Crickets to Cha-Chings Episode 014
How long does it take to make your first sale on Etsy?
Hey there and welcome back to another episode of Crickets to Cha-Chings. I’m Lauren Keplinger and I am the host of this little corner of the internet.
If you are new to the podcast or new to CreativeMomBoss, I would love to invite you to join my private FB group, Etsy Roadmap by Lauren Keplinger. We have such a wonderful group of Etsy entrepreneurs who are so willing to give advice and feedback, and just have great discussions about the selling platform and selling online in general. I would love for you to join us and you can do that at creativemomboss.com/facebook
The topic of today's podcast is going to be how long does it take to get your first sale on Etsy? if you are brand new to platform or you’ve selling on Etsy for a little while, I still think you will be able to get some good advice from this episode because it is true of everyone that is new to the platform and doesn't really have consistent sales.
But I get asked all the time, how long is it going to take me to get my first sale?
And a lot of times if you ask this question in large Facebook groups and Etsy Facebook group specifically, people will tell their anecdotal stories about how it took six months to get their first sale on the platform, or they have been selling for a year and they still haven't had a sale, and you just have to be patient because it takes a long time to get found on the internet.
It always makes me cringe when I hear that advice because I think that it can be
a) so discouraging to hear that you may work on your shop and put these listings up on the internet and then maybe six months from now you will have sold one thing, and
B) it's just terrible advice that allows people to blame it on the internet and blame it on the platform rather than looking at their shop and looking at what they're doing in their shop and figuring out why this is not working.
So let me just come out and say it: It should not take 6 months or definitely not a year to get one sale on Etsy.
I started my shop on September 3rd, 2012 and I had my first sale on September 7th.
Now granted that was a long time ago and there weren’t as many at the shops at the time, and all of that. But even then everybody talked about how Etsy was oversaturated and the internet was oversaturated and there was no room to be successful and I had missed the boat of starting my shop years earlier. And I still had my first sale within 4 days.
Now, it was my college roommate’s mom that bought from me, so I definitely wasn't blowing up the internet with my brand-new shop and attracting all of these wonderful strangers to buy my products.
But still I had that sale within 4 days, and the next one about a week after that, and the next two days after that, and by the end of the first month I’d had over $200 in sales, definitely not all to my friend’s mom or people I knew...I don’t have that many people that I know that are supportive enough to be buying $200 worth of stuff.
So if you are 6 months into selling on Etsy and you have not had any sales or you had one or two sales, or honestly even if you are a couple months in and you haven't sold anything or you have maybe sold something only to someone that you knew, it's really time to re-evaluate what you're doing and you look at your shop and see where you can improve in order to drive more traffic to your shop.
Let's jump into my top 5 things to look at if you are struggling with your sales or not getting a lot of traffic or sales to really make your shop look more professional and attract the right kind of customers.
Number 1, make sure you have decent pictures.
I can't tell you how many times that I click on somebody's Etsy shop and see their product photography which is so dark and depressing and dingy looking that it would be a miracle if a customer was attracted to it enough to buy. And I do not say that to be mean or to be discouraging about your photography or how difficult product photography is.
I totally struggle with photography, it is not something that I enjoy, it is not something that I'm good at, and it has been something that I have had to work on over and over and over again over the years, much to my chagrin.
But when you are selling online and you are selling to somebody that cannot see your product in person and can't touch it and look at it and feel it, you have to make sure that the photography that you are using to advertise that product and to attract your customer is really showing your product in the best light that you possibly can.
That does not mean that is going to look like it came out of a Pottery Barn catalogue, but that's not even necessary because people know that most at the sellers are people working from home and not professional photographers and don't have a huge studio to set things up and make them look beautiful.
I don't think that perfectly staged Instagram influencer-esque photos are necessary, but I do think that it's necessary to have good lighting in your pictures, a clean simple background or backdrop, and multiple pictures that show different angles of the product or different details of the products that the customer might find interesting or necessary to know if they wanted to buy it.
Again I don't want you to feel like this is an insurmountable task because you don't have any photography experience and you're just not good at taking pictures, because it is not necessary to be an amazing photographer in order to have decent pictures of your products.
I actually ran an experiment at one time with my products and hiring a photographer to take better, more staged photos. I had a picture of my product that I took with my camera on a flat lay, in my son's bedroom up against the window where there was good sunlight, and then I also had a picture of the same product that I hired an influencer to take. Her photo was staged in a really cute nursery, it had beautiful lighting, and just a really crisp, clean, sort of trendy looking picture. Ultimately the picture that I took with the basic folded blanket on a backdrop has always, consistently sold better.
My best photography tips would be to find a well-lit room, that has large windows or a lot of natural sunlight. You can buy very cheap photography backdrops on Amazon, and I will link to one that I have that's held up really well on the show notes for this episode at creativemomboss.com/episode014.
I took those paper or vinyl backdrops and taped them around a poster board- like a foam board - and then put my product on top of it, pushed it up against the window, not in direct sunlight but kind of like in the shadowy part of the bright sunlight, and that's how I've always taken my pictures.
Are they perfect? Are they going to win any photography awards? Are they good enough to put into a magazine?
No on all three of those.
But they're good enough to sell on Etsy, they have served me well for years, and it's a pretty simple and inexpensive way of taking product photography that allows the product to be showcased and the colors and the details of the item to be seen, without incurring a lot of expense or having to hire somebody out to do it and then coordinate with their schedule and pay them and all of that stuff.
Number two on my list of things that you need to make sure are in place and ready to go if your shop is kind of struggling or you just haven't seen the kind of sales that you're wanting to see is to make sure that your shop is filled out and all of your policies are in place to protect you and the customer in the transaction.
As a consumer I would never purchase from an Etsy shop that had no policies or had really sketchy policies that showed me that they did not understand how the world will know Commerce Works. What a my biggest pet peeves is when I see people that have something on there at the shop that says something along the lines of “once the item leaves my house it's out of my hands and if the post office loses it you're out of luck.” Usually they word it a little nicer than that, sometime like “once it leaves my house it is not my responsibility,” but the message is still there -- and the message that I get from that is that they are not an informed seller, and they don’t understand how buyer protection works.
Now as a seller I know that if the post office loses that package in transit and it never gets delivered to me, the seller absolutely is responsible and I will be able to get my money back. But I also know that because that seller is not informed and not knowledgeable about selling online, they are probably going to be a pain in the butt to deal with. and it makes me question what else they're uninformed and unknowledgeable about, which makes me question whether they would be a good person to work with or not, and ultimately I would never buy from a shop that says that in the policies.
It's just one example and it's something that's kind of a pet peeve of mine because I see it all of the time, but you just want to make sure that your shop is filled out in a way that is professional and looks like a business not just like your online yard sale.
You just want to make sure that you have everything that's available to be filled out, filled out. this would include things like your shopping announcement, your Shop Story, You're about me, your profile picture whether it's a logo or an actual picture of you. You just don't want to have any blank boxes that looks like you didn't even spend the time to remotely try to make this look decent.
Number three of my list of things to work on is the biggest thing, and also the most important. And that is to work on your SEO. You knew that I was not going to get through this whole episode without mentioning SEO, right?
Your SEO is absolutely vital to the success of your Etsy shop. Without mastering your SEO, you’re going to be spending way more time and effort trying to market your Etsy shop, and you’re ultimately not going to see the same payoff as you would with driving organic traffic through the SEO.
Your SEO is made up of your titles, tags, and attributes in your listing, which are things like color, size, holiday, etc that Etsy offers as drop down menu items in the backend of your listing.
Making sure that SEO is optimized to attract your customers, the people who not only would be interested in looking at your shop and admiring your products, but also be interested in actually checking out and becoming a customer, is crucial to being found in the Etsy search engine.
The best way to get found in Etsy search is by optimizing your keywords in your titles and tags. When you’re writing out your titles and tags, be thinking of your customer -- what are they shopping for? Are they buying a gift? Are they buying for a holiday? Are the looking for a specific style of something? Sometimes it helps to describe your item out loud -- make up a sentence or two of how you would describe your item if you were a customer who was shopping for something like that.
I know that people get really overwhelmed by SEO, but the truth of the matter is that once you really understand how it works and how it helps you to get found, it is a very simple thing to master and will completely transform your shop and your revenue.
Number four on my list of things to work on would be to make sure that you have at least 10 to 15 listings in your shop, especially if you're just getting started. A lot of times people will ask me what is the magic number of listings that they should have when their first opening, and I struggle to really answer that because I don't think there is exactly a magic number.
However if a buyer were to stumble upon the front part of your shop where they saw all of your listings, you don't want to only have one or two items listed because it looks like you are brand new and very inexperienced.
Now you may BE brand new and also very inexperienced, but you want to make sure that you're putting forth a professional image and having at least a handful of listings - let's say 10 minimum - will show a buyer that you are serious about selling and also that you have a variety of options listed where they can look and see what other kinds of things you make and maybe something else catches their interest.
So what do you do if you don't have 10 different products that you make? My best advice in this realm is to stretch your listings as much as possible. do you have a jewelry set that lets say it has a necklace and a pair of earrings? You can list the whole set with both items as a listing, and then you can list the necklace separately, and then you can listen earrings separately. There you have three listings from one.
Another example - Maybe you have a pair of silver earrings but then you've also made those same earrings in gold and right now you have it listed as one listing with a variation for silver and a variation for gold.
I would recommend that you create two listings from that. They can literally be the same listing that you just create and then copy it, but on one of them have the first picture be a pair of silver earrings and the silver option is the first option in a variation, and then in the second listing have the gold picture be the first picture that shows up in the search, and then the gold variation is the first one in the drop-down menu.
There you have to separate listings that are essentially the same thing, but it allows people to see different options and it allows you to get found in the search through those keywords separately.
I can go on and on with examples of how to do this, but just think about how to expand on those listings and how to stretch what you have so that you're not creating a ton of samples or giving away a ton of free stuff to friends because you've made them to be able to take pictures of and then list in your shop as an example. Think about how you can maximize what you already have to create the most number of listings without actually having to create a whole bunch of products before you have sales of those products.
My last little nugget of advice if you are just getting started on Etsy or you haven't really had consistent sales on Etsy is to direct everyone that you know Etsy, all of your traffic, to Etsy.
Often times I will have people that will ask me how to be successful on Etsy, but they have had success selling on Facebook to friends and family or whatever. And it really depends on your goals because a lot of people are happy just selling on Facebook here and there it's a very part-time thing and that's the end of it.
I'm assuming that's not your goal because you're listening to this podcast, so if your goal is to reach far beyond your family and friends, I would recommend that you direct your traffic to the Etsy platform. Even if it is somebody that you know, or somebody local, or a friend or family or whatever, part of what makes your listings on Etsy relevant is having traffic that goes to your shop and then checks out and buy your products.
That shows Etsy that people are interested in your products and making the decision to buy your products after looking at them. So even if you know that the person is already going to buy because you are friends with them in real life, it's still helps you to move up the ladder of listings in the search if you have that person check out through Etsy.
Now I am know that I am going to have people email me and say this, so I'm just going to go ahead and address it right off the bat. You don't want to pay fees to Etsy when you are driving the traffic or you know the person like your friend in real life, right? Okay I get that. But what are your long-term goals. Are your long-term goals to sell to your friends forever? Then selling in person is fine.
If your long-term goal is to have a broader reach than that, then you need to figure out how to get down in Search. And having people by your listings will help you to get search and it will help you to be more relevant in the Etsy algorithm.
I can't imagine if I had not sold those first few items to people that I knew because I wanted to save that 5% Etsy fee and sell directly to them. It would potentially have taken so much more time to get that ball rolling and get found on the platform, which has ended up with almost a half a million dollars in sales produced from my little one woman basement shop. Sometimes in business you have to look at the long-range plan, and not what is saving you a few pennies here and there right now. That 5% cost on Etsy can help move the needle in your business and getting found in a real way in the search on Etsy, which will bring in hundreds and hundreds and thousands of buyers.
I would highly recommend that you really look at the bigger picture of that rather than just that 5% fee.
I hope that all these things have been really helpful to you if you are just getting started or if you are in that weird time of being started but not really seeing any success and not really sure where to go with your shop and how to move that needle forward in your business.
If you have opened your shop and you have not gotten that first sale or you got that first sale or handful of sales and then it kind of died and you didn't have anything else happen and you're not sure how long to wait, I would really encourage you to hop on over to our Facebook group community, Etsy Roadmap by Lauren Keplinger and join in the discussion about your Etsy shop and the Etsy best practices. we would love to have you and love to have you join in that Community. You can find that at creativemomboss.com/facebook.
That's all for today and I will see you back here next week, same time same place. Bye for now.