, vintage home decor? Selling vintage is a whole different animal than selling handmade; I know, I’ve done both. Any suggestions for applying your advice to a vintage business would be most appreciated as I am fully entrenched in “The Scramble” and desperately want to get off that treadmill this year.
I have been struggling to sell on etsy especially since I’m from South Africa and as a south african seller there is no option for direct checkout option, which is a huge disadvantge. My buyers can only use paypal. I have optimised titles, tags and descriptions. I am using etsy rank to check keywords and listing rankings and use social media.
I have tried promoted Ad Listings as well.
I am losing money. I feel like maybe my wall art is terrble! Only 51 sales since opening my shop one year ago. I closed my shop for a while as a result and recently reopened it.
What Am i doing wrong? Please help.