I set up an Etsy shop in mid January. My plan is to use the shop for supplemental income when I retire in a few years. I want to develop the shop now so that I won’t have significant start up costs when I retire from the university. I’ve been on a steep learning curve since I started the shop. There is more to do and learn than I expected. Here’s a list of stuff that has to be done to do it right.
- The shop banner must be prepared using a graphics program. The banner is the equivalent to the sign on a brick and mortar store. It’s important to have a good one. I just uploaded my second banner and I’m already thinking about ways to improve it.
- As a shop owner I need to have an avatar that represents the spirit of the shop. This is a task that involves photography and/or using a graphics program. I’ve uploaded a new avatar today and I’m thinking about whether or not it truly represents me.
- I must develop my “brand”. This is something I never thought about before. Essentially it means being clear about the focus of the shop and everything in it. My goal is to have products that are “beautifully crafted and innovatively designed”. It feels presumptuous to claim that phrase as a tag line because it is a goal that I hope to achieve. Nevertheless I am using it for now.
- There is a lot of writing to do when setting up an Etsy shop. I need a profile, shop policies, shipping policies and item descriptions. I’ve got a draft of each of these in place but I expect to do a lot of editing as I gain experience.
- The heart of the shop is the products that I sell. I began with a bunch of ideas that were all related to cover buttons or playing cards. I’m now trying to think through who my customers are and what they would like to purchase. I read that this is knowing my “target market”. The one sale that I have had from someone who is not a friend was for handmade buttons. I think this may be my bread and butter item. I am concentrating on stocking the shop with handmade buttons to get started. Hopefully I will figure out my "target market".
- An online shop MUST have fabulous photographs of the products to be a success so I have been diligently working on improving my photo skills. This involves not only taking photos but also editing them with Photoshop Elements. My learning curve here is quite steep.
- There is of course the packaging of my items. I’m currently selling my buttons on handmade blank greeting cards so that the buttons can easily be used as gifts. I have a big collection of rubber stamps that I made in the eighties. I’m using these to decorate the greeting cards.
- Finally we get to the shipping of the items. I am so engaged with all of the above that I can’t begin to think about shipping overseas. I'm using USPS because it is most convenient for me. I did some test mailings of buttons to friends and learned that I need to use bubble envelopes because the processing machines crush stuff.
This may sound like a lot and I suppose it is but so far I’m experiencing it as a fun challenge.