are you thinking of opening an etsy shop to sell your creations?
For many creative people, the idea of selling their work can be very daunting. Etsy is a huge platform, full to the brim with creators- all showcasing their best handmade and vintage items. It's easy to take one glance at the competition and turn away. But don't! It can be a great way to begin your journey as a paid artist/ creative. I am writing this blog to share my story and help you begin yours.
My Etsy STORY
I opened my Etsy shop 'Rekindle By Lisa' in June 2017 with just 6 items. All I had prior to opening my shop, were 6 second denim jackets, 6 small pots of vegan fabric paint, some second- hand clothes, a big passion for animal rights and an exciting idea. I set to work creating the first 6 jackets for my shop in my spare time around my work hours. I was so pleased with the final 6 jackets and I couldn't wait to open my shop and show them to the world.
In that first month my shop looked pretty bare and I had no idea if any of the pieces would sell. To my surprise, the first jacket sold just a couple of weeks after I opened the shop and then the second not long after that! I couldn't believe it! And so began my journey as a vegan artist. I kept creating, coming up with new ideas, building my shop and earning monthly income from my art! It was only last year (2019) that I decided to open ashop on my own website as well as Etsy, to give me a second platform- but I never would have received the followers or the customers if I hadn't started with Etsy first. So here are my top tips!:
DECIDE on your NICHE
Before you open your shop, it's important to have a strong idea of what you want to create, why you want to create it and who you're creating it for. Be original. Narrowing your creativity down to a single goal makes it much easier for you when you come to set your keywords, take your photos and publish your Etsy shop. For me, it was easy. My goal is to raise awareness for animal rights and the environment. I decided that I wanted to create up-cycled art work so that I could encourage other people to re use and I could share the message that new IS NOT best- and old can be revamped in to new and exciting pieces for the health of the planet. I knew I wanted most of my art to be wearable, so that the messages I paint about would be seen by more people and more compassion could be spread. With all this in mind, it's clear that my art is for eco- conscious people, vegans and people interested in animal rights.
To use another example, a lovely friend of mine is just opening her own Etsy shop (Sunshine and Jane) and is creating wall decorations inspired by her love of Disney and Taylor Swift! This is perfect! It is a clear goal. She is creating pretty home decorations for Taylor Swift and Disney Fans, using her own love of Taylor and memories of working at Disney World as her creative inspiration.
So pick your goal. What are you trying to say with your work? What do you want to create? Who are creating it for and why? Jot down ideas and find your niche.
DON'T RUSH YOUR photos
Before you can list any items for your shop, you need to take photos of them. The photos are an incredibly important step and shouldn't be rushed. The photos sell your product.
1. Firstly, make sure you use a good camera. Phone cameras are pretty good these days and, used correctly, can take really professional looking photos. I use a Nikon DSLR with a prime lens which gives a great focus to the foreground image and blurred background (as you can see in the above photo).
2. Make sure the lighting is right. Even with the best camera, if you take photos indoors on a dark, cloudy day with little natural light, you won't be doing your product justice. Find a room that is flooded with natural light or, even better, take your photo shoot outside.
3. Make sure your photos show all of your product. Think about angles, size, close ups etc. As you can see in the photo above, I've used my hand to show scale. If this was just on a wall, it could be any size, but with my hand as a scale reference, you can see it's a small piece of art. Take photos of the sides, the back- take close ups of the detail. Show the whole product so the customer knows what they are getting!
4. Think about the setting. The surroundings should reflect the item. If it's a wall hanging, take a photo of it on a wall! If it's a painting of a woodland, take a photo of it with trees in the background. The whole image is important.
CREATE Quality OVER QUANTITY
I'm sure most people browse through many Etsy shops before opening their own and see shops with hundreds of items, but these shops have probably been open a long time and have built up their stock gradually. They definitely look attractive and it's certainly great for shoppers to have lots of items to look through, but make sure your first focus is quality. When opening your shop, it is better to have a small handful of high- quality items that you are incredibly proud of, than hundreds of quick makes just to fill the space. That bit will come later. As I said, I opened mine with just 6 jackets and I now have 130 items! I have been able to build the shop over the last 3 years and, once I was able to leave my full- time job, more time opened up to create new pieces. This way the quality remains the same, you just gain more time to create and more confidence to give your time to creating quality items. Be patient with it. Focus on that first small handful of creations and let them set the tone for your shop the way that you want it to continue.
take time over KEYWORDS
A bit of a boring bit- which for many us creative beings is the bit we just want to brush over- but this is a very important boring bit! A keyword is basically a word or a group of words that define your product and narrow it down in to a category so that people who will like it, can find it amongst the clutter! When someone types in the search bar on Etsy, they are typing in words to describe what they want. Those words trigger items with matching descriptions to show up in the results. So using my shop as an example- let's say a vegan is searching Etsy for a piece of activist artwork for their wall. What would that person type? They may type 'vegan activist wall art', they may type 'vegan painting', they may time 'animal rights wall hanging' and there are many more possibilities. This is what you need to be thinking about when you list an item. But where do these key words go? Well they need to go in the 'Title' and in the 'Tags'. So, let's go back to my friends new shop 'Sunshine and Jane' and let's say she is selling a wall hanging with a quote from a Taylor Swift song on it. In her title, she needs to firstly clearly state what the item is- so she may type 'Taylor swift inspired embroidery hoop wall decoration'. That is a clear description of the item, but then she has more space for more keywords. So she could add things that people might type in the Etsy search bar- for example.. 'Gift for Taylor Swift Fan' and 'Pretty wall hanging' and 'Taylor Swift Quote', so on.. you get the idea! Use all of the character allowance on that title and then re-enter them as tags and any others you can think of. These words will be how you are found, so take the time to get them right!
CHARGE YOUR WORTH
Pricing our work is probably one of the hardest bits about setting up an Etsy shop- at least it was for me, and it still is. We really want our products to sell, but we also want to be paid for the work we have put in and it's easy to think that if we charge for the work we have put in and cover all of our materials and all of our time and creativity, then we may not sell the items. It took me a while, but I am starting to realise that this really isn't the case. Firstly, when someone decides to look for an item on Etsy, they have made a decision to buy a hand-made item because they want something special and unique. Remember that! Then add up the material costs for the item you have made, think about how long it took you to create it and how much would you be happy to earn for that time. Consider the skill involved in creating your piece. Consider the focus, the concentration. Is it a one-off piece? All of these questions are important. Everyone needs to find their own comfortable way of pricing items, but don't undersell your hard work, your expertise, your passion, your creativity, your ideas and your time. Remember that you can always lower your prices, but it's much harder to increase them- so begin how you wish to continue. Going back to 'Quality over quantity'- those initial pricing decisions will set the tone for your shop going forward, so bare that in mind.
Ok so this bit is really just me pleading with you to be eco-conscious with your shop! I just couldn't write this post and give this advice without adding this in!
Creativity is wonderful and sharing our art and our work with the world is amazing. Platforms like Etsy are created to encourage people to support small business and buy hand made items. They stamp on big companies, over consumerism and unethical practices. Buying hand made is more expensive and more unique, therefore it is a considered and less frequent purchase. It is a vote of support towards artists and creatives. But we can do more to have as little impact on the planet as possible. Think about packaging. Could you use plastic free packaging? Could you re use packaging you receive in the post? Could you use compostable packaging? Are your flyers and promotional materials recycled? Think about materials- could you find eco- friendly alternatives to plastic, could you use second-hand items, could you use organic cotton or hemp? Where do you source your materials from? Not all of these things will be relevant to your work, but you get the idea. Just think green! Most customers will really appreciate this way of thinking and will be so pleased to receive a guilt free package in the post. Going green with your business shows that you care and encourages more people to follow in your footsteps. It is the small individual choices and actions that amount to big change.
LISTEN & LEARN
Last but definitely not least- listen to your feedback- read your insights. Learn from them and adapt accordingly!
Etsy gives you so much information and feedback. It's amazing and one of my favourite things about the platform. Every time someone 'favourites' your item, you get a notification. You can see where your traffic comes from- Etsy searches, websites, social media platforms etc. Customers can leave reviews or contact you about their purchases. This is all precious information for you to use to build your shop. At one point in my shop I was selling hand-made purses , jackets and sew on patches. The jackets and patches were 'favourited' multiple times, they were purchased quickly- the purses were not. So I stopped making the purses and used my time to make the popular items. If the Etsy insights show me that 30% of my shops traffic came from Instagram but only 5% came from Facebook, I put more time and effort in to my Instagram feed- as I have done. This is why we must read our insights and pay attention to the activity in our shop. It provides us with an opportunity to learn and grow. If a customer is unhappy with an item or if you get a bad review, try not to be too upset! Listen to what they say and make a note to do better in the future. I am very grateful to have had 165 five-star reviews.. but a couple of years ago I got one 1 star review and it was an awful day! The customer said that she was disappointed and could have made the item herself. While I was so upset to read this review, I knew that this was an item that I wasn't completely happy with when I put it in the shop. That came back to bite me and I learned from it. Now I only put items in my shop that I am fully happy with and that pass my high-quality test and meet with the high standard I set for my work! So I took that bad review and I learned from it.
So listen and learn and then grow accordingly!
And there you have it! My top tips for Etsy.
I hope you have found them useful!
Best of luck with your Etsy journey!
A little extra note: If you want to support me as an artist, activist and blogger, you can support me for the price of a coffee! Here's the link:
This is easily one of my favourite dishes and my go to dish for guests! Most people who have come to mine for dinner will have had this at some point!
Its simple to cook, easy to make in big batches, it's filling and full of flavour! What more could you want?!
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4)
FOR THE CHILLI
• 2 cups of pre soaked and cooked black beans (or two shop bought tins)
• Half a standard 280g block of Smoked Tofu
• Half a cup of TVP mince - plus half a tsp of veg stock to cook it in
• 1 red onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 tsp garlic granules
• 1 500ml carton tomato passata
• 1 heaped tsp chipotle chilli paste (this makes a mild chilli (I am a wimp when it comes to spice) Just add more if you can handle your heat!)
• 1/2 cup vegan vegetable stock - I use marigold bouillon powder
• 2 tbsp soy sauce (roughly- it's not an exact science!- extra dribbles in- no worries!)
• a small squeeze agave syrup - (just a little squirt to balance the acidity from the passatta)
• A big old handful of beautiful fresh coriander
• A glug of cooking oil (I like rapeseed or olive)
FOR THE TORTILLA CHIPS
• 2 shop bought large tortilla wraps
• Rapeseed or olive oil
• garlic granules
TO SERVE (all optional)
• Rice/ cous cous
• mixed seeds
1. First prepare the mince. TVP mince consists of dry pieces of vegetable protein that need to be added to water. So get your mince, place in a sauce pan with just enough vegetable stock to cover it by about a cm (ish- please don't go and get a ruler!!). Put it on a medium heat for a couple of minutes and the dry mince should absorb the water and fluff up nicely. Add a little water if you need to. Then set the mince to one side.
2. In a frying pan, put a little oil, the onion and garlic and fry them a little to soften them. Then add in the beans, mince, passata, veggie stock, chipotle chilli paste, garlic granules, soy sauce, agave syrup and coriander. Give it a good stir. Crumble in the smoked tofu (try to keep the pieces small- breaking up any big chunks if you can).
3. Turn down the heat and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes (you want the sauce to thicken a little (if you have a lid for your frying pan, make sure it ISN'T on the pan- you need the evaporation process to happen here))
4. Meanwhile, cut your tortilla wraps in to triangles, place on a baking tray and drizzle a generous glug of oil over them, sprinkle garlic granules, salt and pepper on top and then use your hands to move them around and make sure each piece is coated in oil, salt and pepper.
5. Put the tortillas in the oven on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them half way to evenly cook. You might find that the top tortilla chips, cook quicker and start to brown.. when they are golden, take the tops ones out and put them aside on a plate- this gives the others a chance to cook in the oven.
6. Keep checking in on the tortilla chips and the chilli- stirring and turning! While you wait, you could prepare your rice/ cous cous, mash your avocado and cut up your cucumber in to small squares (if you are having all the extra stuff).
7. When the chilli is thickened and the tortillas are golden, you can plate up! Use your own judgement here! You might like your chilli a little runny, you might like it thicker. Little note on the tortillas- they will continue cooking outside of the oven- a lot of the crisping up will happen as they cool, so don't worry too much if they seem a little soft to begin with.
8. Serve with any of the optional extras and a blob of hummus on top (that really adds a creamy loveliness- I highly recommend!) and enjoy!
This is a warm, hearty and healthy slow cooker lentil dhal, that suits both cold winter nights and fresh summer evenings. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can probably make this on the hob- you may just need to fry the onion and garlic first before throwing everything in a pot with the lid on and simmering on the hob. If you don't have a crock pot, I highly recommend getting one. I have a small 2 person one and it is great, especially if you go off to work or go out for a few hours, but still want home cooked meals. With 5 or 10 minutes of preparation in the morning, you can have your dinner simmering gently in the crock pot all day and ready to be served when you get home!
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2-4)
• 1 cup red lentils
• Half cup of coconut cream (preferably) – if you can’t find it, use coconut milk but add an extra ¼ cup of lentils.
• 3 cups Vegan vegetable stock (I use Boillion)
• Small piece of fresh ginger (finely grated)
• 1 red onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 heaped tsp turmeric powder
• 1 heaped tsp your fave curry powder (I use tikka)
• 2 tbsp soy sauce/ tamari
• 1 big handful of fresh coriander, chopped.
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This is a lovely, fresh, nutritious and filling meal that can be eaten as lunch or dinner! One of my little, end of food shop experiments!
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
FOR THE PATTIES
FOR THE BEETROOT CRISPS
• 4 Beetroot bulbs, peeled and thinly sliced (About 2 mm in thickness- any thinner and they will turn to charcoal!)
• pinch of salt
• Glug of cooking oil
• 2 pittas
• Avocado (sliced)
• Begin with the beetroot. Put the sliced pieces on a baking tray with a glug of oil and sprinkle with salt. Put them in the oven on a medium heat (check in on them every 5 minutes)
• Pierce holes in your potato and place in the microwave for 10 minutes.
• After 10 minutes, check the potato- if it isn’t soft through, put it back in for a further 5 minutes or however long you think it may need cook through.
• When the potato is ready and left for a few minutes to cool, cut it in half and scoop out the fleshy middle in to a large bowl
• Mash the potato and stir in the chipotle paste, soy sauce, garlic granules, spring onions and coriander. Then add in the flour and Panko breadcrumbs and stir in to a sticky mixture!
• Pick the mixture and mould in to 4 small patties (add extra flour if it is too sticky to mould in to patties) Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and coat the outside of the patties in a little of the flour.
• Pour a glug of oil in a frying pan and turn the heat on. When the oil has spread around the pan, place your patties in the pan. Cook for a few minutes or until the edges are golden, frequently moving them to stop them sticking and turning them over after a minute or two to cook evenly on both sides.
• At this point, take your beetroot out of the oven. They will
hopefully be crispy but not burnt!
• Lightly warm your pitta pockets, line them with hummus and avocado slices and then place two of the patties in the pocket.
• Serve with your beetroot crisps and enjoy!
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These are really quick and easy and they are super yummy! The banana and nut butter act as dairy free and egg free replacements and bind the cake mix brilliantly!
I usually prepare these muffins while I'm waiting for my coffee to brew. Then I eat them fresh out the oven after i've had my coffee!
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 3 big/ 4 smaller MUFFINS)
• 2 medium sized bananas
• 1 heaped tsp cashew butter
• 1 cup Plain flour
• A big squeeze Agave Syprup
• A big handful of Freeze dried berries
• half a tsp bicarb of soda
•Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees
• Mash the bananas in a big bowl and stir in the nut butter and agave syrup (Use a small squeeze of syrup if you don’t want them too sweet and a big generous squeeze if you have a sweet tooth like me!) Remember- you will get the sweetness from the bananas too.
• Begin by folding in about half a cup of flour and mix. Keep adding more flour until you reach a good cake mix consistency. Try the spoon test- Lift a spoon of mix out of the bowl and hold the spoon sideways- you want the mix to largely stick to the spoon when you lift it, but slowly blob back in to the bowl! If it runs off the spoon, add more flour. Just a little at a time, you can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in!
• Next stir in the bicarb of soda and then fold in the blueberries or raspberries.
• Spoon the mix in to cases in your muffin or cake tray and place in the oven. Check on them after 10 minutes and they should be ready in about 15 or 20 minutes. To check they are done, gently place a knife in to the top of the muffin and pull it out, if the knife is relatively dry, they are good to go! If the knife comes out with lots of wet cake mix on, put them back in the oven for 5 minutes.
• Allow them to cool a little for 5 or 10 minutes and enjoy them warm.
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INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
•1 carton of coconut cream (not creamed coconut (which is solid)- coconut cream is thick coconut milk. Also be careful not to get confused with coconut milk which is too runny for this recipe.
•A large squeeze Agave syrup
•2 tbsp cocoa powder
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
• 1 head of cauliflower broken in to big florets
• 1/2 cup (roughly) chickpea flour (A.K.A Gram Flour) - keep extra incase you need to make more batter.
• 1 cup (roughly) of Panko breadcrumbs (keep extra incase you need more)
• 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
• 1 tsp of Garlic Granules
• I tsp of chinese 5 spice
• drop of Water
1. Make the batter in a bowl by mixing the chickpea flour with the garlic granules and chinese 5 spice. Stir the dry ingredients together. Then add a drop of soy sauce and a small drop of water and stir together to form a batter. It should be half way between thick and runny - kind of gloopy. If it is too thick, add a drop of water (just a teeny weeny bit at a time until the 'gloopyness' is achieved!)
2. Pop the Panko breadcrumbs in a bowl. Prepare an empty plate next to the breadcrumbs. Now, one by one, take the cauliflower pieces from the tin (preferably with a fork and not fingers- this will be messy!) and lower it, first in to the batter, and then in to the breadcrumbs. Once a piece is coated in breadcrumbs place it on the empty plate. Keep going until all pieces are coated. - Depending on the size of your cauliflower pieces, you may run out of batter- just make a second batch if that happens.
3. Place your coated cauliflower pieces on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and pop them in the oven on a mid- high temperature. I almost always use 200 degrees to cook just about everything!
5. Keep checking in on the cauliflower over the course of 30 mins. Turn them a little so they cook evenly. When they look golden and yummy, take them out.
7. Enjoy your cauliflower wings with a dip of your choice and maybe some chips or home made wedges. YUM. I like to use my chinese BBQ sauce dip which you can find in THIS recipe
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
FOR THE BREADED SEITAN:
• 1 tin of mock duck seitan pieces (I use the Marigold Mo Du Braised Seitan)
• The brine from the tin of seitan
• 1/2 cup (roughly) chickpea flour (A.K.A Gram Flour)
• 1 cup (roughly) of panko breadcrumbs
• 1 tsp Soy Sauce
• 1 tsp of Garlic Granules
• half tsp Chinese 5 spice
• drop of Water (maybe!)
FOR THE SAUCE:
• 1 big squeeze BBQ Sauce
• 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
• I small squeeze Liquid Sweetner (I use agave syrup)
• Half tsp peanut butter
• Chinese 5 spice
• Sushi Rice
• Spring onions finely chopped
I like to blog about vegan and sustainable living, as well as my life as a shop owner, introvert and deep thinker! Find thoughts, tips, advice and more!