Starting an Online Shop
I know the hardest part for me was just STARTING a shop. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know if anyone would even want to buy my listings or how to go about getting my items out there. But, despite my doubts I signed up for an Etsy store and just kind of dabbled in a few things here and there. I mean, it's only 20 cents to start a listing, so no harm there really (if you only do a couple listings at first). It took me a few weeks to sell my first item. And god bless those buyers for purchasing from me because looking back now, those images and descriptions were HORRENDOUS.
Today, I'm going to share some of the tips and tricks I've learned through the past 2+ years of having an online shop. A lot of these tips are geared towards my Etsy shop, but some of them could be used for any online shop.
Photos | Photos are the first thing a potential client sees of your product. It's important that the photos be clear and obvious as to what the product is. I know it's fun to put those other trinkets or corks or confetti around it to make it look prettier, and that's great for the additional photos you can add. But the first and foremost photo should have the product front, center and crystal clear.
Good Listing Titles | This is another part of searching on Etsy that can really help. When you search on Etsy, only the first couple of words show up with each listing (see below). You have the image and first 4-5 words to catch a potential customers attention. Those first 4-5 words should say exactly what your product is.
Example: I used to have 'Will You Be My Bridesmaid? Custom Wine Label.' By the first 4-5 words, you wouldn't know the listing was a wine label. So I changed it to 'Wine Label - Will You Be My Bridesmaid?'
You have such a short time to make an impression on your potential clients, so make sure it's a good one!
Good Product Descriptions | This is important, but I will tell you one thing: people don't read. I can't tell you how many emails or conversations I get in a week with questions that are answered within the product description. As frustrating as that can be (especially during the holidays), I still put as much information as possible within the listing. It's hard to know what people will want to know at the beginning, but as people ask questions, you'll learn what information to put within the listing itself.
Here is a list of some of the items I make sure to include from the beginning:
- Product Name
- Story behind the product (if there is one)
- Details of the product
- Material Used to make
- If proofs are included (this is for custom orders)
- What the listing includes (for custom items: how many changes do they get? how many proofs do you send? What choices for fonts, colors, paper, etc. do they have?)
- Etsy only lets you have 2 drop downs when purchasing an item, while Squarespace has entire forms you can fill out. If you need more information from a client to move forward, make a note asking them to send you a list of items needed. I have a bullet point list that they can cut and paste into the message that they send me.
- Any policies that are relevant to that listing. Yes, policies are listed within the shop itself, but people will not seek them out. I put them in the policy section of my stores AND within each listing to ensure that I have made all of my policies easy to find in the event something gets challenged.
Pricing | Price competitively. If you price yourself too low, people may not take you seriously and purchase your product or view your product as cheap. It's okay to be lower than a competitor to have a competitive edge, but don't be too low that your product loses its value.
Research Competitors | I know you don't want to be like them or copy them. But that's not the point here. The point is that as awesome as your product is, chances are while it is unique and different, it's not the first item of its kind to be on Etsy. And if you want to keep up and be found in the Etsy search engines, you need to be right up in there with your competitors. I research my competitors when it comes to KEYWORDS.
For example, I make custom wine labels, so I searched 'Custom Wine Labels' on Etsy to see what listings came up. I took a look at those listings to see how they titled their listings, what their photos looked like and what keywords they used so I would at least be within the same searches as them.
When you're building a new listing, search your competitors to see what they are using. If it makes sense to use those keywords too, great! If not, that's okay too!
Renew and Update Listings Constantly | This one was a game changer for me. I probably should have done more research on this before opening a store, but can't go back now. Updating your listings is like updating your website with Google...when you make changes or updates, Etsy recognizes that and puts your listing further up in the searches. Every time I update my listings, I have a whole new batch of orders come through within the next week or so. So I try to update my listings consistently, and it's super easy! Just rearrange your photos or reword your description or change out a keyword. It doesn't take long, but the return is usually worth it.
Those are my tips and tricks for starting a store for today! Thanks so much to those who emailed me with questions yesterday, I can't wait to get to them. I'm going to try to get some of them on the blog over the next few days as well. If you have any questions or want to see a certain topic when it comes to online shops, feel free to email me at Johnna@TwilaCo.com. I'd love to hear from you!