February 1, 2016

Two years selling on Etsy - what I have learned so far

what I learned from two years selling on etsy

It's about time for a little celebration! This month holds the two year mark of selling on Etsy for me. On February 7, 2014 I opened my clipart shop The Dutch Lady Designs, followed by my blog and business shop Dutch Lady Digi Designs half a year later. And here we are, two years later, and just like I did last year, at the one year mark, it is about time to take up stock!

Even before I started out with my Etsy shops I was reading other people's blog posts about their selling experiences on Etsy. And while not all tips or experiences might apply to anyone, sharing my own experiences and learning process might help out others who think about opening their own shop. So let's see what the second year was all about!


I sold a lot more items in both my shops in the second year. Right now I have sold over 2100 products/services in two years time, in both shops combined. That is awesome! Of course I hope that the third year will bring even more growth, but in order to create that growth I will have to put in effort and energy.

My experience is that my shops got more visitors when I started adding more items, when I started making more sales and when I got more positive reviews. I don't know how this is done by Etsy, but it seems that a shop gets more visible when it has more products and when it starts making more sales. But adding more products to a shop costs time. The products have to be created/developed, and when you want to offer a good quality product that takes time. So if you are just starting out, give yourself the time to grow! Don't get discouraged when you only sell one or two items the first month. It happened to me as well, but now my monthly sales average can hardly be compared anymore to those first few months.

These last couple of months I have also been working on improving my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on Etsy and it looks like it is working. I have seen the number of visitors grow in these months. While Etsy does a big part of the SEO, there are still a lot of things that you as a seller can do to improve your visibility. I will probably dedicate a separate post to this subject in the near future, so keep your eye out for it!


As a seller you are never done working. Honestly, at the beginning, I thought I would just upload a bunch of products and sell them over and over again. Well, it appeared that things work a little different than that ;-) As time progresses I found out that some products needed improvement, or I needed to add or quit some services that people demanded or that were not in demand at all. And as it goes with a creative mind, ideas for new products keep popping up in my head and then I have to create them. So even when it's not that busy with sales, I'm always busy in my head thinking about ways to improve my products and services.


That was a big lesson this year. Since I started offering more custom design work in the first half of last year I found out that not every person is as serious about starting a project. Etsy is a big place and chances are you are not the only one offering that particular product or service, so clients shop around for the best deals. Not that surprising, I would do the same in their position. But with custom work I found out that discussing a project costs a lot of time. And when that project, for some reason, is not picked up by the client after those in depth discussions, it does not generate any income for me as the seller, while I did spent time on it.

I bumped my nose quite a few times with custom projects this last year. So much so that at this time I am not offering big custom projects like business logos and custom made blog designs anymore. As a seller I am constantly reviewing my products and services to see if they bring in income or only cost me time in the end. It is okay for a client to be demanding, but they have to take the project serious and the demands should be in balance with the payment.

As an example I can refer to the numerous times that a client purchased a premade Blogger template with installation included for $39 and thought that it meant they had access to my services all year round for free. In this example the demand of the client is not is balance with the income I make off it. But it is my job to change that. And then it all comes down to communication, which is the next subject I want to talk about.


I have worked hard on this subject these past two years. Clear communication to the client of what to expect from the product or service you are selling is probably the most important thing you need to manage on Etsy. Over time I found out that people are bad readers. They don't take the time to fully read the product description and that can lead to disappointments after purchase.

While it is hard to avoid these misconceptions completely I learned that there are some things to prevent it. I now start most of my product descriptions with a line that urges clients to read the full description text to avoid misconceptions and disappointments. And in the description text I try to be as clear as possible about what they can expect or not expect from the product or service. But even then, misconceptions occur. Client communication is a subject that constantly needs work and is a work in progress in itself.

I recently had a very good conversation about this with a family member who is a CEO for a big German company. She really gave me some valuable tips on how to avoid misconceptions about products and services and how to avoid these situations where I, as the seller, put in a lot of time and effort to work out a plan for a custom project with a client and when it is time to pay, I never hear back from them. So while the custom products are on hold for a while, she provided me with new ideas to manage custom projects better if I wish to continue them in the near future.


Through the Etsy review system as well as from the contacts I have with my clients I found out that what they value most about me and my shop is the fact that I always answer their questions promptly and honestly. 

If I can't help them out with a project or when an idea they have in mind is over my head I will be honest with them. I have had quite a few people contacting me with the question if I could create them a custom made logo in a hand painted watercolor style. And while I can create such a look to some extend with a graphic program like Photoshop, a real hand painted logo will give the best results. But hand painting is just not one of my skills, so I like to be honest when people ask for my help. That way I prevent a lot of disappointment in the end.

And I also answer all of my clients as quickly as possible. I don't work weekends, so I mention this in both my shops, on my website and in product descriptions, but with the exception of the weekends I always answer my clients right away. If you want your clients to take you serious, you should take them serious. And when they contact you with ideas or questions regarding a project or product you just can't let them wait for an answer for weeks. Chances are they will go to someone else with their project.

Even if you don't have the time to take on their project, always respond to their questions. You would like to be treated the same, right?

Those two years have taught me a lot. Not only about business but most of all about myself. And I am still learning. So I am curious to find out what the third year will have in store for me and I will make sure to keep sharing my journey with you! If you are selling on Etsy yourself and you have some additional tips, please share them in the comments below!

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