Today we have the pleasure of talking with Lisa the Shop Doc. Lisa has helped many Etsy sellers with their shops and put together a list of her top tips. We chat with Lisa about how she got started, her inspiration for the Shop Doc name, and of course her tips! Stick around to see if your shop has an opportunity for Etsy help from the Shop doc!
Her back story
Back in college, Lisa was planning on being an engineering major. She had a friend who told her that he was dropping out of school to make “glass beads” to sell on Etsy. Lisa had never heard of Etsy and thought he was crazy. But, her friend did drop out of college to sell beads on Etsy and since it was all so crazy, Lisa, of course, followed suit! She thought it just might be crazy enough to work.
Engineering simply was not her passion. She didn’t want to sit at a desk for eight hours doing something she didn’t love. Could she make herself? Yes. Would she make good money doing it? Sure. But she wouldn’t be happy. After getting married in 2010, Lisa started crafting by making necklaces and bracelets. It was basically a way for her to get some extra spending cash. Her friend who started on Etsy first encouraged her to sell on Etsy as well, which she did. She says that first try was horrible. Her pictures and SEO were really bad and her products were terrible! She says she was making a lot of jewelry and posting it, but nothing was selling. Everything about a business was going on accept the money-making part;)
Ear cuffs to the rescue
Lisa started to think that the answer to her slow sales was that her items were priced too high. Maybe she needed lower priced items. At the time, wire ear cuffs were just coming out and were very popular. So she made a wire ear cuff and it sold. Then she made another one and it sold. Again, she thought this was just because it was the cheapest thing in her shop. Suddenly, the only thing selling in her shop were the wire ear cuffs. Lisa thought, “Fine! You guys want wire ear cuffs? I’ll give you wire ear cuffs!” But then she would get a request for a nose ring or a lip ring. Suddenly, it was all about listening to what her customers wanted and giving them the kind of service they weren’t finding somewhere else. She ran with this! Reviews started pouring in about how comfortable her products were and how high-quality everything was.
Keepin’ an eye on them
Lisa started going to her competition to see exactly what they were doing. She says you should always keep tabs on what your competition is doing. This is not so you can anyone, but to understand what similar items to yours are priced at and to simply know where you are on the playing field. Lisa really started paying attention to the negative reviews her competition was receiving. Lisa says one of the reasons she did this and what it taught her is that you can always do anything better.
Whatever it is that you’re doing in your shop, if you just do it slightly better you’ll do fine. So understanding where her competition was failing and where their weaknesses were helped Lisa to learn where she could be strong in her own shop. If they had a slow turn around time, uncomfortable items or cheap materials, Lisa was determined to be different in all these areas.
Working in retail for ten years also helped Lisa to learn to listen to her customers. It really is all about listening and understanding what it is your customers want and need. For Lisa, it’s all about being 50/50. 50% is listening to her customers and doing what they want. 50% is doing what she wants for her shop. Then, you take those and merge them in the middle to make everyone happy.
The Shop Doc
Lisa started the Shop Doc to do shop critiques and offer Etsy help for other shops. This is to assist other sellers in getting on a quick track to selling, much faster than Lisa herself did. This process for her took about four years. Her goal for her customers is to help them get their shop up and going with sales within a year. Lisa has always been the kind of person who took her own path to learn things from the inside out. This has been the same with her Etsy shop. She’s truly “learned the belly of the beast” as she puts it and now has a passion to help others take a less strenuous path to learning the same things she did to get where she’s gotten.
From Etsy seller to Etsy helper
About two and a half years ago Lisa was just starting to expand her own business and found that Sarah Sewell had started Flourish. She dove right into Flourish and once she was in the group saw many people asking common questions about getting started on Etsy. Lisa reached out to Sarah and let her know that if she ever needed help answering these sorts of questions, she’d be happy to help because she knew the answers to them! Lisa knew Sarah didn’t know her very well, but Lisa’s shop had about 35,000 sales at the time and knew her sales record vouched for the fact that she knew what she was doing.
Sarah agreed to let Lisa help her. Over the past two years, Sarah has slowly been training Lisa, allowing her to answer more and more questions. Lisa says she has an inclination to help people. This is her passion. Doing a mentor call with customers and watching them light up when they’ve been working so hard on understanding something and up until the call with her weren’t understanding whatever it was, is what drives Lisa.
Watching customers suddenly understand a concept and have rejuvenated motivation for their Etsy shop is what makes her continue to want to offer Etsy help to sellers. She loves making people feel better and helping them understand how to make their shops a better success. Lisa says anyone can have a successful shop as long as they have determination, motivation, and a little direction.
The shop critiques begin
Lisa continued helping Sarah answer questions on Flourish and finally asked Sarah if she could move into doing shop critiques. Sarah was on board with this because of how Lisa had her own shop set up and because of how successful it was. Lisa has now been doing shop critiques for the past two years. She absolutely loves it! She says she has a different method of teaching. Lisa shies away from sounding too textbook for being more casual and conversational.
When Lisa is doing a shop critiques it goes something like this: making sure that the customer has their branding set up, that they understand who their target market is, that their photography is stunning, that their pricing is on point, that the front page of their Etsy shop looks like a magazine, that their shop sections and about page are set up correctly and that all the fine nitty-gritty details they might have previously looked over are taken care of. She’s seen a lot of success with her customers and it’s something she loves to see! Lisa says she loves when she’s right because this means her customers are succeeding. This is the outcome she wants to obtain!
Getting what they want
Another motivation to help others comes from Lisa’s own success. Because of how well she’s done in her own business, Lisa’s husband was able to quit work two years ago. He is now home with Lisa and their kids. Lisa says this has been so amazing for their family and it’s awesome that her husband gets to be with their kids and watch them grow up. She talks to a lot of women who desire to have their husbands home as well which drives her to want to help them even more. She understands how this feels. Whatever it may be, however, Lisa wants her customers to obtain their end goal because she has been able to obtain her own.
Developing The Shop Doc
We asked Lisa how she came up with the branding and name for her coaching business. She says the way it all happened was actually a lot of fun. When Lisa started her first shop (and the way a lot of shops start) it really was more of a hobby than a business. She didn’t do any branding. She was simply creating something. Later on, the thought of who her target market was and how to brand to them came into play. The longer Lisa was in Flourish the more she heard people talking about how their sales and views were tanking and everything overall was not well. Lisa wanted to give a vision to others of, “if your shop is sick, let me help you heal it.”
She didn’t try any other names before the Shop Doc, but she had come up with some witty slogans along this line. A lot of these slogans had to do with being sick and having the sniffles or being sneezy and out of all this, the Shop Doc organically materialized. Lisa says it has a ton of fun marketing abilities for her! Because she sells shop cri, Lisa doesn’t have new product lines to release. Instead, she has to focus on fun and interesting marketing. For example, on Halloween, she had marketing that said “The Doc has gone mad!” which included a mad scientist theme.
Lisa says thinking about her brand before she ever built her shop was so much fun. She hand drew graphics to go along with her listings and everything was very intentional. She’s gotten a ton of great feedback on her branding and everything has gone really well. People identify her in the group she’s in because of how easily her black circle with an orange plus sign is to see! That’s the Shop Doc and people know it when she’s posting in groups of 3,000+.
Tip #1: Go for this
Lisa says developing a brand that includes an easy to recognize logo or symbol is exactly what every shop should be going for. If you see a blue F, you know it’s Facebook, if you see an orange E, you know it’s Etsy, if you see a white square with a red play button, you know it’s YouTube. What do people see that they’ll identify with your brand and who you are? This is what you want to aim for.
Tip #2: Think of it this way
Lisa tells people that you can compare having an Etsy shop to having a child. You’re never going to be done caring for or updating it. At the same time, when you’re first starting an Etsy shop, don’t worry about getting hundreds of sales. When your kids are in kindergarten, you’re not worrying about their SAT scores. In the same way, when your shop is at the beginning, let it be a new shop without unrealistic expectations. Work on it a little at a time, just like you did with your kids. Will it be irritating? Yes. Will it take time? Absolutely. There will always be things that you don’t want to do, but all of this will be very beneficial in the end. There will be lows and highs, good days and bad days. It will be unpredictable, but you need to learn to roll with the punches.
Tip #3: Knowing who you want
Lisa says if you’re just starting you must have your branding and target market in mind. It’s so much easier to make a product with a person in mind and then stand in front of that person knowing they want it as opposed to making something and then standing in the middle of a crowd yelling, “I did this who wants it?!” You need to know who you want as a target market and develop around them. You also need to create your brand around them as well. Most sellers on Etsy do not start this way. They get excited because someone told them how awesome their art or craft is and they decide to just jump right in with no strategy. Whoa, slow down. Research it a little bit first.
Tip #4: Three important things
Once you get your shop set up, Lisa says there are three things that are definitely going to help you sell: your branding and target market, your SEO and your photography. Your brand is what holds your entire business together. Without keywords, you won’t be found. Without stellar photography, no one is going to look at you versus the other fifty listings on the page. Lisa says this was something that took her a long time to learn.
Lisa doesn’t use herself in her product photos because she says she’s not super photogenic. Instead, she’s decided to send out for model pictures. Lisa makes sure that the model always uses her brand colors in the photos. The model she chose also has the look she was going for with black hair, wingtip eyeliner, and purple lipstick. Lisa’s target audience is punk, alternative and rebellious. Lisa is always looking for a way to stand out from the other listings she’s competing with. It’s not just about having a quality picture, it’s also about what makes you stand out in a positive way.
Also, you want to make sure that your branding is carried through not only your pictures but the copy you use as well. Your branding is the living, breathing personality of your shop. This is why Lisa always has her model use her brand colors and her copy reflects who her brand is and the audience she’s speaking to.
Tip #5: Finding your target market
Lisa says it feels a lot scarier than it actually is to find your target market. So what can you do to discover who yours is? For example, when Lisa started selling nose rings she first wondered who would be thinking they absolutely had to have a fake nose ring? She didn’t feel like people woke up in the morning and thought, “You know what my outfit needs?! A fake nose ring!” And yet she has 53,000 sales. At first, she thought she should be targeting college and high school kids. But this felt too broad. So, she had to think of why someone would want a fake nose ring? Well, they’re trying to copy someone who has a real piercing.
Tip #6: Stereotyping one time only
Lisa says the one and only time in your life that it’s ok to stereotype is when you’re trying to find your target market. So, if someone has face piercings, Lisa’s says she’d place a bet that this person also has a tattoo or two. And if they’ve got tattoos and piercings, they probably don’t have naturally colored hair. Maybe they have a little bit of an attitude. Put all those things together and it’s a rebellious punky person. This is going to depict Lisa’s marketing. It’ll depict the funny videos she posts for her audience and the commentary she uses when responding to a conversation.
Tip #7: What clique do ya fit into?
To figure it out for yourself, Lisa wants you to think of your product. Think of standing in a high school or being in a mall. What clique would wear or use your product? What click would buy it and put it in their house? Maybe your shop is more country themed. There are ten different kinds of “country” however. Is it rustic? Boho? High-class country? Redneck country? Western? Saying your target market is country is simply too broad of a term. Just like saying women who want jewelry are your target market. This is still way too broad. You have to think of what kind of woman this might be and what personality she might have.
Who goes where and the exceptions
This is why Lisa says it’s ok so stereotype. If you go to the mall, the person that’s going to Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Bodyworks, or Gap is not the same person that’s going to Spencer’s or Hot Topic. These are two different target markets. The biggest way to discover your target market is to think of the personality of your shop.
Again this all comes back to being 50% you and 50% what your customer wants in your shop. Lisa says her own shop feels like her alter ego. It would be her if she could totally punk out and had no responsibilities or kids. It’s her inner wild side! Of course, there will always be people who will not fit into the stereotype. Just like when you’re in the mall, some buyers will shop everywhere, not just in the stores you think they will.
Tip #8: Remember to look
Another great tip for learning who your target audience is is to pay attention to your reviews and pictures. Look at how your customers write to you. What kind of language are they using? If they have perfect grammar and complete sentences, a lot of times this will indicate an older person. If they use emojis and phrases that are typical of high school and college-age people…well, there’s a good chance they’re younger. Also, look at the pictures they post. You can tell a lot about your audience by where they live.
Tip #9: Snapping that pic
Lisa has several tips for taking photos of your own. First, get a light box if your product will fit into one. You’ll want to move the lights further out from your products. A lot of people will move them closer in, but this will only create harsh shadows you’ll have to deal with. If you use a camera, you’ll want to get what’s called a gray card. The gray card will keep your colors true and is only $3-$5 dollars on Amazon. This is going to save you SO much stress! If you have a camera, all you’ll do is set up your photography staging with the light box and take a picture of it with the gray card. Then, put your product in place of the gray card and it will keep your whites true white with no yellow or blue tint. It’s going to look a little darker because you have the lights pulled out, but when you go to edit it, the colors will be true and you won’t have any harsh shadows.
Also, it’s really hard to do outdoor photography with products because the lighting will always be different. It’s important to try to have all your photos look the same. If you can have one stationary place in your house to take your photos this will ensure they’ll look exactly the same, which is ideal.
Tip #10: The model matters
Another thing to remember is, if you’re using a model make sure they fit with your brand. The first couple models Lisa used were fantastic, but in the end, they were just too preppy for her brand look. The model she currently uses is edgy and punk, which is exactly what her brand is all about! It’s important to remember that your brand needs to come through in every aspect of your shop, models included.
Things to remember
The bottom line is, it’s always going to be a lot of trial and error with your shop. Lisa says she knows a lot of Etsy sellers are afraid of failing and messing up. Honestly, you must have thick skin to own a shop. It will probably end up being 50% fail, 50% win. You might pour your heart and soul into a product line and create ten beautiful pieces and three of those ten might sell. And one of those three might be the one you didn’t even like.
It could end up that the product you thought wouldn’t sell at all will do amazing and the one you thought would sell really well may not even get any views. This will feel hard and will probably hurt, but if you listen to your customers and just go with it and have the willingness to understand what’s working and what’s not, there’s no one that can’t succeed at this.
Lisa’s bonus tip is to use your shop updates because not a lot of sellers do! She calls this feature the Snapchat/Facebook of Etsy. It gets posted to the homepage of anyone who’s followed you, favorited any of your products, or bought from you. For a lot of sellers, this equals hundreds of people! If you do a shop update once a week with an informal picture of orders you’re shipping out, inventory, or a picture of you with a coffee cup that says something like, “Getting ready to fulfill some orders!” it will let everyone know you’re active in your shop which is invaluable.
You don’t need to go crazy and post every few hours. Once a week should be sufficient since it will show the three most recent updates. Once three weeks rolls around people will have had enough time to see what you posted. Since a ton of sellers don’t take the time to utilize their shop updates, this is just another simple way you can stand out even more above your competition!
Lisa’s Jam with the guys was awesome and full of info you’ll wanna catch that’s not on our blog! Make sure you check out her shops HERE and HERE on Etsy and her website HERE. Also, don’t forget that we’re ending the month of March so make sure you find our last Jam Easter Egg!
Happy selling, everyone!
Etsy Jam Scoops
- Crazy enough to work
- The Shop Doc
- The Shop Doc’s passion
- Getting what they want
- Go for this!
- Another child
- First things first
- Finding your target market
- Photography suggestions
- Things to remember
- Bonus tip