Etsy has become one of the most popular online selling platforms for hobbyists, artists, and craft supply providers. Although it is certainly possible to be successful selling on Etsy...
...here are 3 important questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge and open a shop.
1. Do I have the technological skills to succeed on Etsy?
In general, selling online takes some level of technological savvy. Etsy is actually one of the most intuitive options out there. However, you still have to be able to accomplish various technological tasks in order to succeed.
Here are some of the technological tasks you will need to know how to perform. If you do not have these basics down, your time is probably better spent building your business/selling your products another way:
- Downloading and Uploading Photographs - Pictures are the backbone of online sales. Customers have to see your items, especially when they cannot touch and feel them as they could in-person. So, you have to know how to download, locate, and upload files on your computer. If you do the photographs yourself, you need to know how to crop, color-correct, and do other basic photo operations as well.
- Navigating Web Pages and Drop-Down Menus
In order to add items to your Etsy shop and perform other important tasks. You need to have some amount of familiarity with drop-down menus and navigating web-pages. If you have yet to master these tasks, it will take you hours longer than it should to do basic tasks on Etsy.
- Sending/Receiving Emails and Messages
Sending and receiving messages through Etsy’s conversation system is the main way you communicate with customers. Without this capability, you will be unable to communicate effectively and your customers will get frustrated with your lack of response.
2. Does the price of my products/handmade items correspond to Etsy’s most productive price-point?
There are a great variety of prices and price-points on Etsy. There are sellers who are successful selling high-cost items. But in general, Etsy’s most productive price-point is $50 or less. In fact, when Etsy surveyed 15 of their top sellers in 2013, 13 of the 15 had an average item price of $50 or less
What is the average price of your items? Are they within the $50 or under price-point? If not, it does not absolutely mean you cannot be successful on Etsy, but you will be climbing uphill. This is especially true if you have bigger items that also require an additional $50-$100 of shipping on top of the item price.
Jewelry is the most notable exception to this rule. People expect to pay high-price for jewelry and since the pieces are smaller shipping cost is generally minimal.
3. Am I willing to take the time to do all the preparation, communicating, and packaging/shipping that selling on Etsy requires?
The reality is, running a successful Etsy shop is going to take lots of time and effort. In 2009, the NY Times ran an article featuring interviews with several full-time Etsy sellers. These interviews revealed that selling on Etsy, especially full-time, comes with a price. Of the interviewed sellers, none worked less than 13 hours a day, and several stated that they worked even longer hours.
Selling on Etsy is time-intensive. You have to do all the preparatory work to even get items listed. This means taking pictures or having them taken by a professional, either of which takes time to coordinate/organize. Then, you have to edit pictures and upload them to Etsy. Then you have to write item descriptions (take measurements, etc), calculate normative shipping costs, add tags, etc. Then, you have to do it all again to add another item.
Once you sell an item, you have to package it, and then either take it down to your carrier’s store or take the time to schedule a pickup at your door.
This is not including all the communication regarding custom orders or just answering questions about products, all of which takes time as well.
You get the idea. Just know that selling on Etsy means sacrificing some nights, weekends, and quite a few hours in general.
Selling on Etsy can be a productive and profitable way to get more exposure and sales for your business. However, it is important to count the cost before you commit. A shop with 3-4 items, bad photographs, and lackluster communication is not want you want your business to be known for.