Deciding where to sell your products can be a tricky process. Options include selling at community markets, online via Etsy or Facebook, or inside retail shops. Where to sell will depend on your personality, skills, budget and the time you have available. With so many options, choosing the right outlet can have a huge effect on the success of your business. Because of this, it’s important to thoroughly research each market before making a decision. It’s also important to remember that you can sell your products more than one way!
Over the years, I’ve heard many customers ask how to setup a blog, an e-commerce shop and build a solid online business presence. As our world becomes increasingly digitized, these type of questions are becoming more common. To help you gain a following (and ultimately sell more goods),we’re introducing our Bramble Business Basics series. I hope these posts — which will cover topics such as marketing online, communicating with customers through a blog and developing a Twitter following — will help you build a solid foundation for your e-commerce business.
This post will give you an overview on how to set up an Etsy shop, which is an excellent way to break into the handcrafted online good market. Etsy is an online marketplace that sells handmade goods, vintage items and supplies. You can sell in handmade products and digital goods, and you can choose to offer coupons and sales as well. According to the Etsy blog, $100.9 million worth of goods were sold by Etsy sellers in July 2013. That’s means more than 4 million items were sold, and almost 3 million new items listed — and that’s just in one month! You can quickly see how having an Etsy shop opens you up to a wide world of potential customers. At any one time, we try to have a wide variety of cold process and melt & pour soaps in our own Etsy shop from tutorials on this blog.
The first step in setting up a shop on Etsy is to register for an account. This is simple process, and looks the same as most website sign-ups. To start this process, click here. Remember that setting up an Etsy account does not mean you’ve set up a shop. This account is the first step in setting up an online storefront. To learn more about setting up shop, read on!
To get starting on selling your products on Etsy, make sure you have registered for your account and are signed in. Once you’ve done that, find the button at the top of the Etsy page that says Sell. Look over the page and when you are ready click the button at the top of the page that says ‘Open Up an Etsy Shop.’
THREE: Language and Currency
Once you’ve decided to open your first Etsy shop, it will ask you about your preferred language and currency. Go ahead and choose which ones work the best for you. Remember that whichever language you chose will be your shop’s default and you won’t be able to change it at a later point. Also, be sure to pick the correct country for your business as some Etsy seller tools are only available for certain countries.
FOUR: Set Up Shop
Once you’ve picked the correct settings (language and currency) for your shop you will be asked what you hope to accomplish by opening up your shop. This will let Etsy know what kind of tools and business you are looking to create. For the sake and easy of this tutorial I’ve picked the option that many soapers are hoping to achieve, ‘Quit my day job and sell full time’.
FIVE: Pick Your Shop Name
This is one of my favorite parts. If you already have a business or website name, you can use that here. But, if this is your first time opening up a shop you have a world of possibilities before you. Be sure to do some quick web searches before you decide on a name to make sure that nobody else has chosen the name you want for your business. You want to be able to have future and potential growth in your business so pick something that will allow you to grow. Also remember that you will want to take a look at the name you are choosing as it is written (it can only be one word for Etsy, without any spaces) and you will want to make sure it looks right. For instance soapqueen.com makes sense when you look at it, and you wouldn’t want to end up with something like penisland.net (a pen website) and have it read funny to your potential customers.This will be your permanent shop name and you won’t be able to change it later. Pick something that can represent your business and your soap. If you need other soapers to bounce some ideas off of, check out the Teach Soap Forums.
SIX: Branding & Look
Now it’s time to customize your shop. Banners for your shop must run at a 760 x 100 pixel image size, be sure to create an image that fits within those parameters. A great free online tool for this is Pixlr. Pixlr allow you to size your images online and save them to your desktop for free. Be sure to include a shop announcement in your store. This helps to welcome buyers, promote products and sales and draw the shopper in. The last part of this you will need to work on is the shop title. Give a short description of the kind of products you offer. Be descriptive, be precise.
SEVEN: List Items
Now it is time to start listing your items. To start listing individual soaps, bath bombs, lotions and more, click here (make sure you are logged into your store account). The best advice I have for you here is to have great picture, that is going to be the first thing that draw a customer in your shop. You want to have good lighting, good backdrops and clear photography. To learn more about how to photograph your products, check out this blog post.
This is an individual product listing. It gives the name of the product, the price, the quantity and details about it (materials, ingredients, etc). The more information you list on a product the more likely a customer is to buy it. You will want to include a full ingredient list so that potential customers will know exactly what they are getting. One thing to remember about listing an item on Etsy is a listing fee. To list an item on Etsy, it costs $0.20 (twenty cents) when the listing is published. A listing will last for four months or until the item is sold. If after four months the item has not been sold, then the listing will expire. This is something important to remember when adding products to your Etsy shop.
EIGHT: Get Paid!
Once you’ve set your shop up, you need to decide how you want to get paid. The more options you offer, the more customers can purchase from you. Payment methods range anywhere from credit & debit cards to Paypal to bank transfers and even the brand new Etsy Gift Cards.
You are almost done! Depending on which country you live in, you may need a credit card to open shop. These cards can either be a Visa, MasterCard, American Express or even Discover. The reason that Etsy asks you to keep a credit card on file is for means of identity verification. They want to make sure that you are who you say you are!
You are done! You have now successfully opened up your very first Etsy shop. Share it with your friends and family, attach it to your e-mail signature, and put it on your business cards.
Features of Etsy:
- Coupons. You can now offer coupons in your Etsy stores, and there are three distinct ways to do so: Percent Discount, Free Shipping and Fixed Dollar Amount Discount. To add a coupon code to your shop, make sure it has been set to public and go to the “Your Shop” Tab. Under this tab, you will find a coupon codes button which will walk you through on creating your own coupons.
- Etsy Gift cards This is a new feature of Etsy. It allows anybody to buy an Etsy gift card so that they can shop anywhere on Etsy’s website, including your shop. When setting up your shop. They come in $25, $50, $100 and $250 amounts and can be used on any product or digital download on Etsy.
- Digital Goods. Are you selling a PDF to go with your project? Or even cute custom labels that you worked on to go with that special holiday set? Etsy now offers a way to sell these items as well. To list a digital item for sell start by going to your shop as you woulds normally do when selling a physical item. Describe the item and use the drop down menus to identify the type of product it is. Once you’ve finished that, you will have a chance to select the item type of the product, make sure that the Digital File option (below) is selected.
Once you’ve selected the item type it is time to upload your file to your Etsy shop. At this time, you can upload only five digital files per listing. Make sure that your file is within the maximum size (20 MB). Once you’ve uploaded your files, start listing your digital good as you would with any other product, give it a good description, well-done photographs and a catchy name. For tips on photographing your products, there’s a blog post here and here. Photography sells your products online. People can’t touch or smell your creations so make sure your photography is luscious and appealing.
- Etsy Wholesale. Are you a wholesaler? Etsy is starting to run a beta wholesale program for those that are interested. You will have a chance to have a private marketplace where buyers can discover hard-to-find and unique products from artists and designers. If you are interested in finding out more information about this new feature of Etsy, click here.
Tips & Tricks
- Setting up a Shipping Profile. Shipping profiles are optional ways to save a specific set of shipping information which you can apply to ANY item listing during the editing or listing process. To add or edit a shipping profile, go to ‘Your Shop’ and click on the ‘Shipping & Payment’ information. From there you will find an option that says ‘Shipping Profiles’. From there you can edit this information. Make sure that your shop is open to the public, as that is a prerequisite for working with this option. This is a great option along with copying items to save time when listing new products. The more time you save, the more time you have to produce your products!
- Copying Items. Do you have more than one item that you want to feature? Are the details of each product the same? This little tip will actually save you a lot of time when listing items in your shop. Copying a listing (item) can actually save you time if you have many similar type of products or if you use similar (or exact) information in your listing descriptions. Instead of retyping the information from scratch for each listing, you can actually copy a similar active or sold product and edit to reflect the changes. To copy a listing, head to shop. Once there, click on ‘Listing.’ Click on the active tab. Once there, click on the listing or product and click the copy link. That’s it! This is an easy trick to make listing your products much easier and faster. Just make sure to change the product name and details that need changing before posting it live in your shop.
Have you set up you business on Etsy? We’d love to hear from you the tips and tricks that you learned to make it easier.
Simona from Bramble Berry marketing did a darling melt and pour project that turned out way too cute to not share with everyone. Thanks Simona! And check out her other guest post on Cocoa Powder (yum). Enjoy! -Anne-Marie
This soap evokes childhood memories of summer art projects. One of my favorites, a treat, was using Sun Print paper. Depending on how much paper we had, we’d spend hours collecting and doing practice arrangements – you have to be quick with the set up to achieve the “best” print. We’d run around the house and yard to gather various plants, feathers, keys and other fun and funky shaped objects. A patch of driveway would be selected and we’d layout our sheet, arranging our found objects just so on the paper. After carefully setting the glass onto the arrangement we’d anxiously watch and wait for the blue to turn to white. Then we’d run to the hose to “process” our masterpiece, watching the white turn back to blue where our objects were not.
If you have never made a layered soap before, please watch the Basic Layers episode on Soap Queen TV to brush up on the basics before tackling this project.
What You’ll Need:
Organic Clear Melt & Pour Soap Base
Shea Melt & Pour Soap Base
Tangerine Essential Oil
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Lavender 40/42 Essential Oil
Cedarwood Essential Oil
12 bar square silicone mold
Buy everything you need with the click of a button!
Etsy recently updated their policy on a variety of products that many Soap Queen readers and Bramble Berry customers make: products to help with acne (usually containing Tea Tree Essential Oil), anti-wrinkle creams and serums (often containing luscious ingredients like Tamanu Oil or Seabuckthorn Extract), diaper rash creams (often containing zinc oxide) and anything making anti-itch statements (often with additives like calamine or calendula-infused oils). This move has caused some confusion and frustration in the Etsy marketplace. Bottom line: follow the current, existing FDA guidelines for labeling cosmetics and you will be in compliance with Etsy’s new policy.
For the long post details, including actual languaging from FDA Warning Letters, links to the FDA site, statements from Etsy on the issue, continue reading by clicking “more”. [Read more…]
I love sending thank-you cards! It’s just a simple token that can really brighten a person’s day. It also goes hand in hand with my love of letterpress…sigh. So beautiful! Check out these latest Etsy purchases:
When was the last time you sent out a beautiful thank you card? If it hasn’t been recently, do it soon and make someone’s day. =)
Valentine’s Day is less than a month away which means you still have time to purchase your valentine goodies. Or even better…MAKE your valentine goodies (Pushaw! As if we’d recommend anything but handmade). If you decide to buy instead of make, check out some super cute and homemade finds from Etsy and support the handmade soaping community. Chris and I are planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day as a family with little Jamisen by our side. Though we go on date nights, I’m pretty sure finding a friend to babysit might be impossible on the date-iest night of the year!
I found a new Etsy shop called Herbolution and I couldn’t resist buying a few things. I absolutely love their philosophy on being green and earth friendly. It’s what we strive to do at Bramble Berry too.
“We are Sasha and Veronika, a young couple, who is conscious about the current state of our planet which directly affects our health and well-being. After long searches for healthy and natural personal care products we came to a conclusion that many companies that try to take good care of their customers take very little care of the Earth and vice versa…” Read the rest of the Herbolution profile here.
Swoon over my latest purchase…
I’m not sure what’s up with my latest Etsy Obsession – necklaces. Normally, I’m into soap and letterpress cards but necklaces have completely caught my eye lately. Here are three that I’ve purchased in the last couple of months. Between these and my Soap Queen necklace, I’m set for a very long time for neck ornaments.
I find that I go through phases on Etsy – earrings one month, stationary the next month, notebooks the following month … but the nice thing about Etsy (and Artfire) is that they have everything. And when I buy it, I know I’m supporting small indie producers which makes me happy. =)
It’s been a while since I got an Etsy soap fix and I was delighted to see Sweet Anthem on the home page! You may remember I blogged about Sweet Anthem after meeting her in person at Sweet Petula in Seattle.
If you missed the Etsy Lab Talk today on how to provide ‘fanatical’ customer service for your Etsy shop, you missed a good time! In the photo above, you can see how many people are in the auditorium. Notice, there is standing room only – every single seat is filled with an Etsy seller (as represented by their square icon). You can see my web cam slightly off to the right of the photo. And in the middle? That’s me, taking a photo of the classroom.
This is the brief introduction I gave, live, via webcam on how to make sure you have great customer service:
These are simple policies that as a one-person, small business, you can do yourself, just starting out:
The ‘About Us‘ Page matters. You need a phone number. An address. An email. Preferably some sort of photo of you that says ‘trust me!’You can put this on your ‘Profile’ on Etsy and on your home page, your ‘Shop Announcement’ could also have contact information.
Customer testimonials are huge to creating trust. They help to build credibility and are a much better selling point than you trying to convince people to buy your stuff. Testimonials need to be specific, not edited and ideally, have a link to the product that the customer is talking about. You can put your customer testimonials on the individual product pages, your policies pages or your ‘shop announcement’ section.
You need clearly defined policies that you do not deviate from, except in favor of the customer. If you want to get return customers and want to have people come back again and again, you need to meet their expectations and do what you say you are going to do.
My number one, be-all, end-all for customer service – where everything flows from and where, in my opinion, you should start from is accountability. Do you do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it?
As a one person shop and as a struggling small business, you may be sitting there saying ‘But, Anne-Marie, I can’t do the 24 hour order turnaround like Bramble Berry does. I can’t answer the phone all day, pack my own boxes, answer all the emails and still have time to make stuff!’ And, I’m not saying you need to do this. I’m saying that you need to have clear policies that properly keep your customers informed about what your standards are.
If you can’t ship packages until Friday of every week, clearly state that. If you answer emails within 3 business days and not 1, clearly state that. In my experience, customers are okay with that – as long as they know it. And, on the Accountability side, that also means that when you tell a customer you’re going to get back to them, you need to deliver each and every time.
Some of the things we do at Bramble Berry (that you can do too), we’ve done from the beginning:
Thank yous on every invoice, in every box. I am genuinely amazed, delighted and thrilled when a customer orders from us. I don’t take it lightly.
Hand written notes to random customers throughout the month. Every month, I try to write at least 3 to 5 thank-you notes to customers that stood out to me. They might have stood out because they commented on our blog. They might have stood out because of the way they interacted with us. But, just a simple snail mail note goes a long way to keeping a customer for a lifetime
Free samples. Not all of the sellers on Etsy sell products that will allow for free samples. But if you do sell products that have an option for a free sample, it’s a great way to say ‘thank you’ in every box, potentially sell more products but most importantly, amaze and delight the customer. Remember, this doesn’t have to be something you sell – it could even be a cool sticker to differentiate yourself – but anything that makes the customer sit up, take notice of you and be thankful that they ordered from you.
Those are all things I did, even when I was the ‘little guy’ – a one woman operation in a 400 square foot warehouse.
Now, since we’ve grown and I have more time because I’m not personally packing all the boxes at BrambleBerry, I am able to do a few more things that really allow for increased, fanatical customer service:
Run a forum at http://www.teachsoap.com/ where I can interact with customers and newbies alike
Do this daily blog at http://www.soapqueen.com/
Have fun video tutorials at http://www.soapqueen.tv/
Twitter and stay connected all the time to customers.
Ultimately, providing great customer service is all about creating a relationship. Letting customers into the backroom at Bramble Berry, so to speak, with our Twitter, blog, forums and soapqueen.tv is just one more way of helping to foster and create that relationship.
I’ll be on Etsy in the Virtual Labs today at 2 p.m. PST to talk about the Bramble Berry story and how to provide fanatical service that totally wows your customer.
PS – Yes, that’s an actual shot from the webcam of what you’ll see in just 2 hours …
Looking to sell this cute jewelry in your shop? Joanna says that wholesale inquiries are welcome.