I would love to hear comments from anyone else who has experience. Feel free to add in to the discussion. Also, please use the comment section to suggest future etsy related topics. I'll try to answer every question received.
Todays post will focus on opening your shop, setting your policies, shipping, and payments. These should all be in place before you actually list anything! We all have a tendency to jump in blind, but having a good plan in place will save you a lot of headaches later. We'll also discuss alternative selling venues.
I'm not going to cover the huge topic of the ins and outs of setting up an actual business (which you need to if you're going to sell). I recommend buying Catherine Winter's book - How to start a microbusiness. If you're going to sell, you need to educate yourself. The $25 bucks is an investment in yourself, and the business.
1) opening your shop
The first thing you need to do is decide on an etsy username. This will also be your shop name (for example mine is jennifertough - http://jennifertough.etsy.com ) You cannot change this later! If you pick something silly, or irrelevant, your shop will not have a very professional image.
Once you've chosen your username go to: https://www.etsy.com/register.php
Fill in all of the required fields, and be sure to sign up for the etsy emails. I've been featured a couple times in the emails with my soap shop, and it's very exciting to see :-)
This gives you a buyers account on etsy. You should spend some time poking around and buying a few things first to build up your feedback rating. The feedback system on etsy allows buyers to see your transactions, and shows them that you are in fact a real person active in the community. Fact is, you will have a really hard time selling anything if you don't have any feedback at all. A quick way to get feedback, is of course to buy something!
Once you have your buyers account setup, it's time to register for a sellers account. To do this, click the Sell tab in the top gray navigation bar and follow the on-screen directions. Note: You will need a valid credit card (or a debit card with a credit card logo) to become a seller.
More information about registration can be found here:
Here is a print screen of the 'sell' page:
2) Setting your policys, writing a store description
Before you go ahead and list any items for sale, you need to decide what your store 'policies' are. These will include order turnaround time, shipping, refunds, and other customer service related items. One little tidbit I'd like to point out is if you are selling something, you have a responsibility as a seller to ensure your customer gets what they've paid for. I've seen notices on far too many etsy sites that the seller is NOT responsible for lost packages. That's a good way to guarantee an unsuccessful etsy shop. Fact is, most people are honest. If you're selling expensive jewelry, or something that can't be replaced. Make sure that you send your packages with insurance (express post in Canada). Yes, it's expensive. If it's a low cost item, well, you'll have to reship the package.
Remember, you're now in business - and you need to treat it as such. Can you imagine buying something from us, not receiving it, and having us turn around and say tough luck? 1) You would never buy from us again. 2) You would tell everyone you know not to buy from us again. It's really hard to build up a customer base, it takes a lot of time and effort. If your customer service is not there - you'll quickly lose it. Lost packages happen - but not as often as you might think.
I also highly recommend using Paypal's shipping option. After a customer has paid for their item, you can print a shipping label directly from paypal, and then just pop it in a post box, or if it's larger - drop it off at a post office. I've recently discovered that the shipping time is drastically reduced using the paypal shipping method over bringing it to the post office. It really shouldn't make a difference - but it does. I found with the beadFX etsy site, if I took an item to the post office, I was seeing 2 to 3 week shipping times...crazy! With paypal shipping, packages are getting to California in a week - less for east coast, and central destinations.
Here's an example of the policies I have set for my soap shop:
|We only accept Paypal at this time.|
|Shipping is via Canada Post parcel/expedited service. Shipping charges are based on estimates. Any shipping overage charged will be refunded to your paypal account. Orders over $75.00 ship for free to Canada and the US.|
|Refunds and Exchanges|
|We want you to absolutely love our products! If you're not thrilled with your purchase, please contact us to discuss a refund or replacement item.|
Have a look around at other shops and see what they have listed in their policies. Some policies will be simple like mine, others are so detailed that it reads like an essay. You'll probably want something in between the two. Be careful not to write too much. Time is precious, and if they have to spend more than about 3 minutes deciding whether or not to buy from you - you've probably lost them.
3) How to setup a paypal account.
Go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the sign up link. You will want to register for a premier or business account. The personal accounts are only to be used if you only buy online. In order to sell, you'll need one of the other two options.
Let's say you're setting up a premier account - Under premier, click on get started.
Fill in all of the related fields, and then agree and get started. That's as far as I can go without setting up another account. But once it's setup, you'll need to verify your account. That usually includes setting up your bank account, and your credit card. You'll need to set your bank account up to deposit all of the money you'll make on your etsy site :-) - or just use it to buy more supplies! Just kidding of course ;-)
You'll then go back to etsy - click on your etsy, then under shop setup - click on payment methods - select paypal, and enter the email address you used to setup your paypal account.
I think that about covers it for this week. We'll cover more in the weeks to come. Next week, I'll cover etsy fees, paypal fees, and how to know if you're actually making a profit! Any questions? Please comment below.