If this is your first time reading one of my posts (first of all, hey hey), then I run a store on Etsy called Chlocreates. I started slowly in 2018, got running in 2019 and hit my goals in 2020. My goals were modest but that isn’t a bad thing! I sell prints, postcards, greetings cards and have plans for more items in the future.
After sitting down with my assistant (I kid, it’s my fiance who helps me run the store and does the admin work for me) we zeroed in on five things we should do over the year. Some of them seemed so simple in hindsight (I could make a 2020 joke here, but I’m above that) that we can’t believe we didn’t do sooner; others were new ways of handling existing systems and techniques. I’m rambling and making this sound duller than it actually is so let’s get cracking with the list.
1. Word of Mouth
Be proud, say it loud. After talking about it, we weren’t sure what was holding back from telling family and friends we were running an Etsy Store. Eventually the decision came down to a lack of confidence that they may not like our items or think we were just pressuring them to buy something like a creepy Etsy-based MLM. (Patent pending) But we had slimmed our items down to our best sellers, personal favourites and brand new greetings cards.
Proud of our efforts, we peppered the information throughout the year to people when they said “What have you been up to?” instead of replying “Not much…” or something sad we would say “Been working hard on our new Etsy store, just got our first line of greetings cards up!” Then as Christmas rolled around at the end of the year, we had orders from lots of family and friends who wanted to use our cards.
The long-term help here is that Etsy is a fickle master. It doesn’t rank your searches well unless you make sales; you won’t make sales unless you rank on searches well. This can help you get you off the ground and soaring up the search rankings.
2. Update your items and modernise your equipment
There is a temptation with Etsy that after you have listed an item, to just leave it there forever and hope it gets found and bought. I mean, it’s only 30 cents, right? Barely noticeable and if someone buys one cha-ching! This can leave your shop looking lazy, out-dated and bloated. A shopper can see too many items on your shop landing page, not know where to begin and decide it isn’t worth their time.
Set regular intervals to go through your listings (we do every 6 months) and be brutal. Does this item still fit with the rest of your shop? Has anyone bought it? Has anyone ever seen it? What’s the SEO like? Six views in a year? Wow. It can be crushing to see something you cared enough about to make not find its audience, but sometimes you need to move on. Also, check sites like eRank and see if your tags and titles are still performing well. For context with Chlocreates, we de-listed several items. Some were posters that had not sold, but we really like the designs and plan to bring them back in the future as postcards or different items. So we’re not losing our work forever.
Also, previously I did all my drawings on my iMac. Macs are the only computer I can use due to my visual impairment but I do use an iPhone as well. So after testing it out in store, we took a big plunge and updated to an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I had to re-learn how to draw on a new device, understanding new software in Procreate – but I came out the other end a better artist with more scope for what I can make in the future.
3. Sell the old-fashioned way, offline!
This seemed like a crazy idea when we discussed this. I mean it was that year which is universally considered the worst year ever. There was a you-know-what making everyone stay at home and you weren’t allowed to meet strangers. But we knew that we had to sell through other channels. So we listed the shop on a few wholesale websites, made our details available elsewhere for other companies to find us so we could sell Business to Business. Pushing out the fact this is a female-led, disabled-person-led business.
We got a lead and after negotiating, learning how to make an invoice and making the biggest order ever – we did it! It allowed us to restock the shelves in the office with supplies for the store and invest in the future.
That word out of context may not mean anything, but Trello is a team and project management platform that is free to use (but does offer paid features for larger companies). Previously we had kept track of what to do in our heads, in Notes on our phones and even a Google Sheets spreadsheet. It wasn’t practical for tracking, didn’t give us feedback and took more time to maintain than we saved by remembering to do what we needed to do!
Trello was easy to set up. We made a board for our annual goals for the next 12 months and what we would need to do. That feeds into a current to-do board with more accurate information and we have another board where we bat ideas back and forward. We can make lists of ideas, move them around, add cards, add comments for the other to see, attach images, set deadlines and so on and so forth.
Even if you’re working solo, I cannot recommend Trello enough for project management, life management and keeping yourself right. We use it for our whole lives now.
5. Social Media – plan it!
Finally, let’s both assume that you already use social media. You make a few posts here and there, but are you struggling to keep it going consistently? My secret has been to plan and stick to that plan. Decide what types of post you want to make, how you’re going to spread them out and build a backlog. Trello can be used to list your posts, you can store your hashtags in there ready to paste them into the post and set reminders.
Simple steps to make work easier for future you. As with all of the above, it is about investing a little extra of your time to get the results you want. Don’t bog yourself down in the details, but don’t forget to look back from time to time. Share your dreams, plan for your dreams and use everything you can stand out from the crowd. Good luck.