Being Exceptional on Etsy

on Mar 5th, 2013 | in Etsy Tips | 3 Comments

It’s hard to stand out from the pack on Etsy. With close to a million active sellers, the competition is packed tight in every product category. Sellers often find themselves in a rut – their photos are solid, descriptions and tags are carefully entered, but sales are stagnant. Brooke Marton of Firebird Bath & Body is here to deliver a kick to the pants to anyone floundering on Etsy.

“What am I doing wrong?” is a question that gets asked daily on Etsy by sellers struggling to make sales.

Sometimes there’s an easy answer. The photos are dark and blurry; measurements, materials or other important information is missing from item descriptions. Most of the time the answer isn’t as straight-forward. The photos are decent, descriptions are fine, their profile and policies are filled out, the prices are reasonable. “My products are just as good as the competition – why am I not selling?” No one can deliver any substantial advice.

The “What am I doing wrong?” question presupposes that customers are lining up outside your shop, ready to buy, but are being thwarted by some flaw of which you are unaware. If only you could figure out what it was and remove the barrier, the sales would come pouring in.

That isn’t how it works.

When was the last time you bought something because it was “just as good” as another item? You don’t buy things because they’re okay-looking, you buy them because they’re beautiful, unique and amazing and you love it. When you’re looking to buy something and have several options, you’re going to choose the one that calls to you – the one that stands out as exceptional or special or different or better.

Everyone on Etsy has a substantial amount of competition. People looking to buy something can search and find pages of items to choose from. If your items aren’t chosen, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or your shop – maybe there’s just nothing right about them.

Rather than obsessively tweaking your prices up and down, endlessly fiddling with tags and titles (those are important, of course – but the best SEO in the world can only get you seen, it won’t help you sell) and asking what’s wrong, try asking yourself “what’s right about my shop?”

Do a search for the type of items you sell and take a hard, honest look at what buyers are seeing. Do your listings jump off the page or blend in with the competition? Is your eye drawn to click on them first, or did you pass them by? Once you do click, are you compelled by what you read and see? Will a buyer feel like this is something different from what the other shops have? Is it presented in a way that is interesting and special and memorable? If you don’t get those feelings, buyers certainly won’t – and those feelings are what make them buy.

Good enough isn’t good enough. Okay photos aren’t good enough. Adequate descriptions aren’t good enough. A product that’s “just as good” as the other ones on Etsy isn’t good enough! Mediocrity does not bring sales.

If you want to be successful, strive to be exceptional in everything you do. That means constantly working to improve your craft, your presentation, your customer service – everything.

“So, what am I doing wrong?”

You’re not setting your standards high enough. You’re letting the competition set the bar and you’re satisfied to reach no higher – when you ought to be reaching above them to stand out in the crowded marketplace.

“But this shop over here has tons of sales, and they’re not doing anything any better than I am.”

You don’t know how they got those sales. Maybe they do extensive off-site advertising. Maybe they sell a lot to friends and family. Maybe they started before you and they had less competition. It doesn’t matter. Being as good as the competition does not guarantee you sales. You need to be better.

“But I’m not a professional. I know my items aren’t the best out there but I think they’re okay. I’m selling them cheap because I have fun making them and I thought maybe someone might want them. I don’t have time to work on my descriptions, I’m not interested in buying a better camera – this is just for fun.”

Prepare for some harsh reality. Why should anyone buy from you if even you admit what you’re selling isn’t that great? If you don’t have it in you to make an exceptional product, reconsider selling. Seriously. Crafting can be for fun – we don’t all have to sell. We don’t all have to be professionals, either – if selling a few products here and there to pay for supplies to make more crafts makes you happy, don’t feel pressured to make sales every day.

And if you do want to be a professional, and know that you’re not there yet – work on your craft. Strive to improve. Accept that presentation is important. Don’t settle for okay.

Brooke Marton of Firebird Bath & Body creates handmade soaps, lip balms, perfume oils and more. She’s no stranger to Etsy success – with over 22,000 sales, Brooke has proven to be quite exceptional. Follow her on Facebook or read her featured seller¬†interview on the Etsy Blog.
Adapted from an inspirational Etsy forum post by Brooke. Cover image by Gary McCafferty on Flickr.
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3 Responses

  1. This is an extremely insightful, helpful article for both experienced and new sellers alike. Really struck a chord with me as a new shop on Etsy, and made me look at things in a different light. Thanks for posting.

  2. Cherie Nash says:

    Very good advice – thanks for encouraging us to be better than what is out there.

    • Bree says:

      I appreciate your frankness! I realize that I want to be more than just OK. I want to be exceptional and I will work on everything you mentioned. Thanks!

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