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Overcoming Struggles as an Etsy Newbie

Bee of BeeVintagePortugal shares some advice for new Etsy sellers.

Last autumn/fall I decided to take the leap and start an Etsy shop. I often searched Etsy to gaze at lovely enamelware and to admire beautiful shops and always thought 'Wish I could do that'. One day in September 2016 I suddenly found myself thinking 'But why can't I do that?' So I took the plunge. It's still very early days but what have I learned, 6 months and 27 sales in?

Don't let the 'what ifs' and doubts stop you

I felt queasy with nerves and overwhelmed with 'what if's' before starting, and well into the first few days and weeks: 'What if people don't like the things I like?'; 'What if nobody finds my shop and what if nobody buys anything?'

When progress was slow - my first sale took 4 weeks - I took that as proof that Etsy success was for others and not for me. I've since learned from other Etsy sellers that these thoughts are totally normal, and what the Etsy experts say is true - getting going takes time. I'm concentrating on making improvements, networking and sticking at it. I've set myself an Easter deadline to review progress and I'm just giving it my all in the meantime.

Don't let the big numbers put you off

In the beginning the sheer size of Etsy put me off. I kept thinking 'But if there are 35 million items, one-and-a-half million sellers and thousands of coffee pots and Portuguese ceramics, how's anybody going to find and buy mine?'. Amazingly, somehow, if you make the effort to make an attractive shop with attractive items and get it out there, it seems that people do find your stuff. I use EtsyRank to hone my tags and descriptions and good photos are essential. And I'd use whatever means you feel comfortable with, and enjoy, to connect with other people – Etsy teams; favouriting Etsy items and shops you love; social media. And just ignore other sellers' HUGE sales and review numbers - they all started at nothing too. I've adopted a 'one day at a time' mind-set.

Mistakes are crucial for learning (and laughing at later)

In the first days and weeks I dreaded making mistakes but I now think they're essential. Until I mucked up I didn't know how crucial it was to get my packaging materials and wrapping skills sorted out; how vital it was to get my shipping estimates nearer the mark; and how important to get my descriptions right. The most monumental, kick-yourself, embarrassing muck-ups teach the best lessons and aren't just a sign to chuck it all in! Here are 3 of the best from me, and other Etsy friends :- dashing 25km to the post office (to beat your all-time efficiency record) but without the parcel; giving a client a combined shipping deal of £20 on a large order, only to find it costs you £60; ordering 50 enormous boxes for your tiny weeny stock items. The humdingers make you stop, think and learn. They can also be funny … later!

I've sobbed while battling a mountain of sticky tape, bubble wrap and cardboard, almost chucking it all in the bin - but you know what? The feeling when you finally get a convo or review saying thank you for that special thing that made someone's day? Worth it! Etsy can be the most amazing learning experience and truly rewarding, and a chance to meet some lovely people, so I'd say, why not give it time and see what gifts it might bring.

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