One of the best experiences as a shop owner is making your first sale. Last week, not only did we make our very first sale, but we made THREE in one week.

Here’s the thing, we had launched Boldlie & Co 2 weeks before our first sale. We made a few tweaks and changes, but still… crickets. A part of us felt disappointed… Are our prints too expensive? Are our titles and descriptions not reaching people? Are our products just not good enough?

We won’t lie. It was disappointing not to get a sale straight away, even though we knew it was unrealistic. Most people don’t get sales in the first few months, let alone the first week. But no matter how irrational it was, and no matter how normal it is to not get any sales, that’s how we felt. So, if you’re feeling impatient, disappointed or scared in the early days of your business – just know that it’s totally normal.

But, guess what? Someone decided to spend their hard-earned money on something that we MADE. We’ve validated our product – it’s something people ACTUALLY want to buy. We’re feeling motivated – let’s smash out 10 more sales next week. And, we’re also feeling a little bit intimidated – we haven’t even planned how we’re going to send out these packages, now what?

Well, grab a roll of heavy duty tape, flatten out your tissue paper and let’s begin…

 

How we made our first three sales

First, I want to analyze where our sales actually came from. What activities resulted in the sales? These are the lessons that’ll guide us in the right direction.

 

Sale 1: One medium print

After a little digging around, we attribute this customer coming from Etsy search. We saw that she followed us on Instagram and realized that she was a whippet mom (just like Ash!) That means she was most likely searching with the keyword “whippet” in her Etsy search. Our promoted listings didn’t show any sales from an ad at this point, so she must’ve came from organic search results.

 

Lesson 1: Pick a niche topic or theme for your product

Doing a quick search on Etsy saw that there weren’t many prints featuring whippets or greyhounds. Without realizing it, we’d tapped into a dog breed that are growing in ownership numbers and demand for art. When we compare other animals we feature in our other prints, it’s a different story. Our Frenchies and Llamas are getting many views because they’re so popular, but no sales. There’s a higher number of them listed because other people are capitalizing on the trend.

 

Sale 2: A set of 3 small prints

We have a confession to make – this customer is actually a family friend of ours. They were decorating their nursery room.

 

Lesson 2: The support of your loved ones is so important when you first start

Technically, this one doesn’t count because our customer isn’t a stranger. It seems kind of lazy but starting with your friends and family is a way to get comfortable with the idea of sales. Plus, these are the people who will be more than happy talking about your venture to outsiders.
It might not feel as exciting as getting a sale from a complete stranger across the other side of the globe. But never discount the support of the people closest to you. They’re the first ones to celebrate your wins and they’re the ones that’ll keep you going when things get tough.

 

Sale 3: Another medium print

Our last sale of the week was pretty easy to spot. We checked our promoted listings dashboard and saw an order from a paid ad. She let us know in her personalizations that she was after a greyhound print.

 

Lesson 3: Experiment with different ways to promote your shop

Last week, I wrote an update on all the different tweaks we implemented to try and ramp up our traffic and get our first sale. We know for sure that promoted listings netted us a sale. But were there other factors in play? Did this customer buy our product because of our opening sale? Did the keywords we use match their search phrase? Or did we hit a niche jackpot by picking the right breed of dog to illustrate? All we know is that small changes make BIG impacts – so we’re going to keep experimenting.

 

Packaging and shipping our first orders

Before we made a single sale the biggest thing we worried about was even getting the sale in the first place. After we made the sales, our next thought was more panicky. How the heck are we going to ship out these prints to our customers? What do we need? How much will it really cost?

 

Packing

Here’s our thought process when it came to figuring out the shipping materials we needed to get the job done…

  • Protect the print in transit. Our main priority was making sure our prints wouldn’t be damaged while they make their way across the world. We bought mailing tubes, cardboard backers, rigid mailers and plastic sleeves for waterproofing. Depending on your item, you might want to look for other protectors like bubble wrap, packing fillers and heavy duty tape.
  • Keep shipping costs down. After the prints were safe, we wanted to keep the packages as small and as light as possible. This would keep our shipping costs down in the long run. We chose to use rigid envelope mailers for small prints so we could classify the package as a large letter. Inside the envelope, we used lightweight material to decorate and wrap the package up. We didn’t have a scale, so we compared the weight of our parcels to food items (we were pretty damn close too!)

 

Creating a special unboxing experience

Packaging your item is another chance to tell your story and make your brand stand out.

  • Decorate your packaging. Go nuts with tissue paper, ribbon, twine, washi tape and stickers.
  • Include a handwritten note. We included a simple handwritten thank you note inside all our orders. We wanted to show our customers that we appreciate them.
  • Include after care advice or instructions. At the same time, use the handwritten note as a way to include instructions for the product or after care advice. We included tips for buying the right size frames and how to prepare the prints for framing.
  • Add a bonus. Cultivate repeat customers with a little bonus. It can be a voucher, coupon, free sample or something small. We included a discount code for their next order that they can use or share with their friends.

 

Shipping

Choosing the right carrier and getting low shipping prices is another thing to get right.

  • Buy your shipping labels online. In the end, it was much more cost and time effective for us to pay for our shipping labels directly off Etsy. It was $2 less than what we expected for international shipping. It came with free tracking and notification alerts for our customers.
  • Explore all your shipping options. Consider parcel pickup services where carriers pick up packages from you for a small price. If shipping completely intimidates you, then take your item to the post office. They can pack your product safely and make sure that everything is right in order for your mail to be shipped.
  • Let your customer know. Send your customer an update and any tracking numbers to build excitement. Using the Etsy shipping process, this happens automatically, which we love!

 

Our lessons learnt

With the packages on their way, we asked ourselves a few questions to see how we can improve our shipping processes.

  • Does the product price cover shipping expenses? Originally, we calculated the price of shipping without considering all the materials we’d need to buy. In the end, we were pretty close. In fact, we might even lower our shipping prices to make it easier for shoppers to make the decision to buy.
  • What materials should we order in bulk? We want our next 3 orders to be packed and shipped much faster than our first go. Part of this is ordering shipping supplies in bulk so that we’re ready to go.
  • How can we make our process transparent to our customers? Now that we have an idea of what our shipping process looks like, we can gauge questions they might ask us and include these answers in our Etsy FAQs.

 

Do you remember the time you made your first sale? Let us know the first thing you did or think in the comments below.