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Cheat Sheet

Starting an Etsy Business For Dummies

If you’re looking to channel your passion for crafting and artful creation into a business, consider selling your work on Etsy. Countless crafters have ditched their day jobs to start their own Etsy craft businesses, or have supplemented their existing incomes by selling their own crafts, vintage items, or crafting supplies. If your dream is to “make a living making things,” then Etsy is for you!

Creating an Eye-Catching Etsy Storefront

You can personalize your Etsy shop in any number of ways. This personalization is critical to ensuring that your Etsy business stands out from the crowd and helps promote your brand. And anyway, it’s fun!

  • Add a banner. A banner is a graphic that runs across the top of your shop’s main page. You can create a banner from scratch using any number of graphics programs, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP, Picasa, Windows Paint, and more.

  • Include a shop title and shop announcement. Think of your shop title as a tagline of sorts. It briefly sums up what your shop is about. In contrast, your shop announcement, which appears just below your banner, trumpets what you sell, the types of materials or ingredients you use, or your artistic philosophy. Your shop announcement can also broadcast when your next sale will be or share your shop policies.

  • Use sections to organize your goods. If you sell different types of items — say, magnets, notebooks, and picture frames — you can use sections to organize your shop by item. Even if you don’t sell different types of items — maybe you’re all about knit caps — you can use sections to organize your goods by, say, yarn type, size, or price.

  • Choose a strong avatar. Your avatar (also known as your profile picture) is the image that represents both you and your store across Etsy. Be sure to select an avatar that reflects well on you and your shop.

Pricing Your Work for Your Etsy Business

Running a profitable Etsy business means being comfortable with doing a little math — especially when pricing your pieces. Putting a price on your Etsy creations may seem challenging, but don’t freak out! You’re not dealing with calculus here, or even trigonometry. To price pieces for your Etsy business, all you need are two simple formulas:

Wholesale Price = (Materials + Labor + Overhead) × 2
Retail Price = Wholesale Price × 2

When you calculate the costs of your materials, you need to consider only the price of what you used to produce one piece, not everything you actually bought. Labor costs are your hourly rate multiplied by the time spent to make one piece. Overhead costs consist of what you need to run your business, such as tools, office supplies, and the like (but not shipping costs).

Note that, in the second formula, you multiply the wholesale price by 2 to determine the retail price. Some sellers may choose a higher number, multiplying the wholesale price by 2.5 or even 3 to determine the retail price (assuming that the market will bear that). The multiplier you choose is really up to you.

Composing Product Photos for Your Etsy Business

Great product photos can boost sales for your Etsy business, but you don’t need to hire a professional photographer (although you can). Composing your own photos for Etsy calls for a bit of technical know-how and some artistic flair (which, of course, you already have!). As you shoot your pieces, keep these compositional points in mind:

  • Angle the camera. Angling, or tilting, the camera puts the subject slightly off-center and creates movement and flow. The result is a more dynamic, intriguing image.

  • Shoot tight. Filling the frame with your subject not only adds visual impact but also enables potential buyers to see how well made your piece is.

  • Blur the background. By using a shallow depth of field (read: a low f-stop setting on your camera), you can blur the background, dramatically highlighting your piece. When the background is blurred, you can shoot in almost any setting; just make sure that the background colors don’t clash with your subject.

  • Note that less is more. Don’t crowd the scene with extraneous objects. Otherwise, potential buyers may not understand exactly which item in your photo is for sale.

  • Frame your subject. One way to draw the viewer’s eye to your piece is to frame it — that is, place some darker element in the perimeter. This technique helps keep the viewer’s eye from straying from your item.

  • Group pieces together. Especially if you make itsy-bitsy goodies, you can try grouping them to catch a buyer’s eye. Not only does this make for a more eye-catching photograph, but it also shows potential buyers how pieces in your collection work together.

  • Use the rule of thirds. Divide the scene you’re photographing into nine equal parts by using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines (like a tic-tac-toe grid); place key elements at one of the four points where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect. In addition to conveying a sense of tension and energy, this helps pique the viewer’s interest.

Composing Item Titles on Etsy

An item title on Etsy acts a lot like a good headline. It’s designed to grab a buyer’s attention and entice the buyer to read more about you and your item. Not surprisingly, then, many headline-writing principles apply when it comes to composing standout item titles for your Etsy business:

  • Keep it short. Your item title must be brief — no more than 155 characters (including spaces).

  • Clearly describe your item at the beginning of the item title. This helps improve the chances that others will find your item when searching on Etsy.

  • Be clever. If you can, use humor, puns, alliteration, rhymes, or other types of wordplay. (But don’t try too hard. Your talents may lie elsewhere!)

  • Use strong words. Avoid vague verbiage! Some words are just better than others. For example, don’t just call your piece “small” — also call it “tiny.”

  • Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. Too many all-uppercase words, and it seems like you’re shouting. Too many lowercase words, and it seems like you’re e. e. cummings.

Marketing Your Etsy Business

Etsy recognizes the importance of marketing your business — which is why it offers several built-in promotional tools, such as widgets and coupon codes. Marketing on Etsy is easy when you take advantage of the following:

  • Create coupon codes for your shop. Coupons increase sales, increase branding and awareness, reward current customers, and entice former customers to return.

  • Create a special widget for your blog or other website to advertise your Etsy shop. This strategy helps steer people on those other sites to your Etsy shop.

  • Promote your shop on social media. Connecting with friends, family, and fans on social media is a great way to keep them buying from you.

  • Run search ads. An Etsy Search Ad is simply a paid advertising spot that appears at the top of the search results page when prospective buyers enter specific keywords.

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