- Get the basics set up
- Take photos of your products
- Set your prices
- Write your product descriptions
- Convert visitors with a well written About section
Starting a business can be overwhelming. There’s so many little tasks to check off your launch list and no matter how long you work on something, it’s rarely perfect in your eyes.
Last week, we set out to make it a goal of ours to launch our shop Boldlie & Co this week. We started this business journey less than 2 months ago –
our launch is far from perfect, but, we did it! Here’s how…
Setting small goals
“What if no one buys the things I make?”
“Is my pricing wrong? Do my photos suck? Is my banner ugly?”
“What if my business goes off with a bang and I can’t keep up with the demand?”
“It’s not a good time to launch my shop. Let’s wait until insert date or when insert task is perfected”
Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking along these lines? Do you feel like you’re stuck in an infinite loop of planning and organizing that never seems to stop?
You don’t need a lot to start.
We launched our shop and we hardly have what you’d consider a fully checked-off launch list. These are just some of the things that we’re still missing:
- A complete product line
- An inventory of items
- Our own website
- Business cards
- A boldlie.co email address
- A prelaunch email list
- Trademark registration of our business name
- Professional product photography
But it doesn’t really matter because we have the essentials. We have our products that’ll be made on demand. We have product images that we made with the help of mockup templates. We have a shop with live listings.
Stop focusing on getting everything perfect.
Right now, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, we’re not fully in love with our shop. In fact, we’re probably going to be spending the rest of the week making it better. But we’re also really, really freaking proud of what we’ve achieved. And because we’re starting so bare bones, it means that we have more flexibility to take on feedback from our customers and experiment with what works, and what doesn’t.
Why sell on Etsy?
We chose to sell on Etsy first for a few different reasons.
- The reach. With over 35 million buyers, Etsy is still one of the most visited online marketplaces for handmade goods. It also means that we don’t have to put as much effort into marketing a shop from scratch because Etsy’s internal search engine can drive so much traffic to individual shops.
- The handmade community. Sure we could’ve started with eBay which is a much larger marketplace than Etsy, but our core customers are creative consumers who appreciate handmade and unique items.
- The simplicity. Setting up a shop on Etsy was quick and simple for us. We didn’t need to waste time or money on setting up a complex website before we could even start selling.
- Wondering why Zibbet’s CEO would let us sell on Etsy? Check out the recent announcement about Zibbet’s changes.
Once we were happy with starting with Etsy, we followed these five steps to get our shop up and running.
Step 1: Get the basics set up
Get all the essentials set up to start selling on Etsy:
- Register for an Etsy Seller account.
- Upload your first listing to complete the registration process. We didn’t have any information for our listings up yet so we made a sample one for $0.20 and deleted it straight away.
- Upload your branding assets like your logo and shop banner. Take a look at our previous update to get ideas for creating your own logo and banner.
- Optimize your Etsy shop for Google SEO by including a keyword phrase in your shop title.
Step 2: Take photos of your products
It’s stressed absolutely all over the internet that you need amazing product photography to stand out and make sales. Getting beautiful photos doesn’t mean that you need to be a professional photographer or own the fanciest camera, though. All you need is good natural light, white or neutral colored backgrounds and a camera or a smartphone.
Depending on what kind of products you make, you can go two routes to get beautiful product photography when you launch…
Option 1: Mockups
If you make art, illustrations or digital items a quick hack is to insert your art onto mockups, templates or styled photos. Since we’re starting Boldlie & Co as a print business, we decided to cut a lot of the hard yards by using mockup templates. Here’s our process:
- Find mockups from stock image websites like Shutterstock and Creative Market. We found some frame mockups that had a simple styled background that would work well with our aesthetic.
- Copy and paste the artwork onto the mockup using a program like Photoshop. Here’s a quick tutorial that you can follow that has been super useful for us.
Option 2: DIY product photography
If your handmade item is a physical item with unique features, you’ll be better off photographing them in the best light possible. With a few items around your home or office, you can whip up a quick DIY product photography setup. Here’s a link to a product photography tutorial you can follow.
Step 3: Set your prices
Pricing is a fine balance. It’s finding a price that awards you for your work and creativity that also covers all the money you’ve spent. It’s also about finding the right positioning for your brand. Are you the affordable alternative? Or are you higher up on the pricing scale offering a luxury product?
Since we’re just starting out, we want to be able to give ourselves room to experiment with pricing. Right now, we want to sit somewhere in the middle. We want our prices to be affordable but we also realize that the serious penny pinchers probably won’t be our core customer anyway.
We kept it pretty simple for our pricing strategy:
- We gathered and wrote down all our expenses.
- We calculated how much each individual item would actually cost to make and sell (minus Etsy fees).
- Our final RRP was based on the cost to make and sell the item plus a 55% markup. We came up with 3 different price points: one that didn’t include shipping, one that included domestic shipping and one that included international shipping.
- We went with the second price point as our final figure. We decided to offer free shipping to local customers and we’ll add shipping costs for international orders. This lets us experiment with free shipping while we figure out whether free international shipping is viable.
That’s it! No fancy formulas needed. We quickly drew ours up in a notebook but we’ve since changed our final price list to reflect the middle price point.
We did a bit of research on what our competitors are doing and saw that our prices are pretty competitive. We do worry that if things ramp up or if we’ve underestimated our costs, our prices won’t be sustainable. We’ll find all of that out once we actually start making sales and shipping the products out, though 😉
Step 4: Write your product descriptions
With your photos and prices ready, it’s time to list!
We’re still figuring out the art of listing, but here’s some of the thought processes we had around product titles and descriptions…
Optimize your product listing first
Come up with a focus keyword for each listing and make sure that keyword is in the title, tags and first sentence of the product description.
Include a story that compels your target customer
Tell them about the benefits of your products, paint a picture where they can imagine your product in their home, wardrobe or life.
Write your product description as if your reader can’t see, feel or taste your product at all
Describe every inch, every material and every hidden feature so your customers don’t leave with questions and an empty shopping cart.
Step 5: Convert visitors with a well written About section
Even though you don’t need an About section to launch your products, it’ll help convert your visitors to customers. Many people choose to buy handmade because they want to support a creative entrepreneur – so let them into your world and encourage them to embrace your journey.
Here’s some things to include in your about section to make it personal:
- Share your story about why you started. Be personal and give something for your readers to connect with you.
- Include photos that show off your work, studio/office or a piece of work in progress.
Click here to see Boldlie & Co in the flesh and let us know what you think in the comments below 🙂