Monday, October 6, 2014

When an Etsy Listing Doesn't Sell...

I actually admire the fact that Etsy listings expire after four months - it's a favor to us. The marketplace is forever clear for new lovely things, and that four month clock gives us all a sort of deadline to work towards - sell your item in four months, or lose your listing fee. Which is small, but still something you'd rather not lose.

So when months go by and I've got a listing about the expire off the bottom of my shop, I start thinking about taking action. And I have no shortage of options for stuff that's not selling! Here is my list of actions to take:

1) Listing makeover - maybe the item needs new tags, new photos, extra words in the description to get found. Pretend you're listing it new, using everything you've learned in the last three months, surely there's something you can change!

2) Get a critique - it's easier for people to critique a single listing than a whole shop. Ask the shop critiques team what they think of your listing. Maybe there's something obvious to improve on it.

3) Trade it - seriously, I cannot say enough about the trade team. Trading is the best way I've found to connect with other artists, find out quickly what your "in demand" items are, and move the stuff in your shop that isn't moving. A good trade team will have an active thread where you can post things you're looking to trade the most.

4) Start a clearance section - I know this tip might be controversial because we're all artists and worth a lot, yes. But a clearance section is a good way to find out if your prices are too high... if your items sell like hotcakes at lower prices, consider lowering them. If they don't sell with lower prices, well then it's not your prices keeping people away, you'll feel confident keeping your prices high!

5) Grab bag listing - for the truly expired, I'll sometimes combine them into one big random listing. Crazy, sure, but I've had people throw it in with a "real" purchase.

6) Save it for 4th quarter - around the holidays, sales spike like crazy and all kinds of things can move that sat around in the summer. Mark August 26th on your calendar - anything you list on that day or past it will be an active listing all through Christmas, when you really want your shop to be as well stocked as possible. The holidays are the only time when I renew expired items. The first week of December is my busiest day of the year so I try to have everything but the kitchen sink listed in November.

7) Sponsor a giveaway - Find a popular blogger and offer up an item to their readers in exchange for some free publicity. It really creates some buzz! There are some nice giveaway and blogger connection teams to help you find hosts.

8) Craft fair - It never ceases to amaze me how items that fly off the shelves at craft fairs will go nowhere on Etsy, and items that fly out of my Etsy shop get no love at a craft fair. You just can't predict how marketplaces will be different. I have a craft fair box of things that I will never relist on Etsy but they'll take up space on a table. Split a table with a friend if you're just starting out and still small, it's fun.

9) Donate to a fundraiser - Lots of charities host silent objects with gift baskets to raise money for worthy causes. They'd be happy to have your business cards out on the table along with an item from your shop.

10) Local consignment - where do shoppers buy handmade in your area? Find a local shop and ask if they'll stock some of your items. They'll likely want 40-50% of the retail price but if your prices are set correctly you'll still make a profit. I've found that certain items, like my Kansas-themed gifts, can't seem to find their market on Etsy but they sell like hotcakes in stores!

So that's my list! You may notice, no where did I say to spend more time "promoting" the listing, spamming pinterest or twitter with it. Always remember that social media is nice but your target audience is people who come to Etsy to search, not people who are checking twitter to see what their friends are up to these days. So when a listing doesn't sell, change your game plan, don't just overbroadcast.

And my list may not be exhaustive, I'd love to hear from anyone else what works for you! With a few tweaks you can turn an about-to-expire listing into a sale, a promotional tool, basically an opportunity! Kinda nice to have some things to play with an experiment on... see what works, right? Good luck, everybody!


  1. This is a interesting to think about. Most of the time my new pieces sold pretty fast, but sometimes I have to renew them ( or choose not too). Again lots of previous collection pieces found new owners after the multiple of renewing:) So, sell online it very interesting things:)

  2. Great tips! #7 is my favorite, because I love hosting giveaways. :D

  3. Wonderful article and advises!
    I would not agree with "spamming" social media as it is a great way to expose what you do to new people. Use the hashtags wisely so your advertising posts can be found by the interested audience. For example, if you use hashtag #shopping then people who are looking for a purchase will find you, because this is what they are looking for!

  4. Great tips! When I used to run an Etsy shop, I used to do a lot of trading on my slower items. It was an easy way for me to move the inventory while getting new eyes on my Etsy shop!

  5. interesting and fun reads your posts.. I just recommended it to somebody else. One question though.. where do we find these bloggers to sponsor giveaways with? I dont know where is this team you spoke about.