Kristen Doyle 0:00
Hey y’all and welcome to this episode of the show. I am Kristin Doyle, your host and today I am so excited to continue our series on diversifying with a conversation that is all about branching out and selling on Etsy. And you’ll see as we get into this conversation, it went in a little bit of a different direction from what most TPT sellers think they should do for selling on Etsy.
Kristen Doyle 0:28
Today I am joined by Lisa Fink. She is a puzzle enthusiast a proud mom to four Yorkies. And most importantly, she is a seven figure business owner who’s made a significant impact and grown her business on both Etsy and TPT. Lisa’s journey is really all about thinking outside the box creating unique products. And she has found a way to thrive and what a lot of people see as an oversaturated market.
Kristen Doyle 0:55
So if you have ever thought about selling on Etsy, and you’re wondering what you need to do differently, to sell on Etsy and be successful, as opposed to what you’re already doing in your TPT store, then you will not want to miss this episode. It is packed with ideas and insights about how things on Etsy are a bit different. So let’s dive in.
Kristen Doyle 1:19
Hey, TPT sellers, ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place. Welcome to the Savvy Teacher Seller. I’m Kristin Doyle. And I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.
Kristen Doyle 1:40
Hey, Lisa, thank you so much for being here today. I am so excited to talk to you about selling on Etsy.
Thank you. I am so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
Kristen Doyle 1:51
Yeah, let’s get started just with sharing a little bit about what motivated you to start selling on Etsy in the first place, because you already had a TPT store. Right?
Correct. So my backstory is, I actually have two TPT stores. The first TPT store has gone on to reach the fourth milestone and beyond. And the second store has reached the second milestone and it is on the way to the third milestone. So knowing that I had a pretty good idea of page elements, design and printables when COVID hit, it was a disaster for both of my TPT stores. And it was a very, very scary time for me financially. And it was then that I realized that I cannot have all of my eggs in one basket that I need to do something else, or branch out in some other way that can bring in different streams of money.
Because COVID was a big kind of wake up call due to that. And so when the world was shut down, I decided to open an Etsy store. And my etsy store is not the same products that I sell on Teachers Pay Teachers, I actually sell party games, like escape rooms that are zombie themed or princess themed or scavenger hunts. These are more games to play at a party as opposed to a classroom. However, I do have teachers that have used them in the classroom. And I recruited my brother to work with me because of COVID shutdown. He was worried about being furloughed, also. So we kind of put our brains together and said, Hey, let’s open an Etsy shop and see what happens. And it has just been all a positive experience since then.
Kristen Doyle 3:55
Yeah, I love that you took you know, a time that was stressful for a lot of us, especially if we were selling mostly printable things and suddenly didn’t have much to sell to teachers who were trying to teach virtually. I love that you took that and just turned it into a almost a brand new business to another offshoot of what you were already doing. And something that would be successful on Etsy. So it sounds like you are probably targeting a different customer base on Etsy than you do on TPT?
I am it’s quite different. However, like I said, there are some teachers that are customers in my Etsy shop, but my audience is more frazzled last minute party planners or parents who are looking for something to do with their kids on their birthday, or slumber party ideas or maybe they had plans to be outside all day and it’s a rainy day and they need last minute plans to do something inside. And all of my escape rooms on Etsy are Print and Go. There’s no shapes to cut out, those no envelopes to stuff, there’s no props needed. Literally they can print it out, hand it to the kids, and they can play and it occupies about an hour of their time. And bringing those escape room elements or feelings and puzzles into the home is much cheaper than taking all of the kids to a physical location.
Kristen Doyle 5:27
Yeah. Could be a great thing to do like you said on a rainy day or when they are frazzled and last minute. And I was thinking Are any of us not frazzled last minute planners?
Honestly, that’s probably why my store has become popular because it’s an easy go to for busy parents.
Kristen Doyle 5:47
Absolutely. And I love that you’re targeting a pain point, a struggle that so many parents have is that they are super busy, they probably aren’t as creative as we are as TPT sellers. And just taking kind of your superpower as a TPT seller and turning it into something you can also sell to parents something that’s fun. I would imagine it’s also a fun distraction, maybe from some of the more content heavy harder to think about things that we create as teacher sellers to.
It is I love creating for Etsy, I really actually love creating for TPT as well. But there’s just something special about Etsy, the puzzles are a little bit different, or, you know, you get to do more themed things. Like I said, zombie princesses, pirates, and it just speaks volumes to the kids when you get to kind of take them on this codebreaking adventure in their own home.
Kristen Doyle 6:45
I love it. That sounds just like so much fun, especially when you’re stuck at home, which we all are from time to time,
Right. And even parents are looking for off screen time because kids are on tablets, iPhones, computers all of the time. So this is just an opportunity also, for them to kind of still use their critical thinking skills, but get some off screen time. And in the meantime, because it lasts about an hour. That’s a little bit of downtime for parents while the kids are off, you know, scrambling to decode puzzles.
Kristen Doyle 7:21
Yeah, absolutely. It gives the parents a little bit of a break too, especially if it’s something that kids can do on their own. And that’s always important. We definitely all need a break. Can you talk a little bit about things I know, we talked about how your products are different on TPT versus Etsy. Can you talk a little bit about other things that you might have found that you need to be doing differently from TPT in order to be successful on Etsy?
Sure. So Etsy has some opportunities that TPT does not. For instance, Etsy allows you to set up abandoned cart emails with a coupon code in them. And I just looked at my data. And in November, that abandoned cart coupon code, just that alone brought in $3,000. And that’s something that TPT doesn’t have. And that’s something when I look at those numbers on Etsy, I’m like, wow, there’s a big opportunity missing. And what’s interesting is, like TPT, Etsy doesn’t give me the email address of my customer, I can’t just reach out to them or add them to my email list. But when you have a buyers account on Etsy, you can opt in to receiving those sorts of abandoned cart emails from the sellers. And that’s how you can still get in contact with people.
Kristen Doyle 8:49
And I have seen TPT I think testing some abandoned cart emails recently.
I have seen a few go out nothing with a coupon code, just more of a Hey, you forgot this.
Kristen Doyle 9:02
I guess if they were going to do a coupon code, they would have to get our permission. Somehow we would have to opt into that. I would just say, unless they’re eating that cost.
Right. Well, on Etsy I don’t have to print a coupon code, but I get to choose the amount or on what specific products. Also on Etsy, you can instead of following your store, they call it a favorite and when you favorite someone’s store as a seller account. I can also choose to send a coupon code to someone that favorites my store as well. So there’s a few different options on Etsy.
Kristen Doyle 9:38
I do love that option to send out coupon codes and I fully understand why TPT doesn’t do it. We’ve had that conversation multiple times over the years and I understand what TPT doesn’t do. It’s a nice feature on Etsy.
I completely agree. And as an SEO expert, you know how important keyword research is, well on Etsy, the setup in the background is a little bit different, you know, the snippet is still super important, the keywords you sprinkle in are super important. But what Etsy does is give you 13 additional tags that you relate to each product. So you can kind of really hone in on those long tail key words. And that’s something you know, you don’t get those tags on TPT, you just sprinkle them throughout your description. So Etsy is similar to the TPT upload process. But there are also differences. And then another difference is the thumbnail images on Etsy, you get 10 of them on TPT, you get the cover plus three thumbnails, so you get a little bit more space to kind of showcase your product to talk about the features, etc.
Kristen Doyle 10:56
Yeah, and one thing I’ve done because you don’t get a preview option on Etsy is I’ve taken some of the pages from my preview and use for those extra thumbnails.
Right, absolutely. Show the product in action, even if it’s a screenshot, you know, on a mock up, then it’s a golden opportunity for people to get a sneak peek of what they’re going to get. Because like on TPT with Etsy as well, if your cover and your thumbnails, don’t give them a good idea of what they’re getting inside, once they make a purchase, then you just lost a customer.
Kristen Doyle 11:31
Yeah, absolutely. It’s so important that we use those to really show things off. I know, there have been plenty of times when I went shopping on Etsy. And maybe all I saw were a couple of variations of the same photo,
Kristen Doyle 11:46
Maybe two or three different colors, something was offered in and I feel like it, it’s just not showing me very much. And it’s so important that we can really see, you go look for the one that’s gonna give me a better look at what I’m getting, especially when I’ve bought digital things off of Etsy. And I’ve got a couple of games and things like that off of Etsy to use, like at home or for a party or something like that. And yeah, it’s so important that we show those things off.
One other thing that Etsy does that is so helpful to buyers, is actually third party tools. But they have keyword research tools such as E Rank, Insight Factory or Ever Be. And essentially, you can use these to really spy on your competition, you can see what they’re selling the product for, you can see what tags they’re using, you can even see how much they’re bringing in per month, per product. So it’s really a behind the scenes look at what someone else is doing to help you make decisions for your own store moving forward.
Kristen Doyle 12:50
Yeah, that’s interesting, I had no idea all that information was available. And I don’t know how I would feel if TPT had something like that available, necessarily. But I can definitely see where it would be useful as a seller to be able to see what’s working for other people and see what you might need to be changing in your own store.
Right. And hopefully, not everyone does it this way. But hopefully people are using it as an aha moment like, Oh, that’s a key word that I didn’t think of. It’s not meant to be a platform where you copy someone word for word and use the exact tags and use the exact price. And unfortunately, I know there are people out there that do it like that. But really, it should be more of this aha moment for you to give you some helpful business advice.
Kristen Doyle 13:40
And hopefully people are honest and have integrity. Although, you know, we all know that not everyone is.
There’s always a few exceptions
Kristen Doyle 13:49
Always. That is the nature of business unfortunately. It’s one of those things that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to just learn to accept that there are going to be people who do things that aren’t cool. And sometimes that’s going to affect you. And that really stinks and you you know, deal with it, send a cease and desist if you need to, or whatever else needs to happen. You deal with it. But it is just part of business.
Absolutely. It’s really kind of as a backhanded compliment.
Kristen Doyle 14:17
Yeah, it’s a good mindset shift. Now I’m not saying I’m ignoring it, and just letting them continue to copy. It is a good mindset shift that a lot of times keeps me from going down a rabbit hole of frustration and anger and all of those things and just think, you know, stay positive and think about what it really means for my product, which is that it was something really good that somebody thought was worth copying.
Kristen Doyle 14:45
Well, let’s talk a little bit about marketing and things I know on TPT we have lots of ways well on and off TPT we have lots of ways that we try to get the word out about our TPT products, of course SEO included but social media and emails and all of that stuff. What have you found to be different in terms of how you market for Etsy? Or what marketing are you doing for Etsy?
So I haven’t really found the marketing to be any different. You have a printable product, you have a website that you want to bring people to. The difference is Etsy has built in traffic like TPT. It’s not like your own website or a Shopify store where you have to bring your own traffic. It’s all organic. So the marketing I do for my etsy store is that because I am part of games, I have a free mini murder mystery game for parents to test out with the kids to kind of see the complexity level of the puzzles, to introduce them to my store, and holiday printables on Etsy are just huge. So during the big holiday months, you will see me running Facebook ads to get people to my Etsy shop. But aside from email marketing, and Facebook ads, every once in a while I’ll create a pin. But Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, they’re just not my thing. I’m not a fan of social media, I’m not great with making those kind of reels or content pins. So email marketing is huge, huge, huge for me.
Kristen Doyle 16:28
Yeah. Well, and you know, unlike social media, you own your email list. This isn’t something that, you know, an algorithm can snatch away from you in a heartbeat. So, yeah, I definitely even on TPT I come to rely on SEO, email marketing, and Facebook ads, that’s like my golden three things that are getting me sales as opposed to all of the other. And I’m still on social media. But I’ll be honest, my Chalk and Apples social media is automated at this point. I have to be on there, because that’s how you will be audiences for the Facebook ads. But those posts themselves aren’t great at bringing in sales for me. And I know there are people who would say no, I make tons off of them. Great for you. But that just doesn’t work for me. I rely on email and Facebook ads as my marketing. And then of course, SEO running in the background, right.
And a few years ago, when Pinterest made a huge algorithm change. I lost literally a million viewers per month like that change hit me really, really hard. And thank goodness, I’ve always had an email list like I have, of course, different segments in my email list, one targeted for teachers and TPT, one for my Etsy customers. And then I also have one for my courses, whether it be for my TPT course or my Etsy courses. But like you said, you own your list, no algorithm will ever take that away from me. And that’s a pretty good feeling.
Kristen Doyle 18:00
Yeah, absolutely. So since you are marketing on Etsy, to different types of buyers, from the people that you’re marketing to on TPT. Have you found that you need to do anything different within your products as far as how you’re setting up your PDFs? I know as teachers, we’re usually including things like tables of contents and lesson plans and standards and all of that some of that obviously doesn’t apply. But are there any tips you could give about things that should be included when we’re marketing to probably an audience more of parents than teachers. Even if we’re selling teaching resources on Etsy, I would assume the audience there is going to be mostly homeschool parents versus teachers in a classroom.
So with Etsy, it’s safe as a business owner or an Etsy store owner to assume that people have never even downloaded a printable before. So it really walks them through the process, as if they are brand new to this from downloading the file, to printing instructions, to set up instructions, where to place this paper, where to put this puzzle. It is literally broken down step by step. And I think that is one of the elements that helps me stand out because my feedback in my reviews say, Wow, thank you for the thorough details. I had no questions left. Once I saw it. I understood how this whole you know game was going to work. So putting in all of those really exact step by step directions is really helpful for parents who’ve never done something like this before.
Kristen Doyle 19:41
Yeah, that’s great advice. Thank you. I have been encouraging sellers for a while now to almost assume the same thing of teachers. Of course, we can assume that teachers know how to print the stuff out and make copies for their class and those sorts of things. But we have such an turnover right now in the teacher world that there are a lot of brand new teachers in the classroom. And so really just giving them those super clear step by step very detailed instructions can help take away a lot of the stress and overwhelm. And I’m just thinking now, even for veteran teachers, how nice is it to have all the mental load of presenting this lesson or this activity taken off your plate? Because someone else already wrote it all down for you? We’re also stressed.
Oh, yes, absolutely. And with that element, you probably just landed a repeat buyer, because you made the whole process so easy for them, they’re going to come back to your shop again,
Kristen Doyle 20:38
You’re really setting yourself apart and making it just so easy to use your products. So let’s talk time a little bit. This is something that I think every teacher seller struggles with probably every human, to be honest struggles with managing our time. How are you kind of managing your time and your resources and your work between managing and maintaining both shops, your TPT and your Etsy?
So I pick days of the week that are specifically for Etsy, you will never find me doing something for TPT and Etsy in the same day, even for, you know, Facebook ads or email lists, like my brain needs to be in Etsy mode or in TPT mode. So usually a Wednesday is always Etsy day. And I just focus on Etsy.
Kristen Doyle 21:30
That’s interesting, because I kind of do the same thing. For the same reason my brain is either in TPT mode or in stuff for teacher seller’s mode, or in web designer mode. And I can’t mix and match those, I need to, you know, clear my brain and focus and think. I’ve read some studies about multitasking, where they say that the constant switching back and forth between tasks is so much more taxing on your brain. And so it just helps reduce some of that load.
Right? Like You I wear many hats in my business. I’m not just a printable business owner, but I am a course creator, I do advertising, email marketing, like I need to focus solely on the task at hand, and the specific business. Because even though they’re similar, even though they’re all digital downloads, the audiences are different, the elements are different, the advertising and the copy that I use is different. So I pick a day and dedicated solely to Etsy.
Kristen Doyle 22:29
Yeah, and that’s great, especially when you’re thinking about the copy that you’re using the words that we’re using to sell our products, whether that’s in social media posts, or emails, or product descriptions, those words matters so much. And you really need to have that focus time to get your mind into the mindset of that ideal customer, which, like we’ve been talking about, it’s two completely different people from TPT. To Etsy.
Kristen Doyle 22:54
This has been such a good conversation. And I’m just thinking back over the fact that you’ve been so successful on Etsy, where a lot of teacher sellers, myself included, maybe have an Etsy store that brings in a decent amount of income, but it’s not super successful. I can already think of some reasons that my Etsy store may not be doing as well as my TPT store. And one big one for me comes down to I really didn’t redo my descriptions when I move things over. I did some keyword research, I might have changed things up for keywords. But I’m not sure that I’m really talking to parents in my Etsy descriptions, I’m probably still talking to teachers. And that’s something that for sure, it’s gonna go on my to do list as a something we need to do to tweak those listings and make them more attractive for the people who are actually shopping on Etsy, right.
And the funny thing is, you would think that everyone knows this, but I actually use the word printable in my description and in my title on Etsy, on every product, I rarely use the word printable in my descriptions on TPT. Because, like you said, teachers weren’t going to use the copy machine, you know, make copies.
Kristen Doyle 24:00
Yeah, teachers already know that everything on TPT is a printable unless it’s a digital resource.
Right. And so another thing I wanted to add when people are getting some aha moments, is your mind set matters. Because if you think that Etsy is oversaturated, you’ve already lost there is no such thing as oversaturation. You just have to find how to stand out, you have to find how to make your products unique. And one reason I recommend Etsy is we talked a little bit about keyword research. And if you type in the keyword printable escape room on Etsy, you will get just over 3000 results. And do you know what that means? There is a huge opportunity there.
Kristen Doyle 24:51
Whereas TPT, Do you have it handy? I know it’s a lot.
Yeah, it’s over 19,000. Yeah, it’s crazy. So also when we’re talking about standing out, if you type in scavenger hunt for kids on Etsy, you will get just under 20,000. Now, that is a higher number, but there’s still plenty of room for people to get in. But like I said, you have to do something to stand out. These scavenger hunts that you see on Etsy are these very generic and dare I say boring activities where it asks the kids to find something blue or find something round, when you put a layer of puzzle or an element of surprise, or a twist of find. That’s where you hook the kids. That’s where you hook the parents. And that’s where you get repeat sellers and find your success.
Kristen Doyle 25:44
Yeah. And I feel like we as teacher sellers, we kind of have a superpower there. Because we are so used to coming up with ways to make things more fun, more engaging, more interesting, because that’s what we have to do in the classroom all the time.
Kristen Doyle 25:58
I love it. What piece of advice would you give to teacher sellers? who are maybe considering selling some resources on platforms outside TPT? Somewhere like Etsy? What piece of advice would you give them about getting started?
Number one, is go for it, see where it takes you. Because this is passive income, you create it once, and it can sell over and over and over. And you never know unless you try. Just like TPT though, Etsy is a long game, you’re likely not going to be making four figures a month in your very first month. But don’t give up. What I see happen too often, is that people say that they’re testing the Etsy waters, and they put up five, six, maybe 10 products. And then when they’re not making sales, they quit. You need to consistently be uploading new products to Etsy, you need to fairly give yourself six months to a year, before you decide, should you put any more time and effort into this and what your next course of action is going to be.
Another thing I would add is just like TPT, there are a lot of incredible courses out there. But do your course research. Do you want to take a course let’s say from a TPT seller about TPT. And this seller only has 5000 reviews and 3000 followers? You see, I would want to take a course from someone who has over 100,000 reviews and you know, 200,000 followers, whatever it may be? Or if you want to take an email marketing course, do you want to take a course from someone that has 3000 people on their list or 300,000 on their list? So do your research before you decide to invest any money. And also ask around in Facebook groups and on the forums. People are honest. And they’ll give you their opinion about the course whether it’s worth the money and what some of their, you know, aha takeaway moments were.
Kristen Doyle 28:12
That’s good advice. For sure. We definitely want to look at, you know, who we’re learning from and make sure it’s going to be someone who is presenting good information and has been successful and all of those kinds of things that applies everywhere. But I know there are a lot of sketchy things out there pertaining to Etsy because I have seen ads for them.
Oh, me too. My goodness, me too.
Kristen Doyle 28:37
Definitely a place to exercise a little caution. Get some feedback from other people maybe ask other people who sell on Etsy what courses and tools and things they recommend, so that you’re sure you’re spending your money and your time, even on something that’s going to be good in the long run.
Kristen Doyle 28:53
So we have been talking a lot about selling things on Etsy that are not the same as what you sell on TPT because that’s where you found the most success. But I know you do have a separate Etsy store that does contain some of your TPT products. What can you tell us about kind of that experience and who Etsy is good for when it comes to actual teaching resources?
Sure. So like you said, I do have two Etsy stores. My main bread and butter is the one that sells the party games and the escape rooms. My second Etsy store is some of my listings from TPT, I posted on Etsy. And that store brings in a couple $1,000 a year but it’s nothing to write home about I haven’t had major success on that. But I will say that if you are preschool through second grade and you’re teaching those primary handwriting, basic math skills, then I think that Etsy is a market for you. A perfect to use to use the same resources you have on TPT. But in my experience, if your upper elementary to secondary, Etsy is not your marketplace, maybe it will be in the future. But I can honestly say I wouldn’t be investing my time in creating a Etsy store full of the same TPT products if I was grade three or higher.
Kristen Doyle 29:19
Yeah. And you know, I think that makes perfect sense. When we think about who the target audience is on Etsy. I am sure there are hundreds of 1000s of teachers shopping on Etsy, but not for teaching resources they shop TPT for that. The people who are shopping for printable activities to use with their kids on Etsy are most likely homeschool parents, and so many at least in my area, homeschool parents tend to start out homeschooling pre K, kindergarten, first. And a lot of them set out even in pre K with this idea that I’m going to homeschool for a while and buy one of these later elementary grades, we’re going to go into either a public or a private school setting.
Right. So there are a few Etsy stores that have had mega mega success selling those primary worksheets, and printables, where like you said, parents can get extra help or for homeschooling.
Kristen Doyle 31:20
Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. Would you like to tell everyone kind of where they can find you and how they can take a look at your Etsy shop to see what kinds of things you’re doing on there.
Absolutely. So first, thank you for having me. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity to speak with you and kind of share my story. If anyone is interested, my Etsy store is Think Tank Escape Rooms. My website is ThinkTankTeacher.com And at the beginning of next year, I am doing a free five day challenge showing people how to create a free mini escape room. So if you have an Etsy shop and you think that would be a fun email freebie opt in, then I invite you to join me.
Kristen Doyle 32:08
Awesome, and we’ll drop links for those in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here today Lisa.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
Kristen Doyle 32:15
That is a wrap for today’s conversation with Lisa Fink about selling on Etsy. A big thank you to Lisa for joining us and sharing such good information about how to expand our reach beyond TPT and into the world of selling on Etsy. Keep in mind as you’re branching out that it is all about finding your unique niche and finding those products that will work on a different platform that has a completely different audience.
Kristen Doyle 32:42
If you are interested in learning more about what Lisa is doing, or her free five day challenge that she mentioned, check out the show notes for the link for that. And I will talk to you next week when I bring you another episode on diversifying with someone who is doing a great job of selling to school districts. Talk to you soon.
Kristen Doyle 33:07
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on Growing Your TPT business. Head to Kristendoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.