E-Commerce DIY: Etsy tips

5 Pillars of E-Commerce for Makers

By Sarah Sewell

5 Pillars of E-Commerce for Makers

Throughout my time as both a online shop owner and an online business coach for makers ,I have collected enough data to know what makes an online business successful.

I created the 5 Pillars of E-Commerce after 15+ years of experience and research. These are the 5 main areas in your online business that you must improve on until you just can't improve it any further. Working in some of these areas will be a consistent project you work on for the entire time you own your business.

The important thing to note, is that you will never have a one and done type of experience with an online business. You must remain fluid and flexible and update and change things as needed and as the market fluctuates.

These pillars can be worked with your own time table, some shop owners only want a part time commitment and income from their craft business, others are looking for 6 figures plus. Your revenue will increase as you increase your time and focus. No matter what revenue you want to see, you won't find much success without mastering these 5 main areas of your online business.

These 5 pillars are the basic backbone of the Flourish program. We touch on many different topics from Social Media Marketing to Web Design and Development, but will ALWAYS daily and monthly teach these pillars, as we have proven that they work no matter what platform or venue you sell from.

Start working the 5 pillars ONLY IF you have figured out WHO your target audience is. If you haven't a clue WHO you are selling to, then you MUST first work on your Target Market. Once you have that clear then move to these 5 Pillars. 

The following 5 areas are the MOST important in having a successful online shop.

1. Branding 
2. Product Photography 
3. SEO 
4. Pricing 
5. Copy

Start wherever you feel your business needs to start. However, these steps should be done in order. 

Pillar 1: Branding

Your brand is the foundation your business is built on. It isn’t just all about the logo, it is about the message behind your business. Who do you serve? Who do you make for? Who is your Target Audience?

Your branding needs to be attractive to your target market. It is everything about your business, from the products you sell, to the photos you take, to the colors, graphics and fonts you use, to the type of verbiage you use throughout your shop and on social media and even through emails and messages. Your brand is who your business is and what it stands for. It is THE MOST important aspect of your online business.

Do you have a brand? Do you have a story? When you make your products, write your copy, take your photos...who are you doing all that for? Your brand must speak to that person. It must be consistent, remarkable, attractive and inspiring.

Pillar 2: Product Photography

Just because you run a small business mainly from your home studio doesn’t mean you want your online store to look like you are renting a space in a flea market. The MOST successful online sellers take professional product shots of their items. Even if you aren’t able to hire a professional you can still have AMAZING photos. It takes practice and patience but you can achieve photos that make your buyers excited to purchase from your shop.

Also watermarks are not encouraged. With todays technology watermarks can be removed in seconds with simple photo editing photography, also many search engines will disqualify you from search results. If you want to work your business name into your photo there are many other creative ways to do so.

How do your current product photos look? Do you have proper lighting? Is the background light and bright? Is the photo clean, or is there a lot of distracting unneeded props in the frame? Visit the product photography section on the member site to learn more about how to take and stage great photos.

Pillar 3: SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Probably the most difficult area for online craft sellers. However, with a little work you can figure out what will work best for your shop. Basically SEO means how you optimize your listings to be found in search. This means you must use keywords in specific areas in your shop to alert the search algorithm’s that you have a certain product.

You must do keyword research to find out which golden words will bring traffic into your shop. Knowing your target audience well is super helpful for this step. There are many tools out there to assist you with your keyword research. Just remember that Etsy SEO is a bit different than regular website SEO. A bit of reading and studying is necessary for this Step.

Pillar 4: Pricing

Many craft sellers just guess at their pricing and throw up a number that sounds good for them. This is a big mistake in the handmade world. It is imperative that you treat your handmade shop as a real business. You must research your competitors and then adjust as needed.

You want to price mid to high against your competitors and also utilize psychology pricing which means using the 9 or 5 to the end of the price point. For example, if you want to price your item at $15.00 instead you would price at $14.99 or $14.95. This price strategy has been proven to increase sales across e-commerce sites and in person selling.

Pillar 5: Copy

Copy is short for copywriting. Your copy is basically any and all text you have listed throughout your website or listing descriptions. The copy in your shop is your “digital salesperson” the words that you use can determine whether or not your buyer leaves your shop or clicks the buy now button.

You want to ensure you are thinking of your target audience while writing out your copy. The words you use need to be delicious and persuasive. You don’t want to be boring or to technical, keep the words fun and lively. You want your customers to be saying “shut up and take my money” by the time they are done reading. You want them to be creating a mental image of using or gifting your product and you want them to be smiling at just the thought of it. Your photos and copy can do this without you having to do any "extra" work to sell the product.

Mastering each of these pillars can take some time, and if you feel that any of them aren't your strong suit, hiring a professional might be the best route to take. If you are however more of a DIY kinda makerpreneur then you can totally make it happen with a little passion and elbow grease. 

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10 Tips for Starting out on Etsy

By Sarah Sewell

10 Tips for Starting out on Etsy

When sellers start their Etsy shop, they fill their shop up and are all excited for the sales to roll in only to get seriously bummed out when all they hear is crickets. I talk with and educate many online sellers every day and almost all questions start with "Why am I not selling anything"?! I then ask what research they have done for their product selection, or what they have learned about building a brand and almost always the answer is...nothing.

Tip #1: Go through the Etsy Seller Handbook

The SUPER COOL thing about Etsy is they have an amazing tool called the seller handbook, it can be a bit lengthy for sure but there is so much information in it that when followed will give all sellers a chance to get ahead of their competition and get sales rolling in.

In our Flourish Community for craft sellers we teach from the Etsy handbook, to ensure our members are always getting accurate information from the source, it is always good to check in with the handbook from time to time as it gets updated quite frequently. Etsy Handbook: https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook?ref=ftr

Tip #2: Have a BRAND name.

Many sellers start out with a shop called their own name and a suffix like studios, designs, creations, handmade, etc...this works for photographers, designers etc, but if you are offering a product for sale that has a target audience, you want to be sure you brand yourself with a unique and fun name that will attract that audience. Creating a tagline or slogan is nice as well, it becomes something memorable for your audience to remember.

Tip #3: Take BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS.

If I had a nickel for all the grainy, blurry, distracting, and dark product photos I have seen in my time as an E-Commerce educator I would be swimming in moolah! Remember you are SELLING! Your photos and words are ALL YOU HAVE to persuade your customer to buy. You can't take shortcuts with photos if you do you will always be a step behind where you COULD be if you had the right shots.

Tip #4: Learn as much as you can about SEO.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is basically how you optimize your shop or listings to be found in search. You know that thing called Google...well most people know that it is a search engine, but did you know that Etsy has a pretty intense search engine as well? Yes! The search bar you see across the top on any Etsy page, that is what most shoppers use to FIND what they are looking for. Optimizing your Shop, listing titles, tags and copy are some of the best ways to be ranked in search. Don't shrug SEO off, it will be one of the best ways for you to drive traffic to your shop.

Tip #5: Fill out your About section in FULL.

Why do you think people shop on Etsy? Why wouldn't they just go to Amazon? Etsy is a unique marketplace, people flock to Etsy to not only find unique gifts and products but also to support LOCAL, to shop small and buy from individuals instead of BIG Business. Your story as a maker MEANS something. It actually MATTERS!! The more you can connect with your customer the better chance you have of selling them what you make AND earning their trust which will mean repeat business and word of mouth advertising for future business.

Tell your story! What inspires you? Why did you start making what you make? Why do you LOVE being a creative? Showcase your story! Upload photos of your workspace, the materials you use, the space you work in. Show photos of you and your family. CONNECT. This will add so much value to your products and brand and those that buy from you, will treasure what they buy from you just a bit more then they would buying from say a big box store.

Tip #6: Start a Blog.

With over 1.9 million sellers on Etsy many categories offered are way over saturated. Even if you feel that you make a unique product there will be many other sellers that offer similar items. You want to promote your shop beyond how you promote on Etsy. A blog is still one of the BEST ways to drive traffic to your online venues. Simply start a blog sharing information about your products, your brand, or fun how to's can give you a nice boost in visibility apart from your usual Etsy promotions. In your blog be sure to be AUTHENTIC. Be yourself! This is what truly sells especially in an oversaturated market. SELL the story! Include details about yourself and your life! Make sure you are using relevant keywords to properly optimize the blog and link back to your shops and social media pages.

Reaching out to other bloggers in your target audiences interests is another way to connect with customers. See if you can become a guest blogger or see if perhaps an influencer would be open to writing about you and your products. Bloggers LOVE content, in fact that is the base to their business, come up with ways to make them sharing your info beneficial for them as well!

Tip #7: Create RAVING fans!

Highly recommend you read the book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard. Short and Fun read but describes the ultimate way to create amazing customer service. GREAT customer service is the BEST way to get word of mouth advertising and referrals. Simply offering the best of the best in customer service can grow your brand in leaps and bounds. You never know WHO you are talking to, if they have their own huge audience or if they have the potential to become life long fans of your brand. You want to provide the BEST customer service possible.

Put a mirror on your desk near where you work when corresponding with customers. Make sure to put a smile on your face, EVEN if you are writing an email! Go above and beyond and do whatever you can to establish trust and rapport with your shoppers. This will never be a bad decision. Kindness goes a very long way. 

Tip #8: Get Creative with your Packaging!

Etsy sellers have an AWESOME opportunity to enhance the shoppers experience by providing a unique and personal unboxing event. (I like to call it an unboxing event because that is what it is!) When your package arrives your customers will be excited to open what they ordered. You have a chance during this moment to impress them even further. Become memorable with your audience.

Creative packaging shows your own unique style, it shows the customer that you truly appreciate their business and that they are WORTH the extra time to include a hand written note, or a beautifully stamped wrapping paper, or a little extra token of thanks. This alone could be enough to earn you repeat business, or at least to be talked about when they share their excitement with others.

Tip #9: Price what you are worth.

As a handmade seller you can't compete with the products in Walmart, Target, or even the resellers on Amazon. You shouldn't ever have to either. If you do the work showcasing your talent in your about sections, product photos, and listing copy you should have added enough value to charge what you are worth.

Your customers are receiving something made from your hands, that you created in your space, while trying to balance life and family and self care. You have years and years of experience in your industry. You might think what you make is "meh" but to someone who doesn't know how to make it, it is "AMAZING"! Charge appropriately. If you make something that can be sold in the department stores and you are charging the same price they are asking then you are NOT charging enough and you are doing yourself and your fellow crafters a disservice by not pricing appropriately. We live in a good economy, and when shoppers come to Etsy they EXPECT to pay more then what they would on sites like Amazon. You could even LOSE business by not pricing enough as shoppers may see the item as low quality.

Tip #10: Foster a Growth Mindset.

Those that believe their success can be developed through working smart, trying different strategies, being open to constructive feedback, and being flexible to market changes have a Growth Mindset and tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset.

With a growth mindset you will worry less about making mistakes and you will put more energy and time into learning and moving forward. When times are tough instead of saying "so and so is to blame" or "things just aren't like they used to be" they are putting their noses to the grindstone trying something new. They are being fluid and testing to see what else might work or what else they can do, instead of looking back and hanging their head.

It's not always easy to have a growth mindset, sometimes we makerpreneurs get a good beating. BUT if we don't take ourselves to seriously, we can get back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan to keep our businesses moving forward.

 

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