Hello my dear sweet friends!!
My heart is still reeling (and my mind is blown) by how much love and support I received from my last post! I have had so many beautiful people reach out to me with incredibly kind words and thoughtful messages and my heart is so full. And that just goes to show that we are all in this together, going through similar struggles, and that you are not alone.
I just want to start out by saying that I truly believe that anyone can be successful with etsy. It takes a lot (A LOT) of hard work and dedication and most of all, it just takes time. We all open our shops and pray for instant success. While that does happen for some, for others like me, it takes several (long, sometimes painful) months to get things going. But don't give up my friends because each of you has something incredibly special to share.
We all started our small businesses with a dream to be able to do what we love and get paid for it. And sometimes it doesn't happen as quickly or as easily as we'd hope. Some of us might start to feel burnt out or maybe we have been broke long enough that the doubts start to creep in, making us wonder if we had just made a huge mistake.
But from the bottom of my heart, I believe we can do this, each one of us. We all have the potential to make something really special and great. Just remember there is no one like you on this planet, no one who can offer the world what you have to offer, and I think that's pretty dang neat.
So I encourage all of you to just be yourselves and do what you love! Don't stress about how well everyone else is doing because maybe life has something else, something cooler in store for you. You'll find success in a different way than the next guy. Your main focus should be to know who you are, know what you love to do, know what keeps you up at night because you are too excited about all the possibilities, know what makes you feel alive, and if you know these things and pursue them wholeheartedly then the success will come.
I hope to inspire you to be brave and try your own thing. Do what feels right for you.
If painting pictures of unicorns on tricycles is what gets you excited about life, by all means, please do it!
If you love to make figurines out of macaroni noodles (anyone catch the Seinfeld reference? eh? eh?) then you should do that.
If I live in the desert where it gets up over a hundred degrees every day during the summer but I love working with chunky yarn and creating winter wear, then I should absolutely do just that.
Who cares what other people think right?
If you own up to your passions in life and do what you love, no matter how crazy it may sometimes seem, people will respect that and love you for it. (And those who don’t probably shouldn’t be a part of your life anyway.)
Make what you love to make and the sales will come. Be you. Brand your business from the inside out.
Okay enough rambling. Moving on.
The point of this post is to share with you guys three things that has helped me grow as an etsy shop owner. I'm pretty sure the way I opened my shop is pretty much a perfect example of what not to do. If I could go back, I'd do a lot of things differently. Like I said in my previous post, I opened a shop completely on whim, knowing in my gut that etsy was what I wanted to pursue and working from home was my dream, but it took some trial and error to find the thing that gets me really jazzed about creating and selling.
1. KNOW WHAT YOU LOVE TO MAKE AND PICK A GOOD SHOP NAME
So advice number one before opening a shop, have a basic idea of what you'd like to sell. (And preferably have a few products ready to sell too.) And then pick a good shop name that fits with who you are, your brand, and what you'd like to sell.
Now my first shop name was kinda terrible. It was a random nickname given to me by my husband (and one that he never uses anymore which is kind of sad since it will now forever be my user name on etsy ha ha). I'm totally not dissing on naming your shop based on a nickname of yours or even a random word or phrase that means something to you (which is what I eventually ended up doing). It definitely works for some people. We are all different and we got our own paths to follow and honestly, us all doing it differently and doing it our own way is what I one hundred percent encourage. For me, LittleBugSeven felt like a dead end name. It conveyed nothing to my customers. It didn't give any hint to what I was selling or what my shop stood for.
Which leads me to my next tidbit of advice, if you do end up picking the wrong shop name, don't panic. It can be changed.
Etsy is awesome and realizes that probably a lot of us have no idea what we are doing when we open our shops, diving in head first rather than dipping our toes and testing the waters.
Etsy allows you to change your shop name one time with no questions asked. If you're having doubts about your shop name and would like to change it, it's so easy.
You just go to Your Shop on your etsy home page and click on Shop Settings, click on Info & Appearance, and under the tab Shop Name you can type in a new one. It's instant and hassle free.
And thus my shop, One Loop at a Time was born.
I still love this name by the way. I thought it was so clever, describing the process of how each piece was created, giving a hint as to what my shop was without being too obvious.
But as much as I loved this name, eventually it felt too limiting. I wanted more for my shop. I wanted something that got me excited to get out of bed in the morning and create new things (and work my guts out). I pondered for a few months, toying with the idea of a new shop name but realizing that changing everything wouldn't be as easy as it was the first time.
I had already built a small following on instagram. I had already made around 80 sales to people who knew me as One Loop at a Time. (I had already paid for a ton of labels and business cards with One Loop at a Time written all over them.) And I had already used up my "Change Your Shop Name No Questions Asked Card" on etsy. Everyone probably thought I was insane (I’ll be honest, thought I was insane) but I went ahead and made the change anyway.
The words Be Brave kept popping up all around me and resonated within my soul. It just felt right. And I wanted an endearing word, encouraging me to be brave, and the word Darling just makes my heart sing. So I kept repeating the phrase "Darling Be Brave" to myself over and over, trying to see if it sounded right or even made sense. I told a few people of my idea for a new shop name and many eyebrows furrowed in response but I just did what I knew was right for me and went for it regardless.
I checked to see if the name was available on all forms of social media (most importantly if it was available on instagram and etsy) and I wanted to make sure that I could claim the domain name so I could build my own website. It surprisingly was available. That beautiful phrase was just sitting there for the taking. The more days that passed, the more I worried someone else would think of it and snatch it up. So I did what I do best, I jumped in feet first, knowing that I'd have to do a lot of things at once and that it'd be a ton of work to change everything I had already built, but I did it anyway because I wanted to, because I needed to.
And thus my baby Darling Be Brave was born. And I've never been happier with the path that I’m on.
How did I do it? Change my shop name a second time? Easy as pie my friends. You can in fact change your shop name more than once. (Can I get a hallelujah?) It's just a little more tricky the second time. Etsy is so kind though. I simply wrote them a little message with my new shop name proposal and told them the reason I desired a change, letting them know that One Loop at a Time felt too limiting and that I'd like to be able to add other items besides crochet stuff in the future (probably the far future but I've always got a million ideas of things to make rattling around in the brain of mine). A few hours later I received a message back from etsy with their approval of the new shop name and my heart skipped with joy. That lead to a whirlwind of website building and complete rebranding but I'll touch on that another day.
So incredibly long story short, try to take the time to pick a good shop name and to have somewhat of a vision of where you'd like your shop to go. Worse comes to worse you can change your shop name if you feel like you need to. (And worse comes to worse comes to worse you can go ahead and change your shop name a second time if you need to.) Hopefully ya'll are lucky enough to fall into the right name the first time. But I like to keep things spicy and do stuff the hard way so it took a couple tries. ;)
2. GET SOCIAL
Moving on, my second piece of advice is to get social.
Etsy is such a massive community and many markets are extremely saturated (like mine). So building a shop and expecting the sales to come in on their own is maybe most likely impossible.
How do you stand out then?
It's funny because before my etsy shop, I kinda hated instagram. I never really used it and when I did my photos wouldn't really get any attention and it just kinda felt pointless. As soon as I started crocheting, instagram became the coolest thing ever. I ended up opening up a separate business account (I highly recommend this) and posting regularly and I am completely shocked by the following I have accidentally created. I think I'll post next week more in-depth on how I've stumbled into what I consider to be successful on instagram but for now, just know it's an amazing tool for us creatives. It allows us to share pictures of our process and our brand and to build friendships with people in our same line of work and to reach out to new customers around the world. It's amazing.
For some, instagram doesn't float their boat and that's totally fine. No worries. If facebook is where it's at for you, definitely use facebook. If you love twitter, use twitter. If there's another form of social media my hermit self isn't aware of, go for that. Just do something. Get your name out there and build friendships and show the world who you are and what you got to offer.
Also, even if you don't plan on using the all the other forms of social media, claim your shop name on all of them. I currently have an instagram, facebook, website, twitter, and pinterest account all with my shop name as my user name. It increases my chances of having my shop found which increases my chances of getting sales.
(Plus with instagram, I have it linked to my facebook and my twitter accounts so I can post to all three social media outlets with one click.)
3. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PICTURES
My third and majorly huge, insanely big piece of advice for your shop is to take good product photos.
This is absolutely the most important thing you can do.
Potential customers can't touch, feel, or experience your product besides the photos you share. All they have is pictures to look at and go off of so you better do what you can to make them good.
Natural lighting is a must. Shoot near a window if you can. You want bright but indirect light.
Etsy shoppers seem to love white backgrounds (myself included) so I'd recommend investing in some sort of white backdrop. For me, I painted a wall in my house a light creamy color so that it would act as a good background for my photos. (And I have a white board that I think was a shelf at one point (that I randomly found in my garage) that I use as a background for my smaller products/instagram photos.)
Make sure your photos are bright and crisp so that it's easy to see all the hard work you've put into your product. Show off all the amazing details. Try different angles. Customers can't pick up your product and look at it and experience it so it's important to use your photos to make your product come to life.
Also, edit your photos to give them a little extra boost. I have adobe photoshop elements which I'm not entirely sure how to use yet but I'm slowly figuring it out (even though I may or may not have had it for several years). There are free photo editing services too though such as picmonkey which I've heard is fantastic.
I always up the exposure a teensy bit and up the contrast too. I try to make my product the main focus of the picture by photographing in bright, natural light, having a white (cream) background, and wearing simple clothing and make up. It's a style that works for me and that I love. I've seen others who are successful that use different kinds of backgrounds for their products though so don't feel trapped in the white world. It's okay to be different as long as your pictures still look professional. Do your own thing. Do what feels right for you.
Just make sure your photos are pretty. Make it so that when someone is scrolling through the insanely large amount of search results that it's your product that stands out and draws them in.
Think to yourself, "Would I buy this based off of these pictures?" If the answer is no, it's okay. Just try again. I'm constantly redoing pictures and trying new things. Your shop most likely isn't going to be perfect the first try around and that's okay and half the fun.
Well I think I maybe rambled a bit here and there but this is a topic I'm passionate about so I can't help it. I really hope this post helps, even if only a little. And if there is anything you'd like me to touch more on in the future, please let me know.
Have a lovely week my friends!!
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