How to Turn Your Hobby into a Profitable Business on Etsy

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Etsy started over a decade ago and has since grown in leaps and bounds. As of 2019, there is a whopping 2.5 million sellers on Etsy, with 60 million products to choose from. There is no doubt that Etsy is the place to be for handmade sellers and creatives. This is why it is not surprising that many give the platform a try when it comes to selling their products.

A lot of sellers begin with the intent of selling their products as a way of discovery. Or even to make some extra cash while fulfilling their passions. In fact, 79% of Etsy sellers begin with the mindset of starting an Etsy shop as an outlet for creativity according to DMR Business Statistics. I found myself down that similar pathway when I initially started. I loved creating products and I thought it would be cool to showcase them on a larger scale. What I didn’t realize was that my passion project would turn into a business.

So how do you transition to monetizing your hobby into a profitable business on Etsy? How do you go from passionately creating to generating income? Here are four key components to take your interests and launch them into the starting point of a money-generating Etsy business.

1 | Focus on your Etsy Stats

Your Etsy stats are one of the most vital metrics to your business because it tells you how your shop and products are performing. The best way to determine how your products are performing is to make it a habit to check out your shop’s traffic. Tracking your Etsy shop traffic helps you to focus on what is attracting shoppers to your products. From there, you can deliver more of what is working and adjust what isn’t working.

Your Etsy stats are designed to provide an overall view of what shoppers are searching for to bring them to your shop, which listings are the most popular, and gives insights into where your traffic is coming from. With this information, you can optimize your shop, attract new customers, and make more money. So instead of blindly figuring things out, you have an overview of what you’re working with. In turn, this helps you to tweak your marketing and SEO strategy to get the traffic you want.

This data also helps you to map out goals, short and long-term, based on your revenue growth. Let’s say you are currently producing $500 a month, but you would rather be making profits more on the side of $1000 monthly. Here you can see your profit trends and create a plan to meet your goals of doubling your income.

2 | The Power of Photos

It’s no secret that product photography can make or break a sale. Photos are highly influential on whether or not a shopper decides to click to your listing, much less make a purchase. Shoppers are often drawn to images as it is an unspoken description of your product. Online shoppers don’t have the ability to check out your product in person, which is why photos are instrumental in converting sales. Now, although photos of your products aren’t the sole reason why a purchase is made – as pricing, reviews, and shipping all play a role. Product photos set the stage for the decision-making process.

I know, I know…you aren’t a professional photographer. And guess what? You don’t have to be! Eighty-percent of my product images is taken by yours truly. The other 20% are images from brand ambassadors I work with to showcase my products of lifestyle images. I prefer a variety of images that show my products alone against a white background, but also on live subjects that are modeling my products in different scenes.

Some things to consider with your product photos:

  • Think from a customer perspective, what would entice a shopper to click on your listing?
  • Take multiple images from different angles.
  • Use natural lighting.
  • Avoid using filters that will misrepresent what your product looks like.
  • Use a photo editing software. Even with natural lighting, you will still need to make adjustments.
  • Avoid backgrounds that are “noisy” and distracting – you don’t want to take the focus off of your product.
  • Avoid other objects and props that may confuse shoppers of what item you are selling.

I can be the first to tell you, mastering good, clear photos is not easy. My first set of photos were embarrassing and hideous. I cringe whenever I look back at them. But, what got me from point A to point B is practice. With just one product, I may take well over 50 images alone. Then during the editing phase, I go through to see which images are perfect and delete the ones that missed the mark.

You may also like: How To Achieve Stellar Photos For Your Etsy Shop

Resource: Product Photography Guide

3 | Provide a Notable Customer Experience

The most obvious reason for providing good customer service is that it lays a strong and healthy foundation for retaining customers. It’s not uncommon to hear that shoppers will not complete a purchase because of a lack of customer service or on the opposite end that shoppers are prone to spending more money with a shop that provides great customer experience.

This is a topic that Etsy is big on, in fact, they factor in customer’s experience in your shop’s placement in search. The experience a customer has on Etsy involves multiple factors such as the quality of your reviews, the completion of your about section, including shop policies, and whether you have any open cases against your shop. All of these can hurt your shop’s visibility in search if not optimized properly.

So, as you can see, communicating with shoppers and customers is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes down to your Etsy shop. Here are a few things you can do to up your game in the customer service arena:

  • Answer shoppers immediately. Shoppers can reach out to you directly on the platform with the use of convos. These messages you can access on the Etsy app or Etsy’s website. The key here is to answer promptly to avoid the loss of a sale or any upsets.
  • Complete your Frequently Asked Questions. This helps provide instant answers, decreasing the amount of time you have to spend constantly answering questions. It’s a proactive action you are taking by sharing the most common questions to save both you and the shopper time.
  • Shoppers rely on reviews. Reviews are a snapshot for potential shoppers to see what others think about your products or your shop. A bad review, here and there is no cause for panic because you just can’t please everyone. Trust me, my stomach tanks whenever this does happen. However, you should be concerned when negative reviews are frequent. So, respond quickly, exceed expectations, ship on time or early if possible, and represent your products accurately.
  • Complete elements in your shop: the about section and shop policies. Your about section is a way to tell a story about the person behind the brand, your inspiration for starting, and the product creation process. Shop policies outline the expectations and guidelines of your shop. Both of these build trust and if they aren’t complete Etsy doesn’t feel you are taking your business seriously and this will negatively affect your placement in search.

4 | Diversify Your Marketing Strategy

Diversification is a strategy used to grow your business that involves products, services, and marketing tactics that lead back to the core of your business. I am big on NOT putting all your eggs in one basket as it puts your business at risk for failure. What I do instead is be present on multiple platforms and use various strategies that all lead back to my Etsy shop.

Years back, there was a huge upset in the handmade community because many sellers used Instagram as its primary marketing platform. Well, Instagram did a thing and switched up their algorithm. A ton of sellers suffered greatly from a lack of visibility, which resulted in lack of sales. Sellers were forced to downsize, shut down, and seriously rethink the way they do business. All because they focused on one strategy to do all the heavy lifting for their business.

Lack of diversification is a dangerous gamble you don’t want to be apart of, if something goes haywire you are forced to quickly pivot with unfavorable results.

Diversifying your marketing strategy could look like:

Social Media

Collaborate with other brands to grow your reach and connect with another set of audience that otherwise did not know you existed. You can also include the use of brand ambassadors who you can exchange free or discounted products for product images and who can share your products with their customers. They are advocates of your products and can cast a farther net to get your business out there.

You may also like: How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Etsy Shop

Resource: The Instagram + Facebook Planner

Advertising

Whether you are employing the use of Etsy Ads or social media ads, you want to ensure that you aren’t setting up ads and hoping that it does well for you. Like most things, the use of paid advertisement requires testing different products, images, and text to see what is working the best to push shoppers to make a purchase.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps you to market your products with the use of email. It is one of the strongest and most effective methods to market your products. Why is this? Because you have all the control. With social media or advertising, you are not in complete control of the success of sales. But with email marketing, you can put your message in front of the right people, your ideal audience to sell your products. You can personalize your message to meet the needs of the very people who love your products.

The people that are on your email list, have signed up because they want to be there. They have committed to hearing what you have to say. So it is very likely that they will read your emails and take action when you ask them to. They trust you already, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.

Sidenote: Some will join your email list for the freebie and then bail out when you no longer serve their interests. That’s okay because you don’t want anyone hanging out in your space that doesn’t want to be there in the first place.

You may also like: What You Need to Know About Email Marketing

Pinterest

Social media is the typical go-to for brands to connect with their audience and acquire new customers. But Pinterest is a powerhouse in its own right and is a huge key player in helping Etsy shops sell their products.

Pinterest showcases a ton of information from interests, to style, to recipes, to hobbies. Etsy sellers can create a business profile and drive traffic to their Etsy shop simply by pinning images to boards that are centered around their products.

There is this huge misconception about Pinterest and its ability to grow your Etsy shop. But I am here to tell you that 61% of users that come to Pinterest have made a purchase from brands they have found on the platform.

To use Pinterest to market your Etsy shop:

  1. Create a business account
  2. Create boards that are relevant to your brand with the use of keywords
  3. Use vertical images
  4. Always link back to your Etsy shop
  5. Join Group Boards or Tribes that are similar to what you are marketing
  6. Pin your products and those of others

You may also like: How to Rock Pinterest to Explode Your Etsy Sales

Resource: The Pinterest Planner

Wrap Up

What I refuse to gloss over is, growing a business requires grit, determination, perseverance, and patience. Some days feel magical because you are fulfilling your dreams and other days may be an epic fail. The key to transitioning from a hobby to a business is your willingness to do. Show up every day despite the lack of sales. Refrain from complaining about your failures, without actually putting in the effort that brings results. If your actions don’t support your goals, you will never find success and your shop will continue to be nothing more than just a hobby.

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