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Etsy Entrepreneur Part IV: Launching Your Shop

StephanieComment
Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting

Pssst. This is the 4th and final post in the Etsy Entrepreneur series. If you haven't read the first 3 posts, start here.

Okay, so by now you should have a whole slew of templates created and some awesome pictures to show off your wares, yes?

Good, then open up a tab on your browser and head on over to Etsy.

Setting Up Your Etsy Account

If you’re not already registered, set up an account by clicking on the link that says Sell on Etsy > Open Your Etsy Shop. A registration screen will pop up and ask you to input your information. 

Next you’ll land on a Shop Preferences screen. Select your language, country, currency, and selling frequency, and hit Save and Continue.

Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting

You’ll come to the page that asks you to name your shop. The name you choose is almost like your Username, except it will get displayed in your shop as well as on your listings in the Etsy search, so choose wisely! Etsy will let you change this down the road, but they limit it to a single change only. After that you’re stuck with it, so pick a name you can live with for a while, even if your product changes over time.

Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting

Stock Your Shop

Here’s where you’re going to create your listings and upload your photos. Click the ‘+ Add a Listing’ button. This screen is the standard Etsy listing screen – every time you go to add a new product you’ll have to fill one of these out.

Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting

Upload Your Images

Click the button that says ‘Add a Photo’ and drill down to find the images you created for your listings. It’s best to use all 5 available slots here, so if you have some slots left over, go back and try to create some more interesting images to give your customers a better idea of what you’re selling.

The first slot is the leading image - this is what’s shown in the search results and on the front page of your shop. Make this your best image.

Also, be sure to click the button that says Adjust Thumbnail and move the image so it’s centered and highlighting the most important feature of the image.

Create Your Listing Details

This is where you’re going to sell the crap out of your templates.

Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting
  • Title – Tell your customers exactly what you’re selling. Think of how a customer might search for your product and come up with a short list of all the keywords they might type into the Etsy search field.  Use these keywords in your title but try to make it sound somewhat conversational. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords into the title.
  • About the Listing – This just says who made the item and when.
  • Category – This section helps customers find your items by looking through categories rather than searching directly. Most digital download templates will fall somewhere under Paper & Party Supplies > Paper > Stationery > Design & Templates.
  • Price – Look around Etsy for similar listings and make note of how much their products are going for. 
  • Quantity – Unfortunately you can’t the quantity so that your product never runs out, but you can select a high number like 50. Then every time your item sells, the quantity available will decrease by 1 and Etsy will automatically relist your item for you.
  • Renewal Options – If an item doesn’t sell, it will expire 120 days after the listing date. If you select the option to have Etsy automatically renew the listing, they will charge you $0.20 and automatically renew the item without alerting you.
  • Type – In order to upload your electronic file, you must select ‘Digital’.
  • Description – You’re customers have a ton of questions (What is a digital listing? What am I actually receiving? Can I use this in (fill in the blank) software? Can I return it if I hate it?) and here’s where you need to answer them. I like to divide this section into several parts:

1.       About the product
2.       An itemized list of what’s included in the download
3.       Answers to frequently asked questions
4.       Links to other products in my shop (Yep! Forward customers to other listings that may be of interest to them. Who knows, they might end up buying more than one template)

Be succinct, but thorough. Use bullets, capital letters, and whatever else you need to create visually separate sections that will let your customers jump right to the information they need. And if you continually get a question or complaint popping up again and again, make note of it at the top of your description so your customers will see it. Answering FAQs up front will cut down on a lot of pain and confusion for both of you.

  • Digital Files – Drill down to your computer and upload the zipped file your customer is going to receive. Etsy will automatically send this file to them once their payment clears.
  • Search Terms – Etsy uses these to help figure out what kind of product you’re actually selling. Make sure you match these to the keywords you used in your title in order to rank in Etsy’s search.
  • Materials, Occasion, Style, Recipient – These are optional and I tend to ignore them when listing digital items, but you can fill them out if you think they will help your item be found.

Publish

Once you’re done, hit Publish. You’ve just published your first listing!

Well, sort of.

Etsy adds this listing to your shop but it’s not quite live yet. They recommend that you have at least 10 listings prepped and ready to go before opening your shop, but I like to have at least 4 because that’s the number of listings displayed above the fold on your shop’s home page. 

But either way, continue adding a listing for each of your products, then hit ‘Save and Continue'.

Set Up Payment and Billing Accounts

Here’s where you enter your bank information so Etsy can pay you. Etsy automatically deposits your revenue made the prior week on Monday of the following week.

Enter a credit card so Etsy can automatically deduct fees you owe them.

Once you fill out your billing information, your shop is ready to go live. Follow the prompts to open your Etsy shop.

Hooray! Now your shop is live!

Fill Out All The About Sections

But you're still not quite done yet...

Your customers want to know a little bit about the person behind the business and why you decided to open a shop, so it’s important to fill out all the details. Trust me, you’ll get a lot more sales if you’re able to connect with your customers and let them know who they’re buying from.

You can find all the About sections under Your Shop > Shop Settings. Then select either ‘Info & appearance’ or ‘About your shop’ and start telling customers about your shop.

Etsy Entrepreneur: How to set up your shop and start making passive income on Etsy | Wellnesting

Every shop should have the following sections filled out:

  • Info & Appearance
    • Shop Title – Tell what you sell and who your product is for
    • Shop Icon – If you can, make a quick 500 x 500 px image in Canva with your shop name. This will be displayed on the side bar of your shop.
    • Shop Banner – Make another quick image in Canva, this time measuring 760 x 100 px.
    • Shop Announcement – Here’s where I like to put a little blurb about the grand opening of my shop and a coupon code to get the ball rolling and my first customers coming in.
    • Message to Buyers of Digital Items – This gets displayed on the Etsy download page. I like to include a thank you message to my buyers and some quick instructions for how to download their item and what to do with the documents once they open them.
  • Policies (Under the 'Info & Appearance' section)
    • Welcome Message – Tell your customers what your shop is all about.
    • Payment Policy – How will your customers pay and when will they get their templates?
    • Refund Policy – If your customer doesn’t like their download, can they get their money back? How else will you try to resolve their complaints if a refund is off the table? Make sure you cover all your bases.
    • Additional Information – I like to include a statement telling customers that templates are copyrighted and cannot be distributed or resold.
  • Shop Members (Under the 'About Your Shop' section) – Add yourself as a shop member and include a short bio.
  • Story (Under the 'About Your Shop' section) – Tell your customers how you started to designing your templates and why you went into business in the first place.

* * * * *

Now your shop is complete and you’re ready to start watching the sales roll in! From here on out you should focus your time and energy on updating your listings, creating new templates, and testing your search terms to see what brings in the most customers. The more you test and hone your listings, the better you’ll rank in Etsy search and the more passive income you’ll make.

Kombucha Troubleshooting

StephanieComment
Kombucha Troubleshooting: What to do when things go wrong | Wellnesting

I have a confession to make: My first batch of kombucha turned out less than stellar.

And that’s the understatement of the century.

Roughly two weeks into brewing I started running into trouble. At first it was just a few white specks on my SCOBY, but then it started taking on a blue-ish tint and growing like gangbusters. And in a matter of days my SCOBY was completely covered in a blue-green fuzz like something straight out of a horror movie. Although I’m not usually the squeamish type, I’ll be the first to admit it was by far one of the grossest things I’ve ever grown.

And I’ve grown a lot of gross things.

It was so bad that (and here comes confession #2…) I refused to toss it. Instead I just pretended it wasn’t happening and let it continue fermenting for, oh, another couple weeks. I even took a picture to show you guys but I can’t even bring myself to look at it again. Consider yourselves spared.

So when my husband met Brett Nobile, the owner of Ninja Kombucha, a few weeks ago, I knew it was fate. Ninja Kombucha is a local kombucha company here in Richmond that makes some of the best kombucha we’ve ever had (and I’m not being paid to write that – it’s just that good), and Brett was nice enough to let me pick his brain and ask all those embarrassing newbie questions that everyone thinks but hates to ask out loud.

So if you’re running into brewing problems of your own or just want to make sure you’re doing it right the first time, follow along to read Brett's advice on how to troubleshoot your brew.

Kombucha FAQs

My SCOBY doesn’t seem to be doing anything, how do I know if my culture is fermenting properly?

There are several things you can look for and measure to check in on the ferment. pH is number one. It should start higher and drop over time. You can use a pH meter to get an exact reading or just taste. As the pH drops it will taste more acidic and vinegary.

You also want to look for growth of the SCOBY. It should get thicker over time and develop brown yeasty strands that hang down from the bottom. It may not grow an entire new disk every batch but there should be some growth on it. Generally the new growth is the purest white, translucent part and the older SCOBY will be a little more dark and tan from being in the tea. There should be some yeast sediment forming at the bottom of the jar.

Also, look for bubbles. Bubbles are good, that means it’s fermenting. 

It’s been a couple weeks and my kombucha still tastes way too sweet, is this a problem?

It just depends on your taste preference. Some people really want that sour profile and some people like it a little sweeter. How quickly the kombucha turns from sweet tea to vinegar is dependent mostly on temperature and the amount of starter you use.

You want to keep the kombucha warm (70F-80F). The yeast and bacteria are more active in a warm environment and they will be able to ferment faster. There are a lot of ways to do this: put it by a hot water pipe, seedling heater mats, and heating elements made specifically for fermenting are all good options. Also if you just put it in the highest place in the room it typically tends to be a few degrees warmer up there. It is amazing how active kombucha is when it’s warm.

Most recipes call for about 2 cups of starter fluid per gallon. The starter fluid acidifies the batch and creates an environment where the bacteria and yeast are going to thrive and out-compete other organisms. You can use more starter fluid if you want, it’s not going to hurt anything. It gives the yeast and bacteria even more of an advantage and will make the whole fermentation process a little shorter. If you’re having trouble getting the taste you want in a reasonable amount of time double the starter fluid to 4 cups per gallons.

My SCOBY isn’t big enough to create a seal at the top of my jar, should I be concerned about mold or bad bacteria getting into my brew?

It’s not a problem if the SCOBY doesn’t cover the whole surface of the tea at first. You should be protecting the brew by acidifying the batch either with older fully femented kombucha or pasteurized/distilled vinegar. The scoby should grow to cover the surface of the jar in a couple of weeks.

This is my first batch of kombucha and there’s clearly mold growing on my SCOBY, what might I have done wrong?

If you got mold on your first batch don’t worry just throw it out, clean everything and start again. I recommend cleaning with OneStep or StarSan which are both home brewing sanitizers but you can also use warm soapy water (just make sure you rinse well) or distilled vinegar. For the next batch increase the starter and make sure your kombucha stays warm.

It could have been from the type of tea you used. You don’t want to use Earl Grey because the bergamot oil in it weakens the SCOBY. Stick with straight black or green tea. It should be pure Camellia sinensis with no other ingredients. Once you have a strong SCOBY and some backups you can start to experiment more with other tea blends and tisanes if you want.

There may be environmental factors. If you’re fermenting right by the trash can or compost bin you will probably want to change locations. It also doesn’t hurt to dunk your scoby every now and then or just take a straw and drizzle some kombucha over it.  You just want to let that acidic solution cover the top of the SCOBY where it’s exposed to the air.

My SCOBY is growing but it’s very thin and won’t stay intact. Is this normal?

It depends what you started with. If you are growing your own SCOBY from scratch it is normal for it to start out thin and get thicker over time. If you started with a SCOBY from a commercial source it should be at least a quarter of an inch thick. Kombucha Kamp is a great resource for home brewers. Their cultures are super strong and active. I would discourage starting with a dehydrated culture.

I’m having a problem with fruit flies being attracted to my brew, what’s the best way to keep them away from my SCOBY?

Cover the jar with a breathable fabric with no holes or openings for the flies to get through and secure with a rubber band. You can cut up an old t-shirt, sheet, or pillow case and that will work well. A lot of people use coffee filters as well.

Are there any other tips you might have for beginners? Things you wish you had known when you first started brewing?

Never use unpasteurized or raw apple cider vinegar for starter fluid or to clean your vessels. There is a species of nematode, Turbatrix aceti, that feeds off the mother of vinegar that can be present in these products. They are harmless and have been a part of vinegar production for hundreds of years but you do not want to find these things in your brew. It’s just gross.

I think taking care of a SCOBY is pretty analogous to taking care of a plant. You just need to nurture them for them to grow. The more attentive and caring you are with how you nurture them the better your results will be. Plants need water and light. SCOBYs need air, sweet tea, and warmth.

Just don’t give up! Kombucha is such an awesome home ferment and it can make you feel really good. If you’re having problems ask around. Usually people who brew kombucha are willing to help. It’s a great community to be a part of and exchange ideas in. If you’re having problems keeping up with your batches check out the continuos brew method. It is super low maintenance and really forgiving.

* * * * *

And a big thanks to Brett for doing this!

If you're in the Richmond area and you'd like to try Ninja Kombucha for yourself, stop by Growler's to Go to get a pour or consider getting a monthly Ninja Kombucha membership.

HOW TO MAKE FAUX STONEWARE PLANTERS

StephanieComment
DIY Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting

Too much greenery is never an issue at our place. I would gladly live in a 1,000 sf jungle if I could. But the planters? Those I could do without. They’re always too expensive or not quite what I had envisioned or I just outgrow them when I decide to redecorate the next month. What can I say, I’m picky. And flaky.

So much like everything else in my life, I decided to make some of my own so at least they’d live up to the vision in my head, even if I do end up replacing them in the not too distant future.

These little faux stoneware planters are so easy it’s almost laughable. I started with a couple little glass bowls I found at the Dollar Store and then dolled them up with a bit of stoneware spray paint and gold leaf I had leftover from past projects.

And the succulents? Those are faux succas I found at Hobby Lobby for about $4 a pop (meaning one less plant to kill. Huzzah!).

Just follow along below for the instructions.

DIY Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting
DIY Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting

Supplies

Glass or ceramic cups or bowls
Stoneware spray paint
Gold leaf kit (with adhesive size and sealer)
Paint brush
Succulents
Soil

How to Make Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting

How To

  1. Tape off the bottom half of your container.
  2. Spray the top half of your container with the stone spray paint and let dry. Continue adding coats until you get full coverage, letting dry in between coats.
  3. Remove the tape from the bottom half of your planter and paint a thin layer of adhesive size. Let dry for about a minute.
  4. Start layering your gold leaf being sure to cover any bare spots. Let dry for an hour or two just to be sure you won't accidentally remove any gold leaf, then take a clean, dry paint brush and brush away any rogue flakes.
  5. Paint on a thin layer of sealer and let dry.
  6. Fill your planters with dirt. Get a feel for how long your succulents stems need to be and trim if they're too long. Place succulents in pots.
How to Make Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting
How to Make Faux Stoneware Planters | Wellnesting