{Business Tips} 3 Things to Think About Before We Make Something NEW to Sell on Etsy (plus my super HOT tip of the month)


1. Who is this for and why will they want it?

Our market is much more important than our marketing.

It is no fun to make something we really love making and then have to spend all our time trying to figure out how to sell it. Take the time to think about who is going to buy and why they would want to first. Stand in our customer’s shoes with this.

(luckily for me my customers are not so much into 5 inch spikes and if yours are, then yes, you will have some sore arches, but you will have to do this anyway)

How will buying my thingamajig make them feel and is this how they want to feel?

A friend of mine has a house alarm installation business that he started after his own house was robbed. Early on he thought marketing to new home owners would be a smart idea and he got lists of them and did mailings to them and he almost lost his business before he realized that his primary customer was not a new home owner at all, it was someone whose house had just been robbed and their neighbors.

At first he felt kind of weird to directly start marketing to them (even though this was the reason he got into the business in the first place!), he felt like an ambulance chaser or a used car salesman but when he really thought about what he was selling which is safety and peace of mind (not really alarm systems) – when he started talking to these people and letting them know what is available and talking to their neighbors his business took off.

It is sometimes hard to sell the solution to a problem to someone who has never had the problem.

So who will be buying your thingamajig and how will buying it make them feel?

Let’s say your new thingamajig will be soap for babies – then who will be buying it? If the buyers will be mothers what will they tell themselves about what kind of mothers they are by buying your soap? How can you let this feeling they want to have and you want to give them guide how you make, brand and market your soap.

That mom wants to feel like a good mother – market to that.

What if this was a very high end soap and it was more likely gift givers would buy it for a baby’s special occasion, rather than a mom for everyday use – how would changing the buyer (and how that buyer wants to feel about themselves) change the way we make, brand and market our soap?

Maybe the buyer is the grandma who wants to feel that money is no object when it comes to her grandchild, that she is the kind of grandma who puts her grandchild first, that she’ll skip her latte for a few days and buy your soap – market to that.

If you make wearables, well, people wear things to make a statement about who they are, so what are they saying when they wear what you have made. Before you make something you are making to sell ask yourself – who is this for and why will they want it. If someone really loves your work what does that say about them? Market to that.

2. How will I be where they are looking?

When I discovered Etsy, I could see right away there was alot of jewelry on Etsy (even way back in the good old days 7 years ago, when I started), but I did not see this as a bad thing.

Think of how all the car dealers and furniture stores group themselves together on highways.

Now, it would not be good if you were a Honda dealer right next to another Honda dealer so you need to be working uniquely from your heart with your own original stuff – but being near other people selling jewelry when you are selling jewelry or clothing when you are selling clothing is not always a bad thing. I recently heard that for people under 25, Facebook is out. They hate it. They are on instagram and snapchat or wherever they are – if they are your customer you will need to stay on top of this stuff. Moms are still on Facebook and Pinterest … for now.

We are not competing with who it looks like we are competing with. I do not compete with other cork jewelry makers with my cork jewelry because it is not like people are waking up and saying to themselves “I must have some cork jewelry!” – I still can’t understand why this doesn’t happen, but cork jewelry is not a vanilla latte folks – sniffle.

What we are really competing with are the gazillions of distractions that vie for our customer’s attention. And just figuring out where our customer is looking isn’t enough – we have to be worth their time when they find us.

Yes, this stuff is hard – that’s why most people still have jobs with paychecks and weekends.

Part of your job as a maker is to figure out where people are looking and be your brightest, most amazing self when they find you. Craft shows are a very easy place to stand out because most people do them so poorly. Where is the person who would buy your stuff shopping? How can you be there?

3. Why am I doing this?

The why part of this making stuff is a personal thing. There is no right or wrong answer with this. But you need to think about this so your intention can guide your decisions as you move along. And maybe ask yourself this question first because depending on your answer you might be able to just forget about the other 2 questions and make your thingamajig for the pure joy of making it.

And it is perfectly OK to check in with yourself and update your intention from time to time, but we need little end zones so we can pivot when things go wrong and when things go well we can make time for happy dances around the studio, high fives with our peeps (in my case my pup Olive, whose high fives are more like ‘give me your paw’, but I know what she is thinking with this) and chances to haul out the good liquor (please send me your corks).

Also, if you are not feeling up to launching something new right now, many of us are in hibernation mode at the moment (although Venus is about to move direct and that should help us get our creative groove back) – maybe don’t fight it and push. I usually find the best ideas find us easier when we attract them than when we grab for them. One way to attract the good ideas that are out there for us is to make the space for them. This is true in all areas of our lives and our Etsy shops work the same way. If there is something you are making that is not working for you – decide if it is time to just let go of it.

Some people let go too early and some people hang on too long – this stuff is tricky. Maybe if things are not working for you try doing what you normally would not do – so if you normally hold onto things forever – yes pack rats I’m talking to you – let go of stuff and clear space first. If you have 10 filled sections in your Etsy shop, clear out a section. If you have 5 drawers filled with supplies in your closet, give a drawer of stuff away. Trust that new ideas are waiting for you and get ready.

We think we will let go of the thing that isn’t working when the next thing comes along, but this isn’t how life works – sometimes the tide is out and you have to sit empty. You will know you probably hang on to things too long if you have rarely and maybe never quit anything in your life and this might sound like a good thing, but sometimes stuff needs to be quit – when it comes to jobs you always get laid off or fired because it is the only way life can get you to move on – boyfriends leave you, you rarely do the leaving – you are selling the same thing in your Etsy shop that you sold when you opened even though you are tired of it and it isn’t selling.

On the other hand if you would normally dump that thing that isn’t working right away, just cut that baby off at the knees, then try working the process and sticking with it this time. You will know you probably let go of things too easily if you have never been fired or laid off because you always quit that job first – boyfriends never leave you, you always do the walking – you have opened 3 Etsy shops in 3 years or changed your lines 3 times. Work the process this time. Sometimes that thing that isn’t selling, that thing that you are sick of making, will lead you to the thing that will sell, that thing that you will love, if you stay open, are paying attention and take action.

Either way, set your intention to attract something new. See what shows up. Take action that feels right.

Now for my Etsy Super Hot Tip of the Month –

etsy seller tip of the month january

etsy seller tip of the month january

My HOT tip for January is:

Forget everything I just said and don’t make something new at all.

Just remake what you already sell with some clever packaging. Mercury is about to go retrograde for the month of February, so this is the perfect time to re-style, re-vamp and revise your offerings.  Make one product niche friendly with clever packaging and then tag and title for all those different buyers.

(I made the Too Hot To Handle / Happy 40th Birthday for all the guests at a relative’s party a couple years ago – it really caused the birthday girl to turn on the water works)

Think outside the box with this – stay true to your brand – be uniquely yourself and have fun with it!

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  1. Thanks guys- eco friendly packing is a challenge to me. Shredded newspaper sits too flat and it also involves actually buying the newspaper! All a process …

  2. Thank you for writing such a thought inspring article. I especially like your advice regarding Mercury in retrograde. I really enjoy recreating eco friendly packing ideas. its part of the creative solution unique to mail based sales.

  3. as always you ROCK Cat!