You’ve probably landed here because your thinking of opening an Etsy shop! Congratulations! The first step of a dream is always the dream! If you are anything like me, the next step in a dream is researching until you have squeezed out every drop of information the wide-open internet has to offer.
So, what do I have to offer you?
I have my story. And my story is important because it’s only a few days old. You want to hear Etsy success stories, this is not the place. You want to hear what it takes to get a bare-bones shop up and running? Read on dear friend, read on.
—As you read use the printable below to answer my ‘Stop’ questions. These questions will intentionally help you walk through the possibility of opening a shop. —
Slightly before Christmas my husband and I got this ‘brilliant’ idea to take all the barn wood we had collected over the last couple years, create barnwood signs, pay rent in an antique/gift store, and make some extra money for over the holidays. I even found reasonably priced wall space in a store not too far from us. The store received a significant amount of traffic, had a good social media presence, was reputable, and the owner was friendly and welcoming. I was given wall space in a narrow hallway.
In retrospect, the location in the store my signs were place was a very poor area.
I showed my work to several family members and friends. I asked for honest and hardcore feedback. I adjusted my work. I threw somethings out and started over. I made sign after sign pouring my heart into the project. My husband cut barnwood and lumber. I sanded and painted. I looked on websites to make my prices competitive and thought I had done a good job.
In retrospect, my prices were too high.
Over the years I had received many compliments on my painting and crafty projects. I enjoyed digging deep into a painting project and loosing myself in the work. I never wanted to sell my things. Honestly, I was afraid that I was not good enough. I didn’t want to find out the truth.
Stop: Ask yourself “What are the fears that are holding me back?”
My spirits were high as we placed our hard work on the walls at Salvage Sisters in St.Cloud, MN (If you are local the store is fantastic! Go check it out). The store was bustling with other vendors working hard to make their display beautiful and festive. Maybe this was going to be a start of something new. Maybe we could make some extra cash on the side. Maybe this would be the thing that brought me home to my 8-month-old baby. We drove home dreaming about the possibilities.
Stop: Ask yourself,” What are the possibilities that could happen if your dream of opening an Etsy shop succeeds? Write them down. What if you could? What if you could make your dream a reality?”
~Failing without Learning is Truly Failing~
I paid rent for 1 month.
I sold nothing.
We lowered our prices by 50%.
I paid rent for another month.
I sold 1 sign.
I was crushed.
But my friends, if there is anything I have learned from being a passions pursuer (aka struggling business owner), is that giving up never gets you anywhere. Well…sort of. It gets you back to where you began and that does you no good.
Taking risks is apart of life. Failing is apart of life. Failing without learning is truly failing. Failing and learning is more of a success than failure.
Stop: Ask yourself, “What is my primary reason for starting my Etsy shop?” Write that reason down. Go! Take a break from my story and write it down.
So, I reevaluated. We started to talk about taking our passion for scrounging around estates, old barns, creating rustic signs, home décor’ and pairing it with my blog. My husband would be more active with the selling business. He has the love for finding and discovering old things. I have a love for researching, creating signs, creating health products, writing, and marketing. Using a social network we already had in place would serve us better than trying to create a whole new network in a store.
Stop: Ask yourself, “Do I have a social media network? Are they interested in our/my story?”
Notice I didn’t ask if they were interested in your potential product. I asked if they were interested in your story? Are they interested in YOU! If you get more than one like on anything you post, your answer is a resounding YES! People are interested in you!
It suddenly dawned on me. Why not start an Etsy shop? I loved Etsy. I loved the uniqueness vendors poured into their items.
I knew that start up costs were minimum. I knew the risks were minimum. We already had products.
I started doing what I do best. Research. Podcasts. Blogs. Books. More podcasts. More research. I joined facebook groups. I asked questions.
We decided to go for it.
Today we are about 2 weeks into the process of organizing our shop. We hit the ‘launch shop’ button three days ago. We have not launched it out to our social media sites, but plan to soon.
Are you thinking of opening an Etsy store? Are you curious what I’ve learned so far? I’d like to give you 4 points that helped me in deciding to open and store and 4 things that I’ve learned so far. Through my learning maybe you’ll be inspired to pursue your dreams of opening an Etsy shop!
~4 Things that Helped us Decide to Open~
- Listen to this podcast from “Don’t Keep you day Job”: First this podcast is wonderful. I could just binge listen all day. This specific podcast was inspiring and helpful as it came with a free printable guide AND Etsy’s General Manager of Seller Services was the guest speaker. You will hear right from the source why Etsy is so powerful.
- A listing is only .20 cents. This completely SOLD me on this platform. When I paid rent at the store I mentioned, I was paying $100 a month for a single wall. We took a loss of about $180 not including my paint and supplies I bought. For our entire store listening when we opened our Etsy doors it was $3.20. The listing lasts 4 months! Money is money and I still could be throwing money at something that makes no profit, but I’m taking a much less risk on Etsy then I ever could in a store.
- A store can’t tell your story, but online you can tell your story to your customers every day. A physical store does not have that same power. I love telling stories. I got that from my dad. One thing I’ve learned from all my podcast listening is that customers like to hear stories. They like to know that they are buying into something that is unique. They want to know the product’s story and they want to know your story. That is what makes online selling so effective. Through social media channels you can tell your story and direct your customers to your Etsy store, which will be packed with your product’s own stories.
- An Etsy store is still work. You have product to make, product to market, product to sell, and product to ship. But you can be intentional about your time. This was so important to me. I want to be present for my family. An online store allows you the freedom to pursue that.
Stop: Ask yourself, “What are 4 things that are holding me back?”
Action Step: “What needs to change for me to solve these?”
~What I have learned so far…~
- Tags are incredibly important. I’m still learning about why these are so effective, but in my head, I’ve started to think of them as hastags. Customers are not going to type in your exact product title. But they may type in “Natural Lotion”. I can tag my Chamomile Salve as “natural lotion” and the tag will lead that customer to my store. Another way I have heard it explained is that tags are a Search Engine Optimization.
- I have a lot to learn about shipping. I set up my shipping very simply. We are using UPSP Priority mail. The USPS site has an area for businesses to order free boxes. They shipped right to our front door! It couldn’t be easier. However, as I’m reading, I’m seeing that shipping costs are a big topic around Etsy sellers. Learning to decrease my shipping costs as to better serve my customers will be a priority as we open and learn this platform. For now, though, we are simply learning the basics. Optimizing will come later.
- Quality pictures are going to sell your products. I originally was taking photos with my phone. I quickly realized that this was not going to fly. Browsing through Etsy there are beautiful pictures! I mean they are just simply gorgeous. We realized that we needed a quality camera that would help our products stand out. I also noticed that the listings that caught my eye first were those that had lighter backgrounds. We have staged our products accordingly, and both of us think the outcome is much better than just setting products on a table and taking pictures.
- It takes time. Listing takes precious time. Precious time that we could be doing family activities. I could be cleaning the house, doing laundry, or any number of items. Starting this business is a sacrifice. But we strongly believe it is worth it.
Stop: Ask yourself, “Is the sacrifice of time, worth the potential outcome?”
That’s our story of opening our Etsy store called the “Barn Ravagers.” Do you like our name? Can you tell my husband named it? To me it seems a very boyish name. Our tagline is “Finding faith, hope, and home as we discover and create rustic beauty.” In our little shop you will find quality vintage items, rustic vintage items, barnwood creations, wood creations, and natural health and beauty products. We are proud of our brand and we look forward to serving our customers.
What about you? Have you dreamed of opening an Etsy shop? What is stopping you from pursuing your dreams? I’ve heard it said that lack time is never an excuse for pursuing your dream. Rather it’s lack of priorities. Catch me on social media and tell me what your dream business is! I’d love to encourage you as we start our dreams together.