Up and Etsy: Tips on Overcoming the Road Blocks

I recently opened my Etsy shop Backyard Spruce, selling needle felted creations and laser cut shadow boxes. Currently I have 14 items up which cost me a grant total of $2.80 (at $0.20/listing). It took me roughly three months from conception to opening to get everything just (mostly) right.

What’s my biggest recommendation? Be a copy cat!

Recently I embraced being a copy cat as an unabashed way to learn, get inspired, and create. Today I’ll talk how being a copy cat helped me overcome my three biggest and most time consuming road blocks to opening my Etsy shop.

Overcoming Road Block #1: Photography

I spent hours looking at others’ photos on Etsy. How did they style their scenes, angles, and aperture? What did I like and what did I find appalling? I was able to get a rough idea of how I wanted my pictures to look, and through quite a lot of trial and error I found the settings that I felt best represented my creations.

There are lots of helpful hints available on Etsy as well, though I found it more helpful to see what various shops were doing with products similar to mine.

Shameless plug time: Yukonstruct now has a photography tent ready to use! I am excited to try it out with my future creations!

Nope.
Etsy photography take #1. It’s blurry, has terrible colouring, and is a poor representation of this cute little critter.
Nope x 2.
Etsy photography take #2. I’m experimenting with the background now, but the photo is still not professional and I don’t like the composition.
Bingo! Third time's a charm!
Etsy photography take #3. Third time’s a charm! I’m pleased with the composition, quality, and true-to-life colour.

Overcoming Road Block #2: Policies & Shipping

For policies I looked at numerous other Etsy shops for how much information was given, how they stated it, and which policies they put in place. I then created my own based on what I believed would be helpful from the initial opening of my shop. I’ve never shipped an item to a customer so it was great to think about what I will do in case of damage or the customer being unsatisfied with the product. I also joined a Whitehorse Etsy team to see what was being done locally.

Figuring out the price of shipping was an interesting challenge and I will simply have to learn by doing. Right now I have approximate fees that I found through Canada Post’s website for my packaging sizes, and I’d recommend anyone opening a shop do the same. There are still a lot of unknowns for me, including the cost to ship to what Etsy calls “everywhere” and grouped items, but I’ll cross those bridges when I get there!

Don’t let shipping scare you away from opening an Etsy shop! There may be a few dollars lost when a product costs more to ship than expected, but I’m going to consider this the cost of learning.

The guide I found most helpful is the Canada Post Shipping Guide of Glory. How can you go wrong with a name like that?

Overcoming Road Block #3: Pricing

Pricing was perhaps the most nerve wracking part. How much is my time worth? What price points are simply too high? Will anything actually sell?! Again, I searched through Etsy to get an idea of how similar products were being priced and found a way to justify my costs.

So, here’s how I did my pricing. Let’s take my needle felted ermine for example.

Materials = $5.80
Roving $3.00
Glass eyes $2.50
Pipe cleaner $0.20
Felting needles $0.10 / project

Labour = $150
$10/hr for 15+ hours

Expenses = $5.66
$0.20 Etsy listing
3.5% commission from Etsy (based on $156)

Total = $160

Consider your labour costs carefully. For me, this is a side project I enjoy with low material costs, but I would still rather keep my ermine than sell my time for less than $10/hr. Keeping in mind, too, this cost does not factor in the time it took for me to set up my Etsy shop (which in itself took 15 – 20 hours), or the time it will take to package and ship this little fellow. I have chosen to absorb these costs but you may decide to include them in your product pricing.

I hope this is helpful to your Etsy shop endeavors. It was a lot of fun to create Backyard Spruce and I will continue to learn and grow with it, and hopefully make some sales along the way!

Check out Backyard Spruce on Facebook to follow my shop updates!

Andrea at YuKonstruct
Backyard Spruce