Have you ever wanted to start a side business through your blog?

I wanted to. Last October, I finally took the leap by starting an Etsy shop to sell bookish merchandise. It was one of my first experiences earning money from my blog (aside from “normal” monetization strategies, like affiliate links). At the time, I had been running my book blog for over 2 years, and I had grown a decent audience for it, so I figured that would help me pull off the launch.

I’ve been running my Etsy shop for 6 months now and while it hasn’t exactly made me rich, it has become a strong income stream. If you’ve been thinking of starting your own Etsy shop, I’m going to share exactly what I did, as well as what worked + didn’t work for me.

Firstly, what is Etsy?

etsyIf you’ve never heard of Etsy before, I would describe at as Amazon for handmade products. It’s essentially a marketplace for crafters, designers, and artisans to sell their products to the millions of people who visit Etsy each month. You can sell anythingthat is handmade or designed by you. They’ve also recently updated the terms of use so that you can even have the item produced in a factory (think printing presses, etc), as long as you designed the product and you get approval first.

You can also sell digital items, like WordPress themes, printable posts, and design elements. If you really want to

Once you sign up for Etsy, you can create your own “store” inside Etsy. You can set up your item listings, write your shop story, create your banner, and decide on your polices.There are limited opportunities to brand your shop, but it’s worth it to get access to Etsy’s wide audience.

So does starting an Etsy shop?

It’s really inexpensive to get started. There’s a listing fee of 20 cents for each item (must be renewed every 4 months) as well as a tiny transaction fee, but you do get to the keep almost all of the money you make.

[button url=”http://eepurl.com/bRjknz”] * Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * [/button]

In October 2015, I started my own Etsy shop

I run a book blog, and I wanted to create an extra income stream for my blog. Etsy seemed like the perfect option. I love crafting and creating jewelry, so I combined my love of books with my love of crafting to create Bookish Serendipity Co, where I sell bookish jewelry, accessories, notebooks, and more.

Want to start an Etsy shop? Once you’ve decided what you want to sell, you need to pick a niche. It’s just like starting a blog! Your niche needs to be a specific type of product for a specific type of shopper. What’s your niche going to be?

I came up with the idea at the very end of August 2015, and went from concept to Etsy shop in one month. Once I decided that I wanted to start selling bookish merchandise, I spent a few days doing research on what was already out there, and what I could do to make myself stand out.

I created a rough plan for myself about what I wanted to accomplish within my first 6 months, and what I needed to do to get myself there. I didn’t have a complete business plan yet, but I had something to start working from. If I had gone at it with no plan at all, I doubt I would have been dedicated and prepared enough to go from idea to biz in a month.

Once I was done with research, I jumped into creating

bloggersgonnablog
Here’s a sample of one of my products. I worked low-budget for my notebook selection, designing everything on Photoshop and ordering small quantities that I knew I could sell.

I have a tendency to get stuck in the research phase whenever I start a new project, but I knew that I wanted to avoid that when starting my Etsy shop. I made a point of finding a few great sources (Handmadeology was really helpful) and then diving into actually creating the products.

I was running on a budget when I was starting my Etsy shop, so I didn’t want to order 1000s of a product I wasn’t sure I would be able to sell right away. Instead, I ordered small batches of supplies that I could use to make my jewelry.

This was because:

  • I didn’t want to invest in something unless I knew I would earn the money back.
  • I wasn’t expecting large orders right away, so I figured I could slowly start sinking more money into my biz as it grew.
  • I had no intention of making my Etsy store a full-time gig, and I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on something that I wasn’t expecting to earn me a whole lot.

This has really helped me become profitable as an Etsy shop. I’m not trying to earn back thousands of dollars that I invested. Instead, I was out of the red within 2 months of doing business on Etsy.

[button url=”http://eepurl.com/bRjknz”] * Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * [/button]

Throughout the month before, I created + began executing a marketing plan

Marketing is HUGE if you want to stand out on Etsy. There are thousands of sellers and if you want to stand out, you’ve got to promote your products.

The second I came up with the idea and decided that I was actually going to start an Etsy shop, I started reaching out to bloggers to help me with the launch. I was already really involved in the book blogging community, so I had some great blogger friends who were able to help me out.

If you can collaborate with bloggers, do it.

I ran a blog tour and got around 15 book bloggers involved, which was HUGE for me. Not only did it help spread the word about the launch, but those posts still drive traffic to my Etsy shop to this day. If you’re considering running a blog tour, here are some tips:

  • If you can, reach out several months in advance. I was already friendly with most of the bloggers out the tour, so I was able to shoot them an email a month in advance to talk about my starting an Etsy shop, but I really should have gotten started pitching earlier.
  • Have a press kit with all of the information about your shop. This includes graphics, photos of your product, and details about what you’re asking for.
  • Be as helpful as possible for the bloggers. Offer several types of content (I had promo posts, interviews, guest posts, etc) and make it as easy as possible to say yes.

Building buzz when starting an Etsy shop

I started hinting at a new project in my posts and on social media for a few weeks before actually sharing what it was. This helped build some buzz so when I actually shared that I was going to be starting an Etsy shop, there were already people who were checking the blog that day for the sole purpose of finding out the news.

I did the same thing for the rest of the launch. I tried to keep an aura of mystery around the project, which meant not sharing ALL the details right away. Honestly, if I could do it again I would have actually shared more to help get people excited.

The launchshopstats

I launched my Etsy shop and earned $601 in the first two months. I was over the moon! I hadn’t expected to sell anything for a few weeks at least. The advice I had seen had said a lot about waiting 1-3 months for your first sale, so I was ecstatic to have actually earned something right away.

My expenses had been less than $100 when I started my Etsy shop. That means that I actually earned $500+ in profit in just 2 months (601.00- 89.94). It’s not enough to drop out of school and buy a private island, but it was some niche side money.

Sales were consistent over the next few months. I had a huge surge around Christmas, selling $400+ of product in just one month (that’s still my record), but it has mostly remained consistent so far this year.

[button url=”http://eepurl.com/bRjknz”] * Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * [/button]

What I did + did not do for promotion when starting my Etsy shop.

Well, starting my Etsy shop was an experience, for sure. I learned a lot about marketing and what makes some people buy as opposed to others, and there’s so much I would change if I could do it all over again. Here’s what I did and did not do to market my Etsy shop.

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I did

  • Reach out to + collaborate with bloggers
  • Run a blog tour to reach a new audience
  • Send emails to my email list.
  • Talk about the launch on the blog
  • Tweet and share multiple times a week on social media
  • Offer a short deal.

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I did not

  • Pay for advertising (print or digital).
  • Spend a lot of money on marketing materials (I spent less than $30)
  • Run webinars to promote the store to my audience (this doesn’t tend to work as well for physical products, either)
  • Post about the store on promo threads on Facebook, or share it in other people’s feeds (don’t do this!)

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If I could do it again, here’s what I would do.

  • Work even more on reaching out to bloggers and collaborating with them. This was one of my most effective ways of driving traffic.
  • Not offer a public coupon or discounts. This devalued my product, and it didn’t make much of a difference. I did offer a coupon to blog tour participants, though, which I would keep.
  • Send more launch emails to my email list. I sent a single email to my email list, and I can’t believe I didn’t utilize my list more!
  • Social media is such a powerful tool, and I would have loved to incorporate in across all platforms. I mostly used Twitter this time.

So was it a success? I’d have to say yes.

My biggest fear was doing all this planning for the launch and having my parents end up being the only purchasers. Yikes. I knew that on average, you have to wait a couple months to get your first sale, but I wanted to be different.

And I ended up earning $600 within 2 months after starting an Etsy shop.

There’s so much advice out there that’s talking about how someone made thousands on Etsy in a week, which is great for that person, but not something you should be striving for because it simply isn’t realistic. But $600? I achieved that, and you absolutely can too.

Author: Jessica Bernt

Ready to rock your blog? Jessica is the blogger and creative mind behind Fierce Blogging. Before starting Fierce Blogging, she worked on another successful book blog for 3 years, as well as multiple online businesses. She's passionate about helping others build profitable blogs, and hot chocolate.

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