Step 1: Be absolutely sure your shop is ready to receive visitors
Imagine you were inviting someone to your home that you really wanted to impress; you hoped this meeting was only the beginning of a long relationship. Therefore, you would want everything about their visit to be perfect: clean home, organized sitting area, refreshments ready, etc. In other words, you would go out of your way to make a killer first impression.
The same should apply for visitors to your Etsy shop. From my e-program, Shop Fundamentals:
For every online visitor you receive, your shop has approximately two seconds to capture and keep their attention. After two seconds, your potential customer is either going to click to browse within your shop or click away altogether. This is the sequence of events that feed into the customer’s overall first impression:
The first key element customers notice: Can I immediately make sense of what I’m seeing?
The second key element customers notice: Are the photographs mouth-watering delicious, leaving me hungry to click?
The third key element customers notice: Is it a strong brand? Is this a professional business? If I were to make a purchase, can I trust this shop to deliver what I expect?
• • • I want you to read over the above sequence of events and realize that, if ever the answer is “no”, the next subsequent event will not occur. A winning first impression is vital to your handmade business’ success. • • •
Step 2: Realize that finding customers for your shop is part of your job
Many shops are making the biggest mistake in this marketplace: passively selling a product with little to no advertising. They believe that if they build listings on an e-commerce site, people will come. It takes so much more than that! You must take an active approach to marketing if you want customers to find you.
Step 3: Spend your marketing time wisely
The second common mistake sellers often make is trying to gain exposure among the handmade community by chatting in community forums and being socially active with other sellers. However, unless you sell supplies, customers from within the handmade marketplace should be an afterthought. It would be the same as you advertising the vegetables you have for sale to the other vegetable stands at the farmer’s market. You’re missing the real opportunity; you need to shift your focus to the crowd streaming through the market looking for vegetables like yours!
The key to a creative business’ success is understanding the long-term build. Social media accounts, Etsy shops, blogs, and websites (the low-cost forms of marketing) are part of an online web you create to funnel like-minded visitors to the hub of your business.
A successful business is built one brick at a time. It’s built with a blueprint of your dream job, and a solid foundation consisting of commitment to work hard even when there is no recognition or reward. Each blog post is a building brick. Each Facebook engagement is a building brick. Each new e-mail on your list is a building brick. Without these bricks in place, you cannot build your empire.
Step 4: Start an email list
This is the number one reason I recommend blogging: it’s so easy to collect email addresses on blogging sites! Emails are an invaluable part of your marketing plan, and it can be completely free to utilize. If you don’t have a system to capture emails, create one this minute! I use Mail Chimp (free service) to design emails for my mailing list, and this site also provides me with a landing page where interested customers can sign up for exclusive offers. Click here for my Energy Shop example.
Your email list contains people who have signed up to hear what you have to say, and who are hanging on for your next promotion or product release. The number of people on this list truly adds to your bottom line!
Step 5: Create a financial plan and a marketing strategy
Before you begin advertising, you need to have money that you feel comfortable spending. You must invest in your marketing plan, and you must realize that customers may need to see your shop up to 20 times before they trust you as a seller.
The first three years of business are part plan, part flying by the seat of your pants. It’s hard to predict an income, so I’ve chosen not to–and I would suggest you do the same. You’re lucky if you’re funding your own growth in the beginning stages of your handmade shop.
Therefore, feeling comfortable with investing money into your handmade business is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in start-up. Set aside an amount you would feel comfortable spending, and remember, your first ad (I use Facebook ads) should serve as an introduction that invites potential customers to come to your site and get to know your brand better.
Best of luck!