Handmade Business 2012 Success Tips

2012 is almost over and most of the online businesses are finished taking orders for the holiday. Holiday season is the busiest time of the year for most retail businesses and while it may be too soon to evaluate what business strategies worked this year, it’s easy to tell what was the most important decision they made for their businesses.

Here are what Eco Etsy members learned about their businesses and what worked for them. Maybe yours is one of them?

Raising Green Kids

The smartest thing I did was joining teams on Etsy like EcoEtsy. Not only did I make new business friends but I gained valuable information about strategies, events, practices, and connections all for free.

I tried advertising on web emagazines this year and that was probably my biggest flop.


Last year I religiously sent a thank you convo to anyone that favorited my shop or an item, and offered a discount.  I know this is considered spamming by Etsy, but I certainly got many more sales than this year, where I haven’t been as diligent.

Mary Zoom

The smartest decision I made this past year speaks to perspective.  I decided to stop making decisions based on emotional attachment to any particular product and begin developing designs based on my customers’ taste, not just what I like.  This perspective has been a great help when deciding on how to spend my time as well as what to put in my shop.  Because of that decision, my business will become much more focused in 2013.

Bangles by ReGrowRoots


This year I got a wonderful wholesale order, my first big account. From this I learned the true importance of pricing for profit. When we sell beautiful and unique handmade products, we need to cover the cost supplies, overhead, and also pay ourself a healthy wage! Cost of supplies + hourly wage + overhead + profit = WHOLESALE x 2 = RETAIL Because I increased my prices earlier this year, I was able to dive into wholesale and I am so grateful for that! Don’t undercut yourself. You are an artist, deigner, maker, marketing, internet savvy business owner and you are worth it!

Growing Up Wild

My best business practice was to run my business the way I live my life.  The things that are most important to me I found a way to carry over into my shop.  I think customers appreciate that because it lends my business an authenticity that can’t always be found in larger companies.

My best marketing strategy that I tried this year was actually an accident.  I posted a new thread in the Etsy forums for the first time.  A writer for businessweek.com happened to see it and contacted me for an interview.  I answered his questions with such truth that he wound up writing a piece about my shop along with two other Etsy businesses.  A producer from CNN’s sister station read the article and called me to schedule a live interview on their program “Making It In America.”  From all of that I learned to be careful with the way I word anything publicly when writing as my business.  You never know just who is reading it or where it will bring you. Growing up Wild.


Hat by Montana Solar Creations

Montana Solar Creations

The best marketing strategy I had this year was starting a blog. Blogging about our natural, green living lifestyle has given our customers more insight into who we are so they can really connect with us. This cultivates a relationship with our customers which helps increase our repeat customers. It is also really fun to have our customers comment on our blog posts and social media sites so it feels like we have a growing, interactive community of supporters. Our blog has links to our Etsy shop and our stats show that many folks have been directed to our Etsy shop from our blog. Of all the marketing strategies I’ve tried this last year including reviews, giveaways, and paid ads, our blog has been the best investment for marketing our creations. Plus blogging opens up a whole new avenue of work from home income!

Bonnie Lee

Positive: Revamped our setup this year with wire racks and picture frames to display more jewelry at eye level. Lots of positive feedback on that one and about 15% increase in sales. I don’t know if the booth can take credit for that success though.
Negative: Tried to find some balance in my life by spending less time with online marketing, blogging, facebook, twitter etc. I feel less visible now.
Need to find a way to work smarter and more efficiently and still have a life.

Aquarian Bath

I expanded my shampoo bar line by 7 bars and increased shampoo bar sales significantly. I first did some market research on popular scents, and then I put out a survey to ask what scents people would like the best.

Herban Luxe

Improved customer service. No hassle returns. Small ads on targeted sites.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences!

What was your best business strategy for 2012?

First Image courtesy of Jo Jakeman via Flickr

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About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on drkarenslee.com. Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!