Get ready for two awesome back-to-back episodes with Julianne from TheGarterGirl. In this episode, Julianne talks with us about blogging, staying in your niche, the importance of great photos, and more! Then next week, in part 2, we will take a deep dive and explore affiliate marketing, a promotional opportunity available to ALL Etsy sellers that hardly anyone is taking advantage of. Continue reading for the first installment of this two part Jam!
Julianne started TheGarterGirl in 2004 (before Etsy was around). Julianne made her first garter when her friend couldn’t find one for her upcoming wedding. She told a different friend who owned a bridal shop what she was doing and her friend wanted to see her hand made garters. Her friend was so impressed she told Julianne that if she made more of them she could sell them in her store. That was the beginning of what would eventually be TheGarterGirl!
Here comes the blog
In 2010, Julianne started a blog for weddings in Washington D.C.. Her background was in media and public relations and she’d previously had a difficult time getting her products published in any magazines in the area. Blogging was starting to really break onto the scene and so Julianne thought she’d just do her own thing. She really felt like the blogs and magazines she was seeing locally for weddings didn’t truly represent the wedding industry in D.C..
Her aim was to make her blog a “real life” wedding blog and tell her stories her way. It was also a way to help her garters find the light of day. She loved blogging and was very much self taught with the back office side of things. However, running both businesses became too much. Often people think that blogging is super easy and fast. Julianne says it’s not so much that it’s difficult, it’s the amount of time it takes to run it! She says it can be a total time suck. So in 2016, Julianne chose to sell her wedding blog and went to TheGarterGirl full-time which is what she’s passionate about.
Finding success on Etsy and the turning point
Julianne says she’s had a love/hate relationship with Etsy over the years. When she first opened on Etsy she thought it was great and that everything would pretty much be done for her. After some time went by, she started to feel that customers were price shopping her on Etsy. So to combat this she put her clearance items on Etsy and sold her custom products and collections on her own website.
When Julianne found Marmalead, she discovered that Etsy SEO was in fact, a thing! So, she went back to her Etsy shop and listed some of her custom pieces and collections. To date they’ve sold better than they ever have on Etsy! Julianne says it was frustrating to know she had this fantastic product, but wasn’t sure how to get it in front of the right audience on Etsy. In the last couple years, she has really made an effort to maintain her presence on Etsy so she could do some of the affiliate marketing things we’ll be talking about in our next Jam. Along with this, her approach to selling on Etsy has changed overall.
Everyone says it…but good photos matter!!!
Not only has SEO changed for Julianne, but everything down to the way she has her pictures taken for her listings is different. She doesn’t take the photos that are posted in her shop. She says the only time she actually takes a photo is when she has a custom order and needs to get a picture to the customer quickly.
Otherwise, she pays to have all of her pictures taken professionally. Julianne says that when she learned she wasn’t a photographer, it changed her business dramatically. In order to sell products you must have good photos. She says she knows everyone talks about this topic, but it’s true and it matters. Having great pictures done well is like making your hobby to a real business. For her, it wasn’t as expensive to have pictures taken professionally as she thought it was going to be. It’s definitely worth the investment.
Struggles and getting through
Gordon asked Julianne what some of her biggest struggles have been. A couple of these have been working her way through SEO and getting her product in front of the right audience. Also, explaining to customers that she will indeed fill their order in a short amount of time has been a challenge. Julianne says that often there is a fear of independent artisans.
People often wonder if the artist really is who they claim and if they’ll do what they promise. Will the customer’s money be used for what they think it will or will the artist take the money and run? A lot of Julianne’s reviews have been expressing how surprised the customer has been at how fast their order came! This is all part of it, she says. As a seller, you’re handling that “risk” factor that the customer has and going above and beyond their expectations.
Also, as she mentioned earlier, price shopping on Etsy has been an issue as well. Once she discovered Etsy SEO, however, she realized she didn’t have to worry about competing on price. Once you’ve found the right market with the right keywords and buyers searching for those specific things, it makes all the difference. She’s also tried very hard to differentiate herself with her photography specifically in order to stand out from everyone else.
Of course I can…but that doesn’t mean I should!
A lesson Julianne has also learned is that it’s ok to say no. She will often get questions asking of she can do this or that. Most times she knows that, yeah she could do whatever is being asked. Does that mean she should though? No. She’s found herself telling customers that even though she isn’t going to do what they’re asking, she knows they will find someone on Etsy that can! This allows her to keep healthy boundaries and do what it is she’s passionate about. Falling into the trap of doing everything just because you can is not healthy for you or your business.
One thing Julianne definitely has figured out and says yes to is affiliate marketing! We’ll be talking to her about this in our next Jam! This will also include what this means for you as an Etsy seller and blogger (if you have a blog) which is super exciting! Affiliate marketing has been going on about a year and Julianne is the first one to reach out to us about it. It’s not widely known or talked about and we know it will be useful to you as a tool. So make sure to tune in and listen. You don’t wanna miss it! As always, make sure and listen to this week’s jam! There are always tidbits there that weren’t caught in this write up. Also, be sure and check Julianne’s shop out here! We loved chatting with her and are super excited about her second installment with us. Thanks for reading and listening!
Happy selling, everyone!