Everything Every Etsy Seller Should Know About PR
Don’t tell my other clients, but Etsy sellers are my favorite.
Throughout the last few years, I have spoken at a few different conferences for Etsy sellers and makers in general. From my interactions with Etsy sellers, I’ve come to realize that they are incredible entrepreneurs and so (so so so) creative.
I love that Etsy products are mostly handmade, come from a deep passion for the craft, and that real blood, sweat, and tears are put into the products. This makes the products themselves really wonderful, but it also is great for the purpose of PR. There’s true commitment and a great story to tell.
In this post, I want to cover everything that every Etsy seller should know about PR. Since you already have a story, it’s time to let the world know about it!
1. PR is a seriously good way to market your Etsy shop
Just about every entrepreneur knows that they ought to have a website, social media, and maybe a newsletter to promote their business. They also know that they can pay good money for advertising.
But for some reason, PR is a bit elusive.
At the heart of old-school PR is the media placement, which is when a media outlet publishes something mentioning or about your business.
This does wonders for your business. It gets the word out there to new audiences, gives your brand 3rd party credibility, and shows that your company is relevant.
And the best part of a good media placement is that it will boost sales too.
2. PR is not as expensive as you may think
PR is also an inexpensive way to get the world out there about your business.
Unlike advertising where you need to pay (and keep paying), all you have to do to earn a media placement is send a few strategic emails.
Basically, you land your Etsy shop a lot of attention and new customers just by emailing the right publications, at the right time, and ask if they are interested in covering your business.
Of course, there are super amazing PR firms out there that deserve their monthly retainers. This is good if you have the money in your budget and don’t want to do it yourself. But if you have a small operation or are just starting out, that monthly retainer might be cost prohibitive.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait to do PR. If you know a few tricks of the trade, like knowing when to send pitch, you can execute a PR strategy all on your own. Plus, I have quite a few professional resources to help your DIY PR strategy get off the ground.
And it is totally worth it just to try sending a few emails. You have nothing to lose.
3. Professional packaging is a game changer for handmade goods
Make sure your packaging looks legit.
The appeal of “handmade” is a very fine line.
People love supporting small business owners, especially artisan ones. But if your packaging looks too handmade or not professional enough, it can prevent the media from covering your business or people from buying your products.
I recommend hiring a graphic designer to help you out! That is an investment that will more than likely pay off in the long run.
If you decide to DIY it, or even if you are evaluating which graphic designer to hire, I can share one packaging tip that makes a huge difference:
Less is more!
Keep the front of your products clean with just your logo and product name. Then, the back can have all the additional information.
I think this is true for all makers, but specifically very true for food and cosmetic makers. Would you want to eat something or put something on your skin that looks like a science experience? Unprofessional packaging just makes a product look sketchy.
4. Repeat after me: professional product images on white backgrounds
Have good images! Have them ready to go. Include images in your pitch. And make sure you have an image of your product on a white background.
When you have a visual brand, your images are everything. Not only on your website, but also to the media. Have you ever seen a magazine recommend a product without including a picture of it? I doubt it.
Professional images are going to make your brand look more put together and trustworthy. If they’re really good, they’ll sell the product themselves.
Now, I love a good staged photo as much as anyone. It’s super helpful to see how a product looks in context, like a bracelet on a wrist.
But don’t stop there.
Always, make sure you have images of your products on a white background. This is the best way for people to get a clear picture of what your product is and the media almost always wants to work with product images on a white background. Because it’s neutral, it makes it a lot easier for them to work with your photo and include your product in a larger spread of products.
5. The media will look at your Etsy shop AND your website
Make sure your actual website is good too.
Even if you are selling only on Etsy, it is always a good idea to have your own brand website where you can share more information rather than miss that opportunity to further engage with customers.
You can expect that the media is going to do their homework before they recommend your products. Give them the information you want them to have and a good website can make even the tiniest operation look legit.
When I hear from top tier media outlets—something that really stands out when it comes to the importance of a good website—is that they want to feel comfortable giving their credit card information to you.
If a website looks sketchy or unprofessional, do you hand over your credit card info?
I think not.
I’m going to guess that you use trustworthy 3rd party apps (like Etsy or PayPal) to help facilitate online transactions. But just for a second, put yourself in the shoes of the consumer or the media contact who might recommend your product. It makes sense, if you don’t look like a real business online, then people aren’t going to feel comfortable giving you their payment info.
I always talk about making sure you have a good website just to make sure you are getting your brand message across, but this is a way more compelling reason to get your website in shape.
6. Tell a story, better yet, tell your story
Guys, most of the Etsy store owners I meet have the most amazing stories and they aren’t sharing them enough.
Please, tell your story. Tell it loud and tell it proud.
Your story should be found in all your brand messaging. Why? Because there is some reason that you started to make these products. Maybe you are using a skill that has been passed down for many generations or maybe you had a life-changing personal experience that caused you to start your own business. Each of these stories is so valuable in getting people to connect with you and your business!
And most of the time, a story is more memorable than the products themselves.
7. Local media will (probably) be the biggest fans of your Etsy shop
What do you think is more valuable for your Etsy shop: landing a media placement in The New York Times or your local paper?
Of course, The New York Times is one of the ultimate media outlets and has way more readers than your local paper. However, a media placement is only valuable if it is actually published and it is a lot easier to get in local papers than The New York Times.
So when you are just starting out, it can be incredibly valuable to focus on local media. Not only do you have a better chance of getting a placement in the first place, but your local media and community will be more apt to support and cheer you on than a wide national audience.
I recommend every Etsy sell start with their local media no matter how wide of an audience they want to reach. If you also sell your products in a local retail shop, even better. Getting your name and business published in a local media outlet will bring your neighbors in your store.
I also like to remind people to get creative with their local pitches. Most towns have a newspaper, regions have a monthly magazine, and you can even get hyper local with neighborhood-specific papers too.
8. Aim to get your Etsy best sellers featured in a product roundup
Product roundups are a great way to get the word out there about your business.
Essentially, a product roundup is when a publication recommends several products within the same category. You find these under names like “Best Handmade Mittens You Can Find of Etsy,” “10 Unique Gifts for Father’s Day,” or “Top Items You Need to Pack for Your Summer Vacation.”
And anytime a product roundup is recommending gifts, it’s called a gift guide. These are the holy grail of product roundups, especially for the holidays.
Product rounds up great for Etsy sellers because they make it easy for new audiences to find your products and you can rework your pitches for consistent media placements.
I think most Etsy sellers agree, one of the hardest parts of the business is standing out. In a product roundup, potential customers get to know about your brand in an elevated way with just a few other competing products. Whereas on Etsy, your product is sold next to seemingly endless competitors with few ways to meaningfully distinguish yourself.
Let’s say you have an organic skin care line. There are quite a few on Etsy. If you want to win the hearts of new customers, you need to get to them early. A product roundup puts you on their radar before they ever click into your Etsy shop.
Then, you can send pitches out all year long with different seasonal hooks like:
After-sun skincare products for summer
The most moisturizing skincare products for winter
Multi-purpose skincare products for fast back-to-school routines
This gives your business a chance to get year-round media coverage just because you are keeping your story fresh.
9. Everyone agrees, you are the best person to tell your story
You know how I mentioned that you could totally hire a PR firm or do it yourself? My latest conversations with major media contacts has pushed me to encourage business owners to reach out themselves.
More and more media contacts want to hear directly from the business owner. That’s you.
You really can tell your story better than anyone else. I’ve heard it from the source that many major publications actually prefer when small business owners pitch themselves because they really know the ins and outs of their business and they are super passionate about it.
You don’t have to have a PR team behind you. With a few professional PR tips and tools, you can totally do this on your own and get really amazing results.