Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How To Open An Etsy Shop With No Money

'Opening up an Etsy shop without spending a penny? How is that possible?'

You may be asking yourself these, and other questions. To answer those questions was my goal when I first opened my shop MB Canvas Design. I wanted to earn money with my talents, but I had no money of my own to invest in a business. I also didn't want to spend nothing on my shop, and have it look like I spent no money. That is how my journey began to starting a quality Etsy shop for free.

1. Opening A Shop

The first step is to open up a shop. Um, duh you say. I know, I know. It just had to be said. While having a shop on Etsy is free, to open up shop you have to have at least one listing active. Each listing costs $0.20. Here was the first dilemma I encountered in my search. Luckily, there was an easy solution; many bloggers have posts that contain a deal for new sellers.
Those who already have an Etsy shop are able to participate in a deal where they have a link that gives both the shop owner, and the person opening a shop, 40 free listings, when said person opens their shop. So in essence, you click on the link and you'll be sent to the sign up page to become an Etsy seller and receive your first 40 listing for free. Here is a link just like the one I found when I first started (Disclaimer: when you click this link, not only will you get 40 listings, I will too, at no cost to you. Yay for free!) Click here to open up your very own shop!

2. Creating Your Shop Icon And Banner

Now that you have your very own shop (Nice going!), it's time to start making things look professional. You need a shop icon to represent your business (You, yes you. You're now a business owner! Gasp) and, if you would like, a shop banner as well. There are numerous sites out there where you can pay to create one, or even have someone create it for you. But the goal here is to do everything without spending anything.

The best option I found for these purposes was canva.com. This website has a large variety of free options to create your icon and banner. To make it easier on you, they even have preset size options for Etsy shops, bloggers, and social media users. In fact, the image at the top of this article was created with canva. So are all of the other images I created for my shop, and this blog. Not only do they have plenty of free options, but they're free and professional looking. That's what we're going for. Learn how I did it here.

3. Take Pictures Of Your Items

This is something I struggled to figure out how to make look good without spending money on an expensive camera, lighting equipment, editing software, and all of the other things you'll read that you need. For quite some time, I just accepted the fact that my photos wouldn't look good. The I discovered that shabby photos don't get views. Once I figured out how to improve my picture quality, the views on my products quickly increased. All I used was my smartphone and a free computer program. With the modern smartphone, you can take high resolution photographs in seconds. Here are some quick tips to make your pictures look even better:

  1. Turn on the HDR feature.
  2. Do not use flash.
  3. Use natural light when you can.
  4. Learn to use the 'pro' mode so that you can adjust settings for each individual picture.
  5. Use Gimp to edit for your final image.

4. Use Gimp To Edit Your Pictures

Gimp was the quality game changer for me. Once I understood how I could use it, the difference I saw in my photographs was incredible. Just look at this example of a picture I took of a drawing I did for a print in my shop.

May I just say, wow. The difference is blatantly noticeable. The reason I chose Gimp was because, not only was it free, but it had all of the features I needed to edit my images that other paid for options, such as photoshop, had. It's a little challenging to learn to use, but there are tutorials all over the internet that will guide you step-by-step through the process. You can find Gimp here.

5. SEO Help

When it came to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), I was very tempted to figure out a way to spend money. That's because this is how people find you. If you don't have good SEO it is very unlikely that you'll have a lot of business from Etsy shoppers unless they find you some other way. Time after time I read stories from new sellers like me about how they signed up for a paid SEO tool, such as Marmalade, and it increased their sales by some large amount. Oh boy, was I tempted. Until I found out about a free option that is revolutionizing my SEO.

It's a wonderful site called etsyrank.com. Totally free, totally helpful. This site will grade each listing on it's SEO quality and show you where your optimization is lacking. You can also research which keywords are competitive and where your listings rank under keywords you have used. This is an extremely helpful tool. For further explanation of how I use this resource, read my post all about it.

6. Promotion

As you start up your shop, you're going to see paid promotion options everywhere you turn. No matter how tempting it may be, you do not need them. I have read countless stories about how a shop paid a good sized sum for advertising and promotion and it cost more to keep up than they earned back from it. The thing is, a lot of the most successful shop owners don't use it at all. They create an organic following through free social media platforms. If you ask a shop owner that does well how they get all of their traffic, most will tell you social media.

An organic following may take awhile to build up, so be patient and be consistent. Find which platform work for you and just go for it. You can also eventually start a blog centered around your craft or to help other shops. That is what I am doing here, and I am doing it for free with Blogger. It may not be as fancy as a paid for option but it gets the job done while looking nice.

These are all the ways I started a quality Etsy shop for free. If you have questions don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below. Or, you can ask your questions in the Forums on Etsy. If there's one thing I've learned about creative business owners and the Etsy community, it's that they are always willing to help. I have seen people go above and beyond to help out a fellow creator. So I say to you, welcome to the Etsy family.

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