Friday, November 11, 2011

Marketing your Etsy Shop: The Total Package

I have had my shop for around two years but it was only this past summer that I became interested in making it work as a business. I have learned a lot about marketing in a short time from experience, from reading and research in addition to studying public relations and over the longer timeframe taking many marketing classes in college way back in the day.

Having read so many posts about low sales, little to no views and many comments refer to sites like Facebook and Twitter as being their only promotion and that promotion being mainly posting new listings; I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from a lot of research. I am just starting to put this all in practice and while my Etsy sales are very modest, many of them have been recent and they don’t show other opportunities that are arising. My views are improving. Time will tell if it’s a success as one can’t judge that from such a short time span. Slow, steady persistence is what counts here.

So these are my thoughts on the total marketing package and in one way or another you should incorporate all of these into your marketing plan. Enjoy.

1. Branding - Branding is not your logo and it’s not your banner. Branding is the essence of what your business is. It’s the values, the emotions it brings up. It’s what you sell but it’s not specifically what your product is. Think about what you sell and how a person visiting your shop or browsing your items will feel. Would they feel you offer good value at an affordable price or exclusive luxury at a premium? Is that scarf offering soft cozy warmth or is it just a scarf? Or is it offering reused materials for the eco-conscious? Go beyond your product and figure out what makes you stand out and from that write a short slogan or catch phrase to summarize it.

Once you have figured out what you are all about, you should decide on your logo and banner because these are tools you use to tell the world about your brand, to express who your business is and without first answering that question, these other tasks are difficult. Once you have this, use your logo consistently, with your catch phrase if you can. Create your shop banner and other marketing materials in line with the brand you have created. Think about your company’s core values in your product descriptions, welcome page and company communications. Let it guide you.

2. Merchandising – This is all about what you sell, your product and how you present it, price it and display it. Use your brand and values to help you. So if in section 1 you decided you are the exclusive premium store, you should price higher than the value at a bargain store. Display your items attractively as well. If you sell online, this means pictures and they better be good . . . really good! If you don’t know how to photograph and get the result you want, take a class, read and practice, or hire a pro but if your pictures are not good, you will have trouble selling online.

You also want to think about how you organize your shop, have categories that make sense, internal links in product descriptions to help your customers make their way through your shop. Promote items that match the season in your featured items section or in the search ads if you use them. For example, a month ago I was pushing and showcasing my macabre photos but now I’m focused more on dreamy winter scenes, autumn color and jewelry which makes a great gift. What are you promoting now?

3. SEO and Etsy Relevancy – Love it or hate it, search engine optimization is a must if you want to be found in Google searches. Now Etsy uses relevancy as the main search tool, which I know some hate, but it really is better for the shopper.  The good news is making your shop relevant will also improve its SEO. So what do you do?

Write relevant keyword rich titles that say what it is you are selling. (i.e. For a photo of a pink peony use something like “Modern Home Décor, Nature Photo,  Pink Peony” and not “pretty dreamy pink peony flower” which doesn't even tell you what the item is or what use it is for, or even worse some abstract name that is artistic in nature like "purple haze". You can still have arty names, but put them in the description.

Once you have that good title that is focused on keywords that your buyers would likely use to look for an item like yours, it’s time to write the description. Reuse your main key words in the first line or two of your description. Include more descriptive information as well. You can include the more routine, non descriptive but important information after that, as well as any arty title you may have.

Next you need to tag your item. Reuse your keywords again. Reuse them exactly as they are used in the title. So if I put “modern home décor” in my title, I have a tag for “modern home décor”. This helps with Etsy relevancy a lot. Use all 13 of your tags. I’m always amazed when I see shops that don’t, especially when those shops said they did everything they could and people still aren’t finding them. If you are not using all of your tags, you are not doing everything you can.

Last, monitor your stats. Use Etsy stats, use Google analytics, and check to see what keywords get people into your shop. Craftopolis and Craft Cult have a tools to help you sort through the data as well. Make adjustments as you learn.

4. Social Media Marketing and Networking – and notice I don’t call it advertising. I don’t consider this advertising. It’s networking. It’s relationship building. Just posting ad type content will not get you far. How many posts have you seen saying they promote and they promote by posting all of their items to Twitter. Why aren’t they getting sales from this? Because that doesn’t work. These sites can be a powerful way to drive sales but they do that by letting you build relationships with people. Let your followers get to know you. Post about more than just your shop. Ask them questions and respond to their comments. Comment on other pages.

I am more of a Facebook user than a Twitter user.  I have a Facebook business page, DK Miller and The Shutterbug Eye that I use to promote my work, primarily on the DK Miller page. I try to use Facebook as my page and visit other pages I’ve liked. Comment on their work, be sincere. Don’t be the person who posts irrelevant comments to posts with a link to your page or shop. Post sincerely and get to know people. Like pages that you sincerely like. Aim to build followers who are real fans. Get to know people.

This is true on any of these sites. As a photographer I have a Flickr account also and the comments that are just a link to the person’s photostream do not make me want to check out their photostream, even more-so if the comment doesn't make sense to the image posted. I had one of these yesterday in response to my posting the picture of the box with all of my prepped butterfly photos that will be going gift bags at GBK’s Academy Awards Gift Lounge. That picture isn’t an amazing picture; it was a quick picture taken with my phone in the bad light of my kitchen; it was the text and what it was for that was impressive. Insincere comments can hurt you more than not commenting at all.

5. Advertising – This encompasses the paid or free ads on blogs, for search results, in print media, the postcards you tacked to the bulletin board at a local gathering place, etc. Sponsorships fall under this category too. Advertising costs money but done well it can reach a broad audience of your target market. Different types of ads and some places to consider advertising with include:
  • Project Wonderful – allows you to advertise on a wide variety of blogs with prices ranging from nothing on up. It’s a good place to start playing around with ads and get the hang of making good blog ad buttons and banners, etc. At a low cost before putting more money into it.
  • StumbleUpon Paid Discovery – I use this and the campaign gets smarter as time moves on. You can get views as low as .05 each. My campaign costs me $1 a day and as it gets smarter about who to share my site with I am getting free stumbles as well. It is a very beginner friendly platform.
  • Facebook Ads – these allow you to set a budget and target very specific markets which is great if you have done the research to know who your target market. Go back to step one as that will help you define your market as well.
  • Google Adwords – paid search results with Google. I’ve only used this with a free gift card but it did get me Google results. You can set a budget and costs vary based on keywords. It is more complicated than the above options but if done right could prove valuable as where do people go first when they look for something online.
  • Paid blog ads – advertise on blogs whose readers match your target market. The cost varies on the popularity of the blog. Do some research before spending money here as it can be more expensive.
  • Etsy Search Ads – Pay by impression and these work best if you focus on a narrow slice of product that contains keywords that are similar. That is the key to being a relevant result in these. Don’t use keywords like “red” as you will show up in any search that uses red. Use keywords that clearly are what your item is. So for one of my photos I’d accept: “home décor”, photograph, photo, “nature photo” (if a nature photo, portraiture (if a portrait). See why you want to use narrow segments or sections. I would not use: red, black, woman, spring, etc. I will promote a small number of items. Right now it’s five of my top recently viewed nature photos that are winter or seasonal. Nothing else. Keywords are “Christmas Décor”, “home décor”, “fine art print”, “nature photography” and photograph. That’s it. I will always be relevant now won’t I?
  • Other ad ideas – if you blog, share links and trade links with other related business who blog. This helps SEO and maybe someone will click on the link, post to various directories.
Direct Marketing – I’m going to include that under advertising as well. This is your newsletter you send to those who subscribe as a way to keep in touch with customers that want to hear ongoing news or possibly just fans. It could be a physical mailing you do. It’s a good way to keep prior customers engaged or get new people interested if you have a good mail list. Be careful with email mailings to ensure you follow CAN-SPAM laws and regulations.

6. Public Relations – This is getting your name out in the public in a good light and managing media relations etc. It involves getting the word out about what you are doing through the media in regards to articles and features, not paid ads. This type of promotion is viewed as more trustworthy by the public than paid ads and it’s free to you. Public relations also involves the handling of crisis to minimize the impact. Think about the response to a political scandal.

Since we are not politicians we are more interested in using Public Relations or (PR) to get the word out about us. How does one do that? First, become newsworthy. It’s pointless to reach out to the newspaper if you don’t have an actual story, a relevant, newsworthy story. If you do have a story, put together a media list. Go online, look up all the local media and other media that might be interested in your story and send them a press release. Google how to write a press release and you will find lots of advice. Then follow up. Hopefully a reporter or editor will like your story and you’ll get a call and an article.

What if I am not newsworthy? Become newsworthy. I know that sounds trite, but get involved with something that is newsworthy. Donate some product to a big local fundraiser event. That is newsworthy, if for no other reason than the event itself is newsworthy. I joined The Artisan Group and as a member I will have my product in swag bags that are being given at GBK’s Academy Awards Gift Lounge. My initial press release for that resulted in a story in my local paper. People have recognized me from that article. Pretty cool. So look around your town, local is easier to get recognition in. Find events or organizations that will give you something to write about. They also will give you networking and other opportunities. Then send your press releases.

This concludes my very long feature on marketing for Etsy stores. I hope it’s helpful. Send me a message or leave a comment if you have further questions.

DK Miller


  1. Very thoughtful and helpful post. I learned about some options for advertising that I hadn't heard about before. Great to have a broad range of concrete examples with sensible analysis. Thanks!

  2. Thank you. I'm glad it was helpful.

  3. Great post, Diane! I have lots more to think about now regarding advertising and the like. Thanks so much!

  4. Very very helpful! Thanks a whole lot for writing this! It's loaded with good advice, the only thing now is to apply it! : ) I'm taking baby steps, trying to work on my photographs + finding the best tags + getting the word out about my etsy shop. The last is the toughest because I don't have the means to go out and about but I've started with social networking (did it wrong at first) and now I'm slowly trying to build relationships and just have fun while working on my photography. I'll definitely be back to read this post again : )

  5. I'm just reading this now - and it is GREAT! Thank you so much for the really in-depth review.

    "Advertising" and PR are my two brick walls. One of my New Year ressies is to break 'em down (brick by brick, if I have to!) Your article helps reaffirm what I need to do.

    Thank you!

    PS - Can I share this with others? (Giving credit of course!)

  6. Thank you!

    Catherine, you can share this as a link or if you wish to republish, please credit me as the author and include a link.