2012 Year In Review and What I Learned

2012 was my first full year as an Etsy seller.  Below are just a few of the things I learned:

1.)  Photography is everything.

It’s the first thing someone will notice when they’re looking for an item.  You can write anything you want in the description, but what really sells an item is the photos.

My own photography went from being fairly ugly with a wood floor backing like this:

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to a cleaner white background:

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It’s pretty easy to tell which look is more appealing.  My goal this coming year is to learn even more and improve my images as much as possible.

2.  The more items you have in your shop, the more widely you cast your net to catch the eye of potential customers.

I went from having nothing in my shop, to trying to consistently have around 200 items up for sale at all times.  I found out the more I had in my shop, the more I sold.  Someone would show up looking at one thing in my shop and sometimes buy something else.  This year I’m going to shoot for around 300 items at all times.

3.  Join a treasury making team.

A treasury making team is a group of shops that make a set amount of treasuries every month (ours was 25) with a certain amount of team members in every treasury (ours was 6).  The goal is to get treasuries on the front page of Etsy to give as much exposure as possible to your team.

I was lucky enough to join a great team.  Almost instantly my daily views doubled, and then tripled.  Sales began to roll in.  It was the single greatest thing that has given me exposure, and all it costs is time.  I’m now a member of several teams, and it’s given me much more exposure than I could ever have gotten on my own.

4.  Figuring out shipping charges is not as easy as it should be.

This is a tough thing when you’re starting out, and especially if you’ll be shipping international.  Since I was going to be shipping with the United States Postal Service, you’d think that their website and it’s “calculate a price” feature would be really helpful.  It’s not.  It’s actually screwed me pretty bad on a couple of occasions, especially with international rates.  I’ve lost money on a couple of sales because of it.

I’ve gotten to the point where I add to the stated cost on the USPS website, just to cover my ass.  If it ends up being cheaper than what I’ve charged a buyer for shipping, I’ll refund them the difference.  I wish there was a better solution, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

5.  The holiday shopping season can crush you if you aren’t prepared.

I sold way more than I expected to in November and December.  So much so that there was no way to list more items to keep up with the amount going out.  I sold 86 items and only listed 56. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but I list a lot of records and books on my site but was selling most of my bigger flashier items.

Next year, I am going to use the slower summer time to list as many items as possible.  If I can do that, I can be fully loaded with products ahead of time for the busier sales period.  Now, I sell vintage so it is easier for me to do this.  If you sell handmade, like my wife, you’re better off prepping so that you can crank out your items faster or stockpile them for this time of year.

These are the things I learned after my first full year on Etsy.  I’d love to hear what you learned.

You can find me here: This Charming Man Cave

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5 comments

  1. This was really useful, thanks! I have been selling on Etsy for around 4 years now and have gained popularity since the beginning but not to extreme lengths. I think I may join a treasure making team, any to suggest? And is it organised by private convos or some sort of group page? I will post this on your Reddit post too for a better view!

    1. This is a good place to find teams. http://www.etsy.com/teams

      In general you have to either apply or be invited. Search around and find one that sounds like a good fit for you. I applied to a few before I was accepted. Once I got in one, the benefit was enormous. As a bonus, you have a bunch of friendly people to bounce ideas off of, and/or vent to if you need to do that too ;)

  2. So true about the photos – this is the No. 1 tip I give new sellers. Etsy is such a visual medium that a bad photo can really sink you into oblivion. That being said, I know my own photos still need a lot of work.

    I have joined a few teams but either they aren’t the right ones, or I just haven’t been active enough, because I really haven’t reaped the benefits of those connections yet. I think I will make that one of my goals for this year. Everyone tells me how valuable teams can be – I just have to find a way to make them work for me.

    I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with social media (sorry if this has been covered in a previous post, I am new to your blog). I have really been struggling to get more Facebook and Twitter followers and to stay engaged with the followers I have.

  3. This article has been really helpful! Thank you for your tips. I need to join one of those treasury building teams! How can I find those and do you recommend any certain ones?

    1. Hi Jad, thanks for the kind words. I would look here first:http://www.etsy.com/teams and then watch the FP and see if there is a team tag on one of the treasuries you like. Most teams you have to apply to. It took several applications before I got into one. You can also search for a team based on what you sell. Hope that helps.

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