Tips and Advice for Etsy Buyers
There is a wealth of online resources for Etsy sellers. However, there are very few resources for Etsy buyers. Needless to say, the Etsy buyers are a huge part of the handmade community. While I am primarily on Etsy as a seller, I believe in supporting the handmade movement and purchase from there as well. During the almost three years that I've been a part of Etsy, I've learned that there is more to being a successful buyer than simply completing an online purchase. Here are a few tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible as well as how to make the Etsy community more successful.
Specific searches. Make your searches as specific as possible. As Etsy becomes more and more popular, the searches get flooded with more and more results. For example, a fairly specific search for "vanilla soy candles" yields more than 2,000 results. Consider adding words to describe the color, size, materials, and techniques used for the items that you want. If you only get a few search results, you can always take one or two words out of the search. Adding the word "vegan" to the soy candles search drops the results to 550. Alternatively, searching for "set of vanilla soy candles" drops the results to 130.
Contact sellers with questions. Hopefully sellers will include all of the information that you need in their item listings, but plenty do not. Don't be afraid to ask sellers questions about their items before making purchases. Most sellers are happy to answer questions. It is much easier to provide clarity before a purchase than to end up with a return or an unhappy customer.
Custom work. If you can't find exactly what you want, don't be afraid to ask for custom work. Many sellers love custom orders and will advertise this. Some sellers put it right in their shop announcements. Additionally, sometimes customers put information about customization right in the listings. If sellers have specific instructions for custom orders, follow them. Make sure that you work out all of the details for an order, including how long it will take, before you complete the payment.
Prompt payment. You should always pay for an item right after you purchase it unless you've made other arrangements with the seller. Work out these arrangements with sellers before purchasing items. For example, some sellers with accept checks. Let the seller know that you will send the check immediately following your purchase.
Leave feedback. Feedback is so important for sellers. Let them know what you think. Be honest and constructive. Don't be afraid to leave negative feedback if an order really didn't go well. For example, if a seller never shipped an item or shipped an item significantly later than promised (i.e. 6 weeks late), provide details about this in your feedback.
Community involvement. Becoming involved in the Etsy community as a buyer makes it a richer community for everyone. There are several teams exclusively for buyers such as Heartsy Buyers and Local Buyers of the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, buyers can create treasuries. Treasuries are a wonderful way to promote sellers that you like as well as to have fun putting together collections for favorite colors, types of items, holidays, etc.
Promote the site. If you have positive experiences with buying items on Etsy, promote sellers to family and friends. If you give gifts from Etsy, include shop information for the recipients. Share links for favorite items on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Consider including Etsy items if you put together gift guides.
Support handmade. As I mentioned in the beginning of this hub, I believe that it's important for Etsy sellers to also be Etsy buyers. Many of the tips here apply to sellers who purchase from other sellers. Even if you cannot buy frequently, consider purchasing some of your gifts from the site as well as supplies for your own art.