How I grew on Etsy without Social Media

How I grew on Etsy without Social Media

I was able to become a 6 figure seller on Etsy without social media and without advertising. My first full year on the platform I matched my full-time income I was making at my previous full-time job! I was shocked! I still do not have a large social media presence, and I do minimal advertising (just a little in Etsy ads.) Read more about my story below! And, if you are intrigued, sign up for my Etsy and small business focused newsletter!

I started my Etsy business, Punch of Color, in November of 2019 with an idea (unique party favor kits for kids) and not much else! I didn't have extra money to invest in my product or advertising (I asked my mom to buy me a Cricut machine!). I didn't have any knowledge of how to grow on Etsy (I worked at a not-for-profit youth theatre for 12 years prior), and I didn't have any social media presence (beyond a personal IG account!)

Just prior to starting Punch of Color I had quit my full-time job of 12 years because I wanted to work for myself. But, I still needed to make money for my family, so I was doing random small jobs for about 2 years (teaching online, writing grants, working in my mom's business, etc.). I had always wanted to start an Etsy business (I was an art major at Indiana University, and was a graphic designer for several years, and had always been very artistic). I went for it in 2019 after planning my son's 6th birthday party and getting the idea for my shop. Within 1 year my NET income was more than I had made at any other full-time job, and I was able to quit all my other jobs. I have been able to bring in a full-time income each year after that initial year, and I did it without advertising or social media. If I can do it, so can you!

It is not easy, and I worked very hard and A LOT to grow my business, but it's possible. Here are the things I believe helped my small business grow into a full-time income that first year. 

  1. Learning SEO: Let me start this off by saying I did not buy ANY classes on SEO. Almost all of my understanding came from free advice via blog posts and Youtube, specifically Kara Buntin. I knew absolutely NOTHING about SEO when I started, but in doing free research I learned what long tail key words are, how to think like the buyer, and how to write my tags and titles. I did invest in Marmalead for 2 months at one point to help with key word research, but I do not think it is necessary. I also used a google chrome extension (to help find keywords) that was free at the time, but now costs money. But, honestly, nothing helped more than the YouTube videos I watched from other successful Etsy sellers. The main advice that helped me was to "Think like the buyer!" What are they searching for? Kids craft kit? Fine motor activity for toddler? Unicorn birthday gift for preschooler? Bug birthday party favor? Try to think about what they are putting in that Etsy search bar to find your item. 

  2. Decent Photos: My photos are much better now, and this is going to really depend on your competition, but you do need good/decent photos. Not the best, most amazing photos, but good ones! That first year I used my iPhone to take AND edit all my photos! I still just my iPhone, but now use Photoshop, BUT there are a lot of free photo editing apps. Go on Etsy, and search for your niche - what photos stand out to you? Use those as inspiration. Take photos in front of a window with bright light! Include a photo of the packaging - a lot of people don't can stand out from your competition by including this!

  3. Detailed Descriptions: Those first 2 sentences of your product description are what rank on google, so make sure you have good keywords in there! I am still editing my descriptions to reflect this. Etsy is always testing things, and sometimes it is hard to even find descriptions, but you want good information and details in case someone does read it! This will give the buyer more confidence in making the purchase. Include things like size, packaging info, etc. 

  4. Good Customer Service: Outstanding customer service creates a positive shopping experience that encourages repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. I always responded (still do!) quickly to messages and took care of any issues that came up. You should also follow up asking for reviews that first couple of months to build trust on Etsy. Etsy does allow you to do this. You will get TONS more review this way, and the worst thing that will happen is someone will say "No, thanks." 

  5. Strategic Pricing: Do not be part of the race to the bottom with Etsy pricing! Lowering your value helps no one! Make sure you know exactly how much it costs to create your item (including your TIME), and make sure you have good profit margins. What if you want to sell wholesale one day? You'd be selling your item for half the retail price - can you do that?! My stuff was never the cheapest...I value my time! People are not looking for the cheapest things on Etsy, they want something unique. Do not price crazy low just to get sales!

  6. Staying Ahead of Etsy's Evolution: Etsy's platform and algorithms are always changing...find someone you trust to follow who has good information. I personally do not trust anyone out there selling Etsy advice who won't share there shop name. Or who won't tell you their NET profit. Gross income means nothing! You could be making $50,000 gross, but paying $30,000 in ads, which is $20,000 NET...big difference. As I said earlier, I follow Kara Buntin - she knows what she is talking about and is very honest and forthcoming. There are SO many Etsy "experts" out there, so do your research, especially before giving anyone money!

  7. The Power of Uniqueness: This is the hardest part...I had a product that people wanted to buy. I didn't know it at the time, and I tried some products a long the way that tanked! But, this is why it is important to not spend a ton of money until you know people actually want your item!

Those are just some of my tips! If you want to hear more of my Etsy tips and tricks sign up for my business specific newsletter here! 

Now, you might notice that I started my Etsy shop, which is geared towards kids, in November of 2019 - right before the pandemic! Which, of course, helped my shop. But, before that I had already put in place everything I mentioned, and was making upwards of $1000 a month as a brand new shop. My business definitely exploded during the pandemic, and I want to be completely honest. I do think that those unique circumstances helped! 

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