Starting any online business isn’t easy these days. Unless you have a ton of money for advertising, it takes a lot of time to get traction. A lot more time than when I first opened my doors 8 years ago.
I know that’s probably not what you want to hear. But, it’s not that different than a brick and mortar shop.
An actual shop faces similar traffic challenges – just on the ground. They still have to be found by potential customers. You don’t usually open your doors and have a ton of people dying to buy from you the first day.
The thing with online business is that it takes a lot of time to find your customers and develop a relationship with them.
So, you are probably pretty excited that you finally opened your new Etsy shop. And it is a wonderful milestone.
You’re probably also a little anxious because your new Etsy shop isn’t making a ton of sales yet – if any at all. Don’t worry – that’s completely normal too.
Depending on the competition in your category, it can take approximately 3 to 8 weeks to make your first sale. This is only based on observation – there isn’t a lot of hard scientific data in this area. But that is the time it could take for just one sale. Who knows how long the second one will take.
So when you set the first goals for your new Etsy shop, it wouldn’t be very realistic to write that you want to make 1,000 sales in a month or enough revenue to quit your full time job. As nice as these things would be.
It’s important to keep your goal setting realistic. For your first few months in business, you need to create goals that you can actually accomplish for your new Etsy shop.
By succeeding at these smaller goals, you’ll feel more confident and motivated to keep growing your shop.
If your goals are too broad and pie in the sky ideas, you’re more likely to close your shop’s doors before you’ve even given it a chance.
But how do you write realistic goals for your new Etsy shop that you can actually accomplish? Here are some things to focus on during your first months in business.
Look at it over a Quarter
I usually write goals for the month, since it takes me about 4 weeks to complete a big goal. I will create a large monthly goal and write down smaller steps to get there.
Each week I work on accomplishing one of these smaller steps until I’ve completed the large goal.
When you have a new Etsy shop, though, you will have so many things to work on that you might feel overwhelmed. That’s completely understandable. There’s a lot to do when you start an Etsy shop.
Instead of looking at the goals monthly, stretch them out over the quarter. This way you’ll have longer to accomplish them and won’t feel terrible when you can’t get as much as done you hoped in the first month.
Make your First Sale
Since you’re running a business, the most important thing to do is make your first sale. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter where this sale comes from. It’s more symbolic to acknowledge that you are being paid for your work. You are now a “professional” in whatever skill you do.
If you find that making this first sale is harder than you thought it’d be, send your shop information to family and friends. Announce that you opened an Etsy shop on social media and share your work out with family and friends.
It might be hard to get a complete stranger to buy, but usually a friend or two love what you do and are excited to be the first people to support your small shop. My first web shop sale came from a really good friend from high school. She just wanted to be the first person to click Buy.
Get a 5 Star Review
One of the keys to being successful on Etsy is your reviews. Have you ever skimmed Etsy and stopped when a shop had 3 or 4 stars. Maybe it’s just my crazy hobby, but I always wonder what happened.
Although lower reviews don’t matter that much in the long run, in the beginning you need to get as many 5 star reviews as possible. These reviews will build your credibility and trust in your shop.
Remember, you’re competing with many other Etsy shops who’ve been in business for years. Potential customers need to know you’re legit. Your amazing reviews will show them that you create a quality product.
So, try to get that first 5 star review. It will also boost your confidence and confirm that you make an amazing product.
Make sure your Shop’s Complete
There are a lot of steps you need to do before opening your Etsy shop. You can read all of the details here. But, now is the time to make sure you’ve completed them.
If you chose to skip over your Story page or only sort of write a message to buyers, now is the time to go back and fix it.
It might have been hard to take photos earlier if you hadn’t started producing your products, but now you can snap pics of your studio in action. Add these photos to your Story section, associated product listings and even use them for branding.
Just make sure that all elements of your shop have been completed. When you get busy in the coming months to a year, you won’t have time to go back and fix these elements. It’s important that they’re in place correctly now.
Add more Product Listings
When opening your new Etsy shop, I recommended focusing on getting one product in your shop. All you really need to open your new shop is that one product. Then, you are officially in business.
Now that you’ve perfected your first product, it’s time to work on your next one. Make a goal for how many listings you hope to add to your shop and start working towards it. Etsy SEO loves shops with lots of listings and shop owners that add new listings frequently.
Set a day of the week (or month) to add new products. Adding products can be time consuming. Having a set time for this project will help you focus and actually get it done.
Having trouble thinking about new product options? Creating new product listings doesn’t mean that your products have to be completely new. You could make variations of your current listings. Consider grouping them differently or making a matching version to the first product.
Get into a Creative Groove
You’re now an Etsy shop owner, which probably means that you are a creative. Your shop requires a lot of creativity each day to run and be successful.
In the first few weeks of your new Etsy shop, you want to find your creative groove. This is the place where the making process becomes seamless and a part of your daily routine.
Decide when you are freshest to create – could be early mornings, late nights or even naptime. Put aside this time for being creative and making your products.
Use your creative groove to your advantage and be strict about it. Many Etsy shop owners tell me that they don’t have any time to create new products because they’re so busy completing orders. This will happen to you one day in the future – I promise.
But for now, find your creative time to just explore your craft. Stick with it and your creative output will grow your shop naturally.
Start a Business Blog
As you probably know by now, I am a huge believer in having a business blog for your shop. It’s one of your best marketing tools. You can read why here.
Now is the time to start your business blog. Even if you aren’t sure the content to put on it yet. That’s okay. Use the time now to set up the technical pieces – purchase a domain name, find a host, choose a theme, etc.
Do that work now before your Etsy shop is busy. If you are really ambitious, you can also start writing your first pieces of content. Focus on posts about your shop, story, what makes your product unique and where you get your ideas from.
Not a writer? It’s okay if writing isn’t your jam. Not everybody loves putting words on a screen. If you find that writing content is too difficult, line up a freelance writer who can create beautiful blog posts to about your shop. That way you can start driving potential customers to your website and they can learn about your work.
Remember, that your business blog is where customers really get to know you. It’s the place where they warm up to buying from you. You will build your best customer relationships through your blog. Use it to build an online community from the beginning and sales will follow.
Become Consistent on One Social Media Network
Notice how I wrote “one” on the section heading. It’s natural when you start a new Etsy shop that you want to become active on every social media network out there. That’s completely normal.
It’s also an easy way to wear yourself out quickly.
Social media is a constant distraction and not one that shop owners see many sales results from. You might have a huge audience on Instagram, but if you can’t figure out how to get them to buy, they aren’t really beneficial to your business.
Figure out which social media network your audience hangs out on. Think about the demographic you’re selling too and where you can communicate with them the best.
Then start there. Create a page or account and begin posting consistently.
Please note that growing on social media only works if you’re consistent. If you have small children at home or aren’t even really interested in social media, you’re better off focusing your time on other marketing techniques. No one will notice if you don’t have an Instagram account.
When in doubt, choose Pinterest. Although Pinterest is more of a search engine these days, when used correctly, you can really build your online shop, share your products faster and increase your sales.
Create your First Opt-In
So, one thing you’ll notice on Etsy is that there’s no way to collect your customers’ email addresses. It’s actually illegal to take an email address from the order (and many customers get pretty upset if you do). You also can’t contact a customer with another offer via Etsy conversation after the current order is complete.
I believe that this is by design. Etsy wants to make you dependent on them bringing you sales.
This works fine if you want to keep your shop small and stay on Etsy. But if you have bigger plans for your shop, collecting email addresses should be one of your biggest priorities.
You can find out different ways to create a mailing list as an Etsy seller here.
The most important thing that you’ll need, though, is an opt-in. Many shop owners give shoppers a savings code. Although this can persuade some to purchase from your shop, I recommend trying another incentive that encourages those buyers who aren’t ready to purchase to get to know you more.
To do this, you’ll need an opt-in. You can find lots of opt-in ideas for your Etsy shop here. Use this quieter time in your Etsy shop to create your opt-in. Then you can start building your mailing list from day one.
Where do I put my opt-in?
That’s where your blog comes in handy. You can find out more tips on using your business blog to build your shop mailing list here.
You could also create a single landing page that has a sign up connected to your mailing list sign up. If you aren’t ready to run an entire website, this might be easier.
Drive more Traffic
I have an exercise for you to do. Go to your Etsy shop and write down the amount of traffic that you received last week.
Now, look at this number and double it. Then, triple it. Do you think any of these numbers are reachable during this quarter?
Your success on Etsy is determined by your traffic. The more traffic you can get to click on your listings, the more likely that you will make sales.
Your job as a new Etsy shop owner is to increase this traffic as much as possible using different marketing strategies (you can find out about the best ones here).
But writing down the goal – increase traffic – isn’t enough. By how much do you hope to increase traffic? You need a number that you’re reaching for and a plan on how to get there.
Be sure to have a specific strategy in mind. It’s not enough to just hope to increase traffic. You need to know the steps to making it happen.
Opening a new Etsy shop is really exciting and a huge step in any creative entrepreneur’s dream. Once you clicked the Open button, though, you need to focus on the next steps to growing your shop out of infancy.
Making realistic goals is important to stay motivated. Just like any online venture, opening an Etsy shop is more like a marathon. You need to stick with it for a long time to be successful.
So, start your goals as baby steps. Work on making your first sale, getting a five star review or creating a business blog to market your products. Once you see little accomplishments with your efforts, you’ll be surprised how quickly you grow.