Make Etsy Items That People Actually Want To Buy

I'd like to go over something that I do not address enough, and that is Product Development. 

The more I sell on Etsy, the more I realize over and over that selling on Etsy requires two very essential components: 

  1. You absolutely must understand Keywords and how to use them properly on Etsy.
  2. Like any business, you need to sell things on Etsy that people actually want to spend money on.

When you connect Keywords with Good Designs on Etsy, you get Sales. There are so many ways to market your products on Etsy, such as Promoted Listings, Instagram, Pinterest, and Newsletters. But Keywords should always be priority #1 as your main marketing strategy. 

But having good Keywords doesn't matter if no one likes your Etsy products.

So don't be offended if you have ugly Etsy products and you know it. Instead, I am instead going to offend myself by telling you a story about one of my biggest failures on Etsy. 

 

Here's my story about selling on Etsy

In 2010, I started my first Etsy Shop. I thought it was awesome that there was a website that focused on helping individuals sell creative, independent items online. 

I sold minimalist, very rectangular, geometric paintings, in various colors. I sold a grand total of 1 painting on Etsy. The lady was from Florida, and she said the painting matched perfectly with her home decor. It was the blue painting shown below. I was so excited to get a Sale, and I figured that at least someone else would buy something too! 

I had about 8 paintings all together on my Etsy Shop, and in order to try to get a sale, I lowered my prices from about $400 USD to about $150 USD per painting and included free shipping.  Little did I realize that it would cost $75 USD to ship the item. And then after subtracting the cost of the canvas, painting, packaging materials, and the roughly 8 hours it took to make the painting, I was basically making no money at all. 

I had no clue what I was doing, and after 6 months, I gave up. I had all these other paintings available for sale, like the green painting shown below. Personally, I really, really like this design. The problem is that no one else likes it and no one wants to spend their money on it. When I look at it now, it's probably because of the ugly green color. No one uses green to decorate their home, especially in a modernist home. But I thought the design was cool, so shouldn't at least 1 other person like this design? 

The thing that I did not realize back in 2010, is that I am not creating things for myself on Etsy. Instead, I am creating things for other people. And they are paying me to make it for them. But what I kept doing was making things that only I liked, and I didn't try to figure out my own target customers and cater designs towards their knees. I should have continued to develop products based on my Blue Painting - but I didn't do that at all. I ignored what a customer bought, and continued on my own path. 

Your goal on Etsy is to sell things that other people want. But you're a creative person & you'll want to make things that you like, too. If you want to just be a business person, then you sell on Amazon or Ebay. But just like selling on other online platforms, your goal should always be to make money and sell things that other people want.

Six years later on Etsy, I finally created a modernist painting design that both I like and lots of other customers on Etsy like, too. Below is a black and white abstract painting I made and it has sold hundreds of times.

In terms of style, it's minimalist, it's a painting, and it is sort of like the designs I did in 2010. The difference is that people are willing to pay money for this design. And they can find me on Etsy through the use of good, clean, simple Keywords. 

Why do people like this design? I have no clue. I have some theories, though:

  • Modernist design is much, much more popular today than it was 6 years ago.
  • Black & White is so much easier to match to a home than blue or green is.
  • I've figured out a way to lower the cost of my designs.
  • I've also realized that it's hard to sell very large paintings, like my original 24" x 48" paintings because they are so expensive. Now, our best seller is a much more affordable 8" x 10" print. 
  • I've also learned a ton about Keywords in the last 6 years, and this helps me get my artwork in front of more people. 

So the whole point of this story is to tell you one main piece of advice: It doesn't matter what you like. It matters what your customers like!  And you need to find a way to create things that both you and other people enjoy at the same time. That way, you have fun doing it, and you get to make money at the same time. 

So learn from my mistakes. Get over yourself and what you like. And start making things that other people are going to enjoy. 

Justin Wood

JPW Design Studio, California

Minimalist Website Designer