Now that we've been selling on Etsy since March 2013, and almost 5 years of lots of successes and failures, it's easier to see what big mistakes we have made looking back.
For the very first year of selling on Etsy, we made very little money. Probably only a few hundred dollars over roughly a 12 month period. But in March of 2014, we hit our first milestone: $300 in a single month! Ever since then, I poured time in every day to grow our Etsy shop. And in January of 2015, we made $7000 in a single month. It was a rush to see a ton of success in just a few short months.
But in the entire year of 2015, our success did not continue to grow like it did before. It sort of floated up and down every month, never really reaching new heights. I still poured time into our Etsy Shop every day, but we never saw the crazy growth we had gotten in 2014. And while it was amazing to have such as great amount of side income from Etsy, it was also frustrating and hard to figure out why things were not continuing to grow.
A couple years later, and having experimented and tried out a lot of new ideas, I've learned a lot of new things about selling on Etsy.
Here are the 3 biggest things I've done poorly when selling on Etsy:
1. Keeping old listings on our Etsy Shop which never sell.
The idea was that the more listings we had, the more views we could get through Etsy Keyword searches, and therefore more sales. More views equals more sales, right? But this idea was only half right. While we were getting more views overall, the overall quality on our Etsy Shop was a lot lower because we had almost 1,000 listings. With so many designs, and just me and my wife working on them, it was hard to make sure that all of those items are things people want to buy. Overall, we had too much going on, and the quality was not high enough. People started to lose trust in us and could tell that we were no longer at the top of our game.
2. Not developing brand new designs on a regular basis to keep up with the seasons and trends.
Similar to item number 1, we were not creating brand new, interesting and inspiring designs that kept up with trends, new seasons, and new innovations. We just kept making the same things over and over, with different variations. This worked for a couple of years, but eventually, our designs were behind the times. We were no longer the leader on Etsy making the best designs ever. Instead, we stayed stuck in the success of 2014 and 2015. Today, we are focusing expanding beyond just printable art to all sorts of other categories. We allow our old listings to expire, and replace them with brand new designs and ideas that are current and fresh, while ensuring that the keywords we use are also relevant to the seasons and trends of today.
3. Not thinking of brand new Etsy Shop ideas or going after new kinds of customers.
For the most part, my focus was just on this one little niche of Printable Art. It was doing so well, that the idea of trying something else was maybe a little intimidating, which is terrible because my whole life I have always been excited to start a new business idea and try something new. But I got wrapped up in the success of our printable art shop, that I stopped being creative. Instead of being an entrepreneur, I become more like a workhorse, and lost sight of the bigger vision. Once we hit a certain amount of success, I should of thought of what the next, bigger step was going to be, and set my sights and visions even higher. Instead, I sort of sat in my own success and stayed there. Only a year later did our Etsy Sales start so slowly fall until it was too late to play catch up. In a sense, we've had to work a few months pretty hard to fight our way to even bigger heights that we should have been doing 1 or 2 years ago.
I hope you learn from my failures and not have to experience them yourself. But the one good thing that has come out of these failures, is that I am going to make sure I never make these mistakes ever again on Etsy. And that is often the most important part of being a business person and artist. You must force yourself to keep moving forward, allowing yourself to fail and succeed at all times, and pivot your ideas when they are not working. On Etsy, there is only opportunity for success if you are willing to take advantage of the changing trends online, the way Etsy operates, and the way business online and offline works. 2018 is an exciting time to start and grow a business on Etsy.