Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letter to Etsy Newbies...

Recently a friend of mine wrote to me telling me she was interested in selling her crafts and she wanted to know how I got started and if I had any advice.  I thought I'd write her a quick response, but as I began writing I realized that I could write a book! I didn't, but I wanted to share what I wrote because I remember what it was like when I was new to Etsy and so overwhelmed and confused.  Hope this helps!

 Here's what I wrote:

Hi Valerie! So good to hear from you! Oh man, getting into my own business has been a long journey, but very rewarding (i'm actually creating/working right now).  I'm so glad you're interested in selling your crafts.

I've been making jewelry and craft items all my life, but 4 yrs ago I began making the beaded flowers when I got a pen with a beaded flower on it so I took it apart and learned how to create it.  I don't know if you remember, I'd wear them to dance class often.  Well, since then, I've just been making them more and getting better and better and never really thought about selling them, but last summer a bunch of dancers from a workshop wanted to buy them so I began selling them.  I'd always loved Etsy and had wanted to one day create my own shop and I figured this was my push to do so.

It's been a LONG and TIME CONSUMING learning process, but essentially little by little I learned how to brand and market, how to use my camera and what angles and lighting look best, what my target demographic is, and pricing.  I can't stress enough the time commitment because as long as one item takes to create, it tooks 4x the amount of time to take pictures, describe/price/post them, and to promote.  Not to mention the time to research products, supplies, and the competition. And trust me, I'M STILL LEARNING.

There's a lot of amazing tools that have guided me (I didn't just come up with it on my own) including the forums on Etsy, other sites related to Etsy, and this great book: "The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and On-Line".

I have been so rewarded by this adventure, but some things I didn't know before that I know now are

1. Don't expect to make money right away. It can take 2-3 years before making a real profit
2. BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET (I tend to get carried away when buying new supplies)
3. Research BEFORE opening your Etsy shop. I made a lot of mistakes with pricing, product description, and pictures that took me so much time to redo that I wished I had taken the time to research what were the best way to do things.
4. Get a seller's permit.  Technically, all people on Etsy should have one, but not all do.  I'd say do it to be sure, and also that way if you're ever interested in selling at events or craft fairs, you have it.

I hope this helps and doesn't scare you away because it truly has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me and I'm going to keep doing it for life.