Dear 2015 Etsy Seller,
I took a 5-day holiday away from the Etsy-preneurship community to celebrate Christmas with my family. I largely stayed away from social media, emails, and Etsy conversations, but I was still thinking about YOU during my break.
I read a book by Art Briles, coach of the Baylor Bears football team, and he said a few things that inspired me for to write this letter that I think applies to Etsy sellers as well.
So, my message to every Etsy seller for 2015 is:
NO EXCUSES, NO LAZINESS, NO COMPARISONS!
Some of you don’t need to read this letter – you are without excuse, not the least bit “lazy”, nor comparing yourself to others. Some of you will think my message is too harsh and should have stayed in my head and not released to my blog. While some of you will read this and dismiss it, forget about it, or just ignore it.
Well guess what? This is a message that I think some of you need to hear. I only tell you what I think you need to hear to help your Etsy shop thrive and if I don’t tell you this stuff – who will? Etsy surely won’t – Your mom is probably too nice to say it – and your friends might not care enough to even think about the success of your business in 2015. So here we go . . .
News flash! Changes to Etsy.com, where you show up in the Etsy search results, and competition against mass produced resellers are called “your business realities” – don’t let them become you excuses.
“I can barely keep up with the changes that Etsy throws at us.”
Etsy is a growing and nimble company that is still figuring out their place in the world, what they do, and how they do it. Each year, they do something new, add a feature, remove something that sellers like, or launch something people love or hate. They are like most small businesses – evolving. You must keep up with the changes or be left behind.
“My views and sales have dropped due to the new Etsy search algorithm.”
If the venue you sell on (Etsy) changes something, you have to take control of the situation and do everything you can to get to be where you want to be again. If your products don’t show up in the search results – don’t cry about it and hope for a miracle. State the fact that you don’t like where you show up in the search, learn what you can do to improve your results, and make changes to your listings, shop, and marketing strategies until you get the results you want. Stop complaining and try to solve the problem.
“My shop can’t compete with all these resellers.”
I understand the mess that is “resellers” on Etsy. All I have to say is, “quit using resellers as an excuse and run your own business to the best of your ability”. Resellers are just the most recently added face of competition. In the early years of Etsy, Etsy sellers thought they were largely competing against Wal-mart and big box retailers. Then, as more and more Etsy sellers came onto the site, Etsy sellers started realizing there was a greater level of competition among similar categories of sellers. Then, the competition was against cheap “foreign manufacturers”. Now, Etsy supports “small-scale manufacturing” that is developing a new type of Etsy seller that competes with everyone. It’s all competition – it always was and it will be that way tomorrow. It’s a business reality – don’t make it an excuse. Let competition makes you better like it has thousands of other Etsy sellers through the years – don’t let it become an excuse.
If you sell on Etsy, you must be willing to adapt, or face demise. No excuses.
News flash! 99% of Etsy sellers are not “lazy”. Etsy sellers are generally hard workers. First off, most lazy Etsy sellers are not even reading this letter. Laziness is not working all day at your full-time job or responsibilities, being exhausted, and only having 30 minutes to put toward your business in the evening. Laziness is not working inefficiently, because you just don’t know the right way to run your business. If you’ve decided to start your own business – you are not truly “lazy”. So what do I mean by “lazy”?
“I opened my shop, but I’ve only made a sale to my mom so far.”
A “lazy” Etsy seller throws up listings on Etsy and magically expects the world to come rushing to your door without focusing at least half of your efforts toward marketing. (Your mom is not a real customer). It takes work, sweat, tears, failures, trials and errors, long hours, mistakes, and sacrifices. Success does not usually happen magically.
“I had awesome holiday rush sales numbers last year, but this year – not so much. I’m confused, I did everything the same way.”
A “lazy” Etsy seller does the same things and expects the same results every time. If you are not innovating and trying new things in your business, you are stagnant. If you only make small business decisions that have been announced to the world as always being effective – they have already lost their effectiveness. You’ve got to take some calculated risks. You’ve got to spend some money to make real money. You can’t just play it safe – you have to try and find new ways of achieving your success.
“My sales are down from last year and I don’t know why. I’m thinking about calling it quits.”
A “lazy” Etsy seller has their cursor on top of the “close shop” button on Etsy without ever giving it their best shot. Until you have tried every last idea you have had, read every piece of advice that seems credible, and implemented your plan with every ounce of gusto within you – you risk quitting with regret. Life with regrets stinks! Your feelings are valid, but talk to someone close to you about the business decision – not blast it across social media for the world to chime in on. Don’t quit on a whim.
If you sell on Etsy, you must be willing to work hard, or face demise.
News flash! You are the sole person responsible for the success or failure of your business. Decisions you make, skills you learn, time you spend, and the things you learn and implement are what make you and your business better. Your competition, your selling venue, and the global economy are not things you can have a great influence on, so why should we compare ourselves to these?
“ShopABC sold 100 listings in December and I only sold 3. Poor me.”
Comparing your shop to other more established businesses can easily defeat your morale, so don’t focus on the differences in a negative manner. Instead, study the differences between how they run their shop and how you run your shop and let their success inspire you as you look for ways to take things they do well and innovate and do other things even better. Every small business owner has different strengths – use your unique strengths to your advantage and quit focusing only on what others are doing. Be original and better.
“I’m not making enough sales on Etsy. If I switch to Alternate Selling Venue ABC, the sales will start rolling in. I’ve had enough of Etsy.”
If you can’t make a decent profit on Etsy, the odds are that you won’t magically start making the type of profits you want if you go to another selling venue. Sure, there are exceptions, but a selling venue is never a magic bullet for your business’ success. I’ll be the first person to tell you the benefits of diversifying your revenue streams, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and right now, for creative business owners, the easiest place to see if you can make it or not is selling on Etsy. This “greener grass” concept also applies to social media venues. You have to find what works for your business, but make sure you are looking for ways to improve with excellence.
“How am I supposed to compete against ShopABC that sells their products at only 25% of my retail price?!?!”
Big box retailers, resellers, and small manufacturers sell things cheaper than you can while still making a profit, so stop comparing yourself and your prices to them. Sure, shoppers only focused on price will see the blatant difference, but if you can’t bring value in other ways – are you really bringing anything new to the global marketplace? Focus on building your own loyal following of customers that trust you and want a business relationship with you. YOU and YOUR relationships are a vital part of your business – not only your products. Let the resellers sell to their customers and you sell to your own. Yes, do everything you can to get more traffic on Etsy, but don’t rely only upon Etsy driving traffic to your shop – take greater responsibility for the source of your views (social media, website, Google, blogs, email lists, etc).
If you sell on Etsy, you must focus on improving yourself and your business, or face demise. No comparisons.
What should an Etsy seller do in 2015?
- Don’t make excuses. Be willing to adapt and innovate.
- Don’t be “lazy”. Be willing to work hard and smarter.
- Don’t let comparisons slow-down your business. Be willing to focus on improving yourself and your business.
2015 is a year for courage. Be bold. Do the right things as you see them at the right moments. Don’t be afraid to fail. Try something new. Don’t leave anything on the table – run your business with no regrets.
It took me seven years to get to the place where my business could even possibly be an option to completely provide for myself and my family. Each year, I adapted and innovated. I worked hard and smarter. I focused on improving myself and my business. 2014 was proof that these principles are cumulative and build upon each other year after year.
I want to transfer my experiences of helping Etsy sellers to you in 2015. I want to provide you tips, tools, and know-how to help your Etsy shop thrive.
It is my hope that I can help you move one step closer to your dreams in 2015. Maybe you want some extra income from your business or you want to make the jump to quitting your day job, either way – thank you for your trust as I help your Etsy shop thrive.
Jason Malinak CPA (JJMFinance) of Etsy-preneurship
P.S. – 2014 is over. Your success or failure is behind you. Do everything in your power to make 2015 a success in your eyes. I hope I can have a small part in your story and this letter influences you positively by pointing out 3 simple don’ts and 3 challenging do’s that you can immediately apply to your business.
Don’t make excuses & comparisons or be “lazy”. Do adapt/innovate, work smarter and harder, and focus on improving yourself and your business in 2015.
Make sure we are connected via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EtsyPreneurship
Request to Join the “More Sales in 2015 Facebook Group” for a free Sales Goal Tracking Spreadsheet: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MoreEtsySalesin2015/