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[#31cbbcJuly2013] 5 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Etsy Shop And How To Fix Them

This is a guest post by Jess VanDen.

I’ve been helping artisans get their work online – specifically, on Etsy – for a few years now. And you know what? I keep seeing them all making the same mistakes.

Today, I’m going to share 5 mistakes that I see people make with their Etsy shop – and how you can fix them.


 Not enough listings

This is one of the most common mistakes people make when starting out.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me to look at their shop and tell them ‘why they’re not selling anything‘… and when I do, I see they only have 5 or 10 items in their shop.

A lot of people speculate that 100 products are the magic number. Once you hit this, you have a good few pages of items, lots of opportunities to be found in search engines, and people see that you have a full shop, so take you more seriously.

When people land on a shop that has less than a full page of items, they immediately assume ‘hobby’ – NOT business.

Don’t panic if the idea of 100 items seems overwhelming right now… just get as many items in your shop as you can, and make it a priority to fill it up regularly.


Photos that use flash, are cluttered, or that are blurry

Good photos are THE most important thing in your shop. No matter how awesome your products are, how fantastic your branding, or how amazingly you describe them and weave a wonderful story… no-one will ever click through to see any of this if your photos aren’t excellent.

I dare you to go to my ‘Sold Items‘ page in my Etsy shop here, click on the very last page… and see just how terrible MY photos were when I started Epheriell as a hobby back in 2008!

I used flash… I had terrible backgrounds… I had cluttered shots that didn’t go well together… you name it, I did it wrong.

It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to get my photos to where they are now – and I could probably do even better!

Before you spend immense amounts of time and effort marketing your shop, spend the time and effort to get your photos as gorgeous as you possibly can.


No About Page

When Etsy brought out their new About Page feature last year, I was so happy! Finally! A great way to tell our customers about us – show them our studios and process with a rotating banner of images – show them a good photo of us and tell them what we do – share our story in detail.

Are you taking advantage of this excellent tool in your Etsy shop?

I am ALWAYS disappointed when I visit an Etsy shop and they don’t have the About Page active – or, they have a perfunctory page with no images and little story.

I – and many other people – love to buy handmade because we’re buying from a real person… and the only way we can get to know you is if you take the time to tell us all about yourself.

So, make sure to fill in your About Page – with photos and a great story about why you do what you do, and how you do it.


Lacking policies

When you start out selling online, you often don’t know the importance of having good policies – especially if you’ve never worked in retail before.

Detailed policies are important for your customers, but they are even MORE important to you.

Having detailed, concrete policies that cover any eventuality you can think of makes dealing with customer issues a breeze.

Instead of having to stress and third-guess yourself when you’re confronted with an issue, you can simply refer yourself and your customer to your policies to solve the issue.

It means you treat everyone equally and feel confident that you’re being fair to your customer while also sticking to your guns with what you are and are not happy to accommodate.

You’ll also find that good policies will nip many potential problems in the bud before they even happen.

So – save yourself a lot of headaches down the line and take the time to write a set of clear, concise, but detailed policies.


Descriptions that don’t give details

When your customer stumbles across your Etsy shop listing, there are really only two things that you can use to convince them that your product is the one to choose.

First – your photos.

Second – your description.

This is your only shot to convince your customer to buy.

Don’t waste this space! Make sure you’ve told them everything they need to know about the particulars of the item – size, colors, measurements, options… basically, describe it as if they can’t see it.

Also – tell them the benefits they will gain by purchasing the item. Remember – people are buying a feeling, not just a physical item! Weave a story, tell them what difference this item will make to their lives or the lives of those they love.

These are just a few of the key mistakes I see people making with their Etsy shops. However – getting just these 5 things right will go a HUGE distance towards turning your shop into something that you are not only proud of… but that will start bringing in the sales that your beautiful work deserves!

What is One Thing Jess Can Help You With? Pictures? SEO? Listings? About Page? or Policies? 


Jess VandenJess Van Den has been making a full-time living from selling handmade jewellery online under the Epheriell  label since 2010.

She also edits Create & Thrive  – where you can learn how to turn your handmade hobby into a full-time business from those who’ve actually done it!

This July, she’s again running her popular e-course – Set Up Shop  – 30 days of lessons to help you take your online handmade shop from Go to WHOA (which covers the issues above, and many, many more).

Chat to her on twitter – @JessVanDen.


Set up Etsy shop

About I Love Crochet

Sara Duggan is a Wife and Mom enjoys crocheting and writing. She joined the crochet blogging community in 2007 as Momwithahook. In 2008 she toyed with designing patterns and shares her creations with you. Connect with Sara on Twitter and Pinterest.

  • *Mutters into crochet* I don’t use my Etsy shop yet. *blush* It’s a lot of work to get items listed and, if Im honest, I keep putting it off. Maybe that should be my July Goal. 🙂

    • Yes, Petra it is a lot of work. But there are Virtual Assistants who will do all that work for you. You do have to have the funds to hire someone but I can certainly see the advantage of that. Michelle Gallagher, the guest author I had earlier this week does this.

  • Hi Sara,

    Lots of good tips – I need to do a new photo for the bracelet pattern I have posted there – it has been bothering me for weeks! LOL

    As I sell patterns – more than anything else – I prefer Craftsy and Ravelry for my sales – but Etsy is a great marketing tool if you have enough stock – I don’t yet. I often see some Designers listing the same pattern multiple times to increase the ‘items’ in their shops…do you think that is a good idea?

    So for example for a pattern for a hat that is in multiple sizes – should I list them for each size separately (the pattern they receive will include all sizes but maybe it will advertise the sizes more effectively). I’ve been wondering about that.


    • Rhondda, I have a friend who does that – multiple listings. Syrendell (Jennifer) I think the reasoning behind that is to market in more than one category but also to keep adding listings so your work is always on top.

      If I sold patterns I would definitely go with Ravelry and Craftsy. I might even just go with Craftsy as it is currently free to list. I’m not sure if they charge a fee for selling though.

  • I have a shop but I haven’t gotten it figured out yet. The picture thing is beyond me it seems. I need to get someone to show me how to really work my camera. I’ve read the manual more than once but I just can not seem to get really good pictures yet. I am sure with practice and maybe some real editing tools I will get there someday.

    • My sister has a really posh looking Nikon. It’s like a professional camera. She tried reading the manual but found it tricky to relate it to what was in her hands. So, she booked herself a day to just go out and play. Now she takes amazing shots and knows her camera inside and out. The other tip she gave me was to go along to a camera club, she learned lots about what her camera could do from other club members. 🙂
      As for editing, I use Picasa for simple edits and Im just getting to grips with Pixlr. They are both free programmes too! Hope this helps 🙂

      • Petra, that is a great camera. I think ‘playing’ is how we naturally learn. Think back to when you were a kid? Most of it was trial and error until you learned how to do it.

    • Rebecca, Petra gave some great advice. Just take your camera out ‘to play’. Mess with it, experiment and if there is a camera club nearby, join it. I currently use PicMonkey to edit pictures which I’m liking a lot. I wrote a post about taking pictures of crochet work which had some very useful tutorials.

  • jen

    This is great advice! Everywhere I go today, I’m running into great Etsy advice. It may be a sign? 🙂 I guess I should spend some time on the shop tomorrow!

    • LOl too true Jen. Actually I was reading one post about how NOT to choose Etsy. Everyone has their opinion. I used them and loved it but I wasn’t very business minded back then.

  • Fantastic advice. i hope I’ll be using in the future 😉

    • Hi Susan, thanks for dropping by. Yes, Jess gave some great tips. I think the biggest challenge I have is photography. I did manage to pick up a presentation board – they kind for kids school reports – which helps a little with getting a white background.

  • Hi,
    Great article! I definitely agree with every point that is made. I must admit i’m lacking in the description part (i’m working on it though). I aways leave the things I hate doing the most to last but they always seem to be the most important past!

    • Maria, I think you share that with many people – me included. We always put off what we dislike. Descriptions are very important for SEO as well as for grabbing the readers attention. You want them to have an emotional connection to your piece which is usually why people buy in the first place.

  • Great tips- I could use this! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Danette, Thanks for popping in. Etsy is a large place and many newcomers signup each day. These tips go a long way to helping them set up shop.

  • Thank you so much for this post! I stopped posting in my store because I wasn’t selling on Etsy, well. I will be trying these!

    • gretta

      Etsy, just like any business takes time and patience. Jess has some great tips and resources on her site. I would say the number one thing every Etsy shop owner should have is support and/or a mentor.