So approximately a year ago, I was sitting at my desk at home, thinking what I should do with my life. At that time, making purses was just a hobby of mine, despite the fact that I really wanted it to be my full-time job. As you all know, starting a business from scratch, without any funding, is really challenging. I was struggling with selling my purses from home, having no workshop, no money for promotion or materials and no help. I loved crafting and I knew I was good at it but at that point in my life I was ready to give up. I was really tired of all the unrewarded struggling. I was used to selling at the local street markets and festivals, but that was definitely not enough to grow.
While all this depressing thoughts were running through my head, suddenly my husband stepped in and just casually suggested " Why don't you open a shop on Etsy?". I instantly froze. I've heard of this platform before, but I would have never imagined that my creations would mean anything there. if you are familiar with Etsy.com, you know that it is really hard to get noticed there, among millions of other beautiful handmade things. It is also really hard to rank well in search and show up in front of your potential buyers. That day I accepted that challenge and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The best thing about Etsy is that you don't need any money to open a shop there. You can start selling right away without spending thousands on store rent or your own website. I honestly can't think of a better platform for opening an eCommerce shop. The traffic there is amazing and everyday thousands of people get to see your work. Don't get me wrong, nothing comes easy in life, so of course, at the beginning I had to work day and night to get any views at all. I've read a lot about Etsy system and SEO and all the tips there are on the internet ( and there are a lot) and I've started to implement all those elements to my new shop. I am a bit of a perfectionist and when I start doing something I am passionate about, I do it all the way. So I've spent weeks perfecting my shop to the point where I didn't leave my house for days. I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. And soon, it really was! When you pour your heart into something, you always see the results. And this is definitely the case with Etsy - The more you work on your shop, the more hours you put into it, the greater outcome you have in the long run. After a month of silence I heard my first Cha-cha-ching and it was uphill from there. It definitely took a long time for me to learn this platform and see what worked best for my shop- because every shop is unique and needs different approaches.There are no precise advice what will work best for you, and I think that is the hardest part. We all want to know the formula for success but there is no such thing. Your success comes from your hard work and dedication. I know it sounds clingy, but it is true. There is however couple of advises I would give to new Etsy shop owners.
1.The first one would be having a unique product. I noticed that none of other purses on Etsy where similar to my designs. My purses have meaning, history and they are entirely designed by us. The design represents Georgian culture and history and is inspired by Georgian traditional pouch from XI century, named "Qisa". I think this kind of niche is exactly why my customers across the world prefer to buy my purses and wait several days for them to arrive, rather than buy from a local shop. Shipping overseas is a bit challenging, so we made sure our creations are worth the the wait.
2.The second thing I noticed works really well is great customer service. Our job is not only to make a sale, but to make sure the product reached its new owner and the customer is really happy with it. I always make sure my creations bring joy to ones they serve. Otherwise, there would be no point of selling for me. For that reason we make sure the quality of our product is more than the customer has ever expected. We check every detail several times, test them before sending and we ship it wrapped in our branded packaging. Also good customer service for me meant being "at your service" 24/7. So when somebody would sent me a question at 5 clock at night, I would wake up and answer it, because turns out, if you answer your questions immediately there is 30% chance that the buyer will make the purchase.
3. I Also want to mention today photography. I know that a lot of people don't emphasize on quality of photos and suggest taking them with the mobile phone, but I would strongly disagree with that statement. The only thing I had, that helped me with my small business was the good photo camera - Cannon 5D Mark3. My husband bought it second-hand with the money from our wedding. To this day, I honestly can't think of a better purchase. Good photos make so much difference to a new shop. I started taking my photos in front of a white wall in my room, with a natural light and I swear, the photos looked like they were taken in a studio. This is how much difference the good camera makes. In E-eCommerce world buyers make the decision of purchase mainly based on the product photos, so you should do everything in your power to make the best of it.
All of this combined, results in a happy customer, who leaves a great review. Good Quality=Reviews=Trust=More new customers. This is my formula of success. I can't thank enough people who took time to leave us the review and helped us grow. I've personally got to know some of them and I feel like people who shop on Etsy are filled with love and the most positive vibes. That is one of the greatest experience you can get out of Etsy.
4.The last but not least is SEO. I am sure you've hear of this mystery algorithm that Etsy uses to filter and rearrange shops in their search system. Basically Search engine optimization is made to help shoppers find exactly what they are looking for. It matches Keywords to your products and for example when someone is searching for "leather bags" the algorithm matches this search with your listing, which has "leather bag" keyword as a title. How you show up in Etsy search mainly depends on your listing score. And listing score depends on how well your listing is doing compared to million of other listings. It includes Conversion rate, clicks, likes and how much time people spend looking at that listing. The positive combination of those things reflects in Etsy realizing that because people are actually interested in your item and therefore, it matches the search result for your chosen keywords. So choosing the right keywords is the key to cracking the SEO mystery. When I started on Etsy I used narrow, long-tail keywords, which exactly described my items. I used color, size and material before any general keyword. For example, I would use keyword "Small Brown Leather Bag" instead of general keyword- "Bag". It has less views but you have much more chances to show up in a narrow search than a wide one. For choosing keywords I used Erank.com which helped me a lot with generating just the right keywords with the competition and demand I needed. You should also pay attention to the structure of your title. The first two keywords have more weight and rank better in search. So when you choose your keywords, arrange them in an order from the most to the least important ones.
Overall, we have been on that platform more than a year now, our bags rank really well in search, we've sold more than 1000 of them already and five of our purses recently got the BESTSELLER badge, which I am super proud of. Thanks to Etsy I opened a cozy, three floor workshop, hired a great team to help and finally managed to grow my small business. Now it's my full-time job and we ship orders worldwide every day. Now we even launched our own website! Yay! Etsy gave us so much experience and made my dream possible but it is time to grow even more. I just love the opportunity to share our work with the world!
Anyway, this was just our personal experience, every journey is different and I hope this tips will be useful for your shop as well. New Etsy shop owners, if you are reading this, just don't give up. If you really, really want something- make it happen!