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Handmade Business Talk

My friend Gina, over at Acute Designs, has a great series called “Handmade 101: 3 Things I Wish I Had Known.” Through it she hopes to provide tips and inspiration for others and create a discussion around running a handmade business or blog. Gina asked me if I’d like to contribute a post and of course I jumped on it!

In case you missed the post on Gina’s blog, I wanted to also share it here because a lot of people who filled out my feedback survey were interested in more business topic posts!


So here we go, 3 things I wish I had known when I started my Etsy shop.

“1. Utilize social media.

No-brainer these days right? But hear me out. When I started my shop I scoured the Etsy forums searching for “ways to promote my shop.” Fellow sellers recommended a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a blog, and, let me date myself a bit, a Myspace page. Oh! AND a newsletter. Yes, making all these pages was sure to get me sales! So what did I do? I made every single one.

Then what happened? They all just….sat there. It has taken me a long time to find what I believe is a good balance between social media sites. Do I think they are all important? Yes. But only if they are used properly. By this, I mean that you need to use these sites to build relationships with followers. Go beyond sharing new items or announcing a special sale and use these sites on a more personal level.

I always try to incorporate a personal tid bit along with a business update on my Facebook status. Being more personal with your followers will help them to care more about you and your business. Creating my blog was the best business decision I ever made. It definitely helps people relate to me on a more personal level, and vice versa.

2. Be desirable but different.

This has become extremely important as the amount of Etsy sellers, and therefore competition, continues to increase. Originality and creativity are two key factors in having a shop that stands out on Etsy. You have to think about what makes your product desirable, yet unique.

When I started selling on Etsy, I sold original paintings. I quickly learned however, that original paintings were not exactly desirable. You can make a super awesome fantastic product but if it’s not in demand, it’s not going to sell. I started to think about how I could still make art, but in a form that would be more desirable to a buyer. I landed on cards.

Once you have settled on a product that you know there’s a market for it’s time to set yourself apart from similar products with a style that’s your own. And here’s the thing. It takes time. Your product evolves. Your brand evolves. You evolve. Multiple times. So keep trying, keep changing, keep at it. You’ll find it.

3. Be fair to yourself.

I think it’s easy for new sellers to get so sucked into “sale count” that it’s easy to sell themselves short. Maybe they have offer big discounts often, or do a lot of trades with other sellers, because they are focusing so much on getting more sales, rather than making an actual profit. Or maybe, they are selling their product at a price that is too low. This is definitely something that I was guilty of.

When I first started selling greeting cards, I painted them individually….and charged $5. $5 for an original painted card that took me an hour to make. But I wanted the sales and I didn’t think anyone would pay more than $5 for a card, original or not. As demand picked up and I was having a hard time keeping up with orders I realized I was selling myself short. I also realized I need to look into making my work process more efficient, and therefore, more rewarding.

Don’t devalue your time. Be fair to yourself. And if you think there is no possible way to charge more for your product, then work on making your work time more efficient.”

Several Handmade 101 posts are available here. You can find tips from fellow bloggers and Etsy shop owners (some of my favorites in fact!). Read up and get inspired!

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Some good advice here. I’m still trying to find that product that will sell consistently on Etsy, but I long ago stopped worrying about my sales count there. I find my work sells better in public, so I’ve put more of a focus in art fairs and galleries.

    On another note, I enjoy reading your blog. Well designed and engaging!

  • those are some great tips! and i agree social media is HUGE for getting the word out and building relationships with customers!

  • Allie says:

    just sent that ‘holy shit you’re getting married’ card to a friend and needless to say… she loved it!

  • Megan says:

    This is such great advice… I’ve had my shop open for almost two years now but I can still use all the tips I can get, thanks so much for posting them! I agree that it is way too easy to get sucked into the “sale count.”

    P.S. Saw your new Halloween cards today and love them!! They are so cute and funny. The skeleton one is my favorite 🙂


  • Gina says:

    Glad you put your advice up here – it is all so good and useful! Thanks for linking to my handmade 101 series :).

  • Great post I love it! I never thought of doing a newsletter! I am loving it! Thanks

  • Yanxia Luo says:

    Thank you for the great advice. I never thought it may help to communicate with followers when sharing a bit personal life with them. I will try.

  • Very helpful! Thank you 🙂

  • Thanks a lot Julie Ann! Right now I’m trying to sell on Etsy (My store is new). For now I’m mostly selling to local people and vendors. Obviously, in the near future I would love to sell to Etsy shoppers! 🙂

  • Number 2 really hit home for me today! Thank you. I am contemplating changing up my entire blog name and going through a re-branding of sorts and was pondering if it was a good decision or not… but you’re so right.. when you say, “You evolve. Multiple times. So keep trying, keep changing, keep at it. You’ll find it.”

    So here’s to finding it!

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