How Long Until You Get Your First Sale Online?
One of the most memorable days is the day you sell your first handmade item online. That day can definitely not come soon enough. How long does it really take to get that elusive first sale? There are a lot of variables and everyone’s results will be a little different. Here are the basics.
Are you on Etsy or do you have your own website? Your results can be totally different depending where you are selling. Etsy can be instant while a personal website will normally take time.
Brand new personal websites – When I refer to a brand new website I am talking about one that you just purchased a domain name for. It is totally new and no one, including the search engines knows about it. Once your store is set up on your domain and you get indexed, see below, then you may receive an initial flow of traffic from search engines. Usually this goes away rather quickly and you really start to receive regular traffic in 3-6 months depending on how optimized your site is and how much you have been promoting it. Personal websites take time to build. You do not get much instant gratification when you start from scratch.
Brand New Etsy store – Since sites like Etsy do have a lot of regular traffic you can in theory get sales right away if a person can find your items and of course likes what they see. Assuming all other elements of your store are in order, you will have to be visible. If you are in a very saturated category this can be very difficult. Use Etsy Stats and Google Analytics to track your traffic and make sure people are actually seeing your items. You have to be getting views before you can expect to get any sales. Knowing your stats will tell you if your promotion efforts are working. There is no reason to get discouraged if people have not even seen your items yet.
What are the variables you can control? If you are selling online whether through a marketplace or though your personal website, your page needs to be set up correctly. The key elements are titles, meta descriptions, tags, proper image naming, good photos, and descriptions. Filling in all those details gives you what is referred to as proper on page optimization. You should also have a site that has a clean design and can easily be navigated. The size of your site also makes a difference. The more items you start off with, the greater chance you have of people finding you.
Is your site indexed? In order for your website to start showing up in a search engine like Google, it has to be indexed. Indexing basically means that Google has seen your site and has added it to its database. It can take a few days for a brand new website to be indexed. An easy way to see if you are indexed is to type this into the search box and hit enter:
Replace “yourwebsite” with the name of your site. If your listing shows up in the search results your site is indexed and stands a chance of showing up if a person searches for your keywords.
How much marketing have you done beforehand? In order to expect any sales at all, you have to get people to see what you have for sale. I talk a lot of about SEO and search traffic but right now we’re talking about that first sale. It may very well come from someone you know or from a friend of a friend. Leverage your existing audience which is the people you already know. Send out emails and let all your friends on Facebook know that you just set up your online store and send them the link.
Your friends can also give you critiques of your items and site so you can make adjustments that can help with future sales from others.
What stats should you be concerned with? Initially you need to be concerned with the number of views your site or items are receiving. You have to get people to see what you have to offer.
Can you find your own items? Do a specific search on Google and if you are on Etsy, search for your type of item in the search box. Do you show up? If so, how far down? The further down you are the fewer views you can expect to receive. If YOU cannot find your items you cannot expect that others will either. Checking your site stats will confirm whether you are getting views as well.
In order to get sales from traffic, you need to convert – Someone that finds your site either by searching for a specific item or by browsing through item categories needs to find what they are looking for. Even if you sell the type of widgets that the person was searching for, it doesn’t mean they will like the style of your widgets. Assuming they do like what you have to offer, you stand a better chance of making a sale if you have very detailed descriptions, reasonable prices, great detailed photos, a policy page, and fast shipping with reasonable rates. A testimonials page, bio page, and satisfaction guarantee will also inspire confidence in a prospective buyer.
What about luck? We’ve all heard about and maybe even know those people that say they just “hung the sign on the door” and customers started coming in. Sure, some of that could be luck, but there may be other things going on behind the scenes that even they did not have control over or plan. The first is they may simply know a lot of people. If they got the word out that they set up their website that could have attributed to their instant sales. You cannot control how many people your friends will tell or if those people will buy. If the right person happens to hear about you and they have a large audience that can be a factor. A person may happen to mention you on their blog for instance. You cannot always duplicate someone else’s seemingly instant success.
When to get worried? – With any site you have to be getting a good flow of visitors before you can really be concerned about not having sales. Only a small percentage of people who see your site will actually purchase so as the number of overall visitors increases, so does the likelihood of getting sales. Keep promoting until you start getting views before you get too concerned about not having your first sale.
What if you want traffic now? Lets say you have told everyone you know and have done everything you can think of and are still not getting any visitors to your site. You can always buy traffic from Google Adwords. Basically you place an ad that only shows when a person types in specific keywords, such as “red Egyptian widget.” If no one is seeing your red Egyptian widgets and you do not show up in search results when you type those words in, you can buy an Adwords Ad that will show up either at the very top of the page or along the right side. There is a definite learning curve to this type of advertising but it can be effective. If you want to learn more take a look at:
Craigslist is also an option as well. It is free and people are on there looking to buy things.
So how long will you have to “wait” for your first sale? As you can see there are many variables and the key is to not sit and wait. You have to actively be promoting and refining during your “waiting” period. Waiting is definitely not an idle activity and the harder you work the sooner you will receive that first sale.
How long did it take you to make your first sale?