When you start trolling around Pinterest of information on selling on Etsy most of what you’re going to find are articles and blog posts written for the person starting to sell their handmade items. Not surprising since that is the Etsy bread and butter. Even Etsy’s articles and blog posts are geared towards makers and not vintage sellers.
This is a problem because some people don’t even know that you can sell or buy vintage on Etsy. I’m not kidding because I work in a brick and mortar vintage shop and when I mention selling on Etsy people ask me what I make. When I explain you can buy vintage on Etsy they seem shocked.
So what do you do when you’re vintage seller selling on a platform geared toward handmade items? Learn to stack the deck in your favor.
The first thing you need to understand is how to play the Etsy game. Etsy likes shops that are constantly adding new items. They actively promote shops that are active (duh right). That means if you’re a vintage seller and you want to start an Etsy shop don’t post on your items on one day and then sit back and wait for sales. This is a guarantee kiss of death. I know because that’s what I did when I started and you know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t get found. Once I figured out that when I did post a new item my stats would jump significantly I tried posting at least once a week. Suddenly my stats went up and I started to make slow sales. So I increased to 3 new listings per week and saw my stats jump even higher and yep more sales. If you want to be found and jump up above other vintage sellers posting a new items daily would do the trick but then you have to have 365 new listings per year at 20 cents per listing so keep those numbers in mind. To me it’s been worth it because now my items are selling at a steady pace.
Don’t pay for Etsy to promote your items. This is such a bad idea I can’t even tell you. I spent $33.46 promoting listings on Etsy and made a whopping $15 sale from it, which Etsy then took their fees from so only$12.75 ended up in my bank account. Yep I lost more than I made. It was soooooo not worth the cost. Their was literally no benefit from the promoted listing. Posting new listings gave me more traction for a lot less money (a 20 cent listing fee). I could post 167 new listings for that same amount of money and see a much better ROI from it. According to Etsy’s promoted listing stats for me I only received 123 clicks. Each time I post a new Etsy listing I routinely get 6 to 7 immediate clicks (my last one actually gave me 15 but we’ll be conservative) so quick math 167 x6 clicks is 1,004 so a much better ROI.
Make sure you have your listing SEO perfect. Etsy gives higher ranking to listings that hit all the markers they want. For instance keyword heavy titles. Don’t get all worked up about the phrase keyword. All that simply means is how people will look for your item. It’s a descriptive searchable title. Instead of a title like this:
Ironstone Creamer 1890s
You would write it like this:
White English Ironstone Creamer Vintage Johnson Brothers
See how this title hit’s all the keywords people might be searching for? I then copy and paste this title into my description as the first line so these same key words are in the description enforcing the search algorithm. You would then use those words as tags again reinforcing the search terms.
Then there are the pictures. Good lord there’s a whole industry built on teaching people to take proper pictures for Etsy. Do a little homework on lighting, make sure you don’t have an inadvertent reflection (like the guy who took his hutch photos naked), make sure the background is clean and not distracting, but most importantly make sure your photos accurately show all aspects of the item. If you’re selling vintage and there are some defects don’t try to hide them. You will will make your customers unhappy and they have every right to be. Etsy gives you 10 photos spaces to work with and they like when you use them all so give the customer all angles. Point out any makes in the glazing, any cracks, any and all defects and makes sure they can be seen in the photo. You want to make sure the customer can live with the item as it is before they buy it.
Along the same lines, give your description a lot of well description! I hate when I click the description and I just see dimensions. Tell you buyer what they’re looking at especially if you have a special knowledge of the item for instance I listed a Beleek Ewer on my site and I made sure to let potential buyers know that the mark was the Aberdeen 3rd Black Mark because Belleek has head so many incarnations of their marks and this helps the buyer accurately date this item if they’re a collector. Put as much detail as you can manage in there buyers like it and Etsy likes it.
Check your rankings on Etsy Rank. This is a little deceptive because they lump vintage and handmade sellers into one on this site so they show things like the tops sellers and they’re usually handmade sellers so comparing my shop and sales to theirs is sill. It’s like comparing apples and dogs. But Etsy Rank has an excellent listing audit feature that will help you fine tune your Etsy listings. They will even give you an A, B, C, or D rating and suggest improvements to help you shore up your listing. When I started it pay attention and do what was suggested I saw a dramatic jump in traffic. Though I’m still not sure if it was because I was tinkering with my listings on a daily basis which fooled the Etsy’s algorithm into thinking my site was more active than it was or because I implemented the suggestions. Either way it worked. I got more traffic and made sales.
Ask for a review. They really do help. I didn’t do this right away because it felt awkward. I thought if people were happy they would give me a review on Etsy. Wrong. Most people get their things and they don’t give you or your shop a second thought. It’s just the way it is. Now Etsy has a service that allows you to email the buyer a coupon or a thank you after the sale but instead I chose to take a more personal route. In every package I ship I include a hand written thank you card with a coupon code for a future purchase from my shop, and a one of my business cards. When I started to include a line in the thank you card that said, “I hope you’re happy with your purchase and if you are would you please consider giving me an honest review on Etsy.” Suddenly my shop got reviews. Sometimes getting is really as easy as asking.
Tell your story. People really do like to feel like they’re buying from a person. Etsy has a bunch of sections where you can tell your story under the shop settings tab. Put in a shop video. Add photos of your process (for me that it often cleaning and restoring or a van full of vintage items). They clearly set this up for the makers but there’s no reason we vintage sellers can’t take advantage or a shop update in which you can make your photo shop-able. Have your husband take a picture of you photographing or arranging a shelf of your latest Etsy treasures and make it shop-able. Add a FAQ section. Think of all the questions you get asked. It’s there so use it. Use all the advantage Etsy gives you. Get creative.
Add your social media links so you can promote your all your sites at the same time.
Shop polices were something I didn’t really think about at first. Now I know they are essential! Make a carefully crafted shop policies section to help protect you. Etsy also likes when this is filled out completely (sensing a theme here?). I have an all sales are final/no return policy clearly listed and reinforced in each listing’s description, because I was running into buyers who did not read the description and then received the item and would ask to return it because they didn’t realize it was only 8 inches tall or the glazing was crazed. Even though everything had been called out in the description and in photos. I also had to set a no price negotiation policy after one particularly aggressive customer spent three days harassing me about the price of an item she ultimately purchased at full price.
Adding an FAQ is another thing Etsy likes to see completed. If you’re worried that you just started and don’t yet have anyone asking questions, assume some. For instance, people will ask if you live in a smoke free home. They will ask if you have pets. There are a multitude of other questions that are pretty typical. Read the FAQ of other shops like yours and make a list to populate yours.
I’m still learning the Etsy game so I don’t know everything but as I figure things out I’ll be happy to share it here for other vintage sellers! We’re in this together! Let’s make 2019 the year people stop saying, “Oh I didn’t know Etsy sold vintage.”