5 things to do when etsy sales are slow

Wait. This job doesn’t have a steady paycheck? ;)

It can be crazypants watching your monthly stats go on an actual rollercoaster ride. And I’m not talking about one of the fun, smooth, family style rollercoasters at Disney World.. I’m talking about the make-you-pee-your-pants rollercoasters that take you up to a super high peak and then plummet you straight down to certain and eventual death. Dramatic? Maybe. Stressful? Definitely.

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Here are some real life numbers for ya.

In 2017, I went from $4,000 in April to $7,200 in May to $5,300 in June.. and JUUUST when you would have thought I had it all figured out, July decided to smack me in the face with a less than enthusiastic $1,500. (That reminds me.. July, we need to have a chat.)

Here’s the thing, though. You’re gonna have slow seasons. You’re gonna have rollercoaster-looking stats. But when you add up those 4 months, you still come out with an average of $4,500/month. Not too shabby, eh?

It is so important to take advantage of the peak selling times so you can rest and recharge in your slow selling times.

believe it or not, Slow selling times are actually crucial to your creative process.

When we’re in the middle of a selling frenzy, we’re in maintenance mode. We’re packaging orders, responding to inquiries, and doing everything we can to keep up with our processing times. Often, there’s not a lot of extra time to dream or design or create.

That’s why when you DO have a slow month or two, take advantage of it so you can rock the heck out of your fast months.

So stop staring at (AND CRYING OVER) your stats. Do these 5 things instead.

1. Brainstorm a new product line for an upcoming season.

Check out Etsy’s Key Shopping Dates (Shop Manager → Marketing → Key Shopping Dates) to see what they’re planning on promoting, and when. Get some ideas for new products or variations of current ones, and get to work! This is a perfect time to test out some prototypes, spend a full day being creative, or redesign an old item that needs a facelift.

2. Update your photos on a listing (or several) that's been in your shop for a while.

Chances are, if you took those listing photos a year or two ago, your skills have improved since then. Mimic the style of a photo that seems to perform super well in your shop, or play around with seasonal photo styling and give yourself the option to switch them out throughout the year. (Pro tip: If what you already have is working, leave it alone. Don’t change for the sake of changing. Only do this if you feel that a listing could be performing better than it is.)

3. Make sure your tags and titles are relevant to the current time of year.

If it’s June and you still have “valentine’s day gift” as a part of your title, it’s probably time to get in there and do some editing. (I’ve definitely been guilty of this one before!) Think about what holidays or seasons are coming up 2, 3, even 4 months from now, and go ahead and get those keywords changed out.

Obviously when your SEO is on point, you have a better chance of showing up on the top of search pages, which will give you maximum exposure at peak times of the year. And let’s be honest, SEO is only half the battle, so if you haven’t checked out my newest freebie, you definitely need to! You’ll learn about what I call the Popular Listing Circle Effect - a phenomenon that successful sellers have all figured out how to take advantage of, AND you’ll get some actionable tips to boost your listings, EVEN when your SEO is already awesome. Seriously, grab it right here.

4. Try out a targeted offer.

Slower seasons mean less people are coming into your shop. That’s why it is critical to give potential buyers that ARE browsing around an extra incentive to complete their purchase. You can try out an Abandoned Cart promo or a Favorited Item promo. Watch this Facebook Live if you have no clue what I'm talking about. (Both can be found in Shop Manager → Marketing → Sales and Coupons.) Start your budget low and see how it goes. If it’s effective, ramp it up!

5. Create new listings for a bundle of items you already have.

I’ve had great success with bundles in letterhappy. Enamel pins sell for $9/each, but I have a discounted bundle in my shop for a larger quantity. Bundles are a time-tested sales strategy - basically an up-sell of sorts. A buyer might be looking around and see 2 pins she likes, which would give me a sale of $18, but if I’m offering her a bundle of 3 pins for $25, that’s like getting $2 (or almost 25%) off her third pin! A total no brainer for her, and an extra $7 for me! (Pro tip: Make sure your margins are big enough for you to handle this! Don’t lose money!)

So remember, slow seasons can be a blessing in disguise, if you know how to make use of your extra time. Don't forget to breathe and schedule some me-time in there, too. You deserve it.

xo, Christen

etsy's new fees are causing sellers to panic! here's what i'm doing instead.

So, if you haven't already heard.. on June 13th, Etsy announced a massive change to their existing fee structure that had sellers immediately up in arms.

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If you haven't seen the official post, you can find it here, but here's the breakdown:

In mid-July, Etsy will begin taking a 5% commission off of your total sale price (item + shipping). Since its founding in 2005, Etsy has taken a 3.5% commission off of your item price only (not including shipping). The $0.20 listing fee remains the same.

They also announced monthly subscription plan options, called Plus and Premium, which will give sellers more tools to run their shops. All of the current features Etsy offers are included in the Standard plan (which is still free), and nothing will be taken away once the Plus and Premium options are opened up.

Plus starts at $10/month and will increase to $20/month in January of 2019. Additional features include more robust customization options (banners, featured listings, etc.), a 50% discount on a custom URL (which means you'll be able to send buyers to a dot com instead of an Etsy link), discounts on marketing materials and packaging supplies from Etsy's partners, the ability to email your customers when a sold out item is back in stock, and bonus credits to spend on listings and promoted marketing.

Detailed info and pricing for Premium features have not yet been announced, but it will be available in 2019, and so far, we know it will include everything from Plus, as well as "advanced management tools", "premium support", and "new management tools". (If I had to guess, I would bet that it also includes a wholesale feature since Etsy Wholesale just shut down.)

Phew! Big changes, right?

Initial (and completely natural) reaction = TOTAL PANIC MODE. I've been doing this since 2009 so I've weathered my share of big announcements and changes. So after the initial shock wears off and we realize that Etsy's gonna do what Etsy wants to do, we need to learn to roll with the punches.

So instead of hanging out in the forums, getting sucked into the black hole of negativity, and stewing over what many sellers are saying is totally unfair, here are 3 things I'm doing instead.

1. THE MATH

You gotta know your numbers, y'all. What does this increase mean for you and your bottom line? How much do you need to raise your prices (if at all)? Here's an example of how I'm going about this.

An enamel pin in letterhappy sells for $9. Shipping is $3.20, which covers my actual postage as well as my shipping supplies (the envelope I mail it in, the shipping label paper, etc.). Under the previous fee structure, Etsy would charge 3.5% on the pin price ($9), which would equal $0.32. Under the new fee structure, Etsy will charge 5% on the total price ($12.20), which will equal $0.43. That's only ELEVEN CENTS, y'all. So to cover my additional fees, maybe I raise my price by $0.50? Let's be honest, I should probably have already done that anyway. ;) 

Let's do the math on something at a higher price point, shall we? An item sells for $50. Shipping is $10. Under the previous fee structure, Etsy would charge $1.75. Under the new fee structure, Etsy will charge $3, which is an increase of $1.25. So to cover your new fees, raise your $50 item to $52 or your shipping from $10 to $12. Those extra $2 are NOT going to scare away your customers.

2. PLANNING FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR

Etsy released a list of their Key Shopping Dates for the rest of 2018, and when they give you this kind of golden information, you better listen up. Take a good hard look at these (inside your Shop Manager --> Marketing --> Key Shopping Dates) and see if you can tailor your existing listings to fit these categories or expand your product line to include some new offerings.

I recently did a Facebook Live where I went into a little more detail about upcoming buying seasons and trends, so check that out when you get a minute!

3. UPDATING MY TAGS AND TITLES

I get it. Things are changing, and that can be super scary, but one major thing is staying the same - how you get found in search.

Etsy has stated that choosing a monthly plan will NOT give sellers an advantage in search, so you can rest easy knowing that if Plus or Premium are not for you, you won't be penalized. The best way to get your listings in front of your dream buyers is STILL making sure your SEO is on point by using searchable key words and phrases, filling up your entire title, using all 13 tag spaces, and staying current and relevant with seasonal items.

If you're baffled by how successful sellers get and keep their items at the top of search pages, you'll definitely want to grab my newest freebie, where I talk about the phenomenon I've dubbed the Popular Listing Circle Effect (or PLCE - I love a good acronym, don't you?). Not only does it explain why these sellers are constantly on top, it gives actionable tips on how to get your listings there, too.

So what are your honest thoughts about the updated fee structure? How do you believe this will affect your shop? Do you think good things can come out of this in the future? Leave a comment here, or.. as always, we're having (positive and productive!) discussions over on Instagram and inside the shophappy society Facebook page, so come join in the chats over there, too!

Talk soon (and keep calm)!

xo, Christen

Why Etsy is better than a stand-alone website

When talking to creatives who are considering opening up a product based business, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is..

Why is Etsy better than a stand-alone website?

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I'm talking Squarespace, Wix, Big Cartel, Shopify, Wordpress.. all of the big names. None of them have what I consider to be the most amazing feature Etsy offers. THE BUILT-IN AUDIENCE OF 56 MILLION SHOPPERS. So if your mind isn't already blown, hunker down and get ready.

Etsy is basically its very own search engine.

Let that sink in for a minute. That means no competing with the millions upon billions upon jillions (that's a technical term, just in case you were wondering) of websites in a Google search. That means not having to drive your own traffic. That means not needing a massive social media following to start making sales. That means ready-to-purchase shoppers who have already made the decision to look for your goods on Etsy.

Big Cartel and Shopify are e-commerce hosts, but they don't have a database search function. Each shop is completely independent and responsible for driving their own traffic. Squarespace, Wix, and Wordpress all have e-commerce options as well, but again, no way to search through every shop on the platform.

So you can totally learn Google SEO, compete with literally every other website in the world, pay for advertising to drive traffic (Google, Facebook, etc.), build a massive social media following, funnel followers to your site and hope they buy, pay monthly or yearly subscription fees, and learn additional third party shipping apps..

OR!!!

You can learn Etsy SEO (which is a heck-ton of a lot easier), automatically get your shop in front of people who are already interested in your stuff, link your items with Google Shopping (for free!), pay ZERO monthly or yearly fees, and purchase all your shipping labels straight from Etsy (with a discount included).

Is it a no-brainer, or is it a no-brainer? I'll let you decide.


Need more convincing? I've got you covered! Grab my FREE guide with FIVE of the biggest reasons that Etsy is the number one place to start a creative business.

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10 MORE PRODUCTIVITY TIPS FOR ETSY SELLERS & SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

I'm baaack! And I've got 10 more productivity tips to help you make the most of your work days (just in case you've already mastered the first 10)! If you missed the first installment, you can read it right here.

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1. Purge and donate

Confession: I’m a minimalist trapped inside of a hoarder. I have what’s called the “but-I-might-be-able-to-use-that-one-day!” syndrome. If you are also afflicted with this, you need to switch up your mindset. Instead of keeping things because you might be able to use it one day (but probably never, let’s get real), donate them because someone else might be able to use it right now. This includes clothes and shoes that you haven’t worn in at least a year, supplies for projects you never got around to, and knick-knacks that sit around and serve no other purpose than to collect dust.

2. Start your day with meditation

There’s such a tendency to start the day off at a full sprint, especially when you have a ton of things on your to-do list. Instead, try starting off your day with a little slice of silence and reflection. I love and recommend the Headspace app, especially if you’re new to meditation. You can try it for free here. It might seem a little weird at first, but the more you’re able to control your thoughts, the calmer you’ll be when things don’t go quite as planned.

3. Set an alarm to get up and move around a little

When you’ve been sitting at your desk (or on your couch) working your butt off, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of time. (Wait, when is the last time I even peed?!) Set an alarm to get up every so often and walk around. Fix yourself a big glass of water, grab a snack, play with your dog. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to hustle as soon as you sit back down.

4. Use music / white noise / podcasts to focus

Personally, I’m way more productive when I have music playing. The opposite might be true for you. Whatever background noises make you the most productive, take advantage of them. Maybe it’s music you sing along to, or instrumental pieces. If you can’t focus with music playing, but the silence isn’t helpful either, try a white noise app. I love listening to podcasts, but only when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve reading or writing. They’re perfect for editing photos or creating graphics.

5. Keep your end goal in mind

What is the number one goal that is currently driving your work? Ask yourself this question: “Is everything I’m doing moving me closer to my goal?” If you’re working just to be working, re-evaluate your to-do list. There’s no need to be spinning your wheels on tasks that aren’t chipping away at your end goal.

6. Create a checklist of everyday tasks

There are some things that we do every single day just for maintenance sake. They’re probably on auto-pilot by now, but if you’re adding something new to your everyday routine, or you’re just starting out and trying to make a routine for yourself, creating a checklist of those everyday tasks is essential to making sure you don’t fall behind or forget something important.

7. Focus on one important task at a time

Multi-tasking is NOT your friend. I sometimes like to think that I’m the princess of multitasking, but the reality is always that it takes me longer to do 5 things at once than if I did 5 things back to back. Instead of trying to do all the things all at once, put them in order of most important to least important, and stick to your list.

8. Make a list of things you’re thankful for

Sometimes we can get so bogged down in everything we have to get done and focus on the things that aren’t going quite right that we can forget to be thankful for everything that we already have and the things that ARE going right. Keep the list handy, add to it regularly, and refer to it when you’re feeling down.

9. Take a day off to do all the little things

The daily grind can totally wear you down. We often get stuck in a routine of maintaining and forget to grow and expand. Sometimes it’s just a few little things that need to be handled in order to move forward. Take a day off from the daily grind to get all those little things done, and you’ll be able to start fresh the next day!

10. Turn your brain off at night

This is one that I’ll definitely be putting into practice right alongside you. I’m terrible at shutting my brain off at night, especially since bedtime seems to be the perfect time to scroll Instagram for way longer than I actually mean to. It’s been scientifically proven that putting your phone away at least an hour before you plan to go to bed does wonders for your sleep quality. If you’ve still got thoughts running through your head while you’re laying in bed, keep a notepad close by, write down your ideas and to-dos and then forget them. They’ll be there when you wake up.

Which tips speak to you the most, and which ones will you be implementing in your own biz and life? Let me know in the comments below!


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10 PRODUCTIVITY TIPS FOR ETSY SELLERS & SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

My phrase for 2018 is peaceful productivity.

Not the running-around-like-a-chicken-with-my-head-cut-off kind of productivity. Not the oh-crap-is-that-deadline-really-tomorrow-guess-I’ll-pull-an-all-nighter kind of productivity. And definitely not the sorry-I-don’t-have-time-to-hang-out-with-you-because-I’m-so-dang-busy kind of productivity.

Because those kinds of productivity are draining and unfulfilling. And because we can always make better use of our days. If you’re ready to ditch the crazy-busy and float into peaceful productivity with me, read on for 10 methods I’ll personally be putting into practice this year.

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1. Keep a clear workspace

When your workspace is clear and you know exactly where everything is, you can stop wasting time looking for that lost piece of paper or stressing out about the humongous piles of junk all around you. File away any papers or receipts you don’t need and get rid of any knick-knacks that are collecting dust. If you hoard pens and markers like it’s your job (I sure do!), test them all out and get rid of the ones that don’t work.

2. Clear out digital clutter

Just like your physical workspace, a messy digital workspace can be super stressful, too. Try to keep only relevant files and folders on your desktop, and make sure everything is easy to find and in its rightful place. If there are files you want to keep, but don’t need regularly, I recommend Dropbox for a great cloud storage solution.

3. Braindump regularly

If you’re like me, you have about a million thoughts running through your brain at once, so it’s important to get them out so they’re not taking up mental space. Keep a running list of everything you want/need to do, either on paper, in a planner/notebook, your phone (notes app or voice memo), or a word doc. Nothing is too big or too small - maybe it’s something as simple as needing to text a friend or respond to an email, or maybe it’s as complex as an idea for a new product launch.

4. Prioritize your braindump

There’s a difference between something you want to do six months from now and something that needs to be done by tomorrow at noon. Take a look through your braindump and prioritize the most important things. I like to also make a more organized list that breaks down my tasks by day, week, and month. It helps keep me on track and ensures I don’t let things fall through the cracks.

5. Turn off notifications while you’re working

Ideally, you should put your phone in a different room while you’re working. If you can’t stand to do that, or you need your phone to accomplish something on your list, put it on airplane mode, do not disturb, or at the very least.. silent. If you’re picking up your phone every time it dings, you’re interrupting your natural workflow and you’re more likely to get sucked into something else while you have it open.

6. Batch your tasks

If you have multiple similar things on your to-do list, try to batch them together. Instead of hopping around from one thing to the next, your work will flow more smoothly, and you’ll get less distracted. Write out captions and hashtags for an entire week’s worth of Instagram posts at once instead of stopping to do it once a day. (I love the Planoly app for this!) Have a bunch of new products to list on Etsy? Take all your photos at once, then edit, then write descriptions/titles/tags instead of going through the steps for each one separately.

7. Create a list of canned responses

Do you feel like you’re responding to the same questions over and over again ALL DAY LONG? Instead of typing out a new response every time, create a list of canned responses so you can copy/paste in way less time. I typically keep mine in a Google Doc so they’re easily accessible no matter where I am.

8. Say no to things you’re not super excited about

If something doesn’t excite you, DON’T DO IT. If someone has requested a custom item and you don’t have the time or desire to do it, just say no. If you must say yes, for the love of all things good in this world, PLEASE at least charge what you’d be excited about making off of the sale. If there’s no amount of money that would make you happy, politely decline and move on.

9. Check in regularly with your prioritized goals

Take a look back at those prioritized goals from all your braindumps. How are they coming? Are there smaller tasks you need to finish before you can make one of those priorities a reality? If so, break it down into manageable pieces, write them all out, and work towards one big goal at a time.

10. Reward yourself when you reach a big milestone

Whether it’s a sales number or a monetary amount, you deserve to celebrate when you reach a big milestone or hit a goal. Take a day off, go get your nails done, pamper yourself with a massage, buy yourself something you’ve been wanting, or go out to a fancy dinner with friends! (Heck.. do ALL of those things!) When you reward yourself after working your butt off, you’re more likely to work even harder just so you can reward yourself more!

Have you mastered any of these 10 tips already? Which ones will you be focusing on in 2018?


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