lessons from my first year in the handmade community
Today is the first anniversary of my Etsy shop, http://traceyknits.etsy.com. As with any business, it has been a mountain of lessons learned and lots of hard work. I thought today i would share some of the information I have gathered over the last 365 days. Some you may have heard a million times before, others may be new to you, and bits may not apply to you at all. Whatever your experience level, i hope you get a little something out of it.
- Get started! You may be thinking, that is not really a lesson, but it really is. If you don’t just jump in you will never know if you can make it. I have had many surprising successes and failures but I would have never known if I didn’t try.
- Research! My goodness, did I read everything. Etsy provides ALOT of very helpful information for its sellers and you should take the time to read it all. After you have finished that, do a google search and read anything you find there. Be sure to look up sellers who make similar items to yours, if they exist, and see if they share any advice.
- Create Handmade! It is easy enough if you like what you are doing to do it every day, so do it.
- Share! I cannot extol the virtues of sharing your work enough. Just listing things on Etsy is not enough. You must have a twitter account, facebook account, and flickr account. You must list your name on twibs.com (twitter business directory), wefollow.com (get followers), twellow.com (twitter yellow pages). Facebook offers an app where you can connect your etsy shop to your facebook profile, do it! PS: you never know what a google search will pick up on, so the more places you talk about yourself, the more likely someone will find you.
- Make friends! It is just a nice way of saying “networking”. If you talk about their amazing work to your friends and family, they are sure to do the same. I can’t tell you how many times I have been talking at a craft fair and suggested another etsian who would be a perfect choice for them.
- Photos make or break it! Take the time to take great photographs and choose the best SQUARE image as your featured picture. I cant tell you the jump in sales I had when i retook the vast majority of my golf club covers. PS: not everyone will buy pre-worn hats or clothing, so make sure to put in the listing if this is the item they will receive or if you can make a new one for them.
- Tag, your it! Google searches find your items based on the tags you choose. If you have researched the competition, you know how the best sellers label their items. My Yoda golf club cover is knit, used for sports, and is loved by geeks. How would I tag it? EVERYTHING! Plus I make sure to include things like Star Wars, Jedi, driver, and green. You never know what will be that thing that will connect you with that customer.
- Work every day! Yes, no vacations. Even when i wasn’t knitting or designing a new pattern, I was tweeting, I was writing on my blog, I was listing and relisting items. I have a web enabled phone so i can check for sales or respond to inquiries no matter where I am. I have NEVER put my shop in vacation mode, even when on vacation.
- Take advantage of free opportunities! OMG, they are everywhere. I do an article every Monday about another etsy shop and share it with my followers, and I am not the only one! I have had my shop talked about on blogs just by responding to people who want to talk about handmade items. Again, the more you are talked about, the higher you come up on google searches. I have made the mistake of paying to be featured, a mistake I will not make again.
- That costs what? Pay yourself fairly! I cannot charge what I deserve for my hand knit items. It is an unfortunate problem for knitters everywhere. SO I started selling the patterns! Now knitters can share the fun experience of creating my golf club covers and hats and non-knitters can buy one already made. It has reduced my shipping costs and increased my sales. I still get to do what I love, but I get paid more of what I deserve.
have a great piece of advice you would like to share? i would love to hear your comments!