A designer's guide to Etsy

Etsy, whether you're already a fan of this crafty online marketplace or it's still an unknown country, it's definitely here to stay. And it's a great resource for independent designers and craftspeople looking to sell and promote their products.

Illustrator Katy Halford takes you behind the scenes of running an 'Etsy shop' and shares her hard-won knowledge of how to make the site work for you.

I first set up on Etsy in January 2013. I sell a variety of products in my Etsy shop “Katy Halford" such as bespoke and custom wedding stationery (this includes invites, table plans, menu cards etc.), illustrated prints of my doodles, and wedding portraits, along with small gift items like my compact mirrors. I'm planning to extend the range with a lot more of my 'daily doodle' prints in the next couple of months, and I also post these on my Instagram account daily.

My main attraction to selling with Etsy was seeing a lot of my friends opening shops on the site and telling me how easy it was to do. I thought 'what a great way to sell your products!' and I knew that at this point it was an established and a well-recognised site that artists and designers could sell their work on. It's a great way for any designer or small creative business to sell their goods direct to consumers, and anyone from anywhere in the world can access your shop. Etsy's very user friendly and it's cheap (only 3.5% commission) to list your products with them. 

It's really easy for anyone to set up an Etsy shop. To get started you just need to create an account on Etsy and make sure you have a minimum of five products to list, along with quality photographs to show them off.

You don’t have to hire a professional to take your photographs, there are lots of sites and blogs out there that will give you great advice for your product photography.

Remember Etsy is not magic! You can't just upload 20 product listings and expect people to instantly find you and buy from you. You need to promote your shop and interact with the Etsy community.

Before adding titles and descriptions, you will need to learn the principles of search engine optimisation and what keywords are best to use. You can open a shop and have it as a hobby or you can create a successful business from it depending on how much time you want to dedicate to it. If you want to be highly successful you will need to have a business plan! There are lots of success stories out there. Have patience! It does take a while to get established and make sales.

A surprising thing that I discovered when I first set up my shop was the Etsy community. There are groups that you can join and ones you are invited to. You are able to discuss and share your products with other shop owners which enables you to gain some sound advice.

A bonus of interacting with the Etsy community is that it enables you to gain more followers, favourites and be included in treasuries! All of these help to increase rankings for your products in the listing searches - which means people are able to find you more easily. This can be quite time consuming but highly recommended!

My top five tips for designers selling products on Etsy…

1. Quality customer service! Always answer any messages as soon as you can and go above a beyond to give the best service to gain your five-star reviews!

2. Take a quality photograph of your product. A buyer is more likely to purchase an item that has a clear, well lit, professional photograph than one with a dark, low-quality photograph. Make your item look beautiful!

3. Make sure your description is clear, tell the buyer exactly what they are getting (e.g. If your picture is of a print in a frame (for advertising purposes) but you are just selling the print. Make sure it is clear the frame is not included. List this. Include the dimensions of the product, colour, materials, any postage/packaging details, and if you want to sell internationally, make sure your listing is available in different languages.

4. Use social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote your product listings. Also blog about your products on your website. This is great way for people to find you. 

5. Interact with the Etsy community to gain followers, favourites and be included in treasuries.

Good luck!

Learn more about selling on Etsy here - https://www.etsy.com/uk/sell

Or if you already do, why not share your Etsy experience in your own Communities post - and earn Printed Points for doing it too!

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