Artist Opening an ESTY Shop? Word of Caution
Thanks for stopping by to read my blog today. I thought that I would provide some insight on my ETSY shop, some of the struggles that I have had and how I am trying to work through them
The name of my shop is "A Girl From Tribeca" and I started my shop a few years ago. My focus at the start was to try to pick one type of accessory to sell with my custom art printed onto the fabric. I decided on umbrellas because they are big and would capture my complete designs. I also don't see too many umbrellas on the streets of New York City that really stand out to me so I thought this was another good reason for my product choice.
Below is a picture of some of my umbrellas to give you a sense of what I am selling. These are all digital designs that I have created on my Apple IPAD Pro with my Apple Pencil. As you can see, the umbrellas are bright, colorful and unique and I am happy to be able to sell them at less than $40 to my customers. I have expanded into other products like bags and art prints since my shop opened.
If you want to visit my shop to see some more examples, just click on the picture and it will take you there.
I have had what I would call minimal success with only 35 sales most of which happened in 2018 and were for umbrellas. This is nothing compared to successful shops on ETSY selling hundreds per day.
At the time, I was manufacturing the umbrellas from a company in Asia and I had a Christmas rush of orders which really tested how well the company could deliver for me and it wasn't a pleasant experience. I was using their standard order processing and shipping package which guaranteed the product being created & delivered to my customers within 2 weeks. This was pretty important because my customers needed to get their items by Christmas for Christmas presents.
Unfortunately, the company was not able to deliver in the time frame promised and I had customers that were unhappy with me. I was put in a situation where the company could not help me track the packages or tell me when they would be delivered. As a result, I could not tell my customers exactly when their shipment would be arrive. Uggg...it was so stressful and gave me a good taste of what it was like to run a business like this.
The company apologized stating that it was the Christmas rush and they were overloaded and behind on orders. I was very upset and really powerless over the situation at the time. On top of this, when I asked to be refunded, the company didn't agree to it and made up a million excuses.
In the end, most of my umbrellas were delivered and I had to refund one or two customers who ended up receiving my umbrella at a later time. I was just happy that they received what they ordered and didn't care about the lost revenue.
The one positive thing that happened was that my customers were pretty impressed with my close follow up and customer service. I ended up getting a few nice reviews as a result which was great.
After this experience, I decided to take a break from my shop for a while and put the shop in vacation mode for about 9 months. I was exhausted and rattled by the experience and I needed to take a break.
I recently re-opened my shop but I am not getting much traffic and this has been frustrating. I believe that my shop lost some sort of priority when I put it on hold which is disappointing. I have been focusing lately on learning how to optimize my shop to gain more visibility and traffic.
I know that there are a lot of artists out there who are intrigued by the prospect of selling their art on ESTY or Shoptify but you really do need to think through what you are getting into. Art is art and business is business and the two are very different animals. If you get into a business situation that you can't handle, there is not a lot of support because you are running this on your own. The other thing to realize is that you don't want to burn your brand name by fouling things up on your first run at it. I was lucky because I have a business background and have experience with customer service so I was able to keep my composure. If I didn't, I really don't know what would have happened. I also made the mistake of closing my shop which deteriorated my visibility on ETSY. I don't want to discourage artists but I do want to provide some guidance to set expectations using my own experiences as an example.
I hope that this information can help someone out there who is thinking about opening and running an ETSY shop.
All the best and please feel free to contact me any time. I would love to hear from you!