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You just found a craft you’d love to try on Pinterest. You watched tutorials, bought all the tools and made your first project. Everyone loves it and says you should sell it on Etsy! But are you really ready? Before opening your shop, you need to refine your skills.
Why is this important? Etsy is a competitive marketplace, and you are going to need to be one of the best at what you do to truly be successful. An important part of successful sales is understanding your target market, or the people that will be buying your product. Many Etsy buyers expect a certain level of professionalism, expertise, and quality. They have purchased items that are made by artists and craftsmen worldwide that arrive beautifully packaged. They have spent more on wedding invitations to have them made out of the highest quality materials or on home décor items that are completely customized to their preferences. These are people who shop in boutiques and who are not afraid to pay more to get exactly what they want.
These are not the only Etsy buyers out there, but many of them are, and this is what makes the Etsy marketplace special. Ultimately these are the buyers you want to appeal to, and these buyers are looking for quality. Are your products really good enough?
A true artist or craftsman has likely spent years developing and refining his or her skills. She has studied and honed her techniques. He has carefully chosen the materials he works with, prioritizing quality over price. Does this sound like you? If not, don’t despair, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t sell or won’t find success along the way to achieving this goal. However, there are lessons we can learn from these artisans and makers that will help us be successful in our Etsy shops.
Don’t sell just because you can make it.
One of the first things I wanted when I started my blog was a die cutting machine. I actually recorded the Cricut infomercial and watched it repeatedly, imagining all the amazing things that I would be able to make. When I finally purchased one and started making things, people gave me really sweet feedback. I was delighted that I could see pictures of things on blogs (this was before Pinterest) and make similar items myself. People seemed to like the items I gifted them. I thought maybe someday I might like to be able to sell items at a craft fair, but I didn’t consider my items really all that special or unique. That’s not because I underestimated my abilities, it’s because they weren’t. These days a huge number of crafters have a Cricut, a Silhouette, or a Brother die cutter. Etsy, Amazon, Alibaba, and similar supply marketplaces as well as Pinterest and YouTube make starting a new hobby easy, not just for you, but for others as well. A search for “vinyl decal” on Etsy brings up 456,733 listings. You’ll have over 300,000 competitors if you try to sell a “wedding necklace.” Whether you make hair accessories, baby leggings, or bath bombs, you’ll have tens of thousands of competitors. What is going to set you apart?
There are a lot of things you need to know and do to be successful selling in the Etsy marketplace, but if you are not making quality products that rival or beat your competitors, you will not be successful. So learn to look at your work with a critical eye. What can be improved? Where can you find higher quality materials that set you apart? What classes can you take to improve your skills? What are small things about your product that you can tweak to make your item more unique?
How can I refine my skills?
Pinterest and YouTube are great places to start, but there are a bunch of newer streaming video services that specialize in arts and crafts. Skillshare is my favorite, and I have learned everything from cake decorating to Photoshop to watercolor on there. I love the professional quality of the videos as well as the ability to have direct contact with instructors. A year’s subscription is comparably priced to Netflix, but they frequently have deals where you can access all their videos free for 3 months for only 99 cents. Craftsy is also awesome. To me, Craftsy is more in depth and technical. For a lot of my areas of interest, such as sewing, the instructors are teaching techniques well above my skillset. This makes me love their pricing structure, which is paying for each class independently for lifetime access. This way I know I can watch it now and learn some techniques, and return later to learn more. Their classes are higher priced, but they often have sales as well. I’ve recently also checked out Creativebug, which isn’t as big as Skillshare yet, but more craft related and half the cost. Creative Live is also another option I have heard about that offers free live streamed classes and then offers those classes for purchase at a later time. The newest service I am drooling over is called Masterclass. For around $90 a class you can learn a skill from a successful professional in the field- Kevin Spacey, Judy Blume, Jane Goodall, and more. There aren’t a lot of craft related classes right now, but this platform is definitely something I want to keep an eye on. Have you seen others? Leave a comment to let us know your favorite!
I hope you’ve found some new ideas in this post about refining your skills. For more Etsy tips, check out my other blog posts: