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Etsy: Not Just Another Sideline Business

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Indian Health Services

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Standing Out from the Crowd

Because Etsy has 1.4 million sellers, Doliber says Search Engine Optimization(SEO) tools are crucial to get noticed by buyers. SEO is how the search engines find you and provide the link to the customer. He also relies heavily on great photography of his products to stand out.

“When someone does a search result, and you’re there with thousands of others, what will make your product jump off the page? I learned that the product photography was important. I studied other shops that were successful and what they were doing - how they were staging and setting up photography and how those photos were drawing customers,” he says.

Terry Shackelford is just getting started with Etsy, but he’s already trying to figure out how to make his products stand out to women who frequent the site. Most people might not think a former Navy CPO would want to start a business appealing to feminine interests, but Shackelford says he’s just being practical.

“I’m thinking, if I can make something that’s decorative, what better place than to put it up on Etsy? I don’t make those decisions in my house - typically the female side makes them,” he says.

Shackelford, who lives in Alabama, retired in 2002 from the Navy and was working for the Tennessee Valley Authority as an instructor at its Nuclear Power Authority. But his job was eliminated, along with another 2,500 positions. He received a separation package, and he took part of it to lease a $25,000 Computer Numerically Controlled Router. He uses it to create decorative door hangers and is developing another product for which he is obtaining a patent.

He’s trying to capitalize on social media to generate interest in his Etsy business, called Shack’s CNC Workshop, which he launched this summer. “If I’m going to tweet something, I make it beneficial for the reader. That gets them interested. Provide content, and you get a better response if you’re transparent. Everything has connectability,” he says.

Hutchinson emphasizes her outreach to women who buy her products on Etsy, as well as face-to-face at places like jewelry trade shows. It’s not only for business building, but also keeps her connected to an important reason she started the business.

“My mission is to help women feel beautiful,” she says. “It took about six months before I realized that my brain injury was completely gone. I realized one day I had no tremors. It’s incredible. Now I can do things like this. I remember the day I couldn’t even hold a pencil. It took me so long to get to this point.”

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

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