Have you read Part 1? It's all about everything you should consider before opening a shop. Today is all about taking the leap and starting a business!
If you're getting ready to open a shop or have recently done so, congrats! This is such an exciting time and I wish you the best. Here's my advice as you embark on this new adventure!
Step 1: Get organized
If you've gotten to this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you're going to list, but how many listings do you need to launch a shop? A good rule of thumb is 24 listings or a full first page. Having the appearance of a full shop helps instill credibility in the shopper's mind. But wait! What if you don't have that many items to list? You can stretch the number of listings you have by creating a separate listing for different variations. For example, if you are selling shirts, you can have a listing for each color and each size.
Plan out how will keep your finances organized so you don't want to scream come tax season. Keeping your finances organized also allows you to see just how much your getting from your business at any given time. Keep track of business expenses like props you buy for product photos or packing tape and other shipping supplies. Even little expenses add up quick!
Establish your policies. (Ideally you should write your "about page" too, but it can wait.) You can't open your shop until you post your policies. Look at other shops for reference. Think about how you will handle things like returns or items damaged in the mail. Your policies should be as clear as possible.
Okay, this one is hard for me, but part of getting organized is having a plan of attack for social media. How often will you post? How will you generate unique content for each of your platforms? Will your shop and personal accounts be separate?
Step 2: Branding
Branding is everything! Look at the image about. Even though Michiemay has several different products for sale, everything in this shop is cohesive. The header image, listing images, and profile picture are consistent and convey the same message–quality, non-tacky party products that you won't find at your local party store.
Even if you have several types of products you want to sell, they should look like they belong together. Your listing images should reflect the branding on your header image, profile picture, and business cards.
If you can't create your own branding, find someone who can! Find a friend who can take stellar product photos. There are tons of Etsy shops that sell branding packages. With so many options available, you're sure to find one that fits your budget and aesthetic. The trick to branding is to make sure it stands out and is appropriate for the items you're selling.
Knot & Bow does an excellent job of branding. Each product has a label or sticker that clearly identifies the shop. You may not be ready to brand your products quite to this extent, but you should include some type of branding with every order. It could be a sticker that you put on the outside of each order or simply including a business card in the package.
My branding and style have definitely changed since I first opened my shop. In order to stay true to my branding, I regularly evaluate my shop and deactivate any listings that aren't in line with the overall feel of Kensie Kate. Sometimes I'm able to redesign some of the prints that are no longer working and re-list them once they fit in.
Step 3: Photography
A big part of your shop's branding will be in the form of photography. (Note: You might notice that, right now, my listings don't feature photographed images. I have some photos of my prints on my blog, instagram, and my shop's about page, but if I had to photograph every single print I sell, it would take away a lot of the time I spend designing. Maybe someday that will change, but for right now I find that a digital image works just fine.)
When taking product photos, here's my 2 cents:
Take pictures that are going to show off your product. This sounds obvious, but take pictures of your product in use or any way that otherwise shows it at it's best. Your photos can convey a lot that you might not be able to in your description–size, color, material, etc.
Take way more pictures than you need. This allows you to sort through and find the very best ones instead of being stuck with only a couple of options.
I've already mentioned this, but make sure that your photos are consistent with your branding–the props you use, the lighting, background, and editing can all influence the style of your pictures.
Step 4: Advertise
While Etsy does a great job promoting listing and helping people find your shop, simply creating a listing is not enough to sell. You need to advertise! Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and everyone you meet that you're opening a shop. Host a giveaway on your personal social media accounts.
Always carry business cards with you! You never know when you might get the chance to hand one out.
Get involved! Attend local markets and comment on relevant social media.
Hopefully this was helpful and gave you some ideas to consider. Let me know if you have any questions!
Next up: Learn about all the tools Etsy has to help you. Etsy wants you to succeed!