by Lynn S. Schwebach
Friends who know I am on Etsy want to know if I have advice for selling art online, and this is a tough question, because after a year and a half on Etsy, I have 55 sales—for some too low of number and for others a nice, moderate number. So much depends on so much.
For example, are you trying to make a living off of your Etsy site? Then my first year and a half is a flaming failure. Are you supplementing your income? Then, possibly, I have had moderate success. Are you experimenting to see where things lead? Then bingo, I might have words of advice. I also can give you some pros and cons, and what I’ve learned, and what could, if properly followed, take you to the next level.
Three tools, Handmade Seller, Etsy Rank, and Marmalead, are what I recommend to all who ask. I wish someone would have told me about these resources before I started, because it would have saved me from many time-consuming missteps. However, I will share them with you now so that you don’t waste time and energy, and perhaps you will jump right into the “Etsy is my full-time job” position.
1. Handmade Seller. I first wrote about this ubber helpful online magazine Handmade Seller in March 2017. I will not repeat what I said in that article, and I urge you to read it now or after finishing this article.
I still reference Handmade Seller and its database of articles ALL THE TIME. Spending a small amount of money to subscribe to this publication will save you lots of frustration and time (time is money). A one year subscription costs $49.99. This comes to about $4.20 per month.
I reference Handmade Seller for marketing advice, SEO training, photograph instruction, bios on successful sellers and their journeys, and just about every other topic that selling online requires.
How would this tool have saved me valuable time? If I would have read the publication on the importance of product photographs, and how to take them, I wouldn’t have had to redo almost all of my listing photographs
If I had read Handmade Seller before listing my items, I could have learned how to write better product copy. I also would have learned about keywords. And I would have optimized each listing by referencing links to other products in my stores, and also to my store itself.
Okay, I could go on because I made many more mistakes. And it’s not like you won’t make mistakes even if you read this magazine, but you might not stumble as much upfront and therefore generate more traffic and sales earlier.
2. Etsy Rank. Etsy Rank and Marmalead, the next tool I will discuss, are similar but have one important difference: cost. Etsy Rank is free. Free!!! Both of these tools are extremely helpful when it comes to figuring out keywords for your titles and tags for product listings. This is probably where I fell down the hardest when I started on Etsy. I read and watched You Tube videos that advised me to think about what I would enter in the Search box and use that for my title and tags. Well that’s a start, but there is so much more. How do you know that the words you search on is what others use to search? How do you know that what you and perhaps some others search on actually results in sales? That means that buyers search on a term, see a list of results or listings, and after clicking on a listing actually BUY? This is called “engagement” on Etsy Rank.
Search Engine Optimization— or SEO— is tricky, and for me, it was difficult to figure out. Once I discovered Etsy Rank, things started to make more sense. After signing up, (sign up for the free account when getting started, not the premium ‘paid’ account) your page opens with a menu along the left. Go to “About” and “Features.” Don’t get overwhelmed, because there are a lot. The two best to get started learning about and using are “Keyword Tool,” and “Category Tool.”
If you already have an Etsy shop, you will also want to use “Listing Audit,” “Rank Checker,” and “Tag Report.” However, all the features will be of value to eventually read about and use.
3. Marmalead. After I began pulling in some money off of Etsy, I purchased Marmalead, which runs $19 per month. This is expensive and I am telling anyone starting out not to get this tool unless they can absolutely afford it. (Use Etsy Rank for free.)
Marmalead’s dashboard or screen that opens looks more simple than Etsy Rank, but don’t let that fool you. Marmalead is as powerful as Etsy Rank, if not more. In all honesty, I use both tools simultaneously and often compare advice given on both. Both Etsy Rank and Marmalead have listing audits, or reviews on how well your listing fits essential SEO criteria. Marmalead’s is a bit more complex and they recently changed it, so it’s harder to get a better review. But this makes you dig deeper into your listings and see what’s working and what’s not.
For example, both Etsy Rank and Marmalead grade you from A to F on your SEO for each listing. While writing this article, I checked my listings using both tools, and on one of my small canvas paintings Etsy Rank gave me an “A” while Marmalead gave me a “B-“.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to explain in detail the differences, but Marmalead does go deeper into your SEO settings, and now I will have to examine this listing to figure out how to raise my grade.
I recommend watching the training videos on Marmalead to figure out how to use this tool. I love the blog on Marmalead, and also the weekly emails I get from the company telling me what tags (search terms) have high and low engagement—and engagement means something different than how Etsy Rank uses this term. Marmalead defines “engagement” as the number of views per week given the number of times a keyword is searched.
This gets technical, and that’s why it takes some time and energy to learn these tools. However, it’s worth it. Using these three tools, following their SEO advice, and lots of marketing advice from Handmade Seller, my traffic to my site is up 286% from last year at this time. I am still not generating the sales I desire, but I think I am on an upward trend by tripling my sales from this time last year.
I met a friend last night to discuss online selling, and I gave her the name of these three tools. You might say, they are in my tool belt everyday.
One fine note: Handmade Seller provides advice for all online selling including personal websites, Amazon, and Etsy. Etsy Rank and Marmalead are specific to Etsy sellers.
If you are using any of these tools, let me know your opinion and what you find useful or not. Happy selling!