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 Julie of puffluna. Julie lives and works in Ohio and has been selling on Etsy for about two and a half years, in which she has already made an incredible 2,700 sales! Julie is a stay-at-home mom and has been designing and making jewelry since 2005; Etsy has allowed her to take her business to the next level and work full time from home. Keep reading to find out her key to success.
How did you first hear about Etsy, and what made you decide to open a shop on the site?
Thankfully, I heard about Etsy from someone that I used to work with (thank you, Chris!). I had started creating jewelry here and there in 2005 and he knew it. He was on the other side of the cubicle wall so he frequently saw the ladies oooing and ahhing over my jewelry and asking for some. He always popped his head up. I used to tell him I would forget that he had a body since I only saw his head. Anyway, one day he popped his head up and asked me if I had heard of Etsy. I hadn’t heard of Etsy, but that was all that I could think about from that moment to the moment I put my daughter to sleep that night. I logged on, my jaw dropped and I saw a new future for myself and my family. The trick was making it work…
1) List as often as you can. You can list or renew, but I think 5 a day minimum will get you noticed.
2) Good tags. Without appropriate tags, your items will be lost within minutes.
3) Variety. I have a wide variety and price range available in my store.
4) Photos. In the sea of listings, when you have your shot at the first 5 pages, your photo is all ya got. Make it stand out and say "click me!"
What are the best and most effective ways you have promoted your shop?
I really haven’t promoted much. Last month, I decided to increase my advertising budget and start listing more on Etsy. I look at this as a type of advertising. Oh, and I also send a monthly email to my customers that are on my mailing list, and I blog. I also offer internet shows. This is similar to a home jewelry show, except it’s virtual. If a customer is interested in a virtual internet show, they can supply me with their friend’s email addresses and anything that they buy on a set date will benefit the hostess. I’ve done a handful and they work out great.
How do you handle such a large volume of sales in your shop?
The holidays were a little rough (but all good!). I learned a lot this year and will hopefully put those lessons into practice the next holiday season. I am doing this full time. This gives me all of the hours when my daughter is in school. I create, email, list, mail and order all day, every day. It’s my job. I look at it that way and it’s worked.
What systems have you created to manage the orders
My methods are pretty primitive. I like things simple. I use notebooks and email…and that’s about it.
- Order received – Send thank you email and move the Etsy transaction email into the ‘thank you sent’ folder.
- Ready to mail day –
- Go to my ‘thank you sent’ folder and write down the name and item of everyone that will be mailed that day.
- Handwrite the address on the mailer.
- Get piece of jewelry and take a look at it for quality assurance.
- I wrap the piece in tissue paper, put it in a jewelry box, write a thank you note on the back of my business card, put the box in the envelope.
- Cross name off of list and repeat the above steps until done.
- Back at the computer, I move the email from the ‘thank you sent’ folder to the ‘shipped’ folder.
- Mark item shipped on Etsy (at this point, I’m usually running around like a maniac because it’s almost time to pick up my daughter from school)
- Yeah!!! I’m at the post office and the item is on it’s way to my customer.
Are your orders mostly from repeat buyers or new buyers? What do you do to gain repeat buyers?
Definitely repeat. This gives me confidence as well as motivation. I do get new customers, but it’s my repeat customers that motivate me to keep creating new and unique items. I have many, many, many moods, so I will create all black one day and all pink the next…contemporary to vintage. I think it keeps my store interesting and they never know what they’ll get. Not to mention that they are amazing women (and some men) who like to support handmade, Etsy, and stay-at-home moms. I am blessed that they’ve found me. I truly feel that way.
How do you stay motivated? Does it come naturally?
I pray for motivation, inspiration and creativity a lot, but I am a very motivated person naturally. I am not happy just sitting still. I’m always doing something. If I stop, I fall asleep! 🙂 Having to pay the bills is also a good motivator. I don’t want to find another job and even consider day care for my daughter ever again. Create, create, create!
If you "Etsy" full time, were you able to quit your day job due to your success selling on Etsy?
I didn’t quit my day job exclusively for Etsy. I was working for a friend who owns her own business. The business that we thought would grow didn’t, so I couldn’t work for her any longer. That’s when I decided to really put forth an effort with Etsy to make it work.
What is your favorite current Etsy Feature?
I love the Storque. That’s another place that I get my motivation from. I can feel the energy and excitement in the writing and photos.
What features do you use most on Etsy?
List and renew.
What goals do you have for your Etsy shop one year from now?
That it still exists, first of all. After that, I’d like to sell more every month than I did the year before.
What piece of advice would you give to a new seller on Etsy who might be feeling discouraged? Do you have a quick tip or trick that you have learned over time you would be willing to share?
I know this has been said over and over, and I’ve said it above, but you have to get out there and be seen. I would highly recommend listing often and even purchasing some showcase spots to get your hearts started. Once someone hearts you, odds are they will check into your store on a regular basis. Keep it exciting, be unique and LOVE what you do.
The most important thing that I’ve learned is not to freak out if sales are down or slow. I used to beat myself up and cause unwanted and unhealthy stress! What am I doing wrong? What should I change? Not that those aren’t good questions to ask yourself from time to time, but be nice to yourself. Odds are if you are loving what you do someone else will to. They do have to find you, though. 😉
Read our previous Etsy Success Stories. See some of Julie’s work and top picks on Etsy in the gallery below: