Learn From My Biggest Etsy Failure

Learn From My Biggest Etsy Failure - Handmade Journey.com

So it’s time I shared something with you that’s a little bit embarrassing.

I talk about my successful Etsy business a lot. (How I went full time with it in just 8 short months, made over $53k my first year, and so on…)

But there’s something I don’t talk about much.

And that’s my first Etsy shop. The one I never mention because…

It was a complete and utter failure!!!

As in ZERO sales!

I put a few pair of earrings on Etsy in 2007 and expected the sales to start rolling in. And when the sales didn’t magically appear I got frustrated and gave up after just a few short weeks.

It’s embarrassing to be an Etsy business coach and admit that I had a shop that completely bombed.

But it happened and most importantly I don’t view it as a failure anymore.

In fact, I learned some super valuable lessons from that experience that I want to pass on to you because if I can help just ONE person avoid my experience then this email has done its job.

My lessons:

1. Anything worth doing takes effort. You can’t just slap a few products on Etsy and expect the sales to roll in. You have to put in the work even if it’s just 5 minutes a day.

2. Each of us is 100% responsible for our success or our failure. After my failure I blamed Etsy. I blamed the customers. I blamed having a toddler and not having time. But in reality, it was 100% my fault that I didn’t succeed.

If I wanted it badly enough I could have put in more time. More effort. I could have gotten up 5 minutes earlier or stayed up 5 minutes later so I could work just a little bit every day toward my goal. And I may not have seen success right away but I guarantee that if I had stuck with it and kept trying new things everything would have clicked into place eventually.

3. Don’t go it alone. Sometimes we feel like we have to build a business 100% by ourselves. But why??? There are other sellers out there that have paved the way for you. Sellers like me. Learn from them. Soak up everything they have to share! It’ll save you months or years of time & frustration.

Not sure where you can get help?  Click Learn with Me at the top of this site for some of my very best resources!

4. There’s always something else you can try. I see so many handmade sellers get frustrated and stop taking action. And then they wonder why they aren’t seeing results. Even when things seem impossible you have to dig in and keep moving forward.

So when the going gets tough, don’t bury your head in the sand. Try something new! Experiment with a new marketing strategy, take new photos, try new keywords in your SEO, create a new product. The possibilities are endless!

I hope the lessons I learned spark something in you today. Maybe you’ve been trying the same old things expecting different results and it’s time to shake things up. Maybe you’ve been avoiding asking for help.

Whatever this sparks in you, I want you to take action. I want you to know that the only thing stopping you from your dreams is yourself. This may sound cheesy but I truly believe that you can do this.

YOU can grow a successful Etsy business.

5 Tips for Irresistible Etsy Product Descriptions

Etsy product descriptions are often one of the most overlooked parts of a listing.  The text that you include in your descriptions can be one of the biggest determining factors over whether your shoppers click Add to Cart. These 5 tips will give you all the tools you need in order to write irresistible Etsy product descriptions!

5 Tips for Irresistible Etsy Product Descriptions

Tip #1: Break Your Description Down into Sections

Sectioning off your Etsy product descriptions keeps them easy to scan through. Most Etsy customers are browsing Etsy and looking at tons of listings at once to make a decision on what to buy. If your product descriptions are in one huge paragraph, the buyer will feel overwhelmed and not want to read it so keep paragraphs to 2-3 sentences max.

Tip #2: Add Titles to Your Sections

Adding titles to the sections of your descriptions makes it easy for customers to zero in on the information they need. Use titles such as: Size, Processing Time, Customization throughout your description.  You can add bullet points or put these titles in all caps so that they stand out and are easy to spot.

Tip #3: Answer as Many Potential Buyer Questions as Possible

One thing to remember is that a confused buyer will move on. If a buyer is left with lingering questions, most buyers aren’t going to bother reaching out to you to ask for more info.

Make sure you answer as many questions as possible that any potential buyer may have. If it’s a shirt, is it true to size? Is it unisex or woman’s fit? If its a sign, what are the dimensions? If it’s a headband, what size head will it fit? What materials were used in your products?  What’s your processing and shipping time-frame?  Answer these common questions in a clear and concise way.

Tip #4: Add a Call to Action

A call to action is important because it’s where you ask your buyer to do something else.  A great call to action to add to your Etsy shop is to encourage buyers to keep browsing the rest of your items in your shop.  Add your call to action at the bottom of your description.

In my own shop I put something like this at the end of each product description: “Be sure to check out the rest of my rustic wood signs:”.

Tip #5: Add a Link to Your Etsy Shop

This tip falls right in line with the call to action tip.  Right below your call to action add in the link to your Etsy shop.  Because it’s an Etsy link this will be clickable and will encourage buyers to check out the rest of your listings.

The longer you can keep someone in YOUR shop, the more likely they are to buy YOUR products! This is the most crucial tip! If you do nothing else, use this tip!

Bonus Tip: Add a Sales Pitch

If you had a brick and mortar store you’d be able to talk up your products to your customers. Unfortunately, you can’t do that on Etsy but a sales pitch paragraph at the top of your products is the next best thing.

This helps people envision the products in their life or helps them determine who the product would be a good gift for.  It’s also a way to naturally sprinkle in some of your keyword phrases which Google loves.

To help you write your sales pitch I’m sharing an exclusive template where you just need to drop in the words to quickly create a sales pitch for each of your listings.  You’ll get a printable version too!  I’ve also shared a few examples to help you visualize how to use the template.

To grab the template and see the examples simply type your name and email below:

Click here to grab a printable PDF version of the sales pitch template or check it out below!

Sales Pitch Template:

This (product name) that (describe a feature of the product) is the perfect (another word for what the product is) to (what is it used for?). This also makes a great gift for (who would it make a good gift for?). It would look great (where can you put this particular item?).

Example 1:  This red keyhole scarf that includes woven glitter yarn is the perfect gift for the mom in your life. This also makes a great gift for a friend who needs to stay warm. It would look great accessorizing your fall outfits as well.

Example 2:  This rustic wood sign that says Uncork & Unwind is the perfect wall decor to show off your love of wine. This also makes a great gift for wine loving friends and family. It would look great hanging in your farmhouse style kitchen or above your wine bar.

Example 3:  This blue and yellow baby blanket that can be personalized with your child’s name is the perfect bedding to accessorize your baby’s crib. This blanket also makes a great gift for new moms looking to personalize their baby’s room. It would look great thrown over the side of a crib or even hanging on the wall.

Etsy Income Report: How I Made Over $53,000 My First Year On Etsy

I was able to make over $53,000 my first year as an Etsy seller. Check out my Etsy income report to learn how I turned my handmade hobby into a thriving business.

My First Year on Etsy:

April of 2017 was the one year anniversary of my Etsy shop, Liberty Island Farm.  I’ve had lots of ups and downs over the past year from selling shirts to selling wood signs, my husband’s motorcycle accident and a Christmas season that was amazing but so overwhelming. I wouldn’t trade any of it though.

The Etsy life isn’t an easy one. I put a crazy amount of my time into researching Etsy, SEO, photography, social media, and more to help ensure my shop continues to provide for my family. It really is worth it to me though because I have full control of the creativity, the business, and most importantly, my time.

My First Year Etsy Income Report:

My first-year Etsy Income Stats

The photo above is my stats from Etsy from April 6, 2016 to April 6, 2017.  I also included the promoted listings info which accounted for roughly 8% of my sales.  I average around 70% profit margins so after you take out all of the Etsy fees and supplies I made around $37,000 profit before taxes.

I grew or maintained my sales in every month of 2016 and had a really great Christmas season. I saved a big portion of our sales from our busy Christmas season because I knew that January and February were especially slow for retail and I was taking a week off in March to go on a cruise (which Etsy sales paid for).  Planning for a rainy day is essential for retail sellers because you will have rises and falls in your sales.

The Biggest Key to my Success:

Thinking back to when I started, I remember how seeing Etsy income reports like this added fuel to my fire. If others could do it, I knew I could too. I knew SEO was important so I focused my attention there.

And it turns out, SEO was THE key!!  Before you focus on social media or photos or anything else, learn about and work on your SEO!  I can’t stress it enough.  SEO, which stands for search engine optimization is what determines whether your listings appear in the Etsy search results for buyers.  If you don’t appear in the search results you won’t get any sales.

If you don’t know what SEO is, click here to learn all about the basics.  If you know the basics, click here to grab the free SEO checklist to help perfect your SEO.

The Other Keys to Success:

I made sacrifices to achieve this level of success. I learned everything I could. I was never too attached to my own idea of what would sell and instead, I focused on what my target market responded to.

I completely switched up my product line based on what was selling well and had the best profit margins. I experimented and innovated every day to help move my business forward.

I also attribute a lot of my success to good product photos, Etsy promoted listings and EtsyRank which I started using early on to help me find the right keyword phrases.  But SEO was definitely the most important area to focus my time.

I’m no longer focused on selling in my own Etsy shop because I’m now helping other sellers in my learning community for motivated Etsy sellers, the Handmade Journey Academy.

Ready to take your Etsy SEO to the next level?  Click below to grab my Etsy SEO Checklist which will show you my step by step proven process to optimize your listings.

Top 4 Tips for Constructing the Perfect Etsy Title

Etsy Product Titles

Etsy titles serve so many purposes.  They are absolutely vital to Etsy SEO, they tell the buyer what it is they are looking at and they are a buyer’s first look at your writing.  First impressions are important so crafting the perfect Etsy title should be a priority for your Etsy shop.

Trying to create a title that fits the bill for all of these purposes can be really daunting.  There’s a fine line between pleasing the search engine and your buyers.  When I first started my Etsy store in April of 2016 my titles were so short and just horrible.  I had no clue what I was doing and didn’t get many sales.  Updating my titles (as well as tags) has been one of the most helpful things I’ve done to get the sales I needed to quit my corporate job and focus on my handmade shop full time.

Tip # 1:  Use a variety of keyword phrases in your title

Etsy allows up to 140 characters for your title.  As I mentioned in my Etsy SEO post you want to a variety of keyword phrases in your title.  Etsy says that shorter titles convert into sales better because they are easier for the buyer to read and understand.  But it’s still really valuable space because Etsy uses the title space along with the tags to determine which keywords you’ll appear for when a buyer searches on Etsy.

Keeping those two things in mind I recommend creating a title that is between 75 and 120 characters long.  This gives you plenty of room to add in quite a few keyword phrases but ensures the title isn’t so long that it’s tough for buyers to read.

Tip # 2: Use keyword phrases and separate them for readability

Etsy SEO relies on your title to determine which keyword phrases you should rank for.  This means you want to fill your title with as many keywords as possible.  You want to make sure they are readable, though.

One way to do this is to separate keyword phrases with commas, dashes, slashes or the pipe symbol.  I personally prefer dashes with a space before and after the dash.  Here is an example of a title for a wood sign that says Uncork & Unwind:

Wine Wood Sign – Uncork and Unwind Wine Gift – Rustic Kitchen Decor – Bar Sign

Tip # 3: Use title case in your title for a professional look

I’ve seen a lot of Etsy titles written in all caps or all lowercase letters.  You definitely can do that if you want but I don’t recommend it.  Your titles won’t look as professional.

So instead, I recommend using title case.  This means only using capital letters for the principal words. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions do not get capital letters unless they start the title.

Tip # 4: Put the most relevant keyword phrase at the front of the title

When your listings are viewed from the search results only the first 20-40 characters will appear.  The rest of the title will be truncated and will only be visible if the buyer clicks on your listing.

For this reason, the first few words need to be the most relevant words that accurately tell the buyer what it is they’re looking at.  This will help the buyer know they’ve found what they’re looking for.

Takeaways for Etsy Titles:

  • Use about 75-120 characters of your title and make sure it’s clear and easy to read
  • Separate your keyword phrases for readability.  I recommend commas or dashes.
  • Use title case for a professional look
  • Put the phrase that best describes your product at the front of the title

P.S. – I know all of this can seem overwhelming and overly complicated.  Take it one step at a time and just work on a few listings per day.  Also, check out this post where I explain why Etsy SEO is so complicated and the factors that impact the search ranking.

Ready to take your Etsy SEO to the next level?


How to Build a Community (& Increase Sales!) With a Facebook Group

You probably belong to at least one Facebook group, right? They’re a great gathering place for people to discuss and engage with each other over a shared topic. There’s a Facebook group for everything these days it seems.

There’s political groups, mom groups, yardsale groups, crafters groups, business groups, and the list goes on and on.

But have you ever thought about starting a Facebook group specifically for your business? If you haven’t, then you really should consider it. This could be a great component to your social media strategy.

This can be a great way to connect with your audience, grow your brand, extend your community and in the long run, help increase your sales!

They do take a lot of time and attention and aren’t for the faint of heart, but if set up and managed correctly, can be so worth it!

How to Build a Community (& Increase Sales!) With a Facebook Group-Handmade Journey.com

Why should I start a Facebook group when I already have a business page?

Facebook groups are different from your business page, in one key area. They promote interaction and engagement with other members, not just with you!

Obviously, you want to show up and post and chat with your members as often as possible, but promoting a sense of community is what a Facebook group’s ultimate goal is.

Here are a few angles you can take when starting your own group.

1. Exclusive VIP Treatment. Everyone loves feeling like they are part of an exclusive crowd. Starting a Facebook group specifically for customers that have bought from you in the past, or are part of your email list could be a great place to start.

When you run a sale or come out with a new product, share it in your Facebook group first and stress that they’re getting first dibs on that new product.

2. Current Happenings in Your Niche–Using your Facebook group to discuss the latest news, updates, and changes in your niche is another great way to utilize your group.

You could make your Facebook group a place to discuss the latest trends in jewelry with the customers who have bought your earrings. Or how about a mom’s group to discuss their toddlers’ antics for customers who have bought your baby hair bows? The possibilities in this area are truly endless!

3. Communicate With Brand Ambassadors–If you are a business that has a few brand ambassadors, and want a place to gather your team together, this would be the perfect place to do that!

Your brand reps can come together and collaborate on ideas, social media hashtags, or just to simply talk about your awesome products with each other. This would also be a great place to have some loyal fans available for product testing if you needed a warm test audience.

Okay, I’m ready to start a group, but how do I get people to join?

The biggest struggle we face when starting a new Facebook group is how to let people know it’s there. You can’t have an active, engaged community if you only have two members.

Ideas on how to grow your group could include:

  • Add an invitation to join your Facebook group in your email signature. Just add a link at the bottom and a call to action.
  • On all your pages where you’re linking to Facebook (Your Etsy store, Website, etc) add the link to join your Facebook group instead of directing people to your business page.
  • Link your business page and your Facebook group, and use the CTA (Call to Action) button on your business page to send people to your group.
  • Make a fun Facebook cover photo that highlights your brand and encourages people to come to check out your group.
  • Join other Facebook groups that allow self-promotions and use these groups to bring people to yours. (Be very careful to read the rules of these groups to make sure that this is something that’s allowed!)

I’ve got some people in my group, now what?

Another challenge faced by Facebook group owners is how to get your members to engage with each other. This can be tricky because no one likes to be the first to comment on a post.

Some fun ideas you could use to get the ball rolling could be:

  • Use polls/challenges/contests to get your members engaged and excited. Consider giving away a shop credit, or an E-Gift card as prizes to the winners. (everyone loves Target!)
  • Ask fun questions and require replies to be a GIF or picture, people love answering questions in quirky unique ways.
  • Make sure you’re commenting and posting the most so that people can get to know you and feel more comfortable participating.
  • Give everyone an opportunity to share wins, making sure to encourage and celebrate with them!

The unfortunate truth is that a regular post on your business page is a fleeting thing. We can post something today and only a handful of our fans or customers will see it, thanks to algorithms and time of day.

And then a few days later you can post an update, and an entirely new group of people will see the update without ever having seen the first post.

There’s a real disconnect from one post to the next. Within a Facebook group, however, this isn’t as much of an issue. This fact makes it easier to connect with other people, and have real connections form between you and your audience.

A Facebook group can, and definitely should be, a place where all different kinds of people come together to spend time sharing thoughts and ideas. People are joining Facebook groups because they’re a safe place to have real interactions and share parts of their lives.

By starting a Facebook group for your business, and making sure to engage with your members, you can promote your brand in a completely non-salesy fashion.

And hopefully, you’ll have a little fun while you’re at it!

What’s your take on starting a Facebook group for your business? Is it something you think would be a good fit?

Why or why not? Let’s talk about it below.

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