Before you allocate all of your savings to running an Etsy store, you need to test your idea to make sure it's profitable. Testing products, getting familiar with how it all works on Etsy, and getting customer feedback are all important before you finalize an idea to run with. Here are some ways to test your Etsy business ideas before making a full commitment:
Research Other Etsy Stores
The purpose of testing your business ideas is to determine whether there's a demand for your products. One way to gauge that is to figure out how many competitors you have. If you're the only person on Etsy selling a type of handcrafted item, that may or may not be a good thing. It could be that other sellers have tried, but there wasn't any demand for it. There's nothing new under the sun, and it's rare that you've come up with something that no one else in the world thought about and tried since Etsy launched in 2005. If there are many other stores, then at least you know that customers are interested in the product. Your task then is to differentiate yourself from the others.
Sell Your Prototypes
You can test your products by selling prototypes. Make sure these are good prototypes that you're on your way to perfecting. You want customer feedback so that you can make it better. For example, when you ship your handmade craft, include a note thanking the customer for the purchase, but also ask for feedback. Offer incentives if you're not getting feedback, such as a small discount off the next purchase or an entry to win a prize. Use the feedback you get to make your products better. When you develop your prototypes into final products, then you can write your business plan based on it.
View Customer Purchases and Reviews
An indirect approach to the prototype method is to check out what customers are buying and the reviews they leave about products. You can research your own customer purchase habits, but also see your competitors' customers. Check the forums on Etsy and other review websites.
Brainstorm in Forums
There's a risk to this idea, but the risk may be worth it if you're not having getting the information you need to improve your selling on Etsy. Post a thread in the forum about your business idea and get feedback. The risk is that your competitors may also be in the forums, and you can't block them from seeing what you're up to, or the responses you'll get from the community. If you don't post your ideas and ask for help, then you'll miss out on the advice that more experienced Etsy sellers can offer. Those sellers may have tried your ideas when they first started out and were successful or failed. Most people who respond to forum threads generally want to be helpful, and you can save yourself time in the testing process by getting inside information.
Use these methods to test your Etsy ideas to avoid overspending on products that won't sell. You'll save yourself time and pain if you do so.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business.