Tips From A Former Niche Item Etsy Store

Etsy is a service aimed at providing a way for makers of handmade items to sell them online. [Bithead] closed up shop earlier this year and wrote up an interesting perspective on what did and didn’t work out. The main market for [Bithead]’s store was Star Wars cosplayers, because it all started with some Star Wars inspired com pads, some of which are pictured here.

One thing [Bithead] felt worked well overall was to “think big, start small, and scale fast.” In essence, bootstrap things by selling inventory on hand and carefully monitoring demand, then if demand is sustained, ramp up to larger batches, which are more efficient. The risk of making larger part orders and carrying more stock on hand is offset by the reliable demand. Waiting until solid data on reliable demand is available means missing out on early sales, but it’s a low risk approach that works well for niche products that have little or no real competition.

A couple things that didn’t work out were efforts to follow Etsy’s advice to add more products to attract a wider audience, and to try out tools for offering discounts and incentives aimed at turning abandoned carts into sales. Neither went well. The first resulted in adding items that sold poorly, diluted the focus of the store, and incurred a cost for each listing. The second never seemed to have any impact on sales whatsoever. Perhaps there is a place for these efforts, but [Bithead]’s niche market wasn’t it.

It’s a good read about how things went for an Etsy store that served a niche audience over three years. The perspective and experiences might be useful to anyone looking to turn a bright idea into something sold online, so if you’re at all interested, take a few minutes to check it out.

We’ve seen [Bithead]’s work before, this lightsaber-inspired violin bow was one project that went on to become a kit for sale.

4 thoughts on “Tips From A Former Niche Item Etsy Store

  1. Etsy has so much stuff that it’s hard to do well with unique items when people are randomly searching and many people sell similar items or even plagiarized ones. My wife lucked out trying a couple of things she was good at with her own unique style, so she sells better through posting on Facebook and local art sales.

  2. This guy’s experience is the norm for anyone selling items they make themselves via Etsy.

    Originally when Etsy just sold stuff made by the makers, designer and artists themselves, it was worthwhile selling via Etsy

    But over the years, Etsy has gradually changed what products can be sold on their platform, and now even mass produced items, which the vendor has not designed or made themselves are allowed.

    Consequentially there are now millions of products on the platform, and the chances of a maker, or designer or artist having their work discovered are very low.

  3. I can’t speak to [Bithead] personal situation of sales efforts, but please allow me a generalization.
    I’ve never dealt with the Etsy site, But I can offer a thought on my personal reason for “abandoned carts” in another instance.

    Where I live , there are two large “home improvement” retailers.

    Company “A” has a web site that requires script running just to see prices of commodity items. (strike one).

    The second problem is issue is Company “A” demands a postal code to see the price. (strike two)
    Bare in mind that the competitor uses the, vague but reasonable guess from IP addresses etc, to estimate my location/region and thus readily displays a price.

    The third issue is Company “A” requiring script to see a simple, static, image of product or the manufacturers basic information. (strike three).

    Can you guess why I would often “abandon a cart” on Company “A” website?

    With Company “B”, I can simply read their website and access the pertinent information without any hassle or wondering if this will be day that some third party element is infected.

    Any wonder that I purchase from Company “B”, a vast majority of the time?

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