10 Years + 44,178 sales - This is Our Etsy Story

10 years, business topics, etsy, selling online -

10 Years + 44,178 sales - This is Our Etsy Story

 

Sunday March 22, 2009.  I'm sitting at brunch with my boyfriend (now husband of almost 9 years) enjoying some decent weather and I glance down at my little black flip-phone.  There was no such thing as a cha-ching back then because the Etsy phone app would not be developed for another 2 years. Being the diligent young 20's post-college grad that I was, it seemed like a good time to check my email.  My eye caught an email title I had never seen before.  
 

To Malta. (Italy)

I jumped up from the table.  I yelled...loudly.  NO WAY.  I sold something?  NO WAY. To Malta?  Where is Malta?  Two days later, another sale.  To Australia.  What?  How do you even mail something to another country!? Oh well...I'll figure it out!  10 years later, fast forward to 2019.  My husband and I now work full-time as internet-preneurs.  We sell on Etsy, Amazon, locally, and on our website.  We ship worldwide.  On Etsy alone, our combined shops have made 44,000+ sales.  It seemed like a good minute to sit down and reflect on the journey and share our story.


----------------------------------------

 

My journey online started tentatively.  I was always entrepreneurial.  As a kid I made hand-stamped greeting cards, put examples in a binder and asked the ladies at church if they wanted to order them custom-made for 25c each. I was always that kid with a lemonade stand in summer.  I liked selling products where my supplies cost pennies but I could make quarters in return.  I made a rookie mistake in my college years and accidentally got signed on with an MLM (before people really knew what those were!) that didn't really work out for me.  I'm not a hustler.  I actually don't like pushing sales.  It was costing me more than I was making. 


"I will not spend more than $100 on this venture.  If I don't make my $100 back, I'll stop"


I started The Headband Shoppe as an experiment. I wanted a cute feather headband but didn't want to pay the Nordstrom/Anthropologie store prices that were $60-$100 at the time for a custom fashion hairpiece.  I went online and ordered myself a bag of feathers.  Pennies. I told myself at this point --  I will not spend more than $100 on this venture.  If I don't make my $100 back, I'll stop.  

But I did make that $100 back.  That and every penny the business ever made went back into the business to grow it, build it and sustain it.

----------------------------------------

JUST START.

During the course of 10 years, a lot of friends and strangers have asked me "how do I start" a shop?  This answer is so easy.  JUST START.  It doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to spend a lot of money.  You don't have to have a business plan written out.  You don't have to have a degree.  You don't have to hire a professional photographer.  You don't have to have 100 items ready to list.  You just have to have one.  Take some clear, bright photos of it in natural light on your phone, and start an Etsy shop!  Here, if you haven't started one yet, you can use a friend's referral link to get your first 40 listings for free. That way, if it doesn't work out, no harm no foul.  But at least you tried it out!

Don't overthink it.  I mean it!
----------------------------------------

THINK LIKE A BUYER.

On Etsy there is a "tag" section when you list a product.  13 spaces for you to insert keywords.  This is, by far, one of the most important things for the future of your shop because this is how people find you.  When you're coming up with tags, you have to think like a shopper.  If you, yourself, were to go on the internet looking for "something" what would you type?  Use colors...use the name of trendy styles that describe your piece.  Pretend you're someone who doesn't know quite what they are looking for, but when they type in a few words that are somewhat descriptive, you want them to find your item.  Occasionally, I even insert a commonly mis-spelled word to my tags, knowing a buyer somewhere will be searching for my item will spell it wrong.
 

For years I made boutonnières for weddings.  You better believe my tags also said boutoniere, lapel pin, bootineer, corsage, and other such "spellings" of the actual item. 

Proceed to fill in all other details.  Make descriptive accurate titles, interesting "descriptions" of the item - what the buyer is getting, who made it, what materials you used to make it, why they might want it and how they can use it.  Then publish it.  And see..what..happens. 

---------------------------------------- 

DON'T BE CHEAP

Most common mistake of new shop owners.  Undervaluing their work and their time.  So many crafters say "I just do it for the joy" - "as long as I make the cost of supplies back I'm happy."  Ok sure, that's fine, but there's a whole psychology that goes around selling online and it's important to understand it at it's most basic if you want to actually sell anything.  My first sale was $25.  But did you know that for 10 days, I had that item priced at $15 and didn't sell it?  I thought "I want to be the cheapest around"...I'll underprice everyone.  I didn't understand why it wasn't selling.  I don't know why I decided to increase the price by $10 - but I did...it seemed like it might sound "nicer" to be in the 20's rather than the teens.  And boom, it sold.  In later years, that item would be routinely priced between $30-$40 and would sell frequently.  You don't ever want to be the MOST expensive on the market but you absolutely do NOT want to be the LEAST expensive on the market.  Low prices equates to low buyer expectation of quality.  If you are selling a quality, handmade product, the price reflects it, and the buyer will trust the quality more if it's within a "quality" price range.

----------------------------------------

LET YOUR CLIENTS HELP YOU GROW

So you start a shop, you get some sales, you are happy.  But what's next?  Don't ever ever EVER stop innovating.  A foolproof way to grow a "custom-made" shop is to use every-single custom order as an opportunity to grow your portfolio.  Take photos of every piece you make.  If it's different from the original style you had listed (colors, design..), create a new listing using the pictures and put it in the shop.  Your shop will go from 10 items to 50, from 50-500, all because you listened to your customers, designed for them, and used those opportunities as a way to grow.  Nowadays, make sure you also have a social media page.  Businesses virtually don't exist unless they also have an Instagram or Facebook page where they can promote sneak-peeks of new products, behind the scenes pics, or new product releases.  Link it to your website, and you'll be on your way.

---------------------------------------- 

DO PUT YOUR EGGS IN MULTIPLE BASKETS

Don't just sell on Etsy.  Sell locally..sell on Facebook, try Ebay or Amazon, or start your own website!  Some platforms bring more organic traffic than others, but you never want your entire livelihood to depend on one site. 

Also, don't be afraid to change course! The best thing about business is it should directly reflect something you're excited to make.  If you get excited about something else, give yourself permission to follow that lead.  It might be your next big thing.  It also keeps you as an owner fresh and excited about business.  If your niche market dries up over the years as fashion changes, you won't be outta business since you still live in the "now" and you kept creating based on your current interests.

Example:

2009 I began my wedding accessory Etsy store.  Three months into the journey I realized I had an overabundance of supplies for my craft so I began a supply shop to off-load some of my extra supplies.  Within two years, that shop was bringing in as much and sometimes more income than my original shop.  

The same thing happened to my husband.  In his first shop he sold handmade items, including some cute jewelry/necklace holders he made using knobs on wood.  

 

 

When customers repeatedly began asking if he would sell them just the knobs, we finally said "yes" and began a hardware supply shop.  My point is you just never know where your customers will come from or what they'll be looking for, but just be there for them when they ask.   

  ---------------------------------------- 

Everyone's story is unique and different, but this is ours.  We are a small, local, family business living in Idaho and raising two kids.  We're SO thankful that Etsy and the internet gave us the chance to get started all those years ago, and that social media has propelled it forward into something really great.

To celebrate this 10 year anniversary, we're cooking up a cool promo for you!  Take $10 off any order for the next 10 days!  Use code TENYEAR at checkout or click the code to automatically apply it to your cart.

**Limit one use per customer.  Min. order amount $10. Cannot be combined with other coupon codes.  Discount expires a midnight 4/6/19.  

Coupon can be used at 
www.northidahomade.com
www.rusticgarage.etsy.com
www.theheadbandshoppe.etsy.com


Leave a comment