Sunday, December 28, 2014

Etsy Start Up Guide Part 4: FAQs

UPDATE:  I have now condensed this entire blog series, added a few new sections and now have it available for purchase in my Etsy shop HERE.  It also includes 40 free listings to help you get your shop started.

Before we go any further, I want to answer a couple of frequently asked questions that may be helpful in this point of the game.  I'll touch on most of them in greater depth later, but for those of you waiting, this will hopefully help.  If you missed last week's post about listing your items for sale, you can find it HERE.
1.  How do I set my prices?

There are all sorts of formulas out there for pricing your handmade items.  I, however, find most of these totally outrageous and give you prices that are way too high.  Basically, you need to figure out how much it costs you to make your item; all the supplies plus your time.  And shop around!!  Look around Etsy to see how much other shops are charging for something similar. You need to make sure you cover 100% of your costs and then some extra.  Some shop owners charge a flat hourly rate on top of their costs.  (Side note?  Obviously you want to shop around and make sure you are getting your supplies for the absolute best price in order to give you a better profit margin.  I see people selling the same type of items I make for next to nothing and I'm sad for them knowing they are actually paying people to buy their products) 

You don't want to list items for too little but you also don't want to go too high.  I would pick a middle ground that you feel comfortable with.  Once your shop is hopping, you can start raising prices.  Which leads me to another question...

2.  How do I know when to raise my prices?

My rule of thumb?  When my sales start getting out of control (meaning I can't keep up with them anymore), that's when I raise prices.  Not by a ton; just a bit at a time.  And I don't raise prices on everything all at once.  If I find that my car seat canopies are going gang busters, I'll raise just those. When my pacifier clips start flying off the shelves, I'll raise the prices on those.

You'll also want to shop around from time to time as well and make sure you're still priced competitively.  I did this awhile ago with my bibs and found that mine were by far the cheapest out there!  I quickly raised my prices so I'd be in the same ball park as my competitors.

Don't worry about losing sales by raising prices.  You'd be amazed at how much it does NOT effect your sales.  If anything, it typically increases your sales.  Don't ask me why - it's the strangest phenomenon.

2.  How do I know how much to charge for shipping?

You can do one of three things.

a) Take your items to the post office each and every sale to individually weigh and postage them.  This might be okay when you're first starting out, but I wouldn't recommend it.  I did this for the longest time until I finally figured out I could print postage at home.

b) Take one of each of your items, fully packaged, and take them to the post office to weigh them. Jot down how much easy one weighs and make yourself a master list.  This was my second course of action and it worked great!

c)  Skip all that hassle and just buy a small kitchen scale (assuming your items will easily fit on that scale).

Once you've figured out how much to charge for each item, you can set up a shipping profile for them.  That way, all the shipping information is saved for you based on what you're shipping, and you don't have to enter it all in every time you list a new item.

3.  How long do I wait for sales to come in before I give up?

Obviously, that is totally up to you.  However, it took me almost a full year before I started seeing regular sales.  I will say, though, that I didn't do much advertising or pushing of my shop/products during that time.  You have to have patience.  Don't give up just because you didn't make 20 sales your first month out.  If you stick with it, you'll get there!

I've heard that it takes approximately 100 views before an item sells, and that tends to hold true in my shop.  So the more you get your product seen, the quicker you'll see those sales coming in.

4.  How do I get my product seen?

I will definitely be doing an entire post of just this later, but if you want to start working on it, here you go.  This is just a quick list and by no means a complete one.  There are TONS of places to get your items seen.
          - Join (and participate in) a few Etsy teams
          - Facebook (create your own page and/or participate in one of the dozens of Etsy/Handmade     groups)
          - Twitter
          - Linked In
          - StoreWoot (this site promotes your items for you! Click through the link to try it for free!!)
          - Instagram
          - Pinterest
          - Ask a blogger (or two. Or three.) to do a giveaway for you
          - Tsu (this is a new social media outlet that has an AWESOME collection of handmade artisans)
          - Continue adding product to your shop
          - Play with your keywords

5.  How do I edit my photos?

I simply use PicMonkey.  Others use Photoshop.  I've also been known to use my camera and editing options on my phone.  There are lots of photographers that will take professional photos of your product in exchange for the item they're photographing (there's an entire Etsy Team devoted to matching photographers with shop ownders) and no other cost.

I think that's a good, quick recap of the most frequently asked questions I receive.  On Wednesday, I'll be going through what to do once you make your first sale!!

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