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Why should seniors open an Etsy shop?

July 8, 2015

What do you get when you cross social media, ecommerce and creative, homemade products? The result is Etsy, a bustling online marketplace for people to buy and sell crafts, vintage treaures and other homemade items.

Etsy has continued to grow and expand since its launch in 2005 into a top online shopping destination. Whether you knit sweaters, collect antique spoons or make your own soaps, Etsy has space for you. If you have a creative hobby or talent you want to share with the world - and make a profit from - consider opening a shop with Etsy. Check out this background information, as well as a few tips to get you started.

What is Etsy?
Etsy was created by Rob Kalin, Haim Schoppik and Chris Maguire, a few artists who wanted an online marketplace to sell creative works. According to New America Media, Kalin felt like the ecommerce industry was flooded with electronics and gadgets, causing artistic products to be lost in the shuffle. From its creation in 2005 to 2007, the company garnered 450,000 registered sellers, Venture Beat reported.

A few years later, Chad Dickerson, the former senior director of product at Yahoo, joined as the chief technology officer. The amount of users and revenue continued to rise as years went by, leading Etsy to become an IPO in April 2015. Etsys website explained that there are now roughly 30 million buyers and sellers in the network.

You can even sell antique costume jewelry on Etsy.

How does it work?
There isnt a regular membership fee for people who open stores with Etsy. Instead, youre charged $.20 for each item you post. This amount allows you to keep products in the marketplace for up to four months. Once you make a sale, Etsy claims 3.5 percent of the profit for a transaction fee of sorts. Your balance from posting, promoting and selling is billed to you each month.

Its possible to receive payment from buyers directly by credit or debit card, PayPal, check or money order. PayPal is the most secure option, as it doesnt require exchanging card or account numbers. Youll have to provide a credit card number to Etsy when you create your shop, but nothing will be charged until youre sent a bill.

What can you sell?
There are a few guidelines for selling on Etsy - for example, vintage items must be at least 20 years old - but youre welcome to get quite creative with the products you sell. 

The best way to determine if your hobby or talent will reap profits on Etsy is by researching current shops. Are there other sellers who make similar products? Can you differentiate your shop in some way, whether it be through price, design or materials? You should identify how much demand there is for your product and the target audience as well.

"Connect your Etsy store with social media platforms."

Whats involved in the setup?
To start an Etsy shop, you need products to sell and a store name. The name should be catchy, memorable and appropriate for your brand image. Make sure the name hasnt already been claimed on Etsy and that it isnt trademarked.

Once your account is created, you must select a banner image, an avatar, write a brief profile and accumulate photos and descriptions of your products. The banner image is displayed across the top of your profile, while the avatar is a smaller image thats used next to your store name around the site. Your profile description should contain background information about you, your products and your business. Feel free to show personality in this section because that will surely attract shoppers.

When you take photos of your products, make sure theyre shot at a close range, focus directly on the item and use the rule of thirds. Use descriptive names for your products that include words people are likely to search for on Google. Steer clear of vague words such as "small" and "large," and opt for wordplay including alliteration and puns instead to attract attention to your shop.

How can you find success?
One of the most important aspects of gathering loyal buyers is providing excellent customer service. Make sure you respond to emails quickly, keep shoppers notified of shipping information and add personal touches to the packages, such as handwritten notes. If you make an impression on people, theyll be more likely to become repeat buyers and brand ambassadors.

You can also connect your Etsy store with social media platforms to reach more potential shoppers. Create a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account and a Pinterest board. With your products posted in several locations, photos and links will be much more shareable. Dont forget to set attainable and reasonable goals for your business as it picks up traffic on Etsy.