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Things I Learnt In My First Year Of Selling On Etsy

It has been about a year, give or take, since the notion to set up my own little Etsy shop popped into my brain. After watching one too many resin pour videos on tik tok, I decided that my fortune was to be made in mixing dried flowers with chemical glue stuff and somehow forming it into jewellery and homeware. Fast forward a few months and I am in the urgent care unit of a small hospital in the middle of a global pandemic waiting to be seen by a doctor to assess what in the world could have caused the mystery rash that had spread from my hands, up my arms, up my neck, across my face and caused major swelling to my eyes. First lesson learnt (the hard way), always wear gloves and goggles when working with resin. Or, for me, bin all the resin and curse its very name until the cows come home. Both work. 

Since then, I have made 120 sales (and counting!) selling jewellery (of the non-resin variety) and, more recently, candles and wax melts. It has been fun. It has been tiring. It has contained a lot more maths than I wanted to be involved with. It has also been kinda expensive - especially as I can't stop buying new moulds for the wax melts and fragrances and a tonne of gemstones to stick on basically everything. But I have also learnt a few little tips and tricks that I thought would be useful to share.

Tik Tok is your friend

Tik Tok is the marmite of social media sites. Some people have a borderline addiction to it and literally can't sleep without their nightly hours long scroll. Some people think it is just for kids. And some people simply avoid it because they don't want to fall down the rabbit hole of cute puppy vids. But it can be great for small business! If you follow people who create similar stuff to you, it is a super easy way to create a little supportive community and drive traffic to other sites too. Also Tik Tok has a crazy way of making random videos go viral out of nowhere. I should know - I have just shy of 200 followers but one of my videos has 27000 views and over 1000 likes. If you post consistently on there and interact with others, it is a great way to build your business.

Make your product titles long

This is a tip that I only recently learnt but apparently is super important. Long product titles make it more likely for your product to come up in searches on Etsy. For example, instead of listing something as 'rose soy wax candle', list it as 'vegan, eco-friendly, soy wax container candle, rose scented' - just try to really expand on all elements of your product and wack as much as you can into that product title without making it look too spammy.

Research hashtags

When I first started posting on my business instagram, I was just using hashtags like #etsy and #smallbusiness - which are fine but each have thousands of posts on them. My posts were disappearing in seconds because there were just too many posts on there. So I had a little search and found some localised hashtags for my area. Stuff like #shoplocalcardiff and #smallbusinesswales are ones that I use on every post as I want to tap into that local audience and encourage people to shop locally. It also means that I can drop off orders around Cardiff and meet a lot of lovely people whilst also saving them money on packaging - it is really win-win.

Add up your costs properly

Before my boyfriend got involved and started asking about what everything costs, I was just guessing what I should price things as - and often underselling myself. Be sure to keep track of the cost of things (especially packaging as I always forget to factor this in) and price accordingly. Also keep your eyes on what the postage is costing as Royal Mail are getting cheeky and keep upping the costs every so often.

One big spend saves in the long run

Sometimes spending big once will save you money over time. A great example of this is investing in a logo stamp. This feels really frivolous in the moment but if you add up all the costs of stickers and labels over time - it is a real money saver. And you can get pretty gold ink for it too.

Work on your photography

One thing that I think has really improved for me in this year is the quality of my photography. Product photography is totally different from my usual style of photography - which I would characterise as my kids being silly in cute locations - so it has been a learning curve. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest just looking at how other people shoot similar products and I have kinda sorted a method that works for me. I use as much natural light as possible (I shoot on the windowsill in my kids' room) and use the curtain as background so it is a clean, single colour then I put flowers in front of the lens to add depth to the photo. But definitely play around and see what works for you! Just make sure your product is clear and that you can easily see all aspects to it.

What are your top tips for starting out on Etsy?

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