I want to start off by asking you: do you ever feel like your sales are growing at a snail’s pace no matter how hard you work on it?
While growing a profitable business ALWAYS takes hard work and dedication, there are definitely *some* marketing strategies out there that simply take longer to see results from.
Ironically enough, the strategies that are recommended the MOST to Etsy sellers are also the strategies that promote the SLOWEST growth.
Now, I’m not discounting SEO AT ALL– if you’re selling on Etsy, it’s definitely one of the main perks of hosting a shop on the platform– there’s a consistent flow of built-in traffic waiting for you– and SEO is how you will set up your shop to actually get found by those people through their built-in search feature.
You should absolutely tackle SEO FIRST (so it can start working for you!) but once it’s implemented– which should take you no more than 2 weeks TOTAL– you need to move on and start marketing your shop in additional ways– especially if you want to see sales pop up anytime soon.
Because one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that, by default, SEO is a VERY slow growth strategy. It takes TIME for those internet search bots to run through all of your content and categorize it accordingly. In fact, on Etsy, although you can start seeing initial boosts in a few days, it takes an average of 4-6 WEEKS for your shop to start seeing results from your entire SEO strategy. SEO for Google? 6-8 MONTHS. And heaven forbid you need to make some tests and tweaks to your keywords after that– you’ve just tacked on an additional month to your SEO “getting found” time for those new keywords.
And once your SEO IS getting ranked inside Etsy, it’s slow growth from there, too, thanks to market saturation and the 2.5 MILLION sellers using the platform every day. You can’t determine who Etsy will show your products to or how frequently they will show up in search. You simply wait it out with crossed fingers and hope for the best as you wait it out with all the other shops out there.
Like I said, it always perplexes me when I hear that this is the #1 most recommended way to promote your Etsy shop because it is just about the SLOOOOOOOOWEST way to grow you sales and to be honest, sometimes it’s all about having a “quick win” to keep your momentum going with your shop.
All I’m saying is that it’s a lot easier to stay motivated if you’re actually making money 😉
So if you’re looking for a “quick win,” what *should* you be focusing on in your business?
And when I say collaborations– just so we’re all on the same page here– I’m talking about teaming up with another Etsy shop or blogger or social media influencer to promote your product.
Examples of collaborations could be offering free product in exchange for social media exposure to their audience, teaming up to host a giveaway with their audience and offer their email subscribers 15% off their next purchase, working together to create a new product design and promoting it to their audience– seriously– there is no end to the types of collaboration you can run!
Now before the introvert in you turns off this episode and runs as fast as you can in the opposite direction, I want you to hear me out before you make up your mind one way or another.
Because in my experience selling online for a looooooong time, I’ve found that no matter what your goal is:
To grow your social media
To build up your email list
To make more sales
They are– literally– the PERFECT strategy for Etsy sellers that are both brand new to the platform and just getting started, and the more seasoned sellers that are looking to give their sales a instant boost.
Basically it’s marketing magic tied up in a sweet little collaboration bow.
There are approximately 1 bajillion reasons why I LOVE collaborations, but here’s just a few of them:
Your product + brand is instantly showcased to a whole new market-– and sometimes a much, much larger one. You can EASILY pitch your products to bloggers and influencers (and even fellow Etsy shop owners if you’re nervous about the other two!) that have significantly larger audiences than you. I’ve found that a sort of “sweet spot” for working with collaborators is finding those that have AT LEAST 5 thousand more followers/email subscribers than you. You can absolutely go even bigger (or smaller) than that, but know that I’ve personally found that to be a numbers game that works in my favor. But honestly, there is a whole new audience of people just WAITING to fall head-over-heels, all the heart eye emojis in LOVE with your products– they just need to be shown them!
Another reason why I love collaborations? They can be an EXTREMELY passive marketing strategy. Like, seriously. Besides creating the product + shipping it off to the blogger or influencer, you don’t have to do anything else! Now, obviously, that’s just ONE type of very basic collaboration– and there are MANY more options out there that range in degrees of complexity– but once done “your part” of the collaboration, your collaboration buddy will carry you the rest of the way– and probably share some professional photos and posts that you can promote to your audience as well. Free professional lifestyle photos of your product? That’s what we call a win-win-win 🙂
And finally, collaborations are amazing because you gain INSTANT credibility. If a well-known blogger is showing off your product, you better believe that people are going to start taking notice and view you as more of a boutique shop instead of “just another Etsy shop.” The blogger or social media influencer or fellow Etsy shop owner took the time to notice you– yes, even if YOU were the one that reached out–so why wouldn’t their audience take notice of you as well?
Add to that the fact that nearly every time I’ve worked on a collaboration with some, I’ve received a HUGE spike in sales immediately following the post/promoting, and the free residual traffic for MONTHS afterwards, and trust me– collaborations are a strategy you do NOT want to skip.
With my Etsy shop, LittleHighbury, I’ve done my fair share of collaborations and to be honest? Not all of them went very well. I’ve definitely learned A LOT about what goes into a successful collaboration. And if my poor experiences mean that I can share some of my wisdom with you so that you can avoid the pitfalls I crashed into? Well, all the better 🙂
So let’s talk about some guidelines to follow when getting started with collaborations:
Let me start out by saying this: Just because a potential collaborator has an audience–even if it’s an incredibly large one– it doesn’t mean that they are your audience.
Ignoring this and focusing on just the “vanity numbers” — meaning the number of followers or email subscribers or blog readers– is the part where most Etsy sellers fall short and start giving away free product to anyone and everyone and then become discouraged when they don’t see an increase in sales.
Example: If you sell children’s clothes at boutique prices (because they’re worth it, obviously!), sending free samples off to a blogger that blogs about budgeting or coupons is NOT going to bring you any sales. Even if she posts ridiculously beautiful photos. Even if she writes insanely captivating posts. Even if she has 100,000 followers–they are followers that are not going to be interested in your product. #truestory
I actually did this more than once in my early days– I sent away free baby headbands and swaddles to a DIY crafting blogger that I absolutely ADORED because she was having a new baby.
And yes, she posted 2-3 times about my product and shared it with her followers.
And yes, most of them tagged their friends in the comments and said “OMG we could make those!”
It was a hard lesson to learn– and I can certainly laugh about it now– but it was an absolutely necessary one because it made me wise up and get deliberate and focused about who I chose to collaborate with in the future.
So yes, numbers are important to consider with pitching your product to bloggers or influencers, but if those numbers aren’t a part of your target market (which, in this example I shared, would be style-conscious mommas with disposable income), then you are wasting your time.
So when you hear of an Etsy shop owner complaining on the forms that bloggers never bring her shop any extra sales? I’ll bet my life that she’s not working with bloggers in her “niche.”
Working with bloggers who share your niche is absolutely critical to making a collaboration profitable.
Now, this may not have happened to you yet, but if you plan on selling on Etsy for a while, I guarantee that at some point it will.
You’ll get to the point where you are visible enough that random influencers and just plain old people start messaging you asking for free product in exchange for a promotional post on their social media or blog.
Make sure you vet these people EXTREMELY thoroughly before saying yes. I’ve found ⅔ times (and that was literally as many times as I did it before how ineffective it was) that working with people who seek you out very rarely results in sales.
The reason? These people have ALL this extra time to pitch you, naturally, which tells me right off the bat they’re probably not very successful if they’re having to find people to send them free product instead of the other way around.
You are MUCH better off– and will have much more profitable success– to find people that you WANT to work with and reach out to them directly.
Now this obviously brings up the whole dilemma of how do you actually find these people?
One of the best (and fastest!) ways is to get on Instagram (seriously, this is the method that I used and it’s ah-mazing and this is coming from someone who HATES Instagram).
1 – You’re going to type in the name of a potential collaboration partner/company that has a target market that would be interested in your product.
2 – Make sure and “follow” that person. If you are already, un-follow and then follow again 🙂
3 – A box will then pop up below with 3-4 new similar people that you can view. These are ideal picks for your people!
And if you’re worried about being turned down or wasting time with the wrong people, check to see if they have an email address listed in their Instagram bio– if they do, you’re golden! These people are use to collaborations and will more than likely respond to your inquiries. They’ll also– as a general rule– be the easiest to work with, which makes things a no-brainer on your end!
Ahh, the scariest part of the whole ordeal: Actually pitching your products and collaboration idea to an influencer.
And before the term “pitch” sends you running, all I mean is a quick message that asks if they’d like to partner up. Kind of like those notes you used to pass on the kindergarten playground asking if someone would like to be your friend.
I promise it doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking experience for you– and after you get the hang of it, it can actually be kind of fun 😉
So the first thing you need to understand is that bloggers/influencers (in general) sometimes receive dozens of these collaboration requests every week– more if they’re a bigger name. And sending a cold (out-of-the-blue) pitch to one of these bloggers? It’s probably going to go straight into the trash.
So how do you warm up to these influencers and actually get noticed?
First off, you’re going to want to draft up a basic outline for your “pitch”. Use the following to help guide you:
Yes, it’s much easier to copy + paste an email in over and over again when you’re sending out dozens of inquiries, but you better believe that you’re going to see a lot less success that way. So take the time to be genuine. Complement them. Use their name. Start off your pitch by letting them know what you like about their blog/shop.
Let them know that you have shared their content with your followers. This follows one of my favorite marketing principles– Give, give, give, then ask. Link to their shop in a blog post, maybe highlight a favorite post of theirs on Instagram. MAKE THEM NOTICE YOU + WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR THEM. Be incredibly generous in everything that you do and then remind them gently that you’ve loved sharing their content. Bonus points here because sharing their content with your audience makes one less piece of content YOU have to create on your own.
When I first started out pitching to bloggers I was so worried that they would see right through me (to the stay-at-home mom with spit-up on her shoulder) that I did everything I could to sound professional and perfect.
Ask me how well that went over.
It wasn’t until I started sharing my story–about WHY I had started up LittleHighbury that I started getting back almost immediate replies– new momma bloggers that were so excited to help share my message.
4| Share a *brief* idea of what you want the collaboration to be.
Don’t get into all the nitty gritty details here– just let them know that maybe you’d like to send them a free product in exchange for some social media posts. Or to host a giveaway with their audience. A general idea is all you need here so they know WHAT they’re saying yes (or no) to.
And then finally, tip #4 I wanted to share with you today:
Hooray! They’ve said yes! The hard part is over!
Once you’ve celebrated the win, it’s time to set up a couple of rules so that this collaboration is everything that you hoped for + more.
I promise that this is NOT a step you want to skip. Yes, it’s a little extra work, but it will ABSOLUTELY be worth it. And will probably save you more than a few tears down the line.
This wasn’t something I did in the beginning (I hadn’t even thought of it at that point!), but after a few crappy experiences working with bloggers, I looked EVERYWHERE online to find that “secret” that other brands were using to guarantee that both parties upheld their end of the deal.
Well guess what? I couldn’t find ANYTHING out there. So I ended up messaging my sister who worked for a mermaid fin company (but seriously) that was on track for hitting $5 million in sales for the year. And a large part of their growth strategy? Sending free product to bloggers.
So I begged her to learn more about how they ensured that these bloggers would hold up their end of the deal– because try as I might, I kept sending away free product for promotions that fell short of what I was hoping for.
Her answer? Just a simple contract. Her company would send out a short, friendly contract (determined through a series of emails) that would be signed by both parties.
This doesn’t have to be a lengthy jargon-filled document– just a simple documenting what you have agreed to do and what they have agreed to do so that both parties are super clear. You can use a free tool like Hello Sign– which is what I use– to get it digitally signed.
Having written (emailed) documentation is KEY to making this an awesome experience for everyone involved and you should NEVER do a collaboration without one– especially if you’re giving up your valuable time and/or product.
And there you have it– some of my BEST “do this, don’t do that” advice from YEARS of teaming up for collaborations and promotions. It’s okay to be nervous if you’re *just* diving into the world of collaborations– it WILL get easier with time and pretty soon you’ll have the entire process down pat and wonder why you didn’t start collaborating sooner when you see all the sales come rolling in.
That’s it for this week and I’ll catch you next!
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I’m a former six-figure Etsy seller turned online business strategist who believes in my core that you CAN build a business that supports YOU— whether you’re full-time momming, working that 9-5, or just looking for flexibility + freedom.
You don’t have to sacrifice your time to build a profitable business that you love— you just need to build it strategically (and I’ll show you how!)