You wake up one morning. Everything is completely normal. You’re getting on with your day, when suddenly your phone starts making every noise that ever existed.
Your phone is having a legit seizure. You go to resuscitate it and you realize: HOLY CRAP I’M GETTING A LOT OF ORDERS.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Promote Your Etsy Shop
The technical definition of viral is:
(of an image, video, piece of information, etc.) circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.
If your item goes viral, trust me, you’ll know about it pretty quick.
So while my Etsy shop has been featured and gone viral a couple times, I actually want to talk about the first time I ever went viral. Then I’ll tell you how to scale your etsy business in preparation for your first viral moment!
It happened a little less than a year ago, and it actually went down on my Not on the High Street shop. (FYI I’m going to call it NOTHS because I do not need to type that shit out 500 times).
I had just joined NOTHS. For those of you not in the UK, NOTHS is a curated marketplace for crafts. They have done amazing things for my business. I’m mildly obsessed with them.
Anyway I was with them for a little over a month, when I logged in one day to a really unusual amount of orders.
At the time, I was getting maybe 3 or 4 orders per day off NOTHS. I was brand new to the biz, so 3 or 4 orders seemed like a TON. I was super excited about my 3 orders a day, and I was starting to think I could actually turn this crazy idea into a business.
Haha. Me one year ago is so funny.
So you can imagine my surprise when I logged in one evening and saw I had 10 orders.
OMG – 10 orders! At the time I was like “this must be what it’s like to be a real seller!”. I got so excited I created and packed up all my orders and created little thank you notes for all my new customers.
I had no idea what I was in for.
I was humming away on my computer, working at my (then) day job of doom, when I noticed my phone was going nuts. I was getting an email every two seconds.
Every single email was from NOTHS. Who emails you when you get a new order.
I had over 30 unread emails. And they were still coming.
Wait, what?? This is a mistake. I was just doing this to make extra money so I could leave my horrible boss and find a new job. Why would that many people want something I made?
Nothing will show you where the holes in your business are like going viral.
I got so many orders that night that I had to claim sudden “illness” at work, go home and round up every single person I knew in a 2-mile radius, and create a fucking assembly line.
At the time, I was handwriting each customer’s address on their parcels. With over 50 orders and counting, that wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
I didn’t have any branding on my packaging or items, and I suddenly realized I wanted to advertise and retain all these new customers.
My printer at the time took 1-2 minutes to print each art piece, (this is the item that went viral) and it occurred to me real quick that I was going to need a second printer. Like yesterday.
After all that, my top concern was that the item would keep selling at an insane rate. Because I honestly didn’t know how to scale my business and handle such an extreme influx of orders.
How to Scale Your Etsy Business…FAST
What I didn’t know at the time was that this was my wake-up call. It was time to get serious or get out.
In the next few days, I figured out how to print address labels. I purchased a label maker so I could copy and paste shipping addresses. I bought a second, better printer. I moved my shop out of the kitchen and into a home office. I pre-made a ton of stock so that I could fill orders as they came in, rather than waiting for them to print.
By far the smartest thing I did in that list was pre-make stock.
For those of you not pre-making stock, you’re doing it wrong. #sorrynotsorry.
After a year in business, and three or four times going viral, this is the tactic that allows me to capitalize on big orders. Rather than putting my shop on vacation, or freaking out, or just running out of an item, I can ride the wave of orders.
You always want to ride that initial wave. Because the second wave will be a joke in comparison.
The key to pre-making stock is to always have 2x more supplies on hand than you think you’ll need. To be honest, right now I have more like 6x more stock than I need. And it paid off, because I just went through the biggest feature I’ve ever had.
It’s impossible to know what’s going to be popular. So what I do if something gets purchased is make 3x what’s ordered. So if you buy one mug, I’ll make three of that mug.
Evaluate Your Business
It’s time to sit down and make a list of what’s slowing you down. What would prevent you from filling 50 orders tomorrow, and how can you scale your etsy business to keep up? Here are some common problems (and how to fix them):
Time (orders take too long to create)
This could be the symptom of another problem. Do you use equipment? Is it capable of handling a lot of orders? If not, it’s time to upgrade. OR maybe you make each part of your item yourself. If it’s taking too long you’re putting a cap on your business, which stops you from scaling up your etsy store. When your shop relies 100% on you, that’s an awful burden. See if you can order pre-made parts of your item, or recruit people to help you. Better yet: is there a piece of equipment that will ease the burden on you? Do some homework, and always try to hire machines before people.
Money (I can’t afford the supplies)
The cost of your materials should be factored into the final price of your item. You should make back your supply cost + 15% (minimum). So if your item goes viral, the mere fact that it’s selling means you can afford those supplies. If you’re preparing for sales that haven’t come yet (like around Christmas), try to find a wholesaler that you can rely on for well-priced supplies FAST. Remember, supplies are an investment in your business and future success. They are non-negotiable and if you’re struggling to afford them you need to re-evaluate your pricing.
Equipment (my equipment can’t make a lot at once)
Ah, my personal favorite. I’ve upgraded my equipment 4 or 5 times in just a single year. Don’t be stupid like me. Invest in what you really need the first time around. You’ll thank yourself later.
It’s too hard (to make a lot of this item)
This is going to put a cap on your business. If your item is time consuming or difficult to make, it might not be the best option. Try to vary your items. 90% of your shop should be fast, easy items, and 10% (or less) should be more complex, custom items. If you’re at a loss for how to do this, think about digital downloads. Can you make patterns? Tutorials? Printable worksheets? What about a kit? Can you provide your customer with the supplies they need to hand-make their own version of your items?
Supplies (my supplier doesn’t have enough materials, or I don’t have enough)
I’ve had this problem more than I care to admit. Over my first Christmas, I decided that there was no way my orders would increase that much. Because my shop isn’t selling anything new: mugs, totes, pillows, etc…all of that is pretty normal. So why would it sell any more than normal? HOLY HELL WAS I WRONG. I ordered supplies 10 different times over Christmas on an emergency basis. I spent a fortune on shipping. Don’t be me. If you can’t find a reliable supplier, do some unconventional internet searches. Find a manufacturer. See if they’ll sell you supplies. Then buy more than you need (x2 at least). Seriously. You won’t regret it.
Get the Traffic Your Shop Deserves
Hey Guess What? Before I quit my job to sell on Etsy, I was an SEO Consultant for a Fortune 500 Company. I used Etsy tags to get my first 500 sales in less than 6 months. Wanna steal my tricks? Try SEO Bootcamp:
Thanks for Reading!
Hi there, my name is Jenni. You’re reading about the Etsy shop that freed me from the worst job I’ve ever had (and a lifetime of working for somebody else).
Find out what went down here.
Hey guess what? The exact tricks that got me 6-figures sales are waiting for you in the Ultimate Guide to Etsy. This is a 40-page, step-by-step MEGA tutorial that will help you strategize your way to more sales.