Starting an Etsy Shop during a Global Pandemic

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Who would do something as crazy as starting a new business during a global pandemic? Hey, what’s up, hello – I’m Steph. I opened a new Etsy shop at the end of March – and here’s how it went.

Choosing Action

What is supposed to be my busiest season of the year as a wedding invitation designer was brought to a screeching halt by the virus-that-shall-not-be named. Along with everyone else, I felt all the emotions: shock, worry, and confusion.

Those feelings quickly turned into a realization that my business was put on hold. I found myself with some extra time and much less income. I imagined worst case scenarios, but decided to jump into action rather than waiting around for answers that no one had.

An Opportunity

I feel so incredibly privileged to have had the time to pour into something new. Even with a significant loss of my livelihood, I realize how lucky I am. I know there are many people who haven’t reaped the benefit of an abundance of time since they’re taking care of children while continuing to work or helping out with sick family members. (Major hats off if that’s you!)

I chose to see my situation as an opportunity to try something new. Rather than focusing on what I didn’t have – I saw what I did: my creativity, my brain, an Internet connection, and some excitement that fueled motivation.

Lessons from an Etsy Seller

The New Idea

My new Etsy shop was an idea that’s floated around in my brain for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to execute it. It’s related to my current business (wedding invitations) and I didn’t want to create any brand dilution or confusion, which is why I made the decision to keep it separate from my existing shop!

There are so many people already selling the “same” thing I wanted to, but I saw a gap in the marketplace. All these products looked so similar – I wanted to create something that was different!

If you create something that is just like everything else on Etsy, the only way you can compete is by having the cheapest price. After 7 years in business, I know that if you do something different, you set yourself apart and don’t have to price low to get sales. I’m here to make some money, how about you?

Other things that factored into my product idea: I wanted something that was low cost and easy to replicate. My existing business is labor intensive with a relatively high cost of goods, so doing something differently in this way was key!

Wondering what the heck to sell on Etsy? Check out my list of 100+ product ideas here!

Starting an Etsy Shop

I started an Etsy shop in 2013 (with zero idea what I was doing) and really learned along the way. This time around, I know a couple things! I was excited to be a beginner again and start something new. I am truly putting myself into my student’s shoes by opening a brand new online store – I’m starting at zero. Again.

With just 3 listings, I decided to open my shop quickly. I teach my students not to wait until things are perfect and I put that into action. You can always continue adding new products and tweaking what you have as you go. You’ll learn so much if you just jump in, although it can be super intimidating!

From idea to shop open, it was about 3 days. I did a lot of market research, designed my products, created images, wrote the descriptions, and refined the listing with relevant keywords.

The Results

On April 4, 2020 I got my first sale – 11 days after I opened my shop. This was exciting because I received my first order in my original Etsy shop April 1, 2013. I had hoped they would share a first sale-aversary, but close enough, right?!

I went on to sell a little over $200 for the entire month. Obviously, this is not a life changing amount of money (especially when I factor in the time, cost of goods, and fees) – but I know there’s so much possibility in growing this shop. If I can do $200 in the first month, during a global pandemic, after I created something rapidly, the possibility of multiplying that number in future months is lookin’ prettyyyy good.

I plan on scaling by continuing to add new listings and marketing my business on Pinterest, my favorite platform for growing your Etsy shop. I didn’t get too much of a chance to market the new biz, so look forward to growing it that way. Setting up an Etsy shop and waiting for results isn’t enough – you have to drive that traffic!

I ended the month with 51 listings in my shop, which sounds like a lot. I did put a decent amount of time into creating, but I had the best time doing it. Learning and trying something new truly brings me joy and I felt like it was a good use of my quarantine time.

Don’t fret though – many of those listings were duplicated variations or combination bundles. I like doing this to not only test different images and keywords, but also to maximize the appearance of having a full shop! You can easily create multiple listings for the same product by having it in a different color, size, etc!

Get to work!

I try to look at everything as an experiment and have fun with it. Of course, the end goal is to make money but you have to take a chance before that’s even possible. I, more than anyone, know that great things don’t happen overnight!

Are you considering opening an Etsy shop right now? My best advice: make a plan and get to work. Just do it!

If you aren’t sure where to start and want some guidance, I’d love to help you! The Getting Started on Etsy Guide will take you through the basics of opening your own Etsy shop – and it’s totally free!

You can jump start your launch by getting my step-by-step instructions on opening a shop in under a week in my signature course, Launch Your Etsy Shop in 5 Days. Everything from pricing and photos to shipping and SEO – I’ll teach you exactly how to build an Etsy shop with a strong foundation so you can turn your hobby into a business.

Thinking about starting an Etsy shop during the global pandemic — or have you already? Leave a comment with your shop link, I’d love to check it out!

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