I’m hoping that this post will be an encouragement to you if you are thinking about or dreaming of starting your own business from home. let’s face it, as moms we want to be available for our children – no matter what their ages, we want to be able to keep a lovely, warm and welcoming home. I personally want my home to be a place that my family longs for at the end of a busy day, a home that is a refuge of peace and love in a busy world.
This takes work as well as the small matter of needing to actually be at home in order to create that wonderful place. Many of us dream of being able to bring in an income from home. Although I have been blessed to stay at home and educate my children, there is still that part of me that really does want to do a bit of work that brings in extra cash for things like holidays, eating out, nice clothes – or whatever. Everyone can always do with a bit extra!
Personally I also love the thrill and achievement of working hard for the money I earn. I’m amazed at the women out there who have used their skills, talents and plain old gumption to start and run a successful business from home.
Let me tell you this is not the easy option. You have to be self-disciplined, be able to multi-task (remember you still have a family and home to run), you need to be adaptable (things pop up both in home and business), you need to have drive even when you just don’t feel like it. You need to be able to pop back up after you’ve been knocked down. You need to keep your eye on your market all the time, spot trends, know how to market yourself and your product, keep up to date with technology etc. There are allot of balls to keep up in the air.
But the benefits are flexible working hours that fit around your personal needs and the fact that you have the power to ‘write-your-own-pay-check’.
I opened my Etsy store in May of 2010. I had great plans, even listed a few things and I got ….. NOTHING! I just could not seem to get it off the ground. I knew I wanted to make and sell things, but what? Everyone else on Etsy really seemed to ‘have it together’. They knew their market, they knew their product and they seemed to be making sales. Etsy is HUGE so you need to do something in order to get noticed. But what?
Last year I ‘hit upon’ (and I use that term loosely) “my thing”. My Etsy shop started to get views and then sales! I cannot tell you how exciting that first sale is. January and February have been my highest-sales-achieved yet months. this has really encouraged me to keep going and find ways to improve on what I am doing.
Here are my Six top tips to getting your Etsy Store up and running:
I cannot stress enough how important this factor is in determining your success. You need to be passionate about what you make. It needs to be something that you would want and be willing to part with your money for.
For me that came in the form of planners and knitting. Both of these things I love doing. I am a stationary/journal/Filofax/planner NERD of note! Seriously, I love my planners and journals to be beautiful. I love to take them out, look at them, page through them, decorate them, write in them with beautiful pens and inks. I love to record my thoughts, moments, events, experiences. And I NEED it all to look fabulous while fulfilling it’s role. I have spent quite a bit of money on my planners – one day I popped my Filofax Original Fluro Pink into my handbag, when I pulled it out there was a black transfer mark from my purse. I was NOT happy. So my planner covers came into being. I figured that if I had this problem other planner addicts would probably have it too, and so my planner covers were born. My product line has expanded (and continues to expand) to include things like dashboards and paperclips with our own unique flair.
Use the best quality materials you can afford and be meticulous in your production.
Whatever you have decided to do make sure that it is of an excellent standard. There is nothing more disappointing that receiving something you have paid for and it is just awful. When making my DPN Needle cozy’s I make sure that I have used only 100% cotton, that all the threads have been snipped off, that the popper closures are lined up and fastened securely, and that it is pressed and looking great. Your product is a reflection of you.
Beautiful, clear photographs sell your product – they are your showcase after all.
When I am shopping on line I want to see the product from every possible angle to get a good idea of what I am buying. I also need those photographs to be clear so I can get in on the detail. When I look at listings on Ebay and the seller has poorly lit, blurry photographs, I click away immediately. If I can’t see it, I’m not interested.
* Stage your items ~ photograph you items ‘in action’. My planner covers are photographed with a Filofax inside, my DPN cozies house a half knitting sock.
*Lighting is important ~ there is nothing like a lovely light photograph. Buy a large piece of white board to photograph your items on, it creates a neutral background so that your item is showcased to it’s best.
*Etsy allows you 5 photographs per listing – use them! Photograph your item from all angles and add some up-close shots.
*Use a good photo editing program. Lets face it, we are not always blessed with the best lighting in winter. Use a photo editing program to tweak your photographs before listing.
If you were searching for something on Etsy, what words would you type in to find it? Use those words! Use the most obvious in your title and use them in the 13 Tags you get for each listing. Use words relating to your product to broaden your search catchment. So if, for example, I was listing a set of Christmas paperclips I would use the words: Polymer Clay Planner Paperclips ~ Winter Wonderland Theme Set. I would repeat these and many more in my Tags.
So if someone had to type in ‘Paperclips’ or ‘Planner paperclips’ or ‘polymer clay paperclips’ my listing should come up in the search options.
There is much more to say on listing tricks but perhaps that will have to be for another post.
5. Postage and Packaging.
Make it pretty ~ Keep it affordable.
Lets talk about postage first. Royal Mail has an option on their website to get a quote on postage both locally and internationally. Use this to set your postage fees. Do NOT aim to make a profit off postage. I take the shipping price and add a little to cover the money I spend on packaging and that’s it.
Recently I bought a small item from a UK Etsy seller and the postage was almost as much as the item. I know that to post an item that size it costs 95 pence. I was being charged £3.50 for postage! No one likes to pay excessive postage fees and rightly so – keep it as low as possible.
Packaging ~ I’m going to go back to my own experience above as a buyer. Apparently the extra expense in the postage fees was because of the packaging. To be honest I would have preferred less expense on the ‘pretty’ and rather had a fair postage price. Packaging does NOT have to be expensive and over the top.
If you look at the picture above that is how my products are packaged (without the gold hearts, that was just for the sake of the photograph 🙂 ). They are wrapped in some pretty tissue paper, tied up with raffia and a printed card with my shop and social media details added. I print my ‘Thank you’ shop cards on water-colour paper because it adds that little extra ‘luxury & quality’ but does not break the bank. I’ve had lots of very positive feedback on my choice of packaging, just a little effort and care is what makes a difference.
Options ~ Add shipping options. I have my standard shipping which is 1st class standard but I also have trackable shipping options for those who wish to pay the extra to have their item tracked. This is particularly useful if you are posting internationally.
We live in a Social Media world. Use it to promote your work and get the word about your shop out there.
Now this one I have had to come to terms with. I am NOT a lover of social media but it does have a very important role to play in the success of your business. You don’t have to be involved in every single social media option but pick the ones that target the people you hope to reach. I use Instagram, Facebook, my blog and Pinterest. Join Facebook groups that centre around your passion, this is where my success in sales began. I posted a picture of my planner with some of my daughters paperclips in a planner group I belong to and within minutes I had people messaging me to see if we could make the same and for our Etsy Shop link. Be sure to ask the FB page administrators for permission before doing so, some pages have strict rules. If you can get a mention and a few happy customers – the news about your products will spread.
There is so much more that I could say but perhaps this should rather be a subject to be added to and discussed slowly. One post is simply not going to be able to cover this topic comprehensively, not to mention that it is a constant learning curve. I feel that my top 6 tips are things that I wish I had known when I first opened my Etsy Store, hopefully they will be of some use to you if it is something you are thinking about.