Lately very, very often I receive questions about how to be successful on Etsy. I wish I had a magic answer which would fit everybody, but I don't. During these years I learned many things but I still can't say where exactly is the key of success and I am still learning how to keep going and be successful myself. But there are some points which I am confident about and here they are:
1. Do what you are good at and what you love!
"Find a job you love and
you'll never work a day
in your life"
Yes, that's so true! Especially when you are running your own business, and especially the one which requires your creativity. If you love doing something you will make such an effort to be good at it that success for sure will come your way, sooner or later. It is not enough to copy someone, just because it sells and works for him. You must find your own niche. And do your best to be good at it. You should also think that there are people who are not made to have their own business. If you want a job where you can shut the door and don't think about it after 17:00 the business is not for you. If you take it seriously (and to be successful you must take it seriously) it is like having a child. You will always feel responsible for it, worried about it and thinking how to do things better.
2. Always learn something new!
Having your own business and be successful will require many, many skills. It is good if you can get a good team - personal assistant, good photographer, accountant. But it is not always possible. I do not have an assistant, or photographer, or accountant... I do everything by myself. That's why in my opinion it is essential to learn as many things as possible.
It is not enough just to make something nice. You must present it well, make it attractive so that people just can't resist. For online business the photos are essential. Take some photo lessons. You can find many online classes. Some for free, some not. Start with basics - learn about using the right light, composition. I am still not a professional photographer, but I learned many things. I also had to invest in a good equipment, but equipment can wait. I don't suggest to make big investments before you are sure you can do it and it will work! If you are ready for an investment I suggest to buy DSLR camera. You will have to learn how to work with it, but it is so worth it!
3. Be patient!
Success doesn't come in one day. The first year will be the hardest one. The shop will take all your time, but things can go quite slow. You need to be patient. It happens very rarely (but it does happen) that from the first day you have many clients and everything goes smoothly. But often you will have to adapt, to make some changes. Be flexible, if you see that something is not working - change it! Don't be afraid. Maybe your photos are not attractive, maybe your tags are not working and people just can't find your items. Maybe there are already too many similar things and you should think about making something else, something more particular. Maybe your pricing is wrong.
4. Observe what others are doing... but don't copy!
It is good to see successful shops and analyze why they are so successful, why people are buying from them. If you work in the same field pay attention (if it is possible) where they promote their shops, how they describe their items, why their photos are so attractive. But do not copy! It is so sad to see that someone copied each word you wrote in your descriptions even without making any effort to make it less obvious. Same if you try to create something very similar to what already has been created. I don't speak about some very classical things, which everyone is making just with some variations. I mean details. If you try to make it look similar to something which is already made and is selling well, it will not work. People are not fool! They will rather go to buy the "original one" and you will loose kind of respect in their eyes. I saw many such examples. People were trying to copy my patterns (and they still do it), they were even using similar yarn and colors and selling them cheaper. But they were not selling them at all or very little. You will not go far if you do that. You should develop your own style, be honest and creative. You will see that in this way your creativity will grow every day and you won't need to copy anybody. And your own style will attract people much more than you think!
5. Look for new ways how to promote your business!
This is probably the most important and the most difficult part. Promote, promote, promote. There are so many places and ways and you just need to find the right one which will work for you (even better if you find a few). Start your own blog, make a Facebook fan page, be on Twitter, on Flickr and other similar websites. Now on Etsy in Shop Stats you can see from where people are coming to your shop! Analyze it! Check all those websites and see how you can make them work for you even better. I don't suggest to promote on Etsy (for me it just doesn't work). You must find good ways to promote outside the Etsy and attract more people to your shop.
6. Be positive!
Even if things are going slower than you expected - stay positive! It can take time till you get everything right, but it can change one day to another! You can just get on the right wave, or be featured somewhere and more and more people will know about your shop. Work hard, do your best, everyday learn something new and success will come to you! :-)
Good luck! :-)