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All The Times I Failed At Etsy

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

You might have noticed that in addition to my digital products on Creative Market and similar marketplaces - I also sell home decor DIY prints on Etsy. This is because it was fairly easy for me to take some of these elements and implement them as printable JPGs for people to download and print at home. Easy money, right? Wrong. Here's all the ways I failed at Etsy all the ways I learnt from that:

1) I didn't do any market research. So one of the first things I did was spend about 2 weeks uploading my artwork to a dropshipping service and then connecting that to my Etsy shop. Whilst that got some interest, it didn't sell - at all. The reason to this - once I actually spent time researching the culprit and uncovered it - was that most of my competitors on Etsy had vastly cheaper prices for the printing services. I didn't have that option, so I had to rethink my strategy and ultimately went for digital files instead.

2) I thought spending $$$ on advertising was key. Wrooong. There is a variety of reason why something sells so the 'inhouse' Etsy advertising is just a drop in the sea. I ended up spending a lot of money on advertising and focused on the 5 products I had, ignoring the fact that constant updating and adding new products kicks your ass up the Etsy algorithm 'ladder' - but most crucially, I completely ignored tags.

3) I refused to spend time on tag research. Possibly the worst mistake to do. I have since learnt from my mistake and now spend at the very least half a day every once in a while inspecting trends in tags, competition as well as potential red flags - I use Marmalead for this task, which has greatly improved my profit from Etsy.

4) Testing was something only 'people after money' do and not 'true artists'. Ah, cringe. Basically, when you enter a new market you don't know shit. This was essentially myself when I started selling on Etsy. What I quickly figured out was that I had to AB test a lot of my products - does the dark background sell more than light? Does a bundle attract more than a single print? Does a % off get more attention than a certain amount off? Testing, testing, testing - and then weeding out the bastards that didn't work. Etsy ranks you higher depending on the sum of how well all your products are doing - so it's pretty important to chuck out the ones that don't work.

5) One day, you can just leave it be and it makes you money, right? I actually did this a couple of times; had a good sale increase, then I left it for a couple of week and it literally went down to zero. The reason to this is that Etsy ranks you higher depending on how active you are and updating your shop (I've heard some people even tweak EVERY product every day to rank higher, but I'm too lazy for something like that) so it incredibly important to be in motion all the time. Another one is to update your tags every once in a while - especially taking in account seasonal differences.

6) I only did one format of each print. I recall seeing other people do different files and I thought eh, who's got time for that? Well apparently, only me. It's almost crucial to have different ratios (I do international paper, 2:3, 3:4, 4:5) as people will either a) constantly keep messaging you for a different format or b) just refrain from buying anything from you. I know it's tedious, but in the long run it will save you a lot of time.

7) Forgot about Pinterest. Every living soul that sells on Etsy spends an inordinate amount of time diligently pining their products to Pinterest. Somehow, I thought it's not really worth it and blatantly ignored it for a while until I realised I was shooting myself in the foot. Pin every single photo onto your boards - but be smart about it. I've now devised a strategy where I spend zero money on advertising, but I still get a solid 5k views and at least 300 clicks a month. That's 300 potential customers - with no ads. I'll put together another post to explain this further soon!

I hope this helped if you're looking to sell digital products on Etsy - remember to keep testing and weeding out the non successful products and eventually, you'll get to a point where you understand your customer and know exactly what to make in the future.

I also made a post on All The Times I Failed On Creative Market, if you're interested in learning from my mistakes there too!

As always, if you want more helpful posts on how to make $$$ doodling and drawing, subscribe to my email list below! I routinely send out tips, tools, trends and other helpful bits!


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