15 Steps For A Successful Etsy Shop

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." ~Henry David Thoreau

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Success Print at Susan Newberry Designs

As I approach my 4th anniversary selling on Etsy I look back and wonder where the time has gone. And as I sat trying to think about what I'd learned, I recalled a blog I had written a year and a half ago. I originally wrote this blog when I reached 5,000 sales and today I am nearing 10,000 but the advice is still as good today as it was then. So now as I approach 10,000 sales I will reflect on that advice.

15 Steps For a Successful Etsy Shop

1. Have a good product and show it.

Have a product that you can be proud of and offer something you enjoy.  My product is my prints.  Since there are lots of artists on Etsy who sell prints, I had to do something to make my store stand out.  I think one of the things that have made me successful is that I offer unique backgrounds.  I recently began offering canvas as well and I am very happy to say, that this has been a big success.  An of course, make sure your pictures are clear and use all five slots that Etsy allows to show your product. Another thing is to be consistent. Your listings should look like they came from the same shop.

2. Take note of your competition.

See what others like you have to offer and what their pricing is. Check out their turn around time.  Be competitive – don’t over or under price yourself.

3. Have your policies well stated.

State your turn around time upfront so there will be no surprises.  Also state your shipping policies as well.  Do you ship international?  If so, let customers know that you can’t control the mail but do everything you can to make sure that their item arrives safe and sound.  Do you accept returns?  It’s better to have everything in writing from the start. When I first started, I said absolutely no returns unless the print came damaged but today I am much more flexible. I consider each request for return on an individual basis. I'm happy to say that I don't get many returns and anything that arrives in less than perfect condition is quickly replaced at my expense.

4. Handle issues quickly.

Most of the issues I have come up against have dealt with shipping.  Packages are not always tracked as you know and sometimes they get lost.  When a customer convos you to ask where their package is, check on it for them.  Try to explain (calmly) whatever the issue is.  I ask that they keep me posted and I let them know if their print does not arrive (by a certain) date I will replace it.  When packages get bent or crushed (which unfortunately happens), I replace the print at no cost.

Good communication

5. Have good communication.

Always respond as soon as you can when a customer has a question.  If I have a question about their order, I try and send them a message right away both through Etsy convo and through email.  If you foresee that the item will take longer than stated, let your customer know as soon as possible.

6. Be willing to do custom work.

A lot of my best ideas come from my customers.  When they ask for something custom it often finds its way into my shop.  So learn from your customers.  Be willing to grow.

Alarm clock standing with coins on metal plate

 7. The more time you have to devote to your store, the better you’ll do.

When I first opened my Etsy store, I was working full time as a teacher so I would have to work in the evenings which often didn’t leave time for me to create new products.  Now that is reversed.  This allows me lots of time to keep my store fresh by adding new products daily (if possible) and renew items promptly.  Keep your home page looking good.  Work on your about page.  Customers want to see who is behind what they are buying.

IMG_60828. Package your items carefully.

Purchase good quality packing materials so the item will arrive safe and sound.  Customers will appreciate the extra care you showed. We wrap all our large prints in brown paper and smaller prints are wrapped in a cellophane sleeve. Customers appreciate the extra care.

9. Be patient.

You can’t grow a store in a month or two.  Hard work and determination will pay off.  I remember the sound of my first cha-ching – I was so excited to have made that first sale.   It takes a good 6 months or more to see real sales.  Don’t get hung up on slow days because you are going to have them.  I still have slow days and slow weeks. I've tried to figure out why some days are so good and others not so much but I haven't had much success. I just take it as it comes. Work hard those really busy days and then when it slows a bit I can catch up on other things that need to be done. Etsy does a wonderful job of letting us compare states with yesterday and a year ago but don’t get too hung up on the numbers.  As long as your sales continue to grow, what more can you ask for.


10. Offer sales and discounts for bulk items and repeat customers.

For repeat buyers, I offer 10% off future purchases.  I love it when customers return to buy more.

11.  Offer refunds or rewards.

If a customer has overpaid for something like postage, refund them the difference.  Drop them a note to let them know and they will be ever so grateful.  Occasionally I will enclose one of my greeting cards to those that have large orders.  People love getting things for free.

Greeting card with pink bow. Vector illustration

12. Go the extra mile.

If a customer lets you know that this is a gift, ask if they would like you to enclose a card.  Gift wrap if you are able otherwise, a card will do.  If they have a deadline coming up and need something quick, help them if you are able; otherwise be honest with them if you are not able.

 Keep Calm

13. Be organized.

The better organized you are, the easier it will be to run your business.  Keep plenty of supplies on hand and do regular inventory.  Fortunately I have my daughter who works with me in my store and she takes care of inventory. So does that mean we have never run out of anything? No of course not, but things do run fairly smooth.

14. Take advantage of networking –  social and teams.

Social means Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Wanelo, etc.  Get help if that seems overwhelming.  Join Etsy teams and get involved.  Don’t be an island.  Offer to help others and others will help you.  If you have questions, seek help through teams.

15.  Make sure to keep your listings up to date.

Have good titles, good descriptions, and good tag words.  Do research on SEO optimization.  Get help if you need it.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned over the past four years.  I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Thanks for stopping by…

Until next time,