I started selling on Etsy about 3 years ago. Every winter, I'd get the urge to surround myself with yarn and create warm things. That year, I not only gave into the urge, but I did it for one of my favorite things: COFFEE! I'm someone who loves to use accessories to show my personality so, when it came to creating unique, crocheted coffee sleeves, I knew I'd hit on something that would stick for longer than the winter.
I started off selling them on eBay and sold about a handful that winter right before Christmas. Then lots of my friends started suggesting Etsy, so I thought I'd give it a try. Thus Dress Up Your Cup was born! I set up a shop and posted 1 item. Nothing happened. For months. Obviously, I didn't know quite how to make the most of Etsy or how to really promote my new business. A few months later, that one coffee sleeve sold which prompted me to pay a little more attention to the shop.
Now, 3 years later, I've sold THOUSANDS of coffee sleeves on Etsy and this past year was my biggest year yet! Why? The people over at International Delight (the coffee creamer folks) found my coffee sleeves and decided they wanted to buy hundreds of coffee sleeves from me every month for about 18 months. Here are the steps I took to help me see the kind of success I have this past year:
1.) Listings and Photography
I learned it was pretty important to have an inventory and have them listed. My 1 listing starting out didn't really get much attention. Now, I like to at least keep 25 different listings with different design types in my shop. Not only that, but the picture people see right off the bat is their first impression of the product. It NEEDS to look good to capture attention. You don't have to be a professional photographer to get good looking photos. You need a camera, a light, neutral background, and natural light. Place the item in front of the neutral background (I like using a white wall) and take a close up shot with the natural light shining on the product. Don't use a flash. Just use natural light. Here is one of the many of my photos using this strategy:
2.) Branding and Packaging
It's important that you make sure that your shop is memorable. That means being consistent with your branding and packaging. I invested in some business cards from vistaprint.com with the shop details and a cute coffee cup logo. I also then purchased matching stickers for my packaging with the same coffee cup logo and the shop link printed on them. Whenever someone purchases an item, I put the item in a zip bag and seal it with one of the stickers. Then, I stick my business card in the package with it. I use the same colors and logo on all my social media. Being consistent with this creates a greater chance of brand recognition which would lead to more sales.
3.) Social Media (INSTAGRAM)
I put Dress Up Your Cup on every social media site you could think of. Facebook and Twitter were my first 2 stops and I did that for awhile. Then I discovered Instagram and it changed my little shop forever! I started posting pictures of my coffee sleeve designs on Instagram and using hashtags like a boss. Hashtags are so important!! Know how to use them! For my coffee sleeve photos I uploaded onto Instagram, I used hashtags like #coffee, #Starbucks, and #Etsy. That way, anyone looking at photos under those categories would see my coffee sleeves.
Not long after I started doing this, I got a message from a Social Media specialist at International Delight asking if I could make 250 coffee sleeves for a social media campaign they were doing. I jumped on the opportunity and shipped them off a few weeks later. I kept at my social media and Instagram routine and a couple of months later I got an email from a public relations and marketing company that had been hired by International Delight. They asked if they could buy a couple hundred coffee sleeves each month for a year. I jumped on that as well! Not only were they purchasing a ton of my sleeves, it was also free marketing to hundreds of people receiving the sleeves! They would get my sleeve from International Delight and then they would tag the Etsy shop on social media complementing the adorable coffee sleeve they received for free from International Delight. Instagram was a HUGE game-changer for me!
Look up other products like yours and filter your search to show you the lowest price items first. Then, set your prices on the lower side to beat out those other prices (within reason). For instance, I saw people selling crochet coffee sleeves for $7-$8 a piece. Sometimes as low as $5. I can make 4 coffee sleeves in an hour. I thought if I could make anywhere between $16 and $20 an hour crocheting, then I'd be pleased. So I set my prices for $4-$5 which ensured my items would show up as the lowest priced items, but would still cover the cost of the material and make me a pretty profit on my time. People are not only looking for quality items, they are also looking for the lowest price. So, if I want to sell more and be competitive, I have to give people more of a reason to purchase mine over the others. Price can be the tipping point!
These are just a few of the ways I was able to find greater success and an increase of sales on my Etsy shop. Do you sell on Etsy? If so, link your shop in the comments!
Also, don't forget about the Mock Ipsy Bag giveaway! Just a few days left before I announce a winner who will get an adorable Ipsy cosmetic bag from the past year with 5 premium beauty products for you to try (handpicked by me). Enter here!