Hi, guys! In case you've been wondering where I went, you can find me (and lots of fun recipes & DIYs) over at my new blog, So You Guys. I decided I need a personal blog to share all the fun stuff I do in my life and stick to shop talk over here. I hope you come and check it out. I've transfered some of my favorite posts and, of course, having been adding bunches of new things!
I hope you've found this series helpful so far. This is the last installment for now. I'll definitely let you know if I discover anything else that I find useful! Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. I'm more than happy to help fellow Etsy sellers!
In order to successfully sell ANYTHING, you need to know your product. You need to be an expert on whatever it is that your selling. This is true for handmade and vintage items. Customers will feel more comfortable buying from you if you're knowledgeable about what you're selling. Make sure you're calling your products by the correct name, that you're certain of the manufacturer, era it came from, etc. You don't want your customer to know more about your products than you do!
Don't make stuff up or pretend that you know more than you do! Do your homework and know your stuff. Also, if I see one more tacky 80's print listed as "art deco", I may scream.
Let me give you an example here. Let's pretend you're trying to sell a crocheted owl hat. You see that another Etsy seller has a very similar hat listed for $20. Your first instinct is to list your hat for $19, so shoppers buy your hat over the competitor. DON'T DO THAT! I understand the urge, but in undercutting your competitor, you're shooting yourself in the foot. List your hat at $20 too (unless you honestly believe $20 is overpriced).
First of all, you deserve to make what your product is worth. By undercutting your competitors, you're undercutting yourself. If 10 Etsy sellers are selling owl hats for $20 each, they've made that the industry standard. If some fool comes along and sells theirs for less, they're not making what they should and they're making shoppers think the other hats are overpriced. That hurts the whole market and their own profit margin. It's really hard to keep a crochet business going if you don't have money for new yarn!
This goes for vintage items too! If everyone undercuts everybody else, no one will make money! If you're not sure what to charge, research it!
The best help you have is right at your fingertips! The Etsy community is the best thing about opening your shop on Etsy instead of somewhere else! If you have a question, there are forums you can read that will probably answer it. You can even start a new thread with your question to get answers. Most Etsy sellers are more than happy to help new sellers. You may think of these people as competitors, but you should be thinking of them as colleagues.
You'll be a more powerful seller if you work with your new colleagues. Joining Etsy teams is a great way to get your items promoted by others. All you have to do is return the favor! It may seem counterproductive to promote for others. However, if you're tweeting or pinning or facebooking their items (and your own) and they're doing the same, everyone gets more exposure. Take full advantage of your new friends! Branch out and network. You're business will grow so much faster!
That's all I have for now! I spent the weekend moving and I won't have internet in my new place until sometime Wednesday. Hang tight and I'll see you soon!
Today I'm going to tell you how to make shipping a little easier on yourself. Deciding what to charge for shipping on each item has been the most difficult thing for me because the products I sell are all different sizes and weights. Also, selling on Etsy, I never know what part of the country I'll be shipping to. This may not be a problem for you if you sell something small or lightweight, like jewelry. For everyone else, this is what I recommend.....
First of all, I make sure I have high quality packing material. This is especially important with boxes because they are stacked up in shipping trucks and lower quality boxes can be crushed. The only time I ever had a problem was when I shipped some glassware in a box that had a 75 lb edge crush rating. Fortunately for me, my customer was EXTREMELY understanding. After that, I switched to boxes that are made to withstand 200 lbs and haven't had another problem. I buy mine from Uline. They're affordable and I get my order in one day!
I try my best to be green with my packing materials. I reuse boxes that have been shipped to me, when I can, and use quite a bit of newspaper as padding. I've even heard of some people getting materials from sites like Freecycle. I don't personally go that route because I don't want to risk sending my customers anything that smells musty or smokey (or even worse, has bugs!) This means I end up buying bubble wrap and packing peanuts because I need to make sure fragile items don't break in transit and newspaper just doesn't cut it! I buy starch packing peanuts because they're biodegradable. So, I do what I can to be kind to the environment without sacrificing quality.
Purchasing a postal scale was a great investment! The one I found on Amazon.com was very affordable and has saved me so much time standing in line! I also use self-adhesive shipping labels because they're much faster to attach to my packages and they save me money on shipping tape. (Btw, shipping tape and packing tape aren't interchangeable. Get the shipping tape.) Once you know your package weight, it's so easy to purchase your postage online from home and print it out. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the looks I get from the people standing in line at the post office when I walk right past them to leave my shipments on the counter. :)
As I mentioned before, I never know where in the country (or Canada!) that my items will be heading. That makes estimating shipping costs difficult. I don't want to undercharge and have to foot the bill for the difference. I also don't want to overcharge and deter customers from buying! It's quite a conundrum.
What I do is pack up my items before I list them and weigh them. Then, I use the shipping rate charts provided by USPS or UPS to find out the shipping cost for the most far away region, add a small amount to account for packing supplies (and to have a round number), and use that as my shipping rate. (I ship to Canada, so I also have to calculate a separate rate for my Canadian customers) Next, I make a note to my customers letting them know that I will refund overpayment. Most importantly, I always follow through if there is a shipping overage and send their refund right away. I even offer to tell them what their exact shipping will be if they want to know before they buy. I'm hoping Etsy will eventually revamp how they do their shipping options and maybe offer a shipping calculator for buyers. Until then, that's how I do it!
I know that's a lot of information. I hope I was clear and didn't give you a headache. Feel free to email me with questions! Check back next Monday for part 4!