Saturday, May 1, 2010 is an online marketplace for selling niche items. According to Etsy's official selling guidelines, items sold on Etsy must be "made by hand or, a bit more loosely put, hand-assembled or
 hand-altered." This limits Etsy to skilled artists and craftspeople. With Etsy's very low listing fees, it is appealing for the casual hobbyist to list a couple items he or she created—but vying for long term success on Etsy is an entirely different story.

In order to achieve long term success on Etsy, you'll need to take number of proactive steps:

1. Make your storefront appealing. Etsy allows for users to upload a store banner; download a trial version of Adobe Photoshop and make an artsy banner to catch the buyer's attention—or, if you're not experienced with electronic design, use Microsoft Paint to make a simpler banner (press F1 for help if you've never used Paint before).

2. Make your storefront informative. Include information about your sources of inspiration, your process, and the final product. Let a visitor know that you take your storefront seriously and you value customer service.

3. List often. If you're a seller specializing in expensive handmade items, it will pay off to also put a little effort into less time-consuming, more easily produced arts and crafts items. Etsy's main page features "recently listed items." These items get extra attention because of their spot right on the main page. Many Etsy sellers have told me that they notice a spike in the number of visitors recorded by Google Analytics whenever listing a new item. Before you build up a base of loyal customers, frequent listings can be a good way to draw in customers who may be browsing the newly posted items.

4. Get involved with the Etsy community. In a video interview by Lindsay Campbell of Wallstrip, founder Rob Kalin said that Etsy makes it possible to have a "global marketplace" that is "also a community."
 This is very important to remember. Etsy has a number of nice features for connecting with other sellers. Be sure to visit other shops and "heart" the shops that you like ("hearting" a shop is much like a "favorites" list in other marketplaces). This gives your profile personality and lets other users know that you're browsing other sellers' items. By actively browsing Etsy, you show interest in the community.

5. Support the community. Make sure you also put your money where your mouth is. If you find a cool item in somebody else's store, buy it! Many users are reluctant to buy from somebody without a "rating" (essentially feedback from past transactions); buying items from other stores shows your interest in the community and it gives you some additional rating points! A buyer who sees that you've made transactions in the past knows that you're a reliable member of the Etsy marketplace.

6. Demonstrate your passion. Making handmade products requires dedication and determination; it is truly an art. Show off your dedication to your medium by blogging or writing web articles about your craft. If you link to your blog from your Etsy shop, buyers will see your personality. You'll also draw in new customers who stumble upon your articles. Etsy also has a running blog entitled Storque; consider submitting work for consideration. Articles featured in Storque give you direct access to interested Etsy users.

While it may take a little while to build up regular customers, setting up a good storefront and respecting the Etsy community will push any online crafts seller in the right direction. It takes some time on your end, so don't expect good long term results if you are not passionate about your art and if you're not willing to put in the effort to build web-buzz about your products. But, for a person who wants to succeed at online arts and crafts selling, the tips above will be a great launch pad.


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