Selling on Etsy: How to Set Yourself Apart

March 29, 2013
I've got even more tips for making your Etsy shop stand out and you can also check out other Selling on Etsy posts.

In my last Selling on Etsy post, I shared my pros and cons of running an Etsy shop. It's quickly become one of my most popular posts so I guess there are a lot of people out there who are interested in selling on Etsy or in how to make their existing shops better! I know I am constantly trying to figure the beast out and it is a constant learning process!

Today, I want to talk about ways to set yourself apart from other Etsy sellers in your industry . As I mentioned in the pros and cons post, it can be hard to establish relationships with Etsy buyers. This is because they will lump shops into one category. When asked where they got a particular item, instead of sharing the shop or artist's information, they simply say the item was purchased from Etsy. This was quite frustrating to me, because one of the joys of owning your own retail business is being able to connect and relate to your customers. I knew I needed to make more of an effort to let my brand shine through the Etsy platform and these are just a few ways I've done so.

Create Your Brand. Whether you sell on Etsy or not, if you run a business this is very important. I'm not going to go into everything a brand is today, but I will say that it is so much more than just your logo. Make sure to infuse your brand throughout your Etsy shop and your customer's experience. Create a style guide for your business and look to it when creating any graphics for your shop - shop banner, reserved listings, available color choices, etc. Another way to let your brand shine is to author a blog. Obviously my main objective in business is to get visitors to shop, but I also want to connect with my customers and readers. I use my blog as a starting point and here they can learn about me and my business as well as see new projects I'm working on. My blog is where I can create trust with potential customers. I let them know I'm a real person who likes the same things they do. Sharing your story is a great way to connect with your audience, so be yourself. Another way I make sure to represent my brand through Etsy is to send a handwritten note with every order. I like to personally let each customer know how thankful I am for their business and it's a small way to establish a relationship with them. If you read my blog or follow me on any social media platform, you know that I am giddy over handwritten notes. Nothing makes me feel more special than someone taking the time to send me a little something in the mail so I like to do the same for my customers.

Product Photography. This is something that I believe can make or break the success an Etsy shop has and is also something I still struggle with. I go back and forth on how I am going to display my products all the time. For instance, I know that when I'm shopping online, I prefer to see photos of the actual product instead of a digital graphic. I am not great at taking product photos so for my Southern Charm wall prints, I hired Jenni from J. Noel Photography. The photos show off my prints so much better than just a digital graphic would. In contrast, my return address stamps sell much better when the thumbnail photo is a digital rendering on an envelope as opposed to a styled photograph. While I do try to have real photos of my stamps, I use the digital version as the thumbnail so the design of the stamp is most visible. Keep in mind the types of products you are listing and how you can best showcase them. Do an Etsy search for whatever the product is and see how others are listing their items. You'll probably notice that a lot of the listings are very similar. Come up with a way to not only stand out and catch the eye of a potential buyer but also to best showcase your product. If you are going to take photos yourself, be sure to have ample natural light, a decent camera, appropriate backdrop and some sort of photo editing software.

Communication. Making purchases online can be kind of scary. You're trusting that the company is who they say they are and that their products are as great as the photos look. One way to instill trust is to be available to your customer. This does not mean 24/7 - set office hours and stick to them. Let your customers know when you will be working and if they contact you with questions or concerns, respond within a reasonable time period. If a customer emails me at 8 o'clock at night, I try and respond first thing in the morning. Another way to establish the relationship is to personalize the "message to buyers" that Etsy will include with the receipt. It's a small way to make sure your brand is visible through the Etsy platform.

Packaging. This is one of my favorite parts and a big reason why I think my customers keep coming back. When I order something online, I know how special and excited I feel when the company goes that extra step to create beautiful packaging. I also know how disappointed I am when it just comes in the USPS Priority mailers. Bor-ing. That kind of packing is fine, but be sure to consider your brand and what you are selling. The products in my shop are all special little extras - they aren't necessities - so I know when someone makes a purchase from me, they are buying a special gift either for themselves or for a loved one. I want to make sure that the package it comes in is just a fabulous as what's inside. "Surprise and delight" all the way! Thank you, Amber for that little line that speaks volumes. 

Constantly Evolve. I look at and edit my shop listings daily. I make little tweaks here and there to constantly improve the quality of my shop and my customer's experience. Pay attention to your stats and how people are stumbling upon your shop. For instance, I have a lot of brides that purchase my return address stamps for their wedding paper goods, so the keyword "wedding" has come in handy. Know what is working for you - what is selling, what is not, and what doesn't speak to your brand? Get rid of products that aren't your best and sell items that you, yourself truly love. Don't be afraid to abort a project or product that isn't doing as well as you had hoped. Flexibility is key. This is going to be a learning process, but pay attention to your customers. They will be your best teachers.

Pay attention to those 5 areas and I promise you, you will see improvement right away. My sales started doubling each month and have continued to grow. Running an Etsy shop is a full-time job and you really will get out of it what you put in!

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SET YOURSELF APART ON ETSY? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!

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Make It Happen | March Goals

March 28, 2013
Quoteable from Fifth & Hazel
I realize that March has just about left us, but I didn't want to miss out on sharing the goals I've been working on this month with y'all! While it's easy to create a huge list of projects I need to complete or areas I need to improve, I've been trying to keep my main goals for each month pretty short (only two for March). Hopefully this will keep them more attainable, and so far so good!

Spring Products Launch. I was able to launch a few new products on the first day of spring and they have already done really well, so I'm happy with that! I have a few others that are in the works and I hope to release at least one of them in the next few weeks!

Operation Organization 2K13. I am getting ready to move to a new apartment so I have been doing lots of purging! This has obviously been very beneficial in helping me achieve my goal of organization. I love the idea of starting fresh and I'm so excited to not bring anything in to the new place until it has a home! I want to really evaluate the items I have and hold on only to those things that are necessary. Clear the clutter, baby!

Recap for February's goals: Again, I did decently. The thing I am post proud of, is the progress on my website. I decided to Go Ugly Early, and it has made a world of difference. Unique visitors to my site has increased 3x and it is just a more enjoyable place for me to share what's going on. It's not what I had planned, but for now I'm doing what I can with what I have! :)

Did you set goals for March? How do you hold yourself accountable? Let me know!
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27.

March 26, 2013
This birthday seems very big to me. Am I still considered to be in my mid-twenties or have I crossed over into the late-twenties category? I'm going to go ahead and say that ages 20-23 are early twenties, 24-27 are mid-twenties, and 28-29 are late twenties. Sound good? Great. Mid-twenties it is! Moving on...

Out-take photo by Teale Photography

How is it possible that this birthday is here? I remember being an age, not so long ago, when 27 sounded old. Very old. Now that is has arrived, I certainly do not feel old but I do realize that the saying "old enough to know better, too young to care" probably no longer applies to me. And maybe it hasn't for the past couple of years, but I like to think that it did.

I have enjoyed my twenties so much and I hate that they are starting to wind down, but I hear being in your thirties can be pretty fabulous as well. You spend lots of time in your twenties really figuring out who you are, how you want to live your life, the people you want to share your life with and what it really means to grow up. Luckily, it also means trying new things and making lots of mistakes. The important thing is that we learn and grow from those mistakes so we're not still making them when we leave this exciting decade.

The older I get, the sappier I am on my birthday. It used to be about the presents and everyone making a fuss over me, (which is still nice, don't get me wrong) but now its so much more than that. Life really is fleeting (Psalm 144:4) and its so important to focus on what matters. For me, that means making time for the relationships in my life. I have been so blessed with a caring family and an amazing group of friends that I don't ever want to take them for granted. It also means using the talents I've been given to not only make a living but to help others while doing it. It's easy for me to get caught up in material things and the next big purchase I'm going to make, but those types of things don't matter. Helping people does.

Thank you so much to those of you who have sent me text messages, emails, posted on my Facebook wall or tweeted me! You sure know how to make a gal feel special! :) To say thank you to y'all, I've created this 8 x 10 wall print you can download for free (click image below). Aiming to be gracious is always on my self-improvement list as I'm sure it is for many of you as well. Thanks again! Enjoy! :)

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Hello Spring! | New in the Shop!

March 20, 2013
I don't know about y'all but I am super excited that SPRING is finally here! Good riddance to my least favorite season! I'm also super excited because today I am sharing just the beginning of new products that have found their way to the shop! I've been slowly adding new items each day and will continue to do so in the next few days, so be sure to keep checking back! 

First up, you can now find these gold foil southern saying hexagonal pencil sets in the shop! If you follow me on Instagram (@StephCreekmur) you have already been briefed on these pretties (& I already gave a set away!) but now they are available for purchase! They are the perfect accessory for jotting notes on pretty notepads.




Next up? Postcards! This year you may have noticed, I am trying to make more of an effort to send handwritten notes to my loved ones. Sometimes you just want to send a quick hello or thank you, and postcards are the perfect solution for that! I think this "Greetings From Nashville" one is my favorite, but be sure to check out the other postcards in the next few days because they're pretty fabulous as well! :)



Remember these "Howdy" shipping stickers I shared with you from my packing supplies? Well, I have received quite a few emails and messages asking if I can add them to my shop for various states. While I don't want to add the stickers I'm using because they were designed with my brand and customer experience in mind, I have created these With Love State Stamps. I think they are adorable and would made the perfect finishing touch for any package or invitation being sent!



And the last for today's reveal - return address stamps! There are THREE new designs available! Just in time for wedding season! I get a lot of DIY brides and these are the perfect finishing touch for your wedding invitations! They also make great shower gifts. It's OK to stray from the registry if you are gifting special and personalized gifts such as these! 

OK! That's all for today folks! But as I said, I still have more goodies to share with you so stay tuned! :)

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Selling on Etsy: The Pros & Cons

March 18, 2013
In the last few months I have received some emails asking about Etsy. How much I like or dislike it as well as how I get my listings to show up in search results. While I am by no means an expert, I have come across a few tips and tricks that have helped me steadily increase my sales and I am always hoping to learn new ways to help my shop succeed. SO, I thought I would add this feature (Selling on Etsy) to the blog and I hope that it will help those of you already running an Etsy shop as well as those of you who are thinking about opening one!

To answer the question of whether or not I like Etsy, I obviously am a big fan. Without it, I wouldn't have a place to sell my goods at the moment. But, just like many things in life, there are pros and cons, so I thought I would start out sharing my thoughts on those.

PROS OF SELLING ON ETSY

01 | EASY TO OPEN UP SHOP.

Setting up your Etsy shop is so easy. There aren't that many options for customization, which as you'll see below, I view as a con, but it does make for easy set up. They walk you through step by step until your shop is up and ready to go.

02 | ETSY ADVERTISES.

I don't know much about how this works, but I have traffic driven to my shop daily from Google product listing ads that are paid for by Etsy. Obviously, if I make money, Etsy makes money, but it's nice to know there is someone else promoting my shop.

03 | IT'S A SMALL WORLD.

By selling through Etsy, my goods have been put in front of the faces of people across the planet. I don't do any paid advertising and I rely strictly on social media, word of mouth, and Etsy searches. People all over can search "return address stamps" on Etsy and my stamps will show up nearly on every page (including the first). If they were to simply search "return address stamps" on Google, there is no telling how far down in the results my shop and stamps would be. Etsy has given me the tools to be accessible to the public.

04 | ANALYTICS.

I love that Etsy keeps track of traffic to my shop and listings as well as how people are finding me. I know exactly what keywords people are looking under when they find my listings. This helps when listing a new product. I can figure out the types of keywords potential customers are searching under and use that to my advantage.

CONS OF SELLING ON ETSY

01 | BRAND RECOGNITION.

This is something that I myself have been guilty of, but a lot of times when someone is asked where they got an item (that they purchased from Etsy), their response is typically, "I got it on Etsy". They don't mention the seller who has worked so hard to create their products. For example, one of my customers blogged about her wedding invitations. She had purchased one of my return address stamps to use with them and when telling her readers about it, she simply said "I got it from Etsy". She did link to the stamp she purchased in my shop so I'm thankful for that, but there was no mention of my name anywhere. Unless a reader decided to click through, they would have never heard of me. Now, I am not putting blame on my customer in any way. As I said above, I'm guilty of this as well and I completely understand. It is however, a con of running an Etsy shop and it can make it hard to distinguish yourself as a legitimate shop owner and not just a hobbyist, but it can be done. I'll share more on that in an upcoming post!

02 | VISIBLE NUMBER OF SALE.

Your sales are on display for everyone to see, as well as the date you opened your shop. This allows everyone to see how well your shop has done in the time period your shop has been "open". For me, this hasn't been very helpful. As you can see, I "opened" my shop on December 1, 2010 and I (at the time I'm writing this post) have 514 sales. These numbers say that I've done OK and have had on average, under 300 sales a year. In reality, I created and sold my first listing in October of 2011. So in about a year and a half I have made 514 sales. That ratio is much better but customers don't look into that. They only see what is right in front of them. The number of sales you have gives new buyers confidence in you and your shop. If they see you have hundreds or even thousands of sales, they might be more likely to buy from you since others have as well. This obviously can pose a problem for new shop owners. It may take awhile for your sales to start growing, but I promise once they do, they won't stop! :)

03 | MINIMAL CUSTOMIZATION.

Besides your Etsy banner and how you style your photographs, there isn't much opportunity to distinguish your shop from others on the Etsy platform. This contributes to con number one. If my shop looks like all the other stationery and paper good shops, what is going to make customers choose me? There are lots of answers to this question and I hope to cover it in an upcoming Selling on Etsy post!

04 | FEAR OF NEGATIVE FEEDBACK.

I've said this many times before, but people do not like to read. It doesn't matter whether I have something listed in my shop policies or in the listing, chances are someone won't read it. I have found myself breaking my own rules in order to avoid negative feedback. The reality is, that even if the customer misunderstood or made a mistake, if I don't eat the cost and make it right, they can still leave me negative feedback, which is also visible to the public. I do like the feedback feature as someone who buys from Etsy, however someone can make an accusation about you or your shop and you have no chance to defend yourself. I've been blessed with wonderful customers and have 100% positive feedback but there have been times where I lost profit in order to correct a customer's mistake (typo in return address information) to avoid getting any negative feedback. I want my customers to be completely satisfied with their product, but this is my business and my ultimate goal is to turn a profit.

DO YOU RUN AN ETSY SHOP? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What kinds of pros and cons have you found through your experience? Let me know in the comments section!
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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 17, 2013

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Sale | Return Address Stamps

March 12, 2013

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Who Wants to See a Picture of Me?

March 7, 2013
It seems a little weird to have a post dedicated to just pictures of myself, but here we are! These are from a shoot I did with Nixon Photography last July. I was so nervous before it started but Michelle and her assistant Ali made me feel so comfortable! Besides the weather not cooperating with my vision, (I wanted soft sunlight and got a near tornado) I am so happy with how they turned out! And if it had been nice and sunny we never would have gotten that amazing shot with the flag flying in the breeze. You win some, you lose some, right? :)

I'm signing off for the week! I will be flying to Columbus in the morning to visit some friends but I'll be back to work Monday morning! See you then, friends! Enjoy your weekends! 





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Save the Handwritten Note

March 6, 2013
Photo by Teale Photography

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love getting mail. Obviously, I'm referring to anything other than a bill or a promotional flyer. Whether it's a care package from my mama or a thank you note from a friend, it fires me up, so I like to return the favor! There is just something about someone taking the time to actually put pen to paper to say thank you, to tell you they love you, or just to say hello. It makes a girl feel good! It's definitely a dying form of communication and I'm on a mission to save it! Let's all put in the extra effort this month to send a few handwritten letters, shall we? :)

Oh, and if you'd like to have some of those note cards pictured above, you can get buy them here! ;)
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I'm Filled With Gratitude!

March 5, 2013

Thank You Kindly wall print. Photo by J.Noel Photography.

As of March 3rd, it has been a year since I attended the very first Amber Housley Inspired workshop here in Nashville. (You can read my recap here.) I've said it before, but I really feel like when I woke up on January 1, 2012 I had hit the reset button. I knew that I wanted to take my business to the next level and I was going to do whatever I could to make that happen. Enter AH Inspired. It couldn't have come at a better time, and it couldn't have been located in a better place. It was exactly what I needed. My business has grown so much in the past year and I owe a lot of that to Amber, the other speakers, and the ladies I had the honor to meet that day! I have had some amazing opportunities come my way that would have not been possible without attending.

Besides the wonderful content and getting to meet superstars like Amber, Courtney, Jessica, Sara, and Kelle - I now have a network of other strong, creative, small business owners that I can go to for guidance and support. It's so important to surround yourself with people who get you and who are rooting for you. After the workshop, two of the ladies started a local stationery group. That has been an amazing thing to be a part of and just another reason I'm so grateful I was able to attend AH Inspired.

So, THANK YOU to all the wonderful women I met that day! You are fabulous and I'm so lucky to have met y'all! :)
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Coming Soon: Southern Graces

March 4, 2013
Photo by  Teale Photography

I don't have much to share, quite yet, but I did want to let you all in on something that has been in the works behind the scenes! My friend Ashlee (she designs interiors and events) and I are starting a new lifestyle blog. We have some pretty lofty goals of where we see Southern Graces going, but for now we will have a home on the web to share all sorts of goodness relating to life here in the South. As an extension to both of our brand missions, Southern Graces will celebrate finding the special moments in the everyday and we hope to always live and love with grace and southern charm.

The website isn't up and running yet, but please head over and become our friend on Facebook!
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New Products Coming This Spring!

March 3, 2013

I am so excited to share everything I have been working on! I don't want to give too much away but let's just say that I am going back to the basics!;) If you want to be one of the first to hear about the new products as well as receive special offers available to subscribers only, be sure to sign up for the newsletter!

I'll be back tomorrow to start the week off with some gratitude! Many thank you's are in order, so y'all come back now! ;)
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