*Just a reminder that my Etsy Holiday Sale is LIVE through Dec. 18th! Get 20% off your whole purchase by using coupon code JINGLE at checkout. Plus, $5 shipping per address. Not including custom orders.*
I had a shop open on Etsy for years before really adding anything to it. (Sound familiar to anyone else?) I was intimidated by the process and overwhelmed at where to even begin tackling it. I knew that I really needed to have my whole process figured out before really diving into it. I wanted to make sure that all my customers would have the very best experience shopping for pottery online. I know that buying pottery online is hard. It’s 3 dimensional, tactile and really personal. Part of selling one of a kind items online is that you not only want to represent them in the best light, you want to represent them accurately! You don’t want someone to receive their box of pottery and be surprised at what they find inside (unless it’s a happy surprise)!
I thought I’d share a bit of my behind the scenes part of the process. It might help you if you’re starting to think about opening a shop. Or if you like to shop on Etsy, you might find it interesting to know what an independent artist goes through to sell online! No matter how organized you are, it is a lot of work! But by doing a bunch of work up front, you’ll save yourself a lot of time later.
Before I even think about listing anything, I make sure I have a good supply of boxes, bubble wrap and other shipping supplies. More on that later.
- I pick out work to list after a firing. Mostly limited to what ships easily and what photographs easily.
- I measure work (HxWxD, plus volume when helpful) and write on note card; place with each piece.
- Using my DIY photo booth, I photograph work in order that the pots are on my “Etsy shelves.” I aim for no fewer than 3 images, and up to 5. Which can easily mean 10 or 15 photos of each pot. I try to get as many angles as possible of a piece, use a ‘prop’ if it helps, and perhaps a group shot.
What is my Etsy Wall, you ask? They are a set of shelves that I keep almost all of the pots that are either listed, or about to be listed on Etsy. These pots have been photographed, measured and are ready to go out into the world! It’s conveniently located next to my photography area and across from my desk.
- After photographing the work, I upload the photos to my computer and edit them in Picasa (free photo editing/ management software from Google). I crop into squares which work best on Etsy because nothing gets cut off when the photos are made into thumbnails on the site.
- I write/ edit descriptions for each type of piece and keep in one (long) Google Drive doc that I aptly titled Etsy Descriptions. Descriptions are both personal, descriptive and specific. I include care instructions, measurements, key words, etc… A new description for each piece and its variations.
- I then piece everything together to make an Etsy listing. Etsy has a great tutorial on making listings.
- Once listed, I mark everything that is up on Etsy with a piece of blue masking tape to note that it is live. It’s an simple low tech way for me to keep track of what’s listed. I also want to be sure when I have customers in my studio to shop, that I double check anything that has blue tape on it to see if it has just sold if they want to buy it.
- Then I post the new listings on social network sites- Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc… I don’t think you can really rely on Etsy alone for people to find your work, you really need to assume that you’ll only get traffic from your advertising via social networking and blogging. That’s my approach. I use it as a shopping cart system for my website, blog and Facebook page. Anything else is a bonus.
- And again, I make sure I have everything I need to quickly ship before I post anything. I ship in 1-3 business days- but I try to ship the day I get the order whenever possible. I use the USPS and free Carrier Pickup to ship.
About a year ago I started using double walled corrugated boxes. They are incredibly strong. I don’t have to double box with them. I don’t worry at all about pieces surviving the rough and tumble shipping journey anymore! Here is a photo of my pieces bundled up before going into their boxes. I’m going to do a separate post about packing for shipping another day.
So that is my process in a nutshell. The key, for me, has been keeping all the parts organized. My descriptions are very looong. I’d rather be too wordy than leave a customer with lots of questions. I want to create a really full “image” of each piece for everyone viewing my work online. It’s hard to buy tactile, 3-D work from a 2-D computer…. but I try to make it as good of an experience as possible!
Do you have any tips to share about posting on Etsy? Or do you have any things that you particularly like to see/read when you’re shopping on Etsy? I’d love to hear from others!