Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
An aspiring Etsypreneur recently asked this question:
What advice do you have for newbies like me who are just starting out? I’m sure you have a ton, so maybe what are your top five?
She may have envisioned an answer that covered a number of topics such as product selection, photography, SEO, pricing, customer service, etc. Indeed all of those are very important and we’re going to touch on each one over the next three weeks .
But they aren’t the top five.
The top five “make-it or break-it” keys for success are all attitudes. Viewpoints. Perspectives. Mindsets. Beliefs. It doesn’t matter what you call them. All that matters is that you have them and that you understand them.
Here they are:
1. Business or Hobby –
The very first thing you have to decide is whether or not you want your Etsy shop to be a business or a hobby. You really can’t have it both ways.
I’ve heard disagreement on this. People love what they make and enjoy making it, so why can’t it be both? It’s fun to create things or go out and find great vintage treasures and sell them for a profit. Profit equals a business, right?
I don’t think it does. I think you can have a “profitable hobby” that’s not a business. The distinction is two-fold:
- How far do you want to go with it?
- How much are you willing to sacrifice for it?
You might be totally satisfied with a hobby that puts $100 a month in your pocket, but a business that only makes $1200 a year isn’t going to be pleasing for long. How much money do you want or need to make from your Etsy shop?
What about sacrifice? A hobby that “requires” you to burn the midnight oil or work for months with very little coin in your pocket to prove your success is quickly going to lose it’s luster. All the sudden it’s no fun and since you’re not committed, you quit.
A business, on the other hand, has an entirely different set of expectations tied to it. You expect it to feel like work. You expect building it to take a little time.
Sure, you can enjoy parts of it, but you know that there will be parts you don’t enjoy, such as shipping, or photo-editing. But since you know these are part of the business plan, you do them.
So the first thing you have to decide is this: Is my Etsy shop a hobby or a business?
The answer to that question is going to help you think through some realistic goals.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you go grab some paper and a pen. But you can if you want to. Just make sure the pencil has an eraser, because if you’re going to work online, you need “adjustable” goals.
That may go against conventional goal-setting wisdom but I can tell you it’s darn near impossible to have “hard” goals in the online business world. The space is just too unpredictable, especially for those of us learning as we go, with no budget, and no established base of online followers/customers.
So why have goals at all then?
Goals for your online business, even though they must remain flexible, are very important because they help you establish a vision and guidelines for success. A vision, which we’ll talk about in just a second, is absolutely essential to success online.
Here are some good examples of goals for an Etsy seller.
Hobby seller: Fund my craft habit; pay for things like new digital cameras and daily fabric deliveries from the UPS man; all while earning enough money to buy a monthly dinner out so my husband gets some reward for being so sweet about my complete occupation of the home office.
Business seller goals might be more specific; and more expensive:
- Pay for the car payment and insurance
- Cover my tuition and books (or my kid’s tuition and books)
- Establish a platform for my dream of writing
- Provide an online extension of my existing “real world” business
- Allow me to quit my regular job and be a full-time business owner
You get the idea. It’s different for everyone and you can probably tell me in about two seconds what you’d like your business to do for you. If not, you should think about it a little bit.
Because more important than goals, is…
I’m a major believer in the power of the brain to create opportunities as a result of vision. I’m not going to try and explain it, or give any fancy names for the process.
I’m just telling you that if you want to see real success in your life, in any arena, then you can give that success a major jump-start by seeing it first in your mind.
If your goal is to cover your tuition and books then you literally ought to visualize hitting the “pay with PayPal” button on your school’s payment page and paying with your Etsy funds. If your goal is to be able to have the customers who buy from you at a farmer’s market be able to buy again at 2:00am next Thursday from their computer, then you need to spell it out. Talk about it with your spouse or friends. SEE IT HAPPENING.
I’ll let you in on a little trick I use. I have this email list. Chances are that you’re reading this because you received one of those emails.
When I look at my list, I always think of the number of people on the list as ten times the actual number! So if it’s actually 100 people on the list, I think of it as 1000. If it’s 1000, I think of it as 10000, and so on. When I write an email or a post, I tell myself that it’s going out to that many people.
Call me crazy, but I know that this makes me do a better job. It keeps me focused on my goal, which is to help lots of people succeed in becoming successful online entrepreneurs.
When I hit “send”, I see ten times as many people getting the email as actually are. One day, there will actually be that many. Seeing it today is making that day come sooner.
I’m not trying to go all “Law of Attraction” on you here. I’m simply saying that you have three choices. No vision, a bad vision, or a good vision.
The original question is “What are your top five bits of advice for newbies?” A good vision is definitely on that list.
4. Etsy is a venue.
Here is a very important mindset. The Internet is a place more than a thing. The place has inhabitants. The inhabitants are people.
The most common misconception I see is sellers who think of Etsy as a business and them as a salesperson for that business. Or even less realistic they see Etsy as a salesperson for their business.
Neither of these are really true. Etsy is indeed a business, but it’s not a store. They don’t sell anything. They don’t make anything. They rent you space in the marketplace they’ve built over many years.
Etsy is a place to sell your stuff. It’s no different than a craft show, a farmer’s market, or a shopping mall. If you want to sell there, you pay the fee and set-up shop. It’s as simple as that.
What you don’t do is count on the market to do all the work for you. You know that it’s up to you to do the most important work:
- Set-up your booth nicely
- Present your products convincingly
- Price your products competitively
- Understand who else sells what you sell and how they do it
- Understand what motivates your customers to buy
- Be present in your booth and engage in conversations
- Offer free samples or other incentives to try your products
- Be creative about promotions, packaging, and bundle deals
- Consider customer retention – get email addresses, tell them about your website.
The list goes on and on! Anyone who sells at markets knows full well just how much work it really is. It’s also not a one day a week kind of deal. Professional market sellers often sell at four or five markets a week!
Imagine Etsy as a giant building full of sellers and buyers. You can rent a room in this building for super-cheap. The only catch is, the door to your shop is usually closed. Some people will just happen to drop by, and every once in awhile you might get a little display table in the front lobby (akin to being on the front page), but for the most part it is up to you to get people into your shop. (excerpt from Mind Your Item Count on EverythingEtsy.com)
Think of Etsy as “a place” you sell your items. It doesn’t have to be the only place. It might just be the first place of many.
You might stand up one day a few years from now and tell a story that begins with “When we first started, we sold everything on Etsy.”
Etsy is a place. Etsy is a venue. Etsy is a community. You are the business owner who is trying to make it work starting there.
5. Who do you work for?
The fifth attitude I consider essentially important to success online is the understanding that you are a business owner. You work for yourself.
If you’ve never owned a business before, this can be an adjustment. It might even seem overwhelming at times when you think about all the various issues.
Taxes, incorporation, budgets, etc. can be overwhelming and often they are the things new business owners think they should be concerning themselves with.
They may think that because, when working for someone else, that’s what the boss said was important. They may think that because that’s like the unknown “dark continent” of owning your own business.
These aren’t the first things a successful business owner considers. Certainly, they are important, but they are a moot point without customers and profits. No customers, no profit. No profit, no taxes.
As a business owner the first thing you have to think about and look at in depth is your offering. What do you offer? What do you sell? Whom do you serve? What makes them buy? What makes them not buy? Who else do they like? Where do they hang out?
So maybe my top five list should have been more like this:
What does the customer want?
Why does the customer want that?
What does the customer need?
Why does the customer need that?
Who is my customer and where is she right now?
Business owners know that the customer is the most important thing. Without a sale there is no business. You must know your customer and how you plan to serve them.
I’ve heard people say things like “If you make/sell something you’re passionate about, the customers will come.” I’m sorry, but that isn’t entirely true. At least not in any real-world predictable kind of way. You have to find the point where what you can make or acquire, what people want, and what you’re passionate about meet. See choosing the right products .
You have to think like a business owner. There has to be some analytical thought and number crunching going on if you want to succeed beyond the hobby level.
Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude. – Zig Ziglar
The first five steps are all in your head and in your heart. You’ve got to know what you want, and have goals and a vision so you know where you’re going and when you’ve arrived. You have to understand what Etsy is and is not, and you have to think like a business owner.
After that, you can start looking at the practical matters of doing this! And that’s what we’ll be talking about for the next three weeks.
So, let me ask you, what other attitudes, mindsets, or beliefs do you think are important for selling on Etsy? I’m sure your feedback can help us all in the comments.