Earlier in the month I shared a look into the ways in which I earn money working from my sofa at home. I received so much interest surrounding my small business, Pippin Prints, and thought that you might like a little more insight into how I run my shop and what I do on a daily basis to keep it going. Whilst growing my small business over the years, I’ve always been on the look out for advice and relatable stories. I hope that it might be helpful for some of you to take a look behind the scenes of my Etsy shop, from the first steps of creating a design to the final steps in marketing.
Hand Painted Designs
The foundation of every design in my Etsy shop is a watercolour painting, done by hand. I’ve added a short video below which shows just a snippet of what I do. This is possibly my favourite part of the whole design process. I find painting so relaxing and therapeutic. The fact that I have been able to grow a business from a hobby which is so enjoyable is something I am very grateful for.
Sometimes I paint entire arrangements and wreaths of florals to use in my printables. Often though, I will paint individual items. I then scan them, ready for the digital stage of work. Over the years I have built myself a substantial library of flowers, leaves and other watercolour items which I can use to create new arrangements as ideas come to me. Whilst I try to give myself variety to work with, in order to attract customers with different tastes, my distinct style is always noticeable and I think this has helped me to build consistency in my brand.
Creating the Printables
The next stage is to take each of the scanned elements into a digital design programme. This allows me to edit and arrange them into more refined pieces. My personal choice is Photoshop, however there are so many to choose from. Canva is brilliant if you don’t have too much design experience.
The arrangement I go for depends entirely on the product I’m creating. My letter prints and t-shirt transfers for example, work with a wreath of florals. On the other hand, stationery items such as to-do lists work far better with more of a garland or spray. Once the individual watercolour elements are selected and arranged, the base layer of any printable is ready.
Still in Photoshop, I then select fonts and other design elements which will help me to build my printable. Say, for example, I am putting together a money tracker for my stationery collection, pictured below. I will need to set up the main header, the smaller column headers and then also the columns themselves. I’ll spend time playing around with sizing and then as a final check, print out the item to make sure I’m happy with how it all looks.
Often, I will then need to go back and rearrange or resize each of the elements until I am happy with the final look. Whilst a floral arrangement might sit well behind my money tracker page, the same layout may not sit well with another design in the same range. Then I have to rethink it a little. Trial and error is the key. I can be quite particular about my designs so once I am happy with them, I know customers will be too.
Publishing a Listing
Perhaps the most essential stage of running an Etsy shop is to publish listings. Without them, you would have no shop after all. Thankfully this is very straight forward as Etsy provide a very clear and easy to use template which you simply fill in with all of the relevant information.
The most important things to include are:
- Good, clear images or photographs of your products (keep them simple and bright)
- A clear title which tells a customer exactly what you are selling
- A well thought out description which is both informative and sells the product well
- Tags which use strong keywords linking to your product (use all 13)
- Materials which describe your product well. For me, Digital Download, Instant Download and Printable (add product here) are always included. For physical products, this is a brilliant section to utilise.
- A price that reflects the value of your product and the time required to create it.
- Suitable shipping if required. Do your research here and charge appropriately.
Do not worry about the listing being perfect when you first publish. Ensure the key information is available. You can improve on it over time.
Daily Shop Updates and Maintenance
The “secret” to running a successful Etsy shop, if ever there was one, is to be active in your shop on a daily basis. That’s it. There is no magical surprise. It is just so important to be active, whether that means a little or a lot, every day. With the exception of holidays and other time off of course. We all deserve a break after all!
To give you an idea of what I mean, my daily Etsy work would be as follows:
- Log in and check my dashboard to ensure there is nothing pending that I’ve missed.
- Pop into my listings and edit at least one or two of them to improve titles, tags, descriptions and images. Some days I’ll manage ten, but for the most part one or two is plenty. Especially if I choose to update my images as this can take some time.
- Finally I check my expired listings and make sure that there is nothing in there which should be live in my shop.
When I have time, or feel creatively motivated, I will add new items. Ideally I will add a handful of new products each month to keep my shop fresh. As with editing my listings however, time doesn’t always allow. I also don’t like to force new ideas for the sake of it. If you are naturally creative, new ideas will often pop up here and there. When they do, give them a go!
Sharing On Social Media
My least favourite part of running a small business is the marketing required. Thankfully Etsy are very well known and, if your titles, tags and descriptions are good, they will naturally share your listings to interested customers in their marketplace. Variety is always a good idea though and so I like to use social media to support my shop.
As I find it so boring, I like to keep things simple. My products are very visual, so Pinterest is the platform best suited to promoting them. I’m no pinning pro so I won’t go into detail here. As with my shop maintenance, the rule of little and often applies so well to this too. Each day I spend a minimum of five minutes pinning both my own items to my boards, as well as a huge variety of inspiration from other accounts.
I also like to share my new designs on Instagram and Facebook. This allows me to keep potential customers informed of what’s going on in my shop and show that I am active. These platforms work really well with videos and this is something I plan on working on in the coming months to draw new traffic to my shop.
Of course, I’m far from perfect and have a lot of progress still to make. An email list and newsletter is something that I know I should be growing every day. Until now I have put it off as it is unfamiliar territory for me, but it is so important to have a point of contact with those who love your business outside of social media. The more contact you can have with people, the more likely they are able to find you after all.
Etsy is a very busy marketplace. As such, having a shop which stands out in the crowd is important. With three key categories to sell under there is so much opportunity for you to do so. When setting up a shop you can choose to sell either vintage pieces, handmade items or craft supplies. Reselling (which is not allowed) aside, your options are essentially limitless. Whether you open a shop which sell vintage pieces focusing on a niche that isn’t met by other shops, creating beautiful items which look like no other, or providing supplies for other makers, you have got the ability to grow a unique shop on Etsy!
If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it on social media or pinning it using the image below. Thank you!