Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Setting up Shop: The Basics

Last week, I mentioned that I'd be doing an in-depth post all about how to start an Etsy shop. Well, I've decided to break it up into little segments I'll be posting all week. My first installment is all about getting started. Here are a few key points to consider before you open an Etsy shop:
  • Choose a username: Keep in mind that you cannot change your username once you register. You can call your shop whatever you want, but your username becomes part of your URL; so it will likely be on your business cards, etc. So take a second and think it through before you commit to your old high school nickname or something irrelevant.
  • Decide what you're going to sell: Pretty obvious, huh? But if you're like me with a zillion different hobbies you'll need to narrow it down so everything in your shop looks related. I find myself quickly exiting shops that are all over the place--jewelry, chocolates, knitted scarves, post cards, and refinished furniture all in one place. It sends the message that you're only kind of good at a lot of things, instead of being really good at one thing.
    • After your first shop is up and running smoothly, definitely consider opening another shop for your other things. I prefer to keep my first shop dedicated solely to paper goods; I'm considering a second shop for my jewelry...I'll let you know how it goes. :)
  • What will your shop be called? I don't know much about different locations; but some places require you to register a DBA (doing business as) if you're doing business under any name other than your legal name. Just something to consider if you're planning on your business becoming wildly successful. Also, if you're choosing a name other than your legal name, maybe run a search on it...I've heard horror stories of some sellers being contacted with cease and desist letters by larger businesses that share the same (or similar) names. Just something to be aware of. 
    • Also consider what people are going to get when they do a google search for your shop.
  • Do some research: Check out some shops you like and see how they're doing it. Read their policies and their item descriptions...see what's working for them. Take notes on things you like and things you don't like, as well as things you'd like to implement into the running of your shop. Definitely don't copy other sellers; but you can learn a lot from observing successful shops. Also, think back to any interactions you've had with Etsy sellers. Is there anything that has left an impression on you?
  • Set up your profile: Fill in some information about yourself. Keep it brief, as most people don't spend hours (or even minutes) reading about the minute details of your life. But do make it personal. The beauty of the Etsy community is that people can buy handmade items from real people. You can update and change your profile as you go, but fill it out just to get started. Also, consider adding your location, or at least a general location. Some customers prefer to buy local, so they'll do a geographical search for sellers in their communities. 
  • Fake it till you feel confident. That's probably the biggest piece of advice I can give...nobody knows what they're doing right at the beginning. But nobody has to know that. That's the beauty of being able to "hide" behind your virtual storefront. Nobody has to know that you're nervous or unsure of yourself. And you won't always be. Starting a shop can be overwhelming at first...but take it one step at a time and enjoy the adventure.
Also, there are some really, really great articles on Etsy for beginners. Definitely read through A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Shop on Etsy. And keep in mind that my list of "advice" is just stuff I've learned along the way. Etsy has so many great resources for advice. I'm sure nothing I say here is going to be groundbreaking or new, but it's just a compilation of what I've learned in the last 4.5 years.

Up next: Banners, Avatars, Shop Policies and Shipping.

1 comment:

km said...

Even though I'll probably never open an etsy shop... I still lovey our TIP--- FAKE IT TILL YOU FEEL CONFIDENT! What a sensational tip for LIFE!!!! :):)