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4 Lessons I Learned From An Unhappy Customer On Etsy

The first 55+ reviews on my Etsy shop were all 5 stars. I boldly stated that in each listing on my shop in the description. I was so beyond proud that I started this little Etsy shop in my house and people were loving my items. Logically thinking, the likelihood of only having 5-star reviews wouldn’t last forever.

But, I never expected this unhappy customer on Etsy.

I didn’t expect it to end the way it did. I’m sharing this to help Etsy sellers learn from my mistakes and to give them a reminder (because it can be so easily forgotten) that the customer should love the product even if you didn’t make a mistake. You may be reacting poorly and not realize ithat n the heat of the moment.

A customer of mine purchased an item and requested a custom color I didn’t have. It was an easy customization to do, however, so I did that with no complaint, even though completing the task ended up costing me more money than I made on the order. I viewed it as an investment for future orders.

The buyer even bought more of the same item and again customized another color for part of the order, so it was a mix of customized and non-customized items. I again purchased what I needed to complete the customization.

That served as a lesson to always make the customer happy because in less than a week they were already a repeat buyer. They were sent a proof of the item before shipment where I found another request they had to the order and happily obliged.

I was the perfect seller until something went wrong.

How I screwed up:

When the client received their item, one of the non-customized items wasn’t to their liking.

Here we go. I finally had my first unhappy customer on Etsy.

The customer sent me a message, asking if I had shipped the wrong item because the color in person looked different than online.

I’m sure many of you can relate to this particular issue. It’s one of the downfalls of online sales: the customer can’t actually see the color before ordering. They just hope it looks the same as it did on their monitor.

I know for a fact that I sent the correct color that was purchased, but here’s what I did wrong:

  • I told the client that I was sorry they THOUGHT it was different. Then, I reaffirmed that it was the correct item.

First Lesson learned: I didn’t validate their disappointments or concerns. It doesn’t matter if I sent them the correct item. It only matters if they like it, which they obviously didn’t. Instead, I choose to become prideful and defensive and insist that it was the correct item.

  • I told her if she purchased more I would fix it. The item wasn’t broke and therefore I didn’t think I should have to make more items for free.

Second Lesson learned: I tried to make her spend more money to fix something she didn’t like from my shop. And it would’ve only cost me $7 to fix it, shipping included. That’s only pennies to make a customer happy. Or I simply could’ve asked her to return the item, instead of growing defensive. Customer service is a huge reason that your customers chose you on Etsy over a big box store.  Don’t let greed, pride, or your bottom line get in the way of fixing an issue with your customers. Clients come first!

  • When I was responding to the customer, my hands were shaking! I was so worked up that I couldn’t concentrate. This was the first time someone was disappointed in how a finished product turned out.

Third Lesson learned: Never respond when emotional!! This is such a no brainer, but I didn’t realize how worked up I was in the heat of the moment. My thought was, “I only have 5-star reviews, I obviously know what I’m doing with customer service.” WRONG. After rereading the messages I had sent the customer earlier, only then did I realize how defensive and harsh I sounded.

In the meantime, while I was realizing how poorly I responded, the buyer left a review less than 5 stars.

I could have let a poor review stand and just accept that it was bound to happen eventually. I considered relying on all of my other 5 star reviews to overpower one bad review from an unhappy customer on Etsy.

But, I knew one bad review wasn’t my problem. It was the fact that I had an unhappy customer and I knew I wanted to try and fix it.

How I fixed my giant screwup:

  • I apologized profusely to my client and offered to refund the items they were unhappy with. Then, I promised to make new items and ship them all free of charge. I asked questions to truly understand what my client wanted and promised to send pictures of the item before it shipped.

Fourth Lesson learned: Swallow your dang pride and apologize!! Customers, especially on Etsy, are almost always willing to work with you if you at least try! I was somewhat rude the customer still allowed me the chance to fix my errors after the fact.

I made sure to check in on the item once the customer had received it and asked if they loved the item with no mention of the review.

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that I haven’t even mentioned asking for a change in the review yet. That’s crucial! It’s not about changing the review. So you can’t seem like that’s all your after because any seller better not be!

Once the customer has responded and has confirmed the new items are to their satisfaction, only then did I kindly ask that they consider changing their review…and that’s it! It’s not a, “Well I fixed your problem, so fix your review.”

Only mention changing the review as an option and NEVER a demand. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT badger your client for a changed review.

This happened to me recently as a customer after leaving a less than perfect review and I actually lowered my review even more because they asked three separate times to change my honest review. That’s not good customer service; that’s being a bully. Always, always take the high road.


Your Big Takeaway:

Do what you can to make your customers happy and fix your mistakes.

Leave it at that, and move on.

Some customers will be very forgiving; others are just never happy no matter what you do. If you truly have a customer that is never satisfied, don’t spend any more time on them! Do what it takes to get rid of them and leave them in your past. Don’t dwell on it. Focus on moving forward, not backward.

The unhappy customer on Etsy may or may not change their review and it’s hard to move on. You can always comment on their review and give your side of the story (as long as your kind and professional).

Here’s some great advice I recently heard that helps in this situation: you can only do so much and then it’s out of your hands.

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5 Things To Stop Doing On Etsy That Are Killing Your Sales

Just like anything in life, becoming skilled at something takes time, practice, and especially patience. Etsy is no different. When I first opened my shop, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I just knew I had to start somewhere. Tony Gaskins Jr. once said, “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” I decided to bet on me and it was the best decision I made.

5 Things To Stop Doing On Etsy That Are Killing Your Sales

Over the course of 2 years, I’ve learned a lot about Etsy through research, but mostly by trial and error. During college, I’ve been able to turn my side hustle into a full-time business before I had even graduated. My next goal is to help people like you learn from my mistakes so that you can turn your dream of owning your own business into a reality.

Here Are 5 Things You Need To Stop Doing On Etsy

1. Stop Creating More Products Without A Strategy For Selling It To Your Target Market

I had read on Etsy forums where people were suggesting that having this magic number of items in your shop would lead to an instant increase in sales. I became obsessed with the idea that if I had 100 items, my orders would pile up faster than I could keep up.

Guess what? You guessed it. I hit 100 listings in my shop and nothing changed.

I needed to improve on the listings I had. Not create more of what wasn’t working for me. Aim for 50-100 items at the start, but if those don’t sell, creating more like it won’t help. You need to know the item you’re making is solving the problem your customer is trying to solve.

2. Stop Copying & Pasting Similar Items With The Exact Same Title And Tags

When using the same search terms across multiple listings, those listings are now competing against each other. Diversify your reach on Etsy. Brainstorm different search terms for your similar items. Aim to have 5 similar items rank on the first page on 5 different searches instead of all 5 competing for the same spot under one search. 

3. Stop Taking Bad Photos

Enough said…just kidding! Photos are your first impression for potential customers and most times, you won’t get a do-over if that first impression is only a meh. It must be a W-O-W WOW! This is probably what I’ve struggled with the most and I’m still not 100% satisfied with my listing photographs, but I have gotten a lot better over time.

4. Stop Making Items You Like And Make What Your Customers Want Instead

Now I don’t mean to create something you don’t like. I would never advise that. I mean to follow your sales trends. Do you have particular item/s that sell more than anything else in your shop? Pay attention to your top sellers and make more items in that genre. Click here for more info about creating items that sell.

5. Stop Treating This As A Hobby If You Want It To Be A Business

Putting in a few hours on the weekends isn’t going to cut it. If it did, everyone would be successful and have tens of thousands of sales. If all you want is a little extra spending cash every month then this doesn’t apply to you, but if you want to quit the job you hate (or even like) and work from home on your own terms, you need to take this seriously and get to work!

 


 

There you have it. 5 things I quit doing on Etsy that were hurting my sales. What’s currently frustrating you about your Etsy sales? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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June 2018 Income Report

Here’s my online income report for my handmade business, Obsidian Home Creations (TheOHC on Etsy), for June of 2018. As of right now, this is the highest income month for me this year and I only expect it to keep growing as we enter the fourth quarter.How I Made $4587.00 Online With Etsy & Handmade On Amazon

Why I Share Income Reports

Some people wouldn’t dream of sharing how much money they make and others simply don’t understand its relevance. For me personally, before I started selling on Etsy, I wanted to know that it was possible to make thousands of dollars a month online.

After all, 3 years ago I didn’t even know Etsy existed AT ALL. And now it, along with Handmade on Amazon (HOA), allow me to start this company and avoid working for someone else. I choose to work from home and I am the boss. This is something you can start with zero experience and doesn’t require a large initial investment.

Here are my 3 main reasons I share my online income reports:

1. My first goal is to inspire others.

I was absolutely terrified to start my own business and seeing others’ income reports helped push me to get over my fears. I want others to know that it is possible to make a full-time income working from home. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can become a reality.  

2. This is an excellent way for me to track my progress.

It helps me to see what’s working/what didn’t work. I’m always learning and trying new ideas. This will be a way to reflect on those decisions and make better business decisions in the future.

3. I want others to know that this is something anyone can start AT ANY TIME in their life.

I started this as a side hustle in college and I had a company with a part-time employee before I even finished my degrees.

What an Online Business Has Allowed Me To Do

My online business has allowed me to work from home, be my own boss, and be in charge of my future. I decide when I want to wake up, work, go to bed, when to take breaks, and a bunch of other benefits. 

I can decide on a Tuesday afternoon that I want to take my dog to the lake and relax for 2 hours. Do I have to work when I get home? Usually, but again, I get to decide how to structure my day.

MY 2018 JUNE INCOME

Etsy Income: $4257.00

Amazon Handmade Income: $330


Total Income: $4587.00


Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 6.24.19 PM
Handmade on Amazon Revenue
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Etsy Revenue

Etsy had 93 orders and Amazon Handmade had 8. I’ve been selling on Etsy for a little over 2 years. Compared to the same time last year, I’m up 350% in revenue.

This was my first full month on HOA and I’m only just beginning to learn the ropes. I have about a dozen items up (90% FBM and 10% FBA).

What I Plan To Work On For Next Month

I plan to really focus on growing on HOA. I’ve built my shop up on Etsy to the point that sales are fairly consistent. Amazon is so much bigger of a marketplace that I’m super excited to try to capitalize on a new platform. Everything about Amazon is different from Etsy so I’m spending a large chunk of my time researching how to sell on Amazon and get found in the search.

My goals for July 2018

Etsy – $5000. I’m currently on pace to hit this number and will continue to fulfill orders as they come in.

Amazon – $1000. In order to increase my revenue on Amazon, I need more listings. My goal is to reach 30 items by the end of July. I also want to design new products specifically for FBA to reach a wider audience. I plan to have another FBA shipment sent before the end of July.

Will I Share More Income Reports?

Absolutely.

I want to continue inspiring others in their journey, whether they haven’t started yet, they’re just beginning, or have already begun but are considering giving up hope on their business because it’s not going the way they planned.

As I said earlier, I want to use these reports to track my progress, make goals, and see if I accomplished those goals. It helps with accountability and to motivate me to always strive towards new and bigger goals.

The 3 Biggest Key to my Success Thus Far:

1. Starting

You’ll never make any money online with your own business without simply starting and trying. I’ve felt like a failure so many times over the past 2 years. I’ve lost count. It’s a reoccurring theme for me.

Learn to embrace failure.

As John C. Maxwell, an author, speaker, and pastor wrote in his book, Failing Forward, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I can’t even stress how important this is for your shop. SEO is my bread & butter. I honestly haven’t put very much time and effort into social media. Almost all of my sales come through the search on Etsy. I have multiple items that rank on page 1 and sell every single day.

3. Excellent Photos

Honestly, I’m still not satisfied with the photos I have for my products. They’re certainly much better than when I began, but could still be improved I think.

When you’re online, your customers can’t see or touch your product. You have to sell them with your photos. There are so many beautiful products on Etsy and Amazon that if your photos are lacking, it’s hard to get views, let alone sales, even if your SEO is spot on.

What I learned in June:

Selling on 2 platforms is rarely a bad idea. I’ve experienced having all of my eggs in one Etsy basket and it’s just not smart. Spreading your income across multiple platforms allows you to increase your revenue and stabilize your income.

I’m still frustrated by my income because I’ve had better months last fall-winter. But looking at my revenue increasing 350% from last year reminds me that this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. You can’t always compare things to the best you’ve ever had. It’s all about perspective. I’m frustrated because I could easily handle a lot more orders in a month, but I need to remember where I was at this point last year. At this time 1 year ago, I wasn’t even sure if Etsy would be able to pay all of my bills every month and now it consistently provides for me month after month. And I am incredibly grateful for that.

What did you learn this month? What are your goals for next month?

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