Side Hustle #1: First Orders In!

It’s been exactly 1 week since I launched my first products on Etsy, and I finally got my first orders today! 2 orders to be exact. It’s finally starting to feel real!

I’ll admit, it was getting a bit discouraging not seeing any sales come through. I’ve been consistently adding new products all week, and was seeing decent traffic / favorites, but no conversion. I knew it would be hard starting off and that I shouldn’t expect it to just take off right away, but it was disheartening to be putting in all that work and not seeing any results. Now that a few sales are in, I feel a lot more confident that this could actually work!

So advice to any one just starting out on how to get to the first sale:

  1. Use your 13 tags wisely. Put yourself in your customers shoes and think about what search terms they might be using. You should always be using all 13 terms – better to throw in some somewhat related terms than let these go to waste!
  2. Make sure your product images are high quality. Good lighting and neutral backdrops are key. Consider investing in lighting equipment or a throw blanket to improve the quality of your photos. Since I’m using a 3rd party drop-ship fulfillment provider, they create mock-ups for me of my product so I’ve been using those but as soon as I get some of my sample merch I also plan to take additional photos of the real products.
  3. Learn from the data! Etsy (and most other platforms) seriously give you so much data! Learn from it – what are your customers searching for, which of your listings are getting the most impressions / visits / favorites? How can you use this information to both improve the quality of your listings, and to come up with additional products your customers would be interested in?
  4. Be willing to invest up front in marketing. I initially set a budget of $5 for Etsy promoted listings and $5 for Google shopping promoted listings. For both of these, they will promote your listing based on your specified search terms, but you only pay per click. I haven’t seen any traffic come in through Google (so no cost either!) but the Etsy promoted listings have been working so well that I upped my budget from $5 to $10/day.
  5. Use your marketing budget wisely. Pay attention to how much your spending and what listings you’re spending on. If you have listings that aren’t performing, take these out of your marketing spend and focus it on listings that are getting more clicks/engagement. Also, think about your total budget and how many listings you are dividing it between based on your average Cost Per Click (CPC) – for instance, my average CPC on Etsy is around $0.30-0.50. With my marketing budget of $10 and around 30 listings, that gets me about 1 click per listing – I’m better off focusing it on a few listings than spreading it too thin.
  6. Ask for feedback. I was pretty hesitant to show my shop to any real-life friends initially, but once I got over this initial self-consciousness, I was able to get some great & very helpful feedback from friends. Also consider using Etsy’s teams or Reddit for additional anonymous feedback. Side bonus, one of these folks might like your product enough to buy one which will be a huge help to get you started!
  7. Remember you are not designing products for yourself, but for customers! This is a hard one. For a while I was designing things more for myself – things that I found interesting/funny, but may not have broad appeal. Once I pulled myself out of that and started to think more broadly about who was shopping on Etsy and what they might find interesting, I was able to come up with some designs that seem to be doing better. Make sure you keep your audience in mind when you’re coming up with product ideas!

2 thoughts on “Side Hustle #1: First Orders In!

  1. Pingback: To Produce or to Drop-Ship? – Diary Of A Side Hustler

  2. Pingback: Getting started with merch design – Diary Of A Side Hustler

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