What comes to mind when you hear the word “Etsy”? Maybe nothing if you don’t make or shop for handmade items. Etsy.com is an online marketplace that’s well-known mainly in the crafting and design communities as a place to buy things like knit sweaters, jewelry, art, or custom furniture.
But there’s more to Etsy—a secret side that very few people may even be aware of. And it’s very important, especially if you’re a graphic designer, writer, or marketing expert. I’ve been a seller on Etsy for over five years and discovered that handcrafted items are not the only products that can do well. There’s another category of items that sells really well: digital items and services. How-to ebooks—especially those with information on marketing for creative entrepreneurs—fly off the digital shelves. Currently there are more than 12,000 ebooks listed on Etsy.
My “Etsy Survival Guide for Beginners 2016” is the best-selling item in my shop. I first wrote the guide in 2013 for another project and didn’t end up using it. With the content already created, I decided to explore selling digital products on Etsy. And it worked much better than I would have expected!
WHAT MAKES ETSY SPECIAL?
Etsy hosts more than 1.5 million sellers and the numbers are growing daily. There’s an untapped market of creative people with micro-businesses. Many of them are artists and might be new to the online business world. I know this because when I first started selling on Etsy, I didn’t even think of it as a business. I quickly learned that if I wanted sales, I had to develop a few new skills—fast.
Here are some of the areas that Etsy sellers need the most help with—and potential topics for how-to guides, ebooks, coaching, or even online courses:
- Email marketing
- Business design
- Social media
- Digital marketing
- Project management
- Presentation skills
Here are some examples of ebooks you can find on Etsy:
Those are just a few things I struggled with when I first started. You can tap into an ocean of research in the Etsy forums, where you’ll find thousands of individuals asking questions about marketing, design, and social media every day.
Etsy has a vibrant community and Etsy sellers tend to trust other Etsy sellers. There’s a feeling that we’re all on the same team. That’s why Etsy sellers prefer to shop on Etsy even for ebooks and how-tos. And if you want to attract even more people to your ebook, you can comment and answer questions on the forums. People who see your helpful answers will be more likely to buy an ebook or how-to from you.
A FEW TRICKS I’VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
Like any platform, Etsy has its own specific sales environment. If you know what works well, people will love you and buy from you. There are three main things I’ve found that appeal to the Etsy community:
TAILOR YOUR PRODUCTS TO CREATIVES
The buyers of ebooks and templates on Etsy are other Etsy sellers. The general Etsy buyer isn’t looking for ebooks; they’re looking for handmade items like art or jewelry. Design your products for Etsy sellers: designers, crafters, and artists. Create something that addresses their specific situation. For example, an ebook with tips on blogging specifically for Etsy sellers is likely to be a great fit.
YOU DON’T NEED TO WRITE A NOVEL
A short, practical ebook or simple-to-use design template would be perfect for the Etsy audience. You might want to use an ebook as a stepping stone to other products or services you offer to customers.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Many of the people who sell on Etsy are new to marketing and advertising. Their expertise is in screen printing or crocheting—not SEO or social media. So, keep your instructions basic and to the point. They don’t need to become marketing or design experts; they just need tips to help them get up and running in the right direction.
ONE TRICK I USE TO GROW MY FOLLOWING…
Etsy has a pretty good statistics page available so it’s easy for me to see that quite a lot of people are looking at my ebook, but not everyone’s buying it. Since my conversion rate wasn’t very good, I decided to use those visitors to grow my email list and keep in touch with potential customers.
I created a one-page SEO example to go with my how-to Etsy ebook. I now offer it as a free gift for everyone who subscribes to my mailing list. This is a great way to grow your list of potential clients, especially if you’re a designer or writer.
Here’s how it looks on Etsy:
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
As long as you meet Etsy’s guidelines, there are virtually no limits to the type of content your digital items can offer. But it’s a good idea to get to know the marketplace first and what Etsy customers are looking for.
There are two types of buyers on Etsy—Etsy browsers and Etsy sellers. Etsy browsers aren’t your ideal customer because they’re looking for handmade items. Etsy sellers are the most common buyers of ebooks and the audience you should focus on selling to.
If your product or service isn’t exclusively of interest to creative entrepreneurs, it might not work out very well. For example, many people might want to learn martial arts, but this type of ebook would probably be a better fit somewhere else. A book on small business marketing, however, would be ideal for the Etsy marketplace.
And don’t hesitate to test Etsy as a venue for selling your digital products. It’s very inexpensive to try out and offers a vast market potential to explore.