…Even if You’re the Least Crafty Person on the Planet
By now you’ve researched and selected a high demand niche, sourced some hot products to sell and created a listing swipe file, too.
Now let’s get your Etsy store up and running!
Branding Your Etsy Shop
In their rush to get their shops online, most people never think about branding. But if you want to stand out from the other stores, be memorable and make more sales, then branding is essential.
But what the heck is branding, anyway? I’ll bet if you ask a dozen marketers what branding is, you’ll get two dozen different answers.
Here’s my take on branding: Branding is communicating your unique selling proposition or what makes you different that sets you apart from the competition.
Branding might include color schemes, logos, taglines, symbols, styles of communication and so forth.
In essence you are deciding what you want people to think of your store and then acting accordingly.
People think that a brand is an identity or a product, but really it all comes down to your customer’s perception of your store, your products and your service.
In branding any business, you:
- Define how you want to be perceived by your customers before, during and after the sale
- Organize your business based on this desired perception (or promise)
- Communicate your promise
- And be consistent
Once you’ve done this, you will:
- Pick an Etsy store name
- Create a profile picture and banner
- Set up the Etsy Profile Page, About Page and Store Policies Page
How can you brand yourself on Etsy?
It’s actually pretty easy, because you’ve already done research on your niche and your competitors. Go back to your swipe file and ask yourself this question:
What is something your competition either isn’t doing, or isn’t saying they’re doing?
For example, if you’re selling t-shirts, then one way to stand apart is to offer 100% unique designs found nowhere else. Or you might offer higher quality shirts that are guaranteed to look great after 100 washes. Or maybe you give a free matching drink coaster or cozy with every purchase. Or yours is the only store that sells nothing but matching human and pet shirts, or matching adult and baby shirts.
If your store sells art prints for the walls, maybe you’re packaging your items in such a way that they can’t get damaged in shipping. Or they’re matted in a unique way, or the print quality is unmatched and guaranteed to never fade.
Maybe you only sell prints from one artist, or only from artists in one location, or only from a certain time period, or only of a certain subject.
The research you did previously will yield clues on how to position your store in such a way that you are perceived as having no competition.
Choosing a niche that is wide enough to attract a lot of buyers but narrow enough to be considered a specialty can work wonders.
Choosing a clearly identified theme for your store is crucial. I’ll use two real life store examples to illustrate this: Today on Etsy I ran across a store that sells a wide variety of vintage household items, as well as vintage clothes, new clothes, vintage jewelry, new handmade jewelry, clocks, socks, yarn… they sell pretty much everything. It’s a HUGE store with a couple thousand items for sale. But when I looked at their recent sales, it was clear they weren’t doing too well.
Then there was a second store I found that sold brooches – JUST brooches and nothing else. It’s a fairly small store, but when checking recent sales I saw that in the last two days alone she made several sales totaling over $200, and over the past month she made about a hundred and fifty sales.
See the difference?
But despite niching down, you can still have multiple categories that fit within your niche. Etsy allows you to categorize items in your shop. The brooch seller, for example, offered handmade brooches, vintage brooches, bridal brooches and so forth.
And if you really, truly want to be in more than one niche, then you can open more than one shop in Etsy. To begin with you’ll want to start with just one, grow that shop and then take what you’ve learned into your second and even third shops.
If you do open more than one shop, you’ll be using a different user name for each shop as well as a different email address. It’s fine to use the same credit card and Paypal email address, though.
And your shop’s user names should be disclosed in the Public Profile of each account, so that customers know you’re selling under different user names. This also allows you to link all of your stores together using the Profile Pages.
Choosing Your Store Name
Your store name should reflect your branding and theme.
Try to choose something that is easy to remember and enticing. Bonus points if it creates perceived value or curiosity.
Go to your swipe file for inspiration and do some brainstorming. List all of your possible store names, narrow it down to a dozen or less, and then come back to it in a day or two. The name you think is awesome today might make you cringe tomorrow, which is why that waiting time is well worth it to give you a better perspective.
Perhaps the best piece of advice when naming your store is to use your keyword or key phrase. For example, if you’re going to sell wildlife prints, then having ‘wildlife prints’ in your store name lets people know exactly what you sell.
If you decide later that you want to change your store name, you have one chance to do it. After that, you have to get manual approval from Etsy for any further store name changes.
Choosing a Profile Picture
Your profile picture or avatar should be 400×400 pixels. Consider using a good photo of yourself because this builds trust by showing people there is a real person running the store. Add a color frame around your picture to make it pop out from Etsy’s white background.
Writing Your Bio
You can add a bio or profile to help make a personal connection with your audience. To edit your bio, go to ‘your account’ and select ‘public profile’.
Instead of making a list of your accomplishments or writing your resume, simply tell a story about why you’re passionate about your niche.
For ideas, read other people’s bios and see what grabs you and what bores you.
Let’s say you’re going to open a t-shirt store… “I have a passion for fun t-shirts because they are an expression of the person who is wearing them, and also a great way to connect with others.”
“In fact, I met my fiancé because she liked my shirt! That’s why I love bringing my new finds to an audience who enjoys collecting them as much as I do.”
Your Etsy Shop Icon and Cover Photo
These are two separate graphics that you’ll need for your shop. They should represent what your shop is all about and do it in an eye-catching manner.
The icon needs to be 500×500 pixels and the cover photo is 3360×840 pixels.
But if you’re not a graphic artist, take heart. Etsy has partnered with Canva to provide templates that make it easy to create your Etsy shop graphics. Go here to get started: Free Online Etsy Cover Maker: Design a Custom Cover on Canva.
Or you can go to Fiverr and hire someone to create your graphics for you.
Your Etsy ‘About’ Page
This is where you get to tell people about your shop. You might think of it as an expanded version of your bio page.
You can talk about why you’re passionate about your niche, how you search for only the best products, the quality of your products or perhaps the wonderful things people say about your products, how what you do is different and so forth.
This is where you really get to strut your stuff and let customers know why yours is THE store where they want to shop.
Don’t forget to put links in your ‘About’ page, too. You can link to your Facebook Fan page, Twitter, your blog, your YouTube channel and so forth. Give a strong call to action for each page you link to that tells them why they should visit these pages.
Building Your Email List
Place a link on your ‘About’ page to your email opt-in page (squeeze page, landing page) that offers them a terrific free incentive to opt-in to your Etsy newsletter.
And when you get a Facebook Fan page set up, don’t forget to embed your opt-in form on that page, too.
What should you offer as your incentive?
The easiest thing to offer is a discount. Etsy allows you to create coupons, which you can then share with your new subscribers. For example, you might offer 15% off their first order simply for joining your list.
Or you could offer a free report, video or anything that might interest your niche. For example, if you sell vintage advertisements, you might offer a PDF of your top 20 favorite vintage ads.
Your Shop Policies Page
Etsy has a shop policies form for you to fill out. By writing out your policies, you look more professional and create trust and credibility with prospective customers.
Policies protect and reassure customers that you have a system in place to take care of them and their purchases, no matter what happens.
Interestingly enough, you also get more traffic when you fill out your Shop Policies Page, too. That’s because Etsy gives a search ratings boost to shops that have all of these pages fully filled out.
Polices you might consider are:
Keeping shipping costs to a minimum. Everything else being equal, a $17 brooch with $3 shipping will sell better than a $3 brooch with $17 shipping. Ridiculously high shipping is a huge red flag to buyers that they are being ripped off, even if it doesn’t change the overall price.
Shipping worldwide to reach the largest possible market. It’s a little more work to figure out shipping and fill out customs forms for other countries, but if you ship only to your own country then you are losing out on profits that should have been yours.
24 hour shipping. Obviously you can’t ship an order that comes in at 3pm when the mail runs at 2 pm, but in most cases you can get it out the next day. Thanks to companies like Amazon, same day and next day shipping is the norm and anything that takes longer is perceived as being slow to the customer.
Combined shipping. Always offer discounted shipping to customers who want to purchase more than one item.
A generous return policy. This is optional and it’s going to depend on your products and the type of customers you attract. I’d guess that 4 times out of 5, a generous return policy will result in a bigger bottom line after returns are factored into the equation.
How to Take Studio Quality Photos at Home
While great photos will do more to sell your products than anything else, lousy photos will kill sales, even when the buyer wants the product.
Imagine you’re shopping for the perfect gift for your Mom. You find the exact one you’re looking for (she’ll love it!) but the photos are grainy, out of focus or in poor lighting. Will you still buy the gift? Probably not.
There is no product description, no matter how eloquent and persuasive, that will make up for lousy photos.
But professional photo equipment is expensive, and you don’t really want to invest in it anyway – at least not until your store is doing well.
What can you do for now? Here are the secrets to getting great photos using just your phone or digital camera:
- Set your camera to “EV” or “Exposure Value.” This feature allows your camera to adjust to itself to the available light.
- Use natural lighting. Your best bet is a bright but overcast day because full sun is too bright. Take your pictures by a north facing window and you should find your photos come out great.
- Set up a light reflector so that items photographed by your window have light coming from both the window and the reflector. Simply wrap aluminum foil around cardboard and set it up to reflect light into any darkened areas.
- Use a tripod or set your camera on something firm. This becomes more important on higher EV settings to eliminate ‘camera shake’.
- Experiment with your camera’s ‘White Balance’ to match your camera’s light setting with the type of light in the room. Some cameras refer to this as ‘indoor’, ‘outdoor’ and ‘fluorescent’ settings.
- Experiment with different backgrounds. You might buy a variety of poster board so that you have a good contrasting color for each item you photograph. You might also try using different solid color fabrics.
- Always use a contrasting background. Have you ever seen a white product featured on a white background? What were they thinking??!
- If you’re selling prints or artwork, use the scanner on your computer.
- If the artwork is too large for the scanner, you’ll need to photograph it or take it somewhere to be scanned.
- Take shots from different angles to see what works best.
- Use 10 photos on each Etsy listing. 10 is what you’re allowed, and while it might sound like overkill, it’s not. The longer you get someone to scroll through your photos, the more invested they are in your listing and potentially buying your product. Plus, you never know what detail they are most interested in. The more photos you have from different angles (don’t forget the back and bottom, if applicable) the more likely the buyer will be able to see what they are looking for.
- Another reason to have lots of photos – fewer inquiries. If you only have one or two photos, you’re going to get more questions about the product because the prospect isn’t seeing what they are looking for.
- Take photos with a ruler in the picture to show size.
- Make sure your photos are in focus. On Etsy the customer can zoom in on photos, but if the photos are blurry, it’s not going to do much good.
- If you’re selling small items, consider building a ‘light box’. It doesn’t cost much to do this and you can find the instructions on YouTube.
- If you sell clothing, get a mannequin to display the clothing in your photos. This will make a world of difference compared to simply photographing the clothing lying flat.
- Take group shots. The last photo in each listing can be a group shot of many of your related items together. This encourages visitors to check out your other items, too. Place links in your listing to several of your other, related listings.
Your first image is your listing’s primary image – the one that will appear in searches. Make it a good one.
Look at the primary image in other listings and notice which ones stand out and why they stand out. Is it because the product is zoomed in? A colorful background? Something else? Ideally your primary image will catch people’s eye when they’re scanning the listings.
The optimum size for photos is about 1000 pixels high and wide. Any smaller than this and the zoom feature might produce images that aren’t clear. Any larger than this and it could take longer for your photos to load.
We’ve come a long way to building your profitable Esty store.
Next month we’ll cover:
- Writing powerful titles that get clicked
- How to create persuasive listings that get people to buy
- Writing descriptions that sell
- Increasing perceived value to command higher prices
- How to get multiple and repeat sales
See you then!