I opened my Etsy shop, AllScrawl, at the end of 2017 and anxiously awaited my first sale. I didn’t get the instant sales I had hoped, but I was able to learn from my mistakes over the past few years. These are the things I wish I knew as a new Etsy seller to help speed up sales and avoid some stressful situations.
LEARN COPYRIGHT & TRADEMARK BASICS!
As a new Etsy seller, the single most important thing to do before opening your shop is learn copyright basics. I’m going to say it again: LEARN COPYRIGHT BASICS. When I opened my shop, I knew I loved to make things. However, I had no idea what I actually wanted to sell.
Silly me decided to browse Etsy and see what other people were selling. My searches returned lots of Disney, Harry Potter, Pokemon, Rick and Morty, Marvel (and many many more) fan art and handmade items. Wow! All things that I love. I decided to make some really cute stickers with phrases on them of my own interpretation and doodles of Disney Princesses and Rick and Morty characters.
I excitedly listed my first couple and went to sleep eager for my first sales. When I woke up the next morning, the result was not what I imagined. I received a notice of copyright infringement. You mean I can’t sell fan art like everyone else on Etsy?!? This is illegal? I immediately removed the listings and shamefully spent the next week researching copyright infringement.
Moving forward, I would only create completely original products moving forward. I felt terrible and like a fool for not doing my research before listing my first items. For a while I did great, but then I started selling print on demand baby clothes in my Etsy shop. I listed my first set of Onesie’s (or so I thought), went to sleep and in the morning another copyright infringement! How was this possible? I was positive that the designs were original. Why was Gerber claiming that I was infringing?
It turns out the word Onesie is a trademark owned by Gerber! An infant one-piece can only be called a ‘Onesie’ if it is made by Gerber. I was in complete shock. I didn’t realize the one pieces had any other name. If I didn’t realize it, how would my customers know what to search for? I quickly pulled all listings and changed any occurrence of Onesie to either bodysuit, romper, or one piece.
Copyright and trademark infringement are scary beasts. Thankfully I was extremely lucky. It is probably because I was brand new with little to no sales at the time, but when it comes to copyright you can’t claim ignorance. You can be sued and your Etsy shop shut down for copyright and/or trademark violations. As a newbie, you would think Etsy would take more care to provide resources and warnings to their sellers, but that is 100% on you the seller to DO THE RESEARCH!
Over half the battle is in the title, description, & keywords
As a new Etsy seller, I was hyper-focused on social media and growing my following to drive traffic into my shop. This worked out OK and I made sales, but not enough. Etsy has a huge customer base that is already browsing looking for products like the ones you are making. So, what is the problem? They need to be able to find you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most important skill you can learn as a new Etsy seller to drive traffic to your page. If you aren’t getting people to your page, you can’t make any sales.
A simple approach for a new Etsy seller is to pick a keyword (or phrase) and make sure it is the first thing in your title, description, and keywords. The problem with this approach is that there is a ton of competition for the most popular keywords/phrases. This is why a popular approach is to target long-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is a more specific phrase that narrows down the search to a very specific niche that has less competition but people are still searching for.
Fill in your attributes
Etsy allows you to add attributes where applicable. These attributes are usually things like color, holiday, size, and material. Attributes are a relatively new feature of Etsy and not everyone is using them yet. This means that users can filter on Etsy for a specific size and color. Only the listings that have entered these attributes will show up in the filter.
I have found that because of attributes, it is more beneficial for me to create separate listings based on size and/or color than to use one listing. For example, I might have a bodysuit that I print on 3 different colors and 5 sizes. Instead of creating one listing with variations, I create a listing for each size and color combination. This way I can include the size and color in the title, description, and as attributes. This has drastically increased the traffic to my Etsy page for specific searches.
Take your cover photo on a white background
Consistency makes a big difference in the aesthetic and professional appearance of your page. Recently I became a seller on Amazon handmade and they require cover images to be on a white background. I found that doing this on Etsy also means that I can use the same pictures for both platforms and it adds a consistency to my shop that has been well received.
Focus your design and aesthetic
I have a lot of interests so a huge issue for me is to focus my design and shop. At one point I had paper crafts, crochet, t-shirts, sewing, etc. It was a mess. Consistency helps turn visits into conversions. Having a shop with conflicting products and ideas is confusing and overwhelming to a shopper. A potential buyer may leave your shop because it is too difficult for them to find what they are looking for.
If you want to sell vastly different products or aesthetics, you can instead make a separate Etsy shop. You will need to create an account under a new email address, but it is within the policies of Etsy to allow multiple shops.