Opening an Etsy shop is a popular way for many business owners to make money online while working from home. However, growing your small business from a side hustle
to a reliable source of passive income
or even a full-time job can get tricky. How do you it right? We spoke to Etsy shop owner Meaghan Thomas, the marketing guru behind Pinch Spice Market, about how they were able to use the Etsy platform to achieve their financial goals.
Brick-and-Mortar goes digital: Pinch Spice Market gets its start on Etsy
Pinch Spice Market
has been around since 2012, but it has gone through a few iterations before growing into the thriving online business that it is today. The brainchild of Thomas McGee, a former research analyst who spent most of his downtime making bespoke barbecue blends, the brand began as a storefront in Chicago’s trendy Wicker Park neighborhood.
After realizing that his overhead costs were too high, Thomas moved on to selling his goods at local farmers’ markets. While that strategy proved to be fairly fruitful, it wasn’t until a few years ago, when his partner in both life and business, Meaghan Thomas, came along that Pinch Spice Market started to take its current trajectory.
As a digital marketer with a background in journalism, Megan knew that moving the business online would open many doors for them. Deciding to sell on Etsy and starting an Etsy shop
was just one of the strategies she used to build the brand’s online presence, but it has since proved to be invaluable.
Though their shop has only been open for about a year, it currently accounts for about 25% of their annual sales, alongside selling on Amazon, eBay, and their own website. Last year, Meaghan and Thomas have also managed to quadruple their revenues and break the six-figure barrier multiple times over.
During the average month, Pinch Spice Market does around 300 individual orders from their Etsy platform. However, that number tends to triple around the holiday season. When asked why she thinks selling on Etsy has been so successful, Meaghan had this to say:
“Etsy is really a powerhouse of a platform. When you’re trying to promote your own website, you’re going up against big companies who have big budgets to create content and do [public relations]. It can be hard as a small business to show up and stand out.”
“But,” she continues “when you put your product on Etsy, you have the power of Etsy behind you. It gives you authority in the eyes of Google because Google already trusts Etsy’s content, so your products start showing up in the search results.”
Step-by-step guide to creating a successful Etsy Shop
Make the most of existing item profiles
According to Meaghan, one of the biggest mistakes that she sees people make on Etsy is deleting their profiles after an item sells out and then creating a new profile for something similar. Instead, she believes in letting her profiles build equity over time.
“If you’re selling a similar item to the one that’s sold out, just update the photo and item description,” she advises. Also, if you have quite a few similar items, you can use the same profile and sell multiples.”
Use quality photos
Next, Meaghan recommends that Etsy sellers invest in their photography, whether they end up paying a professional to take the photos or investing in themselves and their own equipment.
“Clear pictures of your product are what will actually get people to click on your item,” she says, simply.
Beyond that, she also suggests doing product videos whenever possible. According to her research, Etsy is now promoting videos, so she says that video will be a big part of Pinch Spice Market’s marketing strategy in the year to come.
Be as descriptive as possible
Meaghan acknowledges that her background in digital marketing likely played a role in how quickly the couple was able to get their Etsy store to take off. In her mind, her professional experience taught her how to best present the digital products she now sells.
“It’s important to be descriptive about your products and about what makes your brand unique,” she says. “It was our unique products that took off first and being really descriptive about them is what helped us stand out.”
For her, a particular Ras El Hanout spice blend immediately comes to mind, “Not a lot of people make that type of spice blend,” she admits, “but it's when I mention the 26 different ingredients that are all organic and come from fair-trade farmers, that people who are looking for this product know that they’ve found what they came for.”
Ask for reviews
“Having third parties give you a thumbs up is a big indicator to Etsy – and any search algorithm – that you’re a valuable product and that they should promote you, “ explains Meaghan.
In the beginning, she and Thomas made it a point to include a handwritten thank you note with each purchase, which also asked for a review. Now that they are so busy, she admits that this practice sometimes falls by the wayside. However, they always make sure to at least include a printed insert that asks for a review with the rest of their packaging.
Provide excellent customer service
To Meaghan, the last secret ingredient to creating a six-figure Etsy business is going above and beyond when it comes to customer service.
“We get a lot of questions on Etsy,” she says. “I keep the app on my phone and I usually try to respond to any inquiries within the hour.”
Beyond that, she also says that it’s important to handle problem situations the right way. If something gets lost in the mail, for instance, she and Thomas make sure to put a replacement item in the mail the very next day.
“It costs us a little bit of money, but the customer is always blown away by it. Most times, they leave a nice review and they’ll even come back and shop again.”
What services should you offer in your Etsy Store?
“Gift wrapping is something that I think a lot of sellers forget,” Meaghan admits. “A lot of people turn to Etsy to send last-minute gifts, so if you’re not offering an option to gift wrap and to send a custom note, you’re missing out.”
However, in addition to simply offering to gift wrap a purchase, Meaghan recommends taking things one step further by tailoring your gift wrap options to the holiday or occasion.
For Pinch Spice Market, gifts and holidays are big revenue divers. Meaghan believes that of the first $100K they made off Etsy, around 45% of their revenue came from holiday-related sales.
“Etsy’s brand is competing with Amazon, who ships super fast, so I am almost positive it’s part of their algorithm to promote Etsy sellers who ship fast as well,” she advises.
In particular, Meaghan and Thomas have committed to shipping their orders within one business day of receiving the order. She believes that this move has been an integral part of Pinch Spice Market’s success and that it’s something that sets them apart from their competitors on the platform.
What costs and fees do you need to consider as an Etsy seller?
“Offering free shipping on Etsy gives you a big advantage. Most people filter their search results by stores that offer free shipping, so if you don’t offer it, your store may not be seen as often,” she says, frankly.
However, the truth behind that advice is that shipping is one of Pinch Spice Market’s biggest costs. To compensate for this cost, she and Thomas have adjusted their pricing model slightly for goods that they sell on the Etsy platform.
“We sell products on Etsy for about $1.50 more than we would at a farmers market. In general, it makes sense to price items in such a way that you’ll be able to cover about half your shipping costs.”
“We have found that Etsy ads work. Etsy does a good job of promoting the ads so that people click on them,” Maeghan says, “ It’s just a matter of making sure you’re highlighting the right products.”
Pinch Spice Market started out spending $5 to $10 per day on a few different products to find out which ones were best suited toward their ad spend. Now that they’ve found the products that are the right fit, Meaghan admits that they’ve upped their budget significantly, Now, they are up to the maximum of $125 in ad spend per day and it’s paying off.
As for what she considers the “right products, Meaghan suggests zeroing in those products that really set your shop apart from the crowd. For Pinch Spice Market, that Ras El Hanout spice blend is a standout choice, but, according to Meagan, they had to test running ads for a few different products before they knew that for sure.
The bottom line
Many people dream of selling on Etsy as a way to make money. However, few have what it takes to truly make their store into a thriving business, especially when they learn that it takes more than posting on social media and sending out emails via ConvertKit to get the job done.
Thomas McGee and Meaghan Thomas have been able to achieve that goal by generating over $100K in revenue from Etsy sales. If you would like to follow in their footsteps, use the tips in this article to help you get started.