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How to Improve Your Sales on Etsy


We've opened accounts with I think seven different online sales platforms out there in attempt to sell our artwork and photographs to our adoring fans. I have mixed feelings about doing so, because I have heard others give the advice that it's best to master one platform, before moving to the next. While that may be sound advice, based on irrefutable, data driven, experiential evidence... I can't be bothered. It just feels like more is better. I suppose this may reflect my mediocre growth as a businessman, but I simply don't accept that I have to do everything perfectly without ever making a mistake. There is such value in the journey. I figure that if I don't do something awful that will ruin my credibility as a business or as a human being, it's probably ok to learn as I go, and pay all my dues.

Having said that, I can now safely admit that both Bogdan and I opened our Etsy shops, several months ago, and have been terrible about loading enough items in our shops, keeping current on our uploads, and promoting our online stores to the world. Bad on us. So just roll your eyes, judge us, and get on with your day. The beauty of it all is that we've taken some baby steps, we have the tools to fix this, and unfortunately we have nothing but coronavirus mandated time on our hands. So this is good news.

Etsy is a search engine, and so there are peculiarities to this platform that we all must accept. Their algorithms determine how search results are ranked. So if I want my shop to show up when a keyword is hit, there are criteria that I must meet in order for someone to find my item for sale. Etsy gives priority to those shops that post frequently, and show movement. That means that I shouldn't take a day off and dump huge quantities of items into my shop all at the same time. A much better strategy is to add something every few days, so that movement is evident. Some time ago, Etsy also announced that they would give priority to those shops that offer free shipping. I know that made a lot of people angry, and I understand why. My view is that Etsy is in business to make money, and I cannot find the kind of volume of customers that Etsy can provide me. We need each other. If that means I have to jack up my prices a bit, then I'll do it. They're not trying to hurt my business, but rather trying to make both of us more money in the long run. I signed up for free shipping, and moved on without getting too upset.

Another issue that comes up time and again is the importance of great photographs to sell your work. We're professional photographers as well, and we have a steady stream of business owners who have learned the hard way how important it is to have excellent photographs to promote their products. While we appreciate their business greatly, let's face it, most anyone can learn to take a good photograph. It all boils down to lighting and focus. You can buy or build a lightbox or photo set for next to nothing. You need to flood your product with enough diffused light to highlight the colors and details, and a tripod or something equivalent that will keep your camera steady while you shoot. You should also set your camera to give you a big picture. You can always shrink a photo down to fit your needs. If however your picture is not big enough, you're done... stretching images makes them fuzzy or pixilated, or both.

You should also consider other shots of your products. If they're 3 dimensional, get the side shot, and the back shot... whatever might answer a customer's questions. Our art is 2 dimensional, but an extra picture of the work in a frame, or the work shown in a real setting (in situ) behind a couch or over a fireplace can really give people an idea of what the work will look like in their home or office. Etsy offers room for multiple images for each listing. Take advantage of that.

You should also take advantage of any place that allows you to add descriptions. This is hard, I know. Any artist will tell you that the sale of a piece will often depend on telling the story of the artwork. a collector will enter the studio, stop in front of a piece, or circle back to a painting, and as soon as someone tells them the story of that work, the sale is clinched. Unfortunately, we can't recreate that sort of personal interaction with an online platform. But we do have a description box. I know a lot of people hate to write, for fear that it will sound stupid or disingenuous, but it does in fact get easier with practice. You don't have to be creepy, or oily about your descriptions, or use that horrible "art speak", but take full advantage of any chance you have to fill your listing with words. I usually take time to write a few lines when I'm getting an image prepared. I take a new piece of art, get a high resolution image made, fill out all the information about size, date, title, etc. and I write a short description and some key words. Doing that early saves me from having to freak out every time I see a blank box and a blinking curser. Whatever strategy you use, get that description written, and provide some possibility of a personal interaction with your online customer.

As I mentioned, Etsy is a search engine, so equally important are those key words. Use an online keyword generator if you need to, or do some research as to which words are trending. There are loads of tools to help with that. Don't go crazy though. If the process is too difficult, you'll lose interest and joy. That's where my philosophy kicks in... it's ok if I don't do the best job possible, as long as I do the job. I can always come in later and build better keywords as a maintenance task with my Etsy shop. Let's face it, trends shift. There are words that would be great today that were not popular when I opened the shop several months ago.

Finally, I have to keep reminding myself that Etsy is not like the Kevin Costner movie. Just because I built it, doesn't mean they'll come. We must find ways to promote our Etsy shop outside the platform, and funnel potential customers to our listings on Etsy. Sorry, that's just good business.

Love to hear your horror stories or huge successes with Etsy. Be sure to leave your comments, and let's get out there and crush it on all those online sales platforms. They're not going to sell themselves.

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