About a month ago, my partner decided to sell her sewn items on Etsy to make some extra money for covering school expenses. I jumped at the chance to learn more about Etsy and while she worked hard at the sewing machine, I would delve into the promotional side of her new online store. Etsy at first does not seem complicated; however, the selling side of the site provides some unique challenges. Hopefully some of the tips I outline here will be helpful to others getting started. I would appreciate anyone taking a look at her store (Raeda’s Sunshine Crafts) and I will offer details using her shop for examples.
Unless you plan to sell vintage or mass produced items, be sure to select Handmade in the search options.
So first the basics, coming up with a name for your shop and figuring out what you would like to sell. I encourage you to make what you like, not what you think will sell. If you are multi talented, spend some time going through other shops (make sure to select handmade in the search section) and look for shops that have sales and reviews. There are a lot of competing sites and it is discouraging if you expect to list something you spent time on and crafted well only to watch it sit with no views. It will take time and work to stand out from the crowd. Once you decide on your focus, research those competing sites that have sales and reviews to look over how they present their items.
When you are setting up your shop, it seems tedious, but fill out everything you can including Polices, Message to Buyer boxes and look to other successful shops for ideas and wording that can speed up the process and modify it to fit your needs. Be honest about shipping and customization times to avoid getting a sale only to receive a bad review because the product arrived later than the buyer expected. Provide some details about your self and motivations so you customers understand your reason for opening the shop and crafting items.
Be sure to go through all of these shop settings to fill out as much information as you can give your customers.
As you start to list your items, providing details about your items can seem straightforward; however, there are lots of behind the scenes ideas to consider, especially when it comes to your item description and the tags you apply to your product. Again I recommend looking at successful shops with similar items to find out what words and more importantly the phrases they use in the titles of their listings and in their tags. These will help you appear in search results and understand how users are searching for an item. Tools4Etsy has a great tool to test where you appear in search results based on keywords. You may not want to change your tags and title too often, since it may take some time for Etsy to index your changes and integrate them into the search results.
Once you have some items listed then you can begin the promotional process. If you are tech savvy, I recommend looking at Google Analytics as an extra way to track your shop visits. Etsy has a box to enter your Analytics code that will populate it into your shop and listings. The Etsy Dashboard provides a good overview of how many people are visiting, how many are favoriting items in your shop and more but Google Analytics allows you to dive deeper to view where visitors are coming from and you can target what promotional avenues are giving you better results.
Etsy Promotional Listings
Etsy promotional listings are ad spaces you can pay to promote your items to the top of search listings. You can see these listings in search results and you will see the AD icon over the image. You can bid an amount or let it autobid which can change depending on what you choose to promote. We have tested these out and gotten some clicks although no sales yet. Many users have reported success however so a lack of sales/reviews for our shop that is preventing the ads from working. The cost is relatively small and it is easy to test this feature on just a few items if you wish to experiment yourself.
Promoted Listings will show how many times your ad was shown, how many clicks and the cost.
An easy promotional tool to use is Facebook, especially if you are already active on the Facebook. You create a separate page that is linked to your profile but has a separate timeline. I’ve found this is an effective way to promote to your friends and family but they can easily opt out by not following the page so you don’t become a nuisance. There are tools that will auto post your new listings to Facebook but I find it better to copy the link to the new listing and give some personal commentary about the item you are posting since the primary audience for these posts are people you know. You can see her page here.
Where to find the option to create a new Facebook Page
Many users post their listings to Twitter although I have not seen a lot of traffic from this source. It may prove useful in the long-term and it is very easy to post your new listings from Etsy to Twitter. Once again you can see her Twitter feed here.
Pinterest is a great partner to Etsy since so many people use it to post photos of things they like, enjoy or want to save for later. Since so much of Etsy is visual, pinning your items to Pinterest is another easy way to promote your items to your friends and they can easily repin them to their followers. Another useful feature is many Etsy Teams have group Pinterest boards where you can ask to be added as a pinner to the group board. This allows you to repin to a larger audience and many of these same Teams have Pinning posts were you pin other user’s items and they will redo the same for your listings. Here is a link to her Pinterest account.
Showing one board of Etsy items in Pinterest
I believe this is the best avenue for a new Etsy shop to receive some attention and start to help themselves stand out from the crowd. There are a large number of Etsy Teams which basically give members a forum to post their items and receive reciprocal views and favorites. You can view a list of the teams she is currently a member of here. If you are diligent in using teams, you can receive hundreds of views and favorites to your items. Especially if you focus on one or two items a day to promote. Of course this doesn’t guarantee a sale since members are simply favoriting your item so that you will do the same for them. This may help in search results though, especially before you have many sales. I’ve also enjoyed the sense of community in many of the teams where people are helpful in not just promoting each other but also in discussing the site, their craft and more.
I have been able to get an item trending using this method and that provided more views for that item. Trending is a list on Etsy that shows items that Etsy decides to include. It is updated approximately once a day and it’s unclear how items are chosen by the algorithm; however, favorites and views appear to play a role.
One important thing to know is that when you favorite an item (aka heart) is that there is a limit of 300 per hour. You will not get a notification once you reach that limit, it will still appear as if you are favoriting something but if you go back to that page later, the heart will be gone. A tool to keep track of this is Heart’s Counter. Which will give an overlay showing how many hearts you have clicked in the current hour and will reset when the 60 minutes are up. You can also refavorite items by clicking the red heart and then clicking it again to give them a new favorite for that day.
Overlay once you install Heart’s Counter. The top number represents number of favorites for that hour. The gray number is the number of refavorites.
Etsy forums are similar to Teams but you do not have to join to take part. You can post items easily and you will see some views; however, the sheer number of posts to these forums make it difficult to stand out. They are a good starting place for asking for feedback from other users about what you can improve in your shop.
Etsy has a fun feature called Treasuries that allows you to create a curated listing of 16 products you like. I have created treasuries by color theme, elephant items or spring related products. Most users avoid including their own items in a treasury; however, if you have one item of your own in a treasury that should be acceptable. A great tool for creating treasuries and notifying the creators of the items you have chosen is TreasuryBox for Google Chrome. Once you install, it creates a small icon on Etsy listings that make it easy to add an item to your current treasury. Once you have selected the items, you click the icon in your browser tool bar and it will take you to the Etsy Treasury page with all the items you have selected. You can then give a title and description and easily send a notification to the included sellers. I include a link to my shop and social media links to provide a way to connect with like-minded users.
The various icons on a listing search result. The TreasuryBox icon is the highlighted treasure chest icon.
Here is a screenshot of the TreasuryBox Plugin after selecting a variety of items.
Other promotional opportunities
There are many other tools you can use to promote your shop including Instagram, Wanelo and more however, I have not explored these fully yet and will post a follow-up when I do. If you like this post, please let me know in the comments and if you have any suggestions or tips that have worked for you, I would love to hear those as well.