Just let me start off this post by saying I'm certainly not the be-all end-all when it comes to Etsy advice. There are many others who have been selling much longer then I have and have made a lot more money then me. But that being said, after selling on Etsy for 3 years and growing year over year, I do have some helpful tips and general observations that have helped me make it to the point I'm at today. I have also gotten several requests for general advice from new shop owners and friends so here we go!
1. PHOTOS! PHOTOS! PHOTOS!
I put this one at the top of my list because it might be the most important and I'm going to take a hot minute expanding on it. When you're selling a product online your photos are the only thing a buyer has to connect with. They can't touch it, try it on, smell it... you get the idea. So you better have some fantastic photos of your product that make people stop and look. Note: I said FANTASTIC photos. Not average, so so, maybe these will work if I throw my dog in there, photos. I mean professional grade product photos should be your goal. Invest in a SLR camera. Don't use your iPhone. I would also suggest investing in a photo editing program as well. Photoshop is my fav but I'm partial to Adobe products. You are competing with other shops that sell what you are trying to sell. So do everything you can to stand out. I see so many shops in the Etsy Forums asking why isn't my product selling? So I visit their shop and they have one photo per listing that probably was taken in the darkest room of their house, out of focus on the worst background choice possible. Take a minute to educate yourself on how to take a good product photo before you open your shop. If taking photos really isn't your thing find a friend who is good at it and offer to pay them a little to take them. Trust me it's worth it.
2. LISTING TITLES & TAGS
When you list a product for the first time in your Etsy shop, you'll have to fill out the Listing Details and Tags for that item. When choosing your listing titles select a set of words or a few phrases the best describes your product and that people would type in the search bar on Etsy. If you are selling a purple scarf something like: Women's Purple Scarf - Knitted Purple Scarf - Long Knitted Purple Scarf is what you want to go for. You should then use those same words and more in the Tags listing section. Use phrases again rather then single words. This is how people will find your product when they search and it's part of how Etsy ranks your products in searches.
3. CUSTOMER SERVICE & RESPONSE TIME
Everyone wants to feel like they're important and making your customers feel that way is key. I'm still honored every time I hear my Etsy phone cha-ching alert go off. "You like me..? You really like me!?" That sound means someone liked my product enough to give me their money. Even though I have had my Etsy shop for 3 years I treat every order, no matter how small with the same respect and love. I fill orders as soon as I can, usually the same day. I put care into my packaging and shipping so when someone receives their order they say wow, this is special...I feel special! I also answer private messages or questions I get ASAP no matter where I am. These days people expect immediate answers for things online and that is one way you can make sure you get the sale and they don't drift to another shop while they are waiting for an answer from you. Customer Reviews on Etsy play a huge roll in the sales process. I know as a buyer myself I will choose to buy or not buy based on a shop's reviews.
4. ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY
It really wasn't and your Etsy shop won't be either. One of the biggest things I learned really quickly with my shop is the orders / money will not come rolling in the minute your shop goes live. If it does, high five and drinks on you! But normally it will not. I only had 1 order the first month I opened and it slowly took off from there. Just plug away at it and keep adding more products. Whether Etsy just provides you with some extra spending money or you hope to do it one day as a full time job, everyone starts out the same and you will get back what you put into it. So have some patience but have fun too!