Etsy – 2 Month Review – Passive Income

Welcome to my 2 month Etsy report!

As mentioned in my 1 month update, I’m using Etsy in conjunction with Printful to automatically fulfill any orders I receive.

I got my first positive (5 star) review almost immediately after I posted my February update, and the good reviews kept on coming, which was a great relief because I didn’t really know what the quality would be like from Printful. I have at least five 5 star reviews at time of writing, which is great social proof. I also got a PM telling me that the quality is amazing and shipping was super fast.

As promised in my previous post, I upped my advertising budget from $5 to $10 per day just to see what happened. I got more than double the amount of orders when compared to last month:

Feb: Views: 737 / Visits: 418 / Orders: 13 / Revenue: $294.44
Mar: Views: 1280 / Visits: 708 / Orders 28 / Revenue: $520.59

Interestingly, a significant number of orders didn’t come from ads – more on that later. I’m still pricing at rock bottom, which is a problem that has become apparent this month and I’ll elaborate why in a moment. I was initially going to wait until I have ten 5 star reviews to increase the price, but I’m going to disregard that and do it sooner rather than later.

Printful has been slightly annoying this month in that their report function only shows 28 days of history. You can’t specify a date range, so it’s impossible to quickly check your profit without manually adding up figures, which to me seems insane. They have a ‘report’ page, but it only shows you revenue rather than profit and there’s no way to change this. I contacted customer service about it and found that it’s just not a feature they offer.

It’s difficult to make informed decisions without a lot of manual calculations to figure out how much profit you’re currently making. I think the service generally from Printful is amazing, but that oversight is absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t have a problem in Feb since I’d just started and the month happened to be 28 days long so it fit in perfectly with their 28 day history, but this month it has caused problems.

I’ve also had an issue with the printing of one of my designs, which has only become apparent within the last few days since a customer complained and sent me a picture. I contacted Printful who said it was because of the transparency of some of the design aspects. They offer a quality checking service which I thought should’ve picked this up as they have done with some of my other designs prior to printing, but they stressed that this is a courtesy service and can’t be relied upon.

Rather than risk a bad review, I just refunded the customer entirely, which unfortunately was a significant loss, but it would’ve been much more detrimental to receive a negative review. Customer was very happy with my handling of the situation and even said they’d leave positive feedback (unprompted).

I am concerned about this printing issue because there have been about 5-6 sales of this particular design before I was alerted to the issue, so I could end up giving many refunds out. Learn from my mistake – make sure you don’t use transparency on Printful!

Another issue is that female specific shirts are expensive. I’m getting $10-11 profit for a male shirt, yet $2-3 for a female shirt, which means that I’m actually losing a significant amount of money when I take into consideration advertising costs to get the sales. For that reason, I’ve decided to phase out female specific products and just offer Unisex.

This is my Etsy advert performance for March 18:

It shows good value in that I spent $188 to achieve $301 revenue, but we’ve got to take into consideration that revenue isn’t profit and that I’m pricing very low, so although it definitely seems worthwhile to run ads, you must make sure that your profit margin covers the cost of doing so.

An interesting point to note is that only 16 out of the 28 orders were from adverts, meaning that 12 were found organically. This is very positive indeed and preliminary searches have revealed to me that my products are actually showing up on the front page for some search terms organically now.

My Etsy balance looked healthy. This is all from March. My advertising/listing costs came to $262.43 overall, which works out at around $8.50 per day.

My goals from last month were to get positive reviews (✓), increase my advertising budget (✓),  and add more products. I did add more products, but only about half of what I intended to. That’s because I got seriously distracted by Merch by Amazon and basically left Etsy on autopilot.

A mixture of focusing on Merch, leaving expensive adverts running without evaluating them, making a loss on female shirts, having to refund dodgy prints, and being unable to see my profit in real time on Printful has resulted in a loss this month. Despite selling more than double the amount of products, I’ve made a significant loss of £94.09, which is approximately $130. This is way worse than I expected. I knew I wasn’t making profit, but I didn’t really care too much since it’s more about establishing a brand at this point, but a combination of the above factors has really screwed me over this month. Oops.

Oh well, lesson learnt! I’m going to do an experiment in April and turn all adverts off just to see if I make any sales organically, and hopefully recoup some of the loss I’ve made this month on Etsy.

Hope you appreciate my honesty. I might be a Redbubble expert but when it comes to Etsy, I’m pretty clueless so I’m just experimenting and learning as I go. Hopefully you found the information in this post helpful!

Will report back at the end of April and let you know how it goes! In the meantime consider joining the Passive Owls FB group as there will certainly be more Etsy discussion going on in there.

Full Disclosure: Printful is an affiliate link, so if you’ve found my FB group, YouTube, or this blog helpful and want to support me, then I would appreciate it if you signed up via the link.

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