Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Selling your poducts on etsy and beyond: my story

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Tips for selling online through etsy and website shops
I am often asked what it's like to be an Etsy seller, how I decided what to sell and what happened after I opened my shop doors.

I'm pretty much an open book, so in an effort to address many of those questions, I thought I'd share my perspective on what it's like to sell on Etsy and what has happened since I launched my first shop.

***At the end of this post I also share a load of helpful tips and points to consider when selling your handmade goods on Etsy (or another online venue).

Finding the Right Product to Sell in your Etsy Shop

It's an interesting thing, that game of trying to find the "it" product. My husband and I often smack our heads and say, "why didn't I come up with THAT?!" We're still wishing we had been the ones to invent the post-it note.

But if you're looking to be, or already are an Etsy seller, you know that Etsy is about standing out. It's about being unique. It's about bringing your creativity, your uniqueness and your passion and hoping people like it and if they do, you've found "it".


Choosing what to Sell on Etsy can be a Process

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It was January 2011 when I first opened my Etsy shop doors: Shannon Sorensen Designs. It was a bit of a whirlwind as I look back on it. A time full of excitement and motivation. It was at that time I began this blog to document all my sewing adventures.

Choosing what I wanted to sell came easily. I was bursting with creativity. I was sewing and selling pillow covers, baby bibs and burp cloth sets, blankets, nursery and home decor, all with love and passion. I even tried my hand at Ink Blot T-shirts and Ink Blot Onesies, which was crazy fun. (Watch some of my surprising ink blot designs come to life)

But at one point, I wanted to introduce another product to my shop, and since I was still fairly new to Etsy and hadn't settled on a definite direction, I figured, why not include home decor pillows and skin care washcloths in the same shop?  Such a branding faux-pas as I look back, but what did I know? If they sold, they sold. So I decided to try it.

My Etsy "It" Product

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Creative business can be a tricky thing because you never really know what will sell. It's coming from your heart and head so no matter what trends you follow, in the end you have to go with your gut. 

When something really speaks to you, like this new product did to me, you bring it with all you've got and if there was one thing I really cared about, it was my skin care washcloth line because it meant a lot to me personally.

Sensitive skin issues had hit me hard and in an effort to calm my skin down, I had begun making my own soft washcloths to use for gentle cleansing. The difference in my skin, when switching from regular washcloths to these soft cloths, was almost immediate. Instead of turning red and irritated after I washed my face, it was finally calm for the first time in a long time.  I knew that I was onto something and if I could help bring relief to other people suffering from sensitive skin irritation, it was my job to get it to them.

This decision to introduce my soft, sensitive skin washcloth line was one of those moments when you know deep down it's something big.  My husband wasn't totally convinced this would be a big seller, but in the end, I knew I wanted to share this skin care godsend with the word, and all at once, the first Fairface™ Washcloths were introduced into the market place. (If you look at my sold items, you'll see how quickly they took off.)

Make and Sell What Inspires You And The Rest Will Follow 

I started in one place and ended up in another. That's what happens a lot in my life. And what I've learned, is that if you never start anything, you will never get where you are meant to go.

Over the course of these 5 years, my ambitions have shifted, and while pillow cases, baby bibs and nursery blankets are someone else's passion, mine has become evident to me: Fairface™ Washcloths

One year ago in September, I phased Fairface™ Washcloths out of my first etsy shop (which I recently closed) and opened a 2nd Etsy shop specifically for Fairface™ Washcloths. In addition, I launched my own website: FairfaceWashcloths.com. Specific branding goes a long way and the growth and opportunities that have come as a result of those decisions are amazing and I feel incredibly blessed. I also feel very fulfilled and happy to share these washcloths that mean so much to me, with others who can benefit from them.

The Passion behind Fairface™ Washcloths

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Fairface™ Washcloths: products that help people
Put simply, I care about skin care products that help people. 

I care about providing a product that can help eliminate someone's suffering and help their skin feel and look better.

Fairface™ Washcloths, to me, are about helping people feel comfortable, accepting and beautiful in their own skin. And every time I hear back from a happy customer about how Fairface™ Washcloths have helped their sensitive skin, it reaffirms that deep down feeling from all those years ago, that this was the right decision.

xo ~Shannon

Shannon, of Shannon Sorensen Designs is the Founder and CEO of Fairface™ Washcloths, a line of specialty skin care washcloths and face cloths, soft and soothing for sensitive skin.


Want to open your own Etsy shop? First ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you good at?
  • What is your unique spin on it, i.e. how can you give an ordinary pillow cover your unique touch? Make it look different? Use materials and designs different than other sellers?
  • Do you love making it?
  • Do you enjoy just the design process, the making process, or both?
  • Would you be happy making hundreds of them?
  • Not sure what to make? Don't panic! Try a few things and see what happens. It's a process. 
  • Don't be afraid to share yourself and your talents with the world. If you never try, you'll never know what could have been.

Tips for Selling on Etsy or other online shop:

  • Make sure you have the correct business licenses (check with your city and state)
  • Understand how and when to collect and pay state sales taxes, if applicable
  • Read and follow the Etsy or other online shop guidelines
  • Learn about the labeling requirements to sell your products (for textile products, see FTC textile label requirements)
  • Don't purchase too many things up front (labels, packaging, etc.). See what works, what doesn't, what you love and what you don't. After you decide what you like, you can begin purchasing larger quantities and get better pricing.
  • Have questions? Consult Etsy forums, other sellers, and even your local small business administration. It's not as complicated as it feels. Take it step by step. 
  • Learn about branding. It's key to a focused marketing strategy.
  • Market yourself!! I can't emphasize this enough. Don't wait for Etsy to bring buyers to you, or you'll be very disappointed. In order to be successful online, you must market your own products! Launch a blog and social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.) highlighting your products and behind the scenes. Drive traffic to your shop!!

Final advice for selling on etsy or your website:

  • Do what you love.
  • Do what brings you joy.
  • Do what feels fulfilling.
  • Focus, focus, focus. Often, you can stretch yourself thin on time and money by chasing too many ideas at once. Focus on 1 thing at a time and do it really well. The outcome of your efforts will drive your next move.
  • Experience is Golden. Reach out to other etsy / online sellers and bloggers. In my experience, many people are very willing to help and offer advice! 
  • Try different venues. There's nothing wrong with having more than one place to sell your online goods. Being a seller on Etsy doesn't mean you can't sell elsewhere too.
  • Don't get bogged down by negativity. Some people just don't get it, but stick with your intuition!
  • Take it step-by-step. It might feel overwhelming because you don't know everything right now, but all of the greats got started somewhere just like you.
  • This is yours. If you don't like something, change it. Follow where your inspiration leads.

Wishing you much success and happiness!
xo - Shannon

More questions I didn't cover? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Do you have an etsy or other online shop? I'd love to hear your experiences and tips as well! 


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