4 Myths About Selling On Etsy That Are Complete Garbage: Simplify Your Sales

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By Morgan Nield. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

  • “The market is too saturated with products to make a real income as a seller on Etsy”
  • “If i just tweak my SEO ONE MORE TIME I’ll finally start showing up in Etsy search…”
  • “I’ve tried marketing and maybe it works for other people, but not in MY shop with MY unique product.”

Ever found yourself spouting off one of those? Yep, we’ve allllll been guilty. And I think, to some extent, part of that is because it’s EASY to justify why something isn’t working if we have a whole slew of excuses we can pull out of our back pocket to back us up.

It helps us save a bit of face, right?!

But in today’s episode of the Simplify Your Sales podcast, it’s time to clear the air-- and do a little mythbusters-style action because we are going to CRUSH those myths about selling on Etsy and hopefully empower you to take action to dispel those beliefs about your OWN shop. Because it kills me when I see an Etsy shop that uses one or more of these excuses for a crutch, when in reality, it’s NOT true and you just need to approach things differently.

And we’re not just going to talk about the myth and say “oh, and by the way, that’s not true.” because that’s NOT helpful at all and doesn’t teach you a dang thing. It’s like saying “oh, take better photos!” which to me was always a NO DUH sort of moment-- but that advice doesn’t help you in any way-- it just points out what you’re doing wrong and leaves you to figure it out on your own.

So NONE of that today. We’re diving into REAL examples and sharing REAL strategies today. I’m all about taking action on this podcast, right? So let’s do this!

Okay, I wanted to start by tackling one of the BIGGEST myths I see on Etsy that I really wish would just disappear.

Myth #1

If i just tweak my SEO ONE MORE TIME I’ll finally start showing up in Etsy search and make sales…”

Yep, we’re going full-steam ahead busting a major SEO myth right out of the gates.

Unless you are brand new to the Etsy scene and hearing about SEO for the first time, I can almost 100% guarantee you that your SEO does NOT need any additional tweaking.

Now I know that goes against basically every Etsy-ingrained doctrine you’ve heard on the forums and in the sellers handbook and those 400 random Google articles you’ve read.

But I’ve gotta be honest with you-- that compulsion you have to constantly check your Etsy search stats and see how many views you’ve gotten that day from your keywords is actually hurting your shop’s success-- and the reason why is because you’re so zeroed in on this ONE aspect that you’re actually ignoring all the additional possibilities and traffic avenues that you could be pursuing-- and getting a much higher return on investment on.

SEO is a fantastic foundational strategy, but once you’ve got that foundation set up-- regardless of whether it’s bringing you 5 visits a day or 500-- you’ve got to move on or you’ll never build anything greater.

Little known fact, but working on OUTSIDE marketing strategies, like the ones I teach my students inside Mastermind Your Marketing, will actually BOOST your SEO without requiring you to to constantly have an Erank or Marmalead tab open on Google chrome. The reason for that is that as you market your shop in ways BEYOND Etsy SEO and keywords, Etsy actually recognizes and takes note of the traffic and sales you are driving into your shop on your own-- and they essentially “REWARD” your shop for it and start showing you more frequently in search results.

So key takeaway here: SEO is great as a foundational strategy, but once it’s set up, LEAVE IT ALONE and start focusing on building a marketing presence OFF of Etsy-- not only will you feel more in control of your shop’s success, but you’ll boost your Etsy SEO ranking as well, and that’s what we call a win-win. The fact that you won’t be dreaming nonstop about keyword research anymore is just an added bonus ;)

Alright, myth #2 -

“I’ve tried marketing before and maybe it works for other people, but not in MY shop with MY unique product.”

Maybe you’ve dabbled a bit at Instagram or tried your hand at pinning to Pinterest for a couple of weeks.

And you’re discouraged because you’re not seeing results right away.

I think a lot of the disconnect here comes from the fact that, as cliche as it is, we live in this digital age where it seems like EVERYONE but you can become an overnight success and that it just sort of “magically” happens to the people who are meant to succeed.

And so it’s frustrating that you’re giving it your best-- albeit not super long term-- shot at things and NOTHING IS HAPPENING. The business needle is NOT moving.

It’s totally tempting to start to believe that there’s something wrong with YOU or your shop and that marketing just doesn’t work in YOUR situation selling YOUR unique products.

Can I make something super clear right now? ANd if you take nothing else from this podcast episode, I want THIS to be the thing that you zone in on and remember for at least the next 15 minutes.

Yes, you are unique and special and wonderful.

But you’re not THAT special.

And your shop is not THAT unique.

And you and your shop are NOT the exception to successful marketing.

Now, hear me out-- I don’t mean that in a descending sort of way at all. I mean that in my 4+ years coaching Etsy sellers, I’ve yet to see a product that couldn’t benefit from a solid marketing strategy.

And trust me-- I’ve seen it ALL. Painted rocks, chapel veils, antique chandeliers, travel guidebooks, yarn holders-- seriously-- I’VE SEEN IT ALL.

And I’m here to tell you that NONE OF THOSE are magically exempt from the benefits of marketing.

The reason I am SO passionate about this is because guys, this one hits SO close to home ;)

Can I share a little story with you real quick? Well, it’s my podcast and you’re listening so I’m going to take that as a yes. If you’re not into the story, that’s fine and you can switch over to the radio or something. But for those of you who are interested in a Morgan Nield college flashback that I’m somehow going to MIRACULOUSLY turn into an Etsy marketing life lesson, buckle up:

During my last semester in college, my 3 roommates were photographers. This doesn’t mean a whole lot except for the fact that whenever we hung out all together, they just wanted to take photos.

As much as I loved these girls (and truly-- I did. 2 of them were bridesmaids at my wedding), I detested the evenings where we were all together and the DSLR cameras would come out.

I would tell them over and over again “I hate taking photos. I’m never going to be a photographer. How is this possibly your idea of fun?!” Like, I legit didn’t understand how anyone could find this ENJOYABLE.

Imagine the irony of irony when I decided to open an Etsy shop and realized that I was going to have to take photos of my product. Cue the hyperventillated breathing.

Like any normal human, I protested this for a while. As I was prepping to start LittleHighbury, I would tell my husband over and over and over again “I want to sell on Etsy but I just HATE taking photos. Taking photos sucks! I hate this! Where’s the ice cream!?”

And he put up with this for a while (he’s a saint and one day I’m going to have him on this podcast and you’re going to realize that!), but one night I think he had had enough of my moaning and groaning because he turned to me and said, “I think the only reason you “hate” taking photos is because you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Now this made me angry.

But not because he had said it-- but because the more I sat and festered over the accusation, the more I realized it was true.

I’m a perfectionist and I like to do things right or not at all. It’s a type-A thing that can be a blessing or a curse.

Photography-- because it was something I had never invested any time into learning-- was something that I didn’t know how to do. I had no idea how to use a DSLR, I didn’t understand photography composition, and photo editing? How in the heck do you even know what contrast is good? Heck, what is contrast?!

And because I had no idea what I was doing, I had decided that I “hated” photography and that was that.

So can I make a little bit of a guess about why you “hate” marketing? ;)

Now don’t get me wrong-- marketing isn’t a natural fit for everyone-- and sometimes it takes a while to get into a groove.

But if you’re currently haphazardly marketing your Etsy shop willy-nilly and hating every stinkin' minute of it, I’ve got a little secret for you: it’s because you don’t know what you’re doing.

I used to “hate” marketing too-- I felt like it was sleazy, unnatural, and took away from the one thing I enjoyed about selling on Etsy: creating. I didn’t understand how some people loved marketing because in my experience? It sucked!

But as I made a mindset shift-- and invested money into hiring a business coach and enrolling in some INCREDIBLE marketing courses that I share portions of inside Mastermind Your Marketing-- I learned how to market effectively (aka- not just asking for the sale every single time) by providing value to my customers, you better believe that I started to fall in love with the whole process.

Nowadays? It’s all I want to talk about with you guys!

And you know why? It’s because I finally know what I’m doing :)

It took a while, but over the past 9 years I’ve learned how to market in a way that’s authentic, natural, and--get this-- actually brings in sales!

(And trust me-- marketing gets REALLY addicting when you see your efforts directly translate into sales)

So the whole “marketing isn’t for me and my shop!”? Yeah, I don’t buy that ;)

In fact, I have students inside Mastermind Your Marketing who join and I send out this initial question where I ask them you know, “What made you decide to join MYM?”

And A LOT of them have said it’s because they hate marketing but they know it’s important.

And guess what? A few weeks into the program? The lightbulbs start to flicker to the “on” position. There are aha! Moments happening left and right...and then-- inevitably-- I get an email or message from them. In fact, I just got one a few weeks ago where she said:

“I used to HATE marketing-- it just didn’t make sense to me. You’ve outlined things SO clearly inside Mastermind Your Marketing-- especially the “why” of the things we do inside the program-- that I’m starting to actually ENJOY planning out my shop’s marketing system. I finally feel like I’ve got control over my shop!”

And that, my friends, is why I teach what I teach. And that’s why I need you to commit to investing in your marketing strategy. Whether it’s with me or another mentor, no matter WHAT you sell, I guarantee you there’s a way that marketing can and will benefit it. Now, sometimes we have to make some tweaks to your product before so that it becomes something marketable, which we cover in the product validation pre-lesson inside Mastermind Your Marketing-- but once you’ve validated your product idea, investing in learning how to market your Etsy shop is going to be one of THE most rewarding things you do with your time and give you such a feeling of self-confidence and control in your shop’s future success. I mean, understanding marketing changes EVERYTHING.

And I want you to know that *gasp!* I’ve actually followed my OWN advice on this as well. I invested in a photography online course, bought myself a dslr camera, and while i was selling physical products on Etsy, you better believe I was the one behind the camera staging the shots and editing the photos afterwards.

Once you know what you’re doing, it’s not too bad. I’m just saying.

Okay, moving onto Myth #3-- and this is one I am CRAZY passionate about. Yes, I realize I’ve said that about all of these so far. But this time I mean it!

“I don’t have to invest $$$ in my Etsy shop because I can just find all of the information I need out there for FREE.”

Yep, there’s this super-popular myth out there that floats around various Etsy conversation circles that as long as you’re willing to hustle SUPER hard, spend MONTHS researching your butt off, and test and tweak every single detail of your shop, you can become wildly profitable with $0 investment, because #hardwork and #googlesavestheday.

Can I just be the first to say it? That is RIDICULOUS :P

Now, I’m not saying the hustle mentality is ridiculous-- seriously-- I admire the HECK out of all you hustlers out there-- I KNOW it’s not easy.

No, the ridiculous part is this teensy, tiny detail that everyone seems to forget when talking about how they built their businesses “for free.”

Searching for answers and strategy on Google (or the Etsy forums, heaven forbid) is NOT actually “free.”

(wait...what?!?!)

Now, I will fully acknowledge that it may not cost you MONEY to use Google as your business mentor…

It IS costing you something else.

TIME.

Yep, we’re going there today :)

But nothing is ever truly “free” and I can’t stress that enough.

Let me show you what I mean.

Now really quick, let’s establish something to make sure we’re on the same page: I’m guessing your time is valuable-- in fact, I’m willing to bet as you’re listening to this podcast that you’re doing other things at the same time-- maybe driving home from work, playing with your kiddos on the playroom floor, making dinner for your apparently never-been-fed-before ravenging family. I mean, is it only my family that acts like they’ve been starving for days when it approaches dinner time? I promise I feed them! I minored in culinary arts for crying outloud-- trust me-- I don’t skip feedings at my house.

Okay, but back to the point I was trying to make: Your time (and my time!) is a limited resource.

So let’s talk about this “time” investment myth

Now, initially, investing in time may seem to save you money.

And it’s definitely the “safety net” option for a lot of us (myself included when I started!) because let’s face it: there’s this (however irrational) fear that if we invest real-deal MONEY into our business, we *might* not actually get it back.

And when you’ve worked your buns off for that profit (and yes, I KNOW how many Instagram posts it took to make that sale!), it’s dang HARD to throw it back into your business for something that only “might” pay off.

Over the years (and I’ve been at this “selling online” thing for over 9-- almost 10 years now!), I’ve come to realize just how backwards that way of thinking is.

It’s time to stop looking at business investments as “risky” and instead look at it as the most straightforward way to GROW your business.

Because guess what?

Investing time in your business? That’s risky, too.

You don’t know if the strategies that you spent HOURS researching for the past week will even pay off.

And you’re definitely NOT going to get that time back.

In my experience (below!), investing $$$ in my business has been the FASTEST and most STRAIGHTFORWARD way of growing my business.

My history in investing in my biz.

If you’ve followed along with me at all, you know that one of my first “business” investments was a $500 60-minute business coaching call back in 2013.

This call was the SCARIEST thing I had done in my business up to this point.

Before this initial investment, I had boot-strapped my way through my first online shop-- picking up as many free “tips” and “tricks” as I could along the way and spending a ton of TIME (see-- there it pops up again!) in that “two steps forward, one step back” phase.

Because I had NO clue what I was doing and was relying on a bunch of free articles from around the web to fashion a makeshift “strategy,” I’ll be the first to admit it was far from glamorous and definitely NOT smooth sailing.

I like to think of it as my “smeared mascara” business phase. Hey, we all have those right? ;)

Bottom line? I invested a lot of TIME during this phase.

And yes, it was technically “free” in terms of money. I didn’t actually have to spend a dime figuring this stuff out via Google.

But it was costing me in other ways.

TIME.

PROFIT.

MY FREAKIN’ SANITY.

So in September 2013, I booked that business call and made a non-refundable $250.

(and then proceeded to almost lose my lunch because $250!!!!!).

That business call changed EVERYTHING for me.

And no, I’m not just talking about the crystal clarity I got from actually being handed a STRATEGY and not just a bunch of random tips and tricks….

...I’m talking about the fact that instead of wasting 100+ hours (ps- that’s MONTHS in stay-at-home-mom standard time) like I did last time trying to hodge-podge together a makeshift “plan” on my own (that revolved around nearly 100% SEO if you’re wondering) ....

...I had one CUSTOMIZED and COMPLETED in just 60 minutes with an actual e-commerce marketing strategist (and not some random website ghostwriter).

Now, that’s not to say that it didn’t take time to implement said plan.

I still had to do the work. Yes, it was laid out for me, but I still had to IMPLEMENT it.

But because I had already created and outlined my entire marketing system plan on that 60-minute $500 phone call, I was able to jump into that IMPLEMENTATION phase right away.

(you know-- the part of the strategy where you actually make money. Aka, NOT the “research + development” phase that we all get so comfortable in but earns us $0 ;)

Shop #2 results

And that led me to earn over $1,000 my first month of running my Etsy shop, Little Highbury, selling baby headbands and accessories.

Shop #1 results

For comparison/contrasting sake, my stats for month 1 of my first Etsy shop with an 100% FREE strategy were a big fat 0.

Now, up front, it seems glaringly obvious which one cost me more money…

The $500 marketing call, right?!

Actually, no.

Because when you look at the cold, hard data, both of those options cost me something:

  • Shop #1: I invested $0 and earned $0, which resulted in…(wait for it).... $0.
  • Shop #2: I invested $500 and earned $1252.40, which resulted in +$752.40 just in month one!

See where I’m going with this?!

Shop #1 breakdown:

Shop #1 cost me in TIME. I spent MONTHS researching the heck out of my SEO strategy and having nightmares about keywords. And that was BEFORE I even implemented them. Now, were those keywords “free” to implement in terms of money? But they cost me in lost revenue.

How? Because there were shops in the same niche as me who were busy making sales and filling orders while I was too busy researching and re-researching keywords behind-the-scenes to have the time to ACTIVELY do something with my shop that would actually result in sales.

Shop #2 breakdown:

Now shop #2 cost me in MONEY. I spent $500 and 60 minutes with a business coach. Day one of opening my shop, I was in the negative by -$500. By day 30, I had made a gross profit of $752.40 (which actually netted around $675.00-- I had a high markup on my product ;)

So the bottom line?

Investing that $500 actually made me MORE money.

As counter-intuitive as it seems, investing MONEY in your business is the fastest way to grow your revenue.

I need you to understand this: NOTHING in business is free.

(dang it!)

You’re either going to have to invest TIME or MONEY in growing your Etsy shop. There are NO exceptions to this.

For me, I’ve always found money to be the better investment overall. Yes, there are definitely things I still Google to quickly figure out, and you can find a lot of incredible content out there for “free.”

But for other things (ie- like adding custom CSS to my site, designing promo graphics, or creating landing pages), spending the $1,000 to my graphic designer is MORE THAN WORTH THE COST of trying to figure it out on my own and losing valuable hours (let’s be honest: DAYS) that *could* be spent on strategies that actually make me money.

And give me more time with my family :)

(fun fact: at this point in 9+ years selling online, I’ve invested over $100,000 in business investments and I can count on one hand the number of times they DIDN’T pay off. ANd yes, I realize that number might seem a little extreme to you right now. Remember that I’ve been doing this for a LONG time. Don’t ever compare your beginning to my middle-- it’s not fair to either of us :)

Whew-- see? Told you I was passionate about this myth of building a business for “free”.

Okay, and finally, let’s wrap it up with myth #4. I know, I know-- you thought we were never going to get there. But we made it!

Myth #4

“The market is too saturated with products to make a real income as a seller on Etsy”

So while I’m going to myth-bust this statement, obviously, because that’s what I’ve been doing this entire episode, I’m actually going to agree with PART of it-- the market on Etsy IS totally saturated.

There’s no point in beating around the bush-- there are A LOT of sellers on Etsy and more are popping up everyday. It is CROWDED on there, my friend.

And so when you’ve got your digital printables shop set up and suddenly realize you’re competing against 1.3 million OTHER listings to get found on search, it’s easy to believe that the market is just TOO saturated to sell in.

But that’s only partially true.

Yes, if you ONLY rely on Etsy SEO and you’re competing against those millions of listings for search placement, totally-- it’s going to be tough sledding to even get ONE pair of eyes on your product.

BUT.

When you start focusing your marketing efforts OFF of Etsy and take ownership of driving your OWN traffic to your shop, you’ll quickly find that saturated competition?

It becomes completely irrelevant.

And that is nothing short of a MAGICAL feeling, my friend.

The key to getting found on Etsy even in a RIDICULOUSLY saturated marketplace-- is to do it DIFFERENT.

While everyone else is hustling their buns off and checking their SEO for the 20th time of the day, YOU are actively marketing your shop in OTHER ways.

Ways that don’t require you to fall down a keyword rabbit hole and compete directly with hundreds of thousands of other Etsy shops selling the exact same dang thing you are. Now obviously yours is better-- you know that and I know that-- but in the world of SEO, it’s hard to help the average shopper realize that if that’s the ONLY tool you’re using.

So let’s make the competition COMPLETELY irrelevant and start focusing on driving traffic directly into your shop.

It won’t matter if you show up on page 20 of search results-- because you’ve created additional EASIER and FASTER ways for your customers to find you.

And then-- just like we talked about in Myth #1 -- once you start implementing your own marketing and driving your own traffic, your SEO kicks itself up a notch or two or fifty and you start showing up in more and more search results on Etsy for more and more people.

It’s basically the biggest snowball effect you can create.

And if you’re looking for help in generating that outside traffic, be sure to check out Mastermind Your Marketing because that’s literally EXACTLY what the program teaches you how to do.

*****

Whew-- okay, we covered A LOT and hopefully you were able to see things a little bit differently than how you’ve maybe approached them in the past.

TAKE ACTION

Okay, so what’s the take action for this episode? Well, obviously, to stop believing these myths, right?!

But also I want you to start taking OWNERSHIP for your shop’s success. It’s not up to Etsy to send you traffic and sales, and it’s not fair to blame them for your lack of either as well.

So I want you to sit down when you get a minute-- because again, I’m fairly confident you’re multitasking while you listen to this episode-- but when you get a chance, sit down and pick ONE thing you can do to take OWNERSHIP of your shop’s success. Is there a marketing strategy you can implement that doesn’t start with the letters “SEO”? A program you’ve had your eye on (hint hint: Mastermind Your Marketing. But in all seriousness, I’d love to help you figure all this out so you’re not on your own)? Whatever it is, I want you to write down ONE way you’re going to take OWNERSHIP of your shop’s success. And then put that post-it or scrap paper or napkin or whatever it is that you scribbled it down on-- somewhere you can see it everyday to remind you that YOU are in charge of your shop’s success.

You’ve got this my friend!

46 episodes