What One Tip Do You Have For Those Starting An Online Business?

Contributor post by Sheila from BeadyEyedBird

We asked our CIJ ‘veterans’ to share their most important advice for starting a new online business — to help out anyone who’s just getting started. Here’s what they said.

Well, I am certainly still learning, but I see improvements and more sales in my shop every day, so I will add something that has helped me along the way (just one??!!):
Have a good and creative VOCABULARY.
With an online business, getting found in the great wide web is essential, and great SEO is key. Once you have a product that people want to buy, you have to bring them to your shop. Use key words that shoppers use.

Sometimes that means thinking like a shopper, not an artist. For example, for paintings or fine art photography, save an artistic title for the listing description and use descriptors, style and shopping terms for the titles and tags. My carousel photograph reminds me of my childhood, so I could title it: Return to childhood. I would use that in a gallery show or as part of the photograph signature. But that title is too abstract so I would not put that in the title or tags because most people don’t use ‘return’ to search for fine art photography or carousels. Instead I try to think like a buyer: Who wants the photo and what would they use it for? I had one shopper comment that they found one photograph by searching for ‘picture’ instead of using ‘photography’ or photo.

I like to use phrases that combine highly used words with words specific to the listings. Designers and new parents, for example, would search for ‘nursery decor’ or apartment decor’, 2 highly used phrases. But then using ‘red nursery decor’ or ‘girls boys nursery decor’ would increase my chances of getting found.

I like to use EtsyRank (etsyrank.com) to get keyword help (use the KEYWORD TOOL)
The site has a list of the most popular colors at the moment COLOR TREND). (the word ‘gold’ is clearly the most searched color word according to EtsyRank with 6 million+). I would use ‘red’ as a key title and tag word because that has 2+ million searches). Then I would also add more specific terms like the specific location of the carousel .
I would also use the synonyms for carousel like merry-go-round or merrygoround.

 

carousel

Carousel photograph, Red nursery decor, carnival ride picture, Paris France merry-go-round photo, apartment dorm art, children’s kids room

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Cynthia from StraylightVintage said:

The number one tip I would say is to do your best to give excellent customer service.

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Aubrey Campie from Videnda says

 My number one tip is to treat it as you would a regular 9-5 job. Put in the hours, but don’t over do it. Have goals in mind and have a friend, spouse, etc. keep you accountable to that goal. Working for yourself, by yourself, in your own home can be a big challenge, but once you have a work routine and goals set in mind, you will see the results start coming in.
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Lisajoy Sachs from saxdsign said:
My biggest tip would be to set time boundaries early. Having an internet business means that you will be accessible to people all over the world, at any given time of the day. For the most part people are patient and understand that life goes on outside of your business. But there are a few people out there that try to monopolize your time.

Be nice, be bold, be brave! And let the fun begin!

opal

ChristmasInJuly Opal Ring size 7 Stacking Stackable Sterling Silver 925 5mm Australian Doublet Rainbow Handmade Lisajoy Sachs

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Emma and Ivan from treadandpedals said:

My one tip… 
Create a Business Plan – jotting it all down on paper makes it real – stick to the plan and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. As a part of this be sure to create a list of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and with a Timeline). Refer back to these goals and be sure to pat yourself on the back as you achieve them. Remember to set the bar high – you’ll be surprised how high you can jump.

Oh and one more… believe in yourself.

clock

Large Wall Clock, Bicycle Wheel Clock, Bike Wheel Clock, Bicycle Clock, Bike Wall Clock, Unique Wall Clock, Gifts for Cyclists, Gift for Him

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Diana Voisin from GalleryTwelve said:

My biggest tip is something that was learned after taking a business class.

When creating your items and starting a business, look at the market and see what’s already out there and ask yourself “what can I make that is (somewhat) unique?”

The reason why I recommend you ask this question is because I didn’t and it cost me time and money to figure out what I wanted to sell on Etsy.

When I first started out, I wanted to make wine charms. While I was able to make some cute sets, I really had no plan on how to SELL those wine charms.

They were not unique in any way. I didn’t make the charms myself, everything was bought and assembled, which means that my wine charms, while cute, were not really breaking through an already saturated market.

Then I moved on to jewelry. Again, an already saturated market on Etsy meant that I was going to have to really come up with something spectacular in order to get some sales. And while I did manage to get an item sold here and there, nothing about my jewelry was interesting and creative enough to devote my entire shop to. It is something that took a long time to admit was a failure and that’s okay.

What I realized is that I was chasing my tail, essentially, by making products that were just like everyone else. It wasn’t until I started incorporating graphic design and eventually moving over to mostly digital design and art that I really found success in selling things that were TRULY my own.

It all took a simple question from my business professor that changed everything. When I explained my business plan of selling generic crafts on Etsy, she turned to me, without hesitation and said, “wine charms are a pretty common item that you can find just about everywhere. So why would I buy wine charms from you?”

I didn’t have an answer.

Unless you can answer that question, keep working and you will find your niche. Everyone has the space on Etsy to be creative as you want to be, it’s just a matter of finding that one thing that you excel at above the rest.

While I’m not a great artist, it is nice finding success at selling things that are definitely more my style.

Good luck and don’t worry! It’s rough but it all comes together with time and experience.

needle

Space Needle Seattle Art Poster Print Iconic Simple Giclee Large Wall Art Print Home Room Décor

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Susan Wagner from beachbabyblues said:

My tip is ~ Be flexible!

When I first started I was listing old books without covers and adding lace or ribbon ~ it wasn’t an original idea , but I was selling them and they were so pretty and I took pride in each set. Well, there is so much of that here now, its hard to stand out !

Then I had a request for the books to have COLOR ~ I was flexible and have developed my own way of painting and distressing them instead ~ Sure, those are being duplicated by others now too .

BUT, it just means I need to once again , be flexible and change things up !

Always be willing to evolve and push past the comfort zone of what you know and HAVE FUN!

fantasy

Fantasy Wedding, Baby Shower, Repurpose Book, Pastel Wedding, Fairy Tale Wedding, Bookshelf Decor, Centerpiece, Pastel Party, Tea Party

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Pam Maggio from PamsPawsJewelry said:

I have learned that a good work, life, and creativity balance is important. Keeping things in perspective keeps you from getting frustrated, LOL!

Promoting , etc. can take up a lot of time and if you allow it to, take away from what you enjoy doing if you make handmade items!

Taking good, clear photos so customers can really get a look at your items and what they might buy is important!

I see a lot of fuzzy, far away, small, and fake looking photos on Etsy. I will still buy something that I like but others might not.

I think it’s OK to have some color and something pretty in the background to offset the item and make your shop interesting to shop in for customers is good too.

If, for instance, I walk into a store and it’s all white and boring I would probably not want to stay as long and look around!

Some items need white backgrounds but it’s OK to be creative and have fun with photos!

I recently ordered some natural shampoos, lotions, etc. from a teamie and really enjoyed her shop as she has her products in settings that remind you of a lovely spa rather than just plain bottles against a white background!

Being friendly and having great customer service is really key too! Thanking customers and letting them know shipping details, etc. and that you acknowledge that they have ordered from you.

And, tags and titles are important for you to be found. First 4 tags should reflect what is in title.

The first phrase is important and should be simply what the item is such as a red ball, not cute or vintage, or on sale red ball. Then after you can say something like red ball with fringe or Smith’s vintage fringed red ball, etc.

People tend to search for simply what an item is.

Make your shop more interesting by filling it all out such as photos, icons, policies, about, and a bit about yourself and what you do!

Hope some of this helps!

butterfly

Tan Carved Bone Butterfly Bracelet Aqua Terra Jasper Yellow Citrine and Pearl Hand Made Beaded Gemstone Bohemian Style Jewelry Gift For Her

Kelly from ColourcapeStudios says:

The one tip I would give is to be proud of what you’re making and stand behind it! If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, then nobody else will. Last year I took a leap of faith and starting creating gift tags and mini greeting cards after 3 years of working on typography prints and photography, and now they are my best-selling section.

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Jackie Irvin from JackJacksWayart states:

My tip is follow your heart if you love what your creating others will also.

I love doing custom designs and my shop is like no other on Etsy. My door decor is unique and one of kind designs.

Each one will be your alone even if I paint a 100 of the same design it will be a bit different from the one before it.

Easter Cross door hanger

Easter Cross door hanger

Thanks so much to all who contributed!

Until Next Time,

Sheila

 

 

 

 

 

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Musical Introduction – #CIJParty 2016

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Good morning everyone! A new addition to our third annual Etsy Christmas In July Party this year is a musical introduction! What is a party without music?

I would like to introduce you to The Choraleers Acappella Singing Group! They discovered our Christmas In July Party while searching the internet – it indeed is a small world! I invited Damon, the representative of group and the singers to join us!

The sextet was established over 35 years ago at Texas Southern University and performs Doo Wop, Gospel, Holiday and Motown hits. We have performed at private parties, weddings and at country clubs.

They are based out of Houston, Texas USA! Please contact Damon if you are in the area and are looking for performers!thechoraleersphotoI also invited members of the Etsy Christmas In July members to share their musical items.

Arlene from ThisandThatCrafter says:

This little tree ornament was created for the Music Lover. There are times in my life when music has helped my thru. I feel everyone has been touched by Music in one way or another. Last year this was the most popular tree ornament and sold the most of all my trees.

ThisandThatCrafter

ThisandThatCrafter

Heather Barber from MooseintheMint says:

Each of the music pendants are unique as they are made from old music books, and then varnished.

I often sell out at fairs before I can get them onto Etsy!

MooseintheMint

MooseintheMint

Diana Voisin from GalleryTwelve says:

Music has always been a part of my life so naturally I had to include a music pattern set in my digital scrapbook section. The patterns are inspired by sheet music I used to read as a child when I would clumsily try to play piano or later when I played in the school band.

While I was never gifted when it came to playing instruments, I have always had an understanding of a musical composition and appreciation for the complexity and emotion music can bring to this world.

I love this set because I get to see other people make beautiful products or other items with my pattern. It’s not fancy or complex, but the simplicity of the black-and-white pattern in this musical note set always reminds me of that old sheet music.

GalleryTwelve

GalleryTwelve

Catherine Caramanica from BlkBttrflyDsgns says:

I’m a Singer and these music sheets and books belong to me. During the 80’s I sang in Nightclubs in NYC, auditioned for Broadway, A Musical Company, Famous Musical Directors, Commercials etc. This is a small part of my collection. I’m sure there’s someone out that I can help acquire music they may not find out there today. It’s bittersweet really. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

BlkBttrflyDsgns

BlkBttrflyDsgns

Dawn Whitehand from DeeDeeDeesigns says:

As well as creating ceramic wares and jewellery for my Etsy shop I also love to upcycle materials for my jewellery – I do this as a way of contributing to the future of our planet.

One of the materials I use for jewellery is guitar strings. My partner plays guitar and I always have lots of strings potentially going into the rubbish, so I decided to begin making jewellery pieces to use them, such as this bangle which also incorporates vintage buttons!

DeeDeeDeesigns

DeeDeeDeesigns

Carola Bartz from CarolaBartz says:

Music has always played a big role in my life. Of course I like to listen to music – I love classical music, but also pop music. My all time favorite band is Fleetwood Mac. I loved them when I was 24 years old and I still do more than 30 years later! I’m also fond of some film music – the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a good example. Excellent music that is very inspiring.

Nowadays I also listen to New Age music a lot, mostly Native American music (my husband calls it “Carola’s canyon music”). It is calming and peaceful with a good rhythm. When I paint or create greeting cards I usually listen to this kind of music; I also like to have it on while knitting.

I love to include sheet music in my art work. Thrift stores are a good resource to find some decent sheet music that I then tear or cut up and use as a background, for example in my paintings. In this painting of the owl and the girl you can see several pieces of sheet music in the background, covered by the dark blue paint. However, the paint is transparent enough that the sheet music is still visible, and that is exactly the effect I want to achieve.

CarolaBartz

CarolaBartz

Michelle Emma Kay from EmmaKayInks says:

I’m very influenced by music and musicians. One musician in particular that rocks my world is Joan as Policewoman. She describes her music as “beauty is the new punk rock” and this is the aesthetic that I aim for in my drawings.

When I first listened to Joan’s music I didn’t like it. Still, something about it intrigued me and then suddenly I couldn’t stop listening. This experience changed the way I approach art because I realised that the things that are hardest at first can end up being the best things! The deepest things. The things that never get old.

This belief underlies my resolution of the aesthetic of my drawings. As I listened to Joan’s music over and over again I noticed new aspects on each listen. The meaning of the lyrics are not fixed, so they meant different things to me at different times

My drawings are intended to reveal themselves further over time too. They are complex and intense and can be hard to take in on the first look.

EmmaKayInks

EmmaKayInks

Stock Lane Studio from StockLaneStudio says:

Love a musical theme! Since Etsy is so visually oriented, it is not often you get sound-related themes. But Christmas and Winter are full of music, isn’t it?

This minty Diva QUIET sign always make me crack up.
the white and mint adds a wintery feel and it’s perfect for a little girl’s or teen’s bedroom door.

And this would add a fun and funny twist to a ‘quiet’ sign for any singer’s bedroom or performer’s door.

But what I really had in mind when I designed this QUIET sign was the memory of my little ones when they were babies. Feeling so relieved when I finally got them put to sleep, and not wanting to make a noise in case they should wake, like they were some sort of Diva. And then if they did wake suddenly, their cries and sometimes screams would really sound operatic – what prima donnas!

StockLaneStudio

StockLaneStudio

 

What Are You Doing For Earth Day?

Contributor post by Sheila from BeadyEyedBird

At BeadyEyedBird, as with so many of our awesome colleagues on Etsy, we are committed to the planet and continuously seeking new ways in which we can become more ‘green’.

Now that conscientious people everywhere are considering alternatives to unhealthy chemicals and production systems, unfair trade practices and other byproducts of the un-green greed machine, the appreciation of handcrafting is expanding in a great way. For eons, folks in various industries have expended a lot of human and natural resources – digging up the land, disrupting eco-systems, and polluting the environment. But as most of you likely know already, you can also stay ‘green’ and still make and sell beautiful things.

From the items you choose to sell, to the packaging you use to ship, we hope you strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The things you can do in this regard range from using natural/renewable heating sources for your work space, reducing and reusing materials, carpooling to reduce emissions, using recycled and non-toxic packaging and production materials, etc.

Some of our great Teamies on CIJ shared their green practices and products with us — in celebration of Earth Day (April 22). Here’s how they honor our earth.

Lisa Neal Behrens from sparkklejar said:

 I repurpose used tin cans and make wedding table vases or home decor pieces, using water base non aerosol paints and sealers. Over the years, on and off Etsy, I have kept thousands of tin cans in all sizes out of the landfill. (not everyone recycles cans).
cans 2

3 fat short recycled tin cans shabby pastel aqua cottage blue with pink roses glitter upcycled repurposed salvaged home decor wedding shower

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I always make a point to plant something on Earth Day, no matter where I am or what type of yard (or lack of) I have.
In the past I have also done neighborhood and city clean ups.

With a business, Earth Day is an opportunity for me to promote Earth -friendly practices that so many of us do everyday anyway. So I list that items are shipped using recycled materials, but I also don’t want to turn shoppers off if they feel like they’re going to get their items in a dirty used box or something. So I try to show pictures of my packing as well.I am still trying to find the right papers to use for my prints. The one company that provided papers using recycled products has stopped that line. I do try to make sure that all my papers use at least some post-consumer recycled and/or earth friendly materials though. It’s great for Mother Nature, and it also appeals to an earth friendly niche market so I try to add that to my tags, title and description if I can fit it in.

To be honest, PRINTABLES, instant downloads are earth-friendly products. A much smaller carbon footprint since they aren’t being physically shipped around the world using trucks, planes, ships or cars. And no packing material. And some buyers don’t even print them out, but use them for electronic purposes. Here’s one inspiring printable:

success 2

Success Quote Printable, Abraham Lincoln Art, Digital 8×10 inspiring friendship art, classroom dorm diy teacher gift for teen

p.s. I will have to say, that I am one of THOSE mothers – you know, the ones that pack their kids lunches with re-used yogurt or deli containers. I would prefer to use glass, but that could be hazardous. I was raised by a single mother of 7 children, so we did what we could to save money – who knew that also turned out to be earth-friendly too?!

I will have to say that there are many nice cloth, re-useable lunch and snack bags sold right here on Etsy!

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Heather  from ArrabellaBlossoms said:
I grew up in country New Zealand with a love and appreciation of all aspects of nature and the need to nurture the environment. These priorities still dominate my design and sew projects. I delve into my large stash of gathered and gifted fabrics, buttons and trims whenever possible. I made this glasses case as part of my design and sew project to re-purpose beautiful designer silk ties that had experienced a brief but exciting life before they were carefully stored away in a drawer.
glasses

Glasses Case, Spectacle Cover, Glasses Sleeve, Eyewear Holder, Velcro Tab Closure, Handmade Blue Silk Fabric Case, Women’s Gift, Men’s Gift

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 When it comes to my Etsy shop, I’m really trying to find ways to go lean and green. In this past year, I have been slowly transitioning my shop from selling physical items to digital downloads. This change has saved me from extra packaging, paper and especially, plastic materials. Over 90% of my sales involve virtual goods making my store’s footprint much, much smaller.

Last year, I finally switched over to a paperless system of bookkeeping, which I was reluctant about for way too long. I was constantly printing off receipts for every sale. It was ridiculously wasteful. Now, everything is stored electronically. Since I already have a system to back up my work anyway, all my receipts and work is protected from data loss and crashes (which has happened, btw, so please remember to back up your files).

And finally, I personally recycle and reuse materials at home in other ways. Clean cardboard packaging is repurposed for sending out packages, when needed. We have a great recycling program in our county and I do compost materials for my garden. Roses love egg shells and coffee grounds!

Over this next year, the goal will be to go around my old house and start finding ways to reduce electricity usage by fixing small air leaks and seals around my windows. I’m also looking into a program my dad is using for his electricity in Georgia:
www.arcadiapower.com

He just switched from traditional electricity to completely renewable energy for his apartment. Just wanted to pass this along in case you all are interested as well.

Here is a sample of my digital listings:

Art Deco Digital Scrapbook Paper Black & Gold Geometric Vintage Style Scrapbooking Paper Variety 24 Pack Patterns - Commercial Use OK

Art Deco Digital Scrapbook Paper Black & Gold Geometric Vintage Style Scrapbooking Paper Variety 24 Pack Patterns

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This month we are giving free organic sprouting seeds with every purchase and encouraging our customers to recycle our packaging to plant the seeds! All of our pet products are earth friendly and non-toxic.
PITTA Paw-Paddums (Pumpkin) Dog Treats - Organic Vegan

PITTA Paw-Paddums (Pumpkin) Dog Treats – Organic Vegan

 

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I reuse boxes that I receive items in to ship any of my items requiring boxes. I also reuse tissue paper from gifts that have been give to me to wrap my crochet items in before shipping. My crochet Soap Saver Pouches are great to use with handmade soaps to keep them longer and can be machine washed/dried. They made using cotton yarn and last a long time. No need to replace like you have to with the soap puffs found at the stores. I have them available in many different colors and welcome custom orders.
Soap Holder, Massaging Soap Pouch, Soap Sack, Crochet Soap Saver, Spa Soap Cozy, Spa Bath Scrubbie, Shower Accessory, blue green and white

Soap Holder, Massaging Soap Pouch, Soap Sack, Crochet Soap Saver, Spa Soap Cozy, Spa Bath Scrubbie, Shower Accessory, blue green and white

Many thanks to everyone for their contributions, and for all you do to honor the Earth!

Until Next Time,

Sheila