Marketing your Etsy shop is a HUGE topic and a HUGE percentage of your Etsy success-- without some form of a marketing funnel (the strategies you use to get people into your shop), you'll never reach those crazy amounts of success you dream about. I'll be honest and say it's taken me YEARS of trial + error to figure out which marketing strategies work for me ;)
But don't worry-- if the word “marketing” makes you want to curl up into the fetal position and eat ice cream, then you’re in good company, my friend!
I’ve been there. I’ve sooooo been there. I remember feeling like an icky salesman whenever I attempted to “market” my product--you know-- following all those “free marketing advice” articles that are filled with tips + tricks that are outdated and ridiculously vague.
Yeah, I feel like I tried ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and failed at it all.
I was in the process of trying to figure out a genuine customer-based way to promote my shop when I stumbled onto some life-changing advice in a paid course I took (and advice that I share with you in my upcoming $1K in 60 Days course!) that seriously rocked my world.
Suddenly marketing my products didn’t seem so dreary-- in fact, it actually was kind of fun! Nowadays there are SO many clever + inspiring ways to market your handmade product that even if you’re a complete introvert, you’ll find something that works for you!
Before I share 16 of my most-effective ideas (tested by yours truly!) for promoting your product, let’s get a couple of things clear:
1 | People need to come in contact with you and/or your shop 7 times before they’ll decide to buy it.
Think about it though-- have you ever seen a new product in a shop before and immediately thought “that’s ridiculous! Why would I ever buy that?” only to see it pop up in Google Adsense a couple of times, then in an email, then on their social media channel, and on Pinterest and suddenly you’re like “I must buy that thing!”
I do this with West Elm (#guiltypleasure) all the time-- I’ll see something like a vase listed for $89 and just start laughing because who on earth would pay that much for a small vase. Oh wait, me. A couple of weeks later when I absolutely HAD to have that particular vase. I’ve done it again and again and again and I bet you’ve done similar things, too!
2 | People are not seeing your product nearly as much as you think they are.
Most people are not sitting on their computers all day following you along on every social media channel and checking in with your shop daily. They just aren’t.
Please, if you do nothing else, do NOT just post about your blog or new product once and then assume everyone will see the post. They won’t. Even though we kind of assume that people are on social media all the time, chances are that about 75% of your audience won’t see your post the first time. And that’s okay-- good, even, because it means you can promote that content again and not be seen as annoying. If you ever feel like you’re spamming your audience with too much of your own content, you can send out a couple of more than you’re comfortable with and be just fine ;)
And now, without further ado, 16 of my all-time favorite Etsy shop marketing strategies that will seriously launch your sales out of this world (but don't just take my word for it-- try them out for yourself!)!
1 | Brand ambassadors
This one can be overwhelming for new Etsy shops-- and it’s really hard to learn how to do it if you’re just starting out-- people just don’t talk about it much. But it’s an AWESOME tool to use because you’re essentially hiring a publicity firm, but for a fraction of the price.
Brand ambassadors are essentially people that you send free product to in exchange for them promoting your brand + products on their blog/facebook/instagram/pinterest accounts. There’s another term floating around-- “brand enthusiasts” which is similar, but you don’t have to give away your product for free. You usually offer a discount code (A MAJOR ONE-- like 50% off) + have a minimum purchase requirement per quarter and then have those people promote in the same way that brand ambassadors do.
There are definitely pros + cons to both, but I (personally) like brand ambassadors better because they tend to push your products a little bit more frequently, simply because they get your product for free and feel obliged to make it worth your time so that you will keep them on.
Either method is awesome though (especially if you’re in the baby/jewelry/clothing business) It’s a relatively simple way to get in front of large audiences with very little work on your part-- you just have to send the product.
So how do you find these people? One of THE BEST ways to find your first brand ambassadors is to start by doing a shout-out on your social media. The people that are following you there? These guys are already some of your biggest fans and a lot of them would LOVE free product in exchange for promotion. I’ve done several call-outs just on my Instagram and have had dozens of replies each time.
2 | Product Roundup
Ready to get your product in front of THOUSANDS of people?! This is one of my absolute favorite marketing go-to’s because it is so. stinkin’. effective. And ridiculously easy. Your first one may take a couple of hours (just to get the hang of it), but after that? You’re golden. Here’s a basic rundown:
- Start by picking 1-3 of your products that you’d like to market.
- Use that item to create a “theme” that you’d like focus on
- Search through other Etsy/e-commerce sites to find products that match your theme (note: it is CRITICAL to make sure they are NOT too similar of a product-- they should be complementary, not competitive)
- Compile 10-12 items into a Photoshop/Illustrator document and number each item. Make this image both Pinterest + Instagram optimized
- List the numbers in your blog post text + include a direct link to the shop it’s from
- Send your graphic + link to blog post to the shops you included in your roundup and encourage them to promote. Here’s some sample text I have used to do this:
Hi [insert shop owner's name here]!
Just wanted to let you know that we did a round-up of [insert roundup theme here] on our blog today and included this item! We'll be Pinning + Instagramming the image with direct links to your shop.
If you think this is something your audience would love, please share it with them! The more pins + views this gets, the more direct traffic to your site-- it's a win-win!
You can visit the blog post post here:
[insert web address here]
Thank you for creating such beautiful items! I truly wish you the best of luck with success!
I loooooove this method because it can get you in front of some huge audiences FAST just by having them post your image on their social media. I’ve found (on average) that about half of the people you include will return the favor and promote your blog post, so it really is worth your time to try this method out.
3 | Start hanging out where your audience hangs out
I pop into the Etsy forums every once in awhile to just to see what's new, and whenever I do, I recognize about 5-10 people that are ALWAYS on there-- constantly posting and chit chatting it up with other shop owners about bringing in more sales.
If you’re there to socialize then that is totally cool. But if you’re hanging out in the Etsy forums to try and bring more views + sales to your shop, you are wasting your time (hey, someone had to say it.)
Think about where your target market hangs out-- Do they read certain magazines? Are they members of online forums? Is Facebook where they spend their time? Are you not even sure where they spend their time? Then ask them! You need to find out where they are hanging out because you need to start HANGING OUT WITH THEM.
Hanging out with other shop owners (ie- on the Etsy forums) is great for building up business relationships and getting vague advice, but if you want to make more sales (and I’m guessing that you probably do), then you’re spending your time in the wrong place.
The goal here is to appear as a friendly resource + expert in your target market’s interests. An example? If you sell modern women’s jewelry, you’re going to want to start commenting on style-blogger posts or joining in on fashion magazine forums. You are not going to want to hang out on jewelry-making websites, however, because the only socializing you will get will be from other jewelry makers-- and they probably won’t buy your products.
Remember-- you don’t want to just spam your shop out there-- offer real advice or solutions to any discussions going on and ALWAYS include a link back to your blog/shop where they can find more examples there. Give, give, give, then ask.
4 | Find your own press
As nice as it would be to hire out a professional PR firm, it’s not always practical for the typical Etsy budget. But what if you still want to get your products in magazines + media?
Enter Launch Grow Joy Media Leads. This tool is AH-MAZING. It’s essentially a website subscription that will send you emails letting you know what sort of products media outlets are looking for + put you in direct contact with those editors. Essentially, you’re pitching a product to these editors that THEY ARE ALREADY LOOKING FOR. Your chances of being featured increase 100x over + even if they don’t feature you in that issue, you’ve just formed a personal connection with that editor
One thing that stops people from pursuing this route is the cost--It’s only $99/month, but I know that that can seem like a steep price when you’re starting out. Here’s the thing though: If you invest in your business, you’re going to grow faster than if you . Also, consider the cost of a small-scale PR firm-- averaging about $4,000/month + 6-month retainer-- and suddenly the $99/month doesn’t look too bad...
5 | Newsletter
Social media platforms are AMAZING for getting your product out there (and I’d recommend Pinterest + Instagram for your product-based shop), but the one thing that sucks about them?
You never have full control over them.
Take, for instance, what Instagram did earlier this year by changing the newsfeed algorithm. Small shop owners everywhere went completely mental because suddenly their product wasn’t going to appear in everyone’s feed. And guess what? There’s nothing we can do about that.
Enter email marketing. If you don’t have a mailing list yet, it’s time to change that. Mailing lists sounds so old-fashioned, but I’m here to tell you that there’s a reason everyone recommends them-- they are the only marketing technique that you have complete control over.
Getting started isn’t that hard-- just sign up for an email service provider like MailChimp (perfect for beginners) or ConvertKit (for those a little more savvy) and start asking for those emails.
To keep your email list “warm,” (meaning, prepped and ready to buy) I recommend sending out a newsletter 2x/month (every other week) with updates from your shop, behind the scenes, or upcoming events. These should NOT be promotional emails-- they should be all about giving your audience something. When you approach email marketing that way, by the time you DO choose to host a major sale, your audience will already be majorly warmed up to you and ready to make those purchases the minute you send that email promo!
6 | Create freebie's for your fans
This is a great way to build your email list (see #5 above!) + provide value for your customers. At its basics, you are asking a customer for their email, and, in exchange, you are giving them a freebie.
While on the surface you may think that as an Etsy shop owner, you are just selling products, truly successful businesses know that they are selling a brand + a solution to their customer’s problems.
Your opt-in freebie should be reflective of that. It can be something as simple as a PDF checklist, a free printable download, or even a DIY tutorial. But you don’t want to just create random content upgrades just for the sake of gaining subscribers-- you want the content upgrades to be useful to someone that would be interested in purchasing your product.
An example of this? Say you create beautiful baby blankets. Any of the following would work as great content upgrades (another word for these "freebies"):
- Step-by-step tutorial on how to design the perfect nursery
- Free printable nursery wall art (that complements your products)
- A free “Nursery Essentials” checklist with everything a new parent will need to purchase
- A printable baby keepsake book to record all of baby’s firsts
Besides being absolutely CRITICAL for gathering emails (aka building your audience), content upgrades are an amazing way to promote your shop on Pinterest as well-- people are much more likely to click through on a Pin promising free nursery art (don’t forget to include direct links to your shop in that post!) as opposed to just a listing of your product that sends them directly to your shop with no value whatsoever.
7 | Unique Contest / Giveaway
Contests on Instagram are a dime a dozen, but rightfully so! They can be ridiculously effective at getting your brand in front of more people in an extremely short period of time. The trick though? Making the most of your contests so that you aren’t wasting valuable time or product. Here are some tips to make the most of your Instagram giveaway:
• Make it easy to enter | Your customers are busy people with busy lives and don’t have time to write a 500 word essay on why your products is so amazing (although we all know it is!). Have entries be as simple as tagging a friend or reposting your photo on their Instagram
• Up the ante | If you’re seeing a good response to the contest, but not the response you were quite hoping for, level up your prize. Some ideas for this can be to make the grand prize bigger, include multiple runner-up prizes, or adding new ways for people to enter.
• Promote it more than one | Please, if you do nothing else, do NOT just post about your contest once and then assume everyone will see the post and enter. They won’t. Even though we kind of assume that people are on social media all the time, chances are that about 75% of your audience won’t see your post the first time. And that’s okay! That’s why following up at a later time that day + the next few days will continue to bring in new subscribers
• Offer a consolation prize | Everyone that entered your giveaway obviously wanted a chance at winning, but since the overwhelming majority of the entrants won’t win the contest, offering a discount code for a follow-up at the announcement of the winner. you know that they didn’t win, but you still appreciate that they were proactive and entered your contest, and you are rewarding them for that. Plus, they’re already primed as a “warm” audience because they’ve already a) showed interest, and b) most likely pictured themselves as the winner, and have imagined what owning the prize must feel like.
8 | List New Product
I feel like this tip gets thrown around a lot, but let me give you a new way to look at it: One of the things I’m sure you notice on Etsy is that there are a lot of “favorited” items + shops. Everyday I get hundreds of these little hearts. It would be AWESOME if Etsy would let us contact these users and market directly to them, but it’s against Etsy’s TOU's.
But! One thing that you probably haven’t thought about-- every time someone favorites an item of yours or a shop, you become a part of that person’s Etsy home page (see example below!). And every time you list (or renew) a new item, it shows up on their homepage. It’s essentially free advertising to a targeted potential customer-- someone that has already shown interest in your product.
I recommend listing batches of new product on a consistent basis (you’ll make a LOT more sales this way than by listing them here and there)-- at least every 3 months if you can manage it. This gives former customers a reason to come back and shop with you again + helps you keep your inventory fresh and up-to-date with trends.
9 | Pitch to social media influencers/bloggers
You’d be surprised at just how many people have blogs/social media accounts for the sole purpose of promoting others’ products. While I’d recommend reaching out to anyone and everyone who you think would be a good fit for your brand (and just as importantly-- would have an audience that is a good fit for your brand), look for bloggers/influencers that include their email on their social media handle. These are the types of people you want to work with-- they are used to pitches and understand how to promote your product.
One thing I always recommend is including a short emailed contract as part of your agreement-- I’ve seen it happen again and again (to me, as well) that people will send product out to influencers and then never hear from them again. Don’t let that happen to you! A quick, casual agreement via email is the BEST way to make sure everyone keeps their end of the bargain.
10 | Collaborate with similar brands for cross-promotion
One thing I’ve noticed is that most Etsy shop owners are scared of reaching out. And I totally get that-- it’s hard to work up the courage to reach out to someone only to have them shut you down.
But when it works out? The results can be ah-mazing.
Is there a designer or artist that you absolutely LOVE that you know you could utilize some of their work into your products? Talk to them about a collaboration! See if you can work out a combined effort product (ie- use her artwork as one of your fabrics) and then sit back and watch your sales go CRAZY when you drop that product.
It’s one thing to pitch to a social media influencer about a product you already carry-- one that their audience might love, might not. But to collaborate and create a product that both your audience + the influencers audience will love (because they already love her designs)? Genius. Absolutely genius.
If you want to see some ridiculously effective examples of this, check out Freshly Picked or Solly Baby (can you tell I hang out in the baby industry? Ha ha!). They combine with blogger powerhouses to create new designs for their current product line and have seen the sales numbers go nuts.
The example below is a collaboration between Freshly Picked x Stance:
11 | Create Pinterest-ready images and use them as photos on your Etsy listings + in your blog
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that Pinterest is my absolute FAVORITE social media/search engine out there to promote product. Hands down.
But what does Pinterest love? Long, lean vertical images. And guess what? Etsy, by default, prefers horizontal product photos. It’s just the way it is.
This is fine once people are on Etsy and shopping, but to promote your products on pinterest with short, squat Etsy images? Um, no thanks.
Here’s my recommendation:
Photo #1? Leave it Etsy-ready in the horizontal format. It’s going to look cleaner in your Etsy shop and make it easier to view overall.
But those next 4 photos? Pinterest-ready them up, girl! Crop them to be vertical images so that when people go to Pin your product, they’re pinning viral-potential images that will get repinned again and again.
12 | Ask for feedback from your followers, not your friends
Whenever I’m struggling with a direction for my brand or product line, it’s easy to ask the opinions of whoever is around-- a friend, my husband, etc. But if you want to make your products THAT much more effective, ask for feedback from your FOLLOWERS (because as much as my husband loves me, it’s pretty certain that he doesn’t have any intention of ever buying product from me).
These are the people that are going to buy from you again and again-- so their opinion is the ONLY one that matters (aside from yours). Find out what colors their crushing on, materials their in love with, or designs they’d like to see. My best selling product from LittleHighbury is currently a “Mix + Match” headband set that I had NO intention of selling (it truly makes inventory a nightmare)-- until customers came knocking and suggested I create one. To date? This listing has sold over $109,000.00 worth of revenue. Holy crap.
Asking can be as simple as throwing a question out there on Instagram, or as detailed as creating a quick survey for them to weigh in (but keep it short so you don’t overwhelm!). If I find that responses are a bit sparse, I sometimes will throw in an incentive (10% off coupon code, random giveaway) to encourage more people to enter.
13 | Find your people on Instagram and show them some love
I talk super-ridiculously in-depth about this in my course $1K in 60 Days, but I feel like every article I read up on about Instagram encourages using hashtags and even tells you how many to use— but they never tell you exactly how to find them, or what to even be looking for in the first place!
You need to be using hashtags to find the people that you WANT to find you— not just other Etsy sellers trying to make a name for themselves on Instagram. Using hashtags like #etsy #etsyseller #handmade are great for attracting other sellers to your photos, but not so great for attracting customers.
Say, for example, that you sell nursery art. Instead of listing all of your favorite Etsy/handmade hashtags, try to think of what your target market (ie- a new mom-to-be) might be using + searching for (because, yes, people use hashtags to search for products!). Your hashtag list could look something like this:
#nurseryart #nurseryinspiration #newmomma #pregnant #nurserywallart #interiordesign #wallart
I try to think of hashtags like regular “tags” on Etsy— and phrases you use should describe your product, and you should use a mix of general + niche specific ones. Also, be sure to leave your hashtags in a comment, as opposed to in your caption. It looks a lot cleaner + less spammy if they are hidden in your comments (+ they’ll get buried in no time!)
It’s also important to note that you must be quick about adding hashtags to you photos— you’ve only got a couple of minutes (at best) for your photos to appear at the top of the Instagram grid, so use those moments wisely and get as many views as you possibly can with a quick comment of your hashtags. I keep a list of my relevant hashtags in a note app on my iPhone and just do a quick “copy + paste” after I post each photo. Easy-peasy and super fast!
14 | Become a resource for your customers
One of the best pieces of advice that I have stumbled upon is simply to “be the solution to their problems.” It’s as simple as zero-ing in on your target market, determining what they struggle with, and then positioning your product as the solution to their problems. One of my social media icons, Caitlin Bacher, said it best,
Want to sell a pink pen? Find a person. Ask what they struggle with. Position your pink pen as the solution to their problem. Sell the pink pen.
I love that. It sounds so ridiculously elementary when you think about it, but we, as business owners, hardly ever approach our marketing efforts like this!
So find out what your customers are struggling with. Learn their pain points and then market directly to them as the solution (or at least a healing balm!) to that problem. Appealing to people’s emotion as always, always, ALWAYS been the strongest way to sell product.
15 | Analyze your existing traffic sources and focus more on the top performers.
It’s only natural to want to put more effort into marketing efforts that are falling flat, in an effort to revive them, but let me tell you this: Whenever you do that, you’re missing out on HUGE opportunity.
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule? Basically it says that only 20% of your actions lead to 80% of your revenue/profit/sales.
So if you have found a marketing technique that is knocking the socks off of your business, you should be focused more on growing that-- and your customers base will grow exponentially. If you’re spending time constantly tweaking under-performing techniques, you’re only going to see slow growth, at best.
Also, don’t worry about what everyone else seems to be having success with if it’s not working for you. Your business is unique to YOU and just because one strategy works for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s the one you should focus on. Trust your gut, go with what feels good, and work on improving what is already working-- your revenue numbers will thank you.
16 | Use every available space in your Etsy shop to encourage people to follow + promote your shop.
It’s not enough just to list your social media handles in a vague place at the bottom of your shop announcement. You need to be absolutely deliberate in everything you do, and that includes self-promotion within your Etsy shop.
If you want to get more followers/fans/social shares of your products, you should have your links listed in AT LEAST 3 PLACES within your shop. If you’re worried about annoying your potential customers, trust me when I say that you’re not. You are a business and it’s part of your job description to promote your business in the most efficient ways possible-- and that means making it easy for people to follow along with you.
Not sure where to list your social media + blog handles? Try these places:
- Etsy cover photo (include them as part of the graphic)
- Etsy shop announcement
- Bottom of each product listing
- In your “thank you for your purchase!” message to buyers
- In a direct conversation you send as follow-up to a purchase
I promise you that you are not annoying your customers nearly as much as you think you are. They understand that you are a business (or they should!) and it’s expected, believe it or not, for businesses to promote themselves.
When you list your contact information in multiple places, you’re telling customers that you are a serious deal and that they’ll be missing out if they don’t follow along. So don't be shy--welcome your fans with open arms!
So there you have it-- 16 of my very favorite creative marketing techniques to promote your product-based business. Have any that you would add that are ridiculously effective for you? Leave a comment and share them below!