It will come as NO surprise that I can go on and on about marketing like it’s going out of style (and trust me– in my upcoming podcast episodes, I definitely will!), but at the end of the day, if you don’t have a strong product line in your shop, no amount of clever marketing is going to bring you that long-term predictable revenue you’re aiming for. #truth
So in today’s Simplify Your Sales podcast episode— Episode 2— we’re diving DEEP into what makes up an actual SUCCESSFUL product line.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m ALL about setting my shop up for long-term success every step of the way. If I’m going to put in all this work upfront, I don’t want to be just a one-hit wonder– I’m in it for the long haul and financial freedom.
So let’s dive on in!
Alright– so first things first: What makes up a strong product line? Isn’t having awesome products enough?
Trust me– I know just how easy it is to get sucked into the trap of “if I can make it, then I should list it” as an Etsy seller (I mean, if you think about it logically: more products = more money, right?!), but I need you to trust me on this: Just because you CAN make it doesn’t mean you should LIST IT in your shop.
In fact, I’m going to go so far as to recommend something that you MIGHT not agree with– you ready for it? …I recommend that every Etsy seller starts out by focusing on just ONE (gasp!) type of product– which is known as your FLAGSHIP PRODUCT.
(I promise it’s not as intimidating as it sounds!)
Flagship product: The ONE major product player in your shop– and that’s the product that your brand becomes known for.
Your goal with having a flagship product line is to be seen as THE EXPERT in this niche– the “go-to” shop for this particular type of product, and the industry standard that people look to.
And it’s a strategy you see in play ALL THE TIME– even if you don’t realize it.
Think about it:
When you hear the name “Dollar Shave Club” what product do you immediately think of? Razors
When you hear the name “Hydroflask” what product do you immediately think of? Waterbottles
And when you hear the name LittleHighbury, my Etsy shop, if you were familiar with me, ideally you would think of baby headbands 😉
The reason you see this flagship product line strategy pop up over and over again in small businesses when they start out?
And it is KEY to making those early-on sales– with the added bonus of not wasting hundreds of dollars in inventory for multiple product types.
Now I know you might be thinking right now, “But Morgan– I need to list a bunch of things in my shop so I can experiment and see what sells” and I’m going to tell you- in the kindest way possible– that logic is flat out WRONG and is actually holding you back.
Don’t believe me? That’s okay— no hard feelings! I know it’s backwards from a more logical way of thinking (I mean, more products ALWAYS equals more sales, right?!).
Let’s take a look an example of this so you can see what I mean:
Let’s say you’re in the market for a wedding invitation because YAY you’re getting married (congratulations by the way! Send me an invite?) and you’ve done your research and found 2 awesome invitation designs on Pinterest that link to Etsy shops where you can purchase those invitations.
Let’s take a looksie, shall we?
For the first one– SHOP A, we’ll call it– you visit their shop and see that they definitely DO sell some wedding stationary– including the listing you liked.
But because they don’t want to “limit” themselves in the market, they’ve also got a line of kids birthday invitations, graduation announcements, raffle cards, banners and more.
They don’t have a dream customer because they “have something for everyone!” so their marketing copy and turnaround times are all over the place to try to appeal to everyone.
And truthfully? You’re not even sure they could get you your invitations on time because there’s no clear-cut wedding stationary turnaround time– just a generic “custom orders may take longer!” message in the announcement section. Ugh.
Now the second shop–Shop B--is STRICTLY wedding-related. They have invitations, save-the-date cards, RSVP cards– the entire wedding suite.
They have only ONE type of customer in mind– the bride-to-be; so they’re used to working with wedding deadlines, and they understand the importance of attention to detail– the paper type, the coordinating envelopes– all of it.
They have set policies, exact turnaround times, and a streamlined system for customization.
Now, let’s imagine, to take it even a step further for our example’s sake, that both of these shops have the EXACT SAME invitation design that our bride is looking for because #copycats on Etsy is a real thing, unfortunately.
I want you to honestly answer to yourself: Which shop do you think you would feel most confident purchasing from?
DING DING DING! We have a winner!
The answer is Shop B, of course!
In fact, I’m willing to bet that even if Shop A sold the wedding invitations for a little bit cheaper, you would probably STILL purchase from Shop B.
Why is this?
Shop B looks like (and likely is) an EXPERT in their industry. They understand their product, their customers, and their processes and have them nailed down to a T.
And–spoiler alert– buyer trust is what ultimately converts a browser to a paying customer every. single. Time. Yep, sharing the secrets of the universe here, my friend.
So with that example in mind, I need you to go into creating your flagship product line with FOCUS above everything else. I don’t care if you sell candles or party printables or tote bags. FOCUS is absolutely key to a strong product line.
With that in mind, you might be wondering, “well then, how focused do I really need to be, Morgan? Like are tea towels enough focus? Or do I need to take it a step further and sell only tea towels with pictures of fruit on them?”
And this is where it gets to be a bit of a gray area because each shop niche is so unique. (<— worst answer ever, #amiright?!)
My advice? You shouldn’t go SO niche that there’s no market for it. Tea towels JUST with images of lemons on them, for example? TOO niche. You’d be better off with tea towels that follow a certain design aesthetic– like typography tea towels or vintage-designed tea-towels.
Selling custom tumblers? It’s probably too niche if you JUST have images of bulldogs on them. Maybe broaden your shop to include listings of ALL dog breeds.
And finally, maybe you sell party printables. Doing JUST pink princess themed printables is a bit niche– focusing on modern kids birthday printables or maybe even just baby shower printables is going to be niche enough for you. But fair warning– don’t cross over into the kids birthdays AND baby shower printables in one shop. That’s NOT focused enough.
I know it can be a tricky kind of balance to find, so if you’re stuck, consider taking a look at other successful shops in your niche doing well and see where they draw the line, so to speak.
(and yes, you’ll find quite a few shops that have NO niche and are selling everything under the sun and then some. Don’t compare yourselves to those, obv!)
Once you’ve determined your flagship product line “niche,” it’s time to actually decide what designs will go into it.
And with that in mind, I’m going to do my best to give you what I consider to be a no-fail product line formula for your shop that you can take and adapt to fit YOUR product line.
Just be sure to keep in mind that as you’re designing this product line, we still want all of your items to look like they belong together– that they’re coming from the same shop owner. Our goal is to have your shop feel like a boutique, not a garage sale!
Alright, so we’ve determined that you just need 1 REALLY strong product line (your “flagship product”) designed with your CUSTOMER in mind. And really quick– let’s bust the myth that “You have to have 100+ items in your shop to be successful (or add new product every single week)”.
Believe it or not, you only need 15-20 listings to start making consistent sales on Etsy. So stop the overwhelmed feeling that you’re never going to make it because 15 listings?
Now, if you’re starting from 0, it’s pretty straightforward. But if you’re listening to this with 200+ digital printable listings, you may be wondering how the heck you can even begin to apply a flagship product line to your shop. Never fear– here’s what I recommend as a breakdown of listings in your shop:
50% relatively neutral options
30% should follow trends in patterns + colors
20% over-the-top fun “out-there” unique options that YOU love
Okay, let’s take a look at breakdown of what each of these categories actually mean. Because I bet you’ve got questions– so let me do my best to answer them!
^ this is what people tend to buy. ^
Even if you have the COOLEST custom color options for your jewelry, you’ll usually find that most of the time people will be drawn in by the colors, but ultimately end up purchasing the neutrals as a “safe” option.
I saw this ALL THE TIME in my Little Highbury Etsy shop. People would come in for my watercolor pattern designs and usually end up purchasing maybe 1 (MAYBE) watercolor floral pattern and then 2 solid colored headbands that they could– literally– purchase anywhere else (and usually for like $7 cheaper!).
So having neutrals and solids– while not particularly ground breaking– will ALWAYS make up a surprisingly large portion of your order totals.
Now, with this in mind, I mean neutrals for YOUR product. I don’t just mean cream and brown and black. Yes, those are neutral colors, but they might not be neutrals for YOUR shop. Neutrals simply means the “standard options.”
So if you sold custom sprinkles blends (which, if you do, please do(n’t) send me your shop link because that’s ones of my biggest weaknesses), you’d want to have some more neutral options– not necessarily brown and black because those aren’t usually typical sprinkle colors, even though they’re “neutral” by definition. But a basic red, yellow, orange, blue– those would be considered neutrals in YOUR niche. So keep that in mind when designing the neutrals for your shop.
^ this is what will bring people into the shop via popular search terms on Pinterest or Google.^
If you’ve avoided trends in the past because you’re worried about appearing as a #sellout, know that I hear you, but I also want to add that you’re missing out on MAJOR sales and traffic because of your stubbornness.
Following trends in patterns and colors is one of the SMARTEST biz strategies out there for designing a flagship product line that is going to sell.
People flock to and buy trendy items. It comes back to that sales philosophy that you have to see something 7 times before you feel confident enough to purchase it.
Well, guess what? When you see a pineapple pattern 1, 2, 3, 7 times, you start to pay attention (whether you want to or not). And you start to think about pineapples. And suddenly you’re yelling out “pineapple for the win!” when you’re spot a pineapple for your husband and it becomes a competition to find them first in every episode of Psych.
But regardless, when you start seeing pineapples pop up everywhere, you start to take notice. And you start to realize that yes, maybe there IS room for a pineapple in your life. And before you know it, you’ve bought a pineapple pool floatie and swim trunks for your baby boy who probably won’t actually get in the pool this year, but you’ve got them JUST IN CASE!!!!
With trends, people are searching for these “themes” at a higher search volume. And there’s actually LESS shops competing for them– because they’re more niched– so the sooner you can jump onto a trend and introduce it into your shop, the better.
This is a strategy I adopted VERY early on in LittleHighbury and it sealed the deal for me. Just using Pinterest to scout out trends, I added Chevrons, tribal, unicorns, pineapples– all those patterns into my shop depending on the trend season and saw crazy-high spikes in views and sales because of them. Mind you, a lot of people would STILL purchase neutrals to go with that trending item– don’t ever underestimate the power of neutrals–, but it was the trending item that got them INTO the shop, whether they ultimately purchased it or not.
^ this is what will go viral + get people talking about your stuff ^
Time for another Etsy myth: If YOU love it, your customer will automatically love it.
Somehow your customers missed that memo, dang it!
If you are designing the majority of your product line around the idea that YOU love what you’re selling– with NO consideration for your customer or what they’re interested in– then no wonder your items aren’t flying off the virtual shelves.
However. I’m not telling you to weed out everything that you absolutely adore in your shop– that sucks the fun right out of selling on Etsy.
Instead, I’m asking you to dedicate just 20% of your product line to these fun, over-the-top designs that maybe you completely love, but aren’t necessarily there for the sales. They’re just so plain cool that people feel compelled to look closer, talk about your stuff, and share it with everyone they know.
Think about it: have you ever had your mom send you a link to a product because it’s just “so you” even though it’s not practical at all and there’s no real need for it in your life? My family does this ALL THE TIME with gnomes for me. I have no need for garden gnome products in my life (does anyone, really?!), but I like them, so whenever my family sees something especially clever– like gnome shaped crayons, or a “Oh Gnome You Don’t” board game— which is an excellent game, by the way. Totally bought it for a gag gift for my sister and then purchased one for ourselves as well as our best friends down the street.
But whenever people see something SO RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME, human nature makes us feel compelled to share. And I want that last 20% of your product line to be that AWESOME stuff that pushes the envelope and get’s people TALKING about your shop.
Fun fact: People will visit your shop JUST for those unique items and probably end up purchasing a neutral item anyways 😉
We’re not trying to turn that unique over-the-top item into your best sellers (although it may become so strictly by accident if it goes viral #heckyes), but we are trying to leverage them to get people to share them, to pin them, to talk about them.
We’re using them as master traffic-drivers to your shop.
So when I say “over the top,” what am I talking about?
Nothing too crazy, haha!
Let’s say you knit hats. And you’ve got a bunch of standard knit beanies very soft, neutral colors– totally cozy and beautiful and neutral options for your audience.
Your on-trend options would be possible on-trend colors or shapes (ie- like a slouch beanie or a giant pom-pom beanie or a chunky knit beanie, depending on what is on trend for the winter– I can’t keep up with winter fashion. Basically if it’s comfortable and warm, I wear it).
Your over-the top ones? They might be themed– and include a cat design knitted in or maybe cat ears on top. Not ones someone would wear everyday, but unique enough that someone would see that and IMMEDIATELY share it (or even buy it!) for their crazy cat lady mother (I’m not speaking from experience here…). I like cats, so obviously that’s why I used them as an example. It might be something completely different for you.
Maybe you sell soap– and your over-the-top ones could be crazy scents– like funfetti cupcake soap or churro-scented soap (sign me up!). Yes, those are TOTALLY weird, crazy combinations that the average bather won’t be using (although I’m tempted to buy them), but that’s the point. They’re FUN and have viral potential 🙂
Alright– so just a quick recap of your product line breakdown:
50% relatively neutral options
30% should follow trends in patterns + colors
20% over-the-top fun “out-there” unique options that YOU love
Okay, and now the moment you’ve been waiting for and have had the question lingering in the front of your mind the ENTIRE time you’ve been reading this post– when is it appropriate to add in ADDITIONAL product lines???
Because you’re a creative and I know you’ve got a million ideas going on in your head. Trust me, I get it.
So here’s the deal: once you’ve created a STRONG flagship product line and it has STARTED SELLING, THEN you can toy around with the idea of adding additional product lines.
Why the wait?
It all comes back to FOCUS. When you’re just starting out– or at least just starting out with actual STRATEGY in mind—it’s easy to get distracted and run a million miles per hour in a million different directions.
Take it from someone who has seen this over and over again inside my paid Mastermind Your Marketing program with new students coming in: Lack of focus is the fastest way to burnout and failure. That’s why we keep everything in a 12-week step-by-step program inside Mastermind Your Marketing— you can’t work on it all at the same time and expect great results.
Nothing EVER works that way. EVER.
It’s why those of us with multiple kids always look like a hot mess, haha! (kidding…kind of)
Focus is KEY to success.
I mean, even as I’m working on this podcast, it’s worth noting that I’m NOT scheduling out new social media posts and creating a new Facebook group and trying to add in a youtube channel right at this moment. If I did, this podcast would NEVER get anywhere.
And while this podcast is not a paid product, it IS a priority for my business right now and I absolutely need that focus to actually get it done and out there.
So even after 9+ years in business, I still live by and preach FOCUS. It’s a game-changer.
So ready for some take-action from this episode? Good!
Here’s what I want you to do: Brainstorm your new flagship product line. If you’ve got an older shop with hundreds of listings, let’s start by taking a closer look at just your top few best-selling items. Do those items have anything in common? Use that common “theme” as the starting point for your flagship product line.
And yes, this MAY require you to deactivate/flash sale/burn a few items currently in your shop that don’t match. This is a GOOD THING. If they don’t fall under your flagship product line, they need to go (painful, I know). So set aside some time to do some major housekeeping this week.
And then post your progress in our Simplify Your Sales Facebook group. Or ask for some feedback if you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around this concept. Everyone always things that applying strategies is hardest for THEIR product, so if you need some people to bounce ideas off of, our FB group is where it’s at— be sure to join us by clicking the image below— it’s totally free!
Alright, so we’re now at the point in the show where I tell you to get to work.
I’ll see you next week! xo, Morgan
Go from 0 → SEO HERO in just 14 days with our no-nonsense, easy-to-understand approach to search engine optimization on Etsy (and then rest easy and cross it off your “to-do” list for good!)
Our done-for-you marketing system + community for creating consistent sales on Etsy (it’s like having a marketing team in your back pocket)
An accelerated 12-month group coaching program + done-for-you curriculum for those ready to get OFF of Etsy and turn their creative passions into ridiculously profitable passive income streams in #notimeflat
I’m happy to say that my little shop is more successful than I ever could have imagined, especially after implementing the MYM [Mastermind Your Marketing] course last year. I went from getting 1 sale every 2-3 weeks to 1 sale/day and now AT LEAST 2 sales/day. I am barely keeping up!”
Loving the course. It’s making EVERYTHING click in my overcrowded brain and I can actually see the dots connecting. You really have simplified SEO. Thank you so much!”
40+ orders so far TODAY and 200+ orders this month. This may be small for some, but for me, this is a new record! I’ve never seen numbers like this in my Etsy shop (it’s even busier than Christmas!).
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!)