This is a guest post by Adrienne Dancer of Beat Bop Boom.
You might wonder why have an Etsy shop if we already have our own main e-commerce site. The reason is that Etsy has been a great way for us to reach out to customers all over the world in a very cost-effective way. Etsy is growing in popularity and a major competitor with eBay–and I prefer the design and product focus that Etsy offers compared to eBay. (I see eBay like a big yard sale, whereas Etsy has more of a boutique shop feel.) Plus, Etsy's fee structure and features are much more business-friendly compared to eBay if you are selling fixed-priced items and not interested in auction-style pricing.
Having an Etsy shop is not enough, though. You have to creatively market the Etsy shop via different social media outlets to really make a difference in sales.
To be honest, I think that Instagram is the most effective social media site compared to the others (Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook). At the moment, Etsy doesn't link directly to Instagram, but you definitely should have an Instagram account set up for your business.
Posting on Instagram takes just a few seconds if using a smart phone or tablet. Using hashtags that relate to your items, you can reach out to many, many Instagram users. Tweets on Twitter can be useful, too–but quick and interesting visuals are often more effective and instantly attractive than having to read text.
When using hashtags on Instagram, don't just limit yourself to literal descriptive words about the item. Be creative to attract more Instagram viewers. An example: if you are selling a vintage 1960s dish set, obvious descriptive words to hashtag are “vintage,” “1960s,” “dishset,” “dishes,” the color, the maker, etc. In addition, you can also use other related words such as “Mad Men,” “dinnerparty,” and any other images or adjectives that might come to mind. Perhaps a movie, book, actor, song, or even city that comes to mind when viewing the item. By doubling the hashtagged keywords you use, you also double the chances that other Instagram users end up viewing your post and then check out your site.
Besides creative use of hashtags to post about new items for sale, be sure to use Instagram creatively with what you post. Don't just use it to post images of new items for sale. Use it to post images of items that have sold so that Instagram users can get an idea of which items that you have sold are popular–to help create a sense of need, as well as scarcity. In addition to posting new items, I always post images of sold items with hashtags about the items sold, as well as a shout out in the form of a hashtag to the city or country where the item is being shipped to.
Also, use Instagram to post when you are on vacation. Wether or not you decide to put your Etsy shop on a temporary closed vacation status, you can use Instagram to post a “going on vacation” notice for your followers so that they can plan accordingly. And when you are on vacation, use Instagram to post the occasional vacation photo. I think that it is a nice touch to give that more personalized snapshot of you as an individual–and it also allows you to use hashtags that you might not normally be able to use when posting your shop items. Many people enjoy yummy food pictures, serene sunset beach scenes, fun active photos–there are many possibilities. Post some interesting vacation shots and you can find yourself returning from vacation with new Instagram followers–and new Etsy sales.
Etsy does offer the option to link your newly listed items to Twitter, which can be effective, and you should use it occasionally. Hashtag use is definitely important. I still think that Instgram is much more effective because, as they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words,” whereas Twitter only allows you to use 140 letters/characters.
Like Instagram, Pinterest's effectiveness is in the allure of simple, quick visuals. Instagram has more users and all posts are in one simple feed for followers to view–or to pull up by hashtags. For those reasons, I think that it is more effective than Pinterest, but Pinterest can still be helpful. Etsy does offer direct links to your Pinterest account (if you have one set up). You can use hashtags on Pinterest, but they are not as effective or utilized as much as they are on Instagram or Twitter.
When you do have a Pinterest account set up, you create boards and then “pin” (post) your images onto the various boards. Definitely set up more than one board. Maybe a “new items” board, a “sold items” board, a “holiday items” board, etc. Depending on what you sell, you can have various categories for boards–but, also: do not limit your Pinterest boards to just items you sell. As with creative use of hashtags, creative use of boards will also help you to attract other users. Feel free to re-pin images that others have pinned–even if they are not directly related to the items you sell. My business is based in Los Angeles, so I have a board set up with my favorite local restaurants. People love travel and food photos, so if I have other Pinterest users stumble upon my local eats photos, then they might want to check out my other boards–and hopefully my Etsy store, too.
Creating a Facebook page for your Etsy business is also a good idea. Etsy does offer a direct item listing link to Facebook. Hashtags can be useful on Facebook, as well. Use Facebook to promote sales, post about vacation closure dates, any cross-promotion that you might have with a brick and mortar shop (if you might sell your items in stores as well as on your own Etsy page)–many people use Facebook, so having a presence on there can definitely help. With regards to paid ads to promote your Facebook shop page, that I would say don't bother with. I have always had more success with just attracting business with free and focused posts versus spending money on Facebook's own ad service. There are so many ads already on Facebook that many people often ignore them, so to spend money on them can be a waste. Free, interesting posts that appeal to a big audience are effective on their own.
In addition to you utilizing the above-mentioned social media sites, Etsy has its own features which will help you to attract buyers.
One of these features is Google Product Listing Ads which Etsy offers its shop owners for free. They do not list every single item that you have in your Etsy shop–just a few here and there–but this still means that you should have the first sentence or two of your item descriptions be interesting and attention-getting in order to attract random Google searchers to your Etsy items.
On Etsy, they do offer promoted listing ads where you can have listed items of your choosing come up prominently when Etsy shoppers are searching for items. You can set up a budget starting at just $1 per day and you are billed when shoppers click on your item listings. Promoted listings on Etsy do seem to work better than Facebook advertising, so I do recommend using them in order to boost sales.
Another Etsy feature to use well and use often: their very informative shop dashboard feature. (Their dashboard is one huge advantage that I think Etsy has over eBay.) With a quick view, you are able to see how many viewers have visited your shop and item listings, where they are coming from (internal Etsy searches, Google searches, Twitter, another website, etc.), and also see which keywords they are using to get to your items. You can also view the map feature to see which countries are viewing your items. These pieces of data–especially keyword searches–can be helpful to you in deciding what to list for sale, as well as how you write your item listings.
Cross-promoting with other vendors
If you find other sellers on Etsy who sell related products, reach out to them and see if they might want to join in a promotion with your Etsy shop. An example: if you sell jewelry, a vendor who sells accessories like bags, scarves, knit wear, or hats might be a great partner for a Mother's Day, holiday, or other sale event. Or if you sell organic items, cross-promote with another vendor who has organic items which would compliment the items that you sell.
When you promote the event on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest amongst your followers, as do your sales event partners, you have greatly increased your reach to potential customers.
So, use that smart phone or tablet of yours effectively with the tips above and watch your sales increase.
Author bio: Adrienne Dancer is the owner of Beat Bop Boom, which is a shop specializing in music-themed clothing, accessories, memorabilia, and recent collectibles. In addition to their brick and mortar location in Los Angeles, they also have their own e-commerce site (beatbopboom.com) and an Etsy page.
Feature image curtsey of Justas Galaburda