You’ve seen those big sellers on Etsy who seem to be making sales left and right. You have to wonder how they’ve made it to where they are: can they actually be FOR REAL? What’s their recipe for success? And just how do they do it?
This week’s installment of our Etsy Success Stories series features Ryan of littleputbooks. Ryan lives in Portland, OR and in little under 2 years of selling on Etsy, she is quickly approaching 8,000 sales! It all started for Ryan with her passion for paper and the making of her accordian books back in 2001 (this predates Etsy’s existence)! Back in September, Ryan authored an article for the Storque outlining how she was able to quit her day job and continues to outline how it can be done in the article below.
How did you hear about Etsy, and what made you decide to open a shop on the site?
I heard about it through a retail shop I was selling to in Portland. The owner told me she found a lot of her merchandise on Etsy. I signed up and started listing items that day, without really looking at the site. It took me a month to click the “see who hearts this shop link” and I found it just in time; Etsy was very slow at first and I was about to quit but then I saw that 13 people had me in their favorites and I got all excited and stayed.
What do you think your key to success for selling on Etsy has been?
I put in a lot of time here. I list frequently throughout the day, when I don’t have new items to list I renew them. I enjoy the forums and spend time there when I can. I also work a lot on my photography, good pictures go very far online. Aside from that I think my price point has helped a lot with the volume of sales and I have really good customer service ethics; word of mouth about my work has been kind to me 🙂
What are the best and most effective ways you have promoted your shop?
Listing and renewing brings in the most daily business, being seen on Etsy is key, most of my customers find me here. When things are slow, I’ve been known to talk about my work on CraigsList and I’ve invested in blog advertisements. I also write my own blog Littleput.typepad.com which may or may not be a great marketing tool but I love doing it.
How do you handle such a large volume of sales in your shop? What systems have you created to manage the orders?
Shipping is still kind of chaotic, especially when people need changes and such, but I have a system that seems to work. First, I try really hard not to sell things I need to make; having the items in hand when it is time to mail them is pretty important. Second, I always ship twice a week, this ensures I get enough studio time but still keep my orders moving out quickly. When it is time to mail, I print out the receipts for each order. If I am somewhat organized that week, I tag my conversations so I can keep track of special requests; then I write down any notes on the receipts while I am printing them. I no longer use Paypal shipping; it is too slow. I use a paid shipping service called Endicia which is 10 times faster and prints cute little labels with a photo of my work on them. I mark each item as shipped as I print the label and send my customers an email letting them know their package is on its way. I also make sure to get everything packed up before the mailman arrives so I don’t have to go to the post office; on the days that I miss him I pout a lot. During the busy seasons I hire help too. (Hi Becky, Hi Lea!) They take over shipping for me so I can keep up with making stuff, convos, emails and general shop stuff.
Are your orders mostly from repeat buyers or new buyers…what do you do to gain repeat buyers?
I’d say a good percentage of my buyers come back, easily more than half. I have really stellar customer service policies; I do what I can to make sure people shopping with me are glad they did. I also send out a cute package, I have little stars and a handwritten thank you note that go out with every order. I think a lot of online shoppers are not used to the personal touch, they respond really well to thoughtful packaging.
How do you stay motivated? Does it come naturally?
I am pretty driven to do well. I like the feel of making a sale (don’t we all?).
I also really enjoy creating. I love having new lines and new prints and new ideas, the fact that I get to play creative all day is great motivation in itself, it is pretty hard to not want my job.
Do you "Etsy" full time or do you have another job too?
I “Etsy”, “Wholesale” and “Mom” full time. My wholesale business has picked up a lot of steam since joining here, it is a real benefit to have such wide spread exposure. I’d say I make pretty good use of my time, though sometimes it is hard to balance work with my family life, one is always interrupting the other.
If you "Etsy" full time, were you able to quit your day job due to your success selling on Etsy?
I was a struggling crafter when I joined Etsy. Selling here allowed me to move out of the rainy Portland Craft circuit and into a more full time job; now I can sell things 24 hours a day instead of just on the weekends. Etsy has taken my “almost a job” craft gig and turned it into a real business, which is weird, but good, but still, weird.
What is your favorite current Etsy Feature?
Pounce. Pounce. Pounce. Pounce. Pounce. It’s so fun to shop through Pounce!
What features do you use most on Etsy?
I spend a lot of time in the forums and try to catch an occasional treasury, they are so much fun to make. Of course the list/relist/renew features are ones that make my shop go :).
What goals do you have for your Etsy shop 1 year from now?
Wow, goals for my shop… I am working on a new line of pendants with lots of shiny metal in them. It would be really fun to have those be perfected and selling well by this time next year.
What piece of advice would you give to a new seller on Etsy who might be feeling discouraged?
Etsy success doesn’t happen overnight. If you truly love what you are doing your enthusiasm will be contagious, and other people will love it too. As long as you feel giddy every time you set down to make stuff, keep at it, at the very least you will be using your time doing something that makes you happy.
Anything else you want to add?
Hi Mom 🙂
Read our previous Etsy Success Stories. See some of Ryan’s top picks on Etsy in the gallery below, as well as a couple examples of her work: