Etsy Lessons Learned in the first year

In my first year on Etsy, I have learned a lot of lessons on Etsy. In this post I will be going over them.

Etsy lessons learned

A lot of this information will not be beneficial if you are only doing POD types of sales, but some will.

I have been working on a side business for a while to sell 3D printed items. Initially, I had one 3D printer and have been selling Custom Lithophane night lights on Etsy for about 6 months. I was selling about 1-2 a month on Etsy, selling them locally to family & friends, and giving them away as presents.

When the Coronavirus hit, I wanted to do something to help, so I started to print out 3D Surgical Mask Ear Savers for the local 1st responders and Hospitals. After printing a couple of hundred out and giving them away locally, I decided to put them on Etsy and sell them at a slight profit. I was initially looking to make enough money to replace the materials used to make the ear savers and pay the postage. I hit the trend early and was rewarded.

I have been on Etsy for about a year, but until now all of my orders had been for 1 item at a time, so I did not realize truly how Etsy worked.

For example, on a Custom Lithophane night light, I would get the $0.20 charge for the one item. But when I out up the listing for the ear savers on Etsy, I started with selling them at $0.50 each and 1 unit at a time and when people purchased 100 of them, I would get charges $19.80 for the purchase. So out of the $50.00 that I sold the 100 ear savers for, I was looking $19.80 just to the $0.20 fee per item. Once I realized this, I modified the listing so that people couple order in different quantities. Ie. 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100. This helps reduce the fees from Etsy.

Make sure that the quantity that you put on Etsy is something that you can do in the delivery timeframe selected. I initially put 999 in the quantity and shipping in 1-3 business days. At that time, I only had 1 printer and could print out 6 ear savers in 2 hours in a single color. So if I printed around the clock, I could make 72 in a day and a total of 216 in a 3-day span. Within hours of putting up the initial listing, I had 5-6 orders totaling 400-500 units.

Between April 19th and May 5th, I had 135 orders for over 2000 ear savers. This is 338 hours, so printing 6 ear savers in 2 hours, I could make a maximum of 1,014 ear savers during this time frame.

I ended up using the money from the sales to purchase a 2nd 3D printer around April 26 and a 3rd a couple of days ago. I also tweaked how I was printing the ear savers so that I could print 8 at a time and in 1.5 hours. This increased my daily production for one printer to 128 and for three printers to 384.

The process of printing is not a start and come back 24 hours later to have the 72 or 128 per printer. I have to remove the finished product from the printer when every batch is done, so that means I would have to get up every 2 hours all night and if I was out of the house, I would lose any time after the print was completed to when I got home. I also lost time to filament change to print different colors, maintenance, and repairs of the printer.

So, make sure you can make what you put on Etsy. I had to reduce the number of items I had in the listing on Etsy and turn down orders of hundreds of ear savers since I was so far behind in making them.

Even with my listing saying that the ear saver had the word “HERO” on the back of them and asking people to put in the customization section of Etsy to put what colors they wanted, people started putting requests for different words in the place of Hero. This would require me to create a new 3D file for each customization and then print out the quantity they wanted further reducing my printing capacity.

I ended up using variations on Etsy to allow the buyer to select the colors they want and the quantity they wanted. This allowed me to get rid of the customization box.

I did not pay attention to the shipping options on Etsy at first. I set up free shipping to the United States and the World. I forgot that Etsy is World wide and not like Merch By Amazon and anyone could purchase my listing. I have sold ear savers to Holland, Germany, Spain. I have an order to Spain right now that is for 5 ear savers $3.75, the shipping is $14.00, I have reached out to the buyer asking to cancel the order, but currently she is still wanting it. So watch out you can lose your profits on poorly set up shipping. I have changed the listing to the United States only.

Initially, I was charging $0.50 for an ear saver and if I shipped the cheapest way, a basic stamped envelope at $.55 for the stamp I would lose a little money, but then I started taking into account the shipping materials and ended up increasing the price to $.75. I still lose money on the low orders, but the larger orders make up for it.

Order packaging and delivery. Keeping track of who purchased what, how many, and where they are to be shipped to is very hard. Make sure that you have a process set up to package the orders and ship them out.

Keeping in contact with the buyer. I am very good about responding back to the buyer very fast, but one thing to watch out about is if they use the wrong address in the order and then message you with the correct address. The correct address is very easily overlooked when printing the shipping labels.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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