Using markets as a promotional tool…

I am often asked if it is easy to set up an Etsy shop?

Usually followed by the statement; “Etsy works for you doesn’t it?!” …and then… “Is it easy to sell through Etsy? ”

The simple answer to all those questions is, YES!

In saying that though, it is not without effort that the result of having an Etsy shop is positive, just like any other business venture there is a lot of thought, time and energy that goes into making it work. The first place I direct people to who wish to open an Etsy shop is the Etsy seller handbook, something that Etsy does so well is support and assist sellers in understanding how to make their shops work! The next place I send them is to the Etsy forums… as there are many other people out there setting up shops or new to Etsy with the same questions and numerous experienced sellers who are more than happy to answer them.

When I first opened my shop I did so as more of an online catalogue that I could direct retail store owners to, to see my range of products. But I also kept in mind the added advantage of it being an e-commerce site without the high costs of setting one up (back then) along with it’s inbuilt search facility allowing you to reach a targeted customer base without having to try and stand out in the greater expanse of the entire internet. Once sales started to flow in from across the globe I started to realise just how powerful this selling portal was and began to take my Etsy shop a lot more seriously. At that point I referred to the Sellers Handbook a lot and read the forum threads just as much. There is a lot of technical support and advice on setting up and maintaining an Etsy shop, but it can never hurt to hear another perspective as we are all unique in our own right with varying experiences to share. So in my next few posts ‘Selling on Etsy Series’ I’d like to share with you some of the little things I have done to grow my business, with my Etsy store being a big part of that, tying my online presence in with my in-person trading, simplifying processes to keep it manageable! Starting out with how I use markets as a promotional tool.


Markets ~ Promotion

It would be easy to be misled into believing that opening up an Etsy store would automatically mean you reach your market and that just being within the Etsy web is enough to sell your work and a lot of it. I choose to treat my Etsy store much like I would a commercial space in a retail hub, although there may be many passers-by, you still need to build your own following and customer base that are willing to travel across the city to loose themselves in your little oasis. So rather than just put an open sign up in the window and hope that your target market will enter your store and shop, I believe you need to actively seek them out and let them know where they can find you and invite them to join you in this amazing little piece of inspiration you have established.

The way I have done this is through attending markets, festivals and events that reach people who value handcrafted, one of a kind, unique products and set up my market stall in a way that makes shoppers feel a little like they’re stepping into a snippet of what my bricks and mortar retail store would feel like, if I had one. Trading in person at such events enables me to talk to shoppers directly and give them even greater insight into what I do and what my work is all about. As well as hear directly from them what captivates them and inspires them to part with their hard earned income and spend it on my products. Market goers are not always out to get a bargain as some people may think, there are shoppers who are truly looking for well crafted unique products and enjoy shopping small, supporting makers and creators. And if you believe in your own work and its value then you should have not have to sell your goods based on bargain prices, but quality and uniqueness instead.

Indoor market stall set up 2

Indoor market stall set up… my little shop set up!

I always make sure I take some work with me to complete on the stall, hand stitching, braiding, anything that is easy to do while chatting to shoppers… and captures their attention as they walk past, intriguing them enough to ask; “What are you doing there?” That way even though they’re not visiting me in my studio space they get the opportunity to see what goes into creating my products… and ask any questions that this interaction may trigger in their minds. It also demonstrates to them that the items on my stall are truly handcrafted, artisan crafted!

Market Stall

Working on my market stall gives shoppers a little insight into what goes into creating my products.

At a market or event, I also keep a stash of business cards on hand to be able to direct interested shoppers to my online store, if they are not ready to make a purchase there and then… especially important for higher priced items and bespoke orders. Shoppers will often ask: “Are you here every week?” if it’s a weekly market that I have a casual stall at OR “Do you sell anywhere else?” Being able to direct them to my Etsy store, with its simple shopping process often means they keep coming back to shop with me even if I am not trading at the market they met me at in the first place. Also, the fact that I make my own business cards is yet another thing that keeps them chatting, in turn developing a personal connection with me (the maker). I did not start making my own business cards for this reason, but soon discovered that the respect it gained me, adding authenticity to what I am about, being a ‘handcrafted’ business, made these cards invaluable. So while I could easily click a few buttons and have a 1000 printed I have chosen to continue making small batches of handcrafted cards just in the same way that I make small batches of handcrafted products.

Business Cards in the Making

Everything is handcrafted… including my business cards.

Treating a market or event as a promotional tool takes the pressure off the ‘need’ to sell on the spot, by making it an adventure and an enjoyable experience for myself, my family and shoppers alike, I find that I leave an event inspired by the interactions I had the people, with both fellow stall holders and shoppers alike… and because I track where all my leads/sales come from I know for a fact that even if sales on the day were lower than usual, the after sales still make attending the event worth while. After trying out (trading at) numerous different markets and events I have learnt the type of markets & events that work for me, and now only do a select few over the course of the year, enough to keep life interesting for us as a family, allowing us to explore and enjoy little getaways while ‘promoting’ my work. But the key there is trial, error, recording and analysing the results, keeping clear records allow you to make considered decisions based on fact. Along with the beneficial also after sales there are the sales that occur in the lead up to the event through the sharing of the journey on social media. Which takes me to my next post ‘Telling your story”.

Don’t hold off on doing what you love to earn your living based on the fact that it’s not as simple as 1, 2, 3. Remember… ‘anything truly worth having is not easily obtained!’

<<= by marie-nicole =>>