The Etsy community boasts some of the most creative entrepreneurs in the world. They’re craftsmen and women, their work is beautiful, and quite honestly, so is some of their social media marketing.
The Tailwind team attended the inaugural Etsy Up conference in New York this year to learn how these inspiring entrepreneurs and solopreneurs use social media marketing to sell a ton of their handiwork on Etsy.com.
If selling more of what you make sounds like something you’d like to learn how to do, read on.
Keynote with Etsy CEO, Chad Dickerson
Have courage, rise to the challenge
The theme of the week was courage. A fitting theme since there’s no career path that takes more courage than entrepreneurship, except maybe being an artist – and Etsy shop owners are both!
Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson kicked off the conference with a presentation on the courage it takes to be an entrepreneur. That this Thomas Edison quote resonated with the audience in quite the way that it did speaks volumes about Etsians.'Opportunity is missed by most people because it's dressed in overalls & looks like work' - Thomas Edison
From the various conversations I had throughout the conference I can report that there isn’t a harder working group of people in America than Etsy sellers.
Opportunity hasn’t been missed by this audience, but the challenge they’re facing is real. Etsy sellers have bitten off a lot. They’re CEOs, makers, photographers, marketers, distributors, customer service representatives and accountants, all rolled into one. That’s a lot of hats to wear, and a lot of topics to fit into one conference!
It’s a lot to fit into one blog post too, so we’ll focus here on what we know best – how Etsy sellers can do great social media marketing. We learned that Etsy social media marketing looks a lot like social media marketing for other solopreneurs and small businesses, with the added bonus for Etsy sellers that they often make what they sell and that can be a great source of original photography and content to share socially.
For what it’s worth, even though the audience members were all wearing a dozen hats, I didn’t see anybody rocking a set of overalls. Maybe they save those for their workshops.
Session – Beyond Likes: Social Media for Sales and Business Growth
Pro tip: Watch what your audience responds to and do more of it.
This session was an insightful discussion on how each individual approached social media, taking us beyond tracking follower counts into the metrics that really count – clicks, and even more importantly, sales. Of course, more often than not more followers lead to more clicks which lead to more sales, but that’s not necessarily the case and so a wise strategy considers each on its own merits.
The Etsy social media marketing platform of choice
Of the four speakers on the panel, three of them hailed Instagram as their preferred social media marketing platform, while one crowned Pinterest with that honor.3/4 of the #EtsyUp social media panel said Instagram is best at driving sales. 1/4 said Pinterest.
Erin Dollar, owner of Cotton & Flax, summed up her reasons for preferring Pinterest nicely: “Pinterest is a place to engage and align with other brands or companies, more so than other platforms. It gives you a broader reach to engage on a more consistent basis.”
We could all pick up a few social media marketing tips by following her exceptional Instagram (32,600 followers) and Pinterest accounts (623,200 followers). Her content is as good as the swankiest store brands (think West Elm and Anthropologie) without the million dollar agency retainer.
Tailwind customer success manager Robin Troutman, pictured above, runs the Etsy shop, The Rounded Corner, and she agrees with Erin that marketing with Pinterest is the way to go for Etsy shop owners. Since joining Tailwind she’s managed to grow her Pinterest following to 5,400.
Even before working at Tailwind, Pinterest was my favorite platform. It has always driven the most traffic to our Etsy shop and I highly recommend utilizing it on a consistent basis to maximize your shop’s exposure! We started our Etsy store while I was in a wheelchair. It was a way for my mom and I to do something creative during a low point in life. So I went into the Etsy conference with gratitude and left with more than I thought possible! My mom is hooked on using Tailwind for our shop and is excited for what’s to come as she takes over during the holiday season!”
Session – Strategic Marketing Tactics: How Entrepreneurs Master the Art of Standing Out to Uniquely Market Their Brands
Marketing is positioning
This session brought in experts from outside the Etsy community. Each shared stories about their journeys as entrepreneurs, and again Pinterest and Instagram got their share of mentions. For both Eric Kass and Maxwell Ryan, Pinterest has been critical to their success.
As a hoarder with a penchant for minimalism, Eric Kass immediately took a liking to Pinterest, both for his business, Funnel.tv, and for personal use. It allowed him to collect items and ideas in a visually neat and minimal way. Genuine, high quality curation eventually garnered attention from influencers, which helped accelerate the growth of his personal brand. In both this panel and his own session, he stressed the value of telling your own personal story with an engaging, immersive and well-crafted brand.
We liked what Eric had to say so much that we wrote a whole profile on him called – The Curator’s Instinct for Pinterest: How Eric Kass Blew Up.
Maxwell Ryan of Apartment Therapy wasn’t shy about showing off how Pinterest’s referral traffic had impacted Apartment Therapy’s growth. This particular slide was followed up by another that illustrated how traffic to old, incumbent media companies were plummeting — a testament to a changing landscape where creative individuals, empowered by technology, can go toe-to-toe with the big guys.
Another favorite topic of digital marketing conversation at the Etsy Up conference was search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Etsy store owners can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to discover how people search for products like theirs and then use those words to either name their products, or as supplementary words on the pages where their products live. This is important because search engines are more likely to return pages that use the keywords people actually searched for.
SEO can be crucial for Etsy store owners since Etsy itself is a search engine, as is Amazon, Google (of course), and even Pinterest. SEO applies anywhere online that people type in keywords to find things.
Here’s an example of the power of the Keyword Planner tool and the concept of SEO. We can use it as a tool to tell us which keywords are searched more often, “Etsy Store” or “Etsy Shop”.
As you can see, the answer is that “Etsy shop” is searched for on Google more than ten times as often as “Etsy store” – good to know, right? Imagine what that kind of knowledge can do to inform the words you choose to use on your blog and throughout your Etsy store shop?
Session – A Fearless Approach to Social Media
Starting is the hardest part
One thing we heard over and over again at the conference was that managing social media accounts was difficult for Etsy sellers who were busy juggling other responsibilities. Erin puts it well: “Starting is the hardest part. Social media marketing is a necessary part of a modern business.”'Social media marketing is a necessary part of a modern business.' @cottonandflax
The focus of this session was on social media at large, but again, Pinterest and Instagram strategy and tips dominated the presentation.
Erin told us that “Pinterest captures more brand value and drives more sales to my Etsy shop than any other social media platform.” That makes sense when you consider how engaged Pinterest traffic and how much more likely it is to convert to sales than traffic from any other social channel.
She stressed that creating a plan to relieve anxiety about what to post to social networks is key. She told us that she turns to Tailwind every Sunday to schedule her Pins for the coming week. Simple.
Although she doesn’t have a tool she likes for Instagram scheduling yet, she’s excited to check out Tailwind for Instagram.
So, What’s Next for the Etsy Up conference?
Courage in action
Etsy Up was a great learning experience for us, and for the other attendees we spoke to. There were dozens of sessions to choose from with tips on everything an Etsy shop owner could need to know including breaking into the wholesale business, tips for improving your customer service, mastering photography, and attracting press and influencers. Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson framed the conference by talking about the need for courage, and it’s clear why — you could spend years mastering the skills presented in any single session alone.
But as with all great conferences the focus was really on growing the community, and it’s the Etsy community that impressed us most of all with its courage, talent and vibrancy.
It’s fitting then that we leave the last word to some members of that community, Etsy Up speakers and attendees.
Abby Mavora of Mavoraart spoke at the conference and said:
“We all have different goals and talents and so our successes can never really be compared. It’s apples and oranges and pineapples out there. Be You!”
Mel Serangelo of Matelele left the conference with a new-found energy:
“We’re beyond thrilled to have been a part of Etsy Up. Throughout this conference, Etsy made it perfectly clear that it is one of those rare corporations that actually has a heart and soul. We left the conference feeling pumped, inspired and ready to go back to work.”
Licky Drake, owner of HappyGoLicky, recalled the second keynote of the event and how it inspired her to maintain courage:
'The only thing written in stone is my own determination.' #EtsyUP speaker - @faywolf
“Organizational specialist, Fay Wolf, said, ‘Fear is a feeling, not a fact.’ I immediately wrote that down in my notebook and tore it out when I got home and taped it to my studio wall. Now when I look at it I am reminded that the only thing ‘written in stone’ is my own determination.”
If all that whetted your appetite for more Etsy social media marketing tips, we spoke to 8 successful Etsy sellers about how they achieved success on Pinterest and Instagram. Click below to download your free PDF now.