Selling Prints on Etsy - Part 2
(Edited 12/12/14: The original posts were made before Etsy made a lot of changes, and i've updated them as well as added a Part 4 in order to address some of these changes.)
(This is Part 2, go here to view Part 1 if you haven't already.)
Woohoo, the guts of it all! Listings! Which, at first, not a woohoo at all, but if you set it up right it can be a copy and paste affair of quick and easy awesomeness!
Patience is DUMB.....but necessary. Stupid patience.
My first listing suggestion is, if you’re new to Etsy, do NOT list everything at once. I know, it’s hard to fight that urge. You’re there, you’re ready to go, you’ve done all the pre-planning, you’re all set to rock Etsy’s face off and become a millionaire! And here I am, ruining all the fun. But if you go and list all 10 – 2,500 prints at once, what are you going to post for those who are visiting Etsy tomorrow to see? Or next week? Or next month? And then in 4 months every single one of those listings will expire on the same day and you’ll be right back at square one with an empty shop.
So please, space it out and give your shop more chances to be seen. New listings get buried fast enough on Etsy without pushing it further down yourself. Things will bunch up at times, it’s unavoidable, especially if you sell more than one print at a time, but re-listing 3 in the same day is way better than re-listing 20 or more at once. And at some point the habit of listing something regularly will turn into the habit of checking to see if anything has expired and needs renewing. (I’ve found that having the Etsy app on my phone makes re-listing expired or sold items easier, as I can check whenever I remember as opposed to hoping I remember when I’m on the computer. Plus when you make a sale your phone makes a ‘cha-ching’ noise!)
I won’t say that if you’re only listing a small batch of prints to not to even bother, but things like bringing attention to your shop and re-listing items is easier when you have more to list. There are a lot of images I hadn’t been offering in the shop because I was worried it would be too cluttered, but I found that the fewer images I have up the less attention I pay to the shop, and the less my items get seen. But the more images I offer the more views, favorites and sales I get. However, I’m around 200 right now. I’ve been in shops with listings up to 5 times that and I have a hard time making it through everything, even when I really want to, so keep that in mind too.
(Edited to add: Drafts! They existed when I originally wrote these posts, but for some reason I was ignoring their existance and not using them. If you find yourself with some free time and want to whip up some new listings, or are starting out a new shop and being well behaved and listening to my advice, just create new listings, save them as a draft, and post them later on a slow day. It's the easiest way to spread out your listings, as well as making sure you've got listings there to post even if you don't have the time to create ones from scratch. And you don't get charged until it goes live!)
Everything and the kitchen sink. Maybe even your neighbors sink too.
Kind of like how I decide to cover so much I turn a post into posts, I think listings should be thorough. All those decisions I suggested you make in post 1, I think should be included in your listings for each print, and for two main reasons:
1. All the information your customer might need is right there for them already, and
2. It covers your butt.
I’ve found that the more information I provide in a listing the less likely a customer has to ask a question before purchasing, and who wants to delay a customer’s decision? These days the only times I usually hear from someone first is because they’re interested in something I don’t automatically offer, typically because it’s something with many options/ price variables, like matting and/or framing.
So how you print, what you print on, what sizes are available (more on that in a second) how you ship, how long it may take (important if you’re using an online printer) if you sign it, etc. I think it all should be spelled out beforehand in the listing so that your buyer knows what exactly it is they’re receiving. Go here to view a listing of mine so that you can get an idea of all I include and how I lay it out.
Obviously, you can include less, or include more. I’ve seen people explain why they made the image, or say where it was shot, when it was shot, what is was shot with, all that. It’s up to you. The way I have it set up makes it really easy for me to copy and paste with minimal changes needed when I post something new. I'm one of those people who is bound to put off something the more complicated it is, so having it be so easy and quick means I don't delay in posting new prints.
#2 above is for in case something goes wrong, or there is some sort of misunderstanding along the way. And trust me, no matter how clear or thorough you are, there WILL be a problem at some point, and it may or may not be your fault. Either way, like I mentioned in post 1, you need to have a plan for these situations, and I feel its best you be clear about what that plan will be. I lay this out both in my listings as well as in a message to seller that you can set up for them to see when they check out. Even if they don’t actually read it (also inevitable) if you end up with an angry customer on your hands it’s nice to be able to refer back to your listing and checkout message and remind them that you made it clear how the situation would be handled.
The aspects I mainly cover are the images not looking like they expected, and postal accidents vs something I obviously did wrong. Unfortunately, not everyone’s monitor presents an image the exact same. The first time I saw my images on a cheap monitor that had been configured poorly I nearly cried. But it brought to light that not everyone gets to see the images as I do, and I make sure to point this out. Thankfully no one has ever told me they were disappointed in how a print looked. (Probably because if they do have a crap monitor, my print had to of looked a million times better in person.)
Once I was putting together multiple orders simultaneously and switched up the envelopes, so two customers got the wrong order. In those circumstances it's completely my fault so I’m going to take the loss and order/send out the right prints at no cost to the customers.
A postal accident however, is not my fault. I do the best I can to make sure my prints are protected, and the majority show up in the same condition I sent them out in, but I’ve gotten enough mangled packages to know it doesn’t always matter if the delivery people don’t care. But if a customer isn’t going to pay for insurance to cover the potential of a postal accident or loss, I’m not going to lose money buying another print and shipping it. Instead, I offer to re-order and ship the print with the buyer paying for what it costs me to buy the print and ship it to them, nothing more. This means I don’t lose too much money (I don’t re-charge for the supplies to ship) but I’m also not making a profit, since I already did on the original sale. The cost to customers when this happens (although so far it hasn’t) is pretty minimal.
Not everyone may like those terms, but it is how I’ve chosen to set them up, and that’s all mentioned clearly in more than one place they have access to.
(One thing I don’t lay out, but still do for customers, is expedited shipping if there is a delay in shipping the print out to the customer. This is one down side to buying prints from a shop online, and apparently living where I do. I can never say how long it will take exactly for the print to get to me. If it for whatever reason has taken longer than “usual”, or never shows up (almost all online shops will re-print and ship for free ASAP if this happens) I will always let my buyer know what has happened, and will ship the print via priority mail instead of first class so that it gets there a little quicker. This has happened more than once, but the way I go about it has made it so that I’ve never gotten negative feedback, or a direct complaint, because of it.)
Again, how you choose to handle these situations is up to you, I just find that being upfront about it all can make anything that does pop up easier to handle. And you still might have a customer from time to time that is a little…… unreasonable, no matter what you say and do. Once I was threatened over a border around an image that was asked for, but not liked, and another time I, personally, was blamed for there being a hole through the packaging and print. Because, you know, I skewer all the orders I send out. Adds a little flare!
Print sizes and images.
It wasn’t always an option to offer multiple sizes in one listing. And it sucked. Now though, Etsy offers that with their “variations” section, and I think everyone selling prints should utilize it. While I can’t say for sure this is the reason, I’ve noticed that I’ve sold more large prints since being able to list all the sizes in one place. Who knows, maybe they see that it’s not a huge price jump to get something a little bigger and it entices them to do so, since all the options are right there for them to see and compare.
The second part to that for me, is showing exactly how I’d crop the images that I’ve decided can be printed in both their original dimensions (usually 8x12, 10x15, etc.) as well as cropped down to more traditional frame sizes (8x10, 11x14, etc.) Fitting those frame sizes is what I was being asked about the most, and I always made sure that if I thought it was doable the buyer understood what it would look like. I can’t always visualize one of my images missing two inches off of its height, so I can’t expect all customers to be able to either. Putting the comparisons that I was making individually when these questions popped up into my listings has stopped those questions coming in almost completely. (Since I don’t think about print sizes when I’m shooting not all my images are capable of being cropped, so I still sometimes get answers on those that don’t include those sizes in the listings.)
Otherwise, when putting images in the listing just use the file you have on your computer, sized down to something reasonable. (I don’t suggest uploading the full sized file, or anything even remotely close to that big, because then they can just save the image and print it themselves!) I also wouldn’t suggest taking a photo of an actual print. It’s usually pretty hard to correctly line it up, or shoot if it’s behind glass, AND get the coloring and all that right. (To many I’m sure these sound like obvious suggestions, but I’ve seen both of these examples on Etsy. Often.)
I always put my name and the copyright symbol on my images, but as hidden as possible. You don’t have to do this, or you can put it on in another way, but I can say that if you’ve got a visible watermark running across the whole thing, you’re a lot less likely to be included in treasuries. (More about treasuries later.)
Titles, Keywords and Tags are Very. Important. Things.
When I started out I left my titles simple, I included the name of the image and the size and left it at that. I saw that other people were super descriptive but I thought it looked like a jumbled mess, and honestly felt a bit silly about doing it myself. I mean, let’s be honest, some of my images are weird, but putting down words that described them somehow made them seem weirder! But now you’ll see my titles are also a jumbled, silly mess, not because I’ve changed my mind (totally haven’t) but because it’s important that I do so.
It turns out that if you repeat the same words (that of course should appropriately describe the image) in your title, your keywords AND your tags (these are all things you fill out when listing an item to sell) you’ll pop up sooner in searches for those words. That alone is a good thing, but it’s not just because potential customers will find you more easily, it’s also because treasury makers will find you as well.
For those not savvy with Etsy already, treasuries are little collections of listed items on Etsy chosen by other sellers, or even customers. You can see them here. They weren’t always a huge deal, but now some people seem to have made a hobby out of creating them, and, most importantly, some end up on the front page. For obvious reasons being on the front page is a good thing for those included, as it tends to create an explosion of new views, item and shop favorites, and possibly even sales. (This has changed, and I discuss how things are now HERE. But basically, treasuries are still a thing, and they're still helpful, so continue to keep them in mind when key wording.)
When I first changed my titles, tags and keywords to reflect each other I wasn’t even thinking of treasuries, but in doing so, and being smart about the words I've chosen to use ever since, the amount of treasuries I’ve ended up in has risen a ridiculous amount.
And the words you use matter. Lots of those who create treasuries base their choices off a theme, lots of which are pretty simple. Seasonal treasuries are always popular, so if you have images that might fit in to a season in some way, tag it as such. This probably won’t be a surprise, but my prints are wildly popular in treasuries around Halloween, and I don't even have to include 'Halloween' in my keywords. =) Color based treasuries are also huge, so if you have an image with a predominant color, make sure you use it. Have an image you can print fairly large? Include ‘poster’. If it’s creepy, own up to it and throw in creepy.
And the great thing is, you get access to shop stats, which includes letting you know which keywords brought people to your shop and listings, so over time you’ll get an idea of what’s working, and what might not be. I never realized ‘creepy’ would be such a draw when I added it! (Like, seriously, at least 5 of my most popular search terms in the past month have included ‘creepy’. The world is full of weirdos, thank god! Just kidding. Not really.)
(More about this in Part 4!)
So that’s it for Part 2! Part 3 will cover more promotional stuff; social media, Etsy ads, giveaways, discounts, Etsy teams and forums, and any other extra bits I can think of. You can find it HERE.
And again, any suggestions, questions, things I might have overlooked, etc, feel free to leave a comment!