Most of those businesses are indeed very small—the same survey found that 83% of Etsy shops are one-person operations–but a solid 18% of respondents work on their Etsy stores full-time.
Fast Company spoke with Kimm Alfonso, Etsy’s director of Seller Development, to learn how sellers can stand out on the platform. Here’s what she told us:
Diversifying your product line is a good way to expand sales, according to Alfonso. “Often it comes from a relationship with a customer, the customer saying, ‘Why don’t you offer this in this size or this color?’” Alfonso says. “If [the seller] is able to accommodate that, it helps them with their business.”
Take PuurBody, a shop that sells handmade beauty products. The store sells about 500 products. “And [the seller] also expands her sales channels,” Alfonso says. “So now she’s doing wholesale and doing market. She’s constantly being additive to her business and not letting momentum stop.”
When people shop on Etsy, they browse pages of thumbnails, which means having good photos of your items is critical.
“Having some nice, consistent light, showing scale, is something we always coach our sellers to do,” Alfonso says. “You can also really set a tone and a mood for your whole brand identity through those product photos.”
One example of good tone and brand, Alfonso says, is the shop alexandra ferguson, which sells merchandise with mottos like “Strong is the New Skinny” and “Let Go.” The store’s photos are all shot on the same white background, which allows the colorful phrases to stand out.
Another example Alfonso points to is Brandi Harper, the proprietor of PurlBknit, who has a hip Brooklyn aesthetic, with sprigs of wildflowers making cameos in her photos–and Harper herself serving as a model.
Etsy provides tools that allow sellers to see which search terms are bringing them the most traffic. “The best advice I can give there is to really understand how a buyer would be searching for your item and really optimizing your listing for that,” Alfonso says.
One mistake Alfonso often sees sellers make is being too cute or artistic in descriptions of items, at the expense of clearly describing the item they are selling. Clearly describing your product in text fields helps customers find the product in search.
When building a store, a little informal A/B testing can help focus product lines. Alfonso encourages sellers to observe how Etsy buyers react to new products and make decisions based on those reactions.
Alfonso, for instance, started her Etsy shop selling jewelry and T-shirts. “At the end of the day I was a much better T-shirt maker than I was a jeweler,” she says. “And I could see that in my sales.” Now she just sells T-shirts.
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