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Ready to start your own Etsy shop? Thousands of people have set up online stores through Etsy, but that doesn’t mean yours has to get lost in the shuffle. We talked to 19-year-old LeiLei Secor–an Etsy pro, who has made over $100,000 selling handmade jewelry through her Etsy shop, DesignedByLei and online shop DesignedByLei.com–about what makes a shop successful and unique. Here are a few of her tips for getting started and getting attention:
Make sure your shop looks professional
According to LeiLei, “no Etsy shop is going to be perfect when it’s first starting out, but I think it’s important to focus on the photography and the product descriptions, because those are essentially the things you have representing your items.”
She recommends photographing your products–especially jewelry–in natural light that captures the different aspects of each piece. “Don’t use a flash when you take pictures. Maybe go outside on a cloudy day so you don’t get shadows. Use a plain background. When I was first starting out, I just used one of my curtains on my windowsill and used the light from the window.” You do not need to run out and buy an expensive DSLR camera. LeiLei says, “You can definitely use an iPhone. I started out with one of those cheap point-and-shoot cameras before I had a smartphone camera.”
If you only have one or two products ready to sell, LeiLei suggests expanding your offerings before opening a store. “A good number of products is enough to fill up the first page, so if someone visits your shop, you have a full page of items. “
Do your research
Before you set your prices, check out the competition. Think of what you’ll call your items, and use Etsy’s search function to see what else is for sale on the site. Once you know what your competitors are charging, you can set your prices in the same range–or a little lower.
According to LeiLei, choosing the right keywords for each product was an essential part of DesignedByLei’s success. “I really focused on the keywords and tags that Etsy uses to find things in the search engine. It’s important, because you want to get yourself on the first one or two pages of search results for a lot of top search terms.” You can pay Etsy extra to have your products featured, but LeiLei doesn’t think the extra cost is worth it. “I’ve tried the paid ads, and they got some results, but I didn’t feel it was advantageous to keep paying for them, so I don’t really use them.” She had better luck by adjusting her keywords until she found ones that worked well.
An Etsy shop isn’t something you want to start and then forget about. According to LeiLei, “you have to really want to invest your time into it, because if you put the time into it, it pays off.” Fulfilling orders won’t take long, but you need to do it on a regular basis. If orders are coming in every day, you’ll want to be sending them out a few times a week. LeiLei ships orders every few days, but since adding new listings takes more work (and involves a photo shoot), she only does that when she’s on breaks from school.
If things aren’t selling, think about what you can do differently. LeiLei says, “I set up my shop selling macramé and beaded bracelets and I wasn’t really getting a response from that, so a few days later, I taught myself how to do wire wrap jewelry. A week after opening my shop, I sold my first piece of wire jewelry, and that’s what I sell now.”
Want more advice and inspiration from girls who run their own businesses? Check out Girls Who Crush It!