Crickets to Cha-Chings Episode 012
Why blogging for your Etsy shop is a terrible way to spend your time
Hey guys and welcome to another episode of Crickets to Cha-Chings. I am excited about today’s episode, so I am ready to dive right into this topic because I get asked about it all the time!
Today we are going to talk about blogging. This is a question that I get asked all the time, probably like once a week at least and I recently also did a FB live about it in my Facebook group with lots of response from people who had been told to start a blog in the past.
So, do you need a blog to drive traffic to your Etsy shop? Today we are going to talk about why I think that is generally bad advice for newbie sellers especially, when it actually might be useful to you and what kind of industries it might work for, and what you should do instead of blogging to make sure your Etsy shop gets a consistent stream of traffic.
Let’s go ahead and jump right in.
The main beef that I have, well I have a few beefs with this idea, but the main beef is that I think it's a major over-simplification of how hard it is to drive traffic to your blog and actually get any sort of response from the information or inspiration that you are putting up online. Suggesting that everyone should start a blog to drive traffic to their shop kind of hearkens back to the days when you could just throw up a Blogspot blog and have traffic there like almost immediately with very little work.
It is not at all that way any more, and hasn’t been that way for years, so the idea that you would have a blog for your website that ranks in google, and people are going to actually read it and then be invested enough in what you are saying that they will click through to Etsy shop, where they will then click through to add to their cart, and finally purchase is kind of crazy to me as a suggestion for a legit way to drive traffic to your shop and increase your sales.
I have never had a blog for my Etsy shop, and I’ve had over 13,000 sales on Etsy. Now, does that mean that I wouldn’t have had 15,000 if I had had a blog? Maybe….? But how much time and effort and energy would I have spent trying to build that blog, and how else could I have spent that time in a way to better serve my business?
Which brings me to my next point -- Blogging is super time consuming.
Whether you are starting a whole lifestyle blog where you blog about a wide range of topics, or a more niche blog, or you have a few different categories of posts that you put up each week or month, it is very time consuming to gather all the information, format it to look nice, write it all out, make graphics for it, and upload it to your website.
And I know there are people out there who say that you can just have a few different types of posts that you repeat over and over again and post, let’s say once a month.
Like you have summer roundup and a fall roundup and a winter roundup, etc.
But who is really going to read that blog when you have barely any new information on it, and it’s just a random assortment of the same types of blog posts over and over again?
Now I’m not saying that if you wanted to start a blog you should totally reinvent the wheel and come up with totally new and never before seen content all the time. But the idea that you can just throw up a blog post once a month, and then repeat a similar type of post the next month and on and on is a major oversimplification.
There’s so much content on the internet in 2019, and no one is going to read or frankly probably even find your blog if you are not consistently (like weekly) putting out new content and then promoting it - through social media and pinterest, etc.
And all of that is assuming that you even HAVE a website or blog that looks decent, and putting aside all the time it takes to get started with a website provider that does templates like Squarespace or god forbid you dive into the world of Wordpress and a year of your life is wasted as you try to figure that out or you pay someone to set up your website and make it look pretty, and it cost you a thousand dollars or more.
Again, this is 2019.
You can’t just finagle your way into setting up a blog that has terrible graphics and a terrible layout, and you don’t know anything about SEO for google or getting ranked with your stuff. It just doesn't work. This is not 10 years ago, and unfortunately it’s just not that easy anymore. So again, this is major oversimplified advice.
So that is my major beef with blogging as a marketing tool - it is such an incredible amount of work, with little to no payoff for a long period of time.
A colleague of mine who is a seriously successful blogger said that she generally recommends people prepare themselves for at least 1-2 years of blogging before they are making any kind of measurable income -- and that is for someone who is planning on blogging for the long haul as a lifestyle blogger with very regular, unique content.
I think if you started a blog today, you’d be lucky if a year from now it was getting consistent traffic to the blog, and you can probably expect MAYBE a handful of sales to have come from the blog if you are lucky. And that’s assuming that you are doing all the things to promote it, such as making graphics on pinterest and regularly pinning, promoting on social media, building an email list, etc.
So why do these so called Etsy experts or Etsy coaches (and I am using that term loosely in this context) so often recommend blogging as a way to drive traffic to your shop? Well, I want to put in a little caveat by saying that none of these things - the email list or the blog or social media are a bad way of marketing inherently. A lot of those exact same things are the way that I have marketed my coaching business CreativeMomBoss.
But therein lies the difference, and where I think a lot of that misconception or confusion comes from -- what I am doing with CreativeMomBoss is totally different than what I am doing with my Etsy shop, and what I am selling with that business is vastly different as well.
With my Etsy shop, I’m selling a physical product - monogrammed baby items. The buyer doesn’t have to know me or know my background or trust me beyond just trusting that I will deliver the product that they order, which they can see through my 2000+ positive reviews on Etsy that the likelihood of me coming through and delivering that product is very high.
With CreativeMomBoss, it’s totally different. I’m selling a service and I’m selling myself as the Etsy expert, so you as the consumer or the buyer or whatever you want to call it in my CreativeMomBoss community has to trust me. You have to know me, and buy into that backstory and to trust that I really do know what I’m talking about. And that’s a totally different way of marketing than is marketing your product based business.
So you’re hearing that advice from people who don’t have experience on Etsy selling a physical product or who are selling digital products and that’s how they are building their brand, or its just more general marketing advice and the person doesn’t know anything about Etsy as a platform and what makes Etsy different than trying to build your own space on the internet through a standalone website or a blog.
And I think a lot of times the people that are pushing blogging for a product based business get really muddled in the difference between selling a service and selling a product, and they maybe have built their knowledge based business that way, so they don’t see the difference in those two types of marketing or the differences in the ways that you should be appealing to your buyer.
Which brings me to my next point -
When is blogging a good idea or not as bad of an idea? What kind of industries for Etsy sellers can this actually work for?
If you are building a digital business, like digital downloads or planning spreadsheets, or something like that, blogging might be a good way to connect with your customer because it will allow you the opportunity to SHOW them how to best utilize your product.
Another example of an industry that this might work for would be something like SVG files or embroidery files, where you then can blog and tell your customer how to use the product and show examples of things that can be made with those files or things that previous customers have done with them.
The difference between these and something like, for example, my shop with monogrammed baby gifts, is that they buy the product in my shop and then it’s done. There’s nothing else really to do with that - they purchased the item, they get the item, they give it as a gift, they keep it for themselves whatever.
With a digital download, it is a little different, because they are buying it with a purpose in mind to use it. So rather than just buying a pair of earrings and wearing the earrings and that’s the end of the story, maybe they are buying a budgeting tracker digital download, and that’s just the beginning of how they are making changes to their lives or the ways that that item can be used.
The product that they are buying is a means to an end, not the end itself. So there’s a lot more room for you as the digital designer, to then help them continue along in their journey or stay on track or be motivated or whatever.
Hopefully that makes sense - it is sort of the difference in how the story plays out.
With products, the product is purchased and that’s the end of the story most of the time.
With supplies, or digital products, that’s just the beginning of the story of how the buyer is going to use it and what they’re going to do with it.
Another key difference there is that they may need help envisioning how to use it or a tutorial on best practices to use it and you as the seller and blogger can help them with that.
For example, I’ve seen blogs in the SVG or embroidery file niche where they talk about how to get started with embroidery or they give a how-to about what kind of stabilizer to use. Or they’ll show how to put together colors or patterns for an applique, and they are selling the applique file.
Think about that for a strictly product based business.
If I am selling monogrammed baby gifts, what would my how to be? I don’t really want to show everyone how I make my actual monogrammed baby gifts, because I would basically be training my competitors in that case.
But I also don’t have the expertise or the interest at all in talking about a wider variety of things surrounding that niche, like maybe baby shower decorations or nursery decor.
The idea of running a blog based about baby shower decorations when I sell baby shower gifts, sounds exhausting to me, and I can’t imagine having to come up with new content for that just to sell my monogrammed baby gifts. While I may eventually be able to become a baby shower expert, that’s really not where my interest or my expertise lies.
And if I spent the time to build that blog to drive traffic to my shop, I can almost guarantee that my payoff would be significantly lower than if I invested that time in something that had a much faster and better payoff.
So if you have a digital product or a collection of digital products that you can base your blog around, AND you really like blogging and writing, and that is how you want to spend your free time - trying to promote your blog and drive traffic to it and build up your content and all of that, then go for it. I’m not telling you that blogging is terrible and it won’t ever have any payoff at all. I don’t think that’s true, I just don’t think it is the best use of your time if you are limited in time and mental bandwidth and you’re a newer seller without an already built in online following.
If you have a product based business, and you don’t already have a blog and you are looking at blogging solely as a marketing technique, not as something that you actually have an interest in doing or really want to do beyond just the marketing part, then do not waste your time.
Unless you love blogging and have a desire to BE a blogger, the payoff is not going to be there for you for the time that you will spend doing it. And even if you DO love blogging and want to BE a blogger, the payoff might still not be there for you. It is tough to become a blogger these days, and everyone and their brother is an instagram influencer, so getting seen online in the blogging space takes a lot of time and energy and strategy.
So what should you do instead?
If blogging is not worth the time and energy investment, where is that time and energy best spent?
My number 1 thing that I would always recommend to people is to get your keywords in order to appeal to your customer.
If you are not harnessing the built in traffic that Etsy provides by having a platform that is well recognized, and millions of users on there, you are missing a huge opportunity to drive traffic to your shop without having to do all the work yourself.
You’re not ever going to be able to attract the same kind of traffic that a website like Etsy does -- you just aren’t going to be able to do it. So you need to take advantage of the fact that they already have that traffic there, those users are on the platform, and they are ready to buy something. They aren’t just reading a blog or collecting information -- they are primed and ready to purchase because they are on a shopping platform.
And the way that you do that is through your keywords that you’re using throughout your listings, and by optimizing those keywords to really harness the power of that SEO.
If you are just getting started on Etsy, blogging is such a long-range plan and also such a time intensive and time consuming way of marketing your shop that it is not something that you need to work on right away, or even if you have like mid-level sale and you're doing okay, and honestly maybe even if you are having a ton of sales. I have never had a blog for my Etsy shop, nor do I plan on having one.
It is just not the best use of my time, and I am all about utilizing your time in the best possible way, because who of us has hours upon hours to kill doing things for your business that will not move the needle forward? Definitely not me, and I doubt you do either.
I hope this episode has been helpful and explained why I am so anti-blogging as a way of driving traffic to an Etsy shop, particularly if you are a newer seller, don’t have a huge inherent interest in blogging, and don’t already have a large following that is eating up the information that you put out there.
If you are looking for more at the tips or ways to help get those keywords in line and really work on your search engine optimization for your Etsy shop, I would love to have you join me in my private Facebook group Etsy Roadmap by Lauren Keplinger. The link to join that is creativemomboss.com/facebook.