Back when I first started to sell my items I did not do a lot of things quite right. I fumbled through and while I loved to crochet their is a lot more that goes into owning a small business or even just selling your items to friends and family.
First, I made three big errors when starting my business I did not plan ahead, I took terrible photos to list my items, and I did not focus on my speciality. I feel like I definitely jumped into my shop before I was prepared or ready to make the leap. I did not know anything about titles, tags, reaching your customer and pretty much anything that goes with the Etsy side of the house. I will say Etsy is a wonderful platform and I appreciate being able to grow through their site. I was still able to fumble my way through with the help of listing items, descriptions and shipping options. Etsy makes it so you have a preset listing to build your item into and it is helpful! I think that may be the main reason I continued to work on my shop. I would recommend researching your customer base, so that you know what items are potentially hot and maybe some that are not up to par. You can love your work, but in running a business other people need to want to purchase it. To summarize, I would recommend you plan ahead by researching your client base and how you are going to manage everything in the shop.
I 100% recommend the Etsy Seller Guide found here https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook You do not have to read every morsel, but it is a good idea to have a place to start.
A few brief points I want to address:
– Use ALL your title space, you pay .20 cents for each listing make sure you make the most of it. Include descriptive words, things people are searching for, and the name you call your item.
-Use ALL of your tags, do not leave one of them blank. That is leaving advertising space open instead of maximizing it.
– Take good photos in the daylight.
-Pick the item you would like to make and also be sure to follow Etsy’s rules on handmade.
– Describe your item in the listing. A good description includes sizing details, shop announcements such as turn around times, and shipping policies or where they can be found in your shop.
-Make your shop policy and stick to it!
– Continue to work on your shop. I still need to update listings and work on better descriptions and sometimes I do 5 listings a day sometimes just 1 a week. I do try to keep changing my tags to reflect holidays and seasons.
Second, photos are something I STILL struggle with and am constantly working on. I will say in my shop some items are custom and some are only made a few times. If I did not take a good picture when I made the item I would have to remake the item to get a good photo. When I first started, I sent props for free to every photographer who asked me. I would mail them the item and in return they would send me photos. This does sound like a good plan, but the majority of the people I traded with never sent me photos. After at least a year of this trial and error I had some beautiful photos, but not a lot of return on the postage and items with NO photos! I think it was hard trying to do this type of transaction with people out of my area. I was then contacted by a local photographer who is amazing!! I think when you visit my site you will see most of my professional photos were done by Halley McCann Photography of Pittsburgh, PA. I was able to meet her and we exchanged the items. She taught me to value my work and really provided me with photos that I think have the wow factor for my shop.
Next, I tried to take on too many projects. I was making everything that could be crocheted in the beginning! I was trying to fit every need and was burning myself out. There are so many sub-categories in the crochet world that it is impossible to do them all as a one person shop. It is ok to try new things and add new items, but you should have a specialty. I personally love the challenge of hats and making new styles. I love photo props as well, so you will find that my shop mainly focuses on hats and photo props. If browsing Etsy, you can see that their are many other categories such as amigurimi (small animals or dolls), blankets, clothing, and many more. I can make most of the other items and I do love adding different ones to my shop, but I keep my focus on hats and photo props to prevent my self from being burnt out. I would recommend that while you can try to be a giant and do many things, start out with a special item in your category and expand from there.
I hope I have answered some of your questions and encouraged you to maybe take the leap and open your shop! Even if you work on taking my advice on good photos, listing details, and using all your title space you can gain a lot from trying a listing for yourself. I feel that my mistakes such as not being prepared, taking photos like I did, and taking on too much can lend to help some feel more prepared to open their store.
P.S. If you are thinking of starting a shop this link http://etsy.me/2Dh6Nlk will give you 40 free listings to start. I also get 40 free listings since it is my referral link. Once you get started you can share your own link and gain listings as well!
Please note I did not list all of the wonderful photographers who did return photos! There was a lot of trial and error. I was new to this idea, so it was a learning curve on newborn items and they may not have been what the photographer likes style wise. That is fine too! You just have to find someone who fits with you!