Has anyone started an Etsy shop (or similar service)?

  • I'm looking to generate some money by selling some prints and other things like calendars or note cards. What are most illustrators using these days? I'm hearing mixed reviews on Etsy. I'm looking for some online marketplace that handles the printing/shipping. I have a Society6 account, and it's been easy, but I'm wondering about other options. Is it better to purchase a high quality printer and handle the shipping myself. Thanks!

  • Pro

    @Laurel-Aylesworth I have an Etsy shop! It's https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SweetSirenCo?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

    Like you, the printing and shipping is NOT my favorite part. That's why I opted for a 100% digital download shop. But previously I had a prints shop on Etsy, and I used Printful to print and ship my orders.

    In general I would say have an online shop, whether on Etsy or not, is no easy thing to do. The biggest challenge is always to bring in traffic to make sales. The old saying "build it and they will come" is absolute crap haha... Marketing is not optional and it's not easy. The good thing with a marketplace like Etsy though, is when you start making regular sales it will raise your ranking in Etsy search and make you more sales just from that. Basically you have to work really have to get the ball rolling, but the further you get the easier it gets.

    Key points for Etsy success are:

    1. Choosing and targeting a specific niche and audience. This is really important because if you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one in particular. On Etsy, shoppers like when they find a shop and think "this looks like it was made just for me!" As artists we're tempted to just make out art and sell it, but too often we don't think about who it's for, and what do those people want. Targeting and audience and making products specifically for their needs is crucial.

    2. Bringing in your own traffic. As mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge and most important chunk. You do this by marketing on social media, Pinterest is really great for this and so are Facebook ads if done properly.

    3. Make sure your shop converts well. Bringing in traffic is all well and good but you have to make sure your products are optimized to sell before going full on marketing. On Etsy one of the most important things are product photos. You have to make sure your products look the most beautiful, professional possible. Clear photos, white background recommended, and clear descriptions. You want to address every concern a customer might have that prevent them from buying, and make everything as easy as possible for them. This also includes shop categories, shop story, etc.

    4. Ranking in Etsy search. You do this by optimizing your SEO (title and tags), and making sales. Keyword research on Etsy and with 3rd party tools like Erank or Marmelead are invaluable.

    5. Having enough items in your shop. Just 5 won't do, lots of people don't want to buy from a shop that looks empty. Also, 5 listings are a drop in the ocean on Etsy and you need a lot of listings to improve your chances of getting found in search. How many depends on your niche - most people recommend around 100+, but in my niche clipart I'll have to make at least 400-500 to really start getting an edge over competition. This is no small task and not a short term project!

    I'm still working on all those things myself, slowly building my inventory and sales, slowly moving my rock up the mountain. It's hard work and won't work if half-assed (but then again that's most things!) It's not for everyone but personally I have the entrepreneurial bug ans I love all this stuff! If you have other questions don't hesitate 🙂

  • @NessIllustration Holy moly, I am bookmarking this forever. Thank you for this. I'm going to check out your shop now...

  • Pro

    @Laurel-Aylesworth I'm so glad if you found it helpful ❤

  • @Laurel-Aylesworth said in Has anyone started an Etsy shop (or similar service)?:

    Is it better to purchase a high quality printer and handle the shipping mysel

    I had a decent printer before and was running an ETSY shop. Then one day I signed a book contract, and have to stop ETSY shop for a while due to time limitation. Then my printer got clogged and can't be cleaned, so I have to retire it.

    Also wonder if any one has experience on investing/keeping a prof-printer or use drop services.

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