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In 2011 I was feeling bored and unfulfilled at my job as a designer for an agency in New York. Without giving it much thought I decided to open a shop on Etsy selling digital designs. I saw other shops on Etsy selling cute illustrations and digital patterns. Some of the shops had tens of thousands of sales! It dawned on me that this is something I could easily do too. If other people were doing it, why couldn’t I?
So I opened my shop, Sugar Studios on Etsy in October 2011.
I started out selling digital patterns and illustrations, premade logos, custom blog designs and add ons like business cards.
I remember that feeling every time I had a sale on Etsy. My phone would make a special sound, “CHA-CHING” to alert me. It was so exciting to be making money on top of the money I was already making at my full time job.
Pretty quickly I became swamped with work and was even having to turn down projects. Within two years I was able to make over $45,000 through my sales on Etsy!
It was enough money for us to put a down payment on a house and even have some extra left in savings.
It wasn’t all easy though.
I sacrificed a lot of my own personal time including weekends and night by working on Etsy orders and creating new products.
Frequently Add New Products
Since the listing fee is very inexpensive on Etsy ($.20) added a lot of products, like a lot! I noticed that the shops that had very few products (less than a page full) didn’t have many sales. I knew that by listing as many products as I could and creating a fuller looking shop would lead to more sales – and it did! Another trick is to relist the same product but give it a different cover image. Customers love to see variation and the different ways they can use your products.
Respond to Messages Quickly
Being that I worked full time in front of a computer, I had easy access to my Etsy shop all day which meant to could respond almost instantly to messages from shoppers. Quickly responding to shopper’s questions led to more sales.
Listen to Shoppers
In the beginning I listed some products that didn’t sell at all, and at the same time I received requests from customers for things that weren’t in my shop. Some of the items they requested wound up being my top sellers! Offer to take requests from shoppers or create a listing for customer orders.
Raise Your Prices
Initially I based my prices on what other similar shops were charging. As my store became more successful and my waitlist for custom design work grew, I realized it was time to raise my prices. Without this I don’t think I would have ever been able to save the $45,000 I made.
Update Your Shop Ahead of Season
Since I was selling my clipart to a lot of other shop owners, I had to plan my products in advance. I found that by late Summer shoppers were already looking for Halloween clipart, and by very early Fall they were planning for Christmas. I definitely missed the boat on this my first year and it probably cost me a lot in sales.
Renew Your Listings As Soon As They Are Sold
When one of your products sells, if you’re able to renew the listing and sell the same product again, go ahead and do that ASAP! You don’t want to take the chance that you’ll forget to renew your product listing. Also, renewing a product listing makes it temporarily more visible to shoppers since your listing is considered new (this doesn’t last long though since thousands of products are listed all day long on Etsy).
Etsy was such a huge part of my business for so long. I still have my clipart shop but the main focus of my business is now custom branding and website design. I think Etsy is a great option for someone looking to start a business that doesn’t require a lot of commitment or investment to get started.
What do you think of this article? Do you have any questions for me? Ask me in the comments box below!
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