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You’ve been told by friends and family that you should “totally sell your art”! Maybe you agree with them, but the timing hasn’t been right. Maybe you’d like to try, but you feel nervous. Maybe you don’t even know where to start. Well, I’ve done some digging, and it’s easier to get started than you may think. I talked with three successful Etsy shop owners, including two with backgrounds in art ed, to figure out what it takes to get started.
Name: Ann Schiller
Specialty: Custom invitations and stationery
Ann has always been creative and even made her own cards when she was growing up. Inspired by the creative women in her life, Ann studied K-12 Art Education and graphic design. After five years of teaching, Ann decided to shift gears and opened up event123 in 2009. By 2012, she had shipped to every state in the U.S. and many countries around the world.
Name: Sarah Welch
Shop: Wooden Spoon Editions
Specialty: Original, hand-printed linocuts
Sarah isn’t just AOE’s incredible customer happiness guru. She also runs her own Etsy shop filled with beautiful, original prints. Sarah has always enjoyed creating things with her hands and often made art for a sense of purpose and comfort. When she had created a small body of work, she decided to open Wooden Spoon Editions on Etsy in 2011.
Name: Katlyn Byrd
Shop: Scream & Snuggle Monster Company
Specialties: Sewn monsters, hand-painted cards, party decor
Katlyn has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in drawing and painting with an emphasis in K-12 Art Education. Katlyn started off by sewing monsters for family and friends. Their enthusiastic responses to her monsters made creating an Etsy shop the next natural step. In 2014, Scream & Snuggle Monster Company was born.
Getting started can feel overwhelming. However, taking things one step at a time will help make everything more manageable. Our experts suggest the following.
Choosing the right name for your shop is crucial. One way to brainstorm is to start by writing down your goals for your shop and how you want people to experience it. For example, Ann was inspired by her mother’s and grandmother’s drive to turn gatherings into Events with a capital “E.” She also wanted her customers’ ordering process to be completed in 3 simple steps. Therefore, event123 makes perfect sense. Hone in on things that are important to you and go from there.
See what similar products are out there and figure out how you can stand out from the crowd. When crafting your store, stay true to your own unique voice and aesthetic.
It’s essential that you have products ready to be photographed and sold. In the case of invitations and other paper goods, print samples to photograph so you can let buyers see what they will really look like.
You will want to consider doing the following:
Devoting consistent time and energy to your shop are two ways to increase your chances of success. Know that setting up your shop takes much more time than maintaining it. Put in the hours up front, then make a schedule to keep yourself on track. Our experts spend between 10 and 35+ hours per week on their shops.
Keep in mind that you will have to do more than just make art. According to Sarah, she spends an hour or two each day, “…creating new work, photographing new items, listing and tweaking descriptions, packaging and shipping orders, changing shop announcements, researching trending themes, developing a newsletter, reviewing shop stats, replying to customer emails, and more.” There is a lot to manage, but having time set aside will help.
Sarah told me, “In the beginning, I was stunned to realize how much of my time would be spent not creating new work. In order to help my business grow, I easily spent over 50% of my time working on ways to make my shop better and get the word out. Coming to this realization was difficult in the beginning, but it’s gotten easier – especially when you see that work pay off in sales!”
“In the beginning, I was stunned to realize how much of my time would be spent not creating new work. In order to help my business grow, I easily spent over 50% of my time working on ways to make my shop better and get the word out.”
Word-of-mouth is a great way to spread the word, but you’ll likely need to do more. Consider your own website, making sure you have an eye-catching logo. Inquire at local shops to see if they will stock some of your items and/or allow you to leave some business cards. In addition, don’t forget about creating a social media presence and attending craft shows.
Besides having a solid plan, there are 6 other things you can do to ensure your shop is successful. Read on for some helpful tips from Katlyn, Sarah, and Ann.
I asked our experts for some insider secrets to running a successful Etsy shop. Here’s what they had to say.
Hopefully, this has inspired you to pursue your career as a working artist and provided some behind-the-scenes tips for opening your own Etsy shop! Thank you to Sarah Welch, Katlyn Byrd, and Ann Schiller for sharing their Etsy expertise!
Do you own an Etsy shop? Mention it in the comments below!
What are your best Etsy tips and tricks?