It’s now six months since I started to seriously focus on my Etsy shop and I am pleased to report that the trajectory is most definitely upwards. This is particularly good because it’s the end of another tax year and I need to prove that I can turn this around.
In the first three months of this year I have already exceeded my sales for the whole of last year. Views, visits and orders continue to increase month on month. This tax year has been my best so far since I opened my shop 7 years ago, proving that the work does pay off, and demonstrating my previous neglect of this sales space.
The differences since last July alone, are clear:
This increase in sales and activity has lead to more feedback being left by customers which I imagine is helping get me seen across the Etsy site. And although I am told using the Sell on Etsy app to put out shop updates only impacts users who already follow my shop and not the wider market, I am sure it is having a positive effect.
My customers are still almost exclusively UK and US based with a few exceptions in Australia. Postage costs don’t seem to be putting off overseas customers, especially for small items where the postage exceeds the value of the item. This is a welcome surprise and it may be that I am particularly competatively priced in certain areas and still represent a good deal even with the postage.
This of course, is all part of an ongoing journey and it will never end if I want to continue making sales. It will take time to reach the numbers I need as I am still nowhere near making enough to cover my basic outgoings every month from Etsy alone. Other income streams do of course help ease this difference and it’s important to remember should not always be relied upon for a guaranteed income. The difference I have seen so far suggests that at some point this year, my business is going to start paying its way.
Growing Etsy shops is no longer as easy as it used to be. It is a saturated market plagued by cheap factory imports which undercut genuine sellers. There are also millions of genuine shop owners all vying for your attention and some of those are able to sell products cheaper than me because it’s a side hustle rather than a main income. It was never going to be easy – as if remaining in business ever was.
Standing out by producing something different and giving good customer service are essential elements to survival. You also need to stick to your prices. Never feel forced to sell at discount just to clear stock. It’s about balancing the books financially.
You need to work hard on your marketing and communication consistently and relentlessly to get your message across. You need to advertise your listings on social media every day and circulate imagery of new products and works in progress using relevant hashtags to inspire would be buyers. Marketing is intrinsic to the survival of a business and more so when it’s just you doing all the work. Etsy does not take all of this off your hands, not by a long shot, but the fact it is an influential platform in is own right provides a solid anchor point.
The work never ends. A holiday is never really a holiday. Closing my shop is the difference between sales and no sales, so I just stay open and do what I can from wherever I happen to be. I try not to go away for too long at once. Without a doubt I spend more time marketing than I do making product, but that’s a balance I am happy to live with because my work / life balance is good. I keep plenty of garments in stock so I am not under pressure to fill my store. I am not at the point where demand is outstripping what I can produce.
This means I do not have to continuously churn out new work, thus tainting the joy of the creation process by the price tag at the end. I never want it to feel like a chore. And that means it feels different. I am nurturing my own work, my own business, my own financial future. I really am my own boss.