February 18, 2012

How to Start an Etsy Shop - Part 2

What do you want to sell on Etsy?

Jewelry, you say?

Guess what - there's probably 50,000 Etsy shops selling jewelry. It's the most popular category on the site.

Vintage-inspired jewelry, then?

Look, practically everything on Etsy can be and is labeled "vintage-inspired." What you need is a specialty - something that will set your brand apart from all the others. Try coming up with a specific, one-sentence description of your shop that uses two or three adjectives. For example, my specialty is "realistic and elegant custom pencil portraits."

drawworm - "realistic and elegant custom pencil portraits."

You'll see exceptions to this rule, but generally it's important to stick to one type of thing. "Vintage steampunk jewelry and eco-friendly organic bamboo hand-knit baby caps and reclaimed antique cupcake stands" is a very tough pitch. Think of your Etsy shop as one of those rare, old-fashioned mom-and-pop specialty shops - not as a Wal-Mart.

In fact, I think it's hard to get too specialized on Etsy. Here's some more examples of wonderfully specific shops:

Winterpetals - "Cute and fun fruit pillows"

TransitDesign - "Custom vintage-inspired bus scrolls"

Dimdi - "Charming watercolor animal paintings"

TillyMaison - "Modern, graphic lucite serving trays"

So what is your specialty going to be? What are you really good at? What's your style?

If you have all sorts of things you want to sell on Etsy, but can't decide which to sell, my advice is to go with the higher-priced product. Etsy charges $.20 every time you list a product, and you'll probably want to relist your products fairly frequently. So the cheaper your product, the bigger bite that listing fee takes out of your income. If you can't decide whether to sell $5 greeting cards or $80 handmade pottery - I say go with the pottery!

One last word: if you have the stomach for it, spend some time browsing Regretsy. Warning: Regretsy can be funny but also deeply disturbing and NSFW. So browse at your own risk, but I think that it can be a good reality check. After seeing some of the incredibly ugly junk people post on Etsy, it doesn't hurt to take an honest look at your craft and ask yourself, "does this belong on Regretsy?"

Sorry if that was harsh. I'm honest because I love you so much.

If you're an Etsy seller, how would you describe your shop's specialty?

Other articles in this series:
Part 1 - Lower Your Expectations
Part 3- Photography

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