Etsy: Bohemian Marketplace Perfect for Makers

It is so tempting to do what’s hot and trendy, but to stand out in saturated markets you have to do something different. What we mean is to avoid riding trends, which tend to fade away, and instead go niche.

There’s no better example of going niche than Etsy, an eCommerce site focused on handmade goods, vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items.

In a 2018 survey of Etsy.com buyers, 78% of buyers agreed that Etsy offers products they cannot find anywhere else.

This amazing stat could be one of the reasons why Starla Tyler, founder of toy makeup shop Little Cosmetics, beat the odds and found success. “Tyler originally created the play makeup kits for her daughter, who was a toddler at the time, as a way to distract her from getting into Tyler’s real makeup. She loved it, which inspired Tyler to try selling a few on Etsy,” according to IBTimes.

There are always different factors at play with any business venture. But since Etsy’s founding in 2005 and its IPO a decade later, it boasts of 39 million active shoppers who value self-expression, authenticity and a chance to buy directly from creative entrepreneurs.

Crafters, sewers, knitters, designers, and other artisans and creative types have sold to a variety of customer types looking to purchase items that they might not find anywhere else.

This is the golden ticket to selling in a bohemian marketplace. 


RELATED: TradeGecko Integrates with Etsy

Here’s why (and how) you can kickstart your handmade goods business by selling on Etsy:

1. Test An Idea
Without risking a lot of capital or crippling overhead costs, Etsy allows entrepreneurs to test an idea on an online marketplace. How?

a. Research other Etsy stores. What do they offer? What’s doing well? If there are many other stores, that’s a good signal for high interest in the product. Your task then is to differentiate yourself apart from others.

b. Sell your prototype to get customer feedback with the ultimate goal make a better (even superior) product. Offer incentives such as a small discount off their next purchase or entry to win a prize to get feedback. 

c. Review comments and reviews on other stores, Etsy forums and other review websites. What are they complaining or excited about? What’s missing?

2. Review & Leverage Available Data
At the click of a button, you can pull up sales statistics and other useful info about other merchants and non-merchants. How?

a. Do a product search and see if the seller has their statistics “unlocked”. Hover over the number of orders. If it’s hyperlinked, you can see which products are best sellers, which are sold out, and how many people have the item in their carts.

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b. Find keyword phrases with the search bar on Etsy’s homepage. The drop-down box will auto-populate with common search terms that Etsy customers are already using, and you can use these as title keywords. Type a keyword into the search bar to see suggestions:

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Try using tools like Keyword Tool Dominator, which pulls Etsy's Autocomplete service to find popular long tail keywords directly from the site. Suggestions are predictions based on the most popular search terms related to what is being typed in the search box, made by real people and real customers.

c. If you’re already a seller, the Traffic tab of your stats provides an in-depth look at search terms shoppers are typing into searches that lead them to your items. If you see that a particular word or phrase is bringing you a lot of views, consider adding it to all applicable tags and titles. To get to your stats, go to Shop Manager > Stats.

3. Maximize Your Reach
As mentioned earlier, the presence of multiple stores selling a particular product is a strong signal for customer demand. But you need to differentiate your brand from others. Even though publicly available data and information make it easy to emulate a store and its success, don’t copy them outright.

a. Instead focus on writing quality descriptions, posting clear photos, and taking advantage of internal ads within the platform. Consider hiring a freelance copywriter to make your content burst out of the pages. When people are faced with two similar things, they will turn to what’s tried and tested… what already has a lot of good reviews and a good reputation. Marketing your items differently – with a strong brand voice and personality – will win their attention.

b. With 39 million active shoppers, the odds must be in your favor, right? Not necessarily. You still need to work hard to get your piece of the Etsy pie. One of the best ways to do that is through social media, especially with Pinterest. 

“But isn’t Pinterest just an inspiration tool?” Of course it is! But it has over 200 million active monthly users and a whopping 93% of pinners (what they call their users) use the platform to plan their purchases. And the average order value of a shopper from Pinterest is $50.

It may be best to hire an experienced Pinterest user or influencer to help maximize your reach. You should focus on:
1) creating boards with high-quality images,
2) making pinnable images for your best blog posts and articles,
3) taking part in group boards, monitoring your results using BoardBooster, and
4) continually adding content that leads back to your Etsy page.

Check out this post on the Art of Pinning Your Etsy Shop to get an idea of the work involved.

Etsy-Pinterest

You can link to your Etsy or self-hosted website with a Pinterest pin.

Pinterest has also partnered with Etsy to design an “Etsy Gift Finder”. This super fun search tool helps Pinterest users look for items from the handmade-centric marketplace. The Etsy tool lets shoppers complete a virtual gift tag that helps narrow the type of gift they’re looking to find. The virtual gift tag leads to an Etsy personalized product page where users can purchase items directly from the marketplace.

Growing and Scaling Beyond Etsy

After a few years selling and experimenting, many business owners start feeling the limitations of the online platform.

You don’t truly own your customer and there are limits to what you can do from the perspective of lead generation, marketing and engagement.

Many Etsy entrepreneurs start creating their own eCommerce stores to drive eyeballs to a site they can own and fully control. They also consider going multi-channel to provide customers with additional options to purchase and pay for their goods and services and reach a more diverse audience.

More customers and more sales channels mean carrying and managing more inventory, selling and shipping globally, assembly, and forecasting demand. It also means keeping up with changes to the online platforms. A challenging task for any small business owner, let alone a maker who just wants to share their passion with the world.

Because as anyone can attest, buyer or seller, online businesses live and die by customer reviews and referrals. To seamlessly deliver customer happiness and engagement, it’s crucial to ensure your systems are tightly integrated from production through fulfillment, no matter the sales channel.

Are you ready to tie your eCommerce business into a bohemian marketplace like Etsy?

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