Starting your own online shop or business can be a bit daunting now a days. Sure, you could just post a few photos hastily taken with your phone of your product and upload it to an Etsy site and hope for the best. Or you could take the time to set up your product with good lighting and take images on a nice camera. You could start an Instagram, TikTok and Facebook page for your Etsy shop. You could build all the e-commerce, social media marketing and business management yourself and give it your all.
But where do you start? Where do you even begin? How do you come up with those funny, catchy Instagram captions anyways? How do you keep up with all the trends on each social media site let alone make sure you have enough time to fill your shop with enough goodies now that you’re running everything by yourself?
This is the place I found myself last summer when my roommate and I opened our antique and vintage Etsy shop. Sure, I had the photography degree and could get nice product images. I had a couple of Instagram accounts that did ok in the past. I’d run an Etsy shop once before, so I knew the basics of the website and shop set up. But then the questions became should we only post on Etsy and hope for the best or should we invest time in sharing to Instagram at the least, TikTok and Facebook as well at the most? What about branding on t-shirts, stickers, return labels, business cards or other items? How much and how soon did we invest in those sorts of things?
Very quickly we had a couple of closets full of vintage items and antiques, a good number of sales per month and still no solid plan one way or another. Slowly I started posting more and more on Instagram. I tried to have a consistent posting schedule both for new items being added to the shop and for sharing things to social media. But between going to estate sales to curate items for the shop and photographing all the antiques and working a full-time day job, trying to fit in social media seemed overwhelming. Forget having an actual plan for it. So what then?
Well, what do all the great heroes do in the movies do when they get stuck and don’t know where to go? They find a master or a mentor to kick their behinds into gear. And that’s what I decided to do. Aka, I decided to go back to college. Currently one of the programs I’m completing is a “Social Media Design” certificate where some of the classes have to do with online media, social media marketing and some design basics. I plan to apply what I’m learning to the Etsy shop and its social media channels as I go.
Here are a few of the concepts that I’ve learned so far that I can apply right away. Firstly, it helps to think of what kind of interactions I want to have with my consumers and fellow vintage lovers. Then I can better plan what kind of content to post where to get those types of interactions. For example, if I want people to appreciate the vintage items, I could post informational videos about them on tiktok so others can learn about the history behind them.
Next, I learned about how to do an audit of my social media accounts to see if they are affecting my sales and if so, how. An audit is considered a “birds eye view” of all the platforms I have. (For my shop that would be the Etsy, Instagram and TikTok.) I can use this audit to give myself a grade in various areas and then check back quarterly (for a big audit) and monthly (for little check in audits) to see where things are improving or hurting growth. I can decide what metrics matter to me and my shop growth and which ones aren’t important to track. Doing an audit of what I’ve posted and tried so far will be a great way to start having a solid social media plan for the shop and help build a strategy and marketing plan to make things run smoother going forward.
Overall, I’m very excited for what I’ll learn going forwards in these classes. (Hopefully I will find the answer to “how do you come up with those funny, catchy Instagram captions anyways?” instead of always relying on lame cat puns for my cat’s Instagram all the time.) There are so many things I’ve learned already in the first few weeks and I can’t wait to see what more I can find out and apply to my business moving forwards.