Opening an Etsy Shop: The Unknown Isn’t Scary.
If you have a handmade product and everyone tells you that you should sell your work; if you are a connoisseur of vintage goods and are looking for a place to sell your goods; if you are a gifted artist: Etsy is the place for you.
This post should help you prepare for the unknowns. It’s way easier than you may think!
Let’s start with what can be sold on Etsy:
- Handmade goods
- Vintage items (20 years or older)
- Craft Supplies
If your item(s) fit these requirements, let’s move on to what you’ll need!
Setup is very user friendly in four easy steps:
- Name Your Shop
- List Items
- Get Paid
- Open Shop
Here’s a quick-start checklist by Etsy.
For a little more in-depth checklist, this is what you’ll need:
- Shop Name
- Banner (optional)
- Inventory (at least 50, but 10 will get you started)
- Shipping supplies
- PayPal account and/or credit/debit card and checking account
This list may seem daunting, but once you get the ball rolling it gets easier. Establish a system and with that system, should come a nice work flow.
Karen and I decided to start small. A storefront is our ultimate goal, but we chose to wade in a baby pool first rather than cannonball into a lake.
Considering our love of vintage items, we knew Etsy would be a great venue for selling our small items that would ship easily with very little overhead. Our larger items? We weren’t quite sure what the plan would be. However, we knew Etsy would be a great start.
Our business started with a concept: To sell vintage, handmade and upcycled items.
After much brainstorming we decided The Salvaged Boutique was a good fit. We knew we would be selling vintage and salvaged goods. The “boutique” parts fits our feminine flair.
Whatever you choose it should give the shopper an idea of what you are selling.
We actually found our logo on Etsy by a designer who sells pre-made one-of-a-kind logo designs. She provided a basic design and we asked her to tweak it a bit to come up with this:
She promises that once the logo design is sold she will not resell it. A little risky? I suppose. But, she had great reviews and through communication I felt confident we were receiving a unique design.
This isn’t a requirement but it does help personalize your shop. We used paint.net to create our banner. It’s a free image and photo editing software program for Microsoft Windows computers. It’s a little quirky if you ask me but once you get the hang of using it, it’s a great tool and FREE so you can’t beat that.
The size requirement for an Etsy shop banner is 760 pixels x 100 pixles. I used several images of some our popular furniture projects, some colored borders and our logo:
But don’t let this banner option intimidate you! You can easily open a shop without it. We were open for about a year before I created our banner.
We had a variety of vintage items and some of our own upcycled items. So, we started listing them. This is easy and self explanatory on Etsy; a template is provided for each listing. Fill in the blanks, check boxes and drop down menus. You can also create draft listings and activate the listings later. Easy peasy.
We had someone ask us to list a large number of vintage glassware on consignment. Inventory was not an issue. We had well over 100 items to start. This is the recommended number of items in a shop. Some people say the more the better, like 250. We’ve been open one year and we still haven’t hit that number yet. It all takes time… hence the next topic.
The challenge for us isn’t inventory. It’s time.
It takes time to photograph, edit images, research pricing, determine shipping costs and create each listing. This is probably easier for the handmade artist who sell similar items and can copy each listing. A vintage seller, however, usually has unique items requiring individualized listings for each and every item.
Vintage items require a lot of research. Karen usually starts the research process for each listing. She finds the proper name for the item, key words and average price. She finds this info through Etsy listings, eBay listings and Google searches. We find that our items sell best when priced in the average price range or a little lower. Everyone wants a bargain, right? But we also try not to underprice.
For our upcycled and handmade items we sometimes find similar items listed on eBay and Etsy and use those prices as a gauge, along with how much time and money we invested in the item. Pricing our own work is more challenging than pricing vintage items. Know that pricing can easily be changed on Etsy listings!
An Etsy listing lasts four months and every single part of the listing, including the price, can be changed at anytime. You can even deactivate a listing and then reactivate it. On a few occasions we have lowered our price and that led to a sale.
This is sooo important.
A good quality camera made a big difference for me, but the biggest lesson learned about photography? Lighting. Natural lighting. This would be my IDEAL studio for photography.
I’ll just keep dreaming. 😉
No matter what, your photographs will be amazingly better in natural light. Photograph near a window during the day and preferably when the sun is shining. Turn off lights and lamps when taking photos! Trust me, this makes a big difference.
A consistent look is important, too. Some people prefer a rustic look with a wood or brick background, some people swear by an all white background. We use the white subway tile back-splash in my kitchen the most often.
But for many of our white milk glass pieces this doesn’t work very well so we use a pretty wallpaper background or a wood table.
For us, our consistency lies in crisp, clear, bright, pretty pictures taken in natural lighting. This fits our style.
If natural lighting is a challenge for you: your studio doesn’t have windows; you work during the day and evenings are the most convenient time to photograph—a light box might be a good option. Click here for creative tutorials on how to make your own light box; or you can always buy one.
We haven’t taken this step. Yet… I can see us eventually creating our own, however.
In each listing you have the option of charging one flat fee or you can choose to have the shipping calculator displayed. If you choose the shipping calculator, you’ll need to determine the size of the box you will use to ship the item and then the weight. The buyer then enters their shipping zip code. Based on the weight and dimensions you enter in the listing, the shipping cost will be calculated for the buyer.
Another benefit on Etsy is that you can print your own shipping labels. Again, this is self-explanatory on Etsy with check boxes and drop down menus. I make sure I insure each item I ship; and, trust me, it’s worth it. The majority of the items we ship are sent Priority Mail which includes insurance for up to $100. Unfortunately accidents happen and you may need to file an occasional claim.
Last but not least, you’ll need a credit/debit card so Etsy can deduct your monthly bill. You’ll need a checking account (business or personal) so they can deposit your funds. And if you choose to accept PayPal as a payment option from buyers, then you’ll need your PayPal account information to link up the accounts.
I feel like I’ve written too much already, but honestly it’s not enough! So I plan on posting PART 2 of this series, and if the interest is there, maybe even PART 3.
Our Etsy shop has been invaluable to our business. At this point it is our storefront. We’ve met new clients, we’ve heard personal stories about the purchases made from our shop, we’ve learned lessons in business and I can now compete with anyone on box-making and how to recycle material for shipping.
Don’t fear the unknown. Go for it! If you have a gift, if you feel like you have an entrepreneur in you and simply need a place to sell your goods, DO IT. You have nothing to lose and lots of cash to gain! Etsy has an amazing seller community, with forums, a blog and a seller’s handbook. Use it. It’s all free, and other shop owners are quick to reply to your calls for assistance.
Karen and I had a record sales month in December 2014. We have set our goals even higher for 2015.
If you are interested in PART 2 of Opening an Etsy Shop, click here to read my guide on domestic shippping. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have about starting a business on Etsy. Your questions may help guide PART 2, so please comment below or send us an email at Kathy@thesalvagedboutique.com.