by Lisa Jacobs | Featured Contributor
I own the spirited Energy Shop on Etsy, and after three years of business, I’ve made thousands of sales and earned nearly six figures. It’s the hub of my work-at-home creative business, so today I want to share some Etsy tips and tricks. Here’s what I’ve learned after thousands of sales.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”–Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter
Be ready to work, and settle in for the long haul. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Expect that your business will take 3 years just to get off the ground.
Too many sellers build an online storefront, sit back and expect the sales to roll in. It’s the most common mistake I see as a creative business coach! I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s no room for entitlement in any new business. Not only do new sellers expect customers to find them, they also expect revenue and lots of sales!
Listing items for sale is only half the work. It is your job to find new customers, invite them to your website and give them the best experience possible. It is your job to serve them so well that they keep coming back for more.
Forfeit your comfort zone … unless you’re completely comfortable and satisfied there, in which case, carry on. However, we all dream for bigger, better, and greater. Who doesn’t? What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is that the successful are willing to tackle their fears, outwit their old thinking patterns, and break their unproductive habits.
Here’s a technique we use in one of my coaching programs: Imagine yourself 10 years from now, sitting atop the success you’re striving to accomplish today. What advice would you give to the person you are right now?
I could publish an inspirational book from the responses I get to this question. Everybody always gives amazing advice to the person they were 10 years ago. Offer yourself that gentle encouragement right now, and allow yourself to grow beyond the limitations of your comfort zone.
Gain exposure. I talk to too many sellers who tell me, “I want my own successful business, but [friends/family members/work/organizations] can’t find out about it!”
To have a thriving small business, you have to own it! You have to tell all of your friends about it, and let your passion escape and surround you everywhere you go. It’s a mistake to think that you can limit and expand yourself at the same time.
At least have a plan to tell the world your plans. I didn’t start telling people about the Energy Shop until it was about 3 months old, with a decent amount of sales and revenue to back my announcement. Now, the Energy Shop is what I do. It’s my career, and I respect it as well as anyone respects the traditional career positions they’ve earned.
Always make it about the customer. Too often handmade sellers are advised to tell their story, but I believe this is overdone to a fault. As a paying customer, I want everything to be about me! This is true for most as we are narcissistic creatures; it’s our nature. When you go food shopping, do you buy for the groceries you want to bring home, or do you spend money because the grocer tells nice stories about his life?
You want the customers to feel like they’re treating themselves when they shop with you, not like they’re donating a sale to the cause of you. If your story was so good that it did compel someone to buy, chances are that was their good deed for the day rather than the beginning of repeat business.
Because I have always made my shop about serving the customer, most of my business is repeat. I turn every sale into a personal experience, and I strive to build a relationship with each buyer.
I was recently discussing this with a client who had a large brand stamp on a very nice closet organizer she made. I loved what she was making, but when considering a purchase, I was completely put off by the huge brand stamped on the piece. I explained to her that I couldn’t buy the item because it would feel like hanging a billboard for her business in my closet. I want everything about my closet to be about ME. And that’s the way your customers think too.
Forget the stories you read, check the facts. None of the top sellers on Etsy are using their retail space to talk about themselves. Talk about your customer. Don’t talk about how you felt making the piece, talk about how they’ll feel when they’re using it.
And remember, slow and steady wins the race. The work you are putting in now is going to make for a great success story someday. Best of luck!
Lisa Jacobs writes the blog, Marketing Creativity for fellow creatives who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She offers a bundle of free marketing tools designed to help you get paid to be … you.