Selling on Etsy, building a marketing strategy, Pinterest, and transitioning from physical to digital products
Morgan Nield helps Etsy sellers go from part-time hustle to full-time income. Morgan built her Etsy shop, Little Highbury, into a 6-figure business in under a year, and had fulfilled more than 23,000 orders before shutting the business down to focus on digital products. In this episode we talk about her Etsy journey, her decision to shut that store down, the digital marketing system she helps her clients build, how to use Pinterest, and how she leverages a Facebook Group.
Transcript and show notes can be found here
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Morgan Nield 0:00
If that keyword did exist, and you did find it a week later, everybody else would have found it too, right? So there's no like magical keyword that's going to set you apart and make you sales for the rest of your life.
Jay Clouse 0:12
Welcome to Creative Elements, a show where we talk to your favorite creators and learn what it takes to make a living from your art and creativity. I'm your host, Jay Clouse. Let's start the show.
Jay Clouse 0:37
Hello, my friend. I hope you're doing well. I hope you're staying safe and healthy and sane. I know that these are some weird times and really hard for a lot of people. So I hope you're okay and I hope you're taking care of yourself. With a lot of episodes on this show. I've been able to dig deeper into topics I already know something about writing, podcasting, even YouTube. I haven't some experience with but that's pretty much going out the window this week. For months I've been trying to find a guest who could talk to me about Etsy. I have like no experience with Etsy, other than being the platform or I've always bought weird phone cases for my iPhone. And yes, I'm still rocking an iPhone seven and I don't care if you judge me for that. I've had a couple clients through the Unreal collective accelerator who have created Etsy shops before, and I was always fascinated by it. Actually, Clayton, the friend of mine, who I called in the episode with Puno, he has an Etsy shop. It's called Exploring With Words and it sells these beautiful simple t shirts printed with the names of literary and historical figures. And I watched Clay take that shot from almost zero dollars to thousands of dollars in sales each month. We just be hanging out and I'd hear that Etsy cash register notification sound ring in his pocket when a sale was coming. And Clay always talked about how important search engine optimization was on Etsy. Anyway, as I was keeping an eye out for someone who could talk about Etsy, an email came into my inbox. That email is an article talking about how to get started on Etsy. And the author was Morgan Nield. Morgan Nield is the owner of Little Highbury, an Etsy shop selling baby headbands. She took that shot from zero dollars to more than six figures in sales in just a year and build it up to more than $600,000 in sales before ultimately shutting it down. Today, Morgan helps other Etsy shop owners to create marketing systems around their stores to bring in more sales and spoiler her focus is not on SEO. So in this episode, we talked about her Etsy journey, her decision to shut that store down, the digital marketing system she helps her clients to build, how to use Pinterest, and how she leverages a Facebook group. Between Etsy, Pinterest and Facebook groups. We're going to learn a lot in this episode that we haven't covered on this show before. Speaking of Facebook groups and speaking of this show, you can join our Facebook group by searching Creative Elements listeners on Facebook. I'd love to see you there and talk about this episode. And of course, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram @JayClouse, go ahead, send me a note, let me know you're listening, or even take a screenshot and tag me, I'd love to reshare it. Alright, that's enough of me. Let's dive in and talk to Morgan and hear how she got started on Etsy.
Morgan Nield 3:28
I actually started selling on the platform back in 2013. So what happened was, I was working a corporate events job, and planning all these events. And then I found out I was pregnant and kind of my nesting hormones set in and I was like, I'm going to work from home like it's, you know, where I'm going to stay home, raise my baby. And we realized, though, that I was the breadwinner of the family at the time. My husband was in graduate school full time. And so we had to kind of figure out well, how are we going to make that work financially, like, how is that actually going to work and so the idea was all I'll go back to work for a little bit and hope that my husband can graduate. And then we can have me stay full time at home with baby. And when my daughter arrived in July of 2013, I basically cycled into a deep, deep experience with postpartum depression and anxiety and a little bit of psychosis. And I couldn't go back to work like that was at the end of the day, I could not go back to work. I was not physically or emotionally able to go back to work. And we still needed to figure out the financial aspect of things. And I always kind of thought about Etsy, I bought things off of Etsy, and I enjoyed the overall experience. And I was kind of a creative person by nature, and I thought, Hey, you know, maybe I could try this whole selling on Etsy thing, because owning your own business to me, I can work when I wanted to, if I felt good, awesome, I could do it if I didn't feel good. That's okay. Like I didn't have to be in a nine to five job and I could stay home with my daughter. And so what started out just kind of as an experiment to kind of cope with the postpartum and try and get us into a good financial rhythm because I could not go back to work. I may quickly just explain actually grew like crazy. Our first month we earned $1,200. And then after that was $2,800-$4,000. And it went upwards of $24,000 a month like it just exponentially grew like crazy over the four years that I ran that Etsy shop. So yeah, it was just very, very fast growth. We hit six figures our first year, and multiple six figures every year after that.
Jay Clouse 5:21
Were you expecting that type of result when you started selling in the first place?
Morgan Nield 5:26
No, absolutely not. You don't hear a lot of people that kind of forge their own path necessarily, like you hear. Just you know, you graduate from college and you get a nine to five job and you have that stability and provides for your family. And people like assumed when I was like, Hey, I'm gonna you know, try selling on Etsy and try and make this work is like, Oh, that's that's a cute idea, Morgan. But hopefully you can go back to work really soon so you guys can get back into your financial rhythm. And I'm like, I was definitely deliberate. As we went into this. I was not just building up this hobby. I was like, I really want this to work. And that was something that was very important was not just approaching as well. I'll just you know, put something up and then leave it alone. And maybe if it sells it was very, I'm gonna give this my best shot up front. And I do think that contributed to our success. But no, we never could have expected that I would be that successful that quickly.
Jay Clouse 6:12
And what was it that you were selling in the very beginning?
Morgan Nield 6:15
Ironically, I sold baby headbands because I couldn't find any that I liked for my daughter. And before she was born, I was like, I really like this style headband. I wanted to be casual and there was just nothing there. And it seems so frivolous to talk about. But there was nothing there that I liked. So I created what I liked. In the end, she came out with so much hair that she couldn't actually keep advance on they just slid right off her head. She never wore any of them. But I sold thousands and thousands of them to other people. So it was I created and designed my own fabrics. And then I turned them into baby accessories. And we eventually expanded to swaddles and blankets and newborn hats as well.
Jay Clouse 6:50
What does that look like? Because when you're talking about baby headbands and designing your own fabric, even that feels like something I would have no idea how to get started, where to get started. So if I'm approaching the platform. How can I learn from Morgan's experience of how to get started?
Morgan Nield 7:05
Yeah. So when you decide that, hey, you know what I want to sell on Etsy, there are plenty of possibilities out there. And it's really easy to get stuck in the research and development phase, it's really easy to spy on other people, and like on the competition and see what they're selling, hey, that's really cool. They're making a lot of money, maybe that's something I want to do as well. But at the end of the day, you need a minimal viable product to get started. Like that's my best piece of advice for just getting started. Instead of trying to create this epic, amazing product that maybe future you wants to be selling. You need to have a product now that you can create right now that you don't have all these barriers of entry to it's not like you have to go by you know, $10,000 screen printing press and you have to figure out a supplier for your T shirts. You have to figure out all these different aspects, whatever you have resources and abilities to create right now. That's where you want to start. When I started with my baby headband business, I didn't know how to print my own fabrics at first either so right i went ahead to Joann's and got the ones that other people were buying, essentially, that were just their free game and turn those into headbands. And then I learned about a company that could print on demand with low quantity orders. And I went ahead and did that. And then as I got more familiar with that, then I expanded to other types of fabrics and other types of baby accessories. But it wasn't like right off the bat, I knew all my suppliers and my wholesalers and everything like that. It's just baby steps to start with that minimal viable product. The thing that you know, you can make, you know, you have the resources to create. And then as you go and gain more experience, these doors will open up to you and you can expand and broaden your business.
Jay Clouse 8:37
Can you compare? I mean, a lot of people today have heard about Etsy, and they're very aware that it exists. It's a publicly traded company back in 2013. What was the marketplace? Like how big was Etsy then? Is there any way that you can compare it to where it is today?
Morgan Nield 8:52
It is seriously apples to oranges, which sounds very cliche, but it's very true. Back in 2013, you could essentially put up a shop on Etsy. And there was this term is called SEO search engine optimization if you're not familiar with it, and that was how you got found on Etsy, you put in an SEO strategy, like you put in keywords and your tags and in the titles of your items, and things like that. And that's how you got found internally on Etsy search. Fast forward to 2020. It's a completely different ballgame. And yes, search engine optimization is an important part of it. But it's just a very small part of selling on Etsy nowadays, you have to have an entire like marketing strategy. You build it up like a business, you're not just building an Etsy business, you're building your own business that you just happen to host on Etsy, and it's just completely different in the marketplace, then, compared to how many sellers there are now it's just become very flooded. That doesn't mean that there's not space for people to sell on Etsy nowadays, but you have to be smarter with your marketing and you can't just focus on SEO and expect to be found and that's something I find with a lot of people is they begin getting started and they look Hey, you know, what do I need to do to sell on Etsy, all the articles out there, Etsy themselves will tell you focus on search engine optimization. And that's fine. But that's just one piece of the puzzle. And if you're just going to focus on that, you're never going to get those full time sales that you're looking for.
Jay Clouse 10:13
And why is that? Is it because there's just so much competition that it's really hard to win that SEO game?
Morgan Nield 10:20
Yeah. So there is it's very saturated marketplace, especially in like the jewelry realm, which a lot of people sell in the like clothing, accessories realm, and also like the digital printables realm, those are very, very flooded niches, and they're very saturated niches. And so when you're trying to put in keywords, there's only a, like a finite amount of keywords out there, right. There's only a certain number of ways you can arrange keywords and if everybody else is using those same keywords as you are, even if your product is awesome, guess what, there's maybe awesome too. And if you're using the same keywords, it's not going to you're not just going to like automatically rise to the top. And so when you bring in your own marketing efforts That's when you get those backlinks that help with your SEO. But it's also where you bring your own people essentially to your shop that are purchasing directly from you. And you're not having to compete with these hundreds of thousands of other shops all selling the exact same product as you.
Jay Clouse 11:13
As you look back on the four years that you were selling on Etsy, what were some of the milestone or memorable moments that were kind of light bulbs for you of, Oh, this is how this works, or I wish I'd been doing this this whole time.
Morgan Nield 11:26
Yeah. So when I started out selling on Etsy, I actually so I said, I started in 2013. And that's when I really got serious about selling on Etsy. I had dabbled in it before a couple years previous, I had sold custom note cards like stationery just as kind of a hobby. Well, my husband was in grad school in the evenings and I was home. I was like, What am I gonna do? I can play Donkey Kong or I can create a business and so like I did play Donkey Kong for a while, and then that was my first choice and it didn't work out for me. That is a true story. And so I decided, Hey, you know what, I'm going to kind of start this business and that first business was built solely on Search Engine Optimization again, what adds air recommends and everything like that. And that business was up and down and up and down and up and down. And so when I created the second business, which I consider my first businesses, the first one that I actually took seriously, I put search engine optimization, obviously, that was like the foundation piece of my business. But things really started to click when I started to look outside of Etsy to market my shop. And like, I know, I've been preaching this, this whole podcast so but it's so true. If you are so honed in on selling on Etsy, that you're like, I'm just gonna put my product up there and then I'm going to participate in the forums on Etsy. I'm going to read the Etsy seller Handbook, I am going to focus on Etsy, SEO, all those things are fantastic, but they're not going to grow your business for you there. There's a certain like cap to some extent that you can reach by focusing just on search engine optimization, you get to a point where it doesn't do you any more good. You can keep rearranging your keywords as much as you want. But at the end of the day, they're still the same keywords right and you're not going to grow exponentially, just because you rearrange them slightly, like it just it doesn't work like that. And so with this second shop, what I did was yes, we put in the search engine optimization that everybody talks about. And then I dove into Pinterest. And I was like, Hey, we're going to start using Pinterest to market my shop. And as my product pins got featured more and more on Pinterest, and I was pinning them more and more frequently, again, you're not just going to like one off it. And you're going to pin things on a regular consistent basis, I started to drive more outside traffic and the more outside traffic I drew to my shop, the higher my conversion rate was. So the people popping into my shop and purchasing versus coming in and just leaving my conversion rate increase. I was getting more targeted traffic. And like the people that were coming in, were buying bigger orders, like it just all kind of clicked and so as I was deliberate with that, we did Pinterest, right and then I started with the email marketing, and I was getting people on my email list. So if they were popping into my shop, but maybe they weren't purchasing I was getting them on my email list as well. And the retargeting them in that way. And as I looked at my marketing as less of individual pieces here and there, but more of like an overall system. So we have the search engine optimization. And that's our base, right? We're getting people in with keywords were bringing in Pinterest. And so people are finding us on Pinterest, maybe they're not ready to buy. But now we've got email coming in. And those people that aren't ready to buy, well, maybe they want to opt in for a coupon code or a freebie or something that I can help them with as well. And then we're going to retarget them and everything work together is kind of this ecosystem. And that's when things completely clicked for me and everything just went exponentially crazy is when I realized it all kind of works together. I'm not just posting on Facebook, and then posting on Instagram. We're bringing it all together, making sure it's all leading into one big thing and it works together. And that's how you make those sales like it's just it seems so simple. But looking at it individually. Oh, I have to post on Facebook. Oh, I have to post on Instagram. Oh, I have to post on Pinterest. No, like let's bring it all together. And then let's leverage this platform. to work together to exponentially grow our reach.
Jay Clouse 15:04
When we come back, Morgan talks about her decision to shut down her Etsy shop Little Highbury and why that hasn't slowed her down. And a little bit later, we'll dig into Pinterest, Facebook groups and more. So stick around. Welcome back to Creative Elements. Morgan Nield, built her Etsy shop Little Highbury up to 23,000 sales and more than $600,000. But that success didn't come without its own stress. And with some new surprises around the corner, something had to give.
Morgan Nield 15:35
My children are always catalysts in my business. As cliche as that is as well, it's true. So I started my business because I had a daughter and I was dealing with postpartum depression. And so we grew it like I said to over $20,000 a month and it was crazy and I had a small team that was working with me to help me fulfill the orders but at the end of the day, we were still filling like 40 to 50 orders per day. It got very, very busy and I found out I was I had a surprise pregnancy. That was definitely not expected and I got pregnant with my son. And her pregnancy. Like with my first child, this was okay. It was a normal textbook pregnancy. With him, I got diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is the Princess Kate disease, it essentially just means that you puke non stop about 20 to 30 times a day for nine solid months. And I don't say that to feel bad for me like I lived. We're all good. We've got 100% survival rate over here. But I went through that. And I realized that I couldn't ship and sell products anymore. Like I physically could not do that. And I had dabbled in coaching at this point, like because as I grow my businesses and making thousands of sales every single month, I had people saying, how do you do it? Like, will you teach me how to do it? And I kind of done one off coaching things like hey, hire me for an hour and we'll talk and I'll answer your questions and it was great. But as I got sick with this hyperemesis gravidarum, I was like, I can't do this. I can't coach people and do this. Shopping shift these physical products like going getting in the cargo into the post office was, was harder than it sounds like it was it was almost impossible. And so I said, You know what, I'm gonna have to make a choice right here. I'm either gonna have to keep trying to do this and just get through it or I can switch and go completely digital and offer my coaching services. And at this point, I was thinking about creating an online course because I was answering the same questions with my coaching. And yeah, I just got to the point where I physically and emotionally could not do both my husband like, TMI, but my husband found me in the bathroom, I had just puked up my entire dinner, I was crying and bawling. And I'm like, I can't do both anymore. And he's like, you don't have to. And so we put the shop on indefinite vacation mode, I wasn't ready to be like it's done. I was like, well, we'll just put in vacation mode and see. And I started focusing more on the digital aspect where I didn't have to physically create orders. If I was having a bad day, I didn't have to show up like there was still stuff like that my digital products were there essentially. And that made all the difference from me. And once you go digital like you don't go back, like it's true like once you switch from selling physical products to selling digital products, you just you don't go back to selling physical products because you see the ease of which is selling digital and I was able to sell digital products and still to this day but throughout the remainder of my pregnancy and and make it work. So it just worked out better for me. And I think a big part of that was building a business that supports my lifestyle and not the other way around. That was like kind of my defining moment I realized this physical product business is fantastic and it's making us a lot of money but it's not serving who I am or what season of life we're in at this point. And so everybody told me I was crazy. Like I got I got a lot a lot of emails of people with well well intentioned advice on how psychotic I was to be to be closing this shop. Which is fine. They're entitled to their own opinion it doesn't matter. I went full in with this digital product model because it better suited us like it better suited me being able to show up in my business meeting able to take care My daughter was still sick and pregnant. And it worked out well. And like everybody told me I was crazy. But we went ahead and did it. I crafted a business that worked better for where we were in that season of life. And it made all the difference. And I haven't looked back since.
Jay Clouse 19:14
Now that Morgan is focused on helping others to build their own Etsy shops, I wanted to talk about some of the most common mistakes she now sees being made across a wide number of Etsy sellers. Where are people mistakenly putting their energy in? Where should Etsy sellers be focusing their energy?
Morgan Nield 19:31
So we talked about search engine optimization, and that becomes this huge crutch for people they feel like if I can just tweak my keyword one more time, it's going to be magical and everybody's just going to buy my things. I just need to find that magic keyword and that keyword doesn't exist. If that keyword did exist, and you did find it a week later, everybody else would have found it too, right? So there's no like magical keyword that's going to set you apart and make you sales for the rest of your life. The biggest thing besides search engine optimization is spending time on the wrong ways of marketing your shop. So when you Google those free articles that are like, you know, and you're like, how do I make sales on Etsy, everybody says search engine optimization, and then they say social media as well. And I think social media is a fantastic complement to your business. But I'm here to tell you with over like $600,000 worth of sales in my Etsy shop, social media is a great addition. But it is not the thing that makes you money to your email list is a huge, huge part of your money making. And that's where a lot of the conversions come in. And so many Etsy sellers don't want to tackle email lists, because they don't know what to say, or it seems like there's huge tech hurdles. And it's so hard and it's really not as hard as we think it is. I put it off for a year. And the minute I added it to my business, I could literally say I need to make money this weekend, send out a promo email and sales would come in. It's just very systematic, and it's very just optimized for conversions. You just make conversions better with email, and so so many people are pouring all this energy and effort into trying to sell their product on four different social media platforms, they're feeling stressed and burned out, where you could be focusing all that energy on growing your email list and sending those emails that sell your products for you. You can even automate this. And that's where the money really comes in and becomes more automated, it becomes more consistent and you feel a lot more confident in your business.
Jay Clouse 21:19
This is so interesting, because whenever I've thought about or talk to people who were drawn to Etsy, it's because they were very product first people, you know, they felt I could make a thing. And Etsy will give me the platform to sell that thing. And what you're describing now is almost an audience first approach of saying, bring people in who care about what you have, and then sell them something that you can sell. So if I'm buying into this, and I want to build an email list to sell my products through Etsy, if I'm Morgan selling baby headbands, am I getting people to opt in because they're interested in baby headbands? Or am I getting people to opt in because they're interested in Morgan?
Morgan Nield 21:59
Yes. So a lot of that depends obviously on the type of brand that you want to create if you want to be the name and face and kind of more of a lifestyle brand, versus just a product brand. And there's pros and cons to both of those, it doesn't really matter which one you choose. But as you are wanting to sell this product, you are going to be focusing your email list growth and like, again, this is what I recommend across the board. Email Marketing is just the best way to make sales in e commerce especially, you're going to want to focus on building a list of people that are interested in your niche topic, it doesn't mean that they have to be absolutely interested in baby headbands and super passionate about baby headbands. That's a very frivolous thing to be passionate about. I'm totally okay with that. And you do not have to be passionate about that. But you do want to build a list of people that fit your ideal client, right, your ideal customer avatar that we always hear talked about frequently and there's a good reason we hear it talked about because it's so important. And so the emails that you're creating in the list that you're building, you want people that are going to be prime fits for your product and they may not purchase right away. But that's okay. You're going to send them, you know, these additional emails to get to the point where they are purchasing your product eventually becoming more familiar with you as a person, which is really important on Etsy. That's one of the appeals of it is, it's not this huge company, this faceless company, your face is attached to the brand, right? And your lifestyles and your values. And you can infuse as much of that as you want to into your business. People come on Etsy to get unique things. But they also come on to Etsy to buy from unique artisans and creatives. And it's just kind of that one of a kind type of item approach that you can't get if you go to Target or Walmart or whatever. So it attracts a certain type of person and they do want to get to know you in the process as well. So you are absolutely selling your product in these emails, but you are also selling your personality, your brand and what it stands for the values you have.
Jay Clouse 23:50
Based on the strategy you're talking about. If somebody comes to you, and they say, hey, I want to sell a physical product. How do you know that Etsy is right for them versus is having their own branded Shopify shop that they're using the strategy to drive people to instead.
Morgan Nield 24:06
So this comes back to that minimal viable product. If you are a website designer or you feel confident in Shopify or you know, WordPress, big cartel, Squarespace, wherever it is, any other website platform, if you feel confident that you absolutely can go ahead and start selling your product there. Etsy is a fantastic place for a couple reasons. First off, they have a built in audience. So that's great people already have heard about Etsy, if you're building your own one off site, you're going to have to drive 100% of your own traffic at the very beginning. And while I always encourage Etsy sellers to drive their own traffic, it is a good boost for morale and sales to already have built in traffic kind of coming in from the platform. Okay, and so with a minimal viable approach if you are building your own Shopify site and it is exhausting and you don't even know how to put in a blog or you don't even know how to add a product. Okay, there are a million different learning hurdles that you have to get past before you can even have it up and running. With Etsy. It's very intuitive, like tech friendly like people there second tech 1999. I'm pointing to myself right now because I could I could live in tech 1999 like tech is beyond me most days. It's very user friendly, you can absolutely use Etsy and you can have your Etsy shop up and running in an afternoon. And so it's just that low barrier of entry. That makes a big difference for some people. But also, like I said, has a built in audience you're not driving 100% of your own traffic, you can take advantage of Etsy's audience with your search engine optimization. Etsy also has built in know, like, kind of trust factor. So people feel confident purchasing from Etsy that they are going to get their product that they're absolutely going to have their order fulfilled and they're going to be pleased with it. And if they're not, Etsy has their back. Right, they have that buyer confidence proach you're selling on your own site, you have to build that up yourself. So really, it just comes down to where do you want to start? Do you kind of want to give yourself a leg up have less customization, but have that built in network that built in trust and all those factors that make it easier to just start, or if you're looking to just start from the ground up and you're like, Nope, I want to do this my own way, then fantastic. You can go ahead and do that people see quicker success on Etsy. But I do have a lot of students that sell on Etsy and then eventually transition over to their own Shopify site. And that is, that's the path I would recommend. Honestly, like Etsy is fantastic as a starter point, you start there for a month, you can do it for three months a year, 10 years, it doesn't even matter and then bring it over when you are ready in your own site. And that way you have something up going bringing you revenue, like don't ever underestimate the power of and like the confidence that boosts that bringing in revenue gives you like it's hard to stay motivated. Building a shop from the ground up if you're not earning any money while you're doing it. If you can be earning money in your Etsy shop while you're building up your own shop, that's a fantastic incentive to keep on going.
Jay Clouse 26:51
After a quick break, Morgan teaches us everything we need to know about how to leverage Pinterest right after this. Welcome Back to Creative Elements in my conversation with Morgan Nield from building a $600,000 Etsy shop to seamlessly moving into digital products. Morgan has learned a lot about how to build a digital marketing system that generates sales. And with so many possible levers to pull, Morgan told me that her willingness to continuously experiment has been key to her success.
Morgan Nield 27:22
So experimentation has played like a huge role in my business. And it's actually one of the reasons that I feel like we've seen so much success. I say, we, I'm running the business, but I have a team that helps me at this point as well had a team helping me with little hybrid as well. And my husband has always been my business partner, my sounding board. So it's definitely a group effort. I'm not just this complete one woman show. But experimentation has been so important because so often when we're starting businesses, it's really easy to feel paralyzed. This analysis paralysis of making the wrong decision, and having it affect the course of your business, right when you're starting out, well, what kind of font do I use? What color font do I use. Should the button be here? Should I move the button here? Should I take the photo from this angle? Should I take the photo from a different angle? What's going to work and we just become, like paralyzed by all these different business decisions. And one thing that helped me immensely early on is to as I created a little library, there were a million decisions to go into, especially in creating physical products. Should this pattern be blue? Should it be green? Should it be pink, I don't know what one's gonna sell the most. You don't know you don't know what you don't know. And looking at business as an experiment allows you and gives you the ability to actually move forward from those paralyzing decisions and get stuff done because at the end of the day, you can analyze things till you're blue in the face, but you're not actually taking action and you're still just stuck inside your own head you don't have any proof is if it's going to work or if it's not, you can think about it as much as you want but it's not going to help anything until you actually get it out there and see what happens and so approaching Little Highbury as an experiment. Okay, well, I don't know what colors are going to sell best. I don't know if people are looking for watercolor patterns. or travel patterns, or I mean, this all seems so frivolous when I'm talking about it, but it's true. Like there's so many little decisions that go into any type of business, especially creative businesses. And you just have to pick something. You go for it you experiment. Great. That floral set of headbands didn't sell. Okay, so let's bring in a new set that's maybe different colors, different patterns. It wasn't so much of failing. And when I looked at businesses failure, or success, it became really scary for me. Because, well, if I make one misstep, that means I'm a failure now and all that success doesn't count, right? But when you look at as an experiment, you were constantly open to the new options of growth. And let's try this out. And let's try this out. If something doesn't work, great, your experiment didn't work, you know, now not to do that. And you can go ahead and shift and adjust and then move forward with your next plan. And it's just about not letting failure you know, quote, unquote, failure hold you back. You have to experiment. You have to be willing to try new things to be uncomfortable to some extent, almost every single day. And just keep putting yourself out there in different ways and finding what works.
Jay Clouse 30:04
You can view pretty much everything you've talked about here as an experiment, you know, the first, the first version of Etsy you did before Little Highbury was an experiment.
Morgan Nield 30:12
Jay Clouse 30:12
You mentioned using Pinterest. And that becoming a big part of the success that you did. That was probably experiment.
Morgan Nield 30:19
Yeah, there was a lot of failure early on. I was like, This isn't working for me. And you just adjust and you keep tweaking your strategy. And I just kept to Jesse, and about three or four months in everything just kind of clicked and I figured out my rhythm, but I didn't start out having this complete rhythm in place, like knowing exactly what to do, you just you get in, you learn, but you can't just analyze it till you're blue in the face and expect to see results at any point. You have to just get out there and put yourself out there and do it.
Jay Clouse 30:45
This is the part of the show where I admit one of my biggest insecurities, which is that I know absolutely nothing about Pinterest. And so for the other listeners like me who know that Pinterest is a big deal and that it drives a lot especially in the realm of SEO. You know, I'm focusing a lot on writing these days. And I'm reading a ton about how important it is to be using Pinterest as maybe backlinks or something, but I just knew nothing about it. Can you give me kind of like, a one on one? What I should know, to understand how Pinterest works and how I should be thinking about it for my business?
Morgan Nield 31:17
Yes, yeah. So earlier on in the show, I mentioned social media is a great complement to your business, but not really what you should build your business framework off of. And when I say Pinterest, people automatically classify that into social media. And it's not. So like you said, search engine optimization plays a big part in Pinterest is essentially a visual, Google. It's a visual search engine. And so when you go into Pinterest marketing, you need to approach it as a search engine. We're not approaching it as social media. We're not liking and commenting and all these things on pins and following people like you can go ahead and do that. And those are features within the platform, but they're not going to help you at the end of the day get results from the platform. And so we go into Pinterest viewing it as a search engine and you need to also look at it as a business search engine. It's not just a place to pin craft projects or to pin recipes or home decor or whatever. We're not just looking at it as that we're looking at it as a way and to get our product in front of more eyes. People are actively searching for the products that you sell maybe or the products that you are thinking about selling people are absolutely looking for those and actively looking for them on Pinterest and like Pinterest converts more people into buyers than any other platform out there like email marketing, yes. But that's not like compared to social media. Pinterest is is awesome.
Jay Clouse 32:35
Well help me understand this. When somebody opens Pinterest like the Pinterest core users, what are they looking for? What are they doing?
Morgan Nield 32:41
So people are using Pinterest because it's kind of a source of inspiration for them. So people are coming on to Pinterest to get an ideas to be inspired to learn something new to be exposed to new things. It's essentially just about like at the end of the day, it's about being inspired. So when somebody logs onto Pinterest, they may be looking to purchase something they may be looking for ideas on how to decorate their bathroom, they may be looking for recipes, right? They may be looking for crafts, they may be looking for any number of things. But so many people are using Pinterest as a platform to search for items that they would buy normally, right? Because when you like search, hey, I'm looking for like a yellow purse or something like that, you can go ahead and type that into Google. And you're going to get a lot of text based results. And yes, you can click on Google Shopping. But it's I'm not biggest fan of Google Shopping, it's just kind of here or there and hit or miss. But you type in yellow purse on Pinterest, you're going to get thousands of results with images on exactly what those different purses look like. And so you're very quickly going to be able to say, you know what, I don't like this one. I don't like this one. But I like this one. And you can go ahead and click on that. That's gonna take you directly to the site where that item is sold and you can purchase it immediately. And so it just becomes a very natural and native way to shop, essentially. So not everybody uses Pinterest to shop. But over 54% of Pinterest users have bought something off of Pinterest, strictly rom a pin that they have found.
Jay Clouse 34:01
Okay, this makes sense to me. So in the Little Highbury example, they might be saying baby headband, they might be saying tribal print baby headband. They can see a visual example they say I want that. It's a link that is from your shop they click that they become a customer.
Morgan Nield 34:15
Yeah, essentially so they they will be taken to your Etsy shop they click on you know if they're just so they type in their like baby accessories or newborn baby gifts or whatever it is they're searching for a lot of people look for gift ideas on Pinterest that is a huge platform for searching for gift ideas. So they're like, you know, baby shower gift. They type it in, they see the headband pop up, among other things. They're like, yes, those headbands are so cute. They click on the headbands, it takes them to your Etsy shop and they can go ahead and purchase right through Etsy.
Jay Clouse 34:41
So how much do I have to think about Pinterest SEO to say I want to be the number one baby headband pin of this like are you trying to build an audience on Pinterest? Or are you trying to play its own type of SEO game?
Morgan Nield 34:53
Yeah, so it's more of playing Pinterest SEO game and I hesitate to say that because it's Etsy SEO is more of a game than Pinterest is Pinterest is a lot more straightforward and streamlined. What I recommend for people, most people when they open their Etsy shop, they get that Etsy search engine optimization strategy in place. And yes, you can go ahead and research all brand new keywords and phrases on Pinterest. But go ahead and use what you've already searched for and optimize your shop for go ahead and use those keywords on Pinterest when you're describing your items like because whenever you upload, or you pin something, there's a place for description for it. And you're going to want to make sure that you include those keywords there. But you don't have to start from scratch completely researching brand new keywords like go ahead and use the ones that you've already found work for your Etsy shop, just go ahead and pull them right over to Pinterest. And that's going to work just as well. The biggest thing when it comes to playing their algorithm game, and I hesitate again to say game, but when it comes to working with their algorithm, it's called the smart feed. Essentially, that's their fancy name for it. The biggest factor in your success on Pinterest is not following people. It's not liking people. It's not trying to build up followers like you do not need followers on Pinterest to be successful on Pinterest, what you need to do is you need to be there consistently. And there are scheduling platforms out there that can take it off of take the weight off of you. So you're not having to show up every single day. But you need to be there every single day. Pinning, five to 25 items per day. And again, that doesn't have to be just your product like you can mix it in with other things. And there's, I got a ton of resources over on my site about Pinterest. If you're looking for a more well rounded approach, not just the quick and dirty version, but you're going to be pinning pins, essentially multiple pins every single day. And if you are showing up every single day, that's when you start ranking higher in the search, the search algorithm on Pinterest.
Jay Clouse 36:42
This is fascinating and also new to me. It sounds like you're describing that Pinterest wants to reward people for showing up on the platform. And if you show up on the platform, they'll say okay, we'll show your pins to some people.
Morgan Nield 36:54
Yes, yep. That essentially is how it works that is fantastic. There's nuances and little things that you have to having places well, but as long as you're showing up consistently, and you're using keywords in your descriptions, and obviously that your images are great, I mean, if your images for your products are not great, no amount of marketing is going to fix that. That's just like the beginner beginner rule. Like you have to have great images of your product to sell them. But with those, those three criteria in place, you can become unstoppable on Pinterest. Absolutely.
Jay Clouse 37:22
Well, you've just gifted me the knowledge to know that I don't have to invest effort into getting followers.
Morgan Nield 37:27
Jay Clouse 37:27
Which is just one of my biggest hesitancies to putting any time in that platform at all.
Morgan Nield 37:31
No, I sat at 94 followers for years like I'm obviously past that at this point. But I sat there for years and my Pinterest just kept growing every single month even though my followers didn't.
Jay Clouse 37:42
How should people leverage Pinterest selling digital products knowing that you know, people aren't searching necessarily to purchase an ebook or a PDF? You know, like how how does that work in the world of Pinterest.
Morgan Nield 37:54
So with that in mind when you are selling digital products and if they are like digital education products, as opposed to to something that's more of a digital consumer product, like, you know, clipart or font, like people are naturally searching for those kind of things on Pinterest. But if you are selling more of a digital education product, like an E book or a workshop or an online course or something like that, you have to be approaching your Pinterest differently. And so with that in mind, you've got your target market, your ideal customer avatar that you've got in place, and you know who that is, you're essentially creating content for them appending that to Pinterest to attract them, that's going to pique their interest. So if you have a course, like I have a course on Etsy marketing, and so the content I'm creating is like how to start with Pinterest for Etsy marketing or how to do this or whatever. And it's just essentially resources, valuable information and resources from my audience, where people browse, and they're like, Oh my gosh, yes, I want to get started with Pinterest marketing, I don't even know how to go ahead and click on that. And then they become exposed to my brand. They hopefully join my email list and that's how I turn them into customers. So it's not about just posting Hey, mastermind your marketing, which is the name of my course. I'm not just posting it says join mastermind marketing. That's not gonna work because nobody knows who I am. They don't know that they should trust me. And so I'm building trust through creating content. I'm showing off my expertise, essentially. And it works with content marketing, because not only are you getting all the valuable backlinks. First off, you're also getting people that are visiting your blog and then checking out your Pinterest people using Pinterest, checking out the blog, it all just kind of works together again, it's that marketing ecosystem. And when you create valuable content, people start to know you, they start to trust you, they start to feel like you're a friend and so when you do go to sell to them, they are 100% comfortable buying from you because they know who you are. And you're not just trying to cold sell them something where they're like I don't even know who this person is. And so Pinterest is just been a fantastic way to expose people to my brand and get them familiar with it and and my areas of expertise and then saying hey, I can help you take it to the next level with this product.
Jay Clouse 39:49
So now that you're in the space of selling more digital products, what is different, what is the same as it relates to Pinterest or just what you've learned about selling products, generally.
Morgan Nield 40:00
One thing that was awesome about selling on Etsy is as I built what I call a marketing system framework where we've got the the initial like, shop optimization, but then we're bringing in Pinterest and we're bringing in email marketing. And I also brought in content marketing as well, just as part of my overall system. The great thing about having that marketing system in place on Etsy was it transferred, basically, I mean, identical to digital products. So I could take everything that I learned that I knew was working for my business, and I could take all those strategies and just bring them right on over as I transitioned more over to selling digital products. When I sell digital products, I'm not selling like how to create baby headbands. I'm not selling anything related to baby headbands at this point. It's all digital products on education on like marketing and how to you know build up your Etsy shop and how to sell your own digital products and things like that. So it's a completely different audience. But the same exact strategies I use to build my Etsy shop apply to building it with digital products like as long as you have a product to sell. It doesn't matter if it's physical or digital. Having like a system in place that utilizes search engine optimization and Pinterest and email marketing, it will work no matter what. And that's one of the fantastic and beautiful things about it. As I teach this people are like, well, don't I need something that's really customized to me? And no, you don't like at the end of the day, you tweak the strategies to sound like you know, your voice, obviously, and you want to add in your personality and your products and things like that. But at the end of the day, the strategies are still the same no matter what you sell. So when it comes to comparing how was Little Highbury, I was selling a Little Highbury versus I was selling on MorganNield.com. It's they're completely different products that I'm selling. But the system and strategies I'm using are basically the same.
Jay Clouse 41:41
Which sounds like if I'm summarizing what we've said so far, have this minimal viable product have something that you can sell and distribute. And then it's focusing on building an audience to sell that product to and it sounds like you can kind of be agnostic on the platforms themselves, as long as those things are mostly true and kind of using ancillary systems around them to support that goal of building an audience of people who want that product.
Morgan Nield 42:05
Yeah, I feel like it rely, it's a lot less like people are like, is Facebook the best place to be? Or is Twitter or is Instagram. And at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. You just need to build an audience and wherever you build it wherever it works best for you. Awesome. That's where you do it. So with MorganNield.com, I have an audience on Facebook, I had an audience on Instagram for a Little Highbury because that made more sense for me at the time, for MorganNield.com, like, I have my audience on Facebook. And obviously I have my email lists and things but my Facebook has essentially grow my email list. That's what I use my facebook group to do to just grow my email list. Like that's solely the purpose of the Facebook group. And it doesn't matter. I could have done that on Instagram. Absolutely. I could have done that on Twitter. I could have done that on tik tok at this point, right? It doesn't matter where but as long as you're building up an audience like that's the thing it doesn't matter where you do it. You work with what feels good and natural to you. Because if you are constantly, you know, resisting and pushing back because you hate Instagram or you hate This platform or that platform or whatever, then you're never going to see success or traction with it. So you need to work. You need to build a business that works with your personality and what you like. And just because somebody said you have to build your business on Instagram, okay? They love Instagram, that's awesome. If you don't, that's okay. You don't have to follow someone else's rules on how they built their business, you are allowed to take maybe the framework, but then customize it to your own. And I think that's something a lot of newbie sellers get a little bit afraid of, like, well, she says, I have to do it this way. So I got to do it this way. You don't. Like again, if we approach businesses and experiment, use what parts you like, but then customize and tweak things to match your business like your personality, your lifestyle, and and make it your own. And that's like one of the biggest things for me that's just been so successful is just taking these strategies that I've learned from, you know, mentors and courses and programs that I've taken. None of none of the strategy that I implement inside my business now or even with Little Highbury follows anything. Exactly. That I learned I've always tweaked, I've always adjusted, I've always made changes based on what I was looking for. And that has made all the difference.
Jay Clouse 44:08
I love this conversation because you are experimenting with all the platforms that I have not experimented with. And one of those is the Facebook group that you talked about. I haven't built a group and I know a lot of people do that really successfully. Your group has almost 14,000 members within it right now. Tell me what you've learned experimenting with a Facebook group and how to make that effort successful?
Morgan Nield 44:28
Yeah, so like I said, I primarily use my facebook group as a way to drive leads to drive potential customers. And so I don't just approach it as a community. Yes, there's the community aspect of it. And that's important to maintain. You don't want it to just become a very trashy spammy zone or anything like that. It's very important to set boundaries upfront, like that's like the number one rule have boundaries as you go into creating this Facebook group. But what I use it for, is every time somebody comes into the group, they have to apply to join the group so that way, we don't just get non subspammers. And you essentially pre frame the idea that they're going to get used to you as a brand. And they're going to get used to the resources you offer. And so you can ask three questions at the beginning. And I'm like, hey, do you want to join my email list? Are you interested in this Etsy marketing roadmap, you're just kind of pre framing and getting them in the mindset of if they don't know who you are. Maybe someone just was like, you should join this group, and they don't have any clue who you are. You're letting them know, hey, I've got this road map, I bought this free resource. And then once they get in, you have I have a pinned post at the top that's like, Hey, did you grab your free resource. And so everywhere they go, they essentially kind of are being shown and introduced to me as a brand owner. And I'm posting you know, posts and live streams and things like that, and they're just getting exposed to me more and more. And my ultimate goal every single time with every live stream with every post is to get people on my email list. And yes, build up community while you're doing it. You're not just like join my email list, every single post, you're building up community and things like that. But if you can take those people in your group and get them on your email list, and then you can turn them into customers. And again, email list is just words that I don't sell on Facebook, I sell through my email list.
Jay Clouse 46:07
When did you start that group?
Morgan Nield 46:08
Um, two years ago. So it's grown pretty fast.
Jay Clouse 46:12
Yeah, I've always wondered, you know, if I were to start a group today.
Morgan Nield 46:15
Jay Clouse 46:16
How difficult would it be to get that initial group of people before Facebook itself starts taking it seriously and referring it to people who are searching for groups?
Morgan Nield 46:24
Yeah, so I thought it was gonna be a lot harder to start. And that's why I put it off for a while I was like, This is gonna be really hard. I don't know how to do this. And then again, like, I feel like this is the theme of the episode, but the best advice is just get started, get that minimal viable product, get that minimal viable Facebook group up. And so I didn't know what I was doing. But I had like a small email list like 1000 people maybe and I was like, Okay, I'm starting this group. And then I just contacted my business friends that I had, and I was like, can you please share about this and we had about 600 people in the first week. And then it just took off from there like it really I haven't focused on building my facebook group. I'll be honest, that has happened naturally, as I've provided value as I've been engaged with a group as I've been building my email list like that has just happened naturally. And it hasn't been something that I've had to actively do. I do have Facebook group growth strategies like on my site. So like, I have a banner at the top. It's like have you join the free Facebook group? And when somebody opts in for one of my, my lead magnets, I'm like, did you join our free Facebook group? Or like when I send an email did you join our free Facebook group, and so I have those in place, but it is 100% passive, I do absolutely nothing to encourage people to join the group. And it has just naturally grown just from those elements so.
Jay Clouse 47:37
Morgan Nield 47:37
Yeah, it's not a full time job. Like people are always like, it's gonna be so hard and it's not it happens just naturally.
Jay Clouse 47:50
I learned so much from this interview, and shortly after this conversation, I made the decision to start my first Facebook group, which is the Creative Elements listener group. I'd love for you to join us and help us get that party started. You can find a link in the show notes or search Creative Elements Listeners on Facebook. Go ahead do it right now. Let's connect and let's talk about this interview with Morgan there. I haven't gotten into Pinterest yet, but with the guidance Morgan has provided here, don't be surprised if you see me starting to pin five to 25 things every day in the near future. If you want to learn more about turning your Etsy shop into a profitable business, or anything else we discussed in this episode, just visit MorganNield.com links to that, of course, are also in the show notes. Thanks to Morgan for being on the show. Thank you to Emily Clouse for making me an artwork for this episode. Thanks to Brian Skeel for mixing the show and also creating our music. He did this on a quick turnaround before his vacation. So thank you, Brian for that. If you'd like this episode, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram @JayClouse and let me know and if you really want to say thank you. Remember, you can always leave a review on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.