Welcome to another weekly episode of the Simplify Your Sales podcast!
I’m going to kick off this episode by saying that I’m a firm believer that ANYONE can be successful on Etsy. It’s not just for those “lucky few” and it’s certainly not just for certain products. If there’s a market for your product then you absolutely CAN be successful on Etsy. Honestly. Even if you have ZERO marketing experience.
But you have to know what you’re doing wrong in order to make it right. So today we’re taking a look at 10 of the most common reasons you might not be making sales on Etsy yet…and what you can do right now– as in, TODAY– to fix the problems and start making some money!
Unless you’re some sort of business mogul, you’re probably going to start out a lot like the rest of us—slow, slow, slow.
Here’s the deal: You cannot have your Etsy shop open for just a couple of days and then be moping on the forums because you haven’t made any sales. Those ridiculously successful Etsy shops you’ve read about? Yeah, they’ve been hustling their butts off behind-the-scenes– for months—sometimes years—to see those kinds of numbers. I promise there is more than meets the eye going on over there.
Ready for some cold, hard truth?
You’re going to have to do the same.
Now that’s not to say that you can’t accelerate or speed up your growth– you absolutely can by running a viral giveaway (hint, hint, episode 30 if you want a get started guide to that!) or implementing some other type of blitz growth strategy that can get the ball rolling a little quicker in the beginning.
But for the long-term game? It’s going to take time.
Selling on Etsy isn’t easy work—but I want to assure you from the bottom of my heart, it isn’t impossible either! If you’re just getting started and sales are slower than slow, take that time to learn how to successfully market your shop– rather than just moaning and groaning about your lack of success. Working on your SEO (either on your own or using the 14-day done-for-you game plan inside my Simplify Your SEO course), or learning ways to begin driving outside traffic (like I teach inside Mastermind Your Marketing) are FANTASTIC ways to spend your time during this initial “slow” season. You’ll soon notice that the harder you work, the luckier you get!
It’s hard (trust me, I know!) to fill your shop with product when you’re first starting out. You probably feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water as it is, and the idea of adding 20+ more products seems BEYOND overwhelming.
But if you want to make consistent sales, you HAVE to have a shop that appears “full.”
It’s easy to see the reasons why—more items = more chances for people to stumble upon your shop while browsing.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need 100+ items to start making consistent sales in your shop. In fact, I would strongly DISCOURAGE that because until you have a way figured out how to sell your items, it doesn’t do good to just keep adding more. Not only will it cost you money (for all the inventory), but also time– time you COULD be spending learning how to successfully market your Etsy shop.
No, I recommend a minimum of 20 items/shop to start seeing consistent sales. From personal experience, that’s enough to give your shop the “full appearance,” but still leave you with enough time to spend marketing.
Any less than that? Your shop will end up looking neglected and less trustworthy than a fully-stocked shop. If you want people to take you seriously as a business, you need to make sure you are acting like a business. No more putting off adding in new products—you need to do it now!
FIX IT: If the idea of creating a bunch of new product overwhelms you, consider bundling groups of your product together– so, for example a bunch of individual soaps can combine together to create a new listing– a bundle of 3. Not only will this give you more listings, but it will also encourage your customers to purchase larger quantities from your shop 🙂 We talk more in-depth about this strategy inside Mastermind Your Marketing and the most profitable way to bundle items to make sales QUICK, if you’re interested.
Like we mentioned in this post, you need to consistently add new items if you want to maintain a presence on Etsy. Etsy doesn’t like shops that are stale and stagnant, and you’ll start to notice a drop in views as your listings become more and more outdated.
But beyond Etsy’s “preferences” about adding new items, it’s also a fantastic way—the best way, in fact—to get repeat customers into your shop.
Think about it—have you ever received an email from one of your favorite shops announcing that they just added their new fall/winter line? Even if you had no intention of purchasing anything, did you click over to take a look at it? And maybe even started to entertain the idea of just buying a few things. And then ultimately purchased that thing you had no intention of buying in the first place (basically I’m just describing my personal experience with every single email I get from West Elm and also kids clothes at Old Navy ;).
Also—and something that Etsy shop owners don’t always think about—trends change. Just because something was selling like crazy last year doesn’t mean that it’s going to make the same sales this year. Take, for example, a chevron headband set I had listed in my shop. It was my #1 seller for a couple years and earned me A LOT of money. Like, 60% of my daily sales were for this chevron + arrow headband set:
Fast forward a few years? Chevrons and arrows were OUT. And that listing dropped significantly in popularity– going from 5-6 sales/day to 2-3/week . Not because it’s SEO had “gone bad” or because other shops were making better product– but because that trend was over and I needed to create designs that resonated with the CURRENT trends– things like watercolors and florals at the time.
A lot of Etsy shop owners are anti-trends. And here’s the thing: I’m not asking you to be a sell-out—I’m just encouraging you to take a look at what’s trending/popular right now (Checking out Pinterest is a great way to get ideas on what’s trending) and see if your items are reflective of that. If you’re still holding onto styles from a couple years past, think about adding in some new products with updated styles/designs.
So how do you fix it? Well, take a leaf out of the big retailers notebooks– create a product launch calendar and stick to it! Plan on introducing new items every 6 months (at least) and work hard to keep your shop fresh with styles and trends people are interested in. Research current trends on Pinterest and figure out how to incorporate those popular search terms into your product line.
This tip is directed at the shop that gets a lot of daily views from Etsy search, but hardly any sales. Want to know your problem? You’re SEO is targeting all the wrong customers. In fact, it’s not “targeting” anyone at all because it’s too dang broad!
If your SEO isn’t 150% describing each of your items, it needs to change. Like, yesterday. Yes, the keyword phrase “gifts for her” gets A LOT of searches, but is it accurately describing the toddler leggings you sell? Probably not.
NEVER use keywords just because they are popular. NEVER.
Your keywords absolutely have to describe YOUR item specifically or you’ll never get your views to convert into sales. Plus, the Etsy algorithm pays close attention to keyword conversions—and if your items aren’t selling with certain keywords, you better believe they’re going to lower your search placement.
FIX IT: Create an SEO strategy that utilizes broad keywords, targeted long-tail keywords, and focus keywords– you’ll get the best of all the different types of keywords all within one strategy. Your BEST keyword phrases should contain all 3 types of keyword within it.
If you need help with this, check out my Simplify Your SEO 14-day course that will walk you though this entire process from start-to-finish and leave you with an SEO-optimized shop in just 2 weeks so you can cross “research keywords” off your to-do list…for good!
Are you trying to do #allthethings on social media in the hopes of driving more traffic to your shop?
It’s time to take a step back and look at your stats on Etsy and see exactly where those views and sales are coming from. This is going to help you hone in on the most effective way to promote your Etsy shop.
If you’re spending time on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok, you’re probably a bit burned-out at the moment (hey, there’s a reason I only recommend 1-2 platforms at a time– you’re only human, after all!). And guess what? I bet if you take a closer look at your Etsy stats, you’ll probably see that only one (maybe two) of those platforms you’re promoting on is actually driving traffic (and making sales) for you.
And compare your social media stats to your email marketing stats– which converts 4x BETTER into sales that social media does for eCommerce sellers– and you’ll see even more so how much of a DRAIN social media can be to your business (and your mental sanity!).
The top-performing traffic-driving areas? THOSE ARE THE ONES YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON. NOT the others. At least, not yet. If it’s not working, don’t try and fix it. Take what’s working and DO MORE OF IT.
Now I’m not touting that you should obsessively be checking your stats– far from it– but checking in 1x/week is perfect to get an idea from what’s working and how you can use that knowledge to increase your marketing outreach even MORE the next week.
FIX IT: Take a look at your shop stats and determine your top 5 traffic sources. Brainstorm new ways to utilize these traffic sources to drive even MORE traffic to your shop– and then implement those tactics!
Have you ever clicked through to an item in a shop because it looks ah-mazing, only to discover…..well, nothing, because they forgot to include those important details that you NEED to know before you buy?
Adding things like dimensions and materials are critical to closing the sale on your items. Because people can’t physically see or touch your products, you need to provide as much information as you can—through your photos and your copy—about the items you’re selling.
Some details you absolutely MUST include are:
Size and measurements
Unique selling points (as in, what makes it different and BETTER than other products on the market)
Apart from your photos, your product description is what ultimately SELLS YOUR PRODUCT. Make sure you are including details from your most commonly asked questions— you’ll thank yourself by saving time responding to conversations– because the answers will already be written out and people will feel confident– without having to ask for clarification– in their purchase. The easier of a “yes” you can make it for your customer, the more sales you will make. PERIOD. 🙂
FIX IT: Include dimensions and product details in every product listing in your shop. No ifs, ans, or buts. These are details that your customers NEED to see in order to convince them to purchase.
I know, I know– it’s one you hear over and over again. But it’s also the #1 reason I see shops fail to make sales– their photos are poor enough that they’re actually HURTING their business.
You may not– and probably aren’t– a photographer. And that’s okay. I’m not either– in fact, I hate it with a passion (which comes from having 3 photographer roommates my senior year of college. I was ALWAYS being asked to help with photo projects and I obviously still hold some resentment. I’m not proud).
Regardless of if you feel as strongly about photography as I do, your photos MUST be high-quality and clearly and persuasively showcasing what you sell.
As while I’m, obviously, an advocate for understanding marketing and firmly believe in implementing a marketing system in your shop like we teach inside Mastermind Your Marketing, if you can invest in only ONE thing for your business, professional photos or professional photo training (if you have the time and desire) are 110% WORTH IT. I’ve got a whole blog post on this exact topic and what I recommend that I’ll link to in the show notes for this episode if you want more photography resources because I know saying “take better photos” is really lousy advice– so if you’re looking for the HOW to make it happen, definitely check that post out.
I say this all the time to my Mastermind Your Marketing students– no amount of clever or ingenious marketing will fix crappy product or photos. Your photos are a MAJOR part of your marketing– and without good quality ones, you’re never going to get the sales your shop deserves (no matter how incredible your product is).
Your Etsy shop is a boutique shopping experience and you need to start treating it like one; you are NOT on eBay—and shouldn’t be offering a roundup of mismatched items like a garage sale.
Your products need to share a common thread—like a basic design or aesthetic—and work together in a collection. This is absolutely CRUCIAL to your Etsy success. If your items can’t be grouped together around a common theme, you are never going to reach your sales goals.
Etsy buyers come onto Etsy to get that boutique-shopping experience. And if they can’t get it in your shop, I promise you they will look elsewhere. There are plenty of other shops on Etsy—don’t give your customers a reason to leave yours!
FIX IT: Are all the items in your shop working together for your brand? You should have (1) flagship collection (your main product) and possibly up to 2 additional lines that complement your product. If it doesn’t fall under one of these two categories (flagship + complementary), then GET RID OF IT 🙂 For more step-by-step instruction on this topic that I am EXTREMELY passionate about, head on over to Episode 2 of this podcast where I give you a complete breakdown of this strategy and how to implement it in YOUR unique shop.
When I first started out my shop, I was convinced that I was going to be my own boss and do everything exactly the way I wanted it to be done. This was awesome for getting motivated + getting product out there (since I didn’t have to do any market research because I assumed I knew best anyways, ha ha!), but in hindsight, it definitely wasn’t the smartest way to go about things.
Case study: Some of my first listings were these sets of 3 baby headbands. I was convinced that if you liked one of the styles, you’d love the rest. They were packaged together for a good reason– their colors all complemented one another.
And then I got an inquiry asking if someone could mix + match styles within the sets of three. I really didn’t want to go there (for obvious reasons– inventory was a complete nightmare with a mix + match listing), but I decided to give it a go.
A week later, I’d created a specific mix + match listing for anyone else that might inquire, and I sold 3 or 4 that day. It quickly became my #1 best seller and sold 8-10 listings PER DAY — and to think, I wouldn’t have even thought of creating it if a customer hadn’t asked!
So keep this in mind– if someone is asking for it today, there are probably at least 3-4 other people wanting the same exact thing but aren’t taking the time to inquire.
Fix it: Are you getting the same inquiries from your fans over and over again? Even if the idea doesn’t immediately appeal to you, take a closer look at what they’re asking and see if there’s a way to incorporate their idea(s) into your shop selection in a way that feels good, both artistically and logistically.
And finally, #10: You’re trying to be too dang professional and not letting your UNIQUENESS shine through 😉 And trust me– this is definitely one of those easier said than done things.
The grand majority of shoppers come to Etsy to experience the personal attention that comes from shopping for handmade items. Yes, they want a professional shopping experience, but they probably also want to get to know the person behind the company—that’s you!
Adding some of your personality sprinkled throughout your shop can do wonders to humanize your brand + provide that one-of-a-kind shopping experience for your customers. Let them get to know the face behind the product—it will help them form an emotional connection to your brand and keep them coming back for more.
Now I’m not great at this myself, but if you’ve hung around for a while, hopefully by now you know that I’m a major Disney fan, that I minored in culinary arts and love, love, love to bake (and in fact have an entire cupboard in my kitchen dedicated to sprinkles), and that I’m a cat person, as evidence by a lot of my photos. These “fun facts” add to how people connect and resonate with me, which in turn helps my business to connect on a deeper level with others, whether they’re a Disney fanatic or not 😉
Bottom line? Be real– BE YOU! Your audience will thank you and love you for it 🙂
Fix it: Add a little bit of your brand’s personality into each aspect of your shop—some clever wording in your product descriptions, unexpected pops of color in your photos, and even a personal photo or two can go a long way in gaining trust and credibility with your customers.
My challenge to you today: Pick ONE item above and work to improve it TODAY (because, let’s face it– we all have something on the list above that we can work on–myself definitely included!). Don’t stress over everything– just focus on the one item and OWN IT. Your sales will thank you. 😉
And if you’re looking for MORE valuable business insights into building a profitable shop, make sure you subscribe to the Simplify Your Sales podcast over on iTunes where I share a new episode every single week. And if you’ve found ANY sort of value in this episode, I would head over heels LOVE IT if you left a review over on iTunes so that this free resource can get in front of as many eyes as possible.
Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place, teaching you how to build a business that supports your lifestyle…and not the other way around!
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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!)