If you own an Etsy shop, kudos to you, because I know it is not easy. Trust me, I was one of you. Our stories are mostly similar. We are all craving a creative outlet. We are good in our craft. We love what we do. Some of us might have business background, some are natural-born saleswomen, some need a little help. In the early days, we fretted over low views or no traffic to our Etsy stores. Recently we agonise over the dropping of sales caused by algorithm changes. “I have no or low sales on Etsy now but I used to be doing very well” is something I hear more and more often. “Should I pay for promoted listing on Etsy?” is the next question that follows. Some peers have even complained about new shops being favored and featured over those who have been online for way longer. I have seen shops close, sellers are in despair, people panicking.
If you love what you do, then you should do everything possible to save your shop and turn the tides around. There is no fixed formula for success, but at least there are some things you need to have in place. We all know how important some of these conditions are, such as making sure your titles, tags and product descriptions are written to be optimised for Etsy SEO, taking beautiful photos of your product images, provide great customer service.
What about branding? Most Etsy shop owners are stretched so thin by all the multi-tasking that branding and marketing is something you might have neglected, or worse, assume to be non essential.
“Hi, my name is X. I used to be an engineer, but I often found myself missing creativity in my job. One day I took a pottery class, and the experience was mind blowing. I fell in love with pottery and decided to create a few pieces and sell them on Etsy.”
“My name is Y. I was working in a HR firm but now I am a stay home mom. I have always loved knitting and have been creating scarves and mittens for our friends and family. Everyone tells me I should consider selling my unique design online, and here I am!”
“We are ABC. We specialise in boho style, vintage inspired jewelry with a modern twist. Flowers, woodland animal motifs, ferns and Swarovski crystals are materials we enjoy working with. For weddings, as gifts, for everyday wear, you can be sure to find something you’ll like here in our shop.”
Many Etsy shops tell the same stories. A little about the owner, who she is. How the shop came to be established, the motivation behind setting up shop. Trying to convince the readers why your shop is the most unique. This information is useful and can help introduce yourself and your shop to prospective clients. But in the Etsy sphere with close to 2 million sellers, how can you stand out from your competitors?
The good news is, your authenticity and unique voice in design is the main reason why you are selling on Etsy anyway. This is a good starting point to build a storytelling strategy. If you feel authenticity is lacking for you, and you have been tempted to copy other sellers, then I encourage you to take a step back and think about what stirs your heart. Find out what makes you unique, think about what your strengths are. Channel that passion into what you do, and muster the courage and self respect to create your own work. Because authenticity is the first step to discovering your unique brand story.
Having a brand story strategy will not immediately boost your sales or bring in 10 times more traffic than before. But it can definitely set you apart. Having a brand story will present your shop in a professional light. As consumers become more sophisticated with online purchasing, they have higher expectation for the experience.
A strategy will guide you in all you do. It will determine how you structure and write your “About” page. It will influence what you share on social media. It might even steer the way you photography your products. It will also determine the style of how your product descriptions are written.
Remember, storytelling for your brand is not a short-term effort. It is a consistent narration. From finding opportunities to talk about the inspiration behind every collection that is launched, to how your clients react when they receive their orders. Perhaps a few star items in your shop are worthy of being featured, written about in your blog or shared on Instagram as to how they are created and why they are created. The challenges you face along the way is not humiliation. It can be turned into a teaching moment, a lesson to be learned, a way to resonate with your audience. We are after all emotional beings. Perfect is boring. Perfect is impossible! We want to know that we all have flaws, but it is all right. We are bound together in this life, sharing the same joy, experiencing the same pain, dreading the same fear. A story is only interesting if it tells of the good and the bad.
Take a bold step today as an Etsy shop owner and think about what your story should be and what your strategy is for telling that story. With that in mind, inspect your site and look for areas that need improvement. It could be copywriting, it could be your photos. Try re-writing your About page. Challenge yourself to go beyond the mediocre ways of sharing content on your Facebook page or Instagram account. Because it does not matter what changes are made to Etsy. Change is bound to happen! It can be algorithm today, and it can be a new interface months later. Your brand story is something you own, something which you can take with you. Your competitors may copy your products, but how can they tell the same story? To stand out from competition, to be memorable to your clients, you should claim what makes you authentic and tell a good story from that.